Joanna Van Mulder

Though France’s capital is one of the most beautiful in the world, it’s not always the easiest to crack. Four stylish designers who now call the city home share a few of their secret addresses with Alexandra Marshall

Alexandra Marshall
April 09, 2009

Bruno Frisoni

Artistic Director, Roger Vivier
Hometown: Bouzy, France

For almost a quarter-century, 46-year-old Bruno Frisoni has created everything from swimwear to scarves to "horrible bags," but now the Italian, from rural Burgundy, has become a darling of fashion’s best-heeled. In addition to the shoe collections he designs under his own name, Frisoni’s reinvented the legendary French footwear house of Roger Vivier, putting a contemporary stamp on its sophisticated whimsy.

Culture Shock My hometown had just 1,000 people and lots of cows. Moving to Paris meant the freedom to be anonymous and do what I wanted. I remember being really surprised as a 19-year-old that the nice ladies who hung around Place de la République and said hello were actually prostitutes! Girls on Film To me, the whole town is a cinémathèque. My favorite theaters are Montmartre’s Studio 28, and, on the Left Bank, La Pagode, which looks like a Japanese pagoda, and St.-André des Arts. If I ever feel creatively dry, I watch old movies—maybe I’ll see Marlene Dietrich in an amazing look and be inspired. Mama’s Boy I learned about fashion from my mother, who made all her own clothes in the Italian way: fitted dresses, shiny silk, everything impeccable—a bit like Sophia Loren. That simplicity is my style now. Go-to Bistro L’Assiette, in the 14th Arrondissement, is special. It’s run by a rough woman who smokes cigars. They do simple fish dishes perfectly, and the glace au caramel is exquisite. Mitterand used to go there. A View to Kill For The vista at Place de la Concorde, looking onto the Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume, is a favorite. I love how they redid the inside to be supermodern, but kept the old façade. The Perfect Picnic I like to mix silver and Tupperware. Pack Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé champagne, San Daniele ham from the Marché d’Aligre, or maybe some leftovers from Casa Bini, an Italian restaurant on the Rue Grégoire de Tours. Madame Deneuve is a regular. Top Shops The 1950’s and 60’s antiques at Galerie Christine Diegoni in the 18th are wonderful. That’s where I got the marble lamps in the Roger Vivier boutique. At Colette, I can always find music I can’t get anywhere else. And I could spend hours laughing with Antoine, my favorite salesperson, at the Yves Saint Laurent men’s boutique, near St. Sulpice.

Ivana Omazic

Creative Director, Celine
Hometown: Zagreb, Croatia

Though few had heard of the 33-year-old Croatian designer when she was selected to head French fashion house Celine last year, Ivana Omazic had honed her skills at such bastions of quiet luxury as Prada and Jil Sander. Now, as the house’s first female creative director since Céline Vipiana set out her shingle in the 1940’s, Omazic has added a new delicacy to the classics and brought back the subtle elegance of Celine’s heyday.

Loves At First Sight In Paris, there’s so much street life, so much light and joy. The two miles between my apartment, near Les Invalides, and the office, on the Rue du Pont Neuf, is such a beautiful walk. I take the quay on the Left Bank of the Seine and cross over at the Pont des Arts. French Fusion French suppliers have amazing savoir faire with fabrics. But for my first collection, I took my team to the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb, where we looked at Croatian lace, shoes, and ways of pleating fabric. Home Sweet Home? I miss the light, simple food of Italy, where I lived for 15 years before coming to Paris, and, of course, my family in Croatia. Go-to Bistro Of course, I have to find an Italian restaurant in every neighborhood! I like simple dishes like the bocconcini di bufala with arugula and cherry tomatoes at Fellini, on Rue de l’Arbre Sec. And when the weather is warm, the Café du Marché, on Rue Cler, sprays a mist of water onto the patio every 10 minutes, and I can have my orange juice and croissant and read my paper and watch people go by for hours. Urban Pastoral For a peaceful place to sit, there’s a little square in the middle of the Pont Neuf. It’s like being in the countryside in the center of the city. Farmer’s Market I’m not a great cook, but I’ve learned how, thanks to the Thursday and Sunday greenmarket on Avenue de Saxe. Everyone sells homemade things there, and the fruits and vegetables are some of the most beautiful in the city. Clothes Call Paris has some incredible vintage shops, and I visit them all. Recently I got a beautiful 1910 wool-and-velvet gown from Iglaïne, near Rue Étienne Marcel in the First Arrondissement. I also love Quidam de Revel, in the Third, which specializes in designer pieces from the 1920’s to the 1980’s.

