Selling nothing but handmade umbrellas and parasols since 1834 and still in business probably because of their attention to detail and passion for this particular accessory. You can find dainty women’s umbrellas in bright pink, violet, emerald green, all with contrasting trims as well as wooden-handled men’s versions and elegant walking canes suitable to become family heirlooms. There’s even an haute couture collection with detailing like hand-sewn beads. A great source for gifts for people who have everything; these umbrellas are recognizable to those in the know, so it’s you’re access to a secret club as well as a way to stay dry. Note: This same shop was owned by and named Madeleine Gély before she sold it to the current owner. Métro: Rue du Bac.
Fans of vintage fashion will love this offbeat shop not far from the Gare St.-Lazare. Anouschka carries everything from 1930s tennis dresses and 1950s Dior to 1970s Saint Laurent and 1980s Alaia, Mugler and Montana. By appointment only. Métro: Havre-Caumartin.
For a bohemian chic look at reasonable prices, this chain, founded by Gabriella Cortes, sells caftans, skirts, bags and blouses with an ethnic but stylish slant. Geometric prints, tie-dyed fabrics and crochets are perennials. See Antik Batik Enfant for kids’ clothes and her maternity line.
Nicolas Ghesquière is the rising star of a new generation of designers for chic Parisiennes who love his tailored pantsuits and knitwear. Métro: Alma-Marceau.
Italian designer Anna Molinari creates luxurious feminine clothes for women who want to look modern without being trendy. With her first Blumarine flagship boutique in France, you can now see her entire collection from accessories (to-die-for sexy sandals) to day and evening wear that will make you wish for dress-up worthy invitations. Of course, if you find the perfect flirty dress, you can always walk a short way down the Avenue Montaigne for cocktails at the Plaza Athénée.
Panama hats woven of the finest straw and in a variety of styles for both men and women can be found in the outpost of this historic company, which was founded in 1857. Métro: St.-Sulpice.
Camille Fournet has long been considered one of the finest makers of watch straps—Patek Phillipe, for instance, uses its alligator bands. Last year, it opened this boutique, just off of the Rue du Rivoli, to sell a range of goods of the same exquisite detailing. The house chooses only the finest hides (caiman, alligator, lizard and shark, among them), and each is rubbed with agate to bring out the color and texture. Working with haute-couture craftsmen, it has adorned its straps with stones, sequins and embroidery for rare bespoke pieces. In the elegant boutique, you will find wallets, change purses, passport sleeves, money clips, jewelry rolls and mobile-phone straps in a dizzying array of colors and finishes, from citrus orange alligator and pale pink ostrich to cornflower blue shark. The computer bags, with canvas sides and leather trims in the same choice of colors and skins as everything else, cost more than most of the laptops they would hold but are undoubtedly among the best-looking such carriers you’ll ever see.
The Spanish espadrille shop’s Paris outpost near Colette sells every kind of the rope shoe that you can imagine in platforms and flats and multiple colors and patterns. Métro: Pyramides, Palais Royal.
As Hermès is to saddles so is Causse to gloves. Never heard of them? Well, that may be because until last fall, the glovemaker, or gantier, made exquisite leather gloves for the great couture houses like Chanel and Dior, as well as Hermès and Colette, but didn’t have its own retail outlet. Now, Causse, which was founded in France’s glove capital, Millau, in 1896, has opened a little jewel of a boutique just between the Place Vendôme and the Rue de Rivoli. With blond wood walls lined with elegant drawers and sculptural metal hands modeling gloves of all kinds, the small shop has the fetishistic allure of the world’s top shoe stores. This season’s standout models: the pale grey elbow-length lizard; vibrant red lambskin with patent leather bows; metallic and fingerless driving mittens. All are still made at Millau’s last glove-making factory, which has another boutique and a museum devoted to past collections. (Visits to the atelier at Millau can be made in advance.)
Prices begin at 100 euro a pair. The website features a selection from the current collection.
