- Abby Rodgers, student, was born in South Korea, raised in Rochester, New York and is currently living in Paris, France. She is a self-proclaimed Francophile and dessert connoisseur. She first visited Paris ten years ago and it was love at first sight. Abby had never experienced a culture so rich, food so delicious, and a language that was so beautiful. Her love affair with Paris prompted several more visits and at age 21, she finally got up the courage to move to the City of Love. Abby is currently a student of International Relations at Schiller International University in Paris, having previously studied Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She continues to paint and draw, which has always been her passion. Recently, Abby began working at Art Galleries Europe|London and Paris a commercial art gallery steps away from the Eiffel Tower and famed Champs de Mars. As a painter and art lover, this is a wonderful opportunity for her to work and immerse herself in her passion.
In addition to her studies and artistic pursuits, Abby is a nanny for a French family who live in the 15éme arrondissement. There, she cares for a delightful little four-year-old girl. Their daily routine includes picking her up from école maternelle where she attends school, her after school le gôute (snack) at 4 o’clock, drawing (princesses, châteaux, etc.), trips to the park, ballet class on Thursdays, and occasional special outings to the movies or the aquarium.
Abby currently lives in the bustling 6éme arrondissement near the famed Café Flore and Luxembourg Gardens, providing the ideal landscape for creativity. Portfolio.
AWP: Name the books and movies, works of art and music, fashion or cuisine that have inspired you.
AR: I have been inspired by the following movies, works of art and music, and cuisine:
Movies: Jeux d’enfants, The Dreamers, and Shawshank Redemption.
Art: The DaDa cultural movement (Dadaism); French Impressionist painters Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin; American contemporary artists Jeff Koons and Jenny Holzer; and Danish-Islandic artist Olafur Eliasson.
Music: American singer-songwriters Lana Del Rey and Tori Amos; British alternative rock band Coldplay; and American indie rock and post-punk revival band Interpol.
Cuisine: Paella, Paris macarons, a fresh baguette with real French butter, and North African cuisine.
AWP: Do you have any role models?
AR: My mother, who is the most loving person I know. For her honesty, open mind and acceptance of the differences in everyone.
AWP: What childhood experience has served you many times?
AR: Being adopted. I think being adopted has really put things in a different perspective for me — sometimes positively, sometimes negatively — but it has always served as an important aspect of my life. I think it’s given me a different outlook.
AWP: In your youth, what did you imagine your adult life would hold? What influenced this vision?
AR: When I was young, I was always drawing and painting and exploring. I wanted to be an artist or an archaeologist. One of my favorite parts of living in Chicago was going to the galleries and the first Friday events. In Paris, I read about a job opportunity at an international gallery while searching for an art-related job. That is how I stumbled upon the gallery where I work now. I’m eager to explore the gallery scene in Paris to learn what it has to offer me.
AWP: In your early teens, what formed your romantic fantasies of adventure and love?
AR: My first trip to Paris was when I was fourteen years old. This was the first time I fell in love with a place. I had never experienced architecture or culture that was so rich and so beautiful. The second time I traveled to Paris when I was 21 years old, I experienced love again and met my boyfriend who is really my best friend now. So I guess Paris really is the City of Love — as cliché as it sounds.
AWP: What nourishes your passions?
AR: Food. I’m a big foodie and am fascinated by the desserts and cheeses available in Paris. There are so many varieties. There is a pâtisserie around the corner from where I live that always has the most amazing window displays. I am partial to the millefeuille and the macarons (especially from Ladurée and Pierre Hermé), although my friend Kelly swears by the French dessert, Paris-Brest. Frankly, anything you get at the pâtisserie is likely to be so blindingly delicious you don’t even have time to think about it going directly to your hips and thighs. I love to cook and bake. I baked Madeleines for the first time this year with my friend Maria and would love to try and make canelé, a specialty from Bordeaux, to which I’m addicted.
Painting is really a passion for me as well, and I can paint when I am in any mood.
AWP: How did you get your foot in the door at the beginning of your career?
AR: I’m just starting my career so I suppose right now I am putting myself out there and trying to find my place. Hopefully, I will find myself being able to morph my passions into something prosperous.
AWP: Was being stylish important to you growing up in your teens? Is it now?
AR: Being stylish has always been important to me and still is, especially living in Paris, where people look like they just jumped out of the pages of Vogue, even when they are at the grocery store buying eggs.
AWP: How do you define style or fashion?
AR: I think fashion is an extension of who you are. I generally base my style on my mood; I don’t like to corner myself into trends too much. I like to spend more money on classics and basics, then buy a few trendy items per season.
French women have a way of looking effortlessly chic, like they rolled out of bed looking like mannequins. I am always amazed at their ability to be timeless. Sometimes, I swear it’s like a genetic pre-disposition. Some of the chicest women I’ve seen are 70-years-old rocking Chanel and Hermés in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
AWP: Tell me about your cooking and eating habits and traditions.
AR: Every meal in Paris is memorable; dining is really an experience here. Meals appear to be planned very well. Families can spend hours dining together. I’ve eaten a few times with the French family I babysit for and I’m always amazed at their dining rituals and the etiquette they possess. Even the four-year-old girl has great table manners.
There are also many amazing places to eat in Paris. I often go out to lunch with my friend Jane (who also happens to be an amazing cook), in the 5éme arrondissement, where there are plenty of delicious ethnic restaurants and the rue Mouffetard, which has a bunch of affordable eats. There are great Gyros on the rue de la Huchette, one of the oldest streets in Paris from the Place Saint-Michel, where I go with my friends when we don’t want to spend a lot of money.
I honestly really enjoy the cafés; I could people-watch all day. It’s amazing how long they let you sit without shooing you away, something you would never see in the U.S. I would definitely consider myself a coffee addict!
AWP: What is in your refrigerator right now?
AR: A wheel of Camembert, Le Fermiére Yogurt with chestnut paste, salad, leftover pizza from Pizza Rustica, Ravioli Dauphiné, French butter, Emmental, carrots and mushrooms, Crème fraîche épassé.
You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Diving into Paris Fashion: From famous to fresh, by Paris-based Abby Rodgers, who asks the question, “…with veterans such as Lagerfeld making the move to the street-wear market, where is fashion headed in Paris and what influence does the newest generation have?” Included are fashion brands and stores that are favorites of Abby and her friends.
The challenge of business casual, by Frenchwoman Bénédicte Mahé who shares suggestions for business casual with those beginning their work careers in Paris. Included are fashion brands and stores that are favorites of Bénédicte and her friends.
Ballet Flats in Paris: And God made Repetto, by Barbara Redmond who shares what she got from a pair of flats purchased in a ballet store in Paris; a feline, natural style from the toes up, a simple pair of shoes that transformed her whole look. Including the vimeos “Pas de Deux Coda,” by Opening Ceremony and “Repetto,” by Repetto, Paris.
In search of the perfect Moroccan slipper, by American writer Lisa Rounds who tells of her adventures in the North African neighborhood of Barbès in Paris searching for the perfect slipper in red, of course, for a Cosmo photo shoot. Her story of “living the dream,” working for a publishing company in Paris.
A Woman’s Paris — Elegance, Culture and Joie de Vivre
We are captivated by women and men, like you, who use their discipline, wit and resourcefulness to make their own way and who excel at what the French call joie de vivre or “the art of living.” We stand in awe of what you fill into your lives. Free spirits who inspire both admiration and confidence.
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. — Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)
Text copyright ©2012 Abby Rodgers. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.