With her penchant for trousers, high heels and a crisp white shirt (or a basic T-shirt), Emmanuelle Alt is the woman every girl wants to be. She is, without a doubt, the true personification of effortless chic. Nevermind that she also happens to be the editor of Vogue Paris, the French stylemeister ranks as the most approachable editor among her various international counterparts.
You see, in the whole scheme of things, Alt is not intimidating like American Vogue's Anna Wintour or formidable like Vogue China's Angelica Cheung. She's also not like Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani, who is known to lobby and fight for emerging fashion designers and the industry on the whole, nor is she an intellectual like British Vogue's Alexander Shulman. In fact, she is also not, as London's The Telegraph once described her, an agent provocateur like her predecessor and former boss Carine Roitfeld.
Basically, she is the cool one.
And that's precisely why I adore Emmanuelle Alt. Her brand of "cool-girl", often captured on style blogs after fashion shows, makes her relatable to the ordinary woman who wants to look and dress stylish, without going over-the-top.
Her sense of style is revered so much so that the popular Tumblr blog I Want To Be A Roitfeld, has now branched out to include a specific blog on Alt, called I Want To Be an Alt.
I've always been a fan of Alt, ever since her days as the fashion editor of Vogue Paris. To me, she is a stylist with a strong point of view and is not afraid to go against trends or seasonal key pieces. It's as if Emmanuelle Alt is the anti-thesis to what her former boss Carine Roitfeld was.
While Roitfeld was known for showing her well-toned legs, Alt is famous for only wearing pants. Where Roitfeld was provocative and favoured highly sexualised visuals, Alt is a little more relaxed and favours a chic look that exudes that je ne sais qoui quality.
In a sense, Alt's dressing and vision for editorial shoots were aimed at the streets. She told The New York Times: “I think the street now takes its influence from the Internet and music — more than what designers do. I would love to recreate this impact in the magazine.”
This "street-luxe aesthetic" took centerstage long before she became a fashion editor. When Christophe Decarnin took over Balmain in the 2006, Alt was his right-hand woman in terms of building the brand in the direction that it has now become famous for. Together with Decarnin, Alt transformed the label from an off-radar traditional couture house to the toast of the French Vogue set.
Alt was also the mastermind behind the success of Isabel Marant. Though the French label had traction from the beginning, things really took off in the 2007, when Marant asked Alt to style her shows and consult for her brand. The Isabel Marant achingly cool French look became the go-to vibe for many fashion-obsessed girl.
Vogue Paris under Emmanuelle Alt
Since taking over Vogue Paris in 2011, Alt has redefined the style bible. In a way, when you flip through the magazine now, it is more feminine in terms of the visuals - not feminine in a girly way, but more empowering and decisive. Looking through the fashion spreads, one can easily notice that, unlike editorials done by Roitfeld where models can be naked and clothes can be obscured, the fashion pages show more of the clothes. It is a fashion magazine after all.
"I don't want the French Vogue girl to be a sexual object or a fantasy. I want her to be as perfect as possible but not merely an image. I want to keep the connection with reality somewhere. When people read magazines they project themselves in the dream of a place or a dress or a situation, so you have to show them the best but with something they can believe in," she once said.
One of my favourite covers on French Vogue is that of the Beauty Issue in 2010, where Lauren Hutton, Stephanie Seymour and Daria Werbowy, 20 years between each woman, posed for the cover. The fact that a woman who was in her 60s was featured on the cover, speaks volume about her stand on empowering women through fashion (and learning to accept the inevitability of ageing).
Another iconic cover that caught my attention was the May 2014 issue which featured 46-year-old Sophie Marceau, one of France's most-loved actresses, on the cover. What struck me the most about the cover was not it's bold and bright, sort of pop art-ish background but that Marceau was styled wearing a pair of black La Perla underwear and a black Ralph Lauren sweater.
Why was this special, you ask? Basically, none of these pieces were key pieces for the season and there were certainly not a "trendy" summer. Apart from it being a gorgeous cover picture of a gorgeous 46-year-old woman, what this picture signifies is Alt's determination to do her own thing.
Indeed, Emmanuelle Alt is a true fashion heroine.