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My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine

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A charming and insightful memoir about coming of age as a fashion journalist in 1980s Paris, by former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts, the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style “You can always come back,” my mother said. “Just go.” As a young woman, Kate Betts nursed a dream of striking out on her own in a faraway place and becoming a g A charming and insightful memoir about coming of age as a fashion journalist in 1980s Paris, by former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts, the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style “You can always come back,” my mother said. “Just go.” As a young woman, Kate Betts nursed a dream of striking out on her own in a faraway place and becoming a glamorous foreign correspondent. After college—and not without trepidation—she took off for Paris, renting a room in the apartment of a young BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) family and throwing herself into the local culture. She was determined to master French slang, style, and savoir faire, and to find a job that would give her a reason to stay. After a series of dues-paying jobs that seemed only to reinforce her outsider status, Kate’s hard work and willingness to take on any assignment paid off: Her writing and intrepid forays into la France Profonde—true France—caught the eye of John Fairchild, the mercurial fashion arbiter and publisher of Women’s Wear Daily, the industry’s bible. Kate’s earliest assignments—investigating the mineral water preferred by high society, chasing after a costumed band of wild boar hunters through the forests of Brittany—were a rough apprenticeship, but she was rewarded for her efforts and was initiated into the elite ranks of Mr. Fairchild’s trusted few who sat beside him in the front row and at private previews in the ateliers of the gods of French fashion. From a woozy yet mesmerizing Yves Saint Laurent and the mischievous and commanding Karl Lagerfeld to the riotous, brilliant young guns who were rewriting all the rules—Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, John Galliano—Betts gives us a view of what it was like to be an American girl, learning about herself, falling in love, and finding her tribe. Kate Betts’s captivating memoir brings to life the enchantment of France—from the nightclubs of 1980s Paris where she learned to dance Le Rock, to the lavender fields of Provence and the grand spectacle of the Cour Carrée—and magically re-creates that moment in life when a young woman discovers who she’s meant to be.


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A charming and insightful memoir about coming of age as a fashion journalist in 1980s Paris, by former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts, the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style “You can always come back,” my mother said. “Just go.” As a young woman, Kate Betts nursed a dream of striking out on her own in a faraway place and becoming a g A charming and insightful memoir about coming of age as a fashion journalist in 1980s Paris, by former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts, the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style “You can always come back,” my mother said. “Just go.” As a young woman, Kate Betts nursed a dream of striking out on her own in a faraway place and becoming a glamorous foreign correspondent. After college—and not without trepidation—she took off for Paris, renting a room in the apartment of a young BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) family and throwing herself into the local culture. She was determined to master French slang, style, and savoir faire, and to find a job that would give her a reason to stay. After a series of dues-paying jobs that seemed only to reinforce her outsider status, Kate’s hard work and willingness to take on any assignment paid off: Her writing and intrepid forays into la France Profonde—true France—caught the eye of John Fairchild, the mercurial fashion arbiter and publisher of Women’s Wear Daily, the industry’s bible. Kate’s earliest assignments—investigating the mineral water preferred by high society, chasing after a costumed band of wild boar hunters through the forests of Brittany—were a rough apprenticeship, but she was rewarded for her efforts and was initiated into the elite ranks of Mr. Fairchild’s trusted few who sat beside him in the front row and at private previews in the ateliers of the gods of French fashion. From a woozy yet mesmerizing Yves Saint Laurent and the mischievous and commanding Karl Lagerfeld to the riotous, brilliant young guns who were rewriting all the rules—Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, John Galliano—Betts gives us a view of what it was like to be an American girl, learning about herself, falling in love, and finding her tribe. Kate Betts’s captivating memoir brings to life the enchantment of France—from the nightclubs of 1980s Paris where she learned to dance Le Rock, to the lavender fields of Provence and the grand spectacle of the Cour Carrée—and magically re-creates that moment in life when a young woman discovers who she’s meant to be.

