Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gaultier and Valentino

Ok, so I must say that I LOVED Gaultier's Couture collection! It was a Mexican themed show filled with turquoise beads, metal arm bands and woven fabrics.

Jean Paul Gaultier says that he took inspiration from the movie "Avatar." The models looked quite alien like with their hair done in braids and neon makeup.

I love the use of so many accessories, and wonder "is it ok if I wear that many bracelets all at once!?"

Celebrities spotted at the show were Dita Von Tess and Olga Kurylenko(bond girl). As fans and paparazzi waited anxiously outside for more celebs to show up, once again Anna Wintour appeared out of no where and snuck in behind the scene. I swear that woman is like the Polkaroo. She appears out of no where, and when she leaves the show she somehow sneaks past the crowds again! I did get to see her, but by the time I got my camera ready she was long gone.

Tara Gill (winner of Bootcamp to Bigtime) was there talking with her model friends. I was lucky enough to turn around and see her behind me, so I asked her for a photo. I hung out in the crowd for a while looking for more celebs and models and heard someone calling my name. It turned out to be Juliana, who I had met at the Dior show and her friend Sylvia. So, my new "fashion show friends" and I hung out and looked for more celebs.

As we were wandering and talking I looked around to see Hilary Alexander (Fashion Director of The Daily Telegraph) so I got a picture with her!
Once my new friends and I were so cold, that we just couldn't take anymore we decided to get a hot drink. We ducked into the closest Brasserie and had tea and coffee while discussing various fashion blogs. Juliana also writes a blog

Next we headed back out into the cold for the Valentino show. I must say that new Valentino designers, Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia did not win me over with their couture collection. I find them quite drab and boring. It was definitely not couture.

Outside the show Chanel Iman was spotted with full hair and makeup done ready for the show. There were other models running from backstage beauty to backstage dressing. Overall, there were not too many celebrities at the Valentino show so we decided to leave early and go get cake and hot drinks with Marisa, another fellow "fashion show girl" we met tonight!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chanel Couture

Chanel Couture spring/summer 2010 show today was a shimmering success for Karl Lagerfeld. The designer showed a collection of silver and candy colour gowns embellished by many atelier houses such as Lesage and Lemarie. The handwork done on the couture gowns was delicate, and showed Karls commitment to continuing to showcase the master work of the atelier houses that he purchased in 2002.
Lagerfeld called the collection “neon-baroque” in reference to the bright yellow and florescent lime hues. Some of the models wore silver half gloves, a tribute to Lagerfelds gloves that he is known for. Their hair was done up in futuristic bee hives with large flowers.

There was no gold or sailor stripe in sight, which is usually what Chanel is known for. Instead it was pastels and silver accents. This may mean stores will soon be filled with silver shoes and pastel dresses.

The show ended with Baptiste Giabiconi walking a model in a light pink wedding gown down the runway. This picture shown is of the gown wrapped and leaving the show.
Check out a small sample from the show at:

Celebrities spotted at the show included Kayne West, and his girlfriend Amber Rose, Claudia Schiffer and Olga Kurylenko(bond girl from Quantum of Solace).

Also spotted was 13 year old fashion blogger, Tavi Gevinson who seems to be getting a lot of press attention at these couture shows.

Actress, Clemence Poesy was also there dressed in a beautiful white Chanel jacket.

I was lucky enough to meet Karl Lagerfeld after the show and take a few pictures of the designer. Overall, Chanels collection of pastel gowns with silver accents was beautiful, wearable and stayed true to Haute Couture.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dior Couture

Paris Couture Fashion Week has begun, and I will be around many venues trying to catch a glimpse of designers and celebrities! Today I went to Dior Couture on Ave. Montaigne, just off Champs Elysees. John Galliano is the designer who creates beautiful pieces for Christian Dior.

Among those attending the show were Kylie Minogue, and Dita Von Tess and Nora Arnezeder. Also spotted were Hilary Alexander, the fashion director of the Daily Telegraph and Anna Wintour, editor in chief for American Vogue.

