It was the summer I bought my first (and so far only, gathering dust in the cupboard) Vanessa Bruno cabas bag because ELLE had been telling me for years it was the bag to own to be cool and fashionable. It was purple, because in 2006, purple was totally my colour, as proved by no photo of me at all. It was purple because it was the only decent colour left in the shop and I was determined to buy a cabas.
Fashion Carrousel (to make this narration easier and because it’s her name, we’ll call her Camille) and I had just spent the first of what would become our annual Paris summer reunion shopping and visiting the French capital and generally feeling cool because ELLE had been telling us for years that all the cool shops and people were in Paris. We started doubting it when we walked into Colette and thought the store silly and overrated. That was my first lesson in fashion magazine disappointment.
In addition to the cabas bag, I had purchased some Antoine & Lili, Repetto and Des Petits Hauts, brands cooler than me which I had only been vaguely aware of thanks to adverts, photoshoots and articles (some would say advertorials) in ELLE.
So imagine me, obsessed ELLE reader yet unaware of the online fashion community, new owner of cool clothes, me before I discovered the RSS function, a discovery* I regret every morning when my Google Reader shows 1000+ unread posts.
Not that I was a total digital moron. I was on Facebook (back then, Facebook was a cool, elitist concept only available to good universities) and had run a quickly defunct Blogger blog about the Royal Family (the reason I came to London, remember?).
Camille was about to start engineering school in the South of France, and I was about to start my second year at the LSE: we therefore decided to run mirroring, password-protected blogs to update each other. Hers would become funny and complainy, mine serious and complainy but at the time, I thought up this brilliant idea: why wouldn’t I post pictures of myself wearing my new cool clothes and document in the process my search for the perfect wardrobe, something every French woman is obsessed with. As with everything, I blame ELLE.
I immediately Googled the idea (see, not a digital moron) to check if anyone had had it. It was 2006 so yes, of course people had had it, although not as many people as have had it by now. Our Internet connection at home was dial-up, please feel my pain loading up the picture-based blogs which painfully slowly killed my brilliant idea. My not-so-quick search showed me there were people out there doing it, and pretty well. There and then, I decided to end my not-even-started personal style blog. As a consequence, my first blog posts to Camille were: a story of my mum, my dad and I going swimming, a recipe for a chocolate cake, one about William and Kate (let’s keep the Windsors close and the chocolate cake closer) and one about how happy I was it was my last day working as a hospital cleaner (you would have been too).
In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t set up a personal style blog because I’m terrible at staging myself and I wouldn’t have fared well amongst my peers (
or maybe I would have become a blogging sensation of the Style Bubble or Bryan Boy quality). The “journey to the perfect wardrobe” had a more interesting, if a bit self-aggrandising angle yet it took me four more years to set up my own fashion blog. I needed the time to get used to putting my ideas out on the world wide web (under password at first, I was brave), to get to know the online fashion community and to come up with a blog concept that hadn’t been overused yet could be of interest to people. The result was Fashion Abecedaire, the whooping 3 000 monthly hits I get a clear proof I have found my niche.
* I blame my friend and sometimes mentor Stacy-Marie for introducing me to RSS feeds a day I was complaining about my difficulty to keep track of blogs. However, this shouldn’t stop you from subscribing to her really good Galavant Time newsletter. It’s so good it hasn’t been
ruined mentioned by ELLE. No one paid me to run this footnote and I received no free sample.