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Lords of the Flea Markets

HAMISH BOWLES European editor-at-large, Vogue I love Casa Barata in Tangier because of its almost post-apocalyptic sense of chaos, but my favorite flea market in terms of productive finds is Clignancourt in Paris (a very boring choice, I fear). There's an eclectic mix of antiques and the fact that so many of the dealers have such discriminating taste themselves. It's a good place to get a sense of what the new antiques trends will be. Plan of attack: Friday morning (early) is dealers' day, even though taxis will tell you the market is closed.

MARIKO MORI artist I find things that inspire my work in unexpected places. A small cosmetics compact became the color sample for a new sculpture; I used a die-cut glass lens in an installation titled DreamTemple. Objects of affection: For several years I collected crystal stones whenever I traveled: orange calcite from Greece, a rainbow crystal from London, amethyst from New York. I was drawn to them, though I didn't know why at the time. They were part of my Garden of Purification installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

LUCINDA WILLIAMS singer-songwriter My family lived in Mexico City for a year in 1970, and I have vivid memories of going to the market there and learning how to bargain in Spanish. We picked up incredible things—vintage shawls, silver jewelry—for only a few pesos. Plan of attack: On tour, I get off the interstate and go through little towns to find shops or flea markets—especially places without a local college or university. That's where you can find really good stuff.

JOAN BUCK writer and former editor, French Vogue My mother was a decorator, so I started going to Portobello when I was 10. I think if an object hasn't got a story, it's not interesting. My favorite markets are the ones that seem to appear for only three days—there's one at Place St.-Sulpice in Paris. The best thing I've ever found was a 71Ž2-foot-high shuttered steel railway safe. I have German blood, so I buy big things. Plan of attack: There's no point looking for anything in particular; that's frustrating. Just look around with a diffuse awareness; for me it's a form of meditation.

INDIA MAHDAVI interior/furniture designer Paris is one of my favorite flea market cities because I know it best. I go to Paul Bert and Serpette [both at Clignancourt], which are furniture-oriented. Alfie's Antique Market in London is also wonderful. I often find little nothings, such as images or old postcards, that become a reference point for new projects. Plan of attack: Wander around once, just to see what strikes you, but don't get emotionally attached. Then go around a second time and start buying. Patience is good, cash is better—if you have both, you're set.

—Additional reporting by Richard Alleman

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