When I decided to leave my New York life behind, I knew more or less what I was losing: a comfortable, clear-cut life. An easy city where everything was in reach, where I’d already proven myself and where the red velvet ropes opened to me like magic. A world where, almost everywhere I went, familiar faces were there to say hello.
That was great for a few years.
Then I started to get a little bored. As any artist will tell you, too much comfort ruins being comfortable.
In other words: you end up with nothing new to say about it.
For example. My first fashion show was a cruel and fascinating world filled with semi-hateable, tall, gorgeous women at the height of fashion. By my fiftieth show, there was Sarah to my right who was pretending she’d lost her invitation again, and Anna to my left – sure, she can be cruel, but pfff you don’t know her story (and I won’t share it with you, I just had kale raclette with her last night). I told you at least twelve times about Leila’s weird behavior, the woman to my left there. It was funny at first, but now that I know her, it’s sad actually… not funny. Yawn. Being an insider.
Everyone is way too nice to you.
So, there you go. Good news for my skeptical French mind: in Los Angeles, I’m an outsider.
That’s actually one of the reasons why, with nothing but my own courage, I came to live here.
And also the reason why, with nothing other than my sense of duty, I accepted a few invitations to Hollywood parties where I was the outsider of outsiders from Planet Outsider, from the farthest reaches of the Outsider galaxy.
In fact, last week, I went to one of those parties all alone.
Too outsider to even get a plus one. Seriously?
I forced myself to go because Chris was playing there, and also because the number of celebrities per square inch promised to be Golden Globe-esque, and even though I’m incredibly cool and not impressionable in the least, I do come from a little lost island in the Mediterranean, always remember.
This wasn’t the first time that, by the magic of my New York connections whose tentacles reach all the way to Chateau Marmont, I’d found myself invited to a fabulous Hollywood party. But that doesn’t mean I’m used to it yet.
So what happens is that in general, I’m more or less alone, slightly lost, and everyone finds me incredibly chic.
That’s how you learn two things you forget when you work in fashion, where we end up forgetting what’s chic and venerating whatever is conceptual or flashy:
1/ When nobody knows you, being chic really helps you make an impression.
2/ Being chic is terribly easy, unlike what people would have us believe.
You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
Don’t leave just yet, the name dropping is on its way and it’s pretty SOLID.
Let’s talk about the surroundings, because I have a tendency to forget (I’ll end up forgetting this completely and you’ll get annoyed with me, because that’s just the way it goes) that not everyone lives in LA with their own personal shaman, driver and plastic surgeon.
Palm trees at night, a long drive that feels like an artsy slow-motion scene, Venice, the freeway, Beverly Hills, palm tree palm tree palm tree, Bel Air. The further you go into it, the more the houses start to look Disney-esque, the more the lawns look like they’re made of plastic, each blade of grass standing perfectly straight. Nighttime in LA is a dream for a voyeur like me. The lights are on and you can see inside all the houses. I could spend hours just observing it all.
I was invited to a Golden Globe party and it wasn’t my first rodeo. And let’s not minimize my pretty astonishing career – I’ve seen my share of super-star celebrities. And besides, if Chris hadn’t been playing that night, I probably wouldn’t have even gone. Because once you’ve seen one celebrity, you’ve kind of seen them all.
Not to minimize celebrity, though.
Well actually, yes, I do want to minimize meeting celebrities (a little). Meeting a celebrity is often disappointing. Like 99% of the time.
It can go three ways:
1/ The celebrity is normal and cool. When that happens, they just become a regular person, and in two seconds, all the glory of having been in the presence of a celebrity is gone. I think that’s the effect I have when people come up to me in the street. Sure, my level of celebrity is arguable. Plus, with my Labrador personality, I don’t even play the role of the nice person who is way too busy to pay attention to their “fans” (such a stupid word, “followers” being worse)(but that’s another conversation, another post). Me, I talk, I tell my life story, I ask questions. Sometimes it ends up being my fans who don’t have the time for me “Oops, sorry Garance, I have an appointment…”
2/ The celebrity is totally insecure and uncomfortable in their own skin (it happens more often than you think) and is in some kind of distress (you’re constantly in distress when you’re insecure and uncomfortable). In this case, the celebrity will use you, the unknown chic person, to dig themselves out of their solitude in that moment until a famous producer or someone more famous than your celebrity comes into the room. At which point the insecure celebrity will toss you aside like a teenager’s cigarette when their mom comes into the room (with shame, basically), and they’ll forget about you entirely (they didn’t take a second to ask your name anyway) even though you’re going to keep running into them at every Hollywood party you are invited to. Yep, the insecure celebrity has a tendency to go to too many parties. FOMO is a problem at every level of society.
3/ Or, the celebrity is a diva, in which case, YES. All she has to do is lay her eyes on you and you feel touched by grace. Which is exactly what we expect from a good, solid celebrity. Let me tell you, selfies with celebrities are overdone. But that feeling of grace is exactly the effect I felt when I met Jane Fonda for half a second.
