Published: April 2009
By Alexandra Marshall
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 <em>Alexandra Marshall</em>
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.
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.
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.
Designer, Martin Grant
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
181 Rue du Château, 14th Arr.; 33-1/43-22-64-86; dinner for two $127.
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.
36 Rue Grégoire de Tours, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/46-34-05-60; dinner for two $102.
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.
6 Rue de Bourgogne, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/45-51-78-36; pastries for two $9.
Where to Shop
213 Rue St.-Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/55-35-33-90.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
57 bis Rue de Babylone, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/45-55-48-48.
10 Rue Tholozé, 18th Arr.; 33-1/46-06-36-07.