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Monday, February 27, 2012

Paris: shop and eat

A quick weekend to Paris.  What to do but shop?  And eat!  And sneak in the museum or exhibition or so...


HOTEL:

This weekend I had the pleasure of staying at Le Bristol.  The intriguing hotel from Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, Le Bristol is very French and the entry way to great shopping.  The real reason to stay  there is of course, Pharaoh, the hotel's chat.  



FIRST STOP:

First must-stop-shop in Paris is Colette.  This is my absolute favorite small department store in the world.  Go not only for the shopping, but just the mannequin watching alone.  The stylists here are magicians.  If only they could come into my own closet and put together interesting looks that I could never imagine.  They are inspirational.


Love these Christopher Kane organza printed skirts!
There is also a cafe downstairs if you're hungry, a men's section and cool, modern jewelry.

SECOND STOP:

You cannot miss a visit to the Nina Ricci boutique on Avenue Montaigne.  Peter Copping, head designer, creates the most beautiful and creative marzipans for women today.  Maria Nina Ricci and her son Robert founded the line in 1932.  Also known for the well known fragrance, L'Air du Temps, Nina Ricci produces all that is feminine.


 

And the boutique (the only one in Paris and few throughout the world) provides the backdrop for the ultimate experience in the world that is female.  With warm shades of grey,white and gold, cozy settees and chairs welcome any visitor to sit and watch.  Explore.  Fantasize.


The Spring shoes were delicate and lady like.  I couldn't resist picking up a pair of the floral collection in the sandal version 
JEWELRY STOP:

Strolling down Rue St. Honore, it is difficult to not peer in the window of the beautiful shop of Lydia Courteille.  The window alone is reason to stop and admire the incredible craftsmanship and exquisitely rare stones and jewels that she uses to crete the most unusual pieces of jewelry I have seen.



Her new collection, called Amazon, is an escape into a world unseen and magical.  Every piece is mesmerizing and intoxicating.



I was able to meet and speak with her, and she is talkative and engaging.  With influences from vintage to Mexico, her work is never dull and always stunning.  Walk on in and have a look for yourself - or better yet, try some art on.
These cuffs were a must try on!  Made of a rare green turquoise, emeralds and diamonds - exquisite!
CHILDREN STOP:

It would be a crime to go all the way to Paris and not buy any children's clothes.  (you will be the favorite of any expecting or new mother!) The French know how to dress a child.  Girls or boys, they are the best at doing it.  I love the Lanvin junior collection and Tartine et Chocolat, but my go to is Bonpoint.


And be prepared to spend some time.  The little gems are tucked away in drawers in several different rooms all around the large boutique.  Though the price tag is not cheap, these children's clothes are special and will last for generations.  They go from play clothes to the finest of the finest.  And the color scheme is always soft and sweet.  For girls, they even add a touch of sparkle and gleam - which I know makes my 9 year old smile.  Not to mention they have an entire line for the early teen crowd that even I could squeeze into, so no more complaining that no one makes suitable and stylish clothes for 14 year old girls!!!  Stylish, chic and presentable.

PIT STOP:

You can't be in Paris without eating.  Or drinking.  Here are my favorites for a shopping weekend:

LUNCH:  For lunch while out and about, it can't get better than Cafe Marly.  Situated within the Louvre courtyard, Marly boasts one of the most beautiful views of Paris (for some, minus the Pyramids).  And the food is actually tasty.  And the beautiful people watching never stops...



SUPPER:  A Parisian friend turned me on to Petrelle for dinner.  This is one of those quiet, off the map, little restaurants with an excellent chef and eclectic decor.  One chef, one waiter, one dishwasher, one kitty, and one dog. Lots of candles, excellent food and about 10 tables finds you one of the best seats in Paris.  This is not the place to go with a loud group or a table of single ladies in search of a man.  This is as if you are in the chef's dining room, enjoying his art, his pets and his cooking.


Tucked away in Montmartre, Petrelle will not disappoint, but will only inspire, as it should.  Not to mention, best Sea Bass I've ever had, over beautiful organic root vegetables and a fish consomm√©.  This is one not to miss.

COCKTAILS: Shopping and museum going is exhausting.  Like a walk through the desert, an oasis is needed.  Head over to The Bar at the Hotel Crillon.  The cocktails are good, the wine is better, and in the later afternoon the piano is playing.  Plus I like the potato chips.


Built in 1758 by request of King Louis XV, this historical piece of architecture faces Place de la Concorde.  (once a part of the entire palace) Inside, enjoy the warmth and discreetness that is entirely Parisian.  Whether for tea or martini or wine, The Bar will never disappoint, and the mercury glass that adorns the bar will continue to entice.

Bienvenue a Paris!

Monday, February 13, 2012

New York Fashion Week 2012

New York Fashion Week.  Moved from Bryant Park to tented Lincoln Center last year.  I like the idea of fashion being at an arts center; it is art after all.


I took an unexpected trip to New York last week, so of course, I wanted to catch some shows.  First up was Rebecca Minkoff.  Known for her stylish and modern handbags, Rebecca started her ready to wear collection in 2009.  I found her designs youthful and inspired, not to mention easy to wear.


The show opened with a performance by Theophilus London, and he even joined the models for the final catwalk.  It definitely added a cool dimension to the show, and her clothes kept up that idea.  My favorite pieces were the snakeskin shorts and jacket, and all of the shearling items.  She did t shirts, jackets and a coat with the rich colored brown shearling that were all stunning and cozy at the same time.





I scored a trip backstage where I was able to meet and talk with Rebecca.  She is adorable and modest.  Can't wait to wear that snakeskin jacket!