This concept boutique near trendy Canal Saint Martin neighborhood feels like it’s straight out of downtown Manhattan, with a curated collection that ranges from fashion and accessories (mostly men’s), shoes and beauty products to books, vintage furniture and even hipster bikes. The labels are a cool collection of French, Danish and British brands, many of which you’ll have never seen before. Think of it as a slightly funkier, downtown version of a more male-focused Colette. Closed Sunday.
Sexy lingerie and suits. Métro: Tuileries.
Founded in 1838, Charvet is the ultimate men’s shop for guys who want the highest-quality of old world tailoring and gorgeous fabrics but who have the confidence to be conservative yet colorful. The first floor sells exquisite silk ties and scarves and accessories (the suede slippers in a rainbow of colors are great gifts for frequent fliers). Upstairs, you’ll find shirts, pajamas, robes and custom-tailoring. There’s even a room of children’s clothes with miniature button-down shirts, blazers and shorts for tiny dandies, just to the right of the elevator on the ground floor. Métro: Opéra, Madeleine.
Shoe-mad shoppers should (re)visit Christian Louboutin’s boutique. With his signature red soles, Louboutin’s shoes are just plain out-there sexy but also beautifully made and very comfortable. There’s a second store at 38 Rue de Grenelle on the Left Bank. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli.
Christine Le Guen
Independent boutiques like this are disappearing as Paris, like so many other cities, succumbs to globalization. Chrisine Le Guen worked for years as a buyer, scouting French designers for Japanese department stores. Thankfully, a number of years ago, she decided to set up shop of her own to sell the kinds of clothes that she found harder and harder to find. In a narrow, loft-like space, just off Boulevard St.-Germain, she displays her discoveries: the moderately priced, stylish designs of up-and-coming talents. She only buys a few pieces at a time from lines such as L.O.T.C. On my last visit, there were fine cotton T-shirts with a flattering tie front (40 euros); a pale pink A-line wool dress with three-quarter sleeves that evoked Audrey Hepburn (70 euros) and a long shift dress in a mosaic print reminiscent of Pucci in the ‘60s (190 euros). “My clients shop at Chloé and Vuitton but they also want things that are not so expensive and just as attractive,” explains Le Guen. “That’s what I have. Things I want to wear for under 250 euros.” Métro: St.-Germain.
Hip casual clothes in the vein of agnès b. Her collections are either great or awful, depending on the season.
It’s a shade less cutting-edge than it was a few years ago, but Colette is still in the forefront of the fashion concept store, carrying everything from art books, to whimsical Japanese beach sandals, the latest organic toiletries and a carefully edited selection of clothing and home accessories. The basement Water Bar pioneered the not-terribly-interesting idea of offering over eighty different kinds of bottled water. Closed Sunday. Métro: Tuileries.
Read about a special one-month pop-up store curated by Colette and hosted by the Gap in New York.
Custom shoemaker Pierre Corthay apprenticed at John Lobb and Berluti before opening his own atelier on the Right Bank in 1990. His big break came when Suzy Menkes of The International Herald Tribune wrote him up and the Sultan of Brunei decided to order 150 bespoke pairs. In 2001, he launched a ready-to-wear line, and its success has allowed him to open boutiques in Japan, where he has a cult following. This winter, they also introduced a line of leather accessories, including belts and wallets. A women’s line is under consideration. Métro: Opéra.
Dalia & Rose
The editors of Paris fashion Web site Do It in Paris recommend: “Is it considered proper to continue consuming deluxe products in these times of crisis? Yes, but only if you’re shopping as a responsible and environmentally concerned citizen. Head to Dalia & Rose, an upscale multi-brand in the spirit of Merci, the pioneer of the charity shop genre. Founded by Clélia Moretton, a former model, the store stocks dresses by Camilla Norback, Aquaverde jeans, Nikki b ethical jewelry and Pachacuti, the only brand that makes sustainable panama hats”
M. Ludot, the world-known vintage-fashion merchant, has three treasure-filled boutiques in the galleries of the Palais Royal, each one specializing in something different—No. 20 is for couture, No. 24 for ready-to-wear and accessories and No. 125 for the little black dress. The inventory turns over constantly, so there’s no time to dither—that vintage Hermès scarf, Chanel suit or Dior dress could be gone by the time you decide to bite the bullet. Métro: Palais Royal.
