One of the ways I prepped for my trip to Paris last spring was by noticing – in US magazines, catalogs and stores – that the “French sailor look” was catching on.
But until I arrived in Paris I had forgotten just how big a really big fashion wave can be. A minimum credential of a Parisian is awareness of and an opinion – any opinion – about the latest fashion mania. Regardless of age, gender, social class or income level, a Parisian knows that la mode – and its pursuit – are essential to the city’s identity.
Even if a Parisian dislikes the latest fashion, or is critical in general of those who follow every fad, he appreciates the role of la mode in French culture. Style, and looking good, matter. Everyone, regardless of resources, can present himself to advantage. Nature can always be improved upon, beauty should always be courted, life should always be celebrated. Even, or especially, when that calls for some play-acting. One chooses a style according to how one wants to be seen; then simply, and above all with pleasure, lives up to it.
“Adornment is never anything except a reflection of the heart,” said Coco Chanel. Here are several pictures I took in Paris last April-May, giving some idea of how hard Parisians of all sizes and shapes had fallen for the French sailor look. My own favorite is the shot, through a store window, of hand-made jewelry and key chains in the image of little sailors. The shop-owner started taking the little guys out of the window when she realized I was photographing them. How exciting – maybe she thought I was engaging in some fashion-industrial espionage! (These photos show as a “slideshow”; if you pause just a 3-4 minutes you will see all of them – 20, total.)