Jeanne Becker from Fashion Television was also there filming a segment. I was lucky enough to meet her, and take a photo!

A lot of attention was also given to Tavi, whose appearance in the front row made headlines when the teenage blogger blocked views with her crazy hat.
Inside, the equestrian themed show had models dressed in top hats and veils. Jackets were precision tailored with silver buttons. Skirts were long and had many pleats and folds.
For the evening wear, dresses were delicate, hand embroidered with lace and tulle. The accessories where chunky with huge earrings, and choker style necklaces with large hanging cameos.

Galliano took his bow in full riding gear, kneeling to kiss the hand of one of his models.

Karl Lagerfeld will show his collection for Chanel tomorrow, and I will be there to catch a glimpse!

Ultramod Paris

I have found my new favourite shop in Paris. "Ultramod" is a mercerie (dressmaker and sewing store) that has been selling buttons, ribbons, hats, and silks since 1890. It seems like you step back in time when entering into this shop. There are loomed silk ribbons which date back to the 1940's, felts for hats that are over 50 years old, and rolls of silk fabric from the 1930's. The shop itself is split into two boutiques which are directly across the street from each other. One shop is dedicated to hats and accessories while the other is sewing supplies.

The sewing boutique has little wooden drawers from floor to ceiling filled with threads, and notions. There are thousands of buttons to choose from and the rolls of ribbons are like eye candy against the back wall of the shop.

The hat boutique is quite spectacular. Once inside, you will see everything from hat forms, to french netting and other hat making accessories. It is truly a spectacular sight to see all of the old fashion millinery tools and fabrics.

Givenchy once bought here, Lanvin does and Jean Paul Gaultier visits personally to select his materials. Just imagine brushing shoulders with Gaultier as he shops for new trims and notions! Quite often there is no one in the shop, and you will need to get someone from the mercerie to open the door for you.
Overall, the collection of the vintage treasures for sale is amazingly large, but when the stock is depleted, that’s it! I think I just might have to go back and buy a hat form to decorate with my new embroidery skills!

Ultramod is located at 2, rue de Choiseul in the 2nd Arrondissement.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Faire du lèche-vitrine

Only 4 days until the start of Couture Fashion Week in Paris! Although I do not have tickets into any venues, I will be standing outside trying to get a glimpse of fashion and celebrities! As I found myself wandering along Rue Cambon last night, as I often do, I saw the street being prepared for Couture Fashion week. Rue Cambon is a street where you will find the Chanel couture store and also Coco's apartment which is now Karl Lagerfelds Atelier. I love the pair of Chanel pants this mannequin is wearing in thier window display. Across the street from Chanel is the Ritz hotel. Rue Cambon, and the surrounding streets are some of my favorite areas of Paris to window shop! "Faire du lèche-vitrine" is how you say window shopping in French. Literally translated it means, "to lick the window." Sometimes I think that it is highly appropriate.

Walking through the streets I saw a John Galliano boutique, and peeked through the window at Jimmy Choo. There are also some jewellery stores selling beautiful diamond jewellery.

Making my way over to Place de Vendome, I saw Dior and Chanel Jewellery. They were also setting up for Couture week. You can see all the metal barriers that are being put in place. I think I will have to get there early next week to catch a glimpse of anyone famous. I can't wait!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sleepless in Paris

The other day, my mom came across an article in a Burlington newspaper about a girl living in Paris who described her apartment as a "shoebox." It caught her attention as my apartment could also be described as such. My little shoebox is just over about 12 square meters. This includes my kitchen and bathroom. My bed hangs from the ceiling, so I have to climb up a ladder each night to go to sleep. It is so close to the ceiling that I cannot sit up straight in bed, or I will bump my head. This bed is horribly uncomfortable, and since heat rises it is often extremely hot up there. This has accounted for many sleepless nights in Paris.
My toilet didn't work properly when I first arrived, so I had to wait about a week for a plumber to come and fix it. My bathroom door doesn't close all the way, so there is not much privacy anyway. Then, one day my front door somehow managed to drop so I was unable to lock my door. This meant that I couldn't go out until my landlord came to fix it.
I also have some furry little friends in my apartment. My pet mice come up through the walls and out the holes in my bathroom, so I now push towels under my bathroom door at night to keep them out of my apartment. I didn't mind them too much, until one night, one of them decided to climb into bed with me, and run along my leg!