Rick Owens

Artistic Director, Revillon
Hometown: Los Angeles

Although he moved to Paris from Los Angeles three years ago to work for fur label Revillon, Rick Owens still hasn’t exactly gone native ("I hardly speak any French," he says with a laugh). But the designer, acclaimed for his darkly glamorous, luxurious knits and paper-thin, slouchy leathers (sold under his own name), has come to appreciate the "clever artifice" of French clothes.

Straight, Not Narrow I love the severity and reserve of Place du Palais Bourbon in the Seventh Arrondissement, where I live. It’s so straight and quiet and discreet that I feel a twinge of perversity just being there. Favorite View From the plane coming home to Paris, because I can see my house from the sky. Home Sweet Home? There’s a kind of discipline and almost chilly politeness that I appreciate about Parisian style. (Although seeing a woman with no makeup, scuffed cowboy boots, and a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt, like in L.A., might look shockingly fresh.) Also, I miss the access to a convenient beach. But the grandeur of the city makes up for that. Quintessential Paris A croque-monsieur from Rollet Pradier, on Rue de Bourgogne, in the little park in front of the Basilique Ste. Clotilde. The garden and intricate façade are like sitting in a pastry. Flower Power I don’t know of another florist that has as modern and unfussy a selection as Moulié, with anything from unusual orchids to potted wisteria plants to pansies. Antique Chic Stéphane Olivier, on Rue de l’Université, has a mix of grotesque and beautiful old pieces. And I go to Drouot auction house for everything under the sun. It’s very formal, but something like 100 years old, so everything’s a bit tatty. You might see an auction of just vintage butterflies or another of only crystal. Wandering through those rooms of people’s old things is so great.

Martin Grant

Designer, Martin Grant
Hometown: Melbourne

Based in Paris since 1991, the soft-spoken Australian has long been an insider’s favorite (clients include Lee Radziwill and just about every fashion editor) for sophisticated designs and precise tailoring that have just a blush of gamine innocence. "The minute I arrived, I was seduced," he says. "Relocating here, suddenly my work really came together."

Vive la France I can smoke in peace and bring my dog wherever I want! In Australia, colors seem stronger and brighter, almost blown out of proportion. Here, there’s a softness, with the white and light stones and the water of the Seine. Home Sweet Home? I miss the coast and open spaces—the coastline of Normandy is just not St. Kilda’s beach in Melbourne. French Fusion I’ve always done tailored and quite dressy clothing, with a subdued color palette and some reference to the past. When Australians dress up, they really dress up. French women understand restraint better. But for all the relaxed approach to classics here, there’s so much more individuality in Australia. Go-to Bistro I’ve been going to my local, Au Petit Fer à Cheval, on Rue Vielle du Temple, since I first arrived. It’s more of a café, but they do a very good confit de canard. The Perfect Picnic I just had one at Forêt de Fontainebleau! For food, you’ve got to do the whole thing: chicken, salad, cheeses. I get it all from various merchants in the St. Paul neighborhood. The roast chicken from Becquerel, a butcher there, is wonderful. And Pol Roger champagne. Champagne is essential. Serenity Now To breathe, I go to the Pont Marie. The bridge is incredibly beautiful, with unusual, irregular arches. The sky opens up and you’ve got the stunning view of Île St.-Louis. Couture Toys For gifts, I go to Miller et Bertaux, which has little handmade Japanese toys and odd things from Mexico and Africa. And Vanves is my favorite flea market. I just bought a great little 1950’s mustard upholstered chair there for $30. Perfect for putting your shoes on.

