If you were to meet Alice Cavanagh in Paris, most likely she will be tapping away at her laptop in one of her husband’s two cafés or at her local favourite Le Grand Bain, sipping some great wine.
'Every time I go I run into someone and of course, it’s nice that he’s there', she says of Café Méricourt and Café Oberkampf, her half French, half British husband’s ventures. 'Le Grand Bain was opened by a friend of mine a year ago. It has a talented chef and a wonderful vibe both during the day and the evening. I love to just have a kick around the neighborhood, the 11th is such a melting pot of cafés. I used to live in the 5th, near Notre Dame, which is a gorgeous area but a no man’s land in terms of friends and food.'
Australia is winning in terms of life quality, but it’s great to be a bit central.
Alice has lived in Paris for 7 years now and feels very much entrenched there, she says. 'Australia is winning in terms of life quality', she laughs, 'but it’s great to be a bit central, it’s good work-wise.' When she first came to Paris, she was the editor of Oyster, a Sydney-based but international fashion and culture title 'where everyone in the Australian fashion industry cuts their teeth. There was so much creative freedom then', she recalls, 'we were shooting covers with Cass Bird and Jamie Hawkesworth.'
As Oyster was a biannual print magazine at the time, she could work from Paris easily, going back and forth a couple of times a year for deadlines. When that wrapped up, she was part of the Miss Vogue Australia launch. 'We really pushed the envelope, it was quite different from the glossy magazines at the time. But we only lasted 3 issues, it was hard to get off the ground.'
In the meantime, Alice had started taking on lots of freelance work - including writing the Wallpaper* City Guide to Paris. She started doing podcasts and exploring different ways of communicating. 'I’m so lucky because I have different jobs all the time; it’s precisely this diversity that I relish. I’m always meeting people and learning. I like to be challenged and feel stimulated.'
Moving across hemispheres will do that to you. When we turn our conversation towards fashion, Alice muses on how her style has evolved in these last 7 years. 'I’m not sure if it’s age or climate, but I think that I was always drawn to something relaxed, low-key. I definitely dress down more here. I never wear heels or make-up, I walk everywhere.' She explains: 'In Australia, people are showier and tend to dress more revealingly. I was never completely like that. Simplicity works best, and comfort – I never wear anything that doesn’t sit right.'
But clothing is paramount to Alice’s day-to-day. When not 'ping-ponging around cafés' but working from home, she laughs, 'the secret is to get dressed. The temptation to stay in pajamas is very high, so dressing is the best way to start your day properly.'
Interestingly, when Alice knuckles down to the writing, post-research part of work, she 'turns the internet off and gets writing'. The house must also be spotlessly clean, so as not to get distracted.
I hate shopping. I only shop online.
It’s clear that Alice prefers subtlety and simplicity in life, something she carries over in her sense of style and her choice of brands. She gravitates towards 'Margaret Howell for a pair of trousers, Lemaire, Crista Seya, Stella McCartney, Khaite and Frame for denim and t-shirts. I don’t really wear jewellery, only my engagement ring, a ring from my dad and a very fine necklace.'
So where does she get her designer fix? 'I hate shopping', Alice says emphatically. 'I only shop online. I don’t like browsing, looking at everything and then thinking ‘I need something else!’', she laughs. 'But I’ll go into Le Bon Marché for a look …'
More interested in building a wardrobe rather than following the seasonal trends, the most playful you’ll see Alice get is with a statement earring. She keeps her finger on the pulse down under, too. 'I love to keep an eye what Australian brand Albus Lumen is doing, and I have a few trenchcoats by fellow Australians TOME. I literally get stopped on the street when I wear one', she says. 'In Paris, for that to happen is quite rare, but I always get a compliment.'