The Thing About France S3E4: William Middleton on French Fashion and Expat Art

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The Thing About France, Saison 3

Produced by the cultural services of the French Embassy. French Morning is a media partner for season 3.

New episodes every other Tuesday, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, The Thing About France website and French Morning.

“Having the experience of being a foreigner, I think, is really interesting, because it makes everything a little more alive, because everything is so new and different.

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Sure Episode 4 from season 3 of the Francophile podcast The thing about France, host Liesl Schillinger interviews journalist and author William Middleton, who lives in Paris with her French Bulldog, Hubert. The Kansas native spent his twenties in Paris while working for women’s fashion magazines like Magazine W and Daily women’s clothing, and returned last year to work on a biography of the late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld (who may have gone to one of Middleton’s parties in his fashion magazine heyday).

Middleton is the author of the double biography Double Vision: The infallible eye of the art world Avatars Dominique and John de Menil, which he had the idea to write after a trip home to Houston, where he discovered one of the largest collections of French art in the United States. Ironically, he knows he lives on the very street in Paris where the Menils once lived.

The writer’s passion for French art goes hand in hand with his passion for French fashion, which was perfected in the 1990s in Paris, when parades were performance art, designers were small. and disjointed, and the demigods of the fashion world weren’t just forging. their own paths, but the future of fashion. He describes his experience as “the end of two eras”, one the zenith of the magazine world, and the other of Parisian fashion as it once was. “Paris has always been for me a place of individualistic designers, small houses that were super interesting creatively, but maybe not as successful commercially … there were others that were bigger houses. , but now they’ve gotten so much bigger.

Having moved to Paris without knowing French, Middleton describes learning the language by transcribing interviews with the big names in fashion of the time, and why you should never, ever walk into an interview without a tape recorder.

He also talks about his current situation, returning to Paris later in life, and what it was like to contract COVID-19 at the peak of the virus in France. “I was impressed with the way French citizens reacted to this crisis. I felt that there was a real rapprochement.

For more expat stories and struggles, you can listen Thomas Chatterton Williams on race and philosophy, Lauren Collins on love and parenthood in French, and John von Sothen on learning French social standards.

Learn more

The Thing About France, Saison 3

Produced by the cultural services of the French Embassy. French Morning is a media partner for season 3.

New episodes every other Tuesday, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, The Thing About France website and French Morning.

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