A Fashion Girl in Paris: An Interview with Aleksandra Domagala

A Fashion Girl in Paris: An Interview with Aleksandra Domagala

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I met Aleksandra during my four month stay in Paris back in 2012 when she instantly charmed me with her energy and zest for life. As a Polish fashion girl living in Paris she had the opportunity to experience some really amazing opportunities, such as working for Balenciaga, but also overcoming a few differences between the cultures.

You’re from Poland and living in Paris. When and how did that happen?

Living Paris is a result of my student exchange adventure in Estonia. This period completely changed my life. I’ve realized that living abroad, among people from different countries and different background is something that really makes me glad, it’s challenging and opens you to opportunities that you don’t have or simply don’t see, staying in your motherland. So I knew that after my studies I want to experience living in another country, but Paris wasn’t really a part of the plan. But in Estonia I met my fiancé, who happened to be French and to live in Paris. After one year of travelling between France and Poland, and after receiving my master degree in law, I packed my suitcase and joined him in the City of Light. It’s been over 2 years now.

What are the biggest differences between your home country and France that you had to overcome?

The language! I didn’t speak French very well when I arrived (ok, let’s face it – I was terrible). But I treated it as a challenge and even if it was not always very easy I’m very happy that I was somehow forced to learn another foreign language, which has always been my goal.

Which French customs do you still find difficult to accept?

It took me some time to get used to the strict hours to have a meal and to the fact that people look at you strange when you eat dessert in the middle of the day, not just after the main dish. Now I got used to it, mainly because I believe it to be the French secret to stay so slim.

I’m also not a fan of kissing a person (in Paris twice, in the South of France three times!) I see for the first time as a “nice to meet you” gesture. In Poland we are not so exuberant. I think a handshake is just fine.

What do you like about living in the most beautiful city in the world?

Obviously, the fact that there are just soooo many things to do and see. The number of opportunities to have a great time every day is just overwhelming. I’m trying to enjoy every moment, I don’t want just to “get used to” this beauty. My heart still beats faster when I see the Eiffel tower blinking at night, and I can still compete with tourists in the number of pictures I take 😉

Professionally speaking, I also did things in Paris which would be difficult to achieve in other places (work with very famous designers, organize big fashion events, write articles about fashion, work for popular brands, attend Paris Fashion Week etc.). If you want to work in fashion business, there is no better place than Paris.

You studied law at the University in Poland, but at the same time you were a model. How did you combine those two?

My rule was that studies always come first. So I had to say “no” to countless great photo shoots, but it wasn’t a problem. I’ve always treated modeling as something “extra”, I’ve never really thought about myself as a model.  But I know how lucky I am to have this opportunity – I travelled for photo shoots to Sri Lanka, Italy, Egypt, Switzerland, I met great people and thanks to the money I earn I’m able to travel more, which is a very important part of my life.

Which are your favorite fashion brands and your favorite places to shop?

In Paris I discovered the brand I didn’t know before and which completely stole my heart – Manoush. Their dresses are just to die for! I wouldn’t mind to fill my wardrobe with Maje clothes, either. The best spots for shopping in Paris are Rue St Honore, Le Marais, Saint Germain de Pres, Champs Elysees and the Boulevard Haussman.

And you are a Balenciaga model. Tell us more about that!

This is a pretty exciting opportunity that I got. I work as a fitting model, with another (Croatian) model, who is for this purpose flown to Paris from Barcelona. Half of the crew is flown for the fitting from Milan. Everything is extremely professional, and the clothes, shoes and bags are just so jaw-droppingly beautiful.  And I love this cosmopolitan atmosphere.

We see photo-shoots going on all over Paris. What are some of your favorite places you had the chance to model at?

Paris is definitely the place to be for photographers. Parisian classics are the bridge of Alexandre III, Trocadero, Ile Saint Louis, Place de la Concorde, the banks of the Seine, the Petit Palais, the Palais de Tokyo and so much more!

When it’s time to relax, where do you go to enjoy yourself? What are your favorite spots in the city?

There are so many of them. My favorite way of spending time in Paris is to make a picnic, especially in Champs de Mars, Montmartre hill, Tuileries gardens, on the banks of the Seine, Jardin du Luxembourg, Ile Saint Louis (when you’re there you need to try the famous Berthillon ice creams!) and Parc des Buttes Chaumont. I’m trying not to go to the same restaurants more than once, because there are just too many great venues to discover, but I do have few favorites I make exceptions for – Angelina café, Le Petit Canard, Le Refuge des Fondues, Café des 2 Moulins.

France is famous for its gourmet food, what dish is your favorite to eat outside and which do you like to prepare for yourself?

It’s true that food plays incredibly important role in discovering France. French people love to celebrate meals and will always take time to tell you a bit, from which part of France the food comes etc.  In a restaurant I often take magret de canard with gratin daphinois. Despite the controversy over foie gras, I need to admit I’m a huge fan, whether it is served in a restaurant or made by my mother-in-law-to-be. At home I love to invite friends for a fondue savoyarde (with cheese) or bourguignonne (with meat) or for a raclette – I find these meals very convivial and fun to share.

And of course Paris isn’t called the most romantic city in the world for nothing. You’re engaged, did Paris had to do something with that?

Not at all! Actually my fiancé told me in the beginning that our engagement won’t take place in Paris and it didn’t – we got engaged on a little private island 2 km from Zanzibar. Paris is not the only romantic place on Earth 😉

When your friends and family come to visit, what’s the first place you take them to? Where is your favorite view of the city?

I’m trying to show my guests different sides of Paris – artsy Montmartre, opulent Invalides, chic Opera, fashionable Marais, alternative Oberkampf, lively Latin neighbourhood etc.  And I always make them try my favorite desserts, types of cheese and wine and the venues I love to visit – only this way you can experience a real Parisian atmosphere. The best view of the city is definitely from the Montparnasse tower.

If you had just one last day in Paris, how would you spend it?

This sounds so sad, that I don’t really want to imagine it! But ok, let me see… I would start my day with a pain au chocolate from my favorite bakery, just in front of my apartment. Then I would make a little jogging around the Daumesnil lake in Bois de Vincennes. I would climb the Montmartre stairs and eat lunch in a little restaurant, in a terrace, observing people. I would eat Berthillon ice creams in Ile Saint Louis. I would buy a huge box of macaroons, having a problem to decide if it should be from Laduree or Pierre Herme. I would stroll around the banks of the Seine and my favorite parks. Then I would have a romantic cruise with my fiancé on the Seine, a nice way to say goodbye to Paris (with a champagne glass in a hand, obviously). To top this day off, I would invite all my friends to Champs de Mars, to have a wine and cheese picnic in front of the illuminated Eiffel tower, all night long. That would be a busy day!

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