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.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Patrick Roger - Chocolate for the ultimate Easter bunny

Patrick Roger is one of the most amazing chocolate makers in France. He has a few boutiques scattered throughout the city, and each boutiques draws you in like Willy Wonka's chocolate forest. It is Easter time in Paris, and that means dramatic wonderful vitrines.
I fell upon his St. Germain boutique and was mesmerized by the colorful strange scene. Everything is done in chocolate. The hedgehogs, sardines and the cabbage patch scene are all done by him out of chocolate. There is nothing I like more than being impressed by the artistry in the city, and this vitrine simply supports my love for Paris.
Not only is he an artist with chocolate, but the chocolate is the smoothest and cleanest on the palate. You walk into his turquoise boutique and the pure smell of chocolate surrounds you. I have bought several boxes of his treats and I am always left with how wonderful it leaves your taste buds. I am heading there tomorrow to buy my hollow chocolate bunny filled with chocolate fishes and other little animals. You can find his wares at www.patrickroger.com. Happy Bunny Day everyone!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Depot Vente - OMG!!!!

All girls have dreams, and some dream in Chanel. I hit a depot-vente in the 16th and 17th arrondissement and I felt like I found gold. These two areas of Paris are know for large beautiful buildings, very posh surroundings and loads of money. Many folks who are of this class move out of the centre of the city and settle here to have their families. As a result of such surroundings, the merchandise at these stores is amazing.

There are two stores, one in each arrondissement. The one in the 17th was bigger and had a huge selection of bags. I found brand new Ferragamo bags, Marc Jacobs, Chloe, and of course Chanel and Hermes. They had just received two classic Chanel bags and were selling them for 1300 euros each. Most of the merchandise was in impeccable condition. I also saw brand new LV shoes for around 200-300 euros. Clearly, fashionistas who are connected, get free/discounted stuff and never use it. They decide to change seasons and get rid of the old season. There are alot of clothes and tons of Chanel pieces. The jackets started at 800 and went up. But....if you are looking for a Chanel piece, they are the place to contact. They have a website, ship overseas and it is tax free!! I will definitely go there again. Since the recession is starting to hit Paris, people are getting rid of their wares fast! With the dollar getting a little stronger, I would advise to jump on this soon if you want a classic bag, jacket or any other piece of luxury!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lacroix and Givenchy shows - pics follow

I spent a fabulous Sunday in the Marais. I initially just went for brunch, but ended up walking around most of the day and then decided to go to two shows in the hood. My first show was the Christian Lacroix show on rue Turenne. It was relatively calm at the entrance and not bombarded with photographers. I met some other fellow folks hoping to get in and who were also taking pics. I met a sweet girl who was decked out and of whom tons of people tooks pics. She had told me how she had gotten into a few shows and how she was really a student at the Sorbonne studying journalism. In any case, we admired all the beautiful clothes passing by and the fashionistas entering the show. We nearly got into the show, but they just closed the entrance when they let us in. Alas, we decided to head to the Givenchy show which was just a few blocks away at the Carre du Temple.

The chaos in front of the entrance was intense. We had just entered into the world of Goth fashion. The amount of leather and severe looks was impressive. I saw a group of boys who were decked out in skinny leather pants or leggings paired with platform boots. They definitely looked the part. The paparazzi were in force and attacked the few celebrities who passed. I saw Beatrice Dalle and Kanye West with his new sidekick, the bald girl. We also saw tons of fashionistas trying to get in. Even with an invitation, it was hard to get in and the crowd was growing and growing. It was definitely the show of the day. The outfits were amazing and the energy inspiring. I also ran into garance dore, the sartorialist and bill cunningham outside the show. I love fashion in action!!! Tomorrow is the Stella McCartney show......