Dries Van Noten
To showcase his women’s collection, Belgian design god Dries Van Noten recently opened a gorgeous gallery in a former bookstore on the Seine, facing the Louvre. It may not be a museum, but browsing through his beautifully tailored and constructed clothes here feels like a form of art appreciation. The two-story space itself dazzles with chandeliers, antiques amassed by Van Noten and inviting lounge chairs intended undoubtedly for the many men who will be doomed to wait while their female companions spend as much time as possible in the dressing room. The French have loved the designer since he showed his first collection here in the early 1990s, and clearly they still do.
This South Korean fashion designer, who came to study in Paris in the late 1990s now has three stores in Paris, one of which is on funky Rue Poitou in the Haut Marais. The feminie fashion range from asymmetrical tops and blouses to frilly cocktail dresses and beautifully detailed coats. It’s a great stop for a designer you won’t easily find back home.
Just behind the Madeleine, you can view the entire Eres collection of gorgeous bathing suits, especially the bikinis, and lingerie. Métro: Madeleine.
Cashmere lovers flock here for fantastic quality, ranging from whisper-thin sweaters in pastel colors in summer to chunky, jewel-toned blankets in winter.
Occupying the prime corner where Sulka long stood, Franck Namani offers a more casual (read modern) take on conservative dressing for the wealthy. Women will find high-quality knits and well-tailored skirts that would allow them to blend in at the Polo or any other country club that they might go to for lunch. Men, too, can find well-cut shirts and blazers as well as shelves filled with bathing trunks in dozens of colors that are a bit less flamboyant than those from Vilbrequin. There’s another location in the 8th arrondissement near the Avenue Montaigne on Rue Marbeuf.
This small Left Bank shop sells pants and only pants in a range of styles and colors. They are renowned for their great fit. Once you find a style you like, it’s impossible not to buy them in many colors. Métro: Odéon.
The leather goods of this French luggage house, founded in 1853, can now be found in exclusive department stores from Bergdorf’s and Barneys in New York to Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong, but there’s a wider selection— and, of course, added cachet to buying it—at the original Right Bank flagship. Providers of custom leather luggage since the early 20th century, Goyard formerly stamped its cases with the family crests of its aristocratic customers; today, its monograms are the most popular bespoke request. They will create custom cases from sleek CD cases or ipod sleeves to trunks for polo equipment or tea kits in any of their ten available colors. The dog collars and traveling food and water case are great gifts for animal lovers. Closed Sunday. Métro: Tuileries.
This charming hat shop near Sèvres Babylone on the Left Bank is just the kind of boutique that showcases Paris’s devotion to fashion and tradition of craftsmanship—even though it’s not Parisian. It happens to be the first foreign outpost of the renowned Florence hatmaker Grevi. Opened two years, this boutique specializes in only one accessory: the hat. From wide-brimmed statements of glamour to child-size Easter bonnets, the creations that fill the window and hat stands celebrate the art of framing one’s face. Hand-finished adornments attest to each one’s uniqueness and evoke such admiration that it’s easy to imagine a new era of hat madness.
The chic editor from Do It In Paris, an online fashion magazine based in the French capital, recommends this special fashion boutique:
Housed in an 18th-century private mansion, redone by an Antwerp architect, this new concept store in the Montorgueil area features a trendy selection of fashion, accessories and beauty products. Exclusive creations printed T-shirts by Gilles et Maurice and jewelry by Sébastien Joffrey Monfort. Open daily; Monday by appointment.
The new boutique that has Paris shoppers buzzing and fashion editors gushing is Heimstone. The designers behind the label, Alix Petit and Delphine Delafon, launched the label a few seasons back (after they met while both working for Michel Klein). Uma Thurman bought one of their bathing suit designs from a friend of theirs and the pouty French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg is a fan. The feminine side comes from Alix, who claims only to wear dresses, and the edgier cool comes from Delphine who favors jeans. The result: styles that mix flirty with rock n’ roll or gamine goes grunge. Major hit this spring is the mini military style suede jackets with lurex trim. Trendy boutiques from Tokyo to L.A. picked up pieces of their collection last year, but now the whole line is available in their first retail outlet recently opened on one of the great shopping streets of the Left Bank.
