Inès de la Fressange, a Frenchwoman’s Parisienne

Check out Elaine’s NY Times review of Inès de la Fressange’s new style book on how to look French. I must admit, its the best guide I’ve seen in a long time on attaining that certain “je ne sais quoi”. English version available in Paris at W.H. Smith.

THE perfect Parisian woman is an illusion, bien sûr. But learning to pretend to be one is a serious business that dates back centuries.

It is an enterprise that continues to thrive with profitable how-to books like, “How to Become a Real Parisian,” “The Parisian Woman’s Guide to Style” and “All You Need to Be Impossibly French.” Now Inès de la Fressange, ex-runway model, former face of Chanel, Legion of Honor winner, designer, businesswoman and daughter of a marquis, offers yet another take on how to dress, shop, eat and act like a true “Parisienne.” This onetime muse of Karl Lagerfeld has spun her beauty and style tips into a confection of a best seller, “Parisian Chic: A Style Guide,” which has sold more than 100,000 copies in French and has just hit the American market.

The book might have withered and died on the shelves, except that Ms. de la Fressange combines a “je ne sais quoi” audacity with a sassy tone, and leaves readers believing that, by following her rules and experimenting with confidence, they, too, can be just like her.

via Inès de la Fressange, a Frenchwoman’s Parisienne – NYTimes.com.

For the love of french women

 

 

 

Napoleon’s dream of invading England will finally come true in 2011. With a handful of truly French fashion labels like Maje, Sandro, Vanessa Bruno, and the Kooples opening up shop, the frenchie fashion invasion is clearly underway in London. Vive la look française!

If you are an admirer of french women… here are your essential addresses for shopping the look in London. Check out article below:

Nailing that effortless elegance is a big part of the desire to buy into Parisian dressing. ‘The thing about a Frenchwoman is she never looks like she’s tried too hard,’ says Laura Fantacci, Red magazine’s fashion and shopping editor. ‘Chanel did the same thing half a century ago when she teamed a sailor’s stripy tee with men’s palazzo trousers.’

via Indulge in some French dressing | Metro.co.uk.

Palais Royal: prepare to shop

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Palais Royal (or to be specific, the Galeries de Montpensier) is known for its manicured trees, delightfully shaded cafes, and, ok– Marc Jacobs and Pierre Hardy stores. It is the perfect place to sit out by the fountain on a lazy Saturday morning and read the journal.

Enjoy that tranquility while it lasts, because the Palais Royal is fast on its way to rivaling other shopping districts like Avenue Montaigne and the Marais.

Now rumored to be joining Marc Jacobs on the arcade is Stella McCartney, who is looking to open her first Parisian store. Ralph Lauren is already committed to the location. And Acne Jeans will come in to provide something we can actually afford!

Cavalli roars through H&M

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The Roberto Cavalli capsule collection for H&M hit stores this morning, and flocks of ostentatious fur-wearing ho’s set their alarm clocks early to make it to the store before stocks ran out.  As if women don’t look trashy enough in Cavalli’s normal collection, they now have the opportunity to look TRES trashy.

The collection is small and in limited quantities, which is a blessing because we all might become sick if we saw 20 girls in one day wearing the same leopard corset. Yes, if you bought everything in the collection (and a lot of women were loaded up), your closet would look like you returned from a big game hunt— complete with the crocodile Dundee black leather fringed vest (possibly the most hideous thing, and in the arms of nearly every woman there.) Your wardrobe would include: the leopard corset, leopard and zebra chiffon dresses, leopard tights, a gold flapper dress,  leopard jeans, leopard scarves, leopard bras/panties, leopard lined blazers…. you get the point.

So for those readers looking for a lucrative night on the Bois de Boulogne, swing by H&M today for your chance to make all your colleagues jealous.

Note: Reports from two saleswomen say the collection will be gone after the lunch hour. Ho la la, la la…………

Blonde like Brigitte

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She was a suicide blonde– dyed by her own hand.

