When things get really busy, I need a book to slow me down.  I’m currently reading “Parisian Chic:  A Style Guide by Inès de la Fressange” which I found when I went to the Manila Book Fair a few weeks ago.  It’s a clever book, a paperback designed to look like a leather-bound book, complete with gold-stamped printing on its pleather wrapped cover.  Inès de la Fressange was my style idol during my high school years, a woman born into an aristocratic family who became Karl Lagerfeld’s favorite muse and the face of Chanel in the 80’s.

What I love about this book is that, while it’s essentially a style guide around Paris–sharing little-known galleries, hole-in-the-wall vintage stores, neighborhood cafés, and out-of-the-way designer boutiques–it can also be seen as a guide to exploring one’s own city and discovering it’s local treasures.  Flea markets, the local grocery, vintage shops…these are just some of a Parisian’s go-to places that have become my favorite hunting grounds to rummage for finds over the years.

Ito and I discovered these pristine French Salon chairs completely covered in cling-wrap at a local vintage store in Evangelista Street

These chic, whimsical mobiles by Ral Arogante can often be found at Art in the Park in Salcedo Park

One of my favorite style tips in the book is to look for the ‘essence’ of things, and to learn to work with what is natural–in our bodies, in our homes, and in our fashion.  As a designer, we are always faced with the possibility of creating fantasy and designing things that are completely disparate from what is around us, but it’s always been my preference to work with my immediate environment and the essence of what’s in front of me (whether that be a client, or a piece of fabric).

More than just fashion, “Parisian Chic” points out the way to living life in a more conscious manner, noticing the local, ordinary things we may snub and overlook, but if given the proper attention, may turn out to be the chicest pieces around.

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