Hermès Rive Gauche
The Parisian editors of fashion Web site Do It in Paris recommend: “After a century nestled on the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, Hermès finally arrived in St.-Germain-des-Près in 2010.” The minimalist-chic space feels smaller and more-edited than the large (and often overrun) Right Bank branch. It’s a stunning space: the former swimming pool of the Hotel Lutetia built in 1935 and a must for fashion-conscious travelers.
Calling all shoe fiends, this trendy shop carries the very latest in designer footwear. Métro: Saint-Sulpice.
Ten years after she opened her first boutique, Isabel Marant still inspires the kind of obsessed-fan devotion that one rarely encounters anywhere other than at an Apple Store. On a recent Saturday afternoon, crowds of soignée women swarmed her Rue Jacob store. No sale in progress. “It’s like this all the time,” the saleslady explained. The reason: her bohemian, chic designs that are hipper than Chloe or Prada at a fraction of the price. Her printed raw silk shirts draw the same kind of must-have impulse of Oscar de la Renta’s ethnic luxe items but at much less cost and exposure. Her less expensive Etoile line is sold upstairs. And now that her husband, Jerome Dreyfuss, has opened his first handbag store right next door, the perfect accessory lies steps away. Métro: St.-Germain.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is a phrase that could be used to describe the birth of this French handbag company. Isabelle Puech and Benoit Jamin fell in love as students in 1988 and bonded over their passion for fashion. Working in a design district, they plucked discarded remnants from the trash and since they were not large enough to use for dresses or shirts, they used them to adorn handbags. A distinctive style was born and, soon after, fashion houses from Balmain and Chanel to Chloé were taking their bags down the runway. Since opening their first Paris boutique in 1996, the duo have opened three more, and they now have boutiques in New York, Milan and Tokyo as well as distribution in many countries. Bags are produced in limited editions, though, with twice yearly collections. (Summer and winter collections each feature 80 styles available at the four boutiques in Paris along with scarves and jewelry.) Women of confidence and individual style who prefer to make their own style statements and not to follow the herd carry these statements of purse-onality.
Tip: Devotees and those in the know go to Jamin Puech Inventaire in the 10th—it’s the only boutique that carries bags from past collections, as well as samples and one-offs.
Jamin Puech Inventaire: 61 Rue d’Hauteville, 10th; 33 (0) 1-40-22-08-32: Métro: Grands Boulevards.
On the street where so many notable French and Americans (from Delacroix and Racine to Hemingway) have lived, there is a new reason for French and Americans to come shop. Jerome Dreyfuss, a bad-boy designer in the ‘90s, has just opened his first shop to showcase the handbags that have made him a cult figure among fashion editors and couture cognoscenti. With styles that range from brightly-colored leather envelope-sized zippered purses to his vast, multi-pouched carry-alls in Ikat-like painted fabric, it’s no wonder that customers often loiter for ages trying to decide which ones to buy. When Dreyfuss drops in the corner shop, that is conveniently located right next to his wife’s wildly popular clothing boutique, Isabel Marant, he can be enlisted to offer advice. Métro: St.-Germain.
Joyce Ma made her name exporting well-known European labels to Asia, but here she showcases lesser-known Asian and European designers whose fashions, designs, jewelry or other kinds of works are displayed as art, even treated to opening exhibitions. Open weekdays, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Closed weekends (except during Fashion Week). Métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre.
Beautiful cashmere T-shirts and sweaters in interesting styles. Métro: St.-Sulpice.
Great little bathing suit shop from St.-Tropez that sells trunks for men and boys in coordinating patterns (much like Vilbrequin but less expensive) and bikinis that you can mix and match tops and bottoms. Also, have very cute beach shoes and accessories. You can preview the suits online.