- Saul Bellow

In a city where everyone has perfect hair– be it messy or dutifully coiffed– there’s no taking chances with your colorist, especially as a blonde. Walking out of a salon with a Kentucky Fried Coif is ample cause for a sabbatical in the wine region for a few months; drink it off and let it grow… (and pick up a hot sommelier while you’re at it).

Thankfully, there is a blonde-obsessed Parisian coiffeur who is doing a booming business for those of the blonde persuasion. His name is Franck Vidoff, and his salon is aptly named “Blonde.” The spot looks more like an art gallery or architectural office, with its white curtains and minimalist angles, but its understated exterior harbors some serious attention-grabbing blondes within. Franck takes care of many A-listers in Parisian society/fashion/music scene, including Eugenie Niarchos and Erin Fetherston. He caters to all shades, including as Franck describes: “sun-bleached blondes… honey blondes… Hollywood blondes, Warhol blondes…” – and uses techniques that nourish hair for a silky smooth finish.

http://www.franckvidoff.com /12 rue Pres-aux-clercs / 75006 Paris / tel: 01 42 22 66 33

Kate Moss hits Colette again!

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Ah, there is a God.
No sooner had I lazily strolled into Colette this morning did the sales clerk start unpacking the boxes of new Kate Moss for TopShop Autumn/Winter 07!

Stunned by this fateful encounter, I was all over the collection before it hit the rack (no time for the usual decorum reserved for Collette). The sales clerk shot me evil eyes as I tossed my bags to the ground and proceeded to try on a sexy biker jacket– hey, I was IN Topshop London for the first collection debut, and I knew full well the frenzy that was about to break out in Colette!

The collection bears many marks of the first one; tank tops, skinny jeans, and the one-shoulder dress (this time in green). It also keeps the flower motif, but this time in a more flowy chiffon peasant top. The edgy studded biker jackets are going to be the first to go; for 178 euros you can’t beat their flattering cropped shape, 3/4 length sleeves, and pyramid grommets.

Get there fast, the best of this collection will be gone by tomorrow!

Cheap & Chic Vintage

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I’m sure you are familiar with Free P Star… the little vintage shop on Rue Saint Croix de la Bretonnerie in the Marais (across from Amorino). But have you noticed the sister store on the other side of BHV on Rue de la Verrerie– Fripes Star?!It’s huge, cheap, and you can actually move around!

You’ll find a vast selection of vintage dresses for 10-20 euros, handbags, shoes, and leather jackets. Old army jackets and uniforms. Some of the best buys are 80′s style dresses and fabulous vintage belts! While the big designer labels are scarce, the clothes are too vintageworthy to pass up. You’ll think twice before going back to Come on Eileen!

The name outside the store is “Fripes Star“. Address to follow soon. Across from MegaSun on Rue de la Verrerie. :)

Vintage Vogue

Throughout high school I had an addiction to fashion magazines (never rehabbed). The day when my mother finally forced me to clean out the closet, I grudgingly hauled them off to the trash– but not before tearing off every cover as a souvenir. The hundred or so covers made it into my college dorm room, creating a rather chic crown molding on the ceiling. Among them were Laetitia Casta’s first American cover (Seventeen Magazine), and some of Christy Turlington’s best covers for Elle. Ahhh, the 90′s….

Now I have discovered the best place to revisit all of those magazines I thought were lost forever. The best of them made it to Les Archives de La Presse, the famed bookstore that is a favorite of fashionistas and artists, and located in the Marais.
Piled to the hilt in dusty tupperware bins, and overflowing from the carpenter’s tables, you will find a treasure trove of vintage fashion magazines– from Vogue, to Marie Claire, to Officiel. It is a massive archive, that even extends into entertainment mags, architecture, and history. Little books of French plays and poetry are 3 for 3 euros, and make a great bus ride diversion. The prices are so reasonable, you will be tempted to start your own archive chez vous!

51 rue des Archives, 75003 (Metro: Hotel de Ville)

   

Undercover at Agent Provocateur

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Oh reader, see how much I love you?

