Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bobo > Hipster

I've been hearing term "bobo" a lot lately in Paris. A journalist named David Brooks coined the phrase over 10 years ago in his book Bobos in Paradise. The word can be used to characterize people with bourgeois and bohemian attitudes. I like it to describe Parisians with effortless style mixing high end and casual pieces.

Bourgeois: middle class, dominated or characterized by materialistic pursuits or concerns

Bohemian: a person (often an artist or writer) who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules

Last week I walked from my Left Bank house with my host parents across the Seine to a gallery in the Marais. Two of my host father's photographs and a few from his personal collection were part of a female nude exhibition. The gallery displayed several other photographers' works including one from Japan that my host father assisted years ago. The Japanese photographer is called a Master. They served wine, champagne and tiny sandwiches inside, but the crowd spilled onto the street to smoke and socialize. There was a good mix of older couples, singles, and fashionistas. Since my French speaking abilities have flatlined, I have the opportunity to observe everything in situations such as these. 

Three people particularly grabbed my attention. 
1. One young woman wore thick rimmed black glasses, an old t-shirt, skinny jeans, and studded boots.   She carried a huge dark green Balenciaga bag. Parisians pull this look off better than the NYC hipster in my opinion.

2. The Japanese designer. I watched him walk around inside the gallery wearing his dark sunglasses at night. He wore skinny jeans and boots, but instead of a handbag he held an animal skin in his arms as if it were a baby. My host mother went right up to him and stroked the fur. (She had met him once before.) The designer simply said it was his pet cat and introduced it to Nancy. Not normal. He also wore an alligator skin underneath his jacket and carried a silver Gucci logo print bike helmet.

3. Older man wearing fishing attire and an Alaskan embroidered baseball hat. I couldn't help but ask this man if he was American because of his attire. He turned out to be French, but spoke English. The first thing he said was, "Do you know of Sarah Palin?" Before I could respond he said, "She better not become the next US President!" I think I eased his concern. The quirky man also told me that he photographed bikers around Mt. Rushmore. As we were leaving I saw him pedal away from the gallery down rue George V. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your descriptions. Wish there were pictures of these people too!