It's no secret. I happen to think that French women have such a special quality about them, especially Parisiennes. These women can take a pencil skirt, a subtle, understated blouse, throw on a scarf, and take elegance to a whole new level. If I've learned nothing else from being in France, it is that it's better to have a few quality pieces of clothing which can be added to each year, rather than go out and buy whatever is the latest in fashion.
A favorite book in my reference collection is this one dedicated to all the glorious Parisian women of the 20th century.
Amazon describes this book, saying, "This light-hearted and nostalgic romp through 20th-century Paris creates a beautiful history of the world’s most romantic city and its exceptional women. This collection of one hundred and thirty duotone photographs captures the essence of the Parisian femme fatale. All of the great French photographers from the late 1930s through the 1960s are featured, including Robert Doisneau, Brassaï, Willy Ronis, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Edouard Boubat, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, Sabine Weiss, and many more.
The photographs reveal Parisian women and all of their glorious facets: from the love-struck waif strolling along the banks of the Seine to the belles of the neighborhood balls flushed from their raucous dance moves, from no-nonsense career girls to flirty neighbors. Chanel-clad locals and runway models alike showcase the glamour of the fashion and haute-couture world with inimitable style.
One chapter pays homage to the courageous women who battled for justice in World War II, the Resistance, the Liberation, and the revolts of May 1968, including role models such as philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir and journalist and playwright Marguerite Dumas. The Parisiennes featured here go to work, ride bikes, pose seductively, smile coyly, and are all devastatingly irresistible."
When I saw the following photo from Parisiennes, I immediately thought of the main character, Madame Renée Michel, from the book I'm just in the middle of reading. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery was translated from French by Alison Anderson. It's a very amusing look into the life of Madame Michel, who is the dumpy, nondescript, 54 year old concierge of a small and exclusive apartment building in Paris.