For super comfortable pajamas and bathrobes in cotton and cashmere and silk. Men can find striped pajamas in traditional cuts and strong stripes. Women’s choices range from nightgowns with embroidered trims to men’s style pjs in feminine prints. The cashmere wraps, bathrobes and slippers make you want to delay ever dressing.
Armand Hadida was one of the makers of the Marais with this concept store that mixes fashion with high design. He has since expanded—there’s even a boutique in Tokyo—and five in Paris. Each shop feels different, though; the one on the Champs-Elysées has more of an English men’s club aesthetic with tufted leather sofas and wooden display cases. Whereas the ones in the Marais have more of an industrial look with lots of glass and steel, which means that these are individual boutiques, not part of a chain. The location at Rue Boissy d’Anglas, in the 8th, features women’s clothing as well as home décor and also boasts a restaurant bar.
26 Avenue des Champs Elysées, 8th; 45-62-12-32
12 Rue Malher, 4th; 44-54-22-11
10 Rue Hérold, 1st; 40-41-09-89
10 Rue Boissy d’Anglas, 8th; 53-43-03-70
Read about the newest shop in the Marais
Le Bon Marché
If you only do one department store in Paris, make it this grande dame on the Left Bank. It may be the city’s oldest department store—it was founded in 1848—but don’t be fooled by the 19th-century exterior (in the Rue de Babylone entrance, note the mosaics of goods once sold here). Following its acquisition by LVMH, the French luxury-goods conglomerate, ten years ago, it’s evolved into one of the most exclusive stores in Europe. The company has shrewdly edited down its once encyclopedic fashion inventory to the chicest must-have brands.
The ground-floor beauty department is a true temple to vanity and the menswear department should not be missed. Take a break at the Delicabar (www.delicabar.fr), with a contemporary look by Claudio Colucci and offering a sweet-and-savory menu by chef Sébastien Gaudard. It’s easily the coolest in-retail restaurant to be found anywhere. La Grande Épicerie (www.lagrandeepicerie.fr), Le Bon Marché’s sprawling food hall, is just across the street from the main store. Closed Sunday. Métro: Sèvres-Babylone.
Lyon-based fashion designer Louise Della opened her first Paris boutique last February and for those who like high drama in their everyday clothes, this is worth a stop. Her theatrical designs may include a black blouse with sheer strips; a flouncy skirt with polka-dot trim or a pale blue trench coat painted with spring tulips. Those who like the bright colors and boldness of Kenzo with a slightly more feminine edge will probably admire the splashy looks here.
Loulou de la Falaise
The former muse of Yves Saint Laurent, Loulou de la Falaise stocks her Right Bank shop with handsome leather-trimmed handbags, knitwear, accessories and other items needed to create a Parisian look. Métro: Concorde.
A favorite of jewelry designer Marie-Hélène de Taillac
“I adore the colorful cashmere sweaters at Lucien Pellat-Finet.”
Maria Luisa Poumaillou, a native of Venezuela, has always featured great designs by up-and-coming and avant-garde designers. She opened her first boutique in 1988 on Rue Cambon because she could not find what she wanted to wear. She was one of the first to carry Gaultier, Galliano, Lang and Sitbon, for instance, and with such labels, she brought a breath of fresh air to what then was a stuffy shopping area. Colette and other hip boutiques have followed (and she has expanded with three more outlets around the corner) but until Maria Luisa arrived, the Rue St.-Honoré seemed doomed to become the stomping ground of only the old guard. Some complain that the cutting-edge has come to be valued here more than what is beautiful or wearable, but it’s worth a look. Her accessories shop, in particular, which is down the street from her Mixte boutique carrying younger designers and across from the Men’s (#19 bis), has a gorgeous selection—everything from Manolo Blahnik to Pierre Hardy and Veronique Branquinho. Métro: Concorde, Tuileries.
The best hat store in Paris. Mercié makes whimsical, Ascot-worthy showstoppers. Closed Sunday. Métro: St.-Sulpice, Odéon.
