I was 16 when I became an obsessive Francophile. Before being drew to the world of art, coffee, sophistication and fashion, I was an awkward teenager. 14 and 15 year old me, was a hardcore punk/emo girl. My hair was cut short and spiked, as well as being bright red. I wore thick, black eyeliner on my bottom lids, and I dressed like I had raided a fancy dress shop in the dark. My idea of a good outfit was pink tights, a tutu, a band shirt and a velvet jacket, or skinny jeans, doc martens and a sparkly top… I was weird.
Just before my 16th birthday I got a job in a cafe called “The French Bakehouse”. The owner had worked in Paris and was an expert at making baguettes, cream donuts and pain aux chocolat. Just after that I read a book about Coco Chanel, and “Seventeen” magazine did a segment on the lifestyle of French ladies, including how to decorate your dorm room Parisian Style. I was enamoured.
This Frenchness, this style, just eclipsed the awkward teenage world I was living in. The women were clever and beautiful. Nobody laughed at them for having weird hair or hid their shoes in the drama studio! They were chic. Their whole life spoke of class and glamour. I wanted to be like that.
My chance came when my mother announced she wanted to redecorate mine and my sisters bedrooms. At the time my room was blue, covered in hundreds of pictures of emo people, band posters, twilight images (yes really) and a discarded guitar. It was not the place for an aspiring French lady. So I requested my redo to have one resounding theme: Parisian. I went round every shop and bought Eiffel Tower motifs, pictures of Paris, and “French” bedspreads. I selected pink as the main colour for my walls, and insisted on clearing out all of my awkward teenage crap.
Now that I had achieved the perfect French boudoir, I set about making myself the perfect French lady. I threw out all my nerdy, emo clothes in favour of classy striped t shirts, blouses, and a beret. I grew out my hair into a little bob, and bleached it blond. I stopped putting eyeliner on my bottom lids and opted for winged eyeliner on the top instead.
That’s where is began… little did I know the transformation was only beginning…