With COVID-19 travel restrictions leaving many New Yorkers dreaming of their next European vacation, Assouline has released its new book, Paris Chic, which transports readers to the City of Lights and serves as a reminder of its lasting charm. With text by jetsetter and travel author Alexandra Senes and photography by Oliver Pilcher, the tome is a celebration of the spirit of Paris. “In a world where everything is bland—food, talk, boutiques, they all look the same—Paris has kept its identity and character,” designer Serdar Gülgün comments. To capture this character and create a window to the city, Senes and Pilcher strolled through the grandest monuments like the sparkling Eiffel Tower, quaint cafes, intimate gardens, and passageways with mysterious names like le Verdeau, and the Place de l’Etoile, documenting personal anecdotes and special photographs along the way.
And beyond the beauty and picturesque settings, Pilcher’s raw and realistic images—many with quotes from the city’s most iconic residents—capture Parisian people from all ends of the city and all walks of life. Some open the doors to the stateliest homes with sophisticated family portraits, while others depict the more commonplace occurrences like a skateboarder traversing the Palais de Tokyo courtyard. Irrespective of what he’s shooting, “Oliver always takes off his shoes before unpacking his camera. Free and wild. He never uses a flash or artifice, natural is his signature. And it shows [in this book],” explained Senes. His photos offer a true glimpse into Parisian life because it’s the people that define this city, after all. Senes, an avid traveler who chose to settle in Paris, points out that most Parisians—like herself—are rarely from the city. It’s the city’s magic that not only attracts people but keeps them there. Summed up by Julien Lombrail, co-founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, “I love Paris because I’m convinced that culture, museums, and libraries are the only thing that can save the world. It’s one of the few big capitals that hasn’t been defaced by skyscrapers—you see huge skies. You can breathe. Paris still belongs massively to Parisians, and that’s not about to change.”