If attending a Van Cleef or Fondation Cartier event, count on seeing Mary-Ethel Simeonides and count on her equalling elegant. Now although she’s one of Richemont’s PR mavens – Stanislas de Quercize refers to her “energy, enthusiasm and exigency” – Mary-Ethel is one of the few people I’d go shopping with. Usually, I nurse an aversion to combing boutiques – too much choice tends to confuse and ultimately irritate. However, accompanied by Mary-Ethel, I feel certain that it would be swift and educational. True, she’s wonderfully opinionated about fashion – defines one of those what I call Inner Chic sergeant majors – yet she holds my respect because she’s open to adopting young designers as long as their clothes flatter. “Don’t follow fashion, follow what suits you,” she declares. Insistent about her standards, she’s frankly horrified by certain aspects of present street fashion. “Bad legs in shorts,” she says, shaking her marmalade-colored mane. “Platform sandals and clogs...” That said, she’s not a size fascist. “You don’t have to be thin to look good,” she says. “But you have to think of your morphology and dress accordingly. If you have a waist, draw attention to it.”
“You don’t have to be thin to look good,” she says. “But you have to think of your morphology and dress accordingly."
Like most Parisians, Mary-Ethel is also a tremendous believer in adapting to the situation. For instance, when holidaying in Patmos, high fashion brands are out. “The nature and vegetation are so omnipresent in Greece that it’s best sticking to simple t-shirts, linen and straw hats,” she says. And, if in Ibiza, she recommends sporting vibrant colours as found in the local markets. “Dare to be different but always avoid the potato sack look,” she says, firmly. As for jewellery: alternate between important baubles and the homespun. “My favourite ever necklace is made of sea urchins,” she says. “And it was created by a ten-year-old.”
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradis, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.