Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Modern Art on Bastille Day

It is 'le quatorze Juilliet', Bastille day and I decided in honor of the French, I would head down to the mecca of shopping that is the Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. Of course they were open today and since it is also the sale season, the area was pretty packed. I expected the normal tourists and folks from the suburbs to be around, but I was pleasantly surprised by the windows at Galleries Lafayette. It is called Paris Creation, and museums each have a vitrine to express themselves. So while we are in the throes of consumerism, we get glimpses of modern art in action. This twisted Batman and Mickey Mouse comes from Maison Rouge and is the project of Fabien Verschaere. It is an extension of "Vraoum! Tresors de la Bande dessinee et art contemporain" which is on display at the museum. There was a vitrine from Palais de Tokyo, Pompidou Centre, Museum of Decorative Arts, and a few others.
I truly love Paris for its ability to integrate art into our everyday lives. It is inspiring.

Fashion Week-models scattered around

So it was another Fashion Week. I kind of forgot about it since we have been all consumed with the press sales, real sales and then the onslaught of tourists. It wasn't until I noticed, while taking the metro one day, that there seemed to be a higher population of very tall skinny girls, with lots of make-up on, looking lost. They all seem very quiet and a bit disoriented. I noticed this model on the metro one day and noted that her leggings were BAGGY on her. I also spoke to a friend of mine in fashion, and apparently the girls are getting skinnier and skinner and that they eat tissue when they are hungry. They certainly like them young, from an eastern European country and very skinny.

On a happier note, the press sales were good this time around. I chose to only go to the Vanessa Bruno sale and the Antik Batik one. The same chaos ensued where the women are undressing in the middle of the room trying loads of clothes one, while hiding from the security guard. There is definitely a method to the madness and one needs to wear legging and a tank top so one can try on things easily without having to show some skin. I also hit some of the private sales at the boutiques. Since the economic crisis started, more luxury good stores have started 'vente prive' in the store long before the sales begin. This year I fell upon such sale at Bottega Veneta and got a great bag for half-off. Of course they do not really advertise and they reluctantly tell you the price ( it is Paris after all..), but deals were in abundance this year. Even YSL had a special 'prototype' sale at their Faubourg St. Honore store which featured colors of models that never made it into production but were being sold for under 500 euros. I saw a great bow bag in navy blue, a small version of the Besace in a soft baby blue and weird Downtown colors. I witnessed women walking out with five or more bags that morning. By ten o'clock, the stock was virtually finished. Even in these tough times, you can't keep the fashionistas away from their accessories.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jugetsudo - the art of japanese tea

Paris is full of salon de thes. There is La Duree, Mariage Freres and a variety of other fancy cafes that serve tea. So the other day my husband and I were walking around the St. Germain area and we ran into this beautiful little pocket of Japanese culture.
The space is very luminous, stylish and cozy. It is a traditional Japanese tea room where they serve you different types of tea and a small little cake or rice cracker that compliments your choice. The water is kept hot in a kettle in front of you and each type of tea is served with a teapot and tea cup meant for that specific tea. They also serve matcha and froth it right in front of you which was really entertaining since I have failed miserably in frothing it myself.
It feels very civilized and they give you small bamboo forks to eat your cake delicately and everything is very organized in front of you. They also sell very high quality teas, teapots, and other accessories for the tea connisseur in all of us.
Jugetsudo, 95, rue de Seine, 5e

APC - outlet

APC is always in the mags and I always think, I really need to have some pieces. The style is decidedly french preppy with a touch of garage sale glam. Some of the clothes remind me of something Chloe S. would probably wear or something you would find at a very cool vintage store. Alas, the clothes are well-made, great materials and seem really simple. It is a strange thing to find in Paris. But....I never seem to buy anything at the stores??? I find a piece I like and I always think, "I feel so unglamourous" !! The clothes are super utilitarian and nice, but the prices are hardly for the average socialist. The price points range from a blouse for over 100 euros and dresses for 300 and up. So when I found the stock, I was really excited.
The entire store is half off the price on the clothes. This made it super interesting. I grew up in suburbia in the States and when I see something like the GAP, my first thought is always, "it will go on sale soon" and it always does. It may just be a block in my thinking (or maybe because I am chinese?!) but I have a hard time paying alot of money for a pair of khakis.
Anyhow, the stock is great. Amazing selection, very hip boutique and the sales person was super nice. Plus is it close to Sacre Coeur which is beautiful and it is in the 18e which makes it a pretty funky experience.
APC surplus, 20 rue Andre del Sartre 18e

Monday, May 25, 2009

S&M Ostrich at 'merci'

Just had to show you the funky bird I spotted at 'merci'. This is why I love Paris and the shopping here. You really never know what you will see!!

Hotel Particulier - Another concept store!!

So I read in a very parisien magazine about another 'concept' store that was being talked about the 'people' in the know. I had such a wonderful experience with 'merci' that I figured it could be fun. Alas, was I ever wrong. The french love to go with an idea and really ride the hype. The OG of concept stores 'Colette' embodies how it can go too far. They have taken the 'concept' from concept store and basically have brought Brooklyn to Paris via very expensive t-shirts and a staff that is OCD with having to arrange things. I want to believe the original 'concept' of such a store is to be a one-stop shopping experience. A place where someone's good taste goes beyond one category; meaning I will find the right clothes, shoes, dishes, music and products to make my life super hip and amazing. 'merci' takes it out of Brooklyn and makes it very Parisien. We find very french labels, colorful textiles, jewelry that girls in paris acutally wear and cute kitchen utensils. They make it accessible, whereas Colette can make you feel kind of uncool because sometimes you just don't want to spend loads of money on a pair of Vans that are neon green....Anyhow, Hotel Particulier doesn't really fall anywhere on that radar.
I went in and all I found were some funky clothes, fancy laundry detergent that I could get it at Whole Foods and some lipgloss that was really colorful and sticky. I was super disappointed. Clearly the folks that launched this store have connections in the fashion press world and that is how they got the press because honestly the store is a huge disappointment.

Friday, April 24, 2009

'Merci' for the new concept store - merci

The magical florist part of the new concept store 'merci' that welcomes you on the street.
The housewares section of this multi-tiered palace of creativity.
This plentiful little car welcomes you in the courtyard as you enter the store. It symbolizes what you may find inside, a bit of everything!
The clothing sections varies from specialized items from Marni, Stella McCartney, and YSL for the store, to Vanessa Bruno, Isabel Marant, Acne jeans and vintage finds. The light makes shopping a pure joy.

A certain percentage of the profits goes to a charity. There are linens, housewares, furniture and a used book cafe in one fabulous space. I have always loved the idea of concept stores, I just never have really fell in love with one. This store has two cafes, a used book store, clothes, gadgets, an Annick Goutal refill station for your favorite Parisien scent and amazing light. Price points range from 2 euros for a used book to 1000euros for a Haute Couture dress. I bought linen pillow cases for 29 euros and a fab straw hat for 35 euros. The owners of this wonderful concept store started Bonpoint, sold it and apparently got bored and created this space. ( I heard this from a good friend of theirs who happens to be a friend of mine!) Please visit it at 111 boulevard beaumarchais in the 3eme.