Tuesday, September 7, 2010

La Chicana en Paris (follow up on style)

After finishing my last post, a sweet memory crept in to remind me that part of my blog is to contarles historias that are relevant. While we all have to be cautious not to over-credit Europe with ideas, I must acknowledge that Paris was where I first began understanding the concept of style....And it makes sense.  France has had a long time to evolve ideas about fashion without a lot of constraints, and so it has arrived at the point where everyone has afforded themselves individual styles. On the other hand, I think in America we are still trying to distinguish style and fashion while at the same time fighting the dichotomies that exist in our own society. Well, back to my story.

In the summer of 2005, I was in Europe working for a German firm where every other weekend I hopped on a cheap plane flight to another city; and one weekend I landed in Paris. Imagine me, a little engineering Chicana with pretty beat-up glasses, walking through the streets of Paris, in shorts and sneakers, and just being amazed at what I saw (and ate). Besides the beautiful architecture, the art (yes, I saw Mona Lisa), and the unfortunate undertones of french nationalism, I saw Style. Literally, no two women (or men, for that matter) looked alike; and maybe there was some "trend" going on, but I definitely did not see it. Every style was represented in the subway; there were the Chanel type ladies with those classic black bags, and there was the alternative ladies with red hair, and combat inspired boots. Even the minority mujer (mostly from former french colonies, and the Caribbean) had a style. In fact, I was blessed with the opportunity to stumble into the ghetto (porque you know me, I like seeing the real deal), and indeed I saw a microcosm of style, and of course the classic salon, where all the ladies straightened their hair (another topic of conversation to be discussed later). The funniest thing I remember, is trying to get directions from the salon lady, and suddenly I discovered she spoke English; she was from Jamaica!

After my first day in Paris, I stopped wearing my shorts, and wore the one skirt I had brought with me. Unfortunately, when I came back to the states, I forgot all about what I learned, and focused on the weighty issues of undergraduate education. But, I leave you all with a picture of me in Paris (with awful style, hair-do, everything! BUT, I was happy now, wasn't I):
 This outfit was highly improved by the time I landed in Madrid: