Thursday, 5 May 2011

The French Connection

On returning from a Royal Wedding exodus in Paris, I have not been able to stop thinking about that certain je ne c'est pas enduring cool Parisians seem to have trademarked. And that's just the girls.

It got me to thinking, if you'll pardon the Carrie-ism, that there are clever ways in which the particular breed of lightly worn style, instant refinement and softly sexy might inspire in a wedding.

As an antidote to the usual suspects of super-girly layers of bridal chiffon evocative of something fresh from a patisserie, French bridal gowns are masterworks of irreverent yet perfect beauty. White lace was always going to have a moment after the now Duchess of Cambridge made her exquisite denouement to national dreams in that majestic Sarah Burton number. But, quel surprise, French bridal wear has been doing it for yonks. Givenchy frequently use finely wrought handmade lace in their gowns, and though I wouldn't usually hold her up as an example (she's that little bit on the side of scary bad girl for me) Courtney Love's white lace dress at the ELLE Style Awards was a triumph fit for a bride.
If you don't want edgy, but do want some of that guileful, sexy and grown-up chic, you could look to Pronuptia Paris, the ravishing Cymbeline, Ugo Zaldi (designed by two French brothers), or fashion sweethearts, Carven - newly stocked at Net-a-Porter or Lanvin. All tend towards the immaculately nuanced, with form and structure beating at their hearts. But it's the way in which French girls wear their clothes and wedding gowns that's the (almost) inimitable bit. If you google doe-eyed lovelies Julia Restoin Roitfeld - daughter of ex-Vogue editrice Carine Roitfeld, Josephine de la Baume, Lou Lesage or Clemence Poesy, you'll see what I mean.

Ugo Zaldi Bridal

Pronuptia Paris

Lou Lesage at Paris Fashion week AW11


Lanvin at net-a-porter

 For a touch of their charm, you could try emulating the bed headed, muted waves, washing your hair in Klorane products, nurturing it regularly with Rodin by Recine's luxurious hair oil £45 at oliolusso and ruffling with Professional Prep by Bumble & Bumble at Space NK. Leave hair loose, or sweep into a dishevelled pleat, paired with antique heirloom diamond earrings hanging like glamorous punctuation marks.

The other legendary facet to Parisian women's allure is their bare-faced beauty. The secret? They invest silly amounts in skin care so they simply don't need it - even their pharmaceutical ranges for naughtier skin types is unsurpassed in it's efficacy, with La Roche Posay now widely available in larger Boots stores here, such is its prowess. For that Bardot softcore polish, try Nars Pore Refining Primer (, a gentle smudge of kohl and a powdery velvet lipstick such as Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Pure Colour in 24 Soft Pink Peach ( or Nars Semi-Matte lipstick in Morocco for a hydrating, bitten-lip flushed red.

And for the monsieurs? A silken scarf dotted with tiny skull motifs from Parisian demimonde The Kooples in place of a cravat or floral buttonhole.
You could also create a French feel with towers of the dainty macaroons from Laduree make for a magnificent wedding-cake alternative, Toiles de Jouy napkins £5.50 from the V & A shop, or for France proper, dashing 15th century chateau in the Loire valley from

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