Later that evening, I snagged a seat at the Charlotte Ronson show.  She has  become the darling of fashion week with lots of celebrities wearing her clothes and coming to her shows.  Her brand has really taken off and will continue to do so.  However, I did not love this show.  I looked back at her Spring/Summer RTW show, and I found it much better.  Both times she used a great take on color blocking, but this show seemed too heavy.  A little too somber for me.




There were some pieces that I did like.  Her leather pencil skirt was flawless and I loved the sweater paired with it.  In fact, all of the leather looks were good.  I was just not sure about all of the snoods and head covers.  And I was having a hard time following her story on the runway.


But it was nothing that drinks at the Carlyle Hotel bar, Bemelmans, couldn't remedy.  This is one of my favorite bars in New York City.  I love the people watching, the dim lighting of the lamps on each table, the wonderful hand painted Central Park murals by Ludwig Bemelman, and of course the great sounds of pianist Chris Gillespie.  It is quintessential New York at its best.


And then down the street for dinner with friends at newcomer restaurant, Crown.  John DeLucie has done it again following the success of his other great establishment, The Lion.  Now both are current favorites of mine.  Not to mention that he was the Executive Chef at The Waverly - also an all time fave.


On the bottom floor of a townhouse on the Upper East Side, this cozy, beautiful sexy restaurant serves excellent food and excellent wine.  Thanks to friends treating us for dinner, we enjoyed oysters, foie gras, beautiful entrees and a chocolate bomb desert.  I highly recommend you make a reservation here as fast as you can.  You will not be sorry!!


New York.  It really is the city where dreams are made.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Final Day of Couture in Paris

Oh my.  Shopping couture is exhausting!  I woke up on Day 3 happy that we had a late first show at 12:30.  Coming back to the hotel after the end of these days is hard because your brain is still processing what you saw, who you met and where you went! But, another day of fantasy begins...

FIRST SHOW: ELIE SAAB

We raced over back to the Grand Palais for Elie Saab's show.  Apparently, the more time you have, the later you are...  After facing a mob of people in line to see the show, Cameron summoned a PR agent to get us in the side door.


The show started off in all white.  I love white.  I actually look good in white.  It makes me feel virginal or something.  If I didn't have 3 children who like markers and dirt, my entire house would be in white.  So, we were off to a good start.  And there was a short flirty dress that I thought could be a possible contingent for a Met party dress...


And then the mint green came.  Again, a favorite color of mine. But I started to sense that the dresses were all looking the same.  A lot of heavy bead work and chiffon.  Very sparkly and extremely feminine, there was something that I liked about the collection.  Though it started to look a little Mother of the Bride to me - the shorter versions were more youthful and fun.  And not sure I needed to see so much of it.  As opposed to the Givenchy, it was as if we were seeing the same colored dress, but with a variation of sleeve or back.  Or we were seeing a different color dress with the same variation as the other color.  In my very modest opinion, this was a show of more is better.  I think it could have been edited down to be sleeker and more streamlined.  But the song Inconsistent by The Do from the runway is good - already downloaded it!






SECOND SHOW: Jean Paul Gaultier

Who will ever forget Madonna's Cone Bra? And my husband will certainly never forget the costumes in The Fifth Element.  Both Gaultier.  Both genius.



Opening with 4 a cappella singers delivering a haunting Amy Winehouse tune, it was immediately clear that Amy was Gaultier's muse for the show.  Hair, make up, tone, they all embodied this disturbed powerhouse and gave way to an inspired collection.  This show won my award for Best Show.  It was entertaining.  Never boring.  And had clothes that I wanted to wear....


Smoking cigarettes in smoking jackets, models charged down the runway showing indifferent attitude; the models owned this show.  Artists of their genre.  And with the bittersweet songs of Amy Winehouse in the background, this was a show to remember. Celebrating the life of another artist, Gaultier charmed me to the end.  Seeing things close up might have to happen...





I couldn't resist this color - and the back is buttoned up with crystal buttons that you only button half way up.  Stay tuned to see where I wear this treasure...
FINAL SHOW: VALENTINO

Shown at the beautiful Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, it was nice to be back in an intimate setting with painted ceilings, ornate mantles and crystal chandeliers.  We were packed in there, but it was worth it. A friend who works for Valentino in New York had hinted to us that there were vintage fabric inspirations along with Marie Antoinette.


I loved this show.  I found it so refreshing, like a spring breeze literally wafted through as each model walked through the rooms.  And it was so different from anything we had seen all week.  The vintage inspired floral fabrics of the long dresses flowed with each step, and the high collared necks and lace brought images of Versailles Domaine de Marie-Antoinette.  Antoinette's youth-before-the-tragedy seemed to spring to life and fill the air.  And the shoes were completely different: no stilettos or platforms.  Beautiful silk loafers and embroidered flat loafers contrasted the heeled silk loafers.




Florals, organza, smocking detail - what Southern girl could resist?

THE LAST HOORAH

Cameron and I were lucky to receive an invitation to attend the Sidaction 10th Annual dinner of fashion against AIDS as guests of my new favorite designer, Mary Katrantzou.  Held at the Pavillon d'Armenonville, this fundraiser seated about 400 guests, including models, designers, and patrons.

At the fete, I'm wearing my first Couture purchase, a blouse by Alexis Mabille, and Cameron is wearing a suit by Mary Kantrantzou
It was interesting to attend a French non-profit, there were some definite differences that intrigued me.  The biggest was that speeches started right before dinner was served.  No wine was poured, and everyone remained completely silent as speeches were made.  And the other biggest difference was of course the food and wine.  Fish was the main course (delicious) and all of the wine, excellent.  A fun time was had, and it was the perfect finish to this Southern Belle Cinderella's ball...