Down Rue De Moussy. Alaïa SS22

Since the much-mourned passing of Azzedine Alaïa in 2017, the maison was lead by the monsieur’s studio and largely focused on delivering beautiful tribute re-editions. In the beginning of 2021, however, the brand decided to go forward. Stepping onto the Rue de Moussy on Sunday with a debut collection honoring the legacy of Alaïa was a statement which radiated both respect and confidence from Pieter Mulier. Of course, the location couldn’t be more symbolic. Redolent of the culture revered by insiders – it’s the street on which Alaïa opened his first boutique (which up to now is also the label’s studio) and is home now to the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation. Mulier’s arrival came with the serendipitous energy of timing: the fact that right now, there could hardly be anything more relevant, more new, to young women than the post-pandemic surge in desire for ‘body-conscious’ dressing. The term itself was coined to describe the visceral uniqueness of Alaia’s work almost 40 years ago. “For me, it’s about how to explain the codes [Alaïa invented] to a new generation,” said Mulier. All those codes were embodied in the sinuous and slinky dresses, the flippy black skirts, the draped hoods, the flowing silk capes, the black leather – everything using all the techniques of incredible knitwear, body-sculpting cut, and house fabrics. “I wanted to make it democratic again,” is the way Mulier put it, pointing out the cross-references with, say, the leggings “that everyone wears today” or, no doubt, hoodies. But in Alaïa-world, these things are transformed into objects of the utmost sophistication: leggings that are a hybrid of cycling shorts and stockings, head-drapes that become almost goddess-like. “I wanted it to be the opposite of sportswear,” said Mulier emphatically. It’s creating fashion with an ultra-glamour that also has “ease” that he finds interesting. “They don’t like the word ‘sexual’ here, but I do. Because to me, this is the only house in the world which is sexual without being vulgar. It’s actually about pure beauty, and working on the body, which I have never seen anywhere else.

Mulier left his last job at Calvin Klein in 2018, in the aftermath of the departure of Raf Simons, and he said he spent a long time feeling demoralized by the industry. “I thought I wouldn’t do fashion any more. After New York, I really thought it was finished for me,” he said. Though he didn’t have a public profile, Mulier was well known as a highly experienced professional who’d been Simons’s right hand in womenswear at Christian Dior and Jil Sander before that. Several companies came courting, but he was in no frame of mind to pitch his fortunes in with big business again. “I took a long break. I really wanted something small. Something human-scale.” And that is what Azzedine Alaïa, the house, presented. Although owned by the luxury conglomerate Richemont, the house in Paris is still more or less family-scale, populated by the experts who worked with Alaïa and have continued producing the collections since he died. “There’s stuff here I didn’t know was possible,” Mulier exclaimed, pointing out a strapless, corseted black leather dress. “We moulded it out of triple-layer leather, from one hide.” To some pieces, like the iconic perforated leather belt – part of the famous house output for decades – he added his own iridescent twist: “I wanted to put it in the show from the beginning. We found a leather with reflective film, like a mirror. I thought that modernized it in a second,” he said. “That’s the gesture I like: that you don’t touch too much because it’s already perfect. Just with little things.” In the IRL event, there was loud applause from the audience as Mulier ran out to give one embrace to Alaïa’s life-partner Christoph von Weyhe, and another to his own, the designer Matthieu Blazy. It felt like a passing of the flame to a new-generation safe pair of hands who comes with no plan to trample over too many of the boundaries set by the man who famously and stubbornly went against the pressure of industry norms that didn’t make sense to him. For Mulier, that applied to his skeptical approach to all things social media. “I don’t think it’s a house made for social media, even though I’m on it myself,” he observed. “It’s such a small brand, like an artwork that I want to take care of. We’ll build a family slowly.”

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Chic, Chic, Chic. Alaïa AW89

A few days ago, I discovered this delightful autumn-winter 1989 Alaïa collection, and it’s unbelievable how timeless all those Monsieur Azzedine’s designs are. Actually, they even get better with age. The colours (especially all the shades of curcuma!), the cuts, the softness of wools and cashmeres used in this line-up, the body-conscious eveningwear, which looks both seductive and comfortable… it’s all so good. And of course, it was presented on the rue de Moussy – the live & work space Azzedine Alaïa built in the Marais district of Paris that would become a welcoming mecca to models and clients. What’s interesting, it was unfinished when the designer presented his winter 1989 show a month after the regular season ended (Alaïa famously presented on his own schedule, when he felt finished, and not according to a calendar date). According to The Los Angeles Times, the glass-roofed space was leaky, dampening the models as they paraded in a collection that underlined some of the tropes the designer had staked out as his own: sculpted leathers and clingy second-skin knits. The flowing bias-cut dresses in shimmering metallics definitely looked even more spectacular as they were slightly wet. Below are some of my favourite looks from this highly underrated collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Places to Visit in Paris

