KDHamptons Party Diary: Celebrating Kate Betts New Memoir, My Paris Dream
Sag Harbor author Kate Betts
“I’ve been coming to the Hamptons my whole life. My paternal grandmother had a house in Quogue, as did my father, and my maternal grandparents had a house on Shelter Island. So I spent many many summers at the beach in Quogue and also on the rocky beach right next to the South Ferry dock in Shelter Island,” shares Sag Harbor writer Kate Betts, author of MY PARIS DREAM: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine. A captivating coming-of-age memoir with the alluring backdrop of Paris in the 1980s and early 90s, Betts’s chronicles the seductiveness of the city, the hopes and heartbreaks of a young woman abroad, and the fantasy world of French fashion to life. Stephanie and Chris Clark fête Kate at their beautiful East Hampton home with a luncheon to celebrate the Hamptons release of MY PARIS DREAM in this NEW KDHamptons Party Diary, below:
KDHamptons: You have a long family history here in the Hamptons, which you carry on with your husband and children. What makes this such a special place for you?
Kate: I was married to my husband Chip in Sag Harbor in the Old Whaler’s Church and buried my father in the Oakland Cemetery. My grandmother and step grandfather are buried in Quogue. I love the East End of Long Island for so many reasons but primarily because of the light and the unusual juxtaposition of such rich, green landscape rolling right up to the sea. Small authentic villages like Sag Harbor are disappearing in America and the incredible history here, juxtaposed with the community of artists and writers is also unique.
Chesie Breen and host Chris Clarke
Debbie Loeffler (with her puppy Pippa), and Alistair Clarke with wife Blair (right)
Ron Wendt and Philip MacGregor
KDHamptons: Please describe your perfect day here in the Hamptons?
Kate: My perfect day begins with a bike ride to the Golden Pear in Sag Harbor for coffee and a daily dose of town gossip (I’m a reporter after all), then I love making breakfast for my kids, Oliver, 15, and India, 10. After breakfast, I love going for a hike in Mashomack Reserve on Shelter Island (my grandfather was a member of this place when it was once a private hunting club), then stopping for fresh produce at any number of divine farmers markets like Pike’s farm (my favorite). It’s very hard for me to stay away from local Sag Harbor favorites like Cavaniola’s cheese shop (their wine store is great too), the Sag Harbor florist, Fisher’s Home Furnishings, Ruby Beets, and the Variety Store which might just be my most favorite emporium in America. I will find any excuse to shop there − from crafts for my daughter to candy, to beach accessories, to Halloween costumes! We are also avid patrons of the Wharf Shop which is the best toy store in America! And my father, who lived in Sag Harbor for 25 years, instilled in me a loyalty to the Sag Harbor Pharmacy − I will never buy cosmetics and toiletries at a big box retailer ever again as long as I can help keep the local family businesses stay alive!
Mashomack Reserve on Shelter Island
Sag Harbor Florist
KDHamptons: Do you do most of your writing in the Hamptons? What makes your work flow better here?
Kate: I wrote big chunks of My Paris Dream here. I write in the morning and there is a quiet, peaceful quality to early mornings in Sag Harbor − even in the high season. I also have my mother’s library in my parlor here and so many of her books inspired me, not to mention my mother herself who was the one who urged me to go to Paris and to find my voice.
Blair Clarke and Chesie Breen (center)
Follow this adorable Pomeranian party guest @theDailyPippa!
Kate and I were editors at Condé Nast years ago, she was at Vogue and I was at Allure.
KDHamptons: If you could whisk your family to the South of France instead of the Hamptons all summer, would you?
Kate: I would, only because I want my children to spend time with the children of my French “family,” and learn to speak French. I think it’s so important for kids to be exposed to other cultures. But that said, I’m so looking forward to spending this summer in Sag Harbor − without a book deadline looming over me!
Jennifer Ringelstein and friend
Lloyd Nathan and wife Elana Posner
Kate’s book is available locally at Harbor Books in Sag Harbor
*More about MY PARIS DREAM: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine (Spiegel and Grau Hardcover, May 12, 2015). Kate Betts, the former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor and author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style gives readers a view of what life looked like to a young American woman, finding herself, falling in love, and learning how to navigate this seductive city, where she would always feel like an outsider, but would come to understand the value of belonging. Determined to master French slang, style, and savoir-faire, Betts moved into the apartment of a young “BCBG” family, and set out in search of a job.
Through perseverance, hard work, and serendipity, she eventually caught the eye of John Fairchild, the legendary dictatorial editor of Women’s Wear Daily. After a period of dues paying (writing about the mineral water preferred by high society, chasing wild boar through the forests of Brittany, etc.), she was at last admitted into the coveted ranks of journalists who covered high fashion. It was a magical, dizzying time: one that saw a changing of the guard—from Yves Saint Laurent and legendary Paris couturiers to the explosion of street style that gave rise to a new generation of talent: Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, John Galliano, and Christian Louboutin, and from fashion as an industry steeped in tradition and craftsmanship into big business. Betts brings the enchantment of France to life − from the nightclubs of Paris where she learned to dance Le Rock, to the lavender fields of Provence –-and shares insider information about restaurants, shopping, style, and food, in this honest and immensely appealing memoir.