By Johara Al Mogbel
Exploring the streets of Paris. Oh, the fashion!
Paris is renowned for its fashion, and it earned its title with grace, charm… and an abundance of shoes. No, really, there are shoe stores every few blocks and we couldn’t be more ecstatic. A Parisian never goes out less than absolutely put together, and elegant footwear is regarded as very important, so the fashion scene had to evolve to suit the style needs of the city-goers and their simultaneous need to walk.
The nature of a typical Parisian’s sense of style tends to permeate boutiques and stores, so Paris is an excellent place to be clothing with streamlined silhouettes and block colors, basic high quality wardrobe staples, and stylish comfortable shoes.
Bearing that in mind, it’s a bit difficult to recommend a certain district for its fashion. Every street has its own charm and quantity of boutiques, so the best way to get a coveted unique piece is to frankly, simply walk around. There are a number of areas where we love to explore more than others, though.
RUE SAINT HONORE
The true luxury street of Paris, Rue Saint Honore houses the majority of the largest and most exclusive brands, from Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Brunello Cucinelli, Christian Dior and Chanel, to Rene Caovilla and Miu Miu. And it’s no wonder it holds such an illustrious address, what with it being housed in the first arrondissement and in close proximity to the presidential palace.
Stroll down here to window shop, or if you have deep pockets, spend on the sales. And if you’d like to own something truly authentic, pop into the Pierre Cardin vintage store. Dresses there run about 2,000 euros and up, but you’ll rest easy knowing you own something from one of the most influential designers in recent mode history.
Pro tip: The street is frequently used as the center for a number of live fashion events, the most famous being Vogue’s Fashion Night Out. Rent an apartment or a hotel room in the area to enjoy the festivities. This year’s event will be held on September 22, and it’s not to be missed!
Other Things to Check
Colette, Paris’s version of the overpriced and always busy hipster department store. Any up and coming designers will most definitely be housed here, and it’s considered the it place amongst many rich youngsters. The department store also makes it a habit to team up with a number of artists and brands to develop an in-house line which can lead to pretty interesting results. The latest: Louis Vuitton for Colette.
Leafy, wide, and delightfully planned, Boulevard Haussmann is a treat to walk in. With small boutiques lining the streets, they will keep you well busy up until you reach the jewel of the boulevard itself: Printemps. A French department store that was founded in the late 1800s, it revolutionized retail practices and introduced the concept of discount sales to clear out outdated stock, which we are so very very grateful for.
Nowadays, it hosts a myriad of brands and is the best place should you be short on time and would like a one stop place for all your shopping. We like it best when there are sales, and their shoe department is beee-yootiful.
Pro tip: In case you need a break, Brasserie Printemps makes a delightful lamb stew and their ice cream is delicious.
Other Things to Check
Galeries Lafayette is just down the road by Printemps, although personally we find it has gone slightly touristy these days, with the buyers focusing more on what will sell than what is beautiful. Nonetheless, it’s a good place to check out, as their shoe department offers more mainstream options, and design of the main women’s department is more open and airy than Printemps. They also host a weekly free fashion show for anyone interested.
One of our favorite areas to walk in, there’s so much to see in Boulevard Saint Germain. And certainly tons to shop for. For one, both Armani and Sonia Rykiel can be found here alongside famous cafes such as the Deux Magots and new store innovations like Tanya Heath.
Also, as we discovered this year, it also has the yummiest crepe, right by the Saint Germain Church. Think ahead by wearing comfortable shoes, you’re going to be strolling quite a bit. Pass by the Seine if you’d like to spruce up your living room with a poster, or if you’d like to own a vintage fashion newspaper from the 1920s and earlier!
Other Things to Check
You may be tempted to stop by Armani Cafe for a refresher, but do try to resist. They’re quite snobbish, and a bit subpar compared to its next-door neighbor Pouchkine Cafe. What Pouchkine lacks in a fashionable name it makes up for splendidly in a gorgeous interior and the best honey cake we’ve tried so far. Or try your luck at the Sonia Rykiel concept cafe in their flagship store, a reported 50,000 books were used to create the pop-up library concept.
MARCHE AUX PUCES DE SAINT-OUEN
Now, shopping in climate-controlled glitzy shops can be fun, but the true heart and soul of it, no matter what anyone tells you, is only found in open-air bric-a-brac markets. And like every publicly loved figure, Paris harbors a dirty secret: It has some of the finest fashion flea markets in Europe. Actually, it has the biggest flea market area in the world, a massive conglomeration of markets where antique dealers display their curated collections.
Almost everything can be found here, whether it be furniture, art, vintage threads and jewelry and everything in between. Our favorite find of all time was a pair of vintage Lanvin pearl earrings from the eighties. Keep an eye out for overlooked fashion, and don’t be afraid to haggle; keep in mind that true finds have gotten rarer over the years.
Other Things to Check
Rue Lécuyer is, reportedly, where the dealers themselves buy from. We haven’t been that far yet, but it’s worth a try.
Where to Stay
We love Rue Saint Honore for one more thing; it’s a great place to stay in. It’s safe and quiet, and there are a number of hotels available. We personally love the Mandarin Oriental, but there’s also the Buddha Bar Hotel if you want to be smack dab in the middle (it’s opposite Salvadore Ferregamo). The Westin is another clean and modern choice, with reasonable prices if you book early on and by a decent shopping area in Rue Rivoli.
If you’re looking for something closer to the Champs Elysee, Le Royal Monceau is beautiful. A Raffles hotel with a concentration on fashion, it was designed by Phillip Starck and, for the clothes-ready, has an easy to access wardrobe.
Dates to Remember Sales:
June 24 – Aug. 4, Summer/Spring
Jan. 7 – Feb. 17 Autumn/Winter
Paris Fashion Week:
Sept. 3 – Oct. 7