I often marvel at the way the ordinary in Paris can be made into something special. Today I stopped in at the Bon Marché department store to pick up a couple of things, and found myself in an amazing Iris Apfel exhibition. I love Iris Apfel – her style, sense of humor and attitude to life. Here she has imagined 10 occasions that she might take part in during a visit to Paris – fashion week, a visit to the flea markets, a dinner party, a cocktail evening or a night at the opera. She has put together an outfit for each from her own collection, she is seen wearing each one in an interview where she talks about fashion and her memories of visits to Paris. Each outfit has been loaned for the exhibition and is on display.
In the windows outside, the outfits have been recreated by illustrator Eric Giriat, who has placed her at the occasions she describes: in the front row at fashion week, at the opera or in the park. Inside you can buy items from a capsule collection of accessories she put together, including her trademark glasses and a wonderful silk scarf, also drawn by Giriat and depicting the Eiffel Tower wearing her other trademark, a string of bracelets.
Iris in Paris runs until April 16.
- Le Bon Marché, 24 rue de Sevres, 75007 Paris. metro: Severs Babylone
Open Mon-Sat 10:00 – 20:00
Tucked away in a courtyard on the edge of the Marais is a fascinating and beautiful collection of clothes and furniture designed by Pierre Cardin. Set over 3 floors , this incredible collection traces his career from 1953 to the present day, and is a must see for anybody who is interested in fashion and design.
The collection is arranged chronologically, the 1950’s to 1970’s on the ground floor and the 1980’s and 1990’s downstairs, with the upstairs section showing evening and party wear and a room dedicated to accessories – hats, sunglasses, jewellery, gloves and shoes. I particularly loved the futuristic pieces from his pret-a- porter collections of the 1960’s and 70’s with their the clean lines and bright colours.
The first couturier to show a pret-a-porter collection inspired by haute couture, Pierre Cardin caused a scandal with his collection in 1959 which made designer clothes available in a department store for the first time. He continued to experiment over the next 60 years, and as you follow his career and work through the museum it’s hard not to be taken aback by the imagination, creativity and craftsmanship on show.
I discovered that in the 1970’s he also designed and made furniture, and some of his beautiful pieces are also on show here.
I loved this museum and its amazing collection. The life and work of Pierre Cardin is fascinating, and the glimpse into his world that you get here certainly makes me want to see more.
- Musée Pierre Cardin, 5 rue Saint Merri, 75004 Paris. metro: Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville
Open Wed/Thurs/Fri 11:00 – 18:00, Saturday & Sunday 13:00 – 18:00
Pierre Cardin Website (in English)
It’s the Autumn edition of the Salon du Vintage this weekend at the Carreau du Temple in the Marais. Not only do we have the chance to peruse and buy from an incredible range of vintage clothes stands, but there is also a wonderful collection of the iconic ‘Sahariennes’ by Yves St Laurent on show.
First presented in 1968, the Saharienne became one of the emblematic pieces in the Yves Saint Laurent collections, and was remodeled many times over the years. The beautiful pieces on show here range from 1969 to 1980 and are from the collection of Olivier Chatenet.
As well as this amazing collection, there is huge range of vintage clothes stands to suit all budgets. If you are looking for quality vintage clothes or some iconic designer pieces, this is the place to come. There’s also an exhibition of designer chairs from 1960 – 1990, mid-century modern furniture, vinyl records and handmade jewellery.
The Salon du Vintage is open again tomorrow 18 October, and is held several times a year, usually in the Marais. Check out their website for upcoming editions and locations.
- Salon du Vintage, Carreau du Temple, 4 rue Eugene Spuller, 75003 Paris
Salon du Vintage website (in French)
Flaner is a French verb that is difficult to translate, perhaps because it’s a typically French pastime. It means to wander, to walk with no particular destination in mind, to sit on a café terrace and watch the world go by… It’s something that Parisians excel at, and Paris is the perfect place to practice it.
