Colgate Couture – Obsession du Jour

Laura Stoloff

La mode c’est tout. Yes, Parisian women consider fashion everything. Walking down Rue Saint-Honoré, it’s impossible not to stare at these gorgeous women strolling about their everyday lives in not so everyday clothes. Whether it’s the new Chanel bag or the latest Chloé dress, these women carry themselves with a nonchalance that almost no one can replicate. It’s the art of mixing different labels, high and low, to create an ensemble that looks both unique and classic.

The City of Lights is home to some of the most renowned fashion houses in the world. Chanel, Yves Saint-Laurent, Givenchy, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Christian Lacroix, to name a few, have not only shaped Parisian style but have also influenced Americans and their way of dress. All women claim the black Chanel quilted bag as a “must have,” and Louis Vuitton has become a label that even the most unfashionable notice. But how do these women do it?

The Parisian look falls so far from the typical “American” look. Unnaturally straightened and died hair, $10 dollar daily tans and barely-there clothes are all looks that the stylish of Paris wouldn’t even consider. Instead, they have a certain “je ne sais quoi” about them. Although polished, their look appears effortless. Less is more. Minimal makeup allows a woman to play with the complexity of her outfit, so even a little glitz and glamour can look appropriate during the daytime.

French “it” girls inspire the fashionable with a street style mixing some of the top end French designers with clothes and accessories from H&M, Gap, Zara and of course vintage. Contemporary French designers such as Sandro, Maje, Manoush and Ba&Sh have begun to make an impact on American fashion, offering lines with prices in the middle ground between high and low end.

Manoush in particular has become a fashion-must-have in America, reflecting an eclectic vintage style with a combination of sophistication and youthfulness. Manoush is derived from the French word for gypsy, which inspired the bohemian aspect of her collection. The dresses play with femininity through short hemlines, bow accents, ruffle-front blouses and cropped jackets.

But if you want a look that costs little and has practicality for days on campus, look to French prep. It’s both fun and easy to pull off. Dark skinny jeans, a simple white t-shirt or cream and navy striped t-shirt, with red, navy or canvas sneakers looks both relaxed and fresh. Don’t forget to compliment this casual ensemble with hair pulled back loosely or casually down, and leave the accessories to a minimum, but a gold watch or bracelet can seal the deal.

And for a little inspiration, Clémence Poésy is the new “it” girl to look to for fashion insight. Some of you may know the 24-year-old her from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” or have seen her face in the Gap and Chloé campaigns, but Poésy has created her own style of street-smart favoring designs by Balenciaga, Chloé and Isabel Marant. Her style does not seem calculated but rather spur of the moment, which has earned her spots at the front row of Chanel shows and on the cover of magazines. The simplicity of her outfits includes neutral colors and few accessories. And the best part is that she doesn’t mind wearing something more than once, like her Chloé Mytre sunglasses that she’s worn for the past two years.

So next time you feel the need to freshen up your look during the dark fall and winter months, don’t cover up your skin with artificial tans and bronzer, and take ideas from the ladies of France, who flaunt their natural beauty rather than hide it. Simplicity always wins, but of course with a small twist. A Chanel bag or pair of Christian Louboutin’s never fail.