How do you define style? The question begs. A nerve gets touched. Quickly, easily we say what it is not. More difficult, however, to put into words what it is. We have arbiters of taste whose views have great influence over trends in fashion. Tools to measure trends: an attempt to mark the spirit of the times.

Is style more intuitive? French poet, novelist, dramatist, playwright and artist, Jean Cocteau, states: Style is a simple way of saying complicated things. An elegance and naturalness that is innate, one that astonishes and charms.

Paris-based author Thirza Vallois writes about style as an indefinable package, while master perfumer Isabelle Burdel speaks of style as the perfect harmony with oneself, and Kristin Wood, doctoral candidate specializing in expatriate literature, reminds us that style doesn’t obey the rules. We hear from these women that style is in the way we live, the touch of the individual.

Kristin Wood shares her favorite quote from Carol Edgarian, American author, editor, and publisher who has written for numerous publications including Vogue, Travel & Leisure, and W: If you must be matchy-matchy, for God’s sake show some wit.

Enjoy these French Impressions highlights with links to the full interviews published in A Woman’s Paris.

Thirza Vallois on the creative inspiration of cinema, literature, music and art

Thirza Vallois, author and Sorbonne post-graduate, holds the Agrégation degree (a doctoral-level title) from the University of Paris. After starting her professional life in Paris as a teacher, she was “grabbed” by the city and set out to write about it. This led to a full-time commitment and to a 3-volume series of books Around and About Paris, walking guides for the very savvy which double as in-depth cultural companions to the city. Two other books followed: Romantic Paris and Aveyron, A Bridge to French Arcadia, a journey to the last corner of hidden, rural, France. Thirza is also the author of the Paris entry of the Encarta Encyclopaedia and writes regularly for the international press. She is a contributor to television and radio both in the US and the UK and has appeared on PBS, the BBC, CNN, the Travel Channel and others. (Read Thirza Vallois’ full interview in published in English.)

Isabelle Burdel on the very complex and marvelous alchemy of perfumes

Isabelle Burdel, master perfumer and founder of Salon Privé in Cannes, France. To date, after more than twenty years of experience, Isabelle Burdel has created more than a thousand perfumes that have been sold throughout the world. She has, in particular, worked on the creation of perfumes with the world-renowned perfumer Rochas. For several years, Isabelle has offered her rare expertise, making the very complex and marvelous alchemy of perfumes available to private individuals, to reflect the very depths of their being.

The success of her unique and exclusive perfume relies on a very distinctive approach. It requires the ability to translate the emotions and uniqueness of a person in the form of a scent that is in perfect harmony with the true being and true reflection of that individual, the essential fine touch that reveals and sublimates his or her character. Salon Privé, Cannes, France. (Read Isabelle Burdel’s full interview published in English.)

Kristin Wood and her passion for French history and culture

Kristin Wood, doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, specializes in expatriate literature, Kristin seeks out every opportunity to explore French history and culture. She graduated from Duke University in 2006 with a major in European history and minor in English, then moved to receive her MA in Modern European Studies from Columbia University. An enthusiastic traveller, Kristin has lived abroad in Australia and New Zealand and has studied abroad in France and England. (Read Kristin Woods’ full interview published in English.)

A Woman’s Paris — Elegance, Culture and Joie de Vivre

We are captivated by women and men, like you, who use their discipline, wit and resourcefulness to make their own way and who excel at what the French call joie de vivre or “the art of living.” We stand in awe of what you fill into your lives. Free spirits who inspire both admiration and confidence.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. — Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)

Text copyright ©2012 A Woman’s Paris. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.