Garance Doré, as The New York Times Magazine put it, is “the guardian of all style.” The French photographer, illustrator and author has been blogging about all things fashion since 2006, and her expertise is finally available in book form, Life Style Love.
The collection certainly satiates Doré fans’ thirst for style advice and its pages provide the same chic design as her blog, but her first book also illustrates a more intimate look at her life. It includes tidbits from her childhood on the island of Corsica, more recent details about her love life, and her transition from Parisian to New Yorker.
Doré took a break from book signings and, well, being fabulous to chat with EW about Life Style Love and how she’s dealing with the aftermath of the recent Paris attacks.
The photos below are excerpted from the book.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you decide to do this book?
Garance Doré: I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to come up with an idea, but I wanted it to be good. And one day finally, all the pieces of what I wanted to put in a book finally came together. So it came about two years ago, and that’s when I called publishing houses. It’s been a little bit actually, and it took me a long time to come up with the idea. I wanted it to be about style, but I wanted it to be more than that, because I think style comes from many other things than just the clothes. And I also had work as an illustrator and a photographer and all that, and I wanted it to really come together and do all of that.
When did you realize that people would pay for a more in depth look at what you were already doing on your blog?
I don’t think at any moment I was really thinking about that part. I think that the pressure was more how to do something that I will be happy with when it’s done — like something that I would buy. That’s maybe more the question. I buy a lot of books, and I have to say, I really love — and I don’t mind saying it — I love manuals and I love self-help books, and I know how they can make you feel amazing and make you feel like you’re learning things about life. I wanted to put my kind of light on that. So I think I thought, “If I do a good job, people will want to have that book with them, and it will be like a friend to them.” I thought that just because I wanted to do something that when I was 20, I would’ve been looking or that type of thing, when I was lost and I didn’t know what I wanted to become and all that.
Why did you choose to format it the way you did? It kind of mimics your blog.
I think that’s a good point, and it actually was not that easy to come up with a layout that would make you feel like that. Because I think what really makes the blog special, and any blog actually, is that you can come on it every day and you never know what you’re going to find. That’s the thing that really defines online publications. That was one first thing I wanted. Each page you turn, it’s kind of a surprise. So we really worked on each page very carefully to give a flow about the book, and I think in that sense you can really get that same feeling that you have when you’re on the blog. It was always a way of balancing. You know how when you go to the blog, some days it’s illustrations, some days it’s photos, and it was about balancing that. So we were careful to not put too much. There’s never really like an illustration and a photo and text at the same time. But at the same time, you keep that visual eye candy to let people be able to feel that feel. It was kind of a juggling act actually.
How did you choose which people like Jenna Lyons and Drew Barrymore to include?
It was pretty easy actually. These are really women that I’ve always looked up to. Emmanuelle Alt has always been really a role model for me in sense of style and how to be yourself and dress for yourself. So it was just a no-brainer, I was just like, “I hope she says yes.” That was really more of my question. And then Jenna, what’s great with her is that she’s a very good friend of mine, and she’s really someone I turn to each time I have an etiquette question, because she has been in New York for years, she has a very important job; she knows exactly how to behave with people. And I, being French and not having all that experience, find myself sometimes lost in how should I behave, when should I answer that email, how do you say thank you, when do you send flowers and all that. I think she’s an amazing example, because at the same time, she has all that education, but she’s also kind of a rebel and she does things in a way that’s her own. So I thought she would be great with the elegance chapter. I also see her as one of my biggest inspirations in terms of evening dressing.
And then Diane von Furstenburg, I think it’s pretty obvious she’s seen so much and she has so much to share. She’s a real inspiration, and also she’s someone that I can go to when I have a question. She’s a girl’s girl. She will tell you if you’re doing something wrong and not hold it against you. She’s friendly in that sense. And so I wanted her to share with us how she became like that and all that.
