Monica Ainley de La Villardière
Street-style star and fashion tastemaker Monica Ainley de La Villardière juggles keeping traditional media alive while relishing in the new-found convenience of a digital age. We caught up with the Parisian-by-way-of-London Canadian and chatted all things career, style, Paris and podcast ‘Fashion: No Filter’.
On your career…
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
While I was studying journalism, I got a lucky break with an internship on the features desk at VOGUE UK under the brilliant Jo Ellison. Then I got lucky again, working under Maya Singer (Vogue US) during her time at Avenue 32.
You and friend Camille Charriere have a very successful podcast, ‘Fashion No Filter’. Where did the idea come from?
We both have a passion for radio, and grew up in radio-loving households. We wanted to blend our love for traditional broadcast with a need we felt for new forms of fashion journalism.
Why a podcast for such a visual industry?
Precisely because in magazines we know so many people flip past the often brilliant articles to get to the photographs! We feel easily-accessed on-demand radio is the most effective way of getting people to take a step back and think about the fashion industry.
Any topics you prefer covering and/or feel strongly about?
All the ones we’ve covered so far! Especially our last one, on what feminism really means today. It's such an important discussion and one the fashion industry is inextricably linked to.
You went to school for journalism – did you always know you wanted to use that in the fashion industry or did you foresee a different future at first?
Actually I thought I wanted to be a broadcaster -TV or Radio, and then I sort of fell into fashion, which was very much my lifelong hobby. I feel extremely lucky to now be doing both at once!
From street style star to Instagram style star, I am sure that we can agree that Instagram has changed the face of fashion and made it much more approachable. What does this mean for you personally?
It certainly has. Instagram has almost single-handedly democratised the entire world of fashion communication, which was once reserved for a very closed-off elite. For me personally, it's also a constant source of amusement. I get to bring my little hobby with me everywhere I go, and share my travel diary, new finds, and silly puns when creativity strikes!
What does it mean for the industry as a whole?
It means that anyone, anywhere could be the next tastemaker, which is an invaluable shift. The underside of that is slightly darker, granted. I do worry about both childhoods and attention spans getting shorter and shorter. I also value the importance of the written and spoken word a great deal, and feel it would be a great shame were social media to cause their extinction. I am, however, optimistic there are enough of us around today who truly love traditional media that it will be carried over to the next generation.
Where (or from whom) do you find inspiration for your career?
I am inspired both by women generations before me, especially Meryl Streep and Michelle Obama, and hard-working, brilliant friends around me. Also, travel. As the late great Anthony Bourdain once said, "travel is not reward for working, it's education for living!"
You were born in Canada, lived in London and now reside in Paris. What is your favorite unique characteristic of each?
Canada - open-mindedness. London - humour Paris - taste.
Favorite Parisian neighborhood?
St Germain des Pres
Paris’ best kept secret?
The coffee at La Fontaine de Belleville.
Best bars/restaurants in Paris?
Le Mary Celeste for cocktails and nibbles Anahi for great Argentinian food Cafe de la Poste for brunch with friends
Best places to shop in Paris?
On a budget: The vintage shopping in the Marais is just amazing. Sky’s the limit: The Bon Marche, an institution.
Favorite vacation spot(s)?
Ischia and Procida. EPI 1959 in St Tropez
Where have you not yet been, but are dying to go?
Japan, going there on honeymoon this spring.
Is Paris your forever home?
I certainly hope so, I am very happy here.
Describe your style in one sentence.
French tomboy meets Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy(I hope).
Favorite Fashion Week appearance/memory.
Camille and I always have a good giggle when we run around fashion week interviewing people with our microphones that look like fluffy troll heads.
What is the piece that means the most to you in your closet?
My grandmother’s rings, and my mother’s old corduroys
Tips for transitioning your look from Summer to Fall?
Add layers slowly, don’t get over-excited and jump the season! It will be winter soon enough!
Who are your fashion idols?
In no particular order: Lauren Hutton Mick Jagger My grandmother June Ainley Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy Lee Radizwill Diane Keaton Phoebe Philo
What advice would you give someone trying to make it in the industry?
Be prepared to put in the groundwork, do the menial tasks, gain experiences, and take time honing your skills and eye. Be patient, you’ll get there.
Best piece of advice you ever received or would give?
Do what you love, love what you do.
You recently posted about a television show on the topic Paris vs. London – so we have to ask…which one?!
That subject was for the French channel Paris Premiere, which I co-wrote and co-presented. It’s out September 23rd. Tune in for our full in-depth analysis!
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