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Le Parfum: Decoding the Allure of French Scent


I’ll never forget the first time I was “perfumed” in Paris. After spritzing and sniffing numerous scents at a parfumerie in the Marais, I settled on L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake, a citrusy floral just right for warmer weather. The chic saleswoman held the tester aloft angled in my direction. “Je vous parfume, mademoiselle?” she asked, dousing me head to toe in a scented shower of Issey.


Not since have I worn quite so much scent but will admit to feeling quite glam that afternoon as I trailed its sweet essence through the streets of Paris. It was an early lesson in the seductive power of fragrance.

That was more than ten years ago and I’ve tried many perfumes since. While I love the idea of a signature scent, I can’t seem to commit to just one. With so much wonderful choice and temptation, why settle? But whether true to one fragrance or scent schizophrenics like me, French women are united in a deep devotion to perfume.

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Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »

Fashion as High Art: Madame Grès at the Musée Bourdelle

Coco Chanel gets a lot of credit for being the grande dame of Parisian fashion. But guess what? There’s a new sartorial sheriff in town. Although I suppose she’s been there all along…

Madame Grès—one of the pioneers of Parisian haute couture—hadn’t really been on my radar until I hit the retrospective (La Couture à l’Oeuvre) that’s currently going on at the Musée Bourdelle. To be honest, the Musée Bourdelle hadn’t really been on my radar either. Tucked away in the 15th, it’s housed in the charming gardens and dusty ateliers where sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929) once lived and worked.

From now until July 24, the museum has turned its attention to high fashion, displaying 84 of Madame Grès’ jaw-droppingly gorgeous designs, alongside 50 original sketches and numerous editorial photographs. Grès, who got her start as a costume designer, was known for her sculptural aesthetic. Eschewing traditional corseting, she used artful draping and strategic twisting, roping, and pleating to create graceful shapes that enhanced the female form.

It’s no wonder that after launching her design house in 1932, she gained a loyal following of celebrities and icons (Jackie Kennedy, Greta Garbo and Dolores del Rio were clients) looking for customized designs that both moved and flattered. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events | 5 Comments »

In Celebration of Pants: Wily Parisiennes Fight Law with Style

first imageRebellious in pants. Courtesy of

Last week’s headline in The Telegraph read: “A decree banning women from wearing trousers in Paris is still technically in force, it emerged on Monday, making the laissez-faire French capital theoretically stricter than hardline Sudan in the fashion stakes.”

The article went on to describe the origin of this law and its evolution over time.

  • 1800: Law stipulates that “any Parisienne wishing to dress like a man ‘must present herself to Paris’ main police station to obtain authorization’”
  • 1892: Amendment to the law states that trousers are permitted “as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse”
  • 1909: An extra clause is added to allow women to wear trousers when “on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars”

Despite the fact that this law is still in place, it’s safe to say that pants (and the women who love them) are alive and well in Paris.

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