As you can see from my picture, I have a stunning view outside my window of a concrete wall, and scary neighbors who party until early hours of the morning while singing and playing obscure instruments.
The good things about my apartment are that it takes about 10 mins to clean the whole apartment. You never have to go far to reach the kitchen or bathroom.
My apartment is located in the Marais district which is a lively area with lots of boutiques and cafes lining the streets. The Pompidou center is just down the street where there are lots of sights to see. Overall, I will miss my little "shoebox" when I move out at the end of this month. It has been quite an experience living in a true Paris studio in the heart of the Marais district. Below is a picture of the view from Thomas' window where I will be staying. It is much better than my concrete wall!

Monday, January 18, 2010

French Fries

Finally, I met other jewellery makers in Paris! Saturday afternoon I went to CRU wine bar and met with my two new jewellery friends. We sat and talked for over 3 hours about jewellery making. We are meeting again to go bead fun! The wine bar where we met was a cute little bar in Village St. Paul. We were the only ones in there, but it was cozy.
After my jewellery meeting, I ventured out into the rain to meet Thomas at Notre Dame. We headed over to Indiana at Montparnasse to get some food. I was so excited to have french fries for the first time in 4 months! They were SO delicious! Did you know that french fries are not french at all, but actually from Belgium!?
Today was a lazy day. I am starting to get used to Sundays here in Paris. At first, it was annoying and I didn't understand why stores were not open on a Sunday. I would step outside and wonder why the streets were half empty. Where did everyone go!? I have now gotten used to my lazy Sundays and wonder why I ever wanted to go anywhere when I could just stay at home and relax!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The House of Lesage

In the heart of Paris, 50 seamstresses are hunched over wooden frames feverishly stitching hundreds of tiny cut glass beads, sequins and rhinestones onto gossamer cloth for “The House of Lesage”. This is why I came to Paris. I studied Professional Haute Couture Embroidery with the workers at Lesage. Owned by Chanel, The House of Lesage is one of Europe's most well known Beadwork and Embroidery houses. Although Lesage is owned by Chanel, they are currently responsible for 85% of all beading and embroidery that grace the world’s famous couture collections including, Chanel, Christian Dior, and Lanvin.

For my course, I had to work 150 hours in Lesage, and another 150 on my own. I learned all kinds of stitches and beadwork. First, I had to learn all the stitches on a sample piece of gossamer fabric such as this sample made from sequins beads, and ribbon.
Once I had accomplished this, I was able to start my main project. It ended up taking me about 400 hours to complete it using hundreds of beads, sequins and threads. Below are some pictures of my work at Lesage.

The embroidery technique for beads and sequins hand sewn on the reverse of the fabric used by Lesage is called Luneville (named after the town in France that started it in the early 19th century). On average, Lesage hand sews 100 million sequins and 150lbs of beads a year.
François Lesage, is the 80-year-old master and last remaining heir of the 150-year-old establishment. I got to meet François twice while I was there. He would come and stand over me watching as I embroidered. Talk about intimidating!
Now that I am trained in Haute Couture Embroidery, I am hoping to find a job to use my newly acquired skills. Until then, I am beading and embroidering pieces for my Pairs collection, soon to be available at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Window Shoe Shopping

It is still cold here in Paris with a little snow on the ground. I have now learned not to believe the guide books that tell you the temperate doesn't go below 2 degrees, and Paris never gets snow! It was nice at Christmas, but I am now ready for Spring. I am ready tear off my boots and wear some cute little spring shoes. Today, I stumbled across a perfect place to buy those spring shoes, the shoe master's shop, Christian Louboutin. There is no sign out front, and it is hidden away down an alley way. It is like the secret society of shoe lovers, and I found it! Too bad I can't afford a single pair in there. However, I can window shop! I love the pair of silver sparkling heels with the trademark red sole.