Bill Cunningham - the legend

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Bill Cunningham at the Givenchy show. I went up to him and told him how much I loved his work with the New York Times. He was so nice and gracious and said that he loved the energy that the young bloggers gave to the show. He was so cute in his very practical jacket and super comfortable shoes. I have no idea how old he is, but he certainly smiled and talked to tons of people outside. He is an inspiration to all of us.

Fashion In Action - Givenchy

The chaos in front of the entrance. You can feel the energy!!
Loved her coat and glasses. Headbands again.
Kanye West going into the show.

Amazing coat.

She had a huge Chanel cumberbund.
A bit of color in a sea of black. Requisite Goyard bag.

Japonista Fashionista.
Goth redhead.
Acid-washed jeans.
An air of fragility with an atmosphere of campy goth.
She looked super tough. Lots of leather.
He had amazing laces.
Her Givenchy shoes were a complicated work of art.
A group of boys all in leather leggings with platform boots. They were super fierce.

Need I say more? YSL.

Fashion in Action - Christian Lacroix show

Fashion week here in Paris. I fell upon the Christian Lacroix show in the Marais. It wasn't super crowded but there were a good amount of fashionistas in the crowd. The girl with the glasses and her red-headed friend sneaked into the show. The vibe at the door was surprisingly mellow.

Headbands were everywhere in the crowd!
I befriended this Japanese photographer who is at school in New York at the Fashion Institute. She was shooting a project for her portfolio. She was using film instead of digital.
I loved the mix of textures. It was fairly cold out, but still the fashionistas managed to show a bunch of leg.

Anna Piaggi walking into the show. She is always dressed like Auntie Mame.
Loved her elegant neck and smile.
Fur was everywhere.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

THE Auction of the Century - Yves Saint Laurent/Pierre Berge Collection

Ok, I waited in line for 3 hours. The
exposition of the items up for sale
was for only three days and then all of it was going to different homes, via the Christie's auction. I waited until the weekend was over to head over to the Grand Palais. Those two days, the expo was open until midnight and on Monday it would only be open until 1pm and then they had to prepare for the sale. So, I figured it was a weekday, how bad could it be? I was totally wrong.

I arrived at the Grand Palais to find a line of umbrellas winding around the building. I arrived at 9:30, a half hour after it had opened. The security guard there said no one else was allowed to wait because already the wait was 5 hours!!! I was stunned. But something inside of me said to wait and just see what happens. Alas, I waited around and the line started to move....quickly! Myself and several other people, mainly women who clearly had nothing else pending, followed the security guard and his metal gate(to keep us at bay) for a good twenty minutes. I
started chatting with a few people and some of them waited the day before for several hours, only to have been turned away. I do not know if I could have had that type of tenancity, but I kind of admired them for it. Only in Paris would you find people so in love with culture, art and style to wait in line for an art exposition!

Once inside, it was if you entered another world. The exposition was set up as rooms in YSL and Pierre Berge's apartments. The main apartment featured with the one on rue Babylone. On each walls, was a collage of sorts of the different textures found in the collection. It was mesmerizing. Upon entering you saw the muscular torso of a minataur, as if it was greeting you and letting you know you were in the garden of eden. There was haunting music playing and tons of people desperately craning their necks trying to get a peek and the luscious life of YSL and his partner.

The collection was created over a fifty-year period. One could see some of the phases they went through. There were alot of minaturs, male torsos (obvious), cobras and a wonderful desire for the exotic. My favorite piece was a metal owl made by german goldsmiths. It was estimated at 70,000 euros, but was sold for nearly 300,000 euros. I told my husband about it, but he just humored me and said that I probably didn't have enough pennies for the little owl. The Matisse painting that sold for 41 million dollars was really stunning. The most memorable pieces were the bronze heads from China. They were bigger than expected and seduced you with their beauty. If I were the government of China, I would want them returned as well. They were gorgeous.

All in all, the expo was an amazing experience. It was a chance to see a living collection before it was to be dissected and sent away to different homes. As one walked around, the collection represented a life that was clearly well lived.