So, where was I? Ah yes, Bel Air. Bel Air, where the houses get bigger and the cars get flatter (how are you even supposed to get in a Ferrari, how?) and my driver tells me we’ve reached our destination.
My driver. My Uber, I mean.
I’m in a Toyota Prius, because I care so little about what people think of me, I didn’t even think about switching to Uber Black.
OK, BUT I DO HAVE A TINY DOSE OF DIGNITY.
My driver is so thoughtful, he asks me nicely if I’d like him to do a U-turn to drop me off right in front of the entrance, the entrance surrounded by Maseratis, Porsches and Ferraris…
NO THAT’S OK, RIGHT HERE AT THE CORNER IS JUST FINE. THANK YOU, 5 STARS.
I arrive, confident and humble. I go into the party.
We’re at a big Hollywood Chewing Gum house. It’s enormous, with lots of art (in Hollywood, art is measured in square feet) on the walls, big tables overflowing with food, and little groups of powerful people surrounded by little groups of less powerful people, surrounded by even more little groups of people who aren’t powerful at all, surrounded by a little group of servers with champagne. And outside of all those groups, SINCE I KNOW ABSOLUTELY NO ONE HERE, and no one knows me, there I am. Chic, of course, but so alone.
I take a few moments to scan the celebrities. The little island I just described. There’s Joan Collins, who hasn’t changed since Dynasty, which satisfies my curiosity. And yeah, there are plenty of other celebrities, but Joan!
I can go home now!
For my American friends, just know that Dynasty was the American show that glued French people to their TVs starting in 1982. And yeah, I realize that dates me, but I don’t mind, because…
Another troubling Hollywood fact:
I’m so YOUNG, I can’t even tell you how fresh and new I am, like a baby chick.
Because one of the hidden secrets of Hollywood is that there are lots of old people, both men and women.
It’s not like New York, a city of young people, where everybody disappears after they turn fifty. Where do they go? Is there a vacuum for old people in New York? Where is it? Its LA the vacuum for old people in New York? Was I vacuumed up myself?
In LA, there are lots of old people, and not only are they old (sometimes really, really old), they’re still invited to parties and they seem to be having a great time.
So I’m walking around with my freshness and youth and New York chic (it was super hard too, all I did was throw on my John Patrick Organic slip dress and it’s that dress’s fiftieth rodeo)(at least) with a Stella jacket (thousandth rodeo for that one, and I’m not even exaggerating) and my Mansur Gavriel heels, which, okay let’s put it out there, it was their first rodeo since I spend my life wearing yoga pants in LA, which is absolutely deplorable since I don’t really even do yoga.
So my New York chic just comes from the fact that Hollywood style is kind of a mess, as the most Us Weekly among you have probably noticed.
Faded cocktail dresses for the non-celebrities, and dresses borrowed from Hollywood designers for the celebrities, which are always a lot prettier in photos than in person (the dresses, not the celebrities)(WELL, ON SECOND THOUGHT…)(except Jane Fonda) so, coming from the fashion world, I’m forty steps ahead, even though I haven’t been shopping since Trump was elected (not in protest, BUT ON SECOND THOUGHT…anyway, it’s just because of moving to LA and the whole yoga pants thing.)
So I’m walking around gracefully and as you might expect, I end up talking to a charming man who is relatively small in size, which doesn’t take away from his charm.
I say to him: “I don’t know anyone here and I don’t have a Golden Globe at home.”
He responds: “Ah, well I hardly know anyone here, and I do have a Golden Globe.”
And right then, we kissed and disappeared into the sunset in a Maserati.
OK, just kidding. I just looked at him and said, “Really?”
And he answers: Yes, really.
So then I start digging myself into a hole without realizing it “Why did they give you a Golden Globe?”
He says: “For a TV show I made, but it was a long time ago.”
And me, overly curious and making it awkward: “Ah, you’re a director?”
“No, I’m an actor.”
SHIT, I SAY TO MYSELF. IF HE’S AN ACTOR AND HE HAS A GOLDEN GLOBE, AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHO HE IS? WHAT SHOULD I SAY? WHAT SHOULD I DO? I THINK I’VE JUST INSULTED HIM.
But then I came up with the perfect way out: “Sorry, I’m French and there are huge parts of American culture I’m not familiar with. The only person I recognize here is Joan Collins (LIE, because Leonardo DiCaprio just showed up in sneakers and a baseball cap because when you’re Leonardo DiCaprio you can go to a party wearing yoga pants if you feel like it)(give me a few years and I’ll be in sneakers, yoga pants and a baseball cap at the Oscars).
Anyway, after insulting an actor (that’s the problem with actors, a lot of times they are way smaller than we imagine them and it’s REALLY hard to place them)(that’s why I never could have been an actress, I am full size, people!!) I hurried back to the cheese platters to help destroy my breath.