Where to Eat

L’Assiette
181 Rue du Château, 14th Arr.; 33-1/43-22-64-86; dinner for two $127.

Becquerel
113 Rue St.-Antoine, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/48-87-89-38; lunch for two $13.

Café du Marché
38 Rue Cler, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/47-05-51-27; breakfast for two $14.

Casa Bini
36 Rue Grégoire de Tours, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/46-34-05-60; dinner for two $102.

Fellini
47 Rue de l’Arbre Sec, First Arr.; 33-1/42-60-90-66; dinner for two $114.

Au Petit fer à Cheval
30 Rue Vieille du Temple, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/42-72-47-47; dinner for two $84.

Rollet Pradier
6 Rue de Bourgogne, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/45-51-78-36; pastries for two $9.

Where to Shop

Colette
213 Rue St.-Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/55-35-33-90.

Drouot Richelieu
9 Rue Drouot, Ninth Arr.; 33-1/48-00-20-20.

Galerie Christine Diegoni
47 Rue Orsel, 18th Arr.; 33-1/42-64-69-48.

Iglaïne
12 Rue de la Grande Truanderie, First Arr.; 33-1/42-36-19-91.

Miller et Bertaux
17 Rue Ferdinand Duval, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/42-78-28-39.

Moulié
8 Place du Palais Bourbon, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/45-51-78-43.

Quidam de Revel
24–26 Rue de Poitou, Third Arr.; 33-1/42-71-37-07.

Stéphane Olivier
3 Rue de l’Université, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-96-10-00.

Yves Saint Laurent
12 Place St.-Sulpice, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-26-84-40.

Where to Picnic

Basilique Ste. Clotilde
23 bis Rue Las Cases, Seventh Arr.

Forêt de Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau

What to Do

Jeu de Paume
1 Place de la Concorde; Eighth Arr.; 33-1/47-03-12-50.

Musée de l’Orangerie
Jardin des Tuileries; First Arr.; 33-1/44-77-80-07.

La Pagode
57 bis Rue de Babylone, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/45-55-48-48.

Studio 28
10 Rue Tholozé, 18th Arr.; 33-1/46-06-36-07.

Studio 28

Founded by Jean-Placid Mauclaire in 1928 as an independent cinema and meeting place for creative minds near the Montmartre Cemetery, Studio 28 has a gray front with red steps and its name in neon above the arched doorway. Inside the auditorium is a wall sconce resembling metal leaves against the wall, with several cone-like toadstools with leafy bases branching out. Outdoor seating is available in the garden under a white tent with a chandelier and bistro tables, where drinks and salted tarts are served prior to the showing of French, Spanish, American, and other international films.

La Pagode

On the quiet Rue de Babylone in Paris’ Seventh Arrondissement, tucked behind a wall among trees, vines, and neighboring buildings, is a red, brown, and green Japanese pagoda accented with stained glass; it got its start as a ballroom in 1896. Today, La Pagode provides an unusual setting as an independent movie house, with the addition of an underground screen and lobby. Between the red-and-gold original theater with gilded crown moldings, and the newer one in the lower level, there are nearly 400 seats.

Musée de l’Orangerie

Beyond Monet’s multipaneled and expansive Water Lilies ensemble, what makes this recently renovated space truly special is the regrouping of an exceptional collection of modern art. After being closed for six years, the skylit spaces are spare and monochromatic, allowing the works to shine. In one long, columned gallery, Cézanne and Renoir’s masterworks hang side by side in gilt frames; in another small salon, the primitive, angular portraits of Rousseau and Modigliani are combined. The exceptional collection was culled first by one of the great modern art dealers, Paul Guillaume, and then expanded by the wealthy industrialist Jean Walter, who married Guillaume’s widow. Works by Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Soutine, Laurencin, and Utrillo are also hidden here.

