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C'est énorme! Ease does not mean laissez-aller

"It's the dress you want when you're 20, and the dress you'll keep till you're 70," says Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers of Dovima Paris, one of France's newest luxury ready-to-wear lines of elegant dresses done simply.

When I lived in Paris, I was lucky enough to get to spend a year working fashion weeks in Paris and Milan.  I was the lowest of the low on the totem pole, but relished every fashion-soaked moment of the alter-ego I was calling life.

From 10-hour days on my feet at the Balenciaga showroom, to getting lost on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré searching for an obscure underground brand (that was literally showing its clothes underground), it was the best year of my life and I would not trade that time for a million billable hours at any law firm in the world.

Sure, fashion can be extremely intimidating. There were plenty of instances when I felt completely out of place and ridiculous for even having the audacity to step foot in a showroom like Isabel Marant. Sporting a 5-year-old Barney's outlet shift dress (clinging on to dear life), paired with Ann Taylor Loft pumps (the only thing in my closet comfortable enough to stand in for 10 hours before facing the crowded Paris metro), I'm sure McQueen was rolling over in his grave.

Whether a novice in the fashion world or a stay-at-home mom juggling 10 million tasks a day, everyone has a desire to feel pulled together and presentable. Oftentimes, we become so intimidated by fashion that we throw in the towel and give up altogether. But if there is one thing I learned after my tiny tenure in the business, it is that fashion is for everyone. Sure, we may not all be able to sport the latest Céline bag with a perfectly tailored Stella blazer every time we run to Whole Foods, but we can all strive for polished perfection in our own way.

For me, at age 28, polished perfection entails a few fabulous statement pieces mixed with jewels from local designers, and staples from J.crew/Zara/H&M with the occasional, I-swore-I'd-never-go-back-after-college, Forever 21 accessory. I still wear my Barney's shift, even though it is now going on 6 years old, but I bought a once-in-a-lifetime pair of Alaïa pumps to pair it with and now feel 100 percent confident when I step out the door.In my opinion, fashion is about confidence and quality, and most importantly, striving to find your perfect balance. Which leads us to le énorme story of the week: Dovima Paris. Where confidence meets quality in the form of a timeless elegant dress.

Dovima Paris is the brainchild of Parisian fashion veteran Jane Pendry. Jane has worked in luxury fashion for the past 20 years.  From Yves Saint Laurent to Ralph Lauren, her fashion pedigree would make even Carrie Bradshaw green with envy. Jane designs a line of high-quality dresses made to order in France and fashioned from the finest Italian fabrics.

It began when she invited a small group to a showing of the collection at her home in the Marais, and now, she's made her way to the U.S., where she's conducting Dovima Paris sales in our very own New Orleans, as well as San Fran, Chicago, and NYC. A recent article in the WSJ aptly observed, "Some brands catch your eye with bold, flamboyant styles. Others draw you in through exquisite quality and a hushed sense of elegance.  Dovima Paris falls in the latter."

Ease does not mean let go, says Pendry; on the contray, a classic dress can be styled up or down and adapted to any season.  Simple yet sophisticated.  Pendry touts that Dovima Paris is a fashion line "designed by a woman for women" and her classic dresses are designed to take women through a busy day and into evening.

And the best part of this story is that Dovima Paris is in New Orleans this week. Michele Carrere, (who happens to be my MIL) is the catalyst behind Jane's appearance in Nola. A self-proclaimed francophile and lover of all things elegant, after reading an article about a woman designing Mona Brismarck-esque clothing for the modern woman, Michele immediately opened her laptop and reached out to Jane.

Upon receiving an immediate reply, Michele learned that Dovima Paris is sold exclusively at invitation-only private trunk shows (and recently, a pop-up shop at Printemps in Paris). One thing led to another and the next thing she knew, Jane was planning her first trip the Big Easy.

Although Dovima Paris doesn't run in the same crowd with my regulars, I think she's worth the reach. With prices ranging from $500 to $1,600, she is definitely a splurge, but if she's still in my closet in 50 years, I think she'll have been worth every penny.

Dovima Paris will be showing in New Orleans this week at Alexis Walter Art studio on March 27 and 28 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can browse the collection here.  If you see something you like, please do stop by, see some beautiful art (on the racks and the walls) and have a glass of wine.  No appointment necessary.  Now, it doesn't get any easier than that.

J'espère vous voir bientôt. 

Emily Carrere writes “C’est Enorme” for NolaVie, bringing you fabulous finds that feature artists, designers, products and businesses in New Orleans.  Visit her daily blog Walnut Lane.