30 review for My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Received from Netgalley. In 1971, I departed for Austria for a year of study at the university of Vienna, full of expectations, dreams, and a profound ignorance. I'd just turned twenty. Ten years later, Kate Betts departed for France at roughly the same age (21) and for the same reasons, though she was not expecting to stay a year, but indefinitely. And though she came from a family of privilege (which I did not), she was determined to find work to support herself as she pursued her dream of shedd Received from Netgalley. In 1971, I departed for Austria for a year of study at the university of Vienna, full of expectations, dreams, and a profound ignorance. I'd just turned twenty. Ten years later, Kate Betts departed for France at roughly the same age (21) and for the same reasons, though she was not expecting to stay a year, but indefinitely. And though she came from a family of privilege (which I did not), she was determined to find work to support herself as she pursued her dream of shedding her Americanism and becoming a Parisienne. Those early chapters evoked old memories again and again as she remorselessly details her reaction to culture shock, her mistakes, people's attitudes, how she faced the gritty details of trying to find a place in a city indifferent to your presence. How you can lie awake in a lumpy bed, listening to sirens, wondering what you're doing there--no one seems to want you around, and your attempts at their language are met with laughter, contempt, condescension as often as, sometimes more often, than friendliness and patience. And once you do grit yourself into a rudimentary fluency, you can sort of get along in simple conversations, and you make acquaintances who invite you along, you'll think I've made it, I'm here, just to find them unconsciously closing ranks with you on the outside because cultural differences are so inbred you will never belong. You will always be a mongrel American. Here's where our experiences diverge: I took my courses, did my best, and went home after a year a little wiser, to a blue collar family puzzled by my choice to go over there when no one on either side had ever gone to Europe. (Actually except for two older relatives on Dad's side, no one had ever been to college.) Kate Bett stays, and through connections offered by those at home, flits from grunge job to slightly better grunge job, always working on her language skills via her slowly growing friendships, and listening to their advice about how to act, to dress, to mimic Parisians. Finally her connections led to job interviews that brought her to the fashion industry, which is an enormous part of Paris's culture. Here she happily threw herself into the challenge until she gradually found herself reshaping into a real Parisienne, one pair of shoes, one bit of furniture, one trip into the country at a time. I expected to lose interest in the book at that point, as I've never had much interest in modern fashion, except at a distance when looking at cultural ebb-tides. And out of modern fashion changes, my strongest antipathy has been reserved for the Ugly Eighties. I hated the eighties from the first day that the new Vanity Fair came out, full of ads for Calvin Klein with the models contorted into ugly postures, wearing clothes that I thought gaspingly clunky; for a decade I grimly wore my seventies long dresses, and when those clothes started falling apart and I had to buy something, I ripped out shoulder pads and stuck to sandals rather than deal with clodding, uncomfortable shoes. Betts manages to evoke all the wild color, fabrics, boomerang changes, and attitudes in such a sympathetic way that at last I got a look inside the people who shaped eighties fashion, and why they did it--where their enthusiasm lay--and how utterly involving that life can be. Saint Laurent . . . understood better than anyone that style was not simply about appearance. Style was about gestures, experiences, and taste. Style was about context. Style told a story: it began with a time and a place. She understands the passionate work ethic, and its cost: when you're doing what you love most, always aiming a little higher, you are willing to work a hundred hours a week by blinkering the rest of your life. One thing I learned reading about styles of previous centuries is that the wealthy are always looking for the pique and surprise of the new. They aren't doing anything but consuming and entertaining, so they crave change to lift them out of ennui, and of course also for competition among themselves: who has the latest, who looks the hottest, who carries off a daring party, a trend. Betts writes about that and gives details of how the fashion industry both leads and scrambles to follow the trend makers, and then details with an exacting eye what happens to the top style makers when they start getting old. Their styles are no longer the new, hot thing. Welcome to the nineties. But the next generation of women needed something commanding as they fought their way into the proverbial boardroom. They needed armor--sharp shoulders, sleek silhouettes, bold colors. And now another cultural shift was emerging, coming from the streets. . . . Meanwhile, the twenty-something has found herself turning thirty, and at home in America, her friends are settling down, achieving whatever it was they wanted. She had a lovely relationship with a very dear sounding Frenchman, who was not ambitious: he loved to enjoy life as it was. She begins to realize that they have little in common, that at least half of her romance with him was based on his country, his friends, his language, his family, his Frenchness. I was young, and when you're young, you don't look around, you look ahead. When she hits the wall, she writes well about that, too. She'd achieved success . . . or had she? Tthere was the inexorable glass ceiling: a woman was not going to get farther. She would always be taking orders. She was a writer, and she wanted to be writing what she wanted to write about, not what she was told to write about. It was time to go home to New York. She stayed with the fashion world for a while, stepping back and discussing it in relation to world events in a way that I found fascinating both in how it paralleled my own observations at the time--and how different things look from the top. Of course sooner or later, anyone who loves fashion will have to defend a passion that to many people seems silly and self-indulgent. And she does, with wit, hard-won, rueful insight, and sympathy, as she brings her personal journey to a close. I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and insightful, full of quotable bits and stylish, witty prose.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I am the first to admit that I will read anything and everything about Paris or France. But lately even I have grown a little tired of the: How to Dress Like a Parisienne, How to Eat Like a Parisienne, How to Do Anything Like a Parisienne Because They Do Everything Better Than Us mindset. Luckily My Paris Dream is not one of those books. What it is, is a delightful memoir of one woman’s dream to live in Paris. She set Paris as her goal and systematically went about achieving that goal. The event I am the first to admit that I will read anything and everything about Paris or France. But lately even I have grown a little tired of the: How to Dress Like a Parisienne, How to Eat Like a Parisienne, How to Do Anything Like a Parisienne Because They Do Everything Better Than Us mindset. Luckily My Paris Dream is not one of those books. What it is, is a delightful memoir of one woman’s dream to live in Paris. She set Paris as her goal and systematically went about achieving that goal. The events take place in the 1980’s and 90’s and revolve around her moving to and living in Paris. This book just tells it like it is or was. What it’s like to get an apartment, to try and fit in, to learn to speak French. Besides just the facts about life in Paris, the tales of her job at Women’s Wear Daily are equally fascinating. The fashion shows, the stories, the designers, how they go about getting their news stories, the constant deadlines. Unlike some memoirs, there is no deep soul searching here (thank goodness) . It is a writer telling the story of a time in her life, when she was young and full of dreams. As a writer, she is very matter of fact and sets about describing and telling events that happened without the relentless minute inspection that can exist in some memoirs. If you like reading about Paris , women searching for and fulfilling their dreams, or just what it’s like to be young and full of energy with the world in front of you, you will love this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Treece