I risk life and liberty to snap illicit photos of the hottest lingerie in Paris. The boutique corner of Agent Provocateur, featured exclusively at Printemps, is a no-go zone for photogs. But Petite Brigitte is one stealthy vixen…

Or at least I thought so, until my third snap, when the pink ladies attacked. Decked out in their Vivienne Westwood designed dresses, and sporting the trademark AP red lips, they pounced. NOOOO….. interdit!!!

I apologized and made up for it by buying a swimsuit. They forgave me. Meanwhile, the suit is worth every penny– it screams seduction and makes my derriere look tres provocative. I couldn’t resist.

Agent Provocateur is the brainchild of Joseph Corre and Serena Rees (Joseph is the son of Vivienne Westwood). When their first store opened in London’s Soho district in 1994, it became an instant hit with celebrities like Kylie Minogue and Madonna. AP designs are the perfect mix of sexy, burlesque, function, and nostalgia… all amazingly cut and high-end. You just can’t go wrong (listen up boys!). Now the brand offers everything from books, shoes, jewelry, and sexy accessories… and a range of three perfumes, the sexiest one entitled Maitresse.

Check out the award winning website. If you haven’t already, you are missing out (in fact, I don’t know one guy who hasn’t seen it).

Topshop coming to Paris

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Forget H&M, Paris is getting a Topshop!

The British retailing group, Topshop, has announced plans to set up shop in Paris with a new flagship store. Owner Phillip Green is said to be scouting property, with the intention of opening a store in only a few short months! (Also look for 3 new stores in NYC within the year).

Are we thrilled or what?!

All this amidst the buzz created by Kate Moss‘ collection for the store that debuted this May, generating 3 million pounds in its first week and exceeding retailers forecasts. The 50 piece collection made it into Colette, where lines of customers wrapped around the corner of the building hours before the store’s opening. By lunchtime only a few pairs of red skinny jeans were left!

Kate was reportedly paid 3 million pounds for the collection, which seems to have been well worth it for Topshop.

PetiteBrigitte surveyed the collection at the flagship store on Oxford Street in London. Nothing too inventive, but apparently just what buyers were looking for: a piece of Kate’s closet. Some reviews were less than flattering, including a one-word note from the New York Times: “Snore.”

PetiteBrigitte, however, snapped up a few items, including a trademark Kate waistcoat, studded suede belt, long bias skirt, and halter jacquard mini dress.

Orgasmic Vintage at Come on Eileen

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I am assuming you are seated. If not, and you are reading this on your blackberry while standing up in a metro, grab hold of something!

PetiteBrigitte, shopping victime extraordinaire, has decided to reveal one of the best kept secrets in Parisian shopping. With this knowledge, you will never think of clothes the same way again. Your wardrobe will be revamped to put Kate Moss to shame. And you— you will be catching the eye of many a fashion editor on your walks through Paris.

Three words: COME ON EILEEN.

To fashion aficionados, this musty vintage boutique in the heart of the Bastille is Ali Baba’s treasure. There is not a better selection of affordable vintage designer clothes IN THE WORLD.

After being alerted by a 14-year-old girlfriend who lives in the neighborhood, I made my way to Rue Taillandiers and entered the inconspicuous storefront at Come On Eileen. It didn’t take me long to realize I would be staying for at least 2 hours. I was the only person in there and thank god for it, because I went a little crazy. I have not been this excited over clothes since Elton John’s closet went on sale last year in New York City.

So flabbergasted was I by the collection of exquisite vintage that I almost screamed with joy. I dropped my purse with the cashier, took off my shirt (yes, I was running around in a bra), and launched an assault on three floors of clothes you will never find again. Oh how my stylist friends in New York and LA will be jealous!

Lanvin, Chanel, Courreges, YSL, Leonard, Cardin, Hermes, Dior, Mugler. And at prices that you just couldn’t say no to. All sizes, all good condition, and full of magnificent collectors pieces. The question that kept running through my head was: What genius owns this place, and where does he find these pieces?

