August 2007

August 31, 2007

Shopping in Paris: the 3rd arr.

Ah, Paris, you’ve captured my heart again … and the better part of my wallet. Taking advantage of the English long weekend, I headed over to Paris for a short break of sightseeing, picnic-partaking (think: champagne, cheese and baguettes under perfect blue skies) and a spot of shopping.

It was bliss, but be warned about Paris in August, especially if you’re serious about shopping and food. Most of the city shuts down for the whole month, as the locals take off for their summer holidays. Many of the shops and restaurants I had planned to visit were closed. The upside is that it’s quieter than usual and summer is the perfect time in Paris to indulge in a cheeky 3pm framboise glace.

If you want to get the best out of Paris shopping, you need to be well-prepared and sort out what you want to see and do in advance, and then tackle it geographically.

Paris is divided into districts (aka arrondissements) that spiral out from the centre of the city. (Trust Paris to have a city plan with such an avant-garde design motif – “Grid? Non!” – recalling the delicate pattern on a snail’s shell, or the luscious swirl of buttercream icing on top of a cupcake, or the infinite array of shopping opportunities … OK, I’ll stop now).

I stayed in my favourite part of Paris: the Marais, which is steeped in history and has a strong Jewish culture. This utterly delightful little place in the world is home to a plethora of boutiques, galleries, bars, cafes and some of the best courtyards in the city.

Here’s my list for shopping in the 3rd arr:

15 rue de Poitou
This light-filled boutique stocks a wide selection of cool labels, including See by Chloe, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Preen, Cheap Monday and True Religion. I made a beeline for the traditional French Repetto leather ballet pumps, which are beautifully crafted and have the softest leather uppers – truly the comfiest flats around (and worn by French ballerinas!).

33 rue Charlot
Head here for French labels including Vanessa Bruno’s diffusion line, Athe.

Martin Grant
10 rue Charlot
(Closed 3 weeks in August)
This hugely talented Australian fashion designer is known for his flattering cuts, exquisite tailoring and elegant designs. Oh, and Cate Blanchett is also a big fan.

68 blvd. de Sebastopol
Stop here for slouchy leather bags.

Abou d'Abi Bazar
10 rue des Francs Bourgeois
This boutique is a fashion-crowd favourite, stocking mostly Parisian designers including Tara Jarmon, Antik Batik, Isabel Marant and Stella Forest.

American Apparel
123 rue Vieille due Temple
Stock up on cult cotton tees, tank tops and bodysuits – the wide-scoop necklines are ultra-flattering. Don’t miss the cute baby range.

118 rue Vieille du Temple
Beautiful French baby and children’s store, with a fashion-forward children’s clothing line (think tiny floral-print blouses, and knits in muted shades of charcoal, oyster and tobacco). There is also a fine selection of nursery furniture, bed and bathware and children’s books (including the French Martine series). I liked their cute-n-quirky duck, squirrel, lamb and mushroom lamps (around €45).

112 rue Vielle-du-Temple
Cult French brand with a minimalist aesthetic. Fabulous jeans. I love their new season range, which features smock shift dresses in black and mustard.

Hysope & cie
104 rue Vielle du Temple
Come here for beautiful blooms and creative floral arrangements. The window display is a visual treat.

Vanessa Bruno
100 rue Vieille du Temple
My favourite Parisian designer, known for her feminine tailoring and unfussy aesthetic. Check out her lush range of handbags, including the new Autumn/Winter metallic leather line.

99 rue Vieille du Temple
This women’s fashion boutique is a local favourite. I like their Autumn/Winter line-up of cotton jersey tops and smock dresses with lace panel inserts.

Les Petites
98 rue Vieille du Temple
Come here for quality cashmere and brightly-coloured cute frocks. Their Missoni-inspired striped dresses are most covetable.

L’Artisan Fleuriste
95 rue Vieille du Temple
Oh, the roses!

72 rue Vieille du Temple
This tiny little store sells handmade knitted finger puppers and children’s jumpers.

75 rue Vieille du Temple
Ultra-feminine boutique with a range of beautiful frocks and accessories. I like their current ‘60s-style dresses and coats with gathered sleeves (although I didn’t dig the rabbit fur collars). Expect lots of pink and kittens.

Jamin Puech
68 rue Vieille du Temple
It’s a bit of thrill to view the entire current collection of Jamin Puech’s divine handbags in one place. Each piece is a work of art in itself, exquisitely crafted in a breathtaking array of materials and embellished with buttons, embroidery and beading. The sales wall held me captivated for a long time, but I was equally enamoured by the stunning hand-crafted flower brooches. The perfect Paris souvenir.

Paul & Joe Sister/ Homme
56/58 rue Vieille du Temple
Get a fix of Sophie Albou’s ultra-desirable label for both men and women at this twin shop. Autumn/Winter 07-08 sees more ‘60s-style smock shift dresses (big trend) as well as blouses with bell-sleeves and loads of soft knitted berets and hats (yes, I know it’s Paris, but trust me, hats are going to be huge – especially perched on a jaunty angle with a sweep of fringe peeping out).

