Beauty & Paris: They Go Together Like…

I’ve been a beauty journalist for a long time. Let’s just say that I’ve gone from testing anti-acne lotions to anti-ageing creams. I adore the industry — naturellement: it’s why I’ve stayed in it for so long — but as with any love affair I got to a point where I needed a break. I wanted to be able to just spritz on a perfume without trying to break it down molecularly. I wanted to swipe on lipstick and not have to go through all of the usual application steps. I wanted to go makeup- and nail polish-free for a while (quelle horreur!) without feeling like a total failure. I wanted to stop peering into my pores, examining every nook and cranny and line and wrinkle, and take a step back to see the bigger picture of me, as much as of life. So I took some time off. It was coming into winter. I decided to hibernate, and lock myself in my study to finally get serious about writing a book. I knew I wanted it to be about Paris, but wasn’t sure exactly in what capacity. I pulled strands of French history, politics, philosophy, fashion and feminism into my pages, trying to tie them all together. And after a while, I noticed threads of beauty weaving their way into my pages, too. At first I tried to snip them away, wind them back into my old life. But then it occurred to me: of course! I mean, Paris and beauty: they just go together. Like a stripy top and a baguette. Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Nutella and crêpes. The beauty industry could only blossom in a city that truly, madly, deeply appreciates beautiful things. How could perfumers not concoct the world’s most tantalising parfums when their nostrils are constantly tempted by the city’s culinary delights, or markets piled high with peonies and roses? How could makeup artists and hair stylists not be inspired to create works of art when they can just pop into the Louvre for some classic inspiration? Paris, the capital of beautiful things, is the city of lipstick as much as light. My book is not a beauty read per se, but I’ve found that you can’t tell the tale of Paris, and those exquisite Parisiennes, without looking at the evolution, and impact, of the beauty industry. At least, I can’t tell my tale of Paris without doing this. Pass me back that red lipstick, okay?

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