“People praise the effortlessness of French women, but they don’t realize that it’s actually an effort to look effortless,” says Caroline de Maigret, glancing down at her black sweater, skinny Lee jeans and Stan Smith sneakers. Born an aristocrat, the 39-year-old has never exactly slummed it. Her new book, “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits,” co-written by journalist Audrey Diwan, writer Anne Berest and movie producer Sophie Bas, could read as an ode to the privileged — but the style tome steers clear of preachiness, instead debunking myths in an ironic look at the lives of French women.
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How did you come up with the idea to write this book?
Every time I travel abroad, I’m asked about “La Parisienne.” So I would get a lot a questions, but I also realized that there were a lot of cliches around the Parisian lady, who has kind of been crowned the “ideal woman.” It’s strange for me because “La Parisienne” is actually a lady who doesn’t try to be anyone else or to reach perfection but learns how to deal with who she is and how to play with her flaws instead of fighting them. So with my three friends, we decided to show that these women were everything but perfect.
The subhead of the book is “Love, Style & Bad Habits.” What are your bad habits?
My bad habits would be my contradictions such as eating a pizza and having a coffee sweetened with a Splenda. But I consider these bad habits good ones because they are the salt of life, which makes all of this a fun adventure.
Who do you think is the chicest Parisian woman?
Charlotte Rampling is unbelievably beautiful and incredibly chic. She is feminine with an androgynous edge and, most importantly, she is a bright woman. She might be British, but she is one of the most Parisian people ever — just like Jane Birkin or Romy Schneider, who were born abroad but epitomize Parisian style, which is precisely why we made this book. Anyone in the world can be Parisian; it’s all about the attitude.
Who is the chicest man?
I always say Keith Richards, but my man [French musician] Yarol Poupaud is probably the most stylish man I know. I steal all his clothes — he is the one who taught me to have fun with my style.
Who is your favorite fashion designer?
Karl Lagerfeld. What I love about Karl is the way he sees women. He is always ahead of his time: He knows everything about fashion, literature and the arts in general. I think that fashion is linked to society, even if for me it’s just a way to have fun, and he knows exactly how to transfer society to fashion, without ever forgetting to add in some humor.
Do you wear makeup?
Usually I wear brown mascara, because it makes my eyes look less severe and younger, and I switch to black at night. I’m a big fan of the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat that I use to brighten the eyes, but also as a normal concealer. I put some NARS Sumatra Multiple on my cheeks but I almost never wear foundation. Even though I don’t wear a lot of makeup, I just designed a collection for Lancome, which will be released in September 2015.
How do you take care of your body?
Fashion Month was very busy, and I just had my first workout session in a while yesterday. I can’t even walk today! I’m lucky enough to have my own coach who comes to my place, but I hate working out. Then again, I know it’s good for my health and it allows me to eat more. Since the birth of my son, Anton, I’ve been trying to eat organic as much as possible. I also try to go easy on fats and dairies, so if I have a cheeseburger for lunch, I will have a light dinner.