Jeu de Paume

Tucked in a corner of the Tuileries Gardens near the Champs Élysées is this building reminiscent of a Greek temple, with large columns on its stone façade. Inside, is a rotating collection of photography, film, and video from the 19th to 21st centuries. With sponsors including The Ministry of Culture and Communication and Neuflize Vie, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume was named for a tennis-style sport that was played on the site in the time of Napoleon III. Today it contains changing exhibits devoted to imagery and their impact on both the individual and the world.

Yves Saint Laurent

In the Eighth Arrondissement, near the Eglise de la Madeleine and not far from the Champs Elysees, this French fashion shop features a black façade with the company name in white over the doors, set among Haussmann buildings. One of two locations on the Rue de Faubourg, this shop carries the men's collections, which can include ready-to-wear coats, jackets, shoes, suits, shirts and accessories.

Stéphane Olivier

Stephane Olivier, owner of the antique shop Rive Gauche on Rue de l'Universite, spent much of his childhood in his grandmother's alpine garden, and his love of nature inspired him to open this store, which sells wrought-iron garden furniture and baroque statuary. Inside antique furniture sits beside modern creating a unique balance. A Murano glass patchwork coffee table features an almost leather-like appearance, while a French Louis XV-style buffet boasts curves. A mounted rhino head overlooks didactic plaster mushrooms and wooden armchairs carved with monkeys.

Quidam de Revel

The vintage boutique specializes in designer pieces from the 1920’s to the 1980’s.

Moulié

Located in la Place du Palais Bourbon, Moulie Fleurs began in 1870 and was entrusted to Henri Moulie in 1978. Today the florist shop is internationally known, having served embassies, ministries, and grandes couturiers such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Lanvin. The shop was even featured in a Miss Dior Cherie commercial. But Moulie's also serves for the more humble flower-lover, offering bouquets such as the heart-shaped rose bouquet. They also specialize in orchids as well as exotic flora.

Miller et Bertaux

At Miller et Bertaux in Le Marais, designers and perfumers Francis Miller and Patrick Bertaux sell quality clothing, perfumes, and objets d'art. The shop’s clothing comes in classic neutral colors like white, brown, and black. Perfumes are inspired by the duo's travels - the aroma of Oriental roses or the incense of a Mexican church. The scent Quiet Morning subtly combines 40 different ingredients, including saffron, basmati rice, and palm flower. The shop is also great for gift-hunting, with many choices of scented candles, sketchbooks, and jewelry.

Iglaïne

Paris is known for fashion but Iglaine near Rue Etienne Marcel covers the whole gamut—from modern to early 20th century and from Europe, America, and Asia. High-end brands such as Mugler, Laroche, and Leonard hang next to second-hand items from Tibet and Morocco and non-label, but high quality, items like rabbit fur coats. Accessories range from Pucci glasses to Andrea Pfister high heels. Iglaine's house label includes clothing designed by owner Rheinard Luthier, who dyes and reworks antique fabrics into innovative designs, including trapezoid dresses with big buttons and printed pockets.

Galerie Christine Diegoni

The Galerie Christine Diegoni in the 18th Arrondisement showcases the best of interior design from the 1950s to 1970s. The three main foci of the gallery are lighting, furniture, and household objects, such as mirrors and plates. Available pieces include a blue coil wall lamp from Ettore Sottsass, a burnt-orange fiberglass rocker designed by Charles and Ray Eames, and a bent and woven wooden seat from Frank O. Ghery that looks like a chair composed of fettuccine. Shoppers can also find pieces from Enzo Mari like a chunky light gray marble plate.

