T+L taps French model, designer, and author Ines de la Fressange for her Paris shopping tips.
There aren’t many women who can say that they are a national emblem of femininity. Ines de la Fressange is one. She was the face of the Marianne statue—an official symbol of France found in the country’s city halls—throughout the 1990’s, and her name has been synonymous with chic since the 1980’s, when she first became a muse to designer Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel. Since then, having opened a namesake fashion and lifestyle boutique on Paris’s impossibly upscale Avenue Montaigne and, along with designer Bruno Frisoni, relaunched the renowned footwear and accessories house Roger Vivier (a shoe from the current collection is pictured here), you could say that she wrote the book on French style. Literally: most recently, with the help of journalist Sophie Gachet, she penned and illustrated her very own collection of sartorial wisdoms, Parisian Chic: A Style Guide (Flammarion, $29.95), filled with lighthearted tips for dressing, shopping, and living à la parisienne. Growing up in Normandy, de la Fressange dreamed of the City of Light, where she could haunt the flea markets and the Galeries Lafayette. “I was a fashion maniac,” she says, “and this was where I wanted to be.” Forty-odd years after arriving, her tastes may have changed, but her love of Paris has not.
Her Shopping Picks
Le Bon Marché: “The second floor has Maje and Sandro—little-known brands that are really easy to wear.”
Chez Sarah: She makes a beeline for Sarah Rozenbaum’s collection of vintage clothing and accessories at Les Puces de St.-Ouen flea market. “You always see the assistants to big-name designers here. She has fantastic things.” 18 Rue Jules Vallès, St.-Ouen; 33-6/08-01-80-89.
Simone: With affordable women’s pieces from below-the-radar labels, this tiny store “is perfect for when you need a dress but your bank says otherwise.” 1 Rue St.-Simon, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-22-81-40.
Serge Lutens: The cult French perfumer’s Palais Royal boutique carries exclusive scents and will engrave bottles with initials or a name. Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido, 142 Galerie de Valois, First Arr.; 33-1/49-27-09-09.
Merci: A hip three-level fashion and lifestyle boutique in the Marais district, Merci sells everything from limited-edition designer tees to books and coffee. “I love its shabby-chic style.”
Ragtime: The vintage couture shop’s circa-1930 silk-chiffon dresses don’t come cheap, “but you’d pay much more at any designer store.” 23 Rue de l’Echaudé, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/56-24-00-36.
Monoprix: Like many of her fellow Parisiennes, de la Fressange regularly browses the men’s department of the Target-style chain for Liberty print shirts and colorful cashmere V-necks “that would be ridiculous on my boyfriend, but are great on me.” Various locations.
Soeur: “It’s supposed to be for my daughters, but I’ve found great blazers there for myself,” she says of the label from the Brion sisters, one of whom was a designer at Bonpoint.
Roger Vivier (the man who invited stilettos) was a legendary French shoe designer with a fashion house that still bears his name. Vivier’s flagship boutique on the 1ère arrondissement’s Rue Faubourg St.-Honoré has a simple exterior with glass doors and a large silver buckle door handle. The stark all-white theme continues inside where les produits are showcased on two floors. Today, creative director Bruno Frisoni oversees Vivier’s latest creations, including heels, flats, boots, purses, evening bags, luggage, and other accessories. Vivier shoes and boots come in both classic styles and more fanciful designs with beads, rhinestones, and feathers.
Paris provides ample opportunities to shop for high-dollar brands, but when the shopping list is full of essentials, Monoprix is the answer. Considered the Target of Paris, the discount store has multiple locations throughout the city and carries everything from makeup and toiletries to home furnishings, gourmet foods, and fresh breads from the in-store bakery. Monoprix also carries its own line of basic, inexpensive clothing, but it also collaborates with outside designers and stocks higher-end brands like Erotokritos, a cult label with its own Parisian boutiques.
Children's-wear designer Domitille Brion and her sister Angelique sell chic clothing for girls ages 8 to 18, and many stylish Parisian moms (including Inès de la Fressange) wear the stuff, too.