Where to eat in the 3rd arr:

La Chaise au Plafond
10 rue de Tresor
French food at reasonable prices (and Martin Grant’s favourite local bistro).

Les Philosophes
28 rue Vieille du Temple
Make a shopping pitstop at this café.

Chez Omar
47 rue de Bretagne
Head here for the delicious couscous, friendly staff and a buzzy atmosphere.

La Perle
78 rue Vieille du Temple
Favourite local café for models and photographers.

Other things to see in the 3rd arr:

Musee National Picasso
5 rue Thorigny
Allow time to check out this gallery devoted to Picasso’s paintings, sculptures and ceramics.

Galerie Yvon Lambert
108 rue Vieille du Temple
Contemporary art gallery. If you’re in Paris during September and October this year, don’t miss the Andy Warhol Intimate exhibition.

Recommended reading:
Time Out Paris for Visitors (2007/8)
Paris by Numbers (
Wallpaper* City Guide: Paris
Lucky magazine Paris guide

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August 29, 2007

Paris street style: Camille Bidault-Waddington on Rue St Honore

I was pretty excited when I spotted this lemon sorbet stunner shopping in Colette – for me she was the epitome of cool, laid-back Parisienne style with a sweet vintage edge.

It was only after I approached her for a photo that I noticed that the tall, lanky husband (with cool specs) waiting patiently nearby was none other than Jarvis Cocker, and my lemon sorbet inspiration was fashion stylist Camille Bidault-Waddington. Happy Endings!

A wee birdy told me that Camille is wearing a vintage dress from London, Mulberry handbag, and espadrilles from the south of France.

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August 25, 2007

French birdy

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August 25, 2007

Bonjour du petit oiseau

Just a wee note from Paris … and a sneak peek at what I'll be posting next week:

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August 23, 2007

This just in: new Celia Birtwell range at Topshop

The last time I saw an original Celia Birtwell print, it was behind a glass cabinet at the brilliant Ossie Clark exhibition at the V&A museum in 2003. I missed the first two seasons of Celia Birtwell at Topshop, but I'm excited about being in London for the new collection which has just hit stores. The dreamy floral prints are Birtwell at her best. Prices start at £45 for blouses, but check out one of the gorgeous limited edition print scarves for £18:

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August 21, 2007

Wee Birdy Q&A: Dressmakers in London

I’m looking for a good dressmaker in London. Could you recommend one? I’m after someone that can make me a ‘50s-style Wiggle dress. – Azka

Oh, lucky birdy, a ‘50s-style Wiggle dress is the sassiest choice for a chic-n-sexy look, and the originator of the new so-called “body conscious” trend. And you’re heading in the right direction wanting it made-to-measure, as you really need the garment to fit like a glove. (I learnt the hard way when I went shopping for a Wiggle dress last year on Ebay. Three ill-fitting vintage frocks later – two I could not get beyond my hips – and I discovered that unless we share the same DNA, other people’s Wiggles were not the way to go).

I haven’t used a dressmaker in London, and all my usual sources for recommendations were thick on tailors and thin on dressmakers of the non-wedding variety. But I’ve found three dressmakers who sound like they can whip up a Wiggle for you. At least get a quote from each one and suss out if they’ve got a handle on what you’re after:

Paul Hawley
Dressmaking & Tailoring
4 Tiber Gardens
London N1 0XE
Tel: 020 7278 1065
Mob: 07958 481064

39 Mayfield Avenue
North Finchley
London N12 9JG
Tel: 020-8446-5555

Brown Atelier
Tel: 078 1622 2841
20 Woodhouse Road
North Finchley N12 0RG

In the meantime, I do recommend that you check out Whirling Turban for their truly fabulous online made-to-measure service. They design their own vintage-inspired frocks and source the most gorgeous vintage fabrics and Chinese brocades for you to choose from. They take all your measurements and are particularly finicky about fit, so allow enough time for them to create the perfect Wiggle for you. One of my BFFs in Australia had a sensational Whirling Turban creation for a Shag launch (the same event that led to my sad Ebay search for a Wiggle). She chose a wild Tiki print and was the sauciest wahini in the place. And they even made her the sweetest matching fan. Here's another cute look from Whirling Turban:

While most of their frocks feature a sarong-style wrap element, you could ask them for a variation on the pattern, such as a fitted pencil skirt instead.

For an off-the-rack Wiggle dress, I also recommend you check out Stop Staring online for 107 vintage and rockabilly-style frocks. You’ll find some fabulous Wiggles in their collection (have a peep at the Starlette dress, Summer Fling, Drama Girl dress, Sydney dress, Manhattan dress, Black Vixen, Leopard Martini dress and the ultra-sexy Black Satin Hollywood dress). Make sure you click on the link to “Our Items Available at Daddy-o’s” and refer to their helpful Sizing Chart for the perfect fit.

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