You’re from Brittany, France, earned a master’s degree in Spanish, and have lived all over. How on earth did you land in Cincinnati? Pure coincidence. I met someone, while living in Florida, who was from Cincinnati. I didn’t even look at a map and had never been in the Midwest.
Academia and fashion can be such different worlds. How do you marry the two? I’ve flirted with fashion all my life, but in 2000 I went back to school at UC for my PhD. While I was studying, I taught at DAAP’s fashion school. Since my background was in tourism—I used to work for Air France—I would take students on trips to Paris and Montreal for fashion week.
Wait, Montreal has a big fashion scene? Yes. Not haute couture, but it’s amazing, and you never hear about it. I think fashion in Montreal is more creative and interesting than in Paris, but the designers don’t seek out international attention. Georges Lévesque, who died in 2011, has always been one of my favorites. He started in Montreal and stayed in Montreal, by choice. Marie Saint Pierre is also great, and you can buy her clothes in the U.S.
You’re creating a syllabus for an honors course about Louis XIV—no surprise you’ve chosen a very stylish monarch. He was a master of marketing and advertising. He created a need for fashion, and with it a whole economy. By establishing his court outside of Paris at Versailles, he controlled everything. Boutiques, perfume, hairdressing—because of the wigs—it all came into being because Louis XIV’s Versailles was the capital of the world and everyone who came there wanted to follow his lead. He was a style-obsessed despot.
Originally published in the April 2015 issue.
Photograph by Annette Navarro