Although Paris is known to be a city steeped in tradition, it is also a city generating an exciting list of shops and boutiques that sell the most gorgeous and unique selections of designers, furniture, food, flowers and pretty much anything you can imagine. Each arrondissment has its own distinct quirk and charm – so do the places that are situated all over them. Here are twelve places – some are new, some are already well-known – that I enjoyed and decided to write about in one big post. Of course, those aren’t the only ones – I’ve already mentioned some other fantastic places separately. To go back to them, just scroll a bit down on the homepage or click the “Paris” tab below this post. Now, follow me!

Ogata

Star designer-restaurateur Shinichiro Ogata, who has already been praised for his spots in Tokyo, has Paris abuzz at this hôtel particulier in the center of the Marais neighborhood. Ogata is an immense lifestyle temple meticulously styled with an insane atrium (walls whitewashed with shikkui plaster, doors decorated in copper), a boutique space (ceramics, pastries, infusions… everything’s on the right place!), a serene sabō on the ground floor (for tea ceremony – the place offers a diverse variety of tea rigorously selected according to the season: hōjicha, sencha, rare teas and seasonal infusions), a secret bar upstairs, plus a gourmet Japanese cuisine restaurant with plenty of wood and concrete details. This place is a must-visit.

16 rue Debelleyme

Comme Des Garçons & Trading Museum

Set off the Rue du Faubourg St-Honore, Comme Des Garçons’ design experience of the store begins in the courtyard through which it is reached, where glossy red panels line the windows, obscuring the view in and imposing red doors glide silently open as the customer approaches. Immediately facing is a long counter and opposite that a glossy red fibreglass skin flows the length of the shop, covering everything in its path – walls, ceiling, doors, lighting, horizontal and vertical planes – the alien wave. The fantastical red corridor leads to a brilliant white ante-chamber with a polished concrete floor where the retail is housed. Within this sanctuary-like space, garments by Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe and Kei Ninomiya hang from metal rails suspended from the ceiling and folded t-shirts sit on extruded rubber benches, presented to the customer like objects in a museum. On the other side of the courtyard you’ve got Trading Museum, CDG’s selection of labels like Simone Rocha or Molly Goddard.

54 Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré

R&Y Augousti

Ria and Youri Augousti’s flagship store in Paris was discovered by the designers back in 1997. Originally an old majestic bank, the couple fell in love with the space and iconic location. They decided that this would be the perfect space for their brand and their instincts were not wrong. Their artistic backgrounds brought them together as innovators in their field by reviving the artisanal techniques of shagreen and other exotic materials that were predominant in the Art Deco period of the 1930s. Through their mix of vintage and contemporary design, their furniture and home accessories brand were met with worldwide praise. From this they began to work closely with international interior designers, architects and celebrities to create custom pieces for their homes and projects all within keeping to the Augousti universe. Together with their designs, they as well present Patrick Coard and Kifu Paris’ works. Currently, the store carries Olivier Theyskens, the acclaimed fashion designer and recently appointed creative director at Azzaro. A longtime family friend of the Augousti House, their mutual love and appreciation for artisan craftmanship, textures, and innovative designs sparked a natural collaboration between the two brands.

103 Rue du Bac

The Broken Arm

Since Colette closed its doors a few years ago, The Broken Arm has the most unique and intriguing designer assortment in town. Here you will find S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. by Sterling Ruby (the bag pictures above is still in my dreams!) as well as an off-beat selection of Maison Margiela, Jacquemus, Raf Simons and Prada. The staff is super friendly her and when you’re here, you feel it’s the cult fashion place of the Marais district. Next to the shop you’ve got The Broken Arm’s café that serves home-made sweets and quick lunches.

12 Rue Perrée

Lemaire

My kind of mecca. I visit Lemaire’s flagship store every single time when I’m in Paris and I’m always amazed by its heart-warming aura, great soundtrack playing and of course the designs by my favourite Christopher Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran. The store often carries exclusive pieces that you won’t find anywhere else!

