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How to achieve effortless French chic

Parisian women are known for their sense of style: a seemingly effortless look that women across the world yearn to emulate. As Paris Fashion Week approaches, we take a look at the local labels that French women love to wear. These are the go-to brands to help you achieve that insouciant French chic

Sally McIlhone,

On a trip to Paris it’s impossible not to be utterly captivated by the grace and poise of French women. It is almost as though these impeccably dressed females are handed the secrets to timeless style at birth and urged to keep this knowledge sacred. Thankfully, in recent years the city has produced a number of chic French labels that capture the essence of Gallic panache, enabling us all to take a leaf out of our fashion-forward sisters’ handbook.

Maje has been a go-to brand for polished Parisians since it was founded in 1998. Famed for its innovative and covetable interpretation of trends, restrained femininity and celebrated M bag, the brand has become a global success story. Creative director Judith Milgrom says her secret is to be always on the look out for inspiration. ‘I try to stay connected to the world in order to be open to all influences which are in the air at the present time,’ she explains. Paris is, of course, a constant source of inspiration for the designer. ‘Maje was created in Paris and spreads Parisian chic around the world. Therefore Paris is always present in my mind, although my travels provide great inspiration as well,’ she says.

In Maje’s standout autumn/winter 2017/18 collection, Parisian flourishes are evident in everything from a camel-coloured suit, complete with cropped trousers and a single-breasted blazer, to an elegantly minimalist white knit mididress and a tough black leather miniskirt softened with a ruffled blouse. These fashionable outfits are made to be worn in Paris as you grab a café au lait in the Le Marais district or sip cocktails in the neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and they simply must be accessorised with Maje’s signature bag, the M. In designing this item, with its practical square shape and boho-style fringing, Milgrom has created a true wardrobe staple. ‘I wanted to stay true to what Maje is: a Parisian brand that is modern and urban while still bohemian and bold,’ she explains. ‘I also wanted a bag that you can carry from day to night because women today live several lives in a single day.’ Versatile enough to dress up or down and large enough to carry the essentials without being a burden, the M bag is the perfect Parisian accessory. Milgrom states that ‘the M bag is an ‘It’ bag because it is different from what other brands offer.’

As well as a homage to Paris, Maje’s collections are an ode to women. ‘I’m inspired by women all over the world, I love sitting at a terrace and watching woman walking past,’ Milgrom says, describing the Maje woman as ‘independent, passionate about fashion, feminine and modern. She’s a seductress.’ The creative director admits she owes her success to these women, as it’s thanks to them that ‘Maje hasn’t aged, although we’re about to celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2018.’

The Kooples
The Kooples has always boasted an aesthetic on the rock-chick side of chic, and this season is no different. As any true follower of French fashion knows, for every feminine dress you need a studded ankle boot, structured wool coat and a pair of red and black striped skinny-fit trousers for days when you’re feeling fierce – and The Kooples delivers these items and much more this season. In addition to styles with a tougher edge, there are velvet-lined kimonos and army jackets adorned with beaded decorations, providing the perfect balance between the refined and the rebellious for those who prefer to merely dip a toe into this style pool.

Tara Jarmon
Tara Jarmon is another Parisian brand that continues to captivate women the world over. Founded in 1986, the label has developed a dedicated following in the French capital and beyond. Its latest collection is as fresh as ever thanks to pieces such as a pussy-bow blouse, reinvented in metallic pink; gold cropped leather jackets; sporty zip-up tops; and an asymmetric update to the little black dress. Tara Jarmon’s eponymous founder stepped down from her role as creative director earlier this year, handing the reins to Colombe Campana who previously designed for & Other Stories. Campana puts Tara Jarmon’s success down to ‘collections that can be worn not only for just a season but more timelessly’. Parisian women certainly appreciate this ethos, for trends may come and go but style is eternal. Campana says that ‘it is always such a pleasure to see a perfect stranger wearing something you put so much energy, effort and love into creating. Sometimes this woman wears the clothes in a way you hadn’t thought about and that is part of the magic!’ With a newly revamped and enlarged flagship store on the avenue de Champs-Élysées, offering clothing, accessories and jewellery, there has never been a better time to discover this quintessentially Parisian brand.

For the autumn/winter season, inject some Parisian chic into your wardrobe with these masters of effortless elegance.



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