    Rating: 3 1/2 stars An enjoyable read that chronicles the early 80's Parisian fashion scene through the eyes of a young budding reporter and Princeton graduate, Kate Betts, editor of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. The parts that thrilled me was the food, scenery and oh yes, the French fashion. Meeting Kate's French friends along with the fading and failing, aging Yves St. Laurent, current fashion icon of the time, Karl Lagerfeld--and countless others-- and along the horizon of the fledglings; Gallian Rating: 3 1/2 stars An enjoyable read that chronicles the early 80's Parisian fashion scene through the eyes of a young budding reporter and Princeton graduate, Kate Betts, editor of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. The parts that thrilled me was the food, scenery and oh yes, the French fashion. Meeting Kate's French friends along with the fading and failing, aging Yves St. Laurent, current fashion icon of the time, Karl Lagerfeld--and countless others-- and along the horizon of the fledglings; Galliano, Louboutin, and Jacobs. There are moments of triumph (Kate's meeting with Anna Wintour) and harsh realization, "The Glass Ceiling" and exclusion from the good 'ol boys club, where no matter how hard you work, or your connections, you are not good enough. If I didn't like Kate at times for her ruthless ambition and selfishness, I could appreciate her drive, dedication and willingness to make fun of herself. If I cursed the holes in her narrative, years skipped over and details forgotten or dismissed, I was never bored, not once. The cherry on top of this book is her description of a Marc Jacobs fashion show featuring a locomotive train and the models descending to walk "the station". I recall seeing this show and was thrilled by it. Betts recalled the origins of the idea and left off with a cynical commentary mingled with bittersweet appreciation. Perhaps this describes my overall experience.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of My Paris Dream. This was an odd reading experience. I really enjoyed parts of this book and really didn't enjoy other parts. Betts writes about her experience as a recent university graduate living in Paris in the 1980s. Over time, she went from being an au pair to being a journalist for a fast paced fashion magazine. I really enjoyed the first half of the book when Betts first arrives in Paris. Her observatio Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of My Paris Dream. This was an odd reading experience. I really enjoyed parts of this book and really didn't enjoy other parts. Betts writes about her experience as a recent university graduate living in Paris in the 1980s. Over time, she went from being an au pair to being a journalist for a fast paced fashion magazine. I really enjoyed the first half of the book when Betts first arrives in Paris. Her observations about Parisians and how they perceived her are dead on. Her desire to understand Parisians and fit in proved ever elusive because there was always some rule or way of doing things that people were quite happy to point out that she had missed. At the same time, her love of Paris and the close friends she makes there really shine through and come to life. What I didn't enjoy about this book was the second half in which Betts spends an inordinate amount of time describing her work as a journalist in the fashion industry. This is not something I expected from the title and description and this part of the book devolved into a name dropping exercise with very little substance. Betts is clearly unapologetically fascinated by the fashion industry. In one breath she acknowledges that it may seem superficial, but quickly justifies it by saying that everyone must wear clothes so clothes may as well be used as a form of expression and creativity. I just can't relate -- I don't get haute couture as a form of creativity and expression. I find it all a bit creepy and ridiculously superficial. And unfortunately Betts who I gather has spent her career working for fashion magazines depicts that world essentially uncritically. The last part of the book in which Betts decides to move back to the US becomes interesting again as she describes what leads her back to the US. If you choose to read this book, be forewarned that this memoir does not contain much in the way of self-critique or self-awareness -- growing up in Manhattan and going to university at Princeton, Betts clearly comes from a very privileged background but she never acknowledges this. Nevertheless, if you have an interest in life in Paris and experiences of dislocation, there are certainly parts that are well worth the read but I found this to be a very mixed reading experience.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Ugh. I didn't think it was possible for someone to be as ungrateful as the author is in recounting a generous life in Manhattan, Princeton, Paris, and Vogue. For being the former editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, hustling at WWD and being personally offered a job at Vogue by Anna Wintour herself, the author spends most of the book rehashing her disdain for fashion, telling us how silly and useless it is, when all along all she really wanted was to be a Real Journalist doing Real Work, but inst Ugh. I didn't think it was possible for someone to be as ungrateful as the author is in recounting a generous life in Manhattan, Princeton, Paris, and Vogue. For being the former editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, hustling at WWD and being personally offered a job at Vogue by Anna Wintour herself, the author spends most of the book rehashing her disdain for fashion, telling us how silly and useless it is, when all along all she really wanted was to be a Real Journalist doing Real Work, but instead deigned to float around the best fashion houses in Paris writing for one of the biggest and most influential publications in the industry. She's Anne Hathaway's character in "The Devil Wears Prada" only she's still to happy to name drop left and right, including mentioning that Karl Lagerfeld always sends her flowers from the fanciest fleuriste in Paris whenever she returns to the city. She's never once gracious or grateful. Legacy at Princeton? So hard you guyz, because her parents are divorced and none of her friends are fashionable. Lands a job in Paris at WWD after a move and lifestyle heavily subsidized by her parents? She works long hours traveling in Provence or writing about fancy bottled water at the Ritz! Hashtag struggle. Finds a lovely French boyfriend who supports her career? Excuse you, he dares to vacuum the apartment in his underwear! She breaks up with him, and simultaneously falls out of love with Paris after not being invited to lunch at the Ritz and instead asked to return to the office and do her job, so she quits. Even when she gets everything she wants, it's never good enough. Her sense of entitlement is appalling, and didn't exactly warm me to her. Betts was dealt a very good hand in life, and instead of acknowledging her circumstances and expressing any amount of gratitude or grace, she finds fault in everything. Makes a great editor, but a terrible narrator. 2 stars for all the descriptions of Paris.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Boo! Someday I know I'll find a memoir I like. I already have, so I keep reading ones that sound promising in the hope of finding a good one. This one wasn't it to say the least. Kate moves to Paris after college to escape an unpleasant family life. Why doesn't she just move out? But her dream is to be a Parisienne, so she lives in Paris for several years, finds the French rather unpleasant, and makes totally superficial observations while whining about her life. She ends up on a first name basi Boo! Someday I know I'll find a memoir I like. I already have, so I keep reading ones that sound promising in the hope of finding a good one. This one wasn't it to say the least. Kate moves to Paris after college to escape an unpleasant family life. Why doesn't she just move out? But her dream is to be a Parisienne, so she lives in Paris for several years, finds the French rather unpleasant, and makes totally superficial observations while whining about her life. She ends up on a first name basis with Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Laboutan and finally gets a personal call from Anna Wintour offering her a job at Vogue so she can finally leave the hellhole that is Paris. Quelle damage. This. book is also mutilated by a series of hiddy snapshots taken by the author who seems to lack all aesthetic sense. I can just picture some editor or book designer thinking they are charming. Don't bother.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    I had a hard time rating this book ... I enjoyed it, then I got bored in the middle, enjoyed it again and then was slightly disappointed in the ending. I know quite a bit about Paris as I go there frequently (multiple times a year) and I still had a hard time understanding some locations, so a map would have been helpful. I LOVED the parts when she was discussing specific fashion houses, but didn't love the more romance novel parts. I would recommend this as a beach read for people interested in I had a hard time rating this book ... I enjoyed it, then I got bored in the middle, enjoyed it again and then was slightly disappointed in the ending. I know quite a bit about Paris as I go there frequently (multiple times a year) and I still had a hard time understanding some locations, so a map would have been helpful. I LOVED the parts when she was discussing specific fashion houses, but didn't love the more romance novel parts. I would recommend this as a beach read for people interested in fashion. I would say it's more about fashion than Paris itself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    G.G.

