There’s still some uncharted territory in the brave new world of the Internet. And whether you’re searching for politics, sports, entertainment, or fashion, news today has much more immediacy and personality than it ever has—an evolution that Garance Doré knows all too well. As the creator of the wildly successful style blog of her namesake and the web series Pardon My French, Doré started a sartorial revolution. In an industry where a select few acted as filters to the masses, she made front row access available to anyone with an Internet connection.
A fruitful accident is the best way to describe her success. Almost seven years ago, while working as a fashion illustrator, Doré started her blog out of frustration. It was an outlet for her to communicate her point of view: “Illustrating and talking about fashion, a woman talking about her everyday life, and questions about fashion.” Though it may be considered commonplace now, blogging at the time was “very nerdy, very uncool,” she tells us while perched on a shoeshine chair at Cipriani Club 55 in lower Manhattan. “A nobody—me neither—could understand what it would become, how you could communicate with people that way.”
Doré wasn’t trying to compete with mainstream media, but rather, she wanted to find a niche where she could invent something new and entirely hers. It’s hard to read a post or watch a video and not feel completely enamored by her self-awareness and exuberant personality. She sings, makes faces, and stumbles with a merry crew as she makes her way around the Cannes Film Festival, the many Fashion Weeks across the globe, and other chic locales. “I try to think of what my goal is and how to stay true to myself and how I can keep on creating,” she says. The secret to her blog success is not just about her charming mix of artistry, illustrations, photos, text and video. It also stems from Doré being as honest as possible. “And [I] also to talk with them, not just at them,” she says.
“Everyone can blog,” she says. But should they? “Of course! Instagramming is blogging too, it's just microblogging. And everyone does it! It's really fun to blog and you can be extremely satisfied talking to 50 followers.” But if you’re trying to reach a bigger audience, you need to constantly try new ideas, create original content, work a lot—and love every second of it, she says.
“I think print is unfortunately struggling, and I think it will keep on struggling,” Doré says. With the onslaught of tablets and other new mobile devices, the print industry is experiencing a decline. Adweek reported that “magazines’ digital readership are making gains, but not enough to offset a decline in print readership.” And now that new bloggers are emerging daily, a distinct point of view becomes even more essential. The personal approach has struck a chord in the zeitgeist, causing many megabrands to clamor for a piece of the action. And if the success of a blog is measured by its partnerships, Doré could be the standard to which all aspire. Collaborations with J. Crew, GAP, and Tiffany & Co. are only a few examples of corporations that have wanted the golden glow of Doré’s quirky Parisian sensibility.
When Doré started as a blogger, she was on the periphery of the fashion industry—snapping pictures of stylists, editors, and celebrities seated at the front row of shows. But in this digital revolution, she’s become a venerable insider, an ambassador of the shift away from print—a term she struggles with. “It’s not just my position in that world, it’s more how do you keep on being inspired and awed by something you know so well,” she says. Having grown up reading French Glamour, Doré understands the appeal of the chic Parisian girl who is both inspiring but still retains that girl-next-door approachability. “The feeling that I want [you] to find when you look at my blog—that you’re in a friendly space, where we can talk about everything… except politics.”
And in a world where everyone is trying to achieve the ideal standards of beauty and style, she is not afraid to be herself. There is no sense of intimidation, no airs, in her approach to fashion. She is speaking to women as the cool best friend. “I think everything that touches women is an interest for me,” she says. “I’m really a girl’s girl, where I really like to hang out with my friends and I really like to share everything.” This warm and inclusive quality is what attracts viewers—and brands. Though sponsorships are the bread and butter for blogs, Doré stays true to her voice. And with all that swag being thrown her way, she warns: “It’s not guaranteed if I love your product and I’ll do something.”
In 2012, Doré and her boyfriend, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, were the first bloggers to receive the Eugenia Sheppard Media Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, an award typically given to journalists. With the likes of the New York Times’s Bill Cunningham, the International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes, and CNN’s Elsa Klensch as former recipients, this dynamic duo of the blogosphere joined a rarefied circle of esteemed writers and editors. “Receiving the CFDA award really meant something,” she says. “It meant Scott and I are a real part of the history of fashion…We were very humbled by the whole experience.”
As the Brad and Angelina of style blogs, Schuman and Doré have legitimized a medium that was once seen as subpar to print. They’re a pair of artists that use the digital platform to express their love of fashion. Sharing the same office, they bounce ideas off one another. “I don’t know if I could do all that without having a strong presence and a strong point of view to bounce those ideas off,” Doré says.
She speaks fondly of their relationship, telling us how he was “the first person that really, truly believed in me.” Though they have two different blogs with two points of view, they share a similar aesthetic and belief that style, above all else, is a fun way to express one’s outlook. And with the same charisma that she brings to her blog, she reveals the best piece of career advice she’s ever given Schuman. She uses a baking analogy: “Everyday, just get up, go do wheat, and sometimes, you don’t have the answers right now, but just keep doing it and you’ll find your answers and your way. And I think every day now, he tells me, ‘I’m going out. I’m gonna make the bread.’”
By Barry Samaha