As I walked on from my window shoe shopping I decided to go to the Louvre since I was close by. As you can see from the frozen fountain, it really is cold here. I went into a part that I had not been in before. It is really beautiful with the fountain, and the pyramids just beond the walkway. Then, as it was getting dark out they turned the lights on the building. It was stunning all lit up. You could actually hear everyone gasp as it lit up. It was so pretty! This beautiful architecture is one reason why I love Paris!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Marche de la Creation Paris

Sunday seemed liked a good day to check out the Marche de la Creation Paris. It is an art and craft market that was advertised as having over 120 artisits selling thier work. There are two locations Bastille on Saturdays or Montparnasse on Sundays. Thomas and I caught the Metro to Montparnasse and looked for the market. There turned out to be only a handfull of artists selling thier work. There was jewellery, paintings and sculptures. The work that was there was pretty good. However, there were not 120 artists. There were more like 30. I am guessing that the weather has put people off of displaying thier work. In the picture, you can see the market stalls in the distace under the Montparnasse tower.
It seemed like it could be a great market, so I will have to go back during the warmer weather. And of course, I have looked up how to rent a booth there for myself!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Avoid eye contact

The past two days have not been very exciting. Since I had no thrilling sightseeing stories, I thought I would share a few words about riding the Paris Metro. At first, the subway system here was scary and confusing. It was full of sketchy people begging for money and there were so many different lines and tunnels, you could easily be lost in there for days!
After riding the Metro now for the past four months, it doesn't seem too bad. I am now used to the people going thorugh the trains asking for money, and seeing the homeless people sleeping on the seats. The one thing that I do still find amusing is the general rule of not to make eye contact with anyone.
At first I wondered why almost everyone of the train always had some sort of book or newspaper to look through, even if they were only going for two stops. I now know why. It is to insure that they will not make any eye contact with anyone else on the subway.
Just last week, while I was riding from Port d'Orleans to Reaumur Sebastopol a girl, about my age got on the train and sat beside me. As she sat, I looked over and made eye contact. BIG mistake. She waited a couple of minutes, then started loudly saying something fast in french that I couldn't understand. When I said "je parler anglais," she got up and moved seats. Who knows what that was all about. All I know is that if you make eye contact, you are opening yourself up to all the crazies on the train! So remeber if you are ever in Paris and riding the Metro, avert your eyes. Avoid all eye contact, or they'll single you out!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Market Day Trip

Well today I decided to check out marché aligre to see what treasures I could find. All of the tour books say that it is a great market for fruits and veggies, and collectibles.
I decided to walk there instead of take the metro, so I could window shop along the way. I found myself in Place des Vosges, which was the home of Victor Hugo. It had just started snowing again as I walked into the park to take this photo.
As I left the park, I ended up getting lost and turning down the wrong street at Bastille. However, it turned into a happy accident. Along this street was Atelier d'art de France. It was about 4 blocks of artists and their workshops. There wasa wide variety of artists including, glass blowing, furniture makers and textile restoration. There was even a man creating beautiful umbrellas, and another making flutes. This picture is of a loom that was in one of the workshop windows.

Once I had finished looking, and daydreaming about owning my little workshop in the Atelier d'Art, I decided to continue on to the market. As I found my way through the tiny snow covered streets looking for any sign of a market, I saw a large building in the distance. This turned out to be the market. I peeked through the doorway expecting to see tons of market stalls with bustling people all around. Instead I saw a few stalls selling meat, and about 3 people inside buying some. As a vegetarian, this was not of any interest to me! There were a few stalls still decorated for Christmas, and I suppose if I wanted to buy a whole pig roasting on a spit, then this would have been a great market! I guess I should leave the market scene alone until spring time comes, and there are more people selling things.

Everyday in Paris is an adventure. I have learned that just because the guide books say something is fabulous, it doesn't always mean it is! Hopefully, I will have better luck tomorrow!