For fans of How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, My Paris Dream is a charming and insightful memoir about coming of age as a fashion journalist in 1980s Paris by former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts, the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style.
“You can always come back,” my mother said. “Just go.”
As a young woman, Kate Betts nursed a dream of striking out on her own in a faraway place and becoming a glamorous foreign correspondent. After college – and not without trepidation – she took off for Paris, renting a room in the apartment of a young BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) family and throwing herself into the local culture. She was determined to master French slang, style, and savoir faire and to find a job that would give her a reason to stay.
After a series of dues-paying jobs that seemed only to reinforce her outsider status, Kate’s hard work and willingness to take on any assignment paid off: Her writing and intrepid forays into la France Profonde – true France – caught the eye of John Fairchild, the mercurial fashion arbiter and publisher of Women’s Wear Daily, the industry’s bible. Kate’s earliest assignments – investigating the mineral water preferred by high society, chasing after a costumed band of wild boar hunters through the forests of Brittany – were a rough apprenticeship, but she was rewarded for her efforts and was initiated into the elite ranks of Mr. Fairchild’s trusted few who sat beside him in the front row and at private previews in the ateliers of the gods of French fashion. From a woozy yet mesmerizing Yves Saint Laurent and the mischievous and commanding Karl Lagerfeld to the riotous, brilliant young guns who were rewriting all the rules – Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, John Galliano – Betts gives us a view of what it was like to be an American girl learning about herself, falling in love, and finding her tribe.