The Marie Reyes Blog

How to Live Out Your French Woman Fantasies

  • By Marie Reyes

How to Live Out Your French Woman Fantasies

Hayley Phelan, of the New York Times, approached the ever-consuming addiction to French fashion - and killed it. 

"The trope of the impossibly chic Frenchwoman is one that fashion can’t seem to let go of. If only the industry could decrypt the elusive formula, it would bottle it and sell it to us American plebeians. Alas, the insouciant Gallic charm will most likely remain as mysterious as it is cliché, but in recognition of Bastille Day, we have an excuse to renew our efforts to master it. Emerging and established designers offer a few leads, and Jane Birkin, fashion’s perennial muse, is fertile ground for inspiration."

I love her.

Let's dive into the deconstruction of French-wimminz fashion.

Jean Touitou: 3 Decades of Mod

Clockwise from top left, A.P.C. chambray shirt, $210; Japanese denim pants, $235; and cotton sweatshirt, $165; at A.P.C.,


Thirty years ago, Jean Touitou introduced a line of basics that would come to be known as A.P.C.

Originally Mr. Touitou wanted the project to go unnamed, with each collection titled only by season, which is why his first designs bore the label Hiver 87. In tribute to that debut, A.P.C. released a capsule of new and reissued items bearing the original label.

Elsewhere, the collection has sentimental touches, like the letters embroidered on a shirt representing the initials of people who have influenced Mr. Touitou over the years, from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to Bo Diddley.

Jane Birkin is Life

Clockwise from top left: Solid & Striped mesh Birkin dress, $88 at; Levi’s patchwork jeans, $198 at Free People,; Dove rayon-blend maxidress, $242 at; Xirena cotton poplin peasant top, $198 at; Dôen Jane washed cotton-blend blouse, $138 at


The greatest contradiction to French fashion is the poster child of Parisian chic isn’t even French. Though Jane Birkin was born and raised in England, it was her years in Paris alongside Serge Gainsbourg that left an indelible mark on fashion. For proof, look no further than the proliferation of goods that are explicitly inspired by her. Some are even named for her.

GOYARD: Best Kept French Secret since 1853

Goyard leather and canvas bag, $1,750 at Linda’s at Bergdorf Goodman.


Goyard, established in Paris in 1853, makes leather accessories that are as classically French as they come. While its distinct logo bags can be seen on the streets of Paris year-round, its Belharra Biarritz tote seems destined for St.-Tropez.

The tote is completely reversible, with water-resistant canvas on one side and supple leather on the other, perfect for stashing wet suits and towels after a long day in the Persian sun.

New French Labels to Know

From left: Nathalie Dumeix denim jumpsuit, $390; silk and cashmere sweater, $201; at Rouje dot print polyester skirt, $149, and cotton top, $85; button-front poly dress, $195; at


Meet Instagram’s new girl crushes: Jeanne Damas and Nathalie Dumeix, Parisian friends whose dreamy lifestyle, captured in 2-by-2-inch form, has garnered millions of engagement.

Luckily, we can buy a bit of the magic thanks to their respective lines. Dumeix’s namesake label specializes in the kind of understated trousers and jumpsuits that will earn their keep for years, while Damas’ direct-to-consumer label Rouje stocks feminine dresses and tops that wouldn’t look out of place on Brigitte Bardot in her heyday.

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