What constitutes Cafe Aesthetics in Paris?

“It ‘s giving.. *Insert aesthetic of choosing*” – but what is-it with this recurring statement, heard all too often on social media or whilst eavesdropping on your neighbor’s table at a European cafe? Certainly we are living in what I consider one of the most deliberately photogenic eras of the century, well obviously, because smart phone’s and social media did not exist centuries ago, but nonetheless we currently thrive on documenting all things aesthetic, especially when it comes to fashion.

Cafe aesthetics in Paris embody the city’s rich cultural heritage, blending history, art, and most importantly the art of living. Opposed to the buzzing city and cosmopolitan New Yorker Coffee with the famous “I will take mine on the go! ” In Paris, as in many places in Europe, the “savoir-vivre” mentality is the key to it all and on exceptional occasions, such as  fashion week, there is our guide for What Café to go to during Paris Fashion Week to get the best of it all.

Editorial "Girl in Parisian Café"

Parisian coffee spots offer a place of respite and a hub for social interaction, where locals and tourists alike can savor the essence of Parisian life while appreciating the city’s beauty, fashion and charm. So what constitutes a Parisian cafe aesthetic?

Relaxed Atmosphere and Slow Pace: savoir-faire and savoir-vivre, queue the song “La leçon particulière by Francis Lai” because café aesthetics in Paris emphasize a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere. Patrons of this style are encouraged to take their time, engage in conversation, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life while immersed in the cafe’s cozy ambiance.

Sidewalk Scene and People-Watching: take reference and reminiscence in the Chanel Autumn-Winter collection, where Parisian Cafe aesthetic set the mood at Karl Lagerfeld’s show held at Grand Palais in 2015. The Parisian cafe fashionable timelessness is the perfect host for the ever changing lively sidewalk scenes and street style observation as the art of people-watching is just like being front row at a very live fashion show, I would even go so far as to say it’s the original form of front row fashion shows.

Chanel Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Artistic decor and Fashionable design: If it screams Paris, it screams aesthetics. Parisian cafes often have an artistic ambiance with unique design elements, including vintage mirrors, antique fresques, fixtures that reflect the cafe’s history and cultural significance. Parisian Cafe aesthetics are enhanced by the presence of distinctive calligraphy signage, traditional and ornate boards with decorative lettering, displaying the cafe’s name or menu and so similar to invitations to fashion shows, and all of this contributes to the very iconic and fashionable visual appeal of Parisian cafes. Even the classic bistro furniture, typically made of rattan, have such a strong woven iconographic design, sometimes even unique to each cafe, they have been used as inspiration for many luxury brands designs, just take a look at the latest Louis Vuitton Petite Malle. 

La Petite Malle Louis Vuitton

However the true element that brings French Fashionable Cafe to life is the clientele.. because observing passersby, and enjoying the company of friends or a good book, while sipping coffee or savoring a pastry, are integral parts of the cafe experience and not only an observer sport, but also an oh-so-chic way to be part of the fashion show.

Author Tanny Onsalo

As creative director, fashion forecaster and style consultant, Tanny has worked for the magazine Vogue as Global Editorial Expert and led multiple global tentpole editorials. She directed the fashion forecasting of trends for Vestiaire Collective, spearheading the Fashion Journal, Newsroom and annual fashion data reports. Fluent in the language of ideas, the fundamentals of her narrative are creativity, storytelling and global cool hunting.