Describe your style. “I try to keep it classy.”
Today in micro-fashion. This three year old is already turning heads. I am not sure what caught my eye first, the fuchsia lipstick or geek glasses.
To the sea of people I pass everyday
I do not know your names
Or where you come from
Or if you prefer Chardonnay
You are irreplaceable
Like salt, the stars and rain
It was always love at first sight with Garance Dore and Scott Schuman. It started as a crush and over the years my admiration for them has only grown stronger. Together they are an unstoppable powerhouse. There is something irresistibly charming about her charisma. She lights up the room with her smile and makes you want to hop on the next plane to Paris just to hear a beautiful French accent again. Scott is a man on a mission. You can see it in his eyes and in all of his photographs. Their blogs are influential and intimate but in vastly different voices. Scott lets his images on “The Sartorialist” speak for themselves. Reading Garance’s blog feels like reading a letter from a close friend with a ton of artistic flare (which may partly explain why I adore her).
You may be wondering why I am writing this gushy note now? I will tell you.
Last week the French Institute in NYC hosted an evening of conversation with Garance and they invited her husband Scott to lead the discussion. It was beautiful to see their chemistry and mutual respect. You could see how proud he was of her and how he wanted her to shine. I have been blessed to see them before during NYFW and at the opening of his ‘Closer’ show at a gallery in Chelsea back in 2012. But this was the first time I had heard them speak in person. The auditorium was packed and yet it still felt like we were chilling on their couch with a glass of chardonnay.
They make success look so easy. Just a few brush strokes. Just photograph stylish people on the streets. Just dash off a few lines. Scott kept reminding Garance to speak about the challenges of staying true to yourself as an artist and making it as an entrepreneur.
Garance is from a tiny village in Corsica. Scott is from Indiana. Growing up their exposure to style was largely through reading any fashion magazine they could get their hands on. This is an experience I can completely relate too. I was obsessed with magazines as a teenager. They opened up exciting horizons beyond the borders of Oklahoma. I took notes of the lighting, the outfits, the colors, the hair and make-up and most of all the fantastical photo shoots.
Garance spoke about her search to find her profession. She remarked, “I hate the word ‘niche’. In French that’s what you call a little house for a dog.” At one point she took an assessment test and the results showed that the perfect job for her was taxidermy (good thing she didn’t listen to that computer)! She was always good at drawing and decided to move to Paris. There she quickly realized that even if she could find magazines to publish her work it was not cost effective. Back then one drawing took her 2 to 3 days to complete and the compensation was about $200. She saw that this would swiftly lead to living under a bridge. She knew she had to draw faster so she challenged herself to start a blog where she would post one illustration a day. And so at age 30 the blog was born.
Scott and Garance met in Paris during Fashion Week in 2007. At this point Garance had a significant following in France. His blog “The Sartorialist” was already world famous. He immediately saw in Garance that spark of potential. He gave her his backup camera and began to sneak her into the fashion shows since he had invitations. Scott said that he was able to usher her into most shows but he could not get her into Chanel. He apologized and went inside without her. Moments later she magically appeared. He said it was at that moment-when she snuck into Chanel-that he knew she was going to make it.
My evening at the French Institute was filled with stories, great questions and even better answers. Here is a list of a few points I took to heart from this dynamic duo.
Appreciate the value of baby steps- Sticking to her commitment to drawing one illustration a day led her to discover an audience and to hone in on her skills. Garance wants to direct a movie someday so she ventured into making short films with her series called “Pardon my French.”
Honesty is the secret- Rather than harp on the cliché stay true to yourself, Garance stressed “you can’t fake sincerity.” Scott reiterated that “the only way to be a successful blogger is to be really honest.” It is not about following the hottest trend, always having an opinion or even toting millions of hits on social media. She did not jump on the “selfie” bandwagon. She is not afraid to talk about her mistakes because she knows they are some of the most formative moments in life. There is a natural flow to the content because she speaks from the heart. Sometimes she is interested in deep issues and other times her focus is on the simple things. It is apparent that she passionately pursues what she loves. After all, “I’m very bad at doing things that I don’t love.”
Environment is key- Find the space that inspires you to do your best work. Scott said Garance needs absolute silence to write, but when she photographs or is illustrating there is music, multi-tasking, and it basically turns into a party. Sunlight inspires her so their new apartment is full of huge windows! Garance said her biggest fear is working in a corporate environment. Scott lightheartedly chimed in, “Actually your biggest fear is not being able to work in your pajamas.”
Who you are VS. What you do- My favorite quote from the evening about blogging and ultimately life was, “It’s about finding who you are, it’s about looking for it all the time and sharing that with people.” Someone asked if she had a specific message she wanted to impart to her audience. And her reply was, “I do not set out to deliver a particular message. I set out to communicate with people.” The genuine connection that arises in some, but not all, is compelling and deep. Scott mentioned strangers frequently tell him that they feel like Garance is a close friend even though they have never met. Garance is a communicator, “If I could not show what I was doing I would just not do it… for me it’s a medium.” Her blog is an extension of herself. She is a sincere, open and fun person and those qualities spontaneously emerge when she blogs.
Southern Living- Garance said one of the toughest adjustments about moving to the US from France was socializing. It was a completely foreign concept to need to plan every second her free time three weeks in advance. Garance said in Southern France you just make ratatouille and everybody comes over. I think this is a good analogy to what happens when she posts something on her blog. There is a big family atmosphere and an open door policy.
There are a handful of artists who have made a profound and lasting impact on me. Scott and Garance are up there with Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York, Steve McCurry, and Richard Wilbur. One of my greatest joys living in NYC has been having the opportunity to meet so many people that I admire. It is often a waste of words to try and explain why something affects you so much. Henri Nouwen says it best, “heart speaks to heart.” At the end of the day, I am inspired by their work, their truth, and their lifestyle. I wanted to capture this evening in words and photographs and share them with you.
That awkward moment when you realize the more you try to stand out the more you blend in.
You never know what you will stumble upon in NYC!
“When you are attracted to people, it’s because of the details. Their kindness. Their eyes. The fact that they can get you to laugh when you need it the most.” Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home
Fashion is fleeting but sometimes a glimpse is just enough.
"The secret to modeling is not being perfect. What one needs is a face that people can identify in a second. You have to be given what’s needed by nature, and what’s needed is to bring something new." #karllagerfeld #chanel #fashionquote #modeloffduty #mbfw #mbfw14 #mbfwstreetstyle #streetstyle #style #natural #nyfw #model #grace
Street Style: Lincoln Center. I am loving this outfit, the blend of fabrics, the zip-up booties and that pop of magenta velvet. As I am going through my photos I realized a little trick to looking effortlessly chic. When in doubt wear your coat or jacket off the shoulders like this. It works like a charm. #mbfw #mbfw14 #mbfwstreetstyle #nyfw #nyfw2014 #fashionweek #streetstyle #blogger #style #styleinspiration #booties #magenta #nycstreetstyle