My Life in Fashion


In my book, Paris Times Eight, I have a chapter where I dissect the Paris fashion shows from the perspective of one assigned to cover them for the national newspaper of Canada. Not what you’d call a pretty story. In “Fashionista,” I write about being dismissed by the snooty PRs simply because I am Canadian. “But le Canada is not exactement a fashion country, non?,” I recall one of them saying to me when I asked why, after being accredited to cover their fashion week, I wasn’t being allowed an invitation to designers’ shows.  It was, I found out, a rhetorical question, because she hung up on me when I feebly tried to answer. Paris is often a difficult city for me to maneuvre as that chapter in particular illustrates. The French have never readily accepted me. So it came as a big surprise, after I wrote a book documenting my trails and tribulations (and occasional triumphs) in Paris, that the French suddenly turned around to embrace me with open arms. An example of this about-face came on the eve of the book’s Canadian publication last fall.  Atout France, name of the French tourist board, graciously invited me to emcee their VIP screening of Coco Avant Chanel in Toronto after learning that my new book was set in Paris. For the event, they insisted in dressing me head-to-toe in Chanel (Karl Lagerfeld’s assistant actually flew in from Paris to assist with my fitting) and giving me a full-blown French  maquillage, including red lips and the kohl-eye look I mention with envy in my book. To me the artfully made up eyes of the Parisian woman symbolize what Paris represents to me:  a magificent but elusive ideal rooted in beauty, art and savoir-faire. To have those eyes, after all my years of travelling to Paris trying to emulate those eyes (and never with success), re-created on me in my own backyard, was definitely ironic, but a thrill neverthless. The above images are of me with my book and my husband, cultural anthropologist Victor Barac, and another of me in the DRESS. And No, I didn’t get to keep it. Enjoy.

Deirdre