I struck up a conversation with Max, the shopkeeper. He tells me a long list of celebrities who visit the store, including well known men who come for the funky suits. It turns out that Max is best friend’s with the owner, and after some prodding, I got the scoop on the mystery man:

The owner is a 38 year-old Israeli, who after a hard-partying youth in Europe, moved to the countryside of Israel and had 6 kids and 10 sheep. He spends the year travelling the world collecting clothes, storing them in his warehouse outside of Paris, and then selling them in the boutique or in markets (yes, markets: marche de montreuil). How exactly he sources the clothes is still a mystery, and Max said he was not at liberty to reveal the secret. My guess is either he has an exceptional network of global contacts, he is part of a clothes mafia that sells off clothes when they rob homes, or he has access to the closets of old Saudi brothels.

“If you hold up any piece of clothing in front of him, he will immediately know the label, the designer, and the year it was produced,” says Max. “He has always had a love for clothes.”

I was so fascinated I immediately asked for a job. I’ll work for free (or for clothes). As it was, I left with a Valentino jacket, a Lanvin clutch, a Bardotesque red sundress, and an Hermes shirt. All for under 130 euros.

Come on Eileen

16/18 rue des taillandiers 75011

monday-friday 11am to 8:30pm

sunday 2pm to 8pm

metro: bastille

Look like a million… for a weekend!

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Now that the euro has taken the joie out of buying clothes in Paris, why not RENT? At the appointment-only boutique Quidam de Revel, vintage couture and ready-to-wear are available for a one- (or two-) night stand.

Owned by an antiques dealer and an art historian, the Marais shop is a favorite with costume designers who hire pristine couture and prêt-à-porter pieces, from 1940s Balmain opera coats to ’60s Courrèges dresses as well as a growing collection from ’80s designers like Claude Montana. Call ahead so that they can set aside a rack for you, and then enjoy your finds for about 180 euros (about $235) and up, depending on the outfit, for a weekend (cheaper than buying a vintage Grès dress and a mink stole for your elopement). Accessorize with mint-condition shoes from Roger Vivier and Charles Jourdan and trunks filled with jewelry from the likes of Pierre Cardin and Lalanne. With the sous you save, you can buy a pair of Gaspard Yurkievich shoes at Hoses down the street. 24-26 rue de Poitou, 011-33-1-42-71-37-07; http://www.quidam-de-revel.com.

brought to you by Christine Muhlke

We love you, Sophie Albou

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Meet another neighbor in the 75007. She’s blonde, beautiful, drives a green MiniCooper, and listens to Curtis Mayfield. Her name is Sophie Albou. OH, did we mention she has two sons, aged 11 and 14? Their names are Paul & Joe.

Paul & Joe happens to be my favorite French label. People like Sienna Miller, Julia Roberts, and Keira Knightly may agree with me. Since lauching her womenwear collection 1997, Albou has gained international fame for her collection of feminine yet bold designs, all meticulously crafted with amazing fabrics and prints. The collection sells in 30 flagship stores worldwide, as well as in major retailers. The closest store to me is on rue de Saint-Peres, practically adjacent to Sonia Rykiel.

Born in Paris to a family of shirtmakers, Sophie studied at the prestigious Institut Francais de la Mode and began her professional career working at fashion house Azzedine Alaia at age 16. From there she joined her family business, La Garage, where she trained in the art of fashion design under her mother. After seven years, she stepped out on her own with the creation of the Paul & Joe brand in 1995. Initially only menswear (worn by Usher and Jake Gyllenhaal to name a few), she came out with the killer womenswear line a few years later.

Now Paul & Joe is on its way to becoming the lifestyle brand of Europe. Sophie is to Europe what Ralph is to the US. Her brand now boasts women’s, men’s, children’s, accessories, beauty, lingerie, and home– not to mention a stunning new store on Avenue Montaigne. Your carte bancaire might burn a hole in that new Muse bag.

Compared to YSL a few doors down, however, P&J seems perfectly rational. And it is, to be honest: these are clothes that are truly seasonless.

http://www.paulandjoe.com (the website is dreamy, opening music is Romeo & Juliet theme by Nino Rota…. ahhhh).