    A brave—in the sense of revealing—account of one woman’s love affair with Paris. “Bitter-sweet” is a cliché, but I think it’s the right word to use here. In 1986, Kate Betts graduated from Princeton and went to live in Paris. After struggles of various sorts—linguistic, professional, sartorial, and of course romantic—she eventually succeeded in making a career for herself as a fashion journalist with Fairchild Publications, writing for W magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, and was eventually promot A brave—in the sense of revealing—account of one woman’s love affair with Paris. “Bitter-sweet” is a cliché, but I think it’s the right word to use here. In 1986, Kate Betts graduated from Princeton and went to live in Paris. After struggles of various sorts—linguistic, professional, sartorial, and of course romantic—she eventually succeeded in making a career for herself as a fashion journalist with Fairchild Publications, writing for W magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, and was eventually promoted to fashion editor of W Europe. One can see the attraction: In those days, before fashion became a business controlled by luxury groups and number crunchers, Paris fashion was its own fiefdom, a magical machine where trends emerged and were then disseminated by Women’s Wear Daily to retailers and consumers around the world.… [Designers such as] Saint Laurent made you feel as if you were in the presence of greatness…. He could tell a story of elegance and sex and exotica with fabric, inevitably leaving the devoted society matrons and jaded magazine editors in the front row in tears. Inevitably (one feels), Betts began to feel a “hollowness” inside her. I had come to Paris to expand my world, to understand another culture in the intimate way you can only when you immerse yourself in it. But somehow my world had gotten smaller. “The emptiness I felt was about France. Some part of me was letting go of my Paris dream.” Yet such is her immersion that when she finally has to tell her French man that it’s over, Betts isn’t sure whether “the WASP-bred gift for dispassion” or “the French art of froideur” makes it possible. “I feel like I’m breaking up with France,” she says to her lover’s mother. “I’ll never find anyone here who understands me.” In May 1991, leaving behind “any remaining doubts about who I was and who I wanted to be,” Betts accepts a job offer from Anna Wintour at Vogue and returns to the US. Subsequent events make clear that fitting back in to life in New York was not nearly so clear cut. Betts cannot quite let go of Paris: returning there to cover the fashion shows “felt as if reawakening some part of myself that had been asleep since I’d left.” In her descriptions of subsequent trips to Paris, names of the streets and bridges and Métro stops are strung like rosaries through the text, conveying an aching sadness. And yet, in the end, one feels that Betts was right to have gone home: as she writes, “Fitting in is not belonging.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A Surprisedly Fun Read ** spoiler alert ** I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. It was very different from what I generally read, being a book about Paris fashions and the reporters who cover them. Betts' has written an insightful memoir of her early life, effectively showing her journey, warts and all. The author begins showing a privileged, if somewhat broken childhood. After college, she finds herself confused and unsure of what to do next. A move to Paris follows, where everything i A Surprisedly Fun Read ** spoiler alert ** I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. It was very different from what I generally read, being a book about Paris fashions and the reporters who cover them. Betts' has written an insightful memoir of her early life, effectively showing her journey, warts and all. The author begins showing a privileged, if somewhat broken childhood. After college, she finds herself confused and unsure of what to do next. A move to Paris follows, where everything is not as she imagined it would be. Betts' discovers the hidden underbelly of Paris, from dealing with an incomprehensible bureaucracy to perverted citizens. What opportunities are found, the author makes the most of. Through working very hard and perseverance, she climbs to a successful career in fashion reporting. After making it, she finds that the summit is not all that it appeared to be. A move back to the States follows, with even greater responsibilities in the fashion industry. Finally, Betts finds what she had been searching for, that being a family of her own. Betts' had some very insightful discoveries about herself. One of my favorites was, "At the office I recognized a pattern from my own family - namely, that of seeking approval by overachieving....I wanted to make my unhappy parents proud. And maybe, irrationally, I believed that my success would make them happy." There are many more insights like this throughout the book, along with many laugh out loud moments. You will find yourself transported to a world that you never imagined. I highly recommend it!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie Onieal