Drouot Richelieu

Opened in 1852, The Drouot Richelieu in the Ninth Arrondissement is the oldest auction house in the world. Treasures reside throughout this glass and steel building's seventeen sales rooms, and may include anything from art by Joan Miró and Jean Dubuffet to perfume bottles signed by Depinoix and Lalique to the gold teeth of the recently departed. Sales take place Monday through Saturday at 2:00 p.m., with viewings starting at 11:00 a.m., and catalogues are available online for most of the sales rooms.

Rollet Pradier

Follow the advice of Julia Child and visit iconic patisserie Rollet Pradier. The stone building, with its large front windows filled with enticements, has been a part of the Seventh Arrondissement since 1859. The eatery has maintained its reputation for desserts such as the pain au chocolate and the blanc manger, a custard made from Bavarian almond milk and topped with fruit. More recent additions include 14 varieties of macarons, including poppy and pistachio flavors, all made by owner Jean-Marie Desfontaines' family recipe (her father invented the double-sided macaron in 1930).

Au Petit fer à Cheval

Surrounded by the fashionable boutiques of Le Marais and situated on the winding rue Vieille du Temple, Au Petit fer à Cheval is the place to go to have a film-like "Parisian moment." Enjoy conversation with the neighborhood's regulars at the horseshoe-shaped, marble bar (this cafe's name means "horseshoe") or choose a small table in the back. The decor of this more than 100-year-old eatery is retro Paris: vintage posters, reclaimed Metro benches, chandeliers, and tiled floors with decorative swirls. The fare, on the other hand, is typical French bistro, with the confit de canard being a particular favorite.

Fellini

Just blocks from the Louvre, Efisio Mannai's Fellini restaurant presents another grand human achievement: fine Italian cuisine. The sandstone-colored walls are adorned with posters of Italian film director Federico Fellini's movies, and the brightness and openness of the restaurant add to the friendly ambience. Fellini is well-known for antipasti such as the carpaccio, but also offers signature dishes such as risotto with lobster and the homemade pasta with shrimp and artichokes. Free biscotti and chocolates are served after dinner, but don't overlook the panna cotta with fresh berries.

Casa Bini

Housed in the Bini family home on Rue Gérgoire de Tours, Casa Bini looks like a rustic taverna, with its terra cotta tiles, exposed beams, bright yellows and greens, and two olive trees. While the Italian menu changes often to take advantage of fresh seafood and seasonal produce, this restaurant is best known for its carpaccios, which come in a dozen variations such as beef or fish with shavings of pecorino. All pastas are homemade daily and include the delicate-tasting tagliolini with white summer truffles and the linguini with langoustines and cherry tomatoes.

Boucherie Becquerel

The first thing that will draw your attention to Boucherie Becquerel on Rue St. Antoine is the aroma of roasting chicken. Set up in glass cases on the sidewalk, beneath this butcher shop's red overhang, spits of rotisserie chicken slowly turn while shelves of potatoes below cook in the fat and juices. Few meals please as much as a crispy skinned chicken with a moist inside, juicy potatoes, fine cheese, and a bottle of good wineall of which can be bought in this arrondissement to accompany Becquerel's quality meats. The shop also sells fresh rabbit, pork, veal, kidneys, blood sausage, and cuts of beef, including tripe and tongue. In addition, Becquerel offers pâtés, terrines, salads, and ready-to-go foods such as kabobs and roasts with dried fruits and herbs.

L’Assiette

L'Assiette on Rue du Chateau has been a "go-to" restaurant since its opening in 2008, when chef-owner David Rathgeber, a student of master chef Alain Ducasse, began serving classic bistro dishes from his small, open kitchen. The restaurant retains the 1930's feel of this former pork butcher's shop, with etched and frosted windows, hand-printed daily menus, floral-patterned ceilings, and antique accessories. L'Assiette is well-known for the cassoulets (slow-cooked bean stew), as well as steak frites, with beef from famous butcher Hugo Desnoyer. For dessert, try the caramel cream moelleux with salt butter, served in a warm pot.

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