Salon Bonaparte: Best Coiffure in Paris

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It took me 6 months to find someone to cut my hair in Paris.

I googled endlessly in hopes of finding some solid recommendations, since I was unwilling to trust my locks to any old Jean-Claude Biguine. My search turned up a hair stylist who had won the “Best Coiffure in Paris” award last year. Unfortunately I made the mistake of trusting everything I read, and the results were catastrophic.

Thankfully while sitting in the waiting room at my therapist (believe me, we all need one these days), I came across a small blurb in American Vogue. The creative director of DeBeers, a stunning woman named Madame Canot, mentioned that her beauty secret was a Parisian hairstylist named Seb, who had just signed on to a new salon on Rue Bonaparte, aptly named Salon Bonaparte. Around the corner from chez moi!

The gods were in my favor; I booked an appointment immediately.

The best color and cut of my life! Seb is a celebrity hairstylist in the making, having already clocked in many a fashion week show, and worked with various modeling agencies around town. Along with two other equally skilled stylists, Stephane and Bruno (who have coiffed the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg), the Parisian triumvirate is set to make a mark on this city of nameless stylists.

Their petit atelier on Rue Bonaparte opened a year ago, and is light and understated considering the magic that happens inside. Seb is a cowboyish Apollo: golden locks of hair flow from underneath a cowboy hat, and a silk scarf adds that flamboyant frenchness that makes us trust him. The giant jewels adorning his neck and fingers would seem to confirm the presupposition that he is gay. Yet to my great astonishment, he mentioned an ex-girlfriend from Brazil. He’s single ladies!

Salon Bonaparte is the best advice I can give any of you, men (they do amazing cuts for men) or women, for obtaining that certain je ne sais quoi that makes the French so chic. I just went in for a brushing (blow out) today, and came out looking like a million bucks. Merci mille fois!

Where’s Karl? Visit to 7L.

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We all know La Hune. All too often, that fabulous Saint-Germain bookstore fills up the empty hour between 10/11pm before I go out to clubs. I prance in, wearing black velvet Stella McCartney stilettos, elbow length gloves, and no ones looks twice. But I digress…

La Hune is not the best book store. The big thing it has going for it are the long latenight hours.

The best bookstore in S-G is 7L. Opened by Karl Lagerfeld in 1999, 7L is a fashion/design maven’s paradise, stocked with Karl’s favorites, from rare editions of Japanese magazines to books by sculptor Richard Serra. Karl promises to add 7 new books a week, all guaranteed to be from his own ecclectic selections.

Stop in and let his brilliant inspirations rub off on you. You might even catch a glimpse of the man at work: 7, rue de Lille has been his photographic studio for years.
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It’s happening: Lavinia trumps your corner store

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Slowly but surely the very fabric of french culture is being torn to shreds by American size stores.

Case in point: LAVINIA.

This massive 3-level store by the Madeleine is the Walmart of wine shops. They are bringing in a huge selection from around the world, offering better prices and promotions, and dazzling customers with the low level lighting and climate controls. Don’t get me wrong: this is a great store, and in America we would go nuts for it. They even deliver to your doorstep via online ordering.

But what consequences will Lavinia have for my adorable corner wine store? Will they move one step closer to closing their doors forever? Is this the beginning of the walmartization of France? On verra mes francophiles, petit a petit ca commence.

For once we cannot blame America. Lavinia is a Spanish chain that opened its first two stores in Spain, and now this third one in Paris.

Check out the threat to your neighborhood mum-and-pop stores at http://www.lavinia.fr

Welcome Home

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I love passing by Emile Garcin– the most exclusive real estate agency in Paris. They sell the top properties in Paris, the most fantastic castles, and the most charming country estates. Their offices on Rue de l’Universite (6th) are on the street level and in the series of 3 windows are automated catalogs that flip their pages through the current offerings. This has proven to be a very smart marketing device, as someone is always stopped and looking… caught in a dream world where they are kings of the castle.