    Book Bub knows me well...I’m a sucker for anything that mentions memoir, Paris, fashion, and the 80s. There was no stress with this book, just a thorough retelling of Kate Betts’ years living in Paris as she started her career in journalism. It was also a bit of a time travel book for me as I wondered why in the world I didn’t set out for Paris after college, like Kate.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Gatto

    I love Paris and I love fashion so I absolutely loved this book. I have been lucky to visit Paris a number of times and wander the streets. I could picture almost every street, monument and landmark Kate mentions in this book. I loved it. This book may not be for everyone but if you enjoy Paris and the world of fashion give it a try.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    If author Kate Betts is rading my review Thank You Thank You!!!!! In 2011 I fulfilled a childhood dream, borrowed money and went to Paris. I felt such a connection from the beautiful parks, the lavendar sky, Eiffel Tower, and the delicous coffee. My Paris Dream tells of Kate Betts' time in Paris. Also I loved the 1980's vibe with Tears for Fears, the Go Gos,Laura Ashley attire, and Ray Bans. Having a chaotic summer, curling up and reading this brought back wonderful memories. Thank you kate Bett If author Kate Betts is rading my review Thank You Thank You!!!!! In 2011 I fulfilled a childhood dream, borrowed money and went to Paris. I felt such a connection from the beautiful parks, the lavendar sky, Eiffel Tower, and the delicous coffee. My Paris Dream tells of Kate Betts' time in Paris. Also I loved the 1980's vibe with Tears for Fears, the Go Gos,Laura Ashley attire, and Ray Bans. Having a chaotic summer, curling up and reading this brought back wonderful memories. Thank you kate Betts for taking me back to a wonderful time in my life!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    I suppose this is one of those books where you'd enjoy it if you care about the narrator, but I felt no affinity toward her. I wasn't in the mood to read a memoir about an over privileged woman traveling to France to find herself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Asta

    It's interesting to me that most Goodreads reviewers found the middle section of this book dull. For me it was the most interesting. I wanted to know more about the business of fashion magazines in the 80s, and with a lot more detail about who said and did what. More dish please.

