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As the final week of a long and busy month of shows, Paris Fashion Week is up there as one of our favourites, when a city already so defined by style becomes totally and utterly encompassed by it
Much like the wardrobes of its residents, Paris Fashion Week balances couture heavyweights while nurturing fresh young talent. Dior and Saint Laurent will be showing their first seasons under new creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Anthony Vaccarello respectively, while Chanel’s regular takeover of the Grand Palais is never anything less than sensational. The front rows of Miu Miu always herald a new era of Madame Prada’s intelligent young designers, but smaller shows like Jacquemus and Carven compete with whimsy and surprise. We’re looking forward to Ellery and Vanessa Seward showing us what we’ll want to be wearing when summer comes back around again.
It’s anticipated to be an emotional season, with the Sonia Rykiel show especially significant in light of her recent passing; Paris Fashion Week here never fails to be dramatic as the city provides the ultimate backdrop to a week dedicated to dreamy aesthetics.
Walk in, stare up at the stained-glass ceiling and think about exactly what it is you are looking for, or you could find yourself in trouble in this classic Parisian department store. The options are endless, with established designers represented by their own in-store boutique while the upper floors play host to young designers. Just around the corner from Stella McCartney’s Fashion Week venue is the beautiful Beaux-Arts opera house Palais Garnier should you need a quick fashion fix for photographers. If sugar is required, turn left where you can gorge on eclairs at Fauchon.
Sometimes a new fragrance is as good as a new outfit, so we recommend a trip to Diptyque’s original store in Saint Germain. Chat to the friendly staff who know everything, and we mean everything. Tell them what flowers you like, how you feel about wood fires and which show you’re most excited about seeing this season – they’ll soon know which scent is right for you.
Many a confidence/clothing crises have been cured by the ladies who run the Marias Marant store. If you are looking for an outfit that’s a little more ‘undone’ than others, an oversized cotton scarf paired with the most perfect mini skirt from Marant will sort you out in no time.
Look for the old red mini and from there you’ll find concept-store Merci. Three levels split between femme, homme and maison lay out beautifully curated stock as well as housing a restaurant. All the profits from this sweet store go to charity and it’s impossible to leave empty handed.
Colette is a classic and a must-visit on every trip into town. Sharply curated, it’s a pleasure just to browse as the way they display the clothes is a show in itself. Come in even if it’s just to buy a new nail polish in their beauty room or a book from their ground-floor library. It’s also well-located close to most of the venues for this season.
Sitting outside Café Charlot during Fashion Week should always be factored into your schedule. Rub shoulders with the new season Gucci-adorned fashion editors with a glass of wine in hand while you wait for your omelette and baguette (very, very good) and watch the real-life catwalk show.
Time always feels a little slower inside the Paris branch of the English institution. Behind the long glass counter you’ll find good, simple food such as carrot cake and a strong Earl Grey to help you reset after a busy day.
Want something a bit more low-key after the glitz and glam of Fashion Week? Pull up a pew on a metal bench at Paris’ oldest covered market, don’t care about scuffing your shoes and eat whatever the chefs in the Les Enfants Rogue Markets make.
Oysters, oysters, more oysters and of course, champagne. That is the only thing you should order at the very lovely Le Mary Celeste. That and working your way through the esteemed cocktail list at the end of the evening.
Great for lunch, Frenchie serves sophisticated, pretty plates of French fare to share. Seasonal and imaginative, you really can’t go wrong with this menu – it’s so good, a sister branch has recently arrived in London’s Covent Garden.
If you fancy a meal in a chateau in the centre of Paris, make a beeline for Apicius. Order a soufflé and pretend that you live in a 19th-century Parisian mansion, complete with a Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen. Close to the Louis Vuitton’s flagship on the Champs Élysées, there’s plenty to explore in the area post-show.
In every city you need to know somewhere you can tell a taxi to take you which has consistently good coffee – in Paris, this is it. While a strong black coffee and croissant might get you through a normal midweek morning, fashion week requires something to give you a bit more stamina. Order eggs anyway you like with a side of ricotta and dukkah – there are ‘holy’ bloody Marys for those in need.
If you need a moment to take a minute out of the chaos, the café of the amazing boutique The Broken Arm has a sunlight, flower-filled table waiting. Get a juice, a coffee or a properly made cup of tea. A great spot for an hour of drinking and reading after shopping next door.
Between the relaxed atmosphere and expertly made cocktails there is little not to like about Le Sherry Butt. With homemade syrups and a changing chalkboard menu, you can’t really go wrong.
If you fancy bespoke cocktails in an truly glamourous hotel bar, Le Bar Du Bristol is perfect. Chat to the expert mixologists, get your own signature drink and try and find the resident cat so you can have your own Choupette moment.
Stand around this lovingly low-lit marble bar and life looks like Tom Ford is directing it. Or take your drink outside to the lantern-laden terrace full of trees and lush greenery. It’s definitely an escape from Rue Saint-Honoré which waits outside.
Designed by David Lynch, try your luck after midnight – though it’s difficult to get in unless you’re on the list. Schmooze your way to entry and you’ll be rewarded with a great bar, and are bound to meet someone interesting.
Candelaria is Paris’ answer to New York’s La Esquina. Out front you get great tacos and beer, but go through the concealed door and down the stairs where you’ll emerge into one of Paris’ best bars. Always full, elbow-to-elbow DJs always get the mix right. Never a fun time not had here.
Some of the world’s best jazz gets played here, no matter which night you go. Grab a martini, sit in the dark and get away from the fashion crowd should you be in need of some headspace.
Full of both character and characters, go to Le Comptoir General ready to dance. Hands down, one of Paris’ best nights out.
The rooftop of great boutique hotel Mama Shelter has some of the best music playing around town between DJs and live acts. A proper let-your-hair-down-fashion-week-is-over kind of place.
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