The chic editor from Do It In Paris, an online fashion magazine based in the French capital, recommends this new concept charity shop, which opened in 2009:
Located in a former furniture fabrics warehouse in the Marais, concept-store Merci reinvents the 21st-century shopping experience. The 1,500-square-meter space has an arty ambience and a wide range of products, mixing contemporary designs and antiques, vintage and designer clothes, hardware, flowers and books. There’s a restaurant and a café, and Merci also lays claim to being the city’s first “charity shop,” as parts of the store’s proceeds benefit a children’s charity. Don’t miss this commendable initiative, which is already backed by fashion designers, intellectuals and celebs. Closed Sunday.
In 2002, one of Paris’s best dressed women and an up-and-coming actress, Mina d’Ornano, opened a shop not much bigger than a closet on the rue Duphot to sell her one-of-a-kind creations. It became such a popular resource for unusual, boho-chic fashion that she recently moved it to a slightly larger space on the Rue St. Honoré. The wife of Philippe d’Ornano (of the Sisley cosmetics family), Mina, loves dramatic clothing, like hand-painted fur vests, cashmere cardigans trimmed in velvet ribbons and sheared fur coats in vivid colors and trimmed with lace. Her accessories, such as elaborately painted ballet flats, sequin embellished crocodile purses and bejeweled metal mesh clutches (adorned with beetles or skulls), are what she is best known for. And unlike most fashion brands, minaPoe will custom create pieces, including ones for past collections. Closed Sundays. Métro: Tuilieries
This cool boutique between St. Germain-des-Prés and the Seine stocks a superb edit of the season’s bests from designers like Stella McCartney, Pierre Hardy, Missoni, Marc Jacobs and Bottega Veneta. The stylish sales staff often outnumbers shoppers so it can be intimidating to merely browse, but the choices are great and the women attendants are eager to help you find what works for you. Métro: St.-Germain-des-Prés.
This recent multi-label addition to swanky Avenue Montaigne is the creation of Liliane Jossua and Alain Celhay, who know the tastes of demanding shoppers (Jossua owns Calypso, on St. Bart’s, probably the hippest boutique in the Caribbean). The nearly all-white 4,000-square-fooot space is filled with Lucien Pellat-Finet cashmere sweaters and Lanvin cocktail dresses, plus the latest looks from Anna Sui, Duro Olowu, Miu Miu, Thomas Wylde and Matthew Williamson. They also offer a small selection of men’s wear, including Dsquared and YSL. Unlike most upmarket boutiques, Montaigne has a deliberately friendly atmosphere, making it as welcoming to browsers as to serious shoppers. Métro: Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Paul & Joe
This private label boutique is very popular with hip Parisians. It was founded by Sophie Albou, who apprenticed under Azzedine Alaia. She named her brand after her two sons, and often does themed collections for each season. When Tom Ford brought hippy chic to Gucci, they had similar floral jeans for a tenth of the price. There’s a colorful, flirty quality to her clothes that has made her a favorite with many young Hollywood stars. Last summer, she launched a jewelry line, which is also sold here.
Serge Cajfinger, who founded this label, grew up in Brazil and got his start dressing windows for the Yves Saint Laurent boutique in Lille. He has said that his muses are Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, which may explain the sense of a traditional foundation, but the Brazilian influence of his childhood brings a sexy, fun to his stylish suits and evening clothes. See the website for additional locations.
Victoria’s Secret may have a lock on low-price, high-style lingerie in the U.S., but in France, you head to Princesse Tam-Tam for inexpensive pretty underwear, pajamas, bathing suits and beach wraps (they even sell coordinating towels to match your sarong and bikini). Métro: St.-Germain-des-Prés.
Russian exiles opened the first Ramo boutique in Paris, where they sold stylish raincoats in a fabric that had originally been used for the Tsar’s soldiers. The great microfiber raincoats and parkas in a vast range of styles and colors were designed for decades by Anne Marie Beretta, but more recently designers like Hussein Chalayan and Marcel Marongiu have pushed them to a new level of luxury and high fashion. It’s currently under the direction of Sylvia Gavina, who used to work at Dior and Ferre. So if you want a fuschia trench in taffeta or one in paper-weight cotton with a ruffle at the hem, come here. These raincoats are so elegant, they make you wish for a rainy day. You can preview the collection online or visit their newest boutique on Rue St.-Honoré. Also new is a men’s collection.
