What if we debunked the myth of “La Parisienne”? In The Parisian Demystified, documentary broadcast this Monday evening on France 3, Rokhaya Diallo proposes to demystify this advertising concept selling the archetype of THE French woman to the whole world. The director wonders: where does the idea come from that the Parisienne cannot be anything other than a white woman, rather thin, rather bourgeois? “The starting point is my questions. I was born and I grew up in Paris, but I did not recognize myself in the image that we convey of this figure, ”explains Rokhaya Diallo, wishing“ rather to add another vision ”to this myth.
The film, a project she has had in mind since she worked for comics Paris of friends in 2015, co-written with Kim Consigny, is thought of as a guide, where the chaptering corresponds to the different facets of this mythical figure. The comic strip spirit is still thanks to the illustrations by Blachette. “Documentaries are creation, we often forget. I wanted something pretty aesthetically pleasing to showcase the delicacy and prettiness that we associate with the image of the Parisian, ”explains the one who began her career in animation, a passionate profession. with which she reconnects here.
Parisians with a thousand faces
This is the opportunity to see her stroll through the streets of the capital, meeting “women I admire” says Rokhaya Diallo, who embody these city dwellers of the City of Light that we rarely see. We find the author of Asian origin Grace Ly, with whom she co-hosts the podcast Enjoy Your Race on Binge, Paris advisor Alice Coffin, activist, lesbian (and former collaborator of 20 minutes) or even Nathalie Garçon, designer working for a less youthful and less grossophobic fashion.
Elisa Rojas, lawyer and activist on disability issues is also one of the speakers. Born of Chilean parents, but pure Parisian, her interview on the steps of the courthouse shows how the lack of accessibility, especially public transport, makes Paris a tough city when you are disabled. the Marais, because it is historically a place that welcomes minorities; I feel good there, ”explains Elisa Rojas, who points to the“ museification ”of the neighborhood. The documentary also draws a historical thread. He was filmed before the officialization of the pantheonization of Joséphine Baker, an African-American figure that was outstanding but also ambiguous in the evolution of the image of the Parisian. “The first non-white woman to incarnate the myth and therefore to renew it, but which arises in a show La revue nègre featuring a caricatured Africa when it is not African”.
Books that demystify the figure
To properly deconstruct the myth, Rokhaya Diallo has appealed in this documentary to the glances of Parisians “from inside and outside” such as Alice Pfeiffer, Franco-British fashion journalist and author of I’m not Parisian. For her, who defines herself as white, queer, “feuj”, and of a very French family, this myth is “the story of a territorial domination, that of Paris over the rest of France, which creates stereotypes and exoticizes bodies, generating an alterity specific to the colonial hierarchy. The Parisienne carries on her body all the domination suffered by the French woman ”. From where this character frozen in a France before the waves of immigration of the years 1950-60, with Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve as only points of horizon.
“We must move forward,” exclaims Lindsey Tramuta, American journalist and author of The New Parisian, living in Paris for 15 years. Magazines like British Vogue do it and even in the United States, despite the country’s problems, things are moving. It is not foreigners who have a dated and outdated image of Paris and Parisians, it is France which refuses to change and update its narration. “
From the Parisienne to the Grandes Parisiennes?
Difficult to be perfectly complete in 52 minutes. Scheduled to appear in the documentary, the chambermaids at the Ibis hotel are missing, but they are thanked in the end credits. “I wanted to show the invisible, those who work in the city early in the morning, or late at night,” points out Rokhaya Diallo and who without always living there, are also Paris. The question of what will become of “La Parisienne” at the time of Greater Paris. As a reminder, Aya Nakamura, who grew up in Aulnay-Sous-Bois and is the most streamed French artist in the world, today inspires fashion designers and artists all around the world.
The documentary is also produced by the production company headed by Laurence Lascary, which is called De l’Autre Côté du Périph. A last nod to a subject much less frivolous than it seems.