I have a soft spot for those style guides written by slightly bossy, self-appointed taste arbiters, such as Rita Konig. So after hearing 80s supermodel Ines de la Fressange talk about her new book Parisian Chic on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, I’d bought it before you could say, ‘Hmmm, Amazon One-Click: not a guaranteed great idea.’
For a start, it’s a style guide to Paris. Which, since I’m not going to Paris, makes it almost entirely redundant. There are, however, substantial chapters on what to wear, along with the usual tips on how to have a chi-chi dinner party, etc. Much of the advice is of the crashingly obvious kind (‘Nowadays, red and white wine are fine for everyone… For non-drinkers, water and fruit juices are perfect.’) But it’s hard for books to offer fashion advice because they’ve dated before they’ve left the presses. (‘Who would wear a pleated skirt?’ she scoffs. Well, everyone who tried – and failed – to get their hands on this one, for a start.)
In fact I was surprised at how cliche some of her style tips were. Trench coats get a big plug, for instance, as do ballerinas, straight-leg jeans and even Breton tops. You wonder why she didn’t go the whole hog and recommend berets and strings of onions.
Not bad for 54 though, huh?