The last of a four-part series on my experiences and observations in the City of Light.
Paris: The Fashion
By sheer coincidence (really!) we happened to be in France during Paris Fashion Week. Of course my fashion receptors are always up, but it was especially exciting to be on the lookout for Parisian style. There were 15-20 shows happening each day for a week and a half, but I spared Jayson the trauma of getting dragged all over the city to see the latest shoe or catch a glimpse of a well known designer. My favorite shows (Chanel, Valentino and McQueen) were all taking place the day after we were leaving anyway.
In Paris – the epicenter of all things chic – every week is fashion week. On the Metro from the airport to the hotel, I couldn’t help but immediately notice the men – dressed for work in slim navy suits and equally nice shoes, some with scarves around their neck – looking so incredibly sophisticated. A few hours later, after settling into our hotel room, we walked to the corner bistro for lunch. I couldn’t help glancing down at the shoes of the women seated around me (I always check out women from the feet up). I was surprised to find basic, low-heeled shoes that were scuffed. Scuffed! Decidedly non-Parisian, I thought. I later realized how much abuse shoes get because of all the walking Parisians do, and on cobblestone streets no less! I decided to forgive the scuff marks.
The fashion in general was effortlessly chic – simple, stylish, elegant and well put together. Everyone (male and female) wore skinny jeans. Moto jackets were everywhere, as were ankle boots. Also popular, much to my chagrin, were sheer blouses. Jayson saw more bras than ever necessary. He couldn’t turn to the right or left without noticing it, and I couldn’t blame him. And although it was apparently warm enough for transparent tops, almost everyone wore a scarf. Go figure.
Another trend was denim shorts over tights. This was popular on natives and tourists alike, mostly on women in their teens and twenties. Finally, I spotted this Kate Moss tee (seen below on Rihanna) over and over again – on both men and women. Kate followed us all over Paris.
Along with denim shorts, tights, and Kate, there were many people wearing Converse sneakers. In fact, US brands were displayed on so many people it almost felt like we were in the Big Apple instead of the City of Light. Jayson marveled that so many guys were styling NBA caps – last we checked, Paris does not have a basketball team. But Nike, Adidas and New Balance were ubiquitous regardless.
While walking on the Rue Saint-Honore, known for its many museums and upscale boutiques, I noticed red soles. First one pair, and then another. After walking a bit further, (fine, I followed them like a stalker), I looked up to see the famed Christian Louboutin boutique. I drooled at the window for a while before we went across the street for lunch.
Another meaningful visit was to the original Chanel Boutique at 31 Rue Cambon. Above this shop is the apartment where Coco Chanel lived in the 1920s and 30s. While the apartment is not open to the general public, I did peruse the boutique, where I’m happy to report every employee was exceedingly polite.
Something I wasn’t expecting was the overwhelming emotion I felt passing by the Guerlain shop on the Champs-Elysees. Founded in 1828, Guerlain is one of the oldest perfume houses in the world. The reason it means so much to me is because Shalimar by Guerlain was my mother’s signature scent. Walking by the shop and seeing the scallop-shaped bottle in the blue velvet box took me back to my childhood, watching my mother in her bedroom as she got ready for a night out – dabbing just a drop of the very expensive perfume behind her ears. Such sweet smelling memories!
During another walk, this time in the Latin Quarter, Jayson and I came upon a photo shoot in progress. A photographer was crouched down taking pictures of a lovely model leaning against a post. I couldn’t help but watch for a bit and take my own photos. I know from my position as Fashion & Beauty Editor of our city magazine how much work goes into planning these things, so it was nice to be a spectator and enjoy the glam aspect of it all.
Not once did I see anyone in public wearing pajamas, sweatpants, or oversized clothing. From the catwalks to the streets, Parisians always look chic.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.