Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Who's That Gal: Rhianna Jones

As most of you know, the JUGs blog foundation was built on our book club, so naturally we love when we hear about new books! Recently, we came across Parisienne French: Chic Phrases, Slang and Style, an essential guide for any gal headed to Paris or to adopt the style here in the 'hub.  The book is no down-to-the-hour trip planner like Frommer's or Lonely Planet.  Rather, it is a modern conversational and social guide that helps steer you in the right direction and lets you create your Parisian experience on your own, naturally.  The best part about the book?  It has the ultimate style tips for dressing like a native!  We were so thrilled about the book, even though none of us have a trip planned anytime soon (sad face).  An extra awesome factor about the book is that the author, Rhianna Jones, is a 2012 Tufts University graduate! So young!  Naturally, we had to catch up with her and feature her as our latest Who's That Gal?...

Name: Rhianna Jones
Age: 23
Occupation: Freelance Stylist, Writer & Author of Parisienne French: Chic Phrases, Slang and Style
Hometown: Chicago
Current 'hood: Brooklyn
Education: Tufts University

The JUGs: Hi Rhianna!  We love your new book Parisienne French ("Parisienne" meaning "Parisian life")! Can you tell us a little more about your background and what motivated you to write the book?
RJ: I was in my junior year of college at Tufts and I spent a year abroad in Paris. The program was fully immersive and I lived with a host family and all that. I've always had the philosophy that you should make your travel experiences really authentic - speak the language, become friends with a local, and really immerse yourself. I was really lucky that I going over I was bilingual and in Paris I met some amazing friends who took me under their wing and made me feel really Parisian by the end of it. It's not the easiest culture to permeate, and I know a lot of people have had negative experiences in Paris because of that. So when I was writing my book I didn't want to do a Frommer's Guide type thing, I wanted to paint an idea of the city, but give my readers a way to create their own experience and pave their own parisian path.

In your book you don't like to push people to visit any one section of Paris as you want them to discover Paris on their own. But...if you had to pick...what's the one thing you think is a must see?

Oh my goodness…there's so many but I think I would say Place des Vosges, it's in the Marais district and is this gorgeous courtyard. It's a lot like the West Village of Paris. You're surrounded by beautiful 18th century row houses and its nothing but really hot, hip Parisians.

Second is Le Jardin des Tuileries, it's the white sand garden next to the Louvre and it's just a really gorgeous place to just sit and people watch. It's also where half of fashion week happens, so that is pretty cool.

Being published at such a young age is a huge accomplishment! Can you tell us more about the steps you took in order to get your book out there?
Funny enough there was a listing on Craigslist! The title was "Independent publisher looking for fashion forward fashion writer," which essentially was a combo of everything I love. The post was taken down before I had the chance to reply because they had already found another writer, but then it popped up again a few months later and I sent them a little summary of who I was and we had a meeting. We just really hit it off; they liked my vibe and we just took it from there and worked together to create my book, Parisienne French.

As lifestyle bloggers, we especially love the fashion section in your book and how you give guidance on channeling your own Parisian look. For each of the categories you also pair clothing essentials with blogs as additional inspiration and guidance. How do you think blogs have influenced your personal style?
What's great about blogs is they make everything accessible. Today I can see pictures of what everyone was wearing at, say, Paris Fashion week, for example. Five years ago, I never would have seen those because a) I never would have been there, b) never would have known who that certain model was in order to look her up and c) never would have known what she was wearing or how I could get it myself.

I'm also a huge fan of Pinterest. I used to have a horrendous google doc with just lists of all these items that I was inspired by and now I have all my images stored on this neatly presented board. My friends share with me and I share with them, and I follow certain blogs and Tumblrs, and it just makes it so much easier to find inspiration at all times.  From blogs and pinterest and social media, visual inspiration has changed style tenfold.

Many gals in our audience have the entrepreneurial spirit. What advice can you offer a young woman looking to publish her work as you did?

First and foremost, never stop chasing your dream, period, no matter how outlandish or lossy your aspirations are. Life is too short to have regrets. Stay true to yourself and it will push you through all the internships you end up doing. I think the harder you work and the more trivial positions you have, they all add up to give you experience!  Someday there will be someone who will say "hey, can you do this," or "hey, I saw you did this." Its all about saying "yes" to experiences and then marketing yourself as a brand.

Craigslist, mediabistro and all those sites are great, but also just having your own blog, contributing to a magazine, or even commenting on blogs, it's all just about having a presence online. Just make it representative of you and what you can bring to the table.

In an interview on Majestic Disorder you mentioned that your Balenciaga booties are your favorite fashion piece. Aside from a staple pair of boots, what is the one essential item you think every gal should own?
A black leather jacket, hands down. It goes with everything. It's my "urban uniform."

Can you tell us more about being a "Shop Girl" for Acne Studios?
Acne Studios is a brand based in Stockholm but has the same industry appeal as Alexander Wang or Helmut Lang. Our creative director is really thoughtful, very artistic and innovative.  The level of clientele is different than a high-end retail store because I actually work with the designers, the editors, the photographers, and people I've been following for years and never imagined working with.

At Acne, it's selling, networking and styling.  Taking a person, their current lifestyle and then transforming it into a lifestyle they want, in addition to inspiring them to choose their own pieces going forward. Fashion is just an extension of oneself. I think its important for everyone to love a piece and love themselves in it, or don't wear that piece at all.

Do you have another book in your future? Maybe a fashion book?
Yes! I have so many interests. I'd love to do an urban fairy tale, an children's book type thing. I also love photography, I love traveling... there are so many directions I could go in, but no, nothing planned yet!

In your opinion, who is the next big style icon?
Chiara Totire. I saw her crop up in all my favorite street style snaps from Fashion Week. The EPITOME of Milanese chic.

Best place to shop in Boston?
Rescue, but that closed so now I'd say Buffalo Exchange in Davis Square.

Favorite meal?
Sautéed Potato Gnocchi from Foundry on Elm

On an average day in Boston you'd be…
Spending all morning daydreaming in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, followed by a picnic in the Boston Common and an afternoon nap in the grass.

Starbucks or Dunkies?

T or Taxi?

Newbury St. or Harvard Square?
Neither! Davis Square!

Photos of Rhianna taken by:
B.B. Gunn & Kerrin Smith

- Suzanne

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