And that’s where I met Sarah (I think her name was Sarah?). I could tell right away that she was extremely rich, just by the way she immediately treated me like her best friend, and a servant at the same time.
“Oh my god, you’re so cute and chic!” (like I said, based on the average age in Hollywood, I’m just a child, so people talk to me like a child, and unlike a real child, I LOVE IT)
I couldn’t respond because of the huge piece of parmesan I still had in my mouth, but that wasn’t a problem – on the contrary. Sarah (?) started telling me all about her sex life with a very Hollywood sense of ease. Since I could do nothing but nod, I soon became her best friend. We both had a little cheese plate, which relaxed the atmosphere a bit, and we went to sit by the fire so she could finish telling me her sex story (which was pretty basic, all-in-all) about a social-climbing man who was just using this beautiful, nice, funny woman who, unfortunately for her, happened to be extremely rich.
The proof? He was sitting two chairs down from us with his tongue in the mouth of a less beautiful, less rich producer who happened to be much more powerful than Sarah (?) according to Sarah (?) (I discovered the full extent of her richness when she said, “Oh, you’re French? My fleet (= my four yachts) is in Monaco, but it’s been at least five years since I’ve had the time to go there).
If you know your yacht math, that means she’s pretty much extremely rich.
She talked on and on about her bad luck, and I kept nodding, while enjoying the view from my chair.
And at that point, I have to admit a certain sadness started to come over me.
Most of the women there had the strange faces of people who don’t want anything to do with the years passing by. And I have two things to say on that subject.
1/ I have no judgment about it. If it’s done well, that’s great. And long live Jane Fonda who makes no mystery about having a little work done here and there.
2/ Is the pressure on women so strong, they just can’t accept looking any older than thirty? Because there’s a real difference between helping out nature a little bit and trying to make everyone believe time has no effect on you whatsoever.
What I saw around me weren’t strong women full of experience and beauty and maturity. I saw women who were trying to pretend they were young, with their attitudes, facial expressions, clothes – there was an air of desperation around them.
I shook my head to move on to something else, but I kept thinking about the work we still have cut out for us to create a new society where self-love and acceptance aren’t just for the modern heroines – the ones who know how to inhabit their own power, and know their value only increases with the passing years. That strength and confidence should be a right for all women.
The right to no longer live under the degrading gaze that society extends our way.
Before I left, I ended up running into my friend Laura Brown, editor-in-chief of In Style, on her way to the Golden Globes. She is just as comfortable in Hollywood as she is in the front row at fashion shows, or gobbling down a plate of pasta at Barbuto and bursting out laughing. She was with Laura Dern, two modern heroines, basically.
Laura had saved me many times before at fashion shows with her sense of humor, her anti-snobbery and her permanent advice, which is now my mantra: UNDERTHINK IT. She says I think too much and she’s probably right. She gave me a big hug and then took off in a Ferrari (or so I imagine).
I decided to cut my evening short after a conversation with a Hollywood blogger, who, like Hollywood person living in the Hollywood bubble, knew absolutely nothing outside of Hollywood.
He spent forty minutes mansplaining his job to me (“So, you see, I take photos of myself with celebrities and brands pay me for it. What matters isn’t how many followers you have, it’s post engagement, because you see, what brands really want…” etc. etc.) and he didn’t listen to a word I said (“Yes, yes, I’m familiar with the job, because, well…”)
I looked at his Instagram. Photos with celebrities.
That was pretty much the bottom of the barrel for me, especially because Jon Hamm, the man I tend to run into at every celebrity party, but who never recognizes me, even though he’s always a gentleman, still wasn’t there. It was time for me to leave.
Especially because talking to that blogger made me start wondering about my place in the world.
UNDERTHINK IT, G.
About the crazy amounts of money I could make (“because what brands want…”) Underthink it.
And what I could have done with the options that presented themselves to me. Become an “influencer” and tell myself that was my job. Listening to outside advice, I actually tried to do that for a minute, but it felt soulless.
I respect people who do that, living for the right photo. Being an insider and making a job out of it. But that wasn’t for me. My humor, grace and joy don’t stem from that life. I guess I had to learn it.
Underthink it, just follow your heart.
I preferred to distance myself and leave that comfortable world behind. Put myself at risk, let go of the easy way of doing things. And sure, sometimes it scares me! But…
Now I have new things to write to you about. Things that make me think, make me laugh, and make me feel alive. Posts that are too long because they just pour out of me all at once. Moments where my discomfort makes me do things that are totally stupid, but human and funny and real. I have new fears to overcome, new worlds to discover, and so much to share.
And honestly, I couldn’t care less about being in photos.
Once again, I’m the one behind the camera. With my words and my heart. Yoga pants or not, we’re going to have a great time! So, there you go. Have a wonderful day, my “fans”!!!
Translated by Andrea Perdue