Garance Dore on Finding Inspiration, Paris vs New York, and How to Dress for Fashion Week


I've got a lot on my mind as Fashion Week gets underway — namely, what to wear on my feet as I take to the slushy NYC streets — but French photographer, illustrator and writer Garance Dore comes off as cool, calm and collected, regardless of the weather and impending craziness. At the presentation of the spring/summer 2014 Maison Jules collection, Dore let me in on her approach to both New York and Paris Fashion Week madness, as well as the reason she recently chopped off her hair…

Tell us about your new haircut

So, last time I saw you, I was starting to get very tired of my long hair. My hair is curly and I couldn’t get it right. First, the water in New York is totally different than in Paris, so it was going totally crazy. My curls were getting crazy. I’m a very, very lazy low-maintenance kind of person—if you tell me I have to do a blowout every morning, I’d kill you. Also the weather is so crazy in New York and changes every day and my hair reacts to the weather so much. One day I was like, “I can’t do it anymore,” so I had my hair back all the time just because it was uncontrollable. But my hair started breaking so my hairdresser [suggested I cut it.] I started a Pinterest board about it and I started getting excited. Then one day I decided I was gonna jump and do it, so I did.

Were you scared? 

So scared. I was ready but I was very emotional. And the worst thing was that it’s not like after a moment, you don’t know if it’s good or not. It kind of takes two or three days to know; you’re asking your friends what they think and feel maybe they’re lying to you. So it’s very, very scary. I have pictures of when they were cutting my hair and the face I was making. I was like “Oh my god.” They cut a little bit and then suddenly your hair is on the floor and it’s awful. One moment, she was like, “Okay, now there’s no turning back.” And I was like “Ahh!” But yeah, it’s fine, afterwards I went and had a margarita with my best friend, and was like, “Just don’t say anything.” But now I’m very happy.

How do you style it? 

Since it’s a little curly, I put Moroccan Oil cream in when it's wet and tuck it behind my ears so they can dry a little straight. And that’s it.

How do you accessorize with your little rings, etc? 

One is missing, I don’t know where it is. Oh, and my fake tattoos? [rolls up sleeve] Well, this is from Catbird—they’re my favorite, I love them. And this is from Boucheron, a different kind of favorite … a little more luxurious. And [my good friend] just sent me [this bracelet] with my name written on it.

What are the essentials that you need to be a Parisian style star? 

Good question, because there are different styles of Parisians. My type is simple jeans and a cool sweater. Then there is the more feminine style—a simple dress that you can also wear with a cardigan or something like this. So there’s kind of different Parisians … are you more of a Brigitte Bardot or Emmanuelle Alt?

What is it that Maison Jules aims to capture about Parisian style? 

I think it’s that sense of—it’s easy to get dressed and easy to mix and match everything; you can be charming without doing too much. I think this is the French message: comfort and creativity doesn’t need to be overwhelming. So, you know how in New York we love to GO SHOPPING! and [wear] a lot of accessories and do all that—this is a lot more about quietness, and something that’s easier and cool. This is more, just, put on a cool dress and a little belt…and it’s done.

How will you stay warm during Fashion Week? 

I have 3 solutions. The first is that I have a huge parka, a very sexy one. The second one is that I layer. Put everything on top of everything. You can put on 10 layers, it’s fine. The first one should be heat-tech or something like that. The third one is have a driver so you can go around in heels and stuff … depending on the day.

What are you looking forward to blogging about this season? 

You never know. The first few days, I’m kind of quiet on the blog because I want to feel what’s happening. Every season’s very different, and if I knew before, that wouldn’t be interesting. I remember the year where all the editors started wearing high heels with boyfriend jeans. Now it seems like “Oh, of course everybody does that,” but it was such a revolution and everybody was like, “Oh my God, look at that, this is crazy!”

How do you keep track of your thoughts, besides by taking photos? 

Notes—I can show you. [Takes out iPhone and scrolls through hundreds of notes.] I have a ton of different apps. The easiest one, obviously, is the Notes one. It’s crazy…[still scrolling] and I cleared it not a long time ago. I also have Springpad, where I put a lot of my blog ideas and stuff. I have a ton of ways—I send myself emails, sometimes I do a recording. But when you have an idea, you have to write it down, or else, the next day you’re like “Man, I had such a good idea yesterday, but just don’t remember what!”

What do you look for when you shoot street style? 

I don’t look for anything, actually. I wait for the thing to come to me. I like to be surprised. I just take my camera with me and I go about my life and then suddenly I will see a photo in front of me and I will just shoot it. That’s kind of how I want things to be. But in general, I like women when they don’t feel contrived by their clothes. I like when their personality shines through. Fashion, to me, is really about the beauty of the woman. It’s not typical beauty that I’m talking about, but something that will make her look interesting or compelling … something like when you’re having your coffee [and observing]. In Paris, we love sitting down at cafes and watching people go by, so it’s kind of the next level of that.

We know what a New Yorker can learn from a Parisian girl, but what do you think a Parisian girl can learn from a New Yorker? 

To have more fun with fashion. To go crazy one day. To not care about what people think of you. I think in New York, you can be whoever you want. There is no other city that’s so accepting. Paris is not like that—Paris is more like, “Oh, look at her. What is she wearing?” Do whatever—nobody will judge. There’s like a little love affair between Paris and New York because they’re different, but they go so well together. One thing that is super popular on the blog are my posts that are “Paris vs. New York,” where I explain all the differences, so I think it’s fun.

What are some of the major differences between Paris and New York Fashion Week?

It’s totally different. New York is so great with sportswear and things that—obviously there is Oscar de la Renta [etc .] who does beautiful dresses—but it’s a lot about about “what is the cool girl wearing?” whereas in Paris, there are all these big designers that challenge your idea of fashion. It’s a different feel. And also, the cities are so different that they bring a different energy to everything you do and to the creativity. Most people—editors and people like me—they go to get inspiration and ideas for the new season and I think the city itself counts, too. Milan is such an inspiring city, too. Every one is different and brings something different.