Friday, September 26, 2008

Euros in New York

I descended on New York like I was a well-off European with a wallet stuffed with valuable Euros. Thanks to jetlag I woke up at 7 am last Saturday in the Big Apple with this overwhelming desire to hit the streets and shop, shop, shop. After my first purchase at Banana Republic (who knows why but I always find something there), and several other desired items in my sights, from a smattering of other boutiques, (why had I never been to Uniqlo?), I realized that though prices do seem less expensive in the city and the diversity of shops much larger, I am paid in dollars still—and a freelancer at that. Well, regardless, I had to live it up a bit so I curbed the shopping to sample sales and vintage-and alternated between a $2.00 slice of pizza for lunch and killer sushi for dinner; The two food items that Paris definitely lags behind relative to NYC—along with good take out coffee. I forgot how great it is in the morning to just have a cup to go and sip it while making your way to wherever. I had also forgotten how everyone always has a cup in their hands—at all times of the day. It’s kind of funny.

It was great to feel that fabulous energy of NYC- I definitely felt distant from it at times, like I was watching some rollercoaster from afar and just finding the right time to jump on it again and go; at the same time, the familiarity with it was comforting—knowing exactly where shops are: whether for vitamins, shoe repairs, or secondhand books. Of course in New York, you can fill every need and chore from the bank to the pharmacy to mani-pedi’s for less that $40, all within a three-block radius (less depending on the hood), and that is the best indulgence ever.

After a week I was exhausted and content. I never slept so well on a plane without sleeping pills. What a treat to arrive back in Paris, with such beautiful weather. I decided to take advantage of sunshine and my sleepiness and just grab something to eat and head to the park. I stepped into this lovely little café/resto around the corner and immediately re-claimed la vie Parisian: the special for the day was a salmon and vegetable torte (like a quiche with a flaking pastry dough crust on top as well as bottom) accompanied by three verrines: little cups filled with salty or savory: one a mousse of celery root and a julienne of vegetables, another with smoked magret de canard and caramelized onions and the last, for dessert, a crème de chocolate and pistachio. I couldn’t help but laugh as I made my way to the park. Yes indeed, back in Paris.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vintage goodness

Three vintage stores to change your life, or at least your wardrobe:
Stepping into Ragtime, 23, rue de l’Echaude-75006, is like stepping into any fashionista’s dream. Run by the voluptuous and gravel voiced Francoise Auguet for over 20 years, Ragtime is full of delectable haute couture from the early 20th century up to the 1980s. On a recent visit, highlights included a Nina Ricci a-line, crepe de chêne dress from the 1960s, a perfect condition 1970s Lanvin dress in a fabulous orange-based ethnic-looking print (700 Euros), a floor length pink silk robe from the 1920s (280 Euros), and a purple toned Pucci mini-dress. (No website)

Pretty Box, (, 46, rue Saintonge-75003, has been around for just a year and is run by friends Nicolas and Sarah. Filled with one-of-a-kind vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories mainly for women, but there are things for men as well. The vibe is 1980s, with some 1970s and 60s thrown in for good measure. In addition, Sarah has started her own line of clothing four years ago called Garde Robe that fuses classic 1970s and 80s clothing with modern fabrics and cuts.

Le Depot-Vente de Buci, 4, rue de Bourbon-le-Château-75006, is a two-part vintage store, run by Celine and her daughter Lawrence and filled with clothing, accessories and shoes from the mid 20th century up to the early 1990s. On the one side is couture, with pieces by such designers as Chanel, Valentino, Lanvin, and Leonard, and the other is full of prêt-a-porter finds such as Paul Smith, Issy Miyake, Thierry Mugler and Sonia Rykel. Prices vary anywhere from 30 Euros upwards of 300 Euros. (No website)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So Ethic

Over the weekend I went to the Pret a Porter salon for emerging fashion designers. It was an enormous affair at the Porte de Versailles, with over 3 vast floors of fashion...It was too much for me to take in, so one of the sections I focused on was the 'So Ethic,' salon that brought together a range of designers working with fashion and production in an eco-friendly way. Range being a key word in that last sentence. Items ranged from recycled messenger bags made out of tires to the 'beige cotton t-shirt' crowd which I sum up as the neutral colored, simple cut t-shirts, shorts and sweaters, that oozes eco almost to a fault, to higher end designers such as the Swede, Camilla Norrback. It was interesting to talk to some of the vendors there, particularly about this discrepancy of "Eco-chic." It seems a shame that so many talented designers who have decided to use non-toxic dyes, organic cotton, and other such methods in their clothing are lumped together with less design conscious and more just "eco." Though it is important to point out their methods of production, many of these people are true 'designers' first and eco in approach. Though they may benefit from this trend now, in the future, it could be counter-productive if they become only seen as Eco-labels. It's best, in my mind to promote the great talent and have the bonus of it being produced cleanly. This might encourage more people to embrace these relatively easy methods of production--and avoid any stigma that could hurt the strong talent of the clothing. "So Ethic' is a great start but maybe next year there could be two salons, So Ethic for those messenger bags and baby bibs, and 'Design Conscious,' (or something) for those higher end labels. Some of these to take a look at are...Camilla Norrback, elegant, smart, sophisticated (; Anardo & Skyum, Danish design mixed with Peruvian flair (; Amana-Central St. Martin's grads make sophisticated clothing handmade in a women's cooperative in Morocco; and Laurence Chauvin-Bathard--African fabrics meet classic dress and bag designs all the better for both.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Indian Focus

On view through September 30 at the Espace Claude Berri, is a small exhibition of five contemporary artists from India. The work comes from Berri's (French film producer/director/art collector), vast private collection. Subodh Gupta and Rina Banjeree are two of the better known artists in the show, both represented by interesting wall sculpture and paintings; but the highlight of the show is Hema Upadhyay, a young artist who lives in Bombay (otherwise known as Mumbai). She has created a vast floor sculpture titled, "Dream a wish, wish a dream," which looks like a replica of the "suburbs" or really, slums that are scattered around many large cities in India and other developing countries. A Brazilian favela could also be referenced. Undulating hills of tiny houses fashioned out of painted corrugated metal are placed one next to the other in a horror vacui of modern day urban decay. But the piece is also beautiful--the colors and details are incredible and it elicits that fascination-shock value that one can perhaps feel upon viewing images of these neighborhoods. It's certainly also a reminder of the failure of urban planning for the poor and the unhealthy conditions where far too many of the world's population are still living.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Gray Monday. Back in Paris now for over a week and getting readjusted to it
all. It's not been as easy as I thought. I am also trying to tone down my recent obsession with the political campaign and reading for hours on the web. So let's talk about my favorite subject of textiles to soothe the soul. Back on myroad trip, we stopped at an amazing weaving and textile cooperative in Northern New Mexico called Tierra Wools. Located in Los Ojos, NM, near Chama and about 2 hours from Taos
, this locally run operation has created jobs and helped maintain local
sheep farming since the early 1980s. Women in the community can train
at the studio--techniques of treating and dyeing the wool and weaving
on a loom. The yarns are all produced using environmentally friendly
methods and the results of their work is amazing. Check out the website