Monday, 26 July 2010

Take me to Paris...

A weekend en Paris and J'adore Seberg's style. If you love fashion, you'll know that France boasts some of the world's most influential, talented and pioneering designers. French fashion really deserves a blog/book of it's own, dating back to the 17th century (while modern "haute couture" originated in 1860's Paris). Some of the oldest and most enduring fashion houses remain, to me, some of the most exciting: Lanvin, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Hermès, Balmain (see all 2010/11 collections here). 
Balmain, A/W 2010-11
Balmain RTW, A/W 2010-11
Bold Balmain: sculptured, sexy and sparkling silhouettes, à la Christophe Decarnin.

Walking like a man (or woman?) at Hermès, where leather and tight tailoring evoked the Avengers and Amelia Earheart.

Lily Cole, Hermes A/W 2010-11
Hermès RTW, A/W 2010-11
Other favourite French luxe labels include Chloe, Celine, and newer additions such as Isabel Marant, Maje, Vanessa Bruno and APC. Oh, and once you've spied those enticing Louboutin red-soles, you can never go back.
Red soled Louboutins
The famous Christian Louboutin red soles
A few Parisian fashion districts to jot down in your travel notebook: Le Marais and Saint-Ouen flea market (accessories, vintage, arts/crafts), Boulevard Haussmann (visit Galleries Lafayette for familiar names over 3 floors), Louvre-Tuileries and Faubourg Saint-Honoré or Avenue des Champs-Elysées (la crème de la crème of French designers, including the legendary names above), Saint-Germain-des-Prés or Rue de Rivoli (chic, contemporary boutiques and my 'secret' spot to watch the Parisians-go-by). I only wish that I’d found the fantastic HiP Paris insider's shopping guide beforehand.

Vanessa Bruno, S/S 2010
Vanessa Bruno RTW S/S 2010

Isabel Marant, A/W 2010-11
Isabel Marant RTW, A/W 2010-11

1) Vanessa Bruno, RTW S/S 2010 & 
2) Isabel Marant RTW A/W 2010/11... both perfect for that function at Hôtel de Crillon (a favourite Fashion Week party-spot).
Unsurprisingly, my weekend would have been quite blissfully spent wandering around Parisian boutiques, a startlingly-strong expresso and subway map in-hand. However, I was soon to discover that the French don't just do fashion so enviably and exquisitely. They 'do' food; with the same panache and inimitable style (at least for those of us who haven’t been trained in the art of French cuisine). 

Tarte Tatin, France's signature patisserie

Now, we all know (and worship) certain French foods that never taste as good on this side of the ocean: croissants, tartes-aux-pommes, baguettes, (or any patisserie item), steak-frites, croque-monsieurs...perhaps even greater French ‘celebrities’ than home-grown fashion designers, artists, thinkers or politicians. Yet, what many tourists seek and fail to find, is a bistro or restaurant which they find truly special; a place to which weary shopping companions/husbands/boyfriends can steal you away and where you can wear your fabulously French finds amongst locals. If you are like me, you will spend your holidays trying to escape fellow tourists and convince yourself that sitting in cafés rather than squeezing in the sights is far more 'authentic'. Certainly, eating the food and mingling with residents is a fascinating window into a place and its culture. The real Paris. Interested? Where ticks all the boxes? Check out my next post for my dinner recommendation (and a new culinary delight to add to our 'French foodie' list above). In the meanwhile, here are a couple of my 'daytime discoveries' to fuel your fashionable tour of Paris...
Poilâne bread
Poilâne bakery, 6th & 15th arondissement. Impressive array of homemade breads, pastries, biscuits, sweets, jams and gingerbread. Delightful French 'farmhouse' ambience.

Bordeaux Primeurs 2009, Vente de vin de bordeaux, vin de bourgogne, champagne, vins étrangers : LAVINIA Lavinia is the largest wine store in Paris, 1er arondissement. Treat yourself to a coup de champagne with ham and cheese or foie gras in the restaurant, or choose a bottle from the store to drink at usual retail price.

Café de Flore

Café de Flore, 6th arondissement (perhaps I am divulging too many places in my favourite, 'secret' spot). Long-time celebrated for its intellectual and famous clientèle, which included Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Relish the history with no ordinary club sandwich: Le Club Rykiel, in honour of Parisian fashion designer, Sonia Rykiel.

ba&sh clothing, France
Beautiful pieces by ba&sh

If you share my love for French fashion (and food), this summer could be a pound-stretching time to visit (the Euro is 10% cheaper than at Christmas). Pas possible? Voilà... some unmistakably French ready-to-wear labels which you can view and buy online: Sessùn (enjoy the site's dreamy music and beautiful blog), Barbara Buiba & sh (the outfits above), Claudie Pierlot and Cotélac.

Images: 1), 2), 4), 5) Vogue, 3) Net-a-Porter, 6) A Walking Dream, 7) Poilane, 8) Café de Flore, 9) ba&sh.


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