Still waiting on that elusive Paris Fashion Week invite? Attending catwalk shows and afterparties is undoubtedly surreal, but there’s more than one reason why the City of Light is one of the four major fashion capitals (if not THE fashion capital). You’ll find regular exhibitions on its greatest couturiers, super stylish cafés and restaurants in the image of some very famous names in fashion, not to mention endless opportunities to take advantage of serious discounts on your favourite designer labels – you can go off and enjoy them all, even if you don’t work for Vogue!
Dior exhibition: Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams (Couturier du Rêve)
Running until 7th January 2018 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs on Rue de Rivoli by the Louvre is an exhibition celebrating 70 years of Dior. The collection of sketches, clothes, accessories, photographs, letters, perfume bottles and advertising is so vast that organisers recommend you set aside two hours to take it all in. In the gift shop at the end are some great souvenirs, specially produced for the event, including: Dior books, prints, candles, notebooks and tote bags ranging from around 20 to 100 euros. Get tickets via the official Dior website.
The new YSL museum: Musée Yves Saint Laurent at the Fondation Pierre Bergé
October 2017 saw the Yves Saint Laurent Museum open its doors on Avenue Marceau, originally home to the designer’s atelier. Now, examples of Yves Saint Laurent’s work, alongside sketches and swatches, etc. have been incorporated into the museum’s retrospective displays and themed exhibitions to show how such magnificent pieces were brought to life. There are monthly presentations in the restoration atelier (in French only, advance booking required) and you can also buy an annual pass for €30 allowing you to make as many return visits as you realistically can in 12 months.
French designer outlet village
Run by the same company as Bicester Village, La Vallee Village designer outlet village lies within an hour’s drive of Paris. Don’t have a car? Then hop on one of the dedicated Shopping Express coaches instead, with two daily pick-ups and drop offs – just make sure you book your tickets in advance. You’ll find French brands such as Chloe, Celine, Givenchy, Kenzo, Longchamp and Sonia Rykiel, as well as international names like Gucci and Jimmy Choo. Even the snacks on offer mid spree are chic, with no shortage of outlets selling pretty little macarons and other sweet treats.
French sales – les soldes
You’d be hard pressed not to come across some kind of sale on any given day in the UK, but the sales are MUCH more highly regulated in France and generally restricted to specific periods. So if you’re hoping to bring home some bargains, you’d better time your next trip right. In 2018, the winter sales are scheduled to take place from 10th January to 20th February and the summer sales from 27th June to 7th August, with some regional variation. More information about the official dates for the national sales can be found in French on the government website.
The inimitable Colette
Described by Vogue as “one of the top shopping destinations for editors and style aficionados alike in the city”, the trailblazing concept store Colette on Rue Saint Honoré will nevertheless be closing its doors on 20th December 2017. Founder Colette Roussaux is retiring and influential to the point of being irreplaceable, taking her store with her. Colette the store isn’t just popular with trendsetters and fashion editors – Karl Lagerfeld himself is a fan! Enjoy it while it lasts and don’t forget to raise a glass of something still or sparkling in the water bar downstairs. Rumour has it that Colette will soon become Saint Laurent and Mme Roussaux will continue living above it.
Can’t resist a designer label? Then skip Starbucks and take the weight off your feet at one these fashion forward cafés instead… Grab a hot drink at Café Kitsuné at 51 Galerie Montpensier and don’t forget the signature fox shaped biscuit to go with it! St-Germain-des-Prés has both the Emporio Armani Caffè (near enough opposite Café de Flore) if you fancy Italian for lunch or dinner, and Ralph’s, inside the Ralph Lauren store on the very same boulevard. From everything I’ve ever read, this one really is frequented by the fashion set, so keep ’em peeled. American and assez cher but impeccably well executed by all accounts.