  15. 4 out of 5

    christina

    Loved the descriptions of Paris — not so much Kate Betts herself. Really, please don't start by complaining about your Ivy league education and receiving a pair of diamond studs. However, her journalistic eye and ear for delicious details of Paris and the characters in it can be quite fun.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shel

    How do I put this....the author come across as an insufferable human being. I tried hard, and couldn't think of one positive feature. It's people like this who make us look like ugly Americans when traveling or living abroad.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andie

    I find coming of age in Paris memoirs hard to resist, and this one is better than most. Kate Betts, former editor of Harper's Bazaar, relates her story of heading out for Paris after college with a vague notion about wanting to be a journalist. She know very little of the French language and finds that her romantic notions of Americans in Paris are far from the reality she faces. Luckily she manages to live with a French family who teach her the ways of the French as well as improving her languag I find coming of age in Paris memoirs hard to resist, and this one is better than most. Kate Betts, former editor of Harper's Bazaar, relates her story of heading out for Paris after college with a vague notion about wanting to be a journalist. She know very little of the French language and finds that her romantic notions of Americans in Paris are far from the reality she faces. Luckily she manages to live with a French family who teach her the ways of the French as well as improving her language skills. Then in what can only be call a stroke of blind luck, she stumbles into a job as a feature writer for John Fairchild's "W" magazine that takes her into the world of French Haute Couture Betts paints a realistic picture of the French as well as the froth of the French fashion industry., Read this one with a big box of chocolates.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Donna Wellard

    a colourful, coming of age memoir about forging a career in fashion journalism in Paris! I enjoyed it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Saverino

    A fun Parisian dream! A fast and delightful read- mesmerizing and enchanting for anyone who loves Paris and has dreamed of a fashion and French food, and the dream of living in Paris !

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy Rodman

    My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine Just finished "My Paris Dream" by Kate Betts. This is a memoir about a young college graduate who decides to uproot her comfortable, predictable American lifestyle and relocate to Paris in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a journalist. She's unsure about her future; all she knows is her fantasy of Paris keeps coming back to her. I picked this book up because I love stories of young women traveling the My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine Just finished "My Paris Dream" by Kate Betts. This is a memoir about a young college graduate who decides to uproot her comfortable, predictable American lifestyle and relocate to Paris in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a journalist. She's unsure about her future; all she knows is her fantasy of Paris keeps coming back to her. I picked this book up because I love stories of young women traveling the world to discover who they are (i.e.- Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" is one of my all-time favorites). Soooo.....this was a strange reading experience for me. Some chapters I simply adored and, if rated on their own, I would give them five stars. Others were boring as hell and I couldn't wait for the book to be over. However, since this is a memoir, I can appreciate Betts kept it real. Not every year of your life is run-way fabulous. That being said, I would have personally liked to read more about Parisian culture, clothes, food, traditions, etc. and less about her drama with Herve (though again, I understand this was a highly important aspect in her life at the time). Two additional things bothered me about this book. First, each chapter contains numerous photos of Betts and her overall experience in Paris. This is great EXCEPT there are no captions under the photos. You can tell each picture correlates to the chapter, but there were more than a dozen times where I'd look at the photo and think "Who are these people??? Which fashion show is this??? Is this Kate, her mom or her friend???" There is a section at the very back of the book which gives descriptions of each photo, but honestly, the idea of flipping back and forth every time I got to one was just too much effort. Secondly, Betts throws in loads of French vocabulary without giving definitions. About half of them I could figure out based on context. I think the use of these words is great IF AND WHEN we're able to figure them out. Personally, that was about fifty percent of the time for me. On a more positive note, I really enjoyed reading Betts's experience working with specific designers. I LOVED the chapter on Christian Louboutin and how she worked and socialized with him before he made it big. I can't believe she put down his "fish scale" shoes! There are not many designers I'm keen on, but I WILL own a sleek, sexy pair of Red-Bottoms before I die!!! Overall a pleasurable read, but due to the aforementioned reasons, I can only give it three stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angela Risner

