In France, the hit Netflix series Call My Agent! is called Dix Pour Cent in relation to the fee charged by French cinema agents. For those in the know, the name says it all. For others, like me, the reference was opaque at first, but it sent the message that – unlike others who have a clichéd view of French life like Emily in Paris – this is a show that claims to be inside Positioned view of the capital and its film business.
The many cameos of A-List actors playing themselves – with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sigourney Weaver slated to appear in season four; Weaver called the series “a love letter to the business” – similarly underlines the closeness of the show to the authentic professional world, which is also subtly reflected in her clothing.
Epitome of the Parisian … Andrea (Camille Cottin) in the fourth season. Photo: Christophe Brachet
Instead of berets and Breton tops, the show’s costume designer, Anne Schotte, took inspiration from agents she knew and whose style she describes as “professional yet well known”. Based on the Parisian chic and the unmistakable office clothes of the city, she began to put together outfits according to an eternal rule in the city: from Dior to Zara, Zadig & Voltaire to vintage, she mixed “high” and “low”. modern and retro.
She then built characters after a range of fashion personalities who are well entrenched in French – and especially Parisian – culture. The epitome of Parisian Andrea Martel (played by Camille Cottin) embodies a sense of chic that is synonymous with “effortlessness as well as do-it-yourself style,” said Schotte. “She’s stylish enough to represent actors, but her clothes never speak louder than her.” Her wardrobe consists of muted but elegant, timeless pieces and items inspired by men’s fashion: turtlenecks, suit jackets and shirts, streamlined wool coats, ankle boots and subtle jewelry with their wavy curls.
For Scots – and Vogue, and much of the internet too – Martel is generally the chicest. “She makes everything look feminine and noble and can wear a wide variety of items, from Saint Laurent blazers to casual XXL sweaters.” At home with her friend and her baby she – shock! – Slip into a pair of soft sweatpants, albeit with a cashmere sweater. In this fiction of an increasingly distant pre-Covid world where one can still enjoy a maskless social life, Martel takes dressing seriously. At parties, she wears short silver body-con dresses or a glittery waistcoat and bow tie (which, surprisingly, doesn’t look cheesy) that easily juggles between couture and homewear. “Your physique and your posture make everything a statement,” says Schotte.
Ultimate ‘Bobo’ … Gabriel (Grégory Montel) in the fourth season. Photo: Shanna Besson
Andrea wasn’t the only character whose style is defined for a T. Agent Gabriel Sarda (played by Grégory Montel) embodies the ultimate “bobo” (bourgeois bohemian, the country’s intellectual answer to boho fashion) with stubble and blazers with zip-up hoodies, suede blousons, a combination of casual classics and formal work clothes; a contact point for Generation Y and Z in offices.
His style was structured in stark contrast to the company’s top agent, Mathias Barneville (Thibault de Montalembert), whose clothing reveals a multitude of signifiers of the upper class: tailored suits, matching waistcoats and ties, long-cut coats, not to mention one recurring selection of courtesy scarves.
Significants of the upper class… Mathias Barneville (Thibault de Montalembert). Photo: Netflix
Amid this new old-school dialectic, the assistant – and friend of Barneville – Noémie Leclerc (Laure Calamy) could be viewed as subtly codified as such. Her wardrobe contrasted radically with Andrea’s and revolved around a sexualized, almost pin-up chic, with figure-hugging high-waisted skirts, bright shirts with plunging necklines and floral dresses à la 50s.
During these looks, a bourgeois rule of thumb seems to run like a golden thread, reflecting a deeply ingrained French fear in offices as well as in real life. “We are afraid of vulgarity here, which leads to little experimentation. The general idea is to build a wardrobe based on proven fundamentals: a trench coat, a simple black sweater, a masculine coat and a simple white t-shirt, ”says Schotte.
Noémie (Laure Calamy) and Hervé (Nicolas Maury) in the second season. Photo: Netflix
She applied several styling tricks to this series of classics. “In Paris, it is important to show a discreet but impeccable combination of colors that matches your jacket with your shoes and scarves, for example. The general rule I follow is no more than three shades including the background. “Should you be craving the Parisian work clothes – when, hopefully, office life is restored in some way – she recommends limiting each outfit to a single fashion statement. “If you go for skinny jeans, they can usually be paired with a blazer and Louboutin heels – both of which are foolproof items.” In the world of Parisian style, “the statement is you – not the garment”. In the meantime, the pre-covid world of Call My Agent! presents a very Parisian – and for the time being decidedly fleeting – takeover of the office, which can make viewers want to wear something bold and clever for Zoom, even if it is decidedly unpaired with Martel pajama bottoms for the moment.