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Fall 2008 | Carson Kressley�s Paris Shopping Spree

Fall 2008 | Carson Kressley�s Paris Shopping Spree

We recently sent the indomitable TV star of How to Look Good Naked on a shopping bender in Paris. His notes from the French fashion front.

Today I conquered Paris! I came, I saw, I shopped -- with Napoleonic force! Everything from the corner pharmacie to the Herm?s flagship store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honor? (the original Rodeo Drive or Madison Avenue) is so utterly refined. And in almost every store you can find something remarkable.

As soon as I arrived, I headed to what I think is the best department store in Paris, Le Bon March? (24 Rue de S?vres; 33-1-44-39-80-00). According to many locals, this is where all the ?it? girls of Paris go for their entire wardrobe. They have a great men?s department as well with an excellent shoe shop. I came away with an awesome pair of Stephanobi loafers that were on solde -- meaning ?clearance,? one of my favorite French words. The familiarity of the department store format makes for a nice easy transition to shopping like a Parisian.

Most of the stores on the glamorous Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honor? are a little too rich for my blood -- hey, I?m on cable! But they are worth a visit if just for window-shopping. I drooled over the gorgeous luggage at Goyard (233 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honor?; 33-1-42-60-57-04). Even the bags that the bags come in are chic! I could only afford a wallet, and it was a small one, which was fine since I didn?t have many euros left to place inside its shiny black distinctively monogrammed coated canvas. Just a few steps away I had to check out the French design darling Lanvin (15 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honor?; 33-1-44-71-31-73). With separate men?s and women?s flagships across the street from one another, this purveyor of romantic yet minimal designs (like Prada but more French, if that makes sense), offers up the most sublime suits, sportswear, and shoes one could only dream of. My accountant will love that I controlled myself and made it out of there with only a belt -- on solde! Buying accessories, rather than actual clothing, is a better way to go, since they will most likely last longer and go out of style less quickly. Not a natural blond, people!

Finally, after a weary day of shopping, I approached the mecca of my pilgrimage, Herm?s (24 Rue Faubourg Saint-Honor?; 33-1-40-17-47-17), the anchor of the Rue Faubourg Saint-Honor? and the bastion of all things chic and French. The complex contains a warren of subtly appointed rooms, each with a nod to the house?s start in the saddlery business. I was in heaven. After perusing a women?s alligator coat priced at more the average home in the States, I decided on a pair of stainless-steel stirrups from the saddlery department -- a little more in my price range and a very useful indulgence that will always remind me of my travels.

Sunday in Paris is really tranquil, and it?s easy to hail a cab or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee in any of the corner caf?s. It is also a great day to hit the famous March? aux Puces de Saint-Ouen -- part of its name translates as ?the market of fleas.? After a yummy breakfast of hot croissants and caf? au lait at the hotel, I hit the Metro (which happens to be amazingly clean and terribly easy to navigate) for a quick ride to Porte de Clignancourt on the northern edge of Paris. Now with most flea markets it is best to arrive at the crack of dawn -- but not here. You can arrive at any time and still find an amazing selection of upscale items. Do bring plenty of cash and a tote bag to safely carry your newly purchased finds. Oh -- I hate to say this, but wear comfortable shoes, as the markets are truly endless.

Make sure you walk well into the market area to find the real treasures. Information and maps of all can be found at Vernaison.net or ParisPuces.com. Vernaison (132?136 Avenue Michelet) specializes in country French, with a lot of beautiful furniture, silver, and unusual accent pieces (old windows, riding boots, vintage Zuber murals). I grabbed a vintage Louis Vuitton satchel that quickly became my new best friend and very handy travel necessity. I totally needed it. Biron (85 Rue des Rosiers) specializes in very high-end art and antiques that a Liberace with better taste would have loved. Paul Bert (18 Rue Paul Bert and 96 Rue des Rosiers) was my favorite since it has great antiques, plus there are booths that feature mid-century items, like Pascal Cusiniers?s Booth 91 -- and Pascal happens to also be very hot and very French! Gilles and Lydia Oudin at Booth 401 with their array of masculine objets d?art like polished old airplane propellers and authentic Barcelona chairs made my mouth water. (Or maybe I was stilling thinking of Pascal?)


Part One | Part Two

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