My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A charming and insightful memoir about coming of age as a fashion journalist in 1980s Paris, by former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts, the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style
“You can always come back,” my mother said. “Just go.”
As a young woman, Kate Betts nursed a dream of striking out on her own in a faraway place and becoming a glamorous foreign correspondent. After college—and not without trepidation—she took off for Paris, renting a room in the apartment of a young BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) family and throwing herself into the local culture. She was determined to master French slang, style, and savoir faire, and to find a job that would give her a reason to stay.
After a series of dues-paying jobs that seemed only to reinforce her outsider status, Kate’s hard work and willingness to take on any assignment paid off: Her writing and intrepid forays into la France Profonde—true France—caught the eye of John Fairchild, the mercurial fashion arbiter and publisher of Women’s Wear Daily, the industry’s bible. Kate’s earliest assignments—investigating the mineral water preferred by high society, chasing after a costumed band of wild boar hunters through the forests of Brittany—were a rough apprenticeship, but she was rewarded for her efforts and was initiated into the elite ranks of Mr. Fairchild’s trusted few who sat beside him in the front row and at private previews in the ateliers of the gods of French fashion. From a woozy yet mesmerizing Yves Saint Laurent and the mischievous and commanding Karl Lagerfeld to the riotous, brilliant young guns who were rewriting all the rules—Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, John Galliano—Betts gives us a view of what it was like to be an American girl, learning about herself, falling in love, and finding her tribe.
Kate Betts’s captivating memoir brings to life the enchantment of France—from the nightclubs of 1980s Paris where she learned to dance Le Rock, to the lavender fields of Provence and the grand spectacle of the Cour Carrée—and magically re-creates that moment in life when a young woman discovers who she’s meant to be.
Praise for My Paris Dream
“[A] glittering coming-of-age tale.”—Entertainment Weekly (The Must List)
“Fashion and self-examination—froth and wisdom—might seem like odd bookfellows, but Betts brings them together with winning confidence.”—The New York Times Book Review
“As light and refreshing as an ice cream cone from the legendary Berthillon, My Paris Dream evokes the sights, sounds, smells and styles of 1980s Paris.”—USA Today
“My Paris Dream is awesome.”—Man Repeller
“What was Bett’s Paris dream? Her dream was her awakening, [which] is elegantly chronicled in these pages.”—The Daily Beast
“For those who are interested in the men and women involved in haute couture, Betts’ reminiscences will be a delight.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Full of slangy French, delectable food and swoon-worthy fashion.”—BookPage
“An amazing story of a young woman in Paris trying to break into the fashion business.”—Sophia Amoruso, author of #GIRLBOSS
“Kate Betts’s story brought me back to my own young self and the journey I made—in my case, from a small town in Illinois to New York City.”—Cindy Crawford
From the Hardcover edition.
expat bubble at the Trib was Maggie Shapiro, whose official title was archiviste. She sat in the cramped library behind a stack of newspapers and dispatched each intern to a different department every couple of days. It’s impossible to imagine now, in the digital age, but in the fall of 1986, archives meant pages and pages in oversized bound volumes filled with precise columns of newsprint clippings. Maggie organized all the copy that had been printed in the newspaper in these oversized books.
how could I write nasty things undercover, an accomplice to Fairchild’s scathing wit, and then expect to be invited back, to dine at their tables or to ride in their attelage carriages? I didn’t get over it. At four o’clock in the afternoon, when the “Eye” desk in New York would call for scoops, I let my phone ring. I was too naïve to navigate these shark-infested waters. Dennis had taught me the tricks of the trade—how to read reservation lists at maître d’ desks upside down, how to eavesdrop
boxes and plunged our hands into piles of gold-chain belts and cameo earrings and big pearl clip-ons embossed with double C’s. I picked out an orange tweed jacket that fit me perfectly. It was an odd color, not one I would normally choose, but I was desperate to own something, anything, by Chanel. I wanted to appear French, even if I looked like a slice of cantaloupe. Domitille stared in disbelief at the color of my jacket and shook her head at the idea that I would wear something with a logo on
Serge Gainsbourg and smoking Gauloises. Kids had no place in my Parisian fantasy. So I was surprised when a frazzled-looking young woman with a long braid and a warm smile leaned over the banister on the landing as I lugged my bag up the shallow steps to the second floor. I guessed she was the Deschamps’ au pair. She wore a striped velour sweatshirt and leggings; a black velvet bow was perched on top of her head in the preppy fashion of what the French call BCBG, bon chic, bon genre. Good style,
Washington Post. He asked a lot of questions and he admired my shoes, a pair of black high-heeled Mary Janes I had bought at a Chanel sample sale for one hundred dollars. He had never seen as many high heels as he had at Vogue: Most of his girlfriends wore ugly shoes, he said, shoes that looked like slabs of meat. It must have been toward the end of dinner, because I remember the red wine stains on the white linen tablecloth. I looked down at Chip’s hand on the table as he rocked back in his