The Isabel Marant Guide to Being Cool and French

Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images

The cult of Isabel Marant is undeniable at this point. Even ignoring the fact that her H&M collaboration has people frothing at the mouth in anticipation, Marant has captured that mysterious slouchy, airy, French cool in a mega-brand that created a new category of shoe: wedge sneakers. Besides exchanging our rent money for clothes that let us pretend to be as effortlessly awesome as she is, how can we be as French as Marant? (Dodging the landlord is becoming tiresome.)

The appropriately swoony profile of of Marant in this week’s Wall Street Journal lends some insight into how us average American cult members can achieve her Franco-iconoclast status. For starters, smoke only four cigarettes a day. You must assemble them like so: “She doesn’t buy loose tobacco, instead buying a pack of Bastos cigarettes. She shreds one and empties the tobacco into a candy tin. She then pulls out the rolling papers.” Tedious? Yes. But never quit, because gaining weight is not something French people do. Marant quit, gained 22 pounds, and felt like her “brain was breaking.”

Obviously, when it comes to grooming, Marant is one of those French woman who essentially just uses soap and water to achieve “strikingly natural beauty.” The writer describes her low-key appearance. Marant “… wears no makeup and her hair, a multitude of varying shades of gray and amber, is pulled back in a messy bun.” But it’s not enough to just dismiss makeup and and embrace gray; there must be a philosophical debate surrounding the decision to dye or not. “I think sometimes I should dye it,” she says. “And then I say, ‘No, Isabel. That’s how it is. Don’t worry. That’s life.’”

That is life, Isabel.

When it comes to love, Marant is so French it’s ridiculous. But she comes by it honestly. She’s with handbag designer Jérôme Dreyfuss. But more crucially: Her father, a photographer, had already been divorced once before marrying her mother, a German model, and then he married a Caribbean émigré who “dressed head-to-toe in Yves Saint Laurent.” Marant reveals that her mother and her cool Caribbean stepmother all hang out with each other, and sometimes head to a cabin with no electricity and throw parties. So free, so cool, so French! How many pairs of wedge sneakers do I have to buy to achieve it?