CNN Photos

Inside the homes of ‘real Parisian ladies’

Sometimes it was a pop of color that grabbed his attention. Often it was a hint of the exotic or eccentric.

As French photographer Baudouin set out to reveal the contemporary Parisian woman, he found instead a vastly diverse group of women - one that challenges the stereotype of what it means to be a female who lives and works in Paris.

“The Parisian lady doesn’t exist. The Parisian ladies exist,” Baudouin said.

Baudouin’s project spanned six years and 300 women. He took portraits of them in their homes to portray them in an environment uniquely their own.

Of the women featured in his series, 85% were introduced to him by friends or work contacts. The rest he met just by going about his life.

“Sometimes I met an interesting looking lady in a public place,” Baudouin said. “I left my card and talked quickly about the project.” Most agreed to participate. “They had a look at my website and understood that this was a serious project.”

Baudouin’s ladies come in all shapes and sizes. They span generations. They are artists, musicians, journalists, dancers and fashion designers.

“I tried to find very different lifestyles,” Baudouin said. “I needed very impressive ladies … eccentric, very beautiful or of foreign origin.”

Each woman’s home also had to speak to Baudouin, a very detail-oriented portraitist.

“(It’s good) when I have the impression of being in a unique place,” Baudouin said. His images, which have a sleek, editorial look, are full of vibrant colors, patterns and textures that reflect the personality of each model.

“I try to concentrate, in one picture, the atmosphere of the model,” Baudouin said. “I try to find the place in the apartment with the maximum (amount) of details, from clothes to decoration. You have a lot of possibilities for composition.”

Baudouin makes the most of what he’s given. In a portrait of Clemence, a gallery owner whose home overlooks the Eiffel Tower, Baudouin plays off of the shape of the iconic monument and styles Clemence in a way that mimics that shape. In another portrait, fashion designer Fifi is a burst of pink in a room of varying shades of blue.

“I need to feel emotions,” Baudouin said. “Arriving in a place is like listening to a song or watching a movie. You need something new! Otherwise it is boring.”

After six years photographing women, Baudouin chose 75 portraits for his book “75 Parisiennes.”

“I spent a lot of time finding the good models,” Baudouin said. “I tried to find 75 different atmospheres and profiles. That’s why I shot 300 ladies and selected only 75.”

Baudouin hopes his series will give audiences cause to think about the way they view culture.

“People have an image of what it looks like to be a Japanese, a New Yorker, an Italian or a Parisian,” Baudouin said. “But these cliches are just fake. That’s cinema, literature, fashion or magazines that created the cliche. I wanted to break the cliche and show the real Parisian ladies.”

He stresses, however, that the 75 ladies in his series are just an “extract” of the diversity in Paris.

“Photography is limited,” he said. “It’s just an interpretation of reality. You can’t show the world.”

- Allison Love, CNN