Dior PR Director Mathilde Favier’s New Book Is the Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Paris 

Mathilde Favier is fresh off the plane from Los Angeles when we meet for coffee at Monsieur Dior, the restaurant on the first floor of Dior’s flagship boutique on Avenue Montaigne, two days after the Oscars. 

As public relations director at Dior Couture, Favier oversees celebrity relations and was on hand to ensure that brand ambassadors Jennifer Lawrence, Anya Taylor-Joy and Charlize Theron looked flawless on the red carpet. 

If the chatter post-awards is about the broken zipper on Emma Stone’s Louis Vuitton gown, Favier is here to discuss something entirely different: her first book.

“Living Beautifully in Paris,” published by Flammarion, provides a fascinating glimpse inside the world of the renowned tastemaker and hostess, who is friends with a who’s who of powerful people from across the worlds of culture, politics and industry. 

Think of her as the influencer’s influencer, though she’s not a huge fan of the term.

“To me, an influencer is someone who inspires me and I think the word is not appropriate, because influencers no longer inspire anyone. That’s over,” she pronounces, noting that paid partnerships have left little room for these tastemakers to embody their personal style. 

Carla in the Beaux-Arts style peristyle of the Palais Galliera, beside The Digger by Alfred
Boucher, c.1891.

Carla Bruni in the Beaux-Arts style peristyle of the Palais Galliera, beside “The Digger” by Alfred
Boucher, c.1891.

Pascal Chevallier/Courtesy of Flammarion

Rather, Favier sees herself as a champion of a gang of women she describes as “bees” — though she stops short of describing herself as their queen. Still, it’s hard to find anyone with her level of connections. 

From former French First Lady Carla Bruni to her half-sister Victoire de Castellane, creative director of Dior jewelry, her illustrious friends and family fill the pages of the coffee table book, posing in exquisitely appointed homes or postcard locations across Paris. 

The photographs by Pascal Chevallier and accompanying texts, written by journalist Frédérique Dedet, amount to the ultimate insider’s guide to Paris. “I wanted it to be very real, like a family photo album,” Favier says of the mix of glossy portraits and informal snaps, like the double page of her elevator selfies. 

Some are women she’s known since her school days at the Institut de l’Assomption, commonly known as Lübeck, where her classmates included designers Vanessa Seward and Camille Miceli, and stylist Emmanuelle Alt. Some are more recent acquaintances, like Tagwalk founder Alexandra Van Houtte or Spanish designer Maria de la Orden.

“I love to champion women who inspire me,” she says. “None of us are getting any younger, unfortunately, but these people are bringing a fresh wind of energy to Paris.”

Though born and bred in the French capital, Favier believes that being Parisian is an attitude, not something you can learn from a how-to manual. 

“You can be foreign and Parisian,” she says. “It’s not about your clothes or your family. It’s how you behave and perhaps you can attain a form of Parisian allure. Jane Birkin had become Parisian.”

Mathilde Favier and Elie Top

Mathilde Favier and Elie Top

Stephane Feugere for WWD

Favier has moved in fashion circles since her teens, when her uncle Gilles Dufour got her an internship at Chanel, where he worked alongside Karl Lagerfeld. The studio then was full of other young girls. 

“Karl thought we were funny and adorable. He called me Princess Mathilde, because I was intoxicated. If he’d asked me to pick up pins for six weeks, I’d have done it,” she recalls.

Favier cut short her studies to join Glamour magazine before eventually moving into public relations at Prada and then Dior, where she has overseen celebrity relations for 13 years. During that time the business of red carpet dressing has changed beyond recognition.

“Back then, when we got to Los Angeles, we would have one or two brand ambassadors at Dior. Today, there are more than 80,” she says. 

Though she now heads a team of seven, Favier somehow makes everything she does look effortless, whether greeting Rihanna at the Dior haute couture show in January or designing a hot water bottle for her sister Pauline Favier-Henin’s lifestyle brand Bloom Paris (it’s as chic as you might expect). 

What she hopes to capture with her book is a certain lightness of being, and a way of life that she fears might be disappearing. 

“I would like for Paris to be preserved,” she explains. “We remain the capital of fashion and luxury and that attracts a lot of people to our city. I think we’re victims of our success and we risk losing sight of certain important values. I wanted this book to celebrate the things that make me happy.”

A layout from “Living Beautifully in Paris

A layout from “Living Beautifully in Paris” showing Mathilde Favier shopping in Paris.

Pascal Chevallier/Courtesy of Flammarion

That includes traditional restaurants like Le Voltaire and La Poule au Pot, the open-air market on Avenue du Président Wilson and confectioner Maison Louis Fouquet, where she buys chocolates in glass jars as hostess gifts.

It also refers to a quality of service that she embodies at Dior. “When you work in a service industry, you should do everything with a smile. If possible, you should never have to say no,” she says. 

Favier considers genuine good manners the ultimate form of elegance and her book celebrates an unhurried style of hospitality that is not just for show. 

“The notion of pleasure is still very important here,” says Favier, who is known for her colorful table compositions. “When I have people over, I want it to be a genuine experience.”

She credits her mother, Françoise Favier, with instilling in her daughters a sense of savoir-vivre. Forget about putting ketchup bottles on the dinner table.

Favier grew up surrounded by women like interior designer Madeleine Castaing and society doyenne Lee Radziwill, who introduced her to the father of her children, businessman Robert Agostinelli.

Mathilde Favier with her mother Françoise Favier and her daughter Héloïse Agostinelli.

Mathilde Favier with her mother Françoise Favier and her daughter Héloïse Agostinelli.

Pascal Chevallier/Courtesy of Flammarion

“All these people had a form of simple sophistication that no longer exists, but above all, that no longer matters to people,” she says slightly mournfully. “It’s a shame they no longer care about quality. For me, it’s the most important thing.”

Her obsession with finding beauty might come across as superficial, but for Favier, it’s a way of life. 

“It’s a way to avoid what is sad and ugly, because life spares no one,” says the 54-year-old mother of two, who is twice divorced and now shares her life with producer Nicolas Altmayer. 

“I think it’s also structural. Some people see the glass half full instead of half empty. I think I was made to focus on the positive things in life,” she says. 

She hopes to parlay her taste for the finer things into a franchise of books on different topics and places. Her debut tome is set to come out on May 7 in the U.S. and she’s already at work on the next one. “It’s very addictive,” she admits.  

Mathilde Favier in her bathtub.

Mathilde Favier in her bathtub.

Pascal Chevallier/Courtesy of Flammarion

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top