On the riverside in front of the Musée d’Orsay, Hemés have installed a pop up exhibition curated by the designer Hubert le Gall, ‘Dans l’oeil du Flaneur’, dedicated to this particular French art form. It take you on a walk through an imaginary and magical Paris, where street lamps hang upside down, a café is home to strange objects left behind by their owners (and has a nightclub for dogs underneath it!), graffiti artists carry their spray cans in huge Birkin bags and you can peep through windows into houses where the objects seem to have taken on a life of their own.
Showcasing articles from their current collections and the Hermes archives, it’s a delightful trip into a whimsical Paris.
- Dans l’Oeil du Flaneur, Port de Solferino, Berges de Seine, 75007 Paris. Metro: Musée d’Orsay or Assemblée Nationale
Open 11:00 – 19:00 (22:00 Thursdays). Entry is free, but book online to avoid standing in line. Exhibition ends 5 October.
Website (in French)
The Fondation Pierre Bergé is home to an incredible collection of the works of Yves Saint Laurent: 5,000 garments, 15,000 haute couture accessories and over 50,000 drawings, all carefully conserved in museum conditions. Housed at the mythical address of their couture house – 5 avenue Marceau – it organises temporary exhibitions dedicated to fashion and art.
Currently on show until 19 July is St Laurent’s 1971 ‘Liberation’ collection, which caused a scandal at the time, referencing back to France under the German occupation in WWII, but which was to become a huge influence on fashion in general, blurring the lines between haute couture and pret à porter and making retro style fashionable for the first time.
The exhibition is small, but fascinating, documenting also the laborious process of creating a collection. Exhibitions change regularly so be sure to check out their website to see what is currently on.
You can also visit Yves Saint Laurent’s studio, this visit is only available as a guided group tour and you need to book well in advance. I can highly recommend both!
Photos not allowed inside the exhibition or the studio.
The Fondation Pierre Bergé and the Palais Galliera have a partnership, bring your ticket from one of the current exhibitions to the other and you’ll get a reduction on the entry price.
- Fondation Pierre Bergé, 3 rue Léonce Reynaud, 75116 Paris. metro: Alma Marceau
Open daily except Mondays and public holidays, 10:00 – 18:00
Fondation Pierre Bergé
The beautiful Palais Galliera is home to the Fashion Museum of Paris. Their collection is outstanding, but due to the fragile nature of the pieces they are stored in the dark to protect them, and only temporary exhibitions are shown in the museum. This however allows them to focus on one theme, one period or one designer – currently there is a wonderful exhibition of clothes by Jeanne Lanvin which Alber Elbaz, the current artistic director of Lanvin, has collaborated closely on.
Check out their excellent website for current and upcoming exhibitions. The museum is closed between exhibitions. I can highly recommend the current Lanvin exhibition, the pieces are incredibly beautiful, and the chance to see such workmanship up close is a real treat. Photos of course are not allowed inside in order to preserve the delicate clothes.
- Palais Galliera, 10 avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75016 Paris. métro: Iena
Like the Puces du Design, the Salon du Vintage is held twice a year in Paris, and its locations vary, although the two I have been to this year have both been in the Marais. This weekend it was held in the magnificent Carreau du Temple, a covered market hall built in 1860 in the haut Marais that has recently been completely restored.
The theme of this edition was British fashion from the 1950’s to the 1990s, and there was an exhibition of iconic designer dresses, curated by a lovely friend of mine Tara from Oh la la! Vintage – featuring Ossie Clarke, Mary Quant, Biba, Vivienne Westwood and many more. All the dresses in the exhibition were for sale, a chance to buy something really rare and special.
There’s fashion here for all budgets, including the most beautiful designer pieces from all the big names. If you love vintage fashion, and want to pick up an amazing collector item as an addition to your wardrobe, something individual, or just browse for ideas, this is the place to do it. There’s also a DJ (Boy George played the Saturday night set) and dancing, as well as a hair salon and café.
