Vanessa Seward’s New Style Manual Is Not a Guide to Parisian Chic – WWD

PARIS Vanessa Seward often described as the quintessential “Parisienne”.

If anyone can capitalize on the aura of Parisian opulence, it’s the Argentina-born designer who graduated through the ranks of Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent to take the helm of the brand’s creations. Azzaro in 2003, and finally launched her own label in 2015. The point is, she’s not buying into the concept.

“I think it’s a bit wild. I think we are all just the product of so many different cultures,” says Seward, noting that even her friend, Inès de la Fressange, a global model of the French style, is authentic. half-Latin American descent.

Seward goes even further in her new book, “Le guide de la Gentlewoman” to be published by JC Lattès on Wednesday. “Parisienne doesn’t exist,” she declares in her autobiography, which includes alphabetical entries covering everything from style icons to surgery and selfies.

Cover of "Le guide de la Gentlewoman" ("Lady's Guide") published by JC Lattès.

Cover of the book “Le guide de la Gentlewoman” published by JC Lattès.
Courtesy of JC Lattès

Although the term “gentle woman” refers to women who were born well in history who attended aristocratic ladies, for Seward it was more of an attitude. She likes the concept of kindness the word conveys, and her guidebook isn’t about what to wear, rather than how.

“There is always so much pressure to be perfect, and even Parisienne, she is a little difficult to approach,” she commented on the Zoom call, white cat Jo nestled in her lap.

“I like fashion when it’s light and it’s self-expression, not when it’s like a social status, or it has too much pressure in it. In fact, it’s more of a way of thinking than a lesson in what one should do to be great,” she added.

Seward also writes the book for her community of more than 55,000 Instagram followers, where she regularly posts selfies in the hallway. “It’s a way to talk about yourself without talking about yourself. The gentle woman is another shield to hide behind. She is the ideal type of surrogate,” she said.

The 208-page Tome reflects her eclectic stylistic influences, which range from old Hollywood stars like Carole Lombard to ’70s porn actress Sylvia Kristel, through Seward’s glamorous mother Helenita, and objectionable characters such as Princess Anne of England, Dolly Parton and Julio Iglesias. Even Peter Falk, aka TV’s “Columbo,” makes an appearance.

“Inspiration comes from all sides, and I want it to be weird, because I feel weird and I like weird people. I like it when people are surprised,” she explains.

"Jo and his mistress" by Vanessa Seward, 2021

“Jo and his Mistress” by Vanessa Seward, in 2021.
Courtesy of Vanessa Seward

Seward soon discovered the power of great looks. A shy teenager, by day she wears the uniform of the prestigious Catholic private school in Paris, commonly known as Lübeck, while at night she shimmers in nightclubs such as Le Palace and Les Bains Douches, Wear a vintage and borrowed outfit.

“It was kind of a dual personality,” she recalls. “I was afraid of being sneaky, because my mother would call people who she thought didn’t have enough personality.… I have this older sister who became a fashion designer and who has a very strong personality, so that’s why. I have to find my way. I kind of reinvented myself.”

Seward is open about his shyness. In the book, she recounts how she once refused Diane von Furstenbergoffered to go on her private jet, for fear of committing spoofing.

“I was very impressed with her, and she was so kind and gracious,” she recalls. “I’m a bit clumsy and I’m sure I’ll blow it off, so in my head I thought, better leave it now where she still has a good impression.”

Seward also revealed that she was approached to design Kanye WestHer first collection, after both was introduced by French businessman and APC founder Jean Touitou after she left Azzaro in 2011.

Ironically, she was in a networking training session at her local job center when West’s number flashed on her phone. “Unfortunately, in order not to disturb practice, I did not dare answer one of the most famous men in the world,” wrote Seward in his signature self-deprecating style.

“For various reasons, it didn’t work out in the end,” she now says of the project. “I feel that it will be a bit difficult.”

Vanessa Seward RTW Fall 2018

Vanessa Seward, Fall 2018
Courteous photo

The designer is once again a freelance agency, yes pause her eponymous label in 2018. “I’m 52, I’ve had ups and downs in my career,” she said. “I really still want to work in fashion, and I want to collaborate or something. I miss it.”

But these days, she’s more focused on her burgeoning career as an artist. One of her portraits of Kristel is featured on the cover of the book, and Seward has sold six of the eight paintings she exhibited last year, proof – if any is needed – that Her quiet approach, forged by her early education in London, is no. success barrier.

“I’m fascinated by all that Anglo-Saxon culture, which the French really don’t understand sometimes at all. It’s just like all that ignorance or self-doubt,” she said. “I do it all the time, because it’s kind of a twist. It is also an armor of a good shy person.”

Seward’s refined charm, often dubbed “neobourgeois chic,” sets her apart in an era where celebrities share everything, down to their bikini waxing routine. their. “I don’t want to be judged, but I believe it’s good to keep a little bit of mystery. I understand that social media is infatuation,” she said. “It’s probably hard not to escalate.”

But she believes she’s not alone in preferring a more refined style.

“I can feel there are other women who feel the same way. I don’t have a lot of followers, but I’ve had real conversations with a lot of women who follow me and I think there’s an alternative,” she says. “I hope I can help them regain their confidence in themselves because, at the end of the day, I think what’s interesting is when a person gets a feel for their character.”

She hopes readers will find her book liberating. “Sometimes I miss fashion, what it was like when I started, in a way I feel more free. She explains that it’s less of a business. “I wanted to celebrate that and just remind people that fashion has to be fun, at the end of the day, at any age.”


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Linh is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Linh joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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