March 23, 2017
A mysterious event invitation showed up in my Facebook feed a little while back.
“Secret Christmas / Vente Très Très Privée Mode et Beauté” (“Very, Very Private Fashion and Beauty Sale”), it announced, presumably so exclusive that just one “very” wouldn’t do.
The invitation went on to reveal that somebody named Laurence would be welcoming shoppers into her cozy Paris apartment that Saturday, enticing invitees with the promise of treats, holiday fashions, and personalized beauty advice.
“If you wish to participate, email us so we can send you the address and door code for this secret rendez-vous”, the invitation instructed, stopping just short of adding, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”
The pre-adolescent Nancy Drew fan in me was intrigued.
February 21, 2017
One of the newest gems of the Haut Marais, the Empreintes concept store is dedicated to fine art. At four stories and 600m2 of floor space, it’s one of the largest concept stores in the city, but you won’t find any kitschy trinkets here. The store was opened by the Ateliers d’Art de France, a syndicate representing and defending the work of crafts professionals in France, with members in over 90 different professions under the crafts umbrella. It functions as a gallery as much as a store, inviting visitors to take in the craftsmanship behind the products as well as offering the ability to purchase them.
Greenery and strands of twinkling lights add character to the bright white entryway. With products ranging from fine jewelry to scarves to tableware to furniture, each floor of the gorgeously lit space has something different to offer. The theme of the products in the store changes every two months, to keep new pieces coming in, keep the range of art and merchandise interesting and give as many members of the syndicate a chance to sell their wares. Everything is made in France, so you know you’re getting a piece that is truly one of a kind.
December 21, 2016
Passage Jouffroy; Lily Heise
There’s something particularly special about Paris over the holidays. Of course there’s the sparkling street lights, the enticing window displays, the abundance of heavenly holiday treats, but it’s also something more than that. Spirits ride on this wave of joie and les parisiens can’t help but have a little extra joie de vivre. Here are three itineraries that will take you away from (most of) the crowds and allow you to take in that same joy, guilty pleasures, and offbeat sites that will make the holiday season in Paris truly shine.
Hip Shopping, Food and Culture in the Marais
Skip the mayhem of les grands magasins and do your holiday shopping as you take this creative meander through the Marais. Embark on your foray at the trendy concept store Merci, where you can pick up some of their carefully selected holiday ideas and perfect stocking stuffers like a candle version of their trademark red fiat bearing a roof-load of presents or a Christmas tree, thin garland thread, offbeat snow globes and an vast array of other cool gift ideas.
Merci Concept Store; Lily Heise
December 15, 2016
Gift-giving is one of those benevolent acts that requires several critical components to come together in order to make the perfect package: it should be creative and thoughtful, yet useful; selflessly chosen, but still reflect a little bit of you, the giver.
June 9, 2016
French Trotters, Jean-Marie Heidinger
Living as a local designer in the uber-chic North Marais gives me insights into not only the most fashionable cafés in the neighborhood, of which there are many, but of the most noteworthy boutiques. Designers both French and foreign have chosen to call the Haut Marais home, perhaps due to its history as a small-scale manufacturing hub. You can still stumble across the odd zipper or ribbon shop. More likely, Paris’ 3rd arrondissement attracts the independent fashion elite for its contagious creative energy and strong local vibe. The area is a bit lesser known to tourists, as most frequent the more commercial, albeit charming, cobbled streets of the 4th.
French Trotters, Jean-Marie Heidinger
May 16, 2016
Paris abounds with design galleries, chic clothing boutiques and tile-floored bistros serving market-fresh cuisine, but rarely do you find more than one together under the same roof. Merci is a delightful exception.
Founded in 2009 by Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, Merci is a concept store that rolls the best of fashion, design, household goods, lighting, and lunch into one stunning space in the Haut Marais neighborhood. Spanning three light-filled floors of a former wallpaper factory, the gallery-cum-boutique is run a bit like a magazine: roughly 15 “exhibitions” held throughout the year highlight diverse themes that have included herring, urban sports, wax-dyed batiks, and urban gardening.
September 8, 2015
Gabrielle Gerard and Marion Jaubert, fashion school friends turned business partners, are the dynamic women behind Ambrym, a French label dedicated to sustainable and locally made fashion. Together they have created a line of clothing, and a shop in the 10th arrondissement, that resembles their unique stories as well as their shared history.
Their shop, next to the Canal St-Martin, looks exactly like what you’d imagine a space shared by two creative ladies would, sketches and paintings that inspire their designs are hung on the walls, while jewelry and clothing are lovingly presented. It’s immediately clear that this friendly and welcoming space was created by two amies. While the project is a collaboration, Gabrielle’s childhood and background heavily influence the collections.
August 25, 2015
Saint-Sulpice is one of the poshest quartiers in Paris. With neighbors that include Catherine Deneuve and Scarlett Johansson, it is the regular haunt of celebrities, writers, and intellectuals, making it the cultural capital of the city. The area is named for the nearly 400-year-old church and its soaring bell towers, declaring both the geographical and social center of the arrondissement. A stately square spills from the church steps, lions guarding the central fountain. After school children come to play kick ball, practice tricycle, and engage in all the sports that are forbidden in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens. Gourmands from across the globe fill the green park benches, savoring delicacies from the area’s pâtisseries extraordinaires: Pierre Hermé and Gerard Mulot. In the winter, there is a free merry-go-round for young children on the square, while in the summer the Foire Saint-Germain sets up stalls to celebrate poetry, math, ceramics, and antiques. And there are other festivals around crafts, volunteering, and jazz throughout the year.
The elegant Mairie, or city hall, dominates one corner of the square, providing a backdrop for neighborhood weddings, while the Café de la Mairie sprawls out from the opposite corner, creating one of the city’s most popular terraces for hours of people watching under dappling shadows of chestnut tree leaves.
June 19, 2015
Split only by the busy boulevard Voltaire, the rue de la Folie-Méricourt and rue Popincourt form a bridge between the Oberkampf and Voltaire neighborhoods of Paris. Starting at the southern end of rue Popincourt and rue de la Roquette, just steps away from the 11th arrondissement’s town hall, a neon horse head greets you as you approach Chez Aline. The horse head, along with the flashy yellow-tiled interior, is a throwback to the space’s former incarnation as an equine butcher’s shop. Chef Delphine Zampetti doesn’t specialize in controversial meat, but rather delicious lunch offerings, which do sometimes include surprising proteins. The octopus, salicorne, and cucumber salad is a particular favorite among locals as are the sandwiches, which are made using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
April 17, 2015
They say the show outside is better than the show inside during Paris Fashion Week, and I’d have to agree. While designers unveiled their Fall/Winter 2015 collections (designs you won’t be able to get your hands on for months) inside venues like the Grand Palais and the Palais de Tokyo, fashion bloggers, models, and starlets showed what’s fashionable right now outside. I spotted some definite spring fashion trends and investing in these five pieces will certainly help reboot your wardrobe for a stylish springtime in the City of Light, or wherever you may be.