Check out their website for locations of upcoming editions.
Salon du Vintage
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is a fascinating museum, covering a huge variety of decorative arts.
When I can, I like to visit sections of a museum at a time. This time I headed straight for the fashion section. It changes yearly, and is currently dedicated to Dries Van Noten and what has inspired him in his work. Alongside other designer’s pieces, the exhibition also features clips from films, photographs and pieces of furniture and music. Pieces from his collections are shown together with iconic pieces from the museum’s collection of fashion and textiles. Inside it’s dark to preserve the clothes, and their jewel like colours and details really stand out.
Dries Van Noten – Inspirations, runs until November 2nd 2014.
- Mode et Textile – Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Open Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm, late opening Thursday until 9pm
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
The avenue Montaigne is the other temple to high fashion in Paris, after the rue St Honoré. Wider and quieter than the rue St Honoré, it is home to all the major fashion houses and forms one side of the the famous ‘Golden Triangle’ (the other two being avenue Georges V and the Champs Elysées).
I prefer a stroll down this avenue if I want to look at high fashion. It runs from the Champs Elysées down to the river, and is less crowded and more fun to window shop (or really shop if you want!) It’s also home to the famous Plaza Athenée Hotel, where Mata Hari was arrested in 1917 – Marlene Dietrich lived opposite at No. 12, her apartment overlooking the room where she had stayed with her lover Jean Gabin.
I ended my walk with a visit to the studio of Yves St Laurent, nearby at 5 avenue Marceau. The Fondation Pierre Bergé is open for temporary exhibitions, but to see the studio you have to book a guided visit, and they sell out in advance so don’t leave it to the last minute! It was very special to be able to see the studio where St Laurent created so many of his iconic designs. Photos are not allowed inside, so check out their website. I can really recommend this visit, it lasts 90 minutes and provides a fascinating insight into his life and work.
Fondation Pierre Bergé
- avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris
- Fondation Pierre Bergé, 5 avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris. Metro for both: Pont de l’Alma
Running through the 1st and 8th arrondissements, the rue St Honoré is one of the mythical streets of fashion in Paris. Here you’ll find all the big names and more, and if you want to spend some serious money it’s a good place to do it! I prefer to window shop, the Hermes windows are an event every time they change, and you can also hang out in one of the most fashion forward shops in Paris – Colette at number 213.
One of the most interesting things I discovered was that Joan of Arc was injured here in 1429 whilst attempting to take the city of Paris with her army. It’s very hard to imagine nowadays, perhaps in this street more than some others. Today it’s definitely fashion that rules here.
- rue St Honoré, 75001 Paris. metros: Palais Royal Musée du Louvre, Tuileries or Concorde
Just a stone’s throw away from the crowds at the Louvre, there’s a hidden paradise – tranquil gardens surrounded by chic boutiques and cafés. It feels like a well-kept secret, frequented by fashionable locals, petanque players and those like me just looking for a quiet spot to sip a coffee in the sunshine.
Exit the metro at Palais Royal onto Place Colette.
Slip through the archway, past Daniel Buren’s columns, then head through the covered arcades…
and you find yourself in the gardens of the Palais Royal. Former palace of the young Louis XIV and once home to Colette, these beautiful gardens are surrounded by elegant galleries: café terraces spill out into the sunshine, whilst the quiet arcades are now home to Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and a host of other artisan boutiques.
I love to grab a coffee and a slice of carrot cake or a cold pressed juice from one of the tiny cafés in the arcades, and find a shady bench under the clipped trees.
Then I check out the vintage couture dresses at Didier Ludot.
Why don’t you pop in for a stroll in the sunshine? You’ll find yourself coming back again and again.
Just don’t tell everybody…
- Enter through Place Colette or 8 rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris. Metro: Palais Royal Musée du Louvre