Making Emile Garcin even more enticing are the two handsome men who work there. I see them arriving in the mornings and leaving at night, always impeccably attired in well-tailored suits and perfectly coiffed hair. They both look like they have facialists, but the vibe is still heterosexual. Every week I get one step closer to walking in and inquiring about my future dream home.

Perhaps one of them could be my Prince Charming?

Check out your castle at http://www.emilegarcin.com. Note: Above photo is of Chateau des Alpilles, which is not for sale. It is an extremely charming and surprisingly affordable bed and breakfast outside of St. Remy de Provence.

Colette

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From average tourists to the authentic fashion set, no one can walk down rue Saint Honoré without being drawn into Colette. Call it a concept store, a lifestyle boutique, a mini-Barney’s, it is simply the crème de la crème of style, design, art, and food (yes, the downstairs is fine/fast dining). The ground floor is buzzing with a crowd of people gazing in cases full of cutting-edge gadgets and accessories. Lined up against a wall are dozens of trendy CD’s, including Karl Lagerfeld’s new compilation of preferred tracks. It is the only store in Paris to carry Bumble & Bumble hair products, and certain exclusive perfumes.

The crowd’s thin out as you reach the upper levels—call it survival of the fittest—because only the financially fit can flex their muscles against the bevy of couture. Each season the style team at Colette travels the fashion circuit picking up the “best of ” to display on mannequins positioned on the floor. Adorned in YSL, McQueen, and Comme des Garcons, these mannequins are styled to the hilt, and in case they don’t prompt you in the right direction, a team of personal stylists are also at your command. As to be expected of such a chic hangout, Collette’s website also is a stunner—and online shopping can get you in on the action sans voyage. www.colette.fr

 

Catherine B

Kelly Bag, Hermes

Forget the Louvre. The true masterpieces of Paris lie in a vintage store. Tucked away on an unlikely and charming street near the Marché Saint Germain, Catherine’s commands three storefronts of one of the most stunning vintage collections in Europe. Upon entry, fashion connoisseurs risk heart palpitations, hot flashes, and the overwhelming urge to max-out credit cards. The store, which specializes exclusively in Hermes and Chanel, boasts shelves upon shelves of Birkin and Kelly bags in perfect condition (waiting lists for the new ones are running around three years at the Paris Hermes), piles of Hermes scarves, one-of-a-kind Chanel blazers, and brilliant costume jewelry. The selections span decades of design, are in perfect condition, and include nearly all sizes. When asked how the store obtains such a caliber of vintage, the salesperson (with typical French indifference) replied, “Mademoiselle, the ladies of Paris come to me.” Most surprising of all, Catherine’s is so out of the tourist spotlight that you are likely to have the whole store to yourself. Magnifique!

Bon Marche

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Note to self: Paris isn’t all about shopping. It’s also about romance, lazy afternoons in cafés, and excessive wine consumption. Instead of spending all day boutique-hopping, give your feet a rest and hit the one place that has it all: Bon Marché. Don’t waste your time on other department stores—Bon Marché is Parisian elegance at its finest. The French consider it a Paris institution. On the ground floor, be sure to stock up on bargain-priced French cosmetics like Guerlain and Sisley. Fashions are on the premier étage, and include your favorites labels and then some—Paul & Joe, Marni, Lacroix, Balenciaga, Rykiel, Chloé, Lanvin. Celebrating her tenth anniversary this year, don’t miss Vanessa Bruno’s classically modern collection…her clothes won’t break the bank, and will take you from café to club better than most. Trying to stay on a budget? A secret passageway on the first floor will take you across the street to a less expensive but equally promising annex full of labels like Zadig & Voltaire, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Paul & Joe Sister, Maje, Kookai, and even Vanessa Bruno’s Athé collection. This is also the side of Bon Marché to have a refreshing lunch at La Grande Epicerie (best grocery store in France). While reviewing all the collections could take a whole afternoon, be sure to make time for the top floor’s home department.