28 Rue de Poitou

Aoyama Flower Market

Aoyama Flower Market is a florist brand established in 1989, in the Aoyama area of Tokyo. The brand has never ceased to offer a lifestyle that promotes well being, accompanied by flowers and greenery. In 2015 they opened their Paris location, which is in the heart of the Left Bank and just a few steps from Le Bon Marche. Haven’t seen such beautiful bouquet compositions for a while.

96 Rue du Bac

Byredo

Situated on Rue St.-Honoré, just a few doors away from Colette’s former location, Byredo’s boutique occupies the ground and second floors of a 1990s building. Here, creative director Ben Gorham has opted for a refreshingly different aesthetic for his French outpost. The backdrop is raw, thanks to the pairing of an exposed ceiling and walls with plentiful of wall scribblings created by M/M (Paris), a Paris-based design agency with which Gorham collaborates on all brand visuals. Further boosting the artsy vibe are the agency’s large-sized posters of Sarah Morris‘ films, wall-mounted in plexiglass frames. Here you will find the entire Byredo fragrance and beauty line, as well as a selection of their bags, leather accessories and blankets.

199 rue St.-Honoré

The Frankie Shop

To be honest, I’m a bit on fence with this place, but I guess it’s worth a mention. After having conquered New-York, it’s in Paris’ Marais district that The Frankie Shop has set down its globe-trotter luggage filled with brands from all over the world. The mantra of this boutique is spotting international, affordable and instantly Instagrammable designer brands: Rodebjer, Nanushka, By Far… there’s also an entire collection featuring the store’s name-sake brand, which is basically the wardrobe of every social media fashionista. Parisians seem to love it, as the place is also super crowdy.

14 Rue Saint Claude

Paco Rabanne

Paco Rabanne is growing under the wings of Julien Dossena, so it’s no surprise it’s opening first stores in Paris. The new location – opened just a month ago – is hidden in the same court yard as the above mentioned Comme Des Garçons. The 1960s-inspired interior perfectly matches Rabanne’s signature chain-mail dresses, floral skirts and metallic accessories.

54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Kamel Mennour

Since 1999, Kamel Mennour presents in his three Parisian galleries (47 rue Saint-André des Arts, 6 rue du Pont de Lodi and 28 Avenue Matignon) the works of 40 contemporary artists who are internationally recognized. Through the publication of catalogues, exhibitions, biennales and fairs all over the world, Mennour presents, supports and defends the work of artists such as Mohamed Bourouissa, Daniel Buren, Petrit Halilaj, Camille Henrot, Huang Yong Ping, Anish Kapoor, Tadashi Kawamata, Bertrand Lavier, Lee Ufan, Claude Lévêque, François Morellet, Neïl Beloufa, Martial Raysse, Ugo Rondinone and Tatiana Trouvé. Always worth a visit, because you never know what you will discover. Martial Raysse’s “Les Statues!” exhibition that ended back in March was a beautiful experience.

Tom Greyhound

Tom Greyhound’s carefully curated selection of designers – think J.W. Anderson, Dries Van Noten, Jil Sander – blends in perfectly within its sophisticated and elegant décor. At their store, the client doesn’t simply go from rack to rack – they are called to discover refined themes of apparel and accessories, which all stand out. As the concept store describes itself, it is “entirely dedicated to a multicultural and contemporary approach to fashion.”

19 Rue de Saintonge

Caractère de Cochon

The shelves are lined with canned goods and condiments, while all kinds of cured meats fill the fridges, which you can take to go or have made into the best sandwich in Paris. Some of the cured hams include a Mangalitza from Hungary, Tuscan peppered ham, Iberico de Campo, and the baked ones include a parslied Bourgogne, a ham from the Vosges smoked over hay, one from Provence with rosemary, and one exception: la babilla, a center-cut of beef ham Other recommendations: the Catalan fuet and the liver terrine.

42 rue Charlot

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Wrote about many other places in Paris- 0fr., Astier De Villate, Galerie Perrotin, Saint Laurent Rive Droite – earlier. To re-see those posts, click here. For some restaurant recommendations, see this. Also, my page “Places” got heavily updated with all the addresses I love… and not only in Paris!

