Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Le Chic? Just Pass Me The Gold Spandex

One day I a couple of years ago, I decided to make myself a skirt. I was fed up with the cycle of clothes I had begun. It started with seeing something on the tv or in a magazine that I liked, not being able to afford or find it, ending up with something similar but unsatisfying, and ultimately leaving it at the back of the wardrobe to rot.
Whilst bagging my still-labelled failures into a charity shop binbag one day, it struck me: why not try this myself?

A trip to Argos and a £50 sewing machine later, I was on my way. Cheap fabric was going for £1/metre at Upton Park Market, and a local haberdashers provided thread, pins and, well, cute little buttons I couldn’t resist but would “definitely” use at a later date (update: still sat in sewing box). Google “sewing tutorial” or “sewing patterns” online, and away you go.

Starting a craft in Britain is quite easy; you cant really go wrong. No wonder our fashion graduates are the envy of the world, and the UK is renowned for such modern and enigmatic clothes.

Paris…..Paris is known as the “capital of fashion”. Where chic just happens. People flock here to be seen and to soak up the ambiance, hoping it will unconsciously influence their wardrobe.

It is also a right pain in the arse if you want to create anything yourself.

Before heading out here, I was in contact with a member of a craft website for some tips on moving to the Ile de France. The most memorable piece of advice she gave me: the French don’t bother trying to make anything that can be made for them by someone with formal training. Crafting for the fun of it isn’t much of a pastime here, and that’s been made pretty clear to me during my teaching.

A few of my adult students have raised both eyebrows AND engaged the pout at the mention of crochet. At admitting to sewing a dress, I repeatedly received the “but you know you can buy them in H and M, oui?” reply. Which, quite frankly, I had a hard time not taking as an insult.

It just staggers me that for a city people regard as being so chic, no one is creative. It is reflected in the fashion. If you wear anything outside of grey, black, or navy blue, you are considered a daring outcast. Fancy a winter coat? Better make it a babydoll swing with strict collars. It’s enough to make a Central St Martins student flee back to the Eurotunnel and die happy in a sea of neon jeggings.

Apparently this subdued chic is a reflection of the egocentric French mentality, where simply trying is the first step to a guaranteed faux pas, as losing face if it doesn’t work out holds too big a risk of social downfall. No wonder the administrative system hasn’t been altered since Napoleon.

Right, I’m off to attempt the impossible; completing a bank transaction in less than 72 hours. *le sigh*

Lu et approuvé,
miss chlo

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