Parisian chic, French Fashion, a la mode – words that go effortlessly together. Paris is the centre of all things fashionable, cool and downright trendy. Parisian women are super-slim (heaven forbid if they put on an ounce of weight!) and fashionable in a discreet yet elegant, classic style. Hair and makeup must look effortless and natural (how they manage to do that still beats me and I worked in a cosmetics company!). Wonder how these Parisiennes do it? Fashion victims read on!
French fashion is less flamboyant than London, but more of a de rigeur statement with a strong sense of style that’s taken very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, fashion is fun for the French but certain codes can be detected in Paris society. I recall a dinner whereby the invitation stated ‘tenue de ville’ meaning literally city wear, translated as formal attire. Unfortunately, Frog failed to notice this dress code on the invite and so I arrived looking like I was ready to pose for a Ralph Lauren catalogue wearing Ferragamo beige knee-high boots and cream Joseph jodphurs, whereas the rest of the crowd were dressed more or less in chic black. Merci cheri but at least I stood out!
Fashion is not just about haute couture and luxury brands. Fashion for the French is for tout le monde with young, fresh brands at affordable prices making you look fashionable with no excuses. Just take a look at those adolescent lycéennes and you’ll get my drift. They all seem to be competing to be Gossip Girl’s next Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf of Paris as they huddle outside their lycée, eyeing the beau gosse (good-looking guy). It’s quite intimidating! For heaven’s sake, even Parisian babies are dressed exquisitely from Bonpointe, Tartine et Chocolat and Baby Dior.
So as a Parisian expat, at least I know of some cool key fashion addresses in Paris (that won’t hurt your credit-crunched wallet), which my New Yorker/Londoner/KL-ite friends may not have heard of. Of course, if there’s a boutique I’ve sinfully forgotten, s’il vous-plait do add:
Colette – the original and still delightful first concept store. Fashion, music, food, art, beauty and funk in one. You can never go wrong and I spend hours browsing. Spotted Lucy Liu and Charlotte Gainsbourg. (213 rue Saint Honore, 75001 Paris)
Le66 – So sinful. Giant, gorgeous concept store on Paris’s most famous avenue. The new temple of mode and lifestyle. I’m still weeping from all the delights. (66 Champs Elysees 75008 Paris.)
Merci – new multi-brand concept store in the 11th arrondissement (boulevard Beaumarchais) that houses APC, Stella McCartney, YSL, Marni, Azarro and Barbara Bui. All profits go to a children’s charity in Madagascar. Created by Bonpointe’s owners.
Vanessa Bruno – known for that IT bag in Paris, everyone was sporting. Stars like Nicole Kidman and Charlotte Gainsbourg subscribe to her brand of style. (100 rue Vielle du Temple 75003).
Zadig & Voltaire – Offers a new type of luxury, which is both original and affordable. Many French actresses are also fans of this brand. (20 rue Turenne 75004 Paris)
Isabel Marant – Designer that believes in making clothes wearable for women every day. Mixing elegant and casual. (16 rue de Charonne 75011 Paris)
Paul & Joe – No they’re not 2 men, but named after designer Sophie Albou’s sons. Dresses Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss, Helena Christensen, Sharleen Spitieri and Vanessa Paradis. (46 rue Etienne Marcel, 75002 Paris)
Barbara Bui – Luxury, representing a strong and elegant woman. (23 rue Etienne Marcel 75002 Paris)
Les Prairies de Paris – Spotted Britney Spears wearing this oh-so-typical Parisian style. (23 rue Debelleyme 75003 Paris)
BA&SH – Designers Barbara Boccara et Sharon Krief created this very affordable brand in 2003 for everyday wear, that is chic and yet relaxed. (22 rue des Francs Bourgeois 75003 PARIS)
Sandro – many boutiques popping up all over Paris. Sandro has become an essential reference in any wardrobe. (1 rue du 29 juillet, 75001 Paris)
Addicted? Hmm… not surprised. Try living here in Paris.