Sunday, June 29, 2014

Paris City Guide: Where to Shop

Alongside New York, London and Milan, Paris is one of the premier fashion destinations in the world, host to semiannual ready-to-wear and couture fashion shows.  Some of the most world-renowned brands were established here: Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.  This, in part, explains my desire to have studied abroad in Paris and why I returned with an extra suitcase (sorry, mom and dad).  But it would be selfish of me to keep my newfound knowledge to myself, which is why I’m sharing with you some of my favorite stores in the beloved city.  Now, I’m not going to pretend that this list is in any way exhaustive but rather the musings of a 20-something who spent 10 weeks here and managed to pick up a few things along the way.
Le Bon Marché
Le Bon Marché may literally mean “the good deal,” but stocked with the latest Anne Demeulemeester, Saint Laurent and Chanel, this department store is anything but.  Even if your wallet may not be Celine Luggage Tote-friendly, a stroll through is absolutely necessary on a trip to Paris if only to browse the stunning space.  Don’t leave without a stop at Le Grande Épicierie, the haute couture of grocery stores with artisanal jams, fresh produce, incredible pastries and its own café.  And for the ex-pats feeling homesick, stop by the “American” section, home to Oreo’s, peanut butter and Reese’s Puffs cereal.  Now you know what they really think about us.
24, rue des Sèvres, 75007
Tel. +33 1 44 39 80 00

Stocks: The American version of an outlet, Paris hosts several “stock” stores.  For example, Sandro Stock in the Marais carries the previous season’s collection at a heavily discounted price.  And unlike American outlets, which oftentimes produce merchandise specifically for the outlets, therefore deceiving its customer about the true discount, the Paris versions are genuine.  Tip: Skip the Maje stock in Saint Germain (read: snooze), hit the Azzedine Alaia stock.
Alaia 2012 Collection
Uniquely French Brands: Maje, Sandro, The Kooples, Zadig and Voltaire, Claudie Pierlot and Comptoir des Cotonniers.  While you can now shop these contemporary French brands stateside at Bloomingdale’s, make sure to check out the authentic outposts littered throughout the city for the authentic je ne sais quo style.

Colette is what you call a concept store: T-shirts, fashion books and magazines, unique CDs and DVDs, cutting-edge technology and kitsch merchandise line the first floor with avant garde menswear and womenswear (think the flat Comme des Garçons 2012 Fall RTW collection), accessories and its own beauty boutique with exclusive international brands hosted on the second floor.  And don’t forget about the Water-bar in the basement floor once browsing has left you famished.  Tip: Follow their Instagram account for posts about celebrity book signings, which include the likes of Kate Moss and Pharell. And try to avoid weekends when the store is mobbed.
213, rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
Tel. +33 1 55 35 33 90

Sure, you can find Kenzo at Colette or Le Bon Marché, but their boutiques deserve mention of their own.  Kenzo has recently taken the fashion world by storm as Opening Ceremony founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim were appointed the new creative directors in 2011.  You can find their in-your-face prints and logo-emblazoned sweatshirts here.

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