PARISIENNE PLEASURES AND TREASURES: INTRODUCING JOURNALIST RICHARD GILLES
Around 2001 I moved from LA to that majestic masterpiece of a city, Paris. I called home a large fab apartment on a small street, which at the closer end had the bustling market street Rue Montorgueil and at the other end, the also bustling - but for very different reasons - Rue St Denis. There the ladies of the day and night competed for customers wearing some pretty outrageous and provocative outfits. On one occasion a group of ladies commented on my look with a resounding "c'est jolie " and from that day I started to get a faint nod of recognition as I passed regularly on my way to purchase fabrics or notions . If you want to discreetly glimpse at some amazing PVC and latex numbers, pop along the little side street Rue Blondel.
I worked constantly on my eponymous fashion line and my clothing went down a treat in Japan. Buyers would come to my apartment that converted into a convincing showroom during Fashion Week. It was a time of change for the better, away from the boundaries of the less adventurous LA, and I found myself becoming more experimental - inspiration was everywhere.
I would buy my fabrics in the maze of streets at the foot of the Sacre Coeur known as Marche Saint Pierre. If I recall correctly, the five floor store Dreyfus (selling everything from bargain basement fabrics to designer, and a fine range of basic cloth that suited me) was a regular haunt, but other less known gems were hidden along side streets. On the way home if I wasnt laden with goods I would pop into Tati, the shop with the pink and white gingham awnings. There you never knew what you might find from kitsch to useful or downright tacky and useless. It was plain old good fun shopping, cheap and cheerful (Metro Barbes Rochechouart). Then off back down the Rue Faubourg St Denis, passing my fave Passage Brady, a small covered passageway that was wall to wall Indian restaurants and food and trinket shops, simply yummy (Metro Chateau d'Eau). Then home to work.
Here are some pieces from my 2002 collections as styled for various Paris magazines:
This was my first time in Paris in the 70s, just minutes before a pastry hit me in the head!
From this wonderful melting pot of cultures and the most incredibly beautiful and exciting city hails my dear friend, journalist Richard Gilles. From next month he will become for Denise The Swelle Life's Paris eyes and ears and will report monthly from that grand city. Richard has that effortless chic that the French are renowned for. He is a well travelled, incredibly knowledgeable and cultured man and doesnt miss a trick. Perfect for Denise, living and working in the city she also adores. I asked Richard to give us a few tips on places to see which he has, and to my surprise has included a vivid funny account of how we met all those years back, the rascal. Ahhh memories... à bientôt, J
*The couture coat I am wearing this week in my style photo was purchased in a "swap shop" for a mere 25 pence. The deal was you took in clothes you no longer wore, they gave you a price and you spent it in the shop. I got £9.75 for my bits n bobs and nonchalantly asked for the coat in the window that I had spotted the day before when they were closed. I didn't sleep that night in anticipation - it's a "Lacroix, Darling"!
And now on to Richard Gilles
MADEMOISELLE FRANKLAND AND MOI…
I vividly remember the first night Judith and I became firm friends: it was in Levita House – a rather derelict council building in the infamous Somerstown, where every single flat was squatted by either students, artists, or musicians but also a couple of Hell’s angels and drug dealers to add spice to the atmosphere - on the landing of the 5th floor. Judith was dressed to the nines, but no one to go out with her! So I gently obliged… And we lived out of each other’s pocket for the following two years, when she left with her newly wed Italian husband for a Californian honeymoon - the charms of Disneyland, Snow White and the seven dwarves… But that’s another story La Frankland will be happy to tell you in her monthly diaries! May I add that I was Judith’s “bridesmaid” at her wedding, which took place in Chelsea Town Hall in the winter of 2006 and that, to Judith’s father’s bemusement, I was wearing a red kilt… Mind you, Judith was wearing a white leather cap found in a gay sex shop and was sporting more chains than Mister T around her neck. So much for the blushing bride! For some reason, there are hardly any pictures of Judith and I together, except for those taken in Italy (Milan and Venice) in 1990…
Three days ago – just before MY BIRTHDAY! - Judith Darling asked me to concoct a quick shopping guide in Paris. So I decided to concentrate on the area where I live, typically Parisian and tourist free most of the time. Welcome to the Faubourg Saint Antoine!
In a sense, the Faubourg Saint Antoine is famous all over the world as La Bastille was located there. In the fifteenth century, the faubourg became the principal working-class quartier of Paris, cradle of revolutions and mother of street fighters… the rest is history! From its beginnings, the principal trade associated with it has been furniture making, and this was where the classic styles of French furniture – Louis Quatorze, Louis Quinze, Second Empire – were developed. Many furniture workshops, as well as related trades such as inlayers, stainers and polishers, still inhabit the maze of interconnecting yards and passages that run off the faubourg.
But enough of that, I will take you shopping now…
It’s about time to jazz up your little black dress, and Metal pointu's bold jewelry will accomplish the expected miracle. The pieces are pure forms of daring, strong and bold metal.
Métal pointu’s, 9 rue de Charonne, 75009 Paris. Tel: +33 1 47 00 81 60
You want to feel like a true Parisienne? Cleo Ferin Mercury was brought up in the colourful and multicultural area of La Goutte d’or, at the bottom of Montmartre. Her beautiful printed silk scarves will add a “je ne sais quoi” to any outfit. For her latest collection, Cleo took inspiration from her childhood icons: a youthful Brigitte Bardot, Dame Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Wanda Jackson, and Grace Jones.
Discover Cleo’s world at www.cleoferinmercury.co.uk
You love couture and exquisite ready-to-wear but you don’t want to break open the piggy bank? Le Dressing d’Eva is definitely worth a visit: one-off pieces by Pucci, Leonard, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, Missoni, and Mugler, custom jewelry and accessories by Chanel, Vuitton, Ferragamo, Valentino, and Fendi.
Le Dressing d’Eva, 18 rue Jules Vallès, 75011 Paris. Tel: +33 1 44 93 70 81
Around the corner, Anna Colore customizes and transforms industrial furniture and objects, giving them a bold, personal, feminine touch.
Anna Colore Industriale, 7 rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris, +33 1 43 79 41 62
Another curiosity is Petites Demoiselles, a temple dedicated to Blythe and Pullip dolls and their extensive, deluxe wardrobe.
Petites demoiselles, 16 rue des Boulets, 75011 Paris
Feeling peckish? Time to discover true Oriental delights. La Bague de Kenza is the ideal venue: sweets and pastries filled with almonds, pistachios, walnuts, figs, or dates, and flavored with honey, rose water, orange blossom water, mint, citrus, or vanilla are beautifully arranged on numerous trays.
La Bague de Kenza, 173, Rue du faubourg St-Antoine, 75011 Paris.
The shopping experience has been exhausting? Time for the French Coiffeur experience thanks to Matt, who will know how to make you feel that extra special.
Living Room, 22 rue des Taillandiers, 75011 Paris. + 33 1 43 55 66 81
Craving for pampering? In the heart of a bustling city, Maison Dr Hauschka is a secret, peaceful haven dedicated to beauty and relaxation pleasantly located in a courtyard full of flowers.
La Maison Dr.Hauschka, 39 rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris. Tél : +33 1 43 55 40 55
- Richard Gilles
Richard will be bringing his fantastic roundup of what's on in Paris and around the world as a regular feature - aren't we 'chanceux'!