The City of Blinding Lights
With Parisian boutique of all boutiques – fashion landmark Colette, celebrating its 10th year at the forefront of international chic, Away In Style takes a look at what’s new in the city of couture and romance. Read on for the low-down on where those in the know are eating, drinking, shopping and sleeping…
“Nightclub and restaurant Black Calvados, a partnership between famed fashion
show producer Alexandre de Betak, and former Soundgarden front man, Chris
Cornell is the only place to visit during Paris Fashion Week.”
“Gentry Lane designs sexy French lingerie worthy of old Hollywood screen sirens,
racy Burlesque divas, and the most discerning grandes dames.”
“Espousing a womanly, boudoir sensibility is Eternamé, the fine jewellery line from
former Dior publicist Sarah Besnainou, and supermodel Audrey Marnay.”
“No trip to Paris would be complete without some major pampering à la française, so
look no further than Autour de Christophe Robin.”
“When Colette launched in 1997, it caused a major revolution…no one had ever
before presented an intelligently edited collection of the best ‘must-haves’ in fashion,
music, technology, literature, art, food, and beyond.”
By our correspondent in Paris, D’Arcy Flueck.
This year’s 10th anniversary celebrations for the legendary retailer, Colette, was a reminder that Paris is not just about historic couture houses and shopping on the Avenue Montaigne.
When Colette launched in 1997, it caused a major revolution that could be felt around the world. No one had ever before presented an intelligently edited collection of the best “must-haves” in fashion, music, technology, literature, art, food, and beyond. Free to set the tone and present its own special brand of fashion-future, 10 years later the store is still breaking ground where others fear to tread, remaining a must-visit for style-lovers touring the French capital.
Some newer boutiques garnering major attention include the newest offering by Lacoste Creative Director Christophe Lemaire. Lemaire’s eponymously titled boutique is designed to be like a secret box; amongst the contemporary architecture, a white-gold, faceted ceiling mixes with high-tech elements and vintage musical instruments, allowing clients to enjoy an exceptionally creative universe of quirky and casual luxury. The clothing tells a unique story: with a pre-collection that was created for this specific retail space in mind, Lemaire plays with genres, designing men’s clothes for men, as well as men’s clothes adapted to women, with a unisex range uniting the two. Japanese denims mix effortlessly amongst the limited edition designer collaborations with Macintosh, Lacoste and Wrangler, his subtle basics providing an accent instead of the normal backdrop. According to Lemaire, one “can develop a full collection of essential pieces with accessible prices, if you express radical choices of details and colours. These are the choices that give the piece its personality.”
No stranger to the world of big personalities, Etienne de Swardt has created the unparalleled parfumerie, Etat Libre d’Orange, inspired by the 19th century Boer republic of his native South Africa. Establishing his own territory in which to defy all accepted olfactory conventions, de Swardt works with some of the most gifted “noses” in the industry, like the creators of Armani Code, Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu; Blonde by Versace‘s Nathalie Feisthauer; and newcomer Shyamala Maisondieu; all of whom have the freedom to produce a strikingly original scent, influenced by a powerful eroticism and playful subversiveness rather than the standard odes to love and desire that the fragrance industry is known for promoting. Dare to wear unisex fragrances like Nothing, Sécrétions Magnifiques, and Jasmin et Cigarette, for an intriguing feeling of subtle defiance.
Perhaps not trying to break the rules, but certainly trying to make them a whole lot sexier, is Gentry de Paris, the haute lingerie line from Californian expat Gentry Lane. Lane designs sexy French lingerie equally worthy of old Hollywood screen sirens, racy Burlesque divas, and the most discerning grandes dames; and believes “one should allow only real French silk and Calais lace next to your skin". However, for those seeking comfort over sex appeal, Gentry de Paris is just as famous for their decadent cashmere underpants, as they are for their fine French silks. “Coddled in the luxury and fine craftsmanship that she deserves, our classic, elegant lines, opulent fabrics and restrained palates are created for women with chic European sensibilities. They know not to settle for anything less than the best”, which is why Gentry de Paris is sold in exclusive departments stores around the world. Nothing, however, can top a personal shopping experience with Gentry herself, from the privacy of her Parisian boudoir/ showroom.
