Defining “chic”

BY LAVINIA LIANG

Courtesy of Typhaine Augusto, 2016.

Typhaine Augusto started blogging because she was shy as a child, and because growing up in Southern France was boring. Her current blog, Cuillèrie à Absinthe (“Absinthe Spoon” in English), has thousands of followers, and has been featured in multiple publications. Augusto’s Twitter has over 4,000 followers, and her Instagram almost 14,000.

Augusto was born in Paris, but moved soon after to the south of France for her parents’ work. Growing up in the south of France gave Augusto the push she needed to start her first blog at eleven years old. She studied photography in college, and wanted to be a fashion photographer for a long time. Then, she realized she wanted to be in front of the camera. She has not looked back since then.

Now, in Paris’s Montmartre, the 25-year-old is a stylist, a professional blogger, and a part-time DJ. Augusto has the model-like quality of appearing young and mature and ageless all at once. A bob of bright orange hair frames her smooth-skinned face. An A-line of bangs covers her forehead. Today, she sported a tight-bodied white turtleneck sweater, covered by white jean overalls. A large hoop earring dangled from each ear.

Augusto is famous for her use of colors and her tomboyish looks, as well as for incorporating “Asiatic aesthetics” into her styling. Augusto has long been a huge fan of Asian fashion, particularly Korean style elements. “They have a kind of no-gender trend,” said Augusto. “Many Parisians will embrace the ‘tomboy style,’ but they will always make sure to have something feminine to balance it out—feminine shoes, or accessories, for example.”

Augusto wants to break the Parisian tradition of conforming certain fashion items or looks to the gender binary. In France, women wear “feminine” outfits. Men wear “masculine” ones. “They [Korean style elements] gave me the confidence to wear these outfits,” she said. By “these outfits,” Augusto was referring to ones that could be worn easily by both men and women.

Most of Paris cares about fashion, to some degree, Augusto said. To wear sweatpants out to the street gives others the impression that no effort has been put into appearing in a public space. “It’s not really chic,” Augusto said. When asked to define “chic,” the fashion blogger paused for a little before saying, “It is definitely a feminine thing…but it means that you thought about this before presenting it.”

Most of Paris, however, is still not comfortable with “androgyny” as a fashion sense. This philosophy of breaking the gender binary in fashion leads Augusto to call herself a “mixed girl. She dislikes when people expect her to “dress a certain way.”

Augusto is also a big fan of feminist literature, citing Virginia Woolf as her favorite author. Augusto’s style icons, too, are ones with obvious feminist agendas: Tavi Gevinson, founder of the fashion blog Style Rookie; Léandra Medine, founder of the lifestyle website Man Repeller; and Simone de Beauvoir, the twentieth century feminist intellectual and writer. “I’m just so fascinated by how women were treated and viewed in the past,” Augusto said. “How they were completely left out.”

To prove her point on double standards in fashion, Augusto once conducted a social experiment. She went to two parties in one night, both with similar groups of people, and with people whom she knew relatively well. For one, she wore high heels and a typical, feminine outfit. For the other, she dressed down for a “chill” look with overalls and a t-shirt. “The difference was huge,” Augusto said. At the first party, “people said hi and complimented me, my outfit. At the other party, people just ignored me.” Augusto shrugged and shook her head.

Courtesy of Typhaine Augusto, 2016.

Augusto is not only aware of the unspoken dress codes for women, but also with how similar restrictions can apply to race. “I have a friend who is black, and when he wears sweatpants, people will think he is a…bad boy. He has to dress well so that people don’t think that.” In contrast, Augusto said, when her white friends wear sweatpants, nobody thinks twice.

In her free time, Augusto has taken up acting and singing classes. Her blog has expanded to more than just fashion. She wants to show off the artistic world of Paris from more than simply the lens of fashion. Given this mission, perhaps it is not surprising that Augusto has started to find Paris’s annual fashion week “boring.”

“It is spending a lot of time for something not that interesting,” she said. “I can see it all on the Internet.”

 

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