There is nothing more Parisienne than underwear that oozes sexy attitude with understated elegance, and there is nowhere better for a decadent splurge on intimate underthings than the area around the Carrefour de la Croix Rouge on the Rive Gauche. Over the last few years this magical little triangle of land has attracted some of the most seductive names in the lingerie industry, with a La Perla store that is set to open any day now.
Sophie d’Annunzia on the rue du Cherche-Midi is what the French call a multimarque, carrying a little bit of everything from not-so-sexy girdles to sumptuous cashmere shawls, with a lot of lace in between. She carries every size for all ages in her timeless little boutique.
A bit further up the street, Gerbe has all your stocking needs from the classic fishnet to traditional black with that seductive seam. And while you’re there, Paris is the place to try the old fashion thigh-high, which really do stay up these days, thanks to modern advances in silicone technology.
Next door, modern ERES, best known for their bathing suits, sells simple, silky pieces with just a touch of lace that makes their collections modern, sedate, and easy to wear; it’s the perfect solution when choosing something for a first date, or under your tuxedo jacket.
Heading around the corner to the rue de Sevres, Princesse tam.tam is great for underwear that is fun and young, yet sexy enough to please the most mature connoisseur. Cheerful colors and surprising combinations evoke vintage looks without feeling dated, and are easy to wear under anything. And the prices here are some of the best in the neighborhood. Nearby Sabbia Rosa features comfortable silk and linen loungewear. Attractive jewel-toned fabrics are mixed with a hint of lace for underwear, camisoles, nightgowns and robes. Daring Parisiennes have been known to create a sensation wearing their linen nighties poolside on summer holidays. If they don’t have the exact combination that you’re looking for, their garments are made nearby and can be made available in a matter of days.
Carine Gilson weaves together some of the most romantic pieces on the market today, combining luxurious, richly toned silks with exquisite laces that could have been spun by fairy fingers. Visiting her boutique is like entering a cherished courtesan’s boudoir; dark and exclusive, it’s a feminine place where men are clearly welcome. It’s the perfect place to head before a date with your prince charming.
Fun and flirty with a vintage touch, Fifi Chachnil will make anyone feel like a pin-up girl, with all the corsetry and garter belts that go with that look. The designer has mastered a girly-girl look for the modern woman in control of her femininity. It’s all so tempting you don’t need a date to wear these pieces, as they are all about pleasing you.
Agent Provocateur offers something more, well, more provocative, with leathers, latexes, and sex toys presented in a discrete boutique that is seductive, never trashy, and always respectful, encouraging women to create their own fantasy.
As you’re shopping, remember that this is underwear you’re meant to wear. Be sure to ask the sales help for assistance, getting the fit just right. But don’t be surprised if they happen to grab you unexpectedly to judge your cup size. These women are trained professionals and they take their job seriously. When I started dating in Paris, I was at a total loss while dressing for a first date. A Parisienne told me to wear my most comfortable jeans and favorite top with the sexiest underwear I had. “But, I don’t do that on a first date!” I exclaimed. “Of course you don’t.” she nonchalantly reply, “But knowing that you have your own little secret will make you sexier than any outfit ever could.”
And now that you’re perfectly dressed for a night on the town, looking for ideas of where to go? What to do? I recommend picking up a copy of Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City, written by honorary Parisienne par excellence, Heather Stimmler-Hall. It is a perfect accessory for any night out in Paris!
- Sophie d’Annunzia – 17 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1
- Gerbe – 4 bis rue du Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 06 10
- ERES – 4 bis rue du Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 44 95 54
- Princesse tam.tam – 4 rue de Sèvres, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 27 49
- Sabbia Rosa – 73 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 88 37
- Fifi Chachnil – 34 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 08 23
- Agent Provocateur – 38 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 49 09 44
- You can purchase your copy of Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City here
- Take a break from shopping at one of these great restaurants near Le Bon Marché in the 6ème
- More tips from Sylvia Sabes for navigating the popular les soldes in Paris