Ahhh, the soft beaming rays from the sun. Oh, look at that pastel blue sky! Mmm……Can you even feel the breeze from the Seine or smell those freshly baked croissants from a café a mile away?
As you stroll through the streets, walking around the City of Light makes you feel like you’re inside a park with your dog. Packed with stores, cafés and monuments at a stone’s throw, how can we not thank God for making such a perfect city?
If the convenience is a reason as to why Paris is one of my favorite cities to travel to, it’s also their super hot retail scene and the Parisienne’s reverence for the art of fashion that made me enjoy it. In fact, it’s their refined aesthetic for beauty that made me want to appreciate Paris.
If you have never been there before, you must ABSOLUTELY book a ticket. Since the city is as wide as a football field, here are some of my favorite places you need to bookmark before hailing a cab:
For every shoe designer heard around the world, you obviously know those names: Louboutin, Vivier, Clergerie and Dacade. Given that all of them are male luxury footwear designers, the one who’s taking the cake is a flame-haired millenial named Amelie Pichard. French by blood, she’s got a soft spot for all things Americana from Playboy, David Lynch films (with the most obvious reference being Twin Peaks) and Pamela Anderson, who previously collaborated with Pichard to design a limited edition luxury vegan line. On the other hand, her aesthetic is also inspired by vintage ’60s icons such as sex symbol Brigitte Bardot and singer/actress Sylvie Vartan.
As most shoe designers strive to look contemporary, she travels back time by churning out retro designs. From Barbie-style pumps, kitten heels, mules (see the BBs or Pamelas) and chunky-heeled sock boots, each pair feels freshly unique thanks to Pichard’s balance between zany fabrics (e.g. shearling) and classic colors (e.g. red). While shoes are her main specialty, Pichard’s belts, cases and bags are equally kitschy cute as well.
Compared to luxury designers, Amelie’s merchandise is affordable AND comfortable! To quote Cardi B, just get two pairs (or more) if you don’t want to choose. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you! :P)
If you are the type that likes to watch old ’90s TV shows, listen to Lana del Rey and buy vintage postcards on Etsy, then this is the store for you.
Logos and guns look like they belong in a Nicki Minaj lyric; however, no one does it better than Fauré Le Page.
As their signature motif, the gun is a reference to the brand’s origins. In 1717, it originally launched its business by producing and supplying firearms for French royalty (to be specific, kings and princes). Although the business was running for 300 years, Fauré Le Page decided to produce bags instead of guns. Ranging from work-friendly tote bags to party-ready beaded clutches, every colorway and design feels fresh.
While “fun”-looking embellishments (e.g. logos; beads; charms; weapon-inspired motifs) run the risk of appearing like a novelty, each bag is a piece of timeless luxury thanks to its high quality materials (i.e. leather and pure gold). If its price tag scares you, don’t hold back as one piece is an investment.
If you are looking for vintage designer goods, look no further than this store. Carrying the most prestigious designer brands, you can find rarities from a Chanel-Dallas collection brooch to an LV monogram bag with a chain strap. In addition, you can also find a plethora of clothing there, too.
Asides from vintage, you can find Le Snob, a local label. If you like all things extra, you can’t pass up on their logo-covered bags and super witty tees. (FYI: According to a sales lady, Le Snob bags are made in a factory in Florence!) Regardless of any design, it’s worth a purchase!
(via Visit Paris Region)
Every “cool girl” in town swears by Sandro – including myself. For the past three years, I’ve been shopping there as the brand has super ridiculously amazing silhouettes that are funky, yet classic. Its eclectic juxtaposition of ladylike laces and mannish blazers offer a certain je ne sais quoi that’s similar to Maje (coincidentally, they’re basically cousins as the founders of both brands are sisters! *gasp*). In spite of the similarities, Sandro’s cuts tend to fit better as it is true to size.
If you are looking for dope menswear, this is the perfect shop for your boyfriend and brother as it has trendy, yet classic stuff that doesn’t feel too basic or boring.
Among all the department stores in Paris, this one takes the cake. Given that it’s the best for tourists, I personally like it as it’s the place to score great deals. Three summers ago, I scored a pair of Chloé strappy nude and black sandals that was more than 50% off of its original price. From what I recall, it was the ONLY pair in my size! Whenever there’s a sale, concentrate on the European brands as it’s probably cheaper to get it there compared to anywhere else outside of Paris or EU. Even better, just get a brand that you can’t find at home.
Whether it be shoes or clothes, Galeries Lafayette has a great selection. Even their beauty counter is equally fantastic, too.
BONUS TIP: Go to a flea market
Digging your hands through some random person’s old junk in a flea market is not something you’ll expect to do in Paris. As most of you are accustomed to using your credit cards, please bring some cash when you go to flea markets since the vendors neither use iPads nor have credit card payment services such as PayPal, Venmo or Square.
On the first day of visiting the city, my dad, aunt and I stumbled upon a flea market in the middle of a street across the Palais de Tokyo. Upon our visit, I walked out with three vintage accessories: an enamel turtle brooch, rainbow beaded rosary and a Mother Mary-themed pendant. Is it something a tourist must add to an itinerary? Probably not. But is it worth the time to walk out with cute new stuff? Heck yes!
My main recommendation is to go on Sunday as most shops are closed that day. If you are looking for a particular flea market to go to, just head over to Paris Perfect.
NOTE: Before you leave the store, ask for a tax refund form! Most stores in Paris will provide you one. Once you fill it out, you have to keep your receipt and stash your new merch away in an extra suitcase/duffle bag as it’s required for your items to be shown at the counter for your tax refund.
Exhibits to See
As Paris has such a storied history on fashion, I can’t overlook it. Ever the fashion devotee, I’ve felt like it was time to take a good look at the archives of the designers who created history. Before I go any further, here are the top two exhibits you must see:
Margiela/Galliera 1989-2009 at the Palais Galliera
You may have heard of his name in a Kanye song, but unfortunately, there ain’t much jackets in sight. As a retrospective of Margiela’s career between 1989 to 2009, it has a small, but well-curated collection of the Belgian designer’s archives. Given that he’s made his name by launching unconventional silhouettes into ordinary designs (animal hoof-style Tabi boots anyone?), what will surprise you about him was that began his career by tweaking pre-existing garments. For instance, Margiela turned a 1950s tulle ballgown into a babydoll top! (see above) While playing Doctor with vintage clothing is not something he does anymore, Margiela puts the magic touch by turning useable objects into garments. (SPOILER: Look out for the famous wig coat!) Not only does this exhibit go in-depth about the background of the collection, it also discusses the setting of where he staged his runway shows. I know that 20 years is quite a lot to digest, but going through the A to Z of Margiela’s history will make you appreciate his innovative artistry.
Azzedine Alaia at the Alaia Association
This totally important designer was more than just a man who made dresses for celebrities. Rather than making garments for the sake of fashion, the late Azzedine Alaia milked up his sculpting skills by treating each strip of fabric as a bandage that shaped the body. While the exhibit comprises of his best work, you can find some iconic dresses such as the red chiffon gown that Rihanna wore to a white version of Grace Jones‘ dusty pink scarf hood dress. (SPOILER ALERT: You will not see the iconic red bodycon dress from Clueless or the houndstooth set Christy Turlington wore! *grabs Kleenex*) As the exhibit itself is quite small, every single piece displayed over there is a marvel.