Monica de La Villardière née Ainley is one half of Fashion No Filter, a podcast that expertly holds up a magnifying glass to the fashion industry, going behind the scenes to dissect its quirks, trends and what it means to be stylish, whilst interviewing its nearest and dearest. Inspired by a longtime passion for radio and a love for all things fashion, she launched it last year with her partner in crime and fellow fashion detective, Camille Charierre, with the aim to merge modern and insightful journalism with a love for traditional radio broadcasting.
Monica studied English Literature and French at university, so it seemed almost inevitable that she would at some point end up in the French capital. After leaving Toronto where she was born and raised in favour of Edinburgh for university, it was during a study year abroad at the Sorbonne that she began her love affair with Paris. (Incidentally the same year that she also met her husband.) After graduating from a masters in International Journalism at City University in London and working for the likes of NET-A-PORTER and Joseph, she moved to France in 2016.
France and particularly Paris have invariably informed her style, so much so, that she even goes head to head with Londoner and her Fashion No Filter co-founder, Camille over which city is the best dressed, in a French documentary series for Paris Premier that compares the fashion CVs of the two capitals. And much like her personal style - Paris has also permeated her interior choices - chic, clean and erring on the side of classic, with the odd pop of colour and not without a fashion forward or artistic twist. I visited her modernised Haussmann building 6th floor apartment (complete with skylight) in the 16th arrondissement last week, where’s she’s been for the past year and a half.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
The above, plus, the slog now will pay off later. Basically: don’t worry, gaining experience is indeed worth it.
What was the most difficult thing about moving to Paris ?
The difference in attitude between Parisians and people in say, London or Toronto. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of Parisians I love dearly —I’m married to one!— but there’s definitely an adjustment period to the bold-faced rudeness one encounters on a daily basis. One almost has to become semi-rude oneself, or at least pretty thick-skinned, to get by emotionally unscathed while ordering in a cafe! That said, on some level I do admire Parisians for their honesty. There's no BS here.
What is your go-to outfit or the outfit you put on when you need an infusion of confidence?
Crisp white cotton shirt, relaxed-fit jeans from Acne or ELV denim, a slightly heeled booty from Aeydē or Byfar, Santosh cashmere knitwear, and a great coat or blazer, depending on the season. Topped off with a piece of Alighieri Jewellery, of course.
What do you like to do for fun? And to relax?
Reading, baths, pilates. The golden triangle of zen. For fun I like to spend hours in cafés with my friends like everyone else in this city! Oh and travelling to new places!
How would you describe your interior style?
Purist with a good dose of natural colours. And a strong yearning for a lot of mid-century modern furniture I can’t entirely afford just yet.
Favourite piece(s) of furniture/treasures?
Quite obsessed with my new natural linen love-seat from Caravane.
Favourite places/shops to buy for your home?
Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche, bébé (let me take a moment to publicly thank all those who contributed to our wedding list to make this dream temporarily possible.)
What styles inspire you?
Hmmm so many, but let's go with Gio Ponti, Midcentury modern and all things Danish!
What do you like most about the area you live in, in Paris?
That it’s right on la ligne UNE (line 1 for you non-Francophones)!! Which goes everywhere. Very convenient.
Also it’s very pretty and calm, which is conducive to a good night’s sleep! I like living in the 16th much more than I’d thought I would, actually.
Favourite sources for inspiration?
Favourite three social media mavens?
Julie Pelipas, Morgan Pilcher, Alex Carl. (Oh and bonus: my partner in crime, Camille Charriere of course!)
Last good book you read?
I couldn’t put Becoming by Michelle Obama down.
What’s in your magazine pile?
Rika Magazine, Please !, Paris Vogue, Porter.
What’s on your nightstand?
Silk eye masks from Asceno and a bunch of books I like to alternate between depending on my mood.
What’s your morning routine?
Wake up and stumble towards the coffee machine. Then put things that smell like the ocean from La Mer under my eyes to perk them up! Then Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturiser before leaving the house, always.
Go-to alcoholic beverage?
Tea or coffee?
La Palette where I have many a great memory with my husband and our friends over the years.
Marco Polo, Les Deux Amis, and (soon to be no doubt) my brilliant chef friend Albert Touton’s new restaurant Maquis, opening in February.
Merci, En Voiture Simone for vintage, and again, Le Bon Marché.