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)

0fr. Paris

The phrase, “Beautiful books and ideas,” painted on 0fr.‘s storefront windows pretty much describes the overall spirit of this cult bookstore-and-gallery. Siblings Alexandre and Marie Thumerelle opened their shop in 1995, offering an ample stock of books and magazines on art, architecture, photography, fashion and music. It has since become a well-loved fixture in the Marais district, attracting a mix of local artists, designers, creative types and mad magazine pilgrims like me. It’s a tight squeeze between the books stacked on the floor and the overflowing shelves, but its eclectic collection is irresistible to any bibliophile and art-lover. An afternoon can easily be spent flipping through vintage or newly-issued magazines, rummaging through a trunk filled with postcards or hunting down a limited edition art print to hang on your wall. A door at the back of the shop leads to the gallery, a space dedicated to weekly exhibits, performances and events, as well as a corner with selection of hand-dyed jackets (which 0fr.’s latest fashion venture).

20 Rue Dupetit-Thouars

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)

Where To Eat in Paris

While now isn’t the moment to dine out (and restaurants are closed nearly everywhere for safety reasons), we can all look forward to our post-confinement lunches and brunches (at some point) in the future. Here are six spots, old and new, I enjoyed the most during my last stay in Paris.

Carbón

Located in the heart of Le Marais distict, Carbón is an ode to nature, a place where the most ancestral cooking technique in the world, fire, encounters the products of land and sea in their extreme nudity. The regularly-changing menu will surprise you with such offerings as oysers infused in coffee or different sorts of ceviche. Its contemporary decor provides a stylish backdrop whether you’re with friends (the sharing plates are perfect for a relaxed dinner) or looking for a more romantic spot. There’s also a great “secret” speakeasy bar, La Mina, hidden away downstairs serving up delicious craft cocktails.

14 Rue Charlot

Le Moulin De La Vierge

You could easily assume that Le Moulin de la Vierge is simply a typical neighbourhood bakery in the sleepy 15th district, however it’s much, much more. The owner is dedicated to preserving the art nouveau architecture of each of his close-to-each-other patisserie stores. The décor is reminiscent of a 19th century Parisian boutique the pastries are so, so delicious (especially chocolate croissants). You might also be tempted to taste one of the numerous pastries like the exquisite éclairs or the mouth-watering tarts. Mille-feuille lovers will also find happiness.

10 Place des Petits Pères

La Belle Epoque

This upscale and mundane dining room that seems to have existed since forever has imposed itself as “the” must-go hangout for the chic, Parisian crowd. A wired atmosphere, a super discrete decor with an elegant 19th century tiling… here is the ideal place to show up with friends and nibble on trendy vintage dishes (leek in vinaigrette sauce, veal chops, ceviche and French style burgers, for a good example).

36 Rue des Petits Champs

Mara by Caché

Charming dining spot in Le Marais that celebrates contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. The sharing menu has a lovely selection of raw fish (seriole carpaccio served in mango sauce, sea bream ceviche with citrus fruits…), shellfish and crustaceans, but also gourmet desserts (including rousquille, a Catalan dessert served with nougat ice cream and chocolate sauce ). All accompanied by a superb selection of niche, natural wines.

27 Rue de Saintonge

Oursin

If you’re missing the sun and the sea, head to the second floor of Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées, where Simon Porte Jacquemus has opened Oursin in collaboration with Caviar Kaspia. After Citron, his sunny café located just a floor below, the darling of the fashion world continues telling Provençal stories in an atmosphere that’s dripping with la dolce vita: whitewashed walls, ecru banquettes, braided wicker chairs, beautiful ceramics, draping ivy, Italian melodies… In the kitchen, you’ll find chef Erica Archambault sending out southern dishes: delicious fried artichokes with Greek yogurt and lemon zest; incredibly tender grilled octopus with cherry tomatoes, potatoes and a tomato sauce with capers – all sponged up with squid ink bread; plus an incredible chocolate ganache with yogurt sorbet and blueberries for dessert. The plates – all hand-made by Daphne Leon – are as good as the food.

60 Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Le Costes

This place is old and really well-known, but still, no other restaurant has reached the level of cool chic that Le Costes does so effortlessly for years. The opulent Second Empire décor designed by Jacques Garcia that’s a cross between a brothel and a trip to Egypt, with a lineup that brings together the fashion crowd (especially during fashion week. We were sitting next to @ireneisgood and System’s Elizabeth Von Guttman – and we had a very lovely chat…). The cuisine here is properly eclectic. The menu shifts between healthy options (a  avocado/olive oil/lemon tartine, fresh bass tartare…) and fusion dishes (crispy chicken spring rolls – they are the best – and Thai-style marinated steak) to updated classics: a beautiful Niçoise salad upgraded to include flash-seared fresh tuna or a delightful chicken breast served with fries. Take the divine pavlova with red berries and voluptuous meringue for dessert.

239-241 rue Saint-Honoré

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)