Then to finish, Drew Barrymore — she’s such a huge persona, such a huge celebrity, and at the same time, she’s the most down to earth, wholesome… I think in terms of beauty, she has that perfect balance of being a beauty, but at the same time being a real woman. I love the sense of humor she had when she did that book thing. I love when she said after having a kid that she was not going to starve herself, that she was not going to get into a competition, that she was going to let her body get back into shape it’s own way. I think it’s so important for women to hear things like that, so I definitely wanted to have her in the book for that.
When you first started thinking about this book, what were the first things that you knew for sure that you wanted to put in?
I think the thing that I was the most excited about was to talk about things that I cannot about myself — or it’s hard to talk about it on the blog, because of the fact that the blog is something that is so live and direct. And often you’re talking about stories, because I talk a lot about my life. It’s hard, because when I’m living some stories, I can’t tell them at the same moment. You have to have a little bit of time to digest it and understand what happened to you and all that. So I knew a book would be a great place to talk about love, which is a subject I would really want to talk about more on the blog, but I always have to be careful. Many people are involved, and you can’t just go about telling your life like that. But with a book, you have years. You can take a step back. It’s totally different.
Is there anything you didn’t get to include that maybe you’re saving for another book?
Well, I guess it’s more like different subjects. I couldn’t touch everything in my life. My dad is a chef, and he’s an amazing cook, and I think maybe one day I’d love to do a cookbook or something. And that’s something I didn’t put there. You can’t do everything with one book.
Do you envision blogging for the rest of your life?
Yeah, I think so. But it can change in many ways. I think once you have a conversation with the people, you can’t stop it. It’s amazing. Having a voice, and you know that because you have one, is such a… We’re so lucky. So many people have so many things to share, and they don’t have people listening. I’m obviously an over-sharer, which you probably know, but I will never stop. I know how lucky I am, and I would never stop.
It seems like fashion blogs have kind of expanded more to be about lifestyles than just one person. How do you envision that changing in the future?
It’s weird. I think that now it’s more talking about a vision and things like that. I don’t know. I’m wondering if it’s just a trend. I think at a moment, everybody wanted to do a fashion blog, and then it’ll be exhausted. And now everybody wants to do a lifestyle blog. Maybe it’ll evolve at some point. I’ve been trying to not draw conclusions too fast, because things change so fast. And we think it’s always going to be like that, but I remember at some point, people were asking me what advice I would give to a young blogger, and I was like, “Don’t do a fashion blog. Do something else.” I think people have a tendency to look at what’s working, or look at what they think is working, and try to reproduce. And so we’ll always see kind of waves of things. I don’t know how long it will last though.
Jessica de Ruiter
I was really impressed with the way you expressed your own thoughts on the Paris attacks on your blog, and how you chose to celebrate Parisian fashion this week. What are your thoughts on the intersection of fashion and strength and how that can bring people together?
These moments are so tricky. I am not a journalist. I don’t have an education of being able to have a step back at the same time as I’m living the thing. So it’s a very difficult question, because I know the readers are going to look up to you for answers and for explaining their emotions and all that. And being French, it’s horrible, but it’s the second time it’s happened in a year. So yeah, I mean, we have no choice but to keep going. And of course, celebrating a strong woman — a creative woman, a woman that obviously is free with her creativity and all that — there is nothing that you can do that’s best, because I think in these type of moments, you want to keep doing what you’re doing, but also try to make people understand how lucky we are to be able to do things. People always, always ask me, “Fashion, but isn’t it superficial?” But to me, no, it’s really not. Fashion is a place of expression. It’s a place of freedom, a place where we can express so much about ourselves. I think the first reaction is, “You know, let’s keep going. Let’s talk about creativity. Let’s talk about women. Let’s not fall into fear.” So that’s what we decided to do with my team.
Whatever you do, people will have always have an opinion. “Oh you should post, oh you shouldn’t post.” Very tricky, but you become stronger. Also, I think one very important thing is to be very decisive; make a decision and stick to it, and don’t listen to the noise. Just know that what you do is right in your heart. Anyway, that’s kind of how we’re doing it with my team.