    Some people's memoirs of their time in Paris read like a trashy magazine, full of drunken benders and innumerable hookups (I'm looking at you, April Heise.) However, Kate Betts had too much ambition to allow alcohol or men to divert her attention from her career. Betts takes us through her arrival in Paris in 1986 through her return to New York City to become an editor for Vogue. She dreams of becoming a journalist, a dream shared by many at that time. It is difficult for her to find work in Par Some people's memoirs of their time in Paris read like a trashy magazine, full of drunken benders and innumerable hookups (I'm looking at you, April Heise.) However, Kate Betts had too much ambition to allow alcohol or men to divert her attention from her career. Betts takes us through her arrival in Paris in 1986 through her return to New York City to become an editor for Vogue. She dreams of becoming a journalist, a dream shared by many at that time. It is difficult for her to find work in Paris when she doesn't have the credentials or the citizenship. Nonetheless, she perseveres and eventually lands a job writing about food and architecture. She secures a job with the Paris bureau of Women's Wear Daily, where she moves up through the ranks. Betts rubs shoulders with the in-crowd of fashion designers: Helmut Lang, Christian Louboutin (whom she at first dismisses as having terrible ideas), Emanuel Ungaro, Claude Montana and more. Some favorite moments: • She came from the Keep Calm and Carry On school (in reference to her mother.) • She had been a great teacher and, like all great teachers, she knew when to push the fledgling out of the nest. • She knew I needed to let go of everything I might cling to in fear of the unknown, including her. • "The thing about Americans is that they are easy to meet but they do not remain your friends forever," she said, shaking her head and clucking. "French people are hard to get to know, but once you know them you will be their friend for life." • Nothing irritates the French more than a whiff of unauthorized elitism. • In France, people show their power by saying no. In America they show it by saying yes - getting things done, giving people access. • I was young, and when you're young you don't look around, you look ahead. • I had conflated my deep need to belong to something bigger than myself with a more superficial need to fit in, to look and dress and act like others. But fitting in is not belonging. Highly recommend if you love fashion or have ever dreamed of moving to Paris and creating a life there. © Angela Risner 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Goodreads or Angela Risner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Angela Risner with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Byrne

    A surprisingly good read. Betts chronicles her life from New York to Paris & back again. I can see many reasons why people might not like this book like the nonchalant name dropping & pretentious scenes but as I reflected on the book I felt that Betts came across as intelligent, self-aware & rather modest. Given the book is all about Betts' rise through the world of fashion journalism on Paris, what was one to expect? It would have been a very boring story indeed if it weren't for all the glamorou A surprisingly good read. Betts chronicles her life from New York to Paris & back again. I can see many reasons why people might not like this book like the nonchalant name dropping & pretentious scenes but as I reflected on the book I felt that Betts came across as intelligent, self-aware & rather modest. Given the book is all about Betts' rise through the world of fashion journalism on Paris, what was one to expect? It would have been a very boring story indeed if it weren't for all the glamorous fashion shows, celebrity encounters & fashion faux pas. I like Betts' voice & thought she illustrated Paris beautifully. I could also resonate with her ambition & work ethic, both of which I thought she shared honestly & unashamedly. To boot the stories did centre around Paris, a city where I'm not sure much can go wrong. A lovely, easy read to indulge in.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    Betts chronicles her life from age 21-40 as she leaves college, and goes off to Paris to start a career as a journalist. It is tough going for a couple years (oops sorry, there is no internship, we have too many interns). She works very hard to get her foot in a door, any door. She rents from a family, she parties with others found in temp jobs and slowly is introduced to a closed French society (who would date la Grosse American?). Based on a couple bylines she gets a job at Women's Wear Daily- Betts chronicles her life from age 21-40 as she leaves college, and goes off to Paris to start a career as a journalist. It is tough going for a couple years (oops sorry, there is no internship, we have too many interns). She works very hard to get her foot in a door, any door. She rents from a family, she parties with others found in temp jobs and slowly is introduced to a closed French society (who would date la Grosse American?). Based on a couple bylines she gets a job at Women's Wear Daily--and starts buying clothes and meeting all the designers. Later she is an editor at Vogue, and still later the youngest Editor in Chief of Harper's Bazaar. Betts recalls the bravery, the ambition and hard work of a woman in her 20-30s. You're right there and she brings back the turmoil, disregard and emotion of just making your way. A good companion book to Picardie's "Coco Chanel."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allyson

    This was a fast and fun book to read. She obviously led a sort of privileged life despite her familial unhappiness and her Parisian experience had many safety nets. She moved her story along rapidly but interestingly and I loved reading about familiar places, marveling at her ability to assimilate so quickly. A French lover, the key to it all they always say. I wish I could go back to read her articles in W but I have long since trashed my copies. I assume the huge title is in her handwriting, b This was a fast and fun book to read. She obviously led a sort of privileged life despite her familial unhappiness and her Parisian experience had many safety nets. She moved her story along rapidly but interestingly and I loved reading about familiar places, marveling at her ability to assimilate so quickly. A French lover, the key to it all they always say. I wish I could go back to read her articles in W but I have long since trashed my copies. I assume the huge title is in her handwriting, but still I don't like the cover. And why not use a personal photo instead of a published image? Mostly well-written and not too choppy for the time period she covered in her pages.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Strong

