Garance Doré has stationed herself in a banquette behind the reception desk at Brasserie Thoumieux, a glossy Parisian restaurant that anchors the 15-room hotel of the same name. I arrive a few minutes early and conclude she’s been here for quite some time; inside her mug, I spot painterly smears left over from a rich chocolat chaud. She treats the restaurant as her office–slash–second home whenever she flies in from New York, where she’s lived for the last four years with her partner, street-style pioneer Scott Schuman (a.k.a. The Sartorialist).
Doré, who grew up in the south of France, embodies the effortless Parisian ideal. In a red V-neck sweater and white jeans, she somehow looks more pulled together than anyone in off-the-runway togs. She wears many professional hats: blogger, illustrator, photographer, stationery designer (part of an ongoing collaboration with Rifle Paper Co., available in Canada at Indigo) and, most recently, commissioner of FDF collections for Montreal’s newly relaunched Fashion & Design Festival, where she will curate a selection of emerging talent.
We order an assiette gourmande (an array of mini delicacies, including a lemon tart and an opera cake) to share. She glances at her phone and smiles: “Oh, one of my photos has made it to the Popular page!” She’s referring to Instagram, where she has upwards of 210,000 followers; a half-hour after she posted an ethereal shot of the Seine, the image has garnered more than 1,350 likes.
Despite focusing on illustration work after finishing school, Doré, now 39, admits she felt like a creative drifter before establishing her namesake blog in 2006, which features her signature mix of illustration, writing and street-style photography. “The Internet played an important role in my life,” she says. “I felt very disconnected, and it really connected me.”
But despite her growing profile, Doré, who borrowed her surname from prolific 19th-century illustrator Gustave Doré and her first name from a type of red flower—she was born Mariline Fiori—prefers to stay behind the camera: “It’s like, ‘Come with me’ rather than ‘Look at me,’” she says, between bites of baba au rhum.
Nearly 80 minutes have passed and Doré and I have hardly discussed Schuman, other than to joke that he speaks no French (they met at a fashion week; it helped that she already spoke English). But at this point, he’s tangential; in spite of following him stateside, Doré is forging ahead with her own identity. Her admirers seek her point of view, her eye. After we bid adieu, I check back on the Seine photo: 6,100 likes and counting.
Photography by Amy Verner