Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Paris Recap #5: Faire du Shopping!

A few photos from window shopping, and then a bit about what I bought (I'm much more well-behaved than you might imagine!).

So Punny! Since I never wear pants I am tempted to say that I do, indeed, live "la vie en robes"!

Everyone deserves their "place in the sun."

I think you know how I feel about Crocs. The fact that they've now invaded Paris is very grave news indeed...

Hermes designed several limited-edition Smart Cars.
The top left photo of this poster displays the umbrella holder in the trunk.
The bottom left photo showcases the built-in portfolio behind the driver's seat.
It's the perfect weird marriage of practicality to excessive luxury and I LOVE it!

Didier Ludot's shop in the Colonnade of the Palais Royal is always one of my favorite stops. They curate an excellent, albeit expensive, collection of vintage haute couture.
This dress is a 1938 Schiaparelli. During my last trip to Paris I fell in love with a 1950s white Balmain gown. Candy for grown girls!
There are so many shopping districts in Paris that you could probably be very content in just about any arrondissement. The Rue-St-Honore has the best selection of shops, akin to 5th or Madison Avenues in NYC.

Fragonard, one of my very favorite French shops, has a location here. I bought some delightful Fragonard perfume the last time I was in Paris. They sell really cute items like pillowcases with French words like "Cherie" but unfortunately these products aren't available for e-commerce.

Colette, larger than a boutique but smaller than a department store, is also located on this street. The items here are showcased as if in a museum: carefully curated ensembles are created from the clever brands they carry.
Rows of mannequins display outfits like a Gareth Pugh jacket over a Lanvin dress with a Sonia Rykiel belt and Martin Margiela shoes.
Outrageous prices and loads of fun.
Everything is black, black, black and I ADORE it.
After all, women who wear black lead colorful lives...
Jutting off of Rue-St-Honore is the Rue Cambon. Located at number 31 is Chanel.

The quotidien fashions of Paris don't set my heart aflutter, but Chanel does.
Even though Chanel is available worldwide, there's something magical about stepping into the Paris flagship, opened in 1910 by Mme. Coco herself.
I read an article in the NYTimes last year which claimed that people prefer brands whose initials match their own. Let's see: Chloe, Cartier, Calypso, Cynthia Rowley, Coach...and, oh, yes, Chanel.
But I don't love the company out of sheer vanity, I love it because it's EXCELLENT.
In a world of dreck, Chanel restores my faith in the notion that fashion is a high art form.
Merci, Coco and Karl!
Qui serait le monde sans eux?
My favorite area in which to shop is St-Germain-des-Pres, located within the 6th arrondissement. There's no shortage of ritzy shops (Dior, Louis Vuitton, etc.) but it is full of small, wonderful shops akin to what you might discover in NoLIta.

Nobilis is one such place.
Since 1928 this furniture, fabric and wallpaper house has created the best designs. Just check out their website to get a sense for how creative they are; be sure to scroll your mouse around on the page for little surprises! Here are a few of the Nobilis window displays that caught my eye:

Pearls, Hearts, Giraffe (!)

I used to wear their leotards when I was a dancer. They've expanded their product range beyond studio-specific pieces and sell some really adorable ballet flats. Though their products are now available at many boutiques and at chains like Anthropologie, there aren't any flagship stores in the U.S. Entering the Repetto shop was like entering a fairytale.

Alaia Stock.
I LOVE the designs of Azzedine Alaia ("An A-whatta?" / "An Alaia! It's like a WAY important designer!"). I couldn't believe my fortune when I discovered that there was a secret outlet, open only 4 hours each day, tucked away in an enclosed courtyard. Sadly, the exchange rate means Alaia's outlet prices are still prohibitive for a young girl like me. That didn't stop another New Yorker from flying to Paris, hiring a personal shopper and buying everything in sight; she was in the store while I was there and I was quite disgusted by her conspicuous consumption during a time when many people are losing their homes. Alors, to each his own.

I had to share this fun store with you. If Betsey Johnson and Anthropologie had a love child, Manoush would be it. Everything was whimsical, well-made, quite expensive, and a little too outrageous to wear on any given day. But the ideas are fun and it's certainly worth a perusal if you're in Paris. They have several locations and are fairly easy to find.
Confession: I'm not a fan of the offerings at Galeries Lafayette or Au Printemps (La Samaritaine is now closed!), and don't enjoy large department stores as a general rule. Paris being what it is, however, many of these revered shops offer an architectural feast for the eyes. Take a peek at Galeries Lafayette's domed ceiling and tiers; feels a bit more like an opera house than a department store:

What I Bought:
In addition to my Mariage Freres, some treats at Le Grande Epicerie, and little gifts here and there, I bought:
  • A tiny red Longchamp tote. Sometimes I need a small bag that can handle a good beating, and this petit Longchamp is up to the challenge.
  • A ring from Metal Pointu's.

Shortly before my trip I stopped into the Metal Pointu's location in SoHo. The shop owner, a Parisian woman, told me I would find a better selection and better prices (even with the exchange rate) at the shops in Paris and she was right! I love their jewelry and hope to slowly build a collection of their pieces. The hard-edge of the jewelry helps balance the sugary sweetness of girly dresses I love to wear.
I've been receiving so many compliments on my ring!
  • Chloe shoes.

The single advantage for CJM of shopping in Paris is that petite French women leave size 39.5 shoes untouched! That means there's an EXCELLENT number of sale shoes in my size. I wavered primarily between the Chloes I eventually purchased, a pair of Sonia Rykiels (which I admittedly regret not buying; they were sexy and comfortable), and some incredible Pierre Hardy's. I assumed I would be doing more aggressive shopping later on, so I tried to budget and restrain myself at that particular juncture; I never carried through on the shopping spree so I'm a little sad to have left Paris with only one pair of great shoes.
Nevertheless, the Chloes are the PERFECT CJM shoe.
And now that I have extra money left over and I'm back in the US where the dollar reigns I may be able to justify some domestic shoe purchases...

Part of the secret of my amazing shoe finds is the fact that I was shopping at Paris' BEST department store: Franck et Fils. F&F reminds me of Jeffrey New York or a mini-Barney's.
I miss it already!

Mark my words: Next time, I'll do more damage.


Next Up: Final Paris recap--How to Pack a Perfect Parisian Pique-Nique!


Lula Mae said...

Oh how fun was that shopping?! Hope I someday get to go :)

Kate said...

As soon as I make it big=Paris shopping trip! ;)