Fabulous well-made shoes for those who want to be able to wear animal prints in a conservative setting. Traditional tailoring with a sexy edge. Métro: Sèvres-Babylone.
Why should supermodels have all the fun? This luxurious boutique stocks exquisite lingerie that will completely change your outlook on life. Métro: Sèvres-Babylone.
The kind of staples that make French women look so effortlessly chic—khaki shirt dresses; taupe draw-string linen skirts and white-blouses with cut-outs paired with attention-grabbing platforms. Very subtle uniform dressing. If you want the look for your children too, there’s also a Sandro Enfant. Métro: Tuileries. See Web site for other locations.
Sheer sheaths, fitted skirts and pants in neutral colors with a flash of sequins or beading to add just the edge of glamour are what you will find here. Bruno has been a secret source of many Parisians for years but she broke into a new realm of recognition when the little canvas totes with silver sequined trims became the resort bag of choice. There’s also a location in the Marais at 100 Rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd; 33 (0) 1-42-77-19-41; Metro: St. Sébastien-Froissart.
Frustrated by her lingerie choices, Vannina Vesperini first designed underwear for herself. Her creations, which have always flirted with being risqué cocktail clothes—see-through skirts and lacy corsets—immediately attracted fans of both sexes. Well-known lingerie houses like Sabbia Rosa and Boléro and Victoria’s Secret hired her over the years, which ultimately led her to open and subsequently close her own boutiques. Her styles have been called naughtier than La Perla but not as X-rated as Agent Provacateur; some argue that her designs led to the trend of dessous dessus, visible lingerie. Last year, she opened a new boutique on the Left Bank, where she aims to create a true haute couture lingerie house, with sets selling for around $500. In addition to the private salon for fittings upstairs, you will find some of her fine lingerie line on sale in the ground floor boutique.
Ever dreamed of raiding a chic French woman’s closet? A visit to one of these boutiques is as close as you can get in reality. Of course, you have to pay for what you snag, but then it’s yours. The owners carry their own label (relaxed clothes for rich people), as well as those of designers that they like. They were the first to offer Romeo Gigli and Lacroix and have long been where Paris’s super-fashion-conscious shop. As an American, I prefer items from their line and over the years have bought embroidered velvet pants, in both chocolate brown and turquoise, because they were so great; one pair of ballet flats in olive green suede and another in beige leather with bright orange stripes at the toes; assorted sweaters and blouses; ribbon-tie wooden platform shoes; even a navy blue straw hat with a giant brim that packs well and costs $90. If you like what you see in the window, you will not be able to walk out empty-handed. I consider it one of my safest shopping bets in Paris if I am here for a quick visit. See the Web site for more locations.
This miniature shop on the bustling Boulevard St. Germain could easily be missed. But as the first freestanding Parisian boutique of a venerable leather house from the South of France, it is worth a visit. The Vignes atelier in Nice has been turning out exquisite rare animal skin products for decades but only now can shoppers find the range under one roof in Paris. Among their signature styles are large shopping totes in various leathers with detachable handles and interior pockets, so fashionistas can create a bag of their own design on the spot. For example, choose a painted python or a woven linen bag and add a handle in orange ostrich or purple lizard. Or buy both and alternate them. Every piece is handmade, and the styles on display range from men’s wallets and belts in crocodile, calf and lizard to chic women’s jewelry fashioned from colorful stingray skin.
Violette & Leonie
In the heart of the Haut Marais, this store carries vintage fashion, ranging from fun labels like Isabel Marant, Vivienne Westwood and Tara Jamon to occasional pieces from such big names as Lanvin, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. The majority of the collection (both fashion and accessories) is not haute couture but the lovely shop is a fun place to browse and everything is in good condition. Closed Sunday.