Also making women feel beautiful is Yesim Chambrey, a Turkish designer and former winner of the prestigious Hyères young designers award for women‘s ready-to-wear, who expertly creates women’s clothing which is irresistibly feminine, flattering, and pretty. Using natural fabrics like bamboo (which feels almost as soft as silk), and unfinished linens with an unfailingly girlie sensibility; this new boudoir boutique is about as Parisienne as one can get. Changing rooms are marked by the pink silk taffeta curtains, poodles display the handmade crochet-style jewellery, available in a multitude of the sweetest colours, and an Ali Baba-like cave in the lower level is slated to open showcasing Chambrey’s own pieces of feminine décor, skillfully designed to work with fabrics from her ready-to-wear, along with selected accessories.
Espousing an equally womanly, boudoir sensibility, is Eternamé, the fine jewellery line from former Dior publicist Sarah Besnainou and supermodel Audrey Marnay; who have named the line after its similarity in sound to “eternity for me“. Celebrity gal pals like Kylie Minogue, Diane Kruger, Jacquetta Wheeler, and Natalia Vodianova seem addicted to collecting their own little pieces of eternity, like the fine pieces from the art deco or entrelas collections; and luckily, whatever is not on hand, the Eternamé girls are happy to customise, source, or design, according to your personal moods and desires.
Of course, nowhere in Paris can cater to your personal wants and whims quite like the world famous super luxury hotels that manage the ever-changing requirements of the international travelling elite on a daily basis. For those seeking a stay in Paris a bit off the beaten path, look no further than the new Five Hotel, located in Paris’ artistic left bank. This boutique hotel mixes five essential elements to create its signature sense of wellbeing, from the colour palette, use of metals, clever lighting, a note of transparence, and a personal signature scent unique to all rooms and suites. Owners Philippe Vaurs and Pascal Laffon can even boast of an integrated fibre-optic lighting system incorporated into the bathroom tiling and bedroom ceilings, casting a starlit sky into each of the hotel’s 24 rooms. By the fireplace, guests may select which Diptyque signature scent will be suffused into your personal environment, choosing between tonic, relaxed, natural, sensual, and gourmand.
For real gourmands wondering where to grab a chic bite to eat, the recently opened Le Saut du Loup, located in the renowned Musée des Arts Decoratifs, is the ideal place to balance your lunch between cultural excursions, and shopping in the nearby rue St. Honoré. With two levels, perfect for people watching, their terrace is one of the most beautiful in Paris, overlooking the gardens of the Carrousel du Louvre. for fashionable dinners, the L’Eclaireur restaurant, inspired by the famous Dulciora patisserie designed by Piero Fornasetti, is the latest offering from the chic designer shopping emporium of the same name. Owners Martine and Armand Hadida worked with the designers’ son Barnaba, to create this ode to the Italian master.
For a night on the town, head to Pierre-Charles Cros, Olivier Bon, and Romée de Goriainoff’s The Experimental Cocktail Club, designed by Cuoco Black, who also created New York’s Gin Lane. A trendy and fashionable crowd is happy to try an assortment of cocktails, and Saturday evenings have the distinction of being open all night, a rarity in Paris indeed! However, if dancing is more to your tastes, head to the nightclub and restaurant Black Calvados, a partnership between famed fashion show producer Alexandre de Betak, and former Soundgarden front man, American musician Chris Cornell. This is the only place to visit during Paris Fashion Week, having previously hosted after-parties for John Galliano, as well as supermodel birthday parties for the likes of Liya Kebeda. Lindsay Lohan and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas have already followed in their footsteps, so you know this is the place to be!
Of course no trip to Paris would be complete without some major pampering à la française, so to look your most appropriately glam at all those parties, dinners and drinks, look no further than Autour de Christophe Robin. Robin is a famous hair colourist and adviser to L’Oréal, who enjoys a loyal following from everyone from Catherine Deneuve to Kylie Minogue and John Galliano. Having recently moved into a private mansion or hotel particular, Robin invited his friends, including top facialist Joëlle Ciocco, manicurist Bastien Gonzalez, and make-up artist Mina Matsumara, to join him, catering to his high-end clientele. Even former fashion model Dorothy Barrick signed on to present a capsule collection of her handbags, including vintage finds, making this one of Paris’ most in-demand confidential addresses.