There’s no better time to visit Paris for fashion shopping: the Spring/Summer collections are in-store and several chic new shops promise pure sartorial pleasure
A Glove clutch bag by Perrin
There is a French saying pertaining to the weather and what to wear: en avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil; en mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît (in April, stay covered up; in May, do as you please). As spring showers dry up in Paris and temperatures begin to rise, umbrellas and extra layers are cast aside, giving way to the carefree threads of this milder month. Take this freedom and run with it; it’s time to visit the new boutiques in the capital of fashion to indulge in whatever takes your fancy.
The rarefied environs of the first arrondissement – where Mandarin Oriental, Paris is located – is the place to find the best of French savoir-faire. Luxury leatherwear label Perrin (3 rue d’Alger) has been gloriously revived with a new boutique in the neighbourhood, where its signature clutch bags – complete with pouches attached to the outside, in which to slip your hand – are on display in various hues, including a baby blue to match this month’s ‘hopefully’ cloudless sky.
New-season shoes by Francesco Russo
Shoe designer Francesco Russo (8 rue de Valois), a favourite of Victoria Beckham, has just opened his eponymous shop in the same area, showcasing his elegant heels in intimate surroundings for the initiated few. Otherwise, on the off chance that our proverb isn’t living up to its promise, raise the temperature with suitably sexy lingerie in fine Calais lace from Paris-based designer Yasmine Eslami (35 rue de Richelieu) – her debut collection is available at her recently opened boutique, also in the first arrondissement.
The Verbreuil boutique
Over on the chic Left Bank, iconic department store Le Bon Marché (24 rue de Sèvres) has just launched its new shoe department: an entire floor under lofty domed ceilings dedicated to the venerable shoe, with metal and glass temples to the designers, ranging from the big guns Givenchy and Céline, to cool-set favourites Isabel Marant and Kenzo, to family-owned shoemakers Heschung. Also on the Rive Gauche, burgeoning French label Verbreuil (4 rue de Fleurus) has just opened its inaugural boutique, presenting its collection of luxury bags, handmade entirely in France, in minimal designs and exotic leathers.
Lanvin fashion illustrations
Fashion isn’t solely about shopping with wanton abandon, though (sorry) – it’s also a bona fide part of France’s heritage. Justify your clothing obsession with a dose of sartorial culture and visit one of the three major fashion exhibitions currently on in Paris. Yves Saint Laurent 1971: The Scandal Collection at the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent (on until 19 July) examines the revered designer’s Spring/Summer 1971 couture collection, which created quite a stir at the time. Meanwhile, Paris’ museum of fashion, Musée Galliera, is honouring France’s oldest fashion house that is still in business, Lanvin, with an exhibition (on until 23 August) dedicated to its groundbreaking founder, Jeanne Lanvin. Bringing things right up to the present day, the Grand Palais is hosting a retrospective (on until 3 August) of the bold and irreverent work of Jean Paul Gaultier, spanning the years 1970 to 2013.
So in the vein of these fashion pioneers, keep on breaking the fashion mould – especially in a month when the Paris fashion and weather forecast categorically says that you can do as you please. And if you want to show off your new summer purchases, where else than the sophisticated Bar 8 at Mandarin Oriental, Paris.