Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Women's Fashion / Inner Chic

Doris Brynner

Written by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and illustrated by Robert Beck, this column focuses on life in Paris, pepped up by its chic insiders

Doris Brynner
Doris Brynner Illustration by Robert Beck

One day, Doris Brynner should pen a book called Doris Says. Like the great lady who’s the force behind Dior’s home and gifts department...

One day, Doris Brynner should pen a book called Doris Says. Like the great lady who’s the force behind Dior’s home and gifts department – she masterminded the boutique’s best sellers such as the Lily of the Valley candle, set of six glasses and enamel photograph frames – it would roll off useful, humorous tips that equal wise and practical. Usually, I dodge bossy boot characters and dear Dioris is the type to appear before her saintly creator and give him a ‘now, look here’ earful about the state of the pearly gates! Still, I listen to Doris because when she has blasted me for chewing gum in Dior’s front row, or advised holding my jaw if I am going to nod off in the theatre, she has been right.

A femme du monde – over the years, Doris’s close pals have numbered an Inner Chic range of swans like Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sally Aga Khan and Marella Agnelli – but she’s never become grand and continues to adapt to every situation. Personally, I love how Doris divorced Yul Brynner in 1967 and proved that there was a serious second act after a privileged existence, which included Balenciaga frocks, Schlumberger jewels and shaking cocktails with Frank Sinatra.

"Doris divorced Yul Brynner in 1967 and proved that there was a serious second act after a privileged existence, which included Balenciaga frocks, Schlumberger jewels and shaking cocktails with Frank Sinatra."

Zooming off with her divine daughter Victoria – now a Hollywood powerhouse – Doris jumpstarted Valentino’s career by selling his couture dresses to the jet set at the Palace hotel, St Moritz. This was then followed by sprucing up friend’s houses and starting La Veranda boutique in Morges, Switzerland – the place for elegant household pieces – which ended when Peter Marino recommended her to Bernard Arnault. Recently in Paris, Doris was grandly made an Officier des Arts et des Lettres. However, her embarrassed and refreshing attitude was ‘yes, but why me?’ If only the less talented were as modest.


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.

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