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Chicicity in the City of Light and Fashion

One never has to look at a calendar to know it’s Fashion Week in Paris. You can tell by the number of tall waifish women there are slinking down the streets wearing no makeup and expensive clothing. Le Marais is awash with them. I never know whether to be jealous of their slim good looks or worried that they’re not eating enough or taking advantage of everything Paris has to offer while they are here.

Fashion Week starts today and runs through March 12th with a full schedule of fashion shows promoting the designers’ Fall-Winter 2009-2010 collections and Le Marais has become the Fashion Capital of the city. Since moving to the neighborhood more than 11 years ago, most of the wholesalers and little factories have turned into designer boutiques and art galleries. In some ways it’s sad to see the old world of Le Marais change, but in other ways, it’s a refreshing revitalization with creativity bursting at the seams.

Gaspard Yurkievich’s boutique is just downstairs from vacation rental apartments “Le Provençal” and “Mon Petit Château.” He was one of the first to invade the neighborhood and the boutique window is tough to miss with its “crouching long-haired blonde supposedly looking for its long-gone hair pin” as one blog described it.

Down the street at the corner of rue Normandie and rue de Saintonge, Isabel Marant, whose windows are more art exhibitions than fashion displays, will stop you dead in your tracks. Her first window at this location was a display of hundreds (maybe thousands) of enlarged sperm (yes, that’s right — sperm!) swimming in many directions, but arranged in one large floating ball. This month, there are four or five long playing records turning on spindles, with a tiny cut-out pin-up model standing on the disc, turning along with it as if on a merry-go-round with no end in sight. Go figure! What this has to do with fashion, I don’t have a clue, nor do the designs, which I find less than appealing (but what do I know?).

In the other direction on rue de Saintonge, heading southward, Christophe Lemaire, the designer who revamped “Lacoste,” is at the corner of rue de Poitou. The exterior of the shop is painted a steel gray, in perfect color coordination with his collection, also in all shades of Paris gray (that is inescapable — like the “greige” of my stairwell about which I’ve bitterly complained).

If you do a search for fashion designers in the 3rd arrondissement alone at, you get 350 responses compared to 49 in the 4th. Looks like the “Haut Marais” is beating out the “Bas Marais” for “chicicity.” That makes sense…tall women in the upper district…and that means I better get used to all those tall skinny women making us shorter, fatter varieties feel insecure about our less than stylish looks.

Editor’s Note: Find the calendar of all the shows here.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Just a few weeks away…so be sure to book your places now at the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference, March 21-22 at Tujague’s in New Orleans. We are sure to learn lots, eat well and have lots of fun! For more information and to register, click here /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_NOLA_2009/ or email [email protected]


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