Aller de l’avant, 4 days in Paris
This piece was supposed to be about my brand’s launch in Paris at the world-renowned Colette – a fashion kingmaker of a boutique. This piece was supposed to be about my launch party there on Thursday night, about 24 hours before the terrorist attacks. I feel comfortable talking about fashion. I understand it. The savagery and brutality of these attacks, I cannot understand. Writing about the Paris fashion scene seems so trivial compared to the hotbed of geopolitical issues being discussed the world over by people so much more intelligent and word-facile than me. So trivial, when you contemplate the fact that there are far too many mothers and fathers in Paris that will never have the chance to tell their sons and daughters that they love them just again. But all of us, Parisiennes especially, must not allow the brutality and senselessness of these attacks prevent us from living our lives any differently than we did on Thursday, November 12th or on September 10th, 2001. So now we move forward. Aller de l’avant. Ever forward, lest we return to the Middle Ages. And I will focus on what I know, what I can understand, and what I love. And that is fashion. Without further ado, here is a recap of my fashionable travels this past week in Paris. Merci.
My watch read 11:11PM on November 11th. I guess I could have been in another time zone by then, since I was somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, but in any event I made a wish at that moment for a successful meet and greet event at Colette. For the uninitiated, Colette is like Opening Ceremony, Barneys and Dover Street Market combined. It is widely considered one of the most important retailers in the world, featuring an eclectic mix of toys, magazines, furniture, jewelry and luxury men’s and women’s apparel, all fabulously curated by Sarah Andelman, Colette’s impeccable owner. It is “trendy” and “hip”, but in a totally good way. It is critically acclaimed yet exceedingly approachable. It is at once upmarket and downmarket. It is fresh and it is fun. In my opinion, there is no more desirable launching pad internationally for a brand than Colette. So, needless to say, I was pretty psyched when Colette bought my line and asked me to come to the store, in person, for a meet and greet. We (I took my husband with me…I needed a photographer) landed on Thursday morning, November 12th. We checked into our hotel room at the Westin Vendome, which had sweeping views of the Tuileries Gardens and the Eiffel Tower.
There was not time for a cat nap to get over my jet lag, as my hair and makeup artist, Jacques Uzzardi, arrived before we did. A redeye plus a meet and greet in the most influential store in Paris and possibly the word equals a professional blow out, n’est-ce pas? Jac even let me eat my long-awaited breakfast crepe, washed down with a piping hot cafe au lait. Coco Chanel famously said that a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. Jac certainly made me look the part; the rest was up to me.
My hotel was in walking distance to Colette (even in my Kat Maconie’s). Upon arrival, you can’t help but get swept up in the frenetic scene.
There is a significant que of Scott Schuman photo fodder forming in the books section, waiting to get a signed copy of an impossibly large book of photography by Ed Templeton. A vaguely familiar looking lingerie model-turned-accessory designer is holding court upstairs, swilling champagne amongst the flashing bulbs of the press, and Sarah is directing traffic like a symphony conductor directs an orchestra. I make my way through the sea of customers to introduce myself to Sarah. We say hello, exchange the most Parisian of double cheek kisses, and make our way to my rack for the designer meet and greet. The BMG pieces at Collette are from my core collection. My rack was positioned by other streetwear brands and adjacent to a sneakerhead’s wet dream – I’m talking about a wall of the coolest retro sneakers this side of Spike Lee’s closet!
It was great to meet new customers, bloggers, editors and other people from all over the world interested in learning about the brand. (I should note here that Colette was one of only a few stores on Saint-Honore that was open on Saturday, after the attacks, which is not surprising given that the adjective best used to describe the store is ALIVE).
It was a successful launch, and we went on to celebrate at Hotel Costes afterwards. My celebratory drink of choice is a Kir Royale, which is the house specialty. I knew this place would be great for dinner and drinks when it was recommended by literally 4 different friends of mine (Thanks Lauren, Claudine, Sophie and Nneya)!
Friday morning we woke up, did some press follow up, had a quick breakfast at a sidewalk cafe croissants, cafe latte’s and dog sightings, and hopped on the metro for a jam-packed day of appointments with potential distributors and some inspirational shopping and street style photography.
Along the way, my husband indulged me and took some photos of me for my blog. People always say that Paris is a walkable city and it’s totally true. We covered a lot of ground and managed to walk through many different pockets of the city where I found so many unique stores. I highly recommended paying a visit to the following stores when in Paris: Merci, The Broken Arm, and TGV.
After walking the city all day long, I was hungry and very much looking forward to what I knew was going to be an incredible meal at Spring (thanks to the suggestion of my cousin Elana Karp). The chef/owner was from my home town, Chicago, but has lived and worked in Paris for his entire professional career. The restaurant was located in a tucked-away alley, downstairs in a cave-like setting so there was no cell service. There were probably 10 tables or so in the entire restaurant. The chef creates an entire, individualized meal, sourced locally, just for you. The wait staff is incredibly knowledgeable, multilingual, and kind. So were the other guests who you can’t help but strike up a conversation with because of the shared exquisiteness of the entire experience
I will never forget this meal. As we were leaving, we asked the chef/owner where to grab a cab. He told us, in a kind but sorrowful way that I will never forget, that we would not be able to get a cab that night and walked us out to show us how to walk back to the hotel. He told us there had been an incident, perhaps more than one. We had no idea what had happened around us as we had been celebrating in a restaurant.
It was a very strange moment. It was Friday night in Paris and the streets were empty and quiet. We walked all the way back to our hotel in what seemed like a dream. Saturday was like a dream too, or more accurately, a nightmare. Paris was in mourning. The Tuileries Gardens were closed. The Eiffel Tower empty. The people out of sight, in hiding, which is the antithesis of what Paris is all about. But by Sunday, our departure date, people were already trying to move forward. Public buildings and space remained closed, but more people ventured out and many even congregated at impromptu shrines. And there was a heart beat in the city again, faint but steady. I went to the hotel lobby for one last cafe au lait and the foam looked like this. I asked the waiter if this was intentional, he smiled, and swore it was not. Life does go on in Paris. Aller de l’avant.
#boymeetsgirlinparis #prayersforparis #prayersforpeace
story / Stacy Igel