Florence Donné from RingtheBelle, Paris
You can tell a lot about a person from their home. In the inner city Paris apartment belonging to Florence Donné, her husband, and son, there are the typical hallmarks of a chic Parisian interior – parquet flooring, soaring ceilings, architectural detail, light and restraint, thoughtfully curated art and objet. But there is more – an expression of Joie De Vivre and some maternal wisdom about transforming routines into rituals – evident in every space and detail.
Touring this home is an intriguing insight into the creativity and curiosity of the former fashion and luxury PR executive who now reveals the lifestyles of stylish subjects through her website, RingTheBelle. A sophisticated interpretation of ‘shop the look’, Florence invites her audience into the homes of inspiring men and women and explores their taste across the lifestyle spectrum, from interiors to fashion, beauty products to travel destinations, work to culture – with the onus on the ‘Art de Vivre’ (the art of living) and an easy click-to-buy or save-to-wish functionality.
We talked to Florence about reinventing her career after her son was born, how style translates between fashion and interiors, her favourite travel destinations and what inspires her to live a beautiful life… and discovered she may well be the ultimate pin-up for the ‘Art de Vivre’.
What do you love most about living in Paris?
The beauty of the City: it’s past, its culture. They are everywhere! Also, the fact that, even if it’s a capital, it is still human-sized. I do everything on my bike or by foot.
Tell us about your locale, what do you love most about the area where you live?
We live in the centre of Paris, near the Palais-Royal. I am very fond of the architecture of this area which pre-dates the Haussmann era. I can’t help walking through the Palais-Royal gardens, having lunch at one of its terraces in the Summer or taking a short break in one of its cafés. Having the very Japanese Saint-Anne street close by is also a plus: the place is so lively with a constant mix of tourists and Parisians. Living in the centre, I have the chance of walking to the Opera, I am a dance lover!
Can you tell us a little about your career to date?
I worked in a PR agency for 15 years for accounts such as Puma, Wrangler, Martini and Piper Heidsieck. I really liked the variety of tasks, working with a team and the creativity. After my maternity, I wanted, however, to ‘reshuffle the cards’, to reinvent myself, professionally by imagining a more tailored job and giving a more personal twist to my professional life.
What was the inspiration behind launching RingtheBelle?
RingtheBelle is an expression of both my convictions and my passions: I have always admired people who have a talent for transforming their day-to-day lives into an ‘Art de Vivre’ ( the art of living).
I dreamt, without finding it on the web, of a place where products would be forgotten in favour of ‘universes’ because they are the ones who inspire us today.
This is how I got the idea of meeting women and men, who – thanks to their personalities – freely translate trends and styles to form what we call ‘universes’. I wanted to share these on RingtheBelle.
Thanks to the pictures and stories, I share through words and photos (Delphine Jouandeau, a great photographer, has gone all the way with me from the beginning), the intimacy of my guests, their passions, their interiors, their style, their favourite addresses, all of which are an expression of their lifestyle who is inspiring and easy to reach in one click for a reinvented shopping experience.
RingtheBelle is a StoryLiving website.
How would you describe your approach to interiors?
I have always loved interior design. This is probably a legacy from my mother who passed on to me her liking for what is beautiful. Even more than interior design, I am particularly sensitive to the atmosphere and harmony that are created by an interior.
Even if I love the eclecticism in the interior design, there is still a common thread in our place: an ‘organic’ style, natural materials, bright colours with some blue, pink and green details.
Since always, I have loved the ‘weird’ things that make me think of nature, wildlife… of elsewhere and that add a little bit of a poetic side to our home. There are strange creatures, shells, minerals everywhere at our place, placed here and there.
We don’t have a lot of furniture. And it never has the same style or comes from the same era. For example, an armchair from the 1950s from Ebay but upholstered with Pierre Frey’s fabrics, a modern sofa, an Italian lamp from 1960s found at one of my favourite Saint Germain’s antiques dealers, Stéphane Olivier; a side table from Warren Platner or a vintage coffee table from Habitat… I often fall in love with lamps, I find that they ‘sign’ the interior. Another obsession: pillows! I buy them all the time. My favourite ones come from Missoni and Maison de Vacances.
On our walls, we can find animals, also some photos, paintings, our son’s drawing or even collages that I love to create (when they are not in the envelopes that I send to beloved ones). So, for now, there is only one place left on our walls! Especially that both with my husband, we always visit galleries and flea markets during our travels. During our last weekend in Warsaw, we visited the year-end exhibition of the School of Fine Arts and bought several drawings from a very talented student.
Do you believe style translates between fashion and interiors? How do you express your own style
Yes. I believe there is a coherence/consistency between the two and that style is something global. This is exactly why I love having people discover on RingheBelle my guests through different angles (interior design, fashion, where they travel, …).
In fashion or interior design, I am not fond of things that are too obvious or fashionable. What is interesting is translating your personality, through your own style, without trying systematically to take ownership/appropriate all of the codes or all of the brands of the hour. I try not to stack up details or products that one can see everywhere, even if that could be tempting.
What’s a typical day like for you in Paris?
I try to start the day with some training, at least as often as possible: cardio in my gym club or Pilates near home.
Apart from that, no day is alike and I love it that way. Photo shooting with my photographer, Delphine Jouandeau, writing, meeting with young entrepreneurs like me to share our adventures, …
I try to have lunch with my son Joseph several times a week. It’s our little happiness together! I stop working at 7pm to spend the rest of the evening with him. Once he is in bed, I get back to work until my husband gets home. That’s one of the pleasures of entrepreneurship: the day is never over! But I manage to take real breaks by going to the show or exhibits in the evening or having dinner with friends.
Where you draw your daily inspiration?
From the street, our trips or people I met. From Instagram also because it gives me the chance to discover people with an eye and a sensibility amazingly inspiring.
You’ve clearly travelled extensively, what are your favourite destinations?
In Europe, in Corsica where I have family ties, Puglia in Italy, the Cyclades who are for me heaven on earth in Summer. But also true trips that open your mind and ‘nourish’ you, like Japan where we spent three weeks last summer with my son and my husband. It was unforgettable. Next destination: Myanmar. I can’t wait for it!
Who are your style icons?
Kelly Wearstler. I love her incredible talent as an interior designer and her own very personal fashion style. She is able associations and mixes with a lot of freedom and originality.
What does living a beautiful life mean to you?
Being alive. Marveling. Living the present day. Being curious, open and generous. And kindly: towards others but also towards yourself. And knowing how to punctuate every day with small moments of happiness. Savouring them when they show up and prompting them instead of waiting for them.
Could you name a quote that sums up how you live life?
“Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen”
Best piece of advice you have been given?
My mum taught me how to love every day and how to turn every day into something beautiful. She showed me how to change routine into rituals. It changes everything: do not wait for big things to happen to be happy but enjoy every day and work towards happiness without waiting for it.
What are you currently…
Coveting: Golden Goose jeans, a pair of Miu Miu babies, a Cos top and my Buccellati ring
Wanderlusting: La Minervetta in Sorrento
Reserving: The next lover weekend with my husband in Corsica, here
Preparing: Version 2 of Ringthebelle!
Watching: The last Woody Allen : Café Society
Listening: Odyssée by l’Impératrice
Reading: Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar
Trawling: Instagram, The Cool Hunter, Saatchi Art, Hey Woman, The Grace Tales, Vestiaire Collective
Learning: tolerance and patience
Giving: to Amnesty International
Dreaming: of a more peaceful world in 2017
Beauty is: Everywhere. You just need to open your eyes and stop for a moment to see it.