    This is a decent coming-of-age sort of memoir. I enjoyed it mostly because the author and I were in France at overlapping times, though she was in Paris and I was in the Midi. It was funny to hear her echo some of my impressions and experiences, and when I saw her Paris Playlist, I laughed out loud, as I remembered many of the songs and (frighteningly) can still sing some of them. It's not a reflection on changing cultures (can you really?) and it's not a deeply introspective account of the matur This is a decent coming-of-age sort of memoir. I enjoyed it mostly because the author and I were in France at overlapping times, though she was in Paris and I was in the Midi. It was funny to hear her echo some of my impressions and experiences, and when I saw her Paris Playlist, I laughed out loud, as I remembered many of the songs and (frighteningly) can still sing some of them. It's not a reflection on changing cultures (can you really?) and it's not a deeply introspective account of the maturing process, but if you like fashion and style, especially if you remember the 80s and 90s, you might enjoy reading this book, which despite its shortcomings is still a love letter to Paris.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna Cooper

    The book is well written and the story is a familiar one to me (but one that I adore) of finding yourself in Paris or in a foreign country...navigating growing up, developing a career and everything that comes along with the 20s time in your life. It brings back memories but also leaves you with a reinvigorated sense of ambition that I think well-known, successful women's memoirs should. The pace was consistent throughout but seemed to really get going in the second half of the book. I enjoyed i The book is well written and the story is a familiar one to me (but one that I adore) of finding yourself in Paris or in a foreign country...navigating growing up, developing a career and everything that comes along with the 20s time in your life. It brings back memories but also leaves you with a reinvigorated sense of ambition that I think well-known, successful women's memoirs should. The pace was consistent throughout but seemed to really get going in the second half of the book. I enjoyed it!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kamille

    A beautiful travel memoir of an American girl who dreams of living in Paris and making it a reality. I loved the beginning of the book and her gorgeous descriptions of the city, the author is a wonderful writer. However towards the end as her 'Paris dream' faded and her insatiable drive to succeed in the world of fashion publishing took over her life I was left a little disappointed, perhaps because the 'dream' was over. Overall a lovely memoir particularly for anyone who loves Paris.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teddie

    Another memoir about moving to Paris as a young person with big dreams. This one quickly turns into a somewhat cynical tale of working in the fashion industry. Other than some kind of fun 90's fashion gossip, I found it kind of a snooze.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I enjoyed this book because it's a non fiction success story of a woman succeeding in an industry that interests me and in a city I enjoy, if not romanticize. I know some readers didn't like a few things, what they considered whining while privileged, fashion frivolity and name dropping. None of these things troubled or stood out to me. If you think fashion frivolous and can't be swayed don't read it. I find fashion to be about art, history, self expression and it requires a true craft to be a su I enjoyed this book because it's a non fiction success story of a woman succeeding in an industry that interests me and in a city I enjoy, if not romanticize. I know some readers didn't like a few things, what they considered whining while privileged, fashion frivolity and name dropping. None of these things troubled or stood out to me. If you think fashion frivolous and can't be swayed don't read it. I find fashion to be about art, history, self expression and it requires a true craft to be a success. It's impossible not to name drop in non fiction, this industry having bold faced names makes it hard to avoid and it doesn't feel braggy. Frankly I found the author self deprecating as she described her success mainly off hard work not the merits of her writing or insider status. I would argue that she is an excellent writer. Lastly the book begins at college graduation and what person at that age wasn't a but whiney and unable to recognize their good fortune? A lot of us were in hindsight. In her shoes I would have used any connection I had when moving to a new city and starting a career. Who would recommend otherwise? The best of this book to me was the stories of her career growth and her hard work to succeed. As a working woman I find it inspiring. I also love seeing the shifts in fashion related to what was happening in the world. Stories of Kate meeting Helmut Lang (and and discounting Christian Louboutin make it interesting. She doesn't always hold mass opinion or follow the crowd but she also struggles with fitting in. That She called herself out for mistakes she made in relationships resonated with me also. I love fashion (and still subscribe to some magazines not just fashion blogs) love history, enjoy non fiction and enjoyed her writing style. If these things interest you too you will enjoy this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Terri Durling

    A well written account of Kate Betts life in Paris, living out her dream of becoming a journalist. My feeling was that it wasn't initially her intention to work in the fashion industry but all roads finally led to that and she flourished in an industry that, although glamorous, is also very demanding and superficial to outsiders. Her grasp of the French language, including all the slang and nuances, is nothing short of amazing to someone who yearns to speak fluently. I love all things French and A well written account of Kate Betts life in Paris, living out her dream of becoming a journalist. My feeling was that it wasn't initially her intention to work in the fashion industry but all roads finally led to that and she flourished in an industry that, although glamorous, is also very demanding and superficial to outsiders. Her grasp of the French language, including all the slang and nuances, is nothing short of amazing to someone who yearns to speak fluently. I love all things French and understand Kate's draw to the city of lights. She preserved and worked relentlessly to learn everything there was to know about the fashion industry immersing herself in all aspects of the fashion industry and French culture. It had a familiar feel to "The Devil Wears Prada" and I found out after completing the book there was a connection. Betts does come across somewhat as a cool driven individual but often that can be the key to success and she certainly achieved that. A great account of a woman in a city that I've always wanted to live in and plan to visit in another week.

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