Why Sylvie Is The Real Fashion Star Of Emily In Paris

Elle est chic!

Emily In Paris Netflix Sylvie

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

If you haven’t seen Emily in Paris yet – which was just renewed for a second series on Netflix – a word of warning: the Paris of the show should be taken with a large pinch of sel. It is abundant with clichés, from croissants to berets, but give into it and you’ll find it irresistibly moreish viewing. In fact, you’ll like gobble it down in one sitting like a box of Ladurée macarons.

The entire cast is made up of caricatures rather than characters (Wide-Eyed Ingenue! Difficult Designer! Mysterious Sexy Chef!) but one stands out in particular: Sylvie, Emily’s frosty, intimidating boss. Sylvie is the mythical French Woman incarnate. She is a mistress. She smokes with impunity (inside! Which I understand is actually illegal in French offices but – pfft! – rules are for us repressed Anglo Saxons). She has perfected the art of the sexy-disdainful face. She barely wears any makeup yet looks immaculate. And she is achingly, impeccably chic, bien sûr.

Emily In Paris Netflix Sylvie
©Emily In Paris Netflix

Thanks to Patricia Field – the woman who made Carrie Bradshaw a small screen fashion icon – there has been much hoopla around the Emily in Paris costumes. The fuss has largely been funneled into decoding Emily’s look. But leave her cartoonish get-ups to the kids, it’s Sylvie’s look that’s really worth paying attention to.

In her pared back palette of black, biscuit, olive and greige, Sylvie’s minimal outfits serve to highlight the cultural differences between her and Emily, a sophisticated foil to the American's technicolour kitsch. She wears Rick Owens, Roland Mouret and Yohji Yamamoto. She nonchalantly shrugs jackets over her shoulders. She is glamorous in the effortless, je ne sais quoi kind of way. She is essential viewing.

Emily In Paris Netflix Sylvie
©Emily In Paris Netflix

Part of the appeal of the Sylvie look is that it is undeniably sexy. Bare shoulders, sharp pencil skirts, perilously high slits. And how refreshing it is to see an ‘older’ woman (Sylvie is played by Call My Agent’s Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, who is 57) being made to look so unapologetically come-to-bed. She is cast from the same (tres expensive) cloth as Carine Roitfeld. You just know she would smell great and be wearing matching lace lingerie sets.

Sylvie exemplifies our enduring love affair with French Woman style. We swoon over how they can at once appear impeccable and completely without effort even more than we envy their ability to eat carbs and still remain sample sized. Of course, I imagine there are plenty of French women who aren’t sample sized, or who happily slob around trackpants. Whisper it, there are probably even tacky French women out there somewhere (I suspect the same ones who find smoking disgusting and would be heartbroken if their husbands took a mistress) in reality. But Emily in Paris is not about reality. It is about fantasy, escapism and ridiculously enjoyable clichés, like the fact we will always been enamoured with French Woman style. Enjoy - and if you can't do that, tune in for Sylvie's outfits and nothing else.


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