You can always come back, my mother said. Read more...
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.
Kate Betts s captivating memoir brings to life the enchantment of France from the nightclubs of 1980s Paris where she learned to dance Le Rock, to the lavender fields of Provence and the grand spectacle of the Cour Carree and magically re-creates that moment in life when a young woman discovers who she s meant to be.
Praise for "My Paris Dream"
A] glittering coming-of-age tale. "Entertainment Weekly" (The Must List)
Fashion and self-examination froth and wisdom might seem like odd bookfellows, but Betts brings them together with winning confidence. "The New York Times Book Review"
As light and refreshing as an ice cream cone from the legendary Berthillon, "My Paris Dream" evokes the sights, sounds, smells and styles of 1980s Paris. " USA Today"
"My" "Paris Dream "is awesome. " Man Repeller"
What was Bett s Paris dream? Her dream was her awakening, which] is elegantly chronicled in these pages. " The Daily Beast"
For those who are interested in the men and women involved in haute couture, Betts reminiscences will be a delight. "Kirkus Reviews"
Full of slangy French, delectable food and swoon-worthy fashion. "BookPage"
An amazing story of a young woman in Paris trying to break into the fashion business. Sophia Amoruso, author of "#GIRLBOSS"
Kate Betts s story brought me back to my own young self and the journey I made in my case, from a small town in Illinois to New York City. Cindy Crawford"
Spotlight: Paris is a woman's town
There is something irresistible about a talented American woman in Paris. She feels sexy and alive while strolling the city’s streets, confident the world will unfurl in her hand like a blossoming flower.
Such young women are featured in new books by Kate Betts and Christine Sneed, and both tell wonderful stories—one true, one fictional—about taking risks and pursuing dreams abroad.
Betts’ memoir, My Paris Dream, recalls her years in the city of light after graduating from Princeton in the 1980s. Her Paris was a ladder whose climb began with freelance writing assignments for travel magazines and culminated with a position as a fashion editor and associate bureau chief of Women’s Wear Daily. Betts, who later became the editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, is an instantly likable storyteller. She takes you to the Parisian boulevards and describes in terrific detail what people were wearing. Perhaps occasionally too much detail. “Only the French could invent seamless stockings that stay up with a rubber sticky band that grips the upper thigh,” she writes. As a young woman looking to make a good impression, she bought several pairs. “Fashion is tribal,” she explains. “It’s not about who you are but where you belong.” This is a story of how one American woman came to belong in the fashion capital of Europe, and how she wrote about that world for an American audience. Along the way, Betts made some terrific friends, fell in love and witnessed the world of style up close during a time of major transition. Full of slangy French, delectable food and swoon-worthy fashion, Betts’ memoir is well worth the read.
If Betts’ Paris is a ladder, then Sneed’s is an escape hatch. Jayne Marks, the protagonist of Sneed’s novel, Paris, He Said, is an aspiring artist in New York who can’t find time to paint. Then she meets gallery owner Laurent Moller. Decades older and maybe a little too suave, Laurent sweeps Jayne away to Paris to be his girlfriend and to live in his luxurious apartment. In her new life, Jayne has hours each day to paint, cook and work in Laurent’s French gallery, which is located on the same street as the Louvre. “I am closer to my twenty-year-old self here,” she thinks, “closer than I am at home.” Yet she finds it hard to settle into such a decadent existence. Can she maneuver the complexities of Laurent’s social world? Will her paintings ultimately be any good? Is Laurent being totally faithful to her? And why can’t she stop thinking about her ex-boyfriend in New York? Sneed, whose previous novel, Little Known Facts, drew considerable acclaim, expertly keeps the pages turning in this delightful novel. Paris, He Said offers readers, too, an entertaining escape from the mundanities of daily life. With clever and graceful prose, Sneed deftly guides a story that explores whether satisfaction follows when all one’s deepest wishes come true.