An American in Paris

The minute you step through the building’s cobbled stone entrance you know it's going to be special. Located in a 16th century Hôtel, the new flagship Ralph Lauren store on Boulevard St Germain embraces the classic French facade and delivers an absolutely divine interior in the Rococo style. The ground floor bar and dining, with its club like leather seats and French oak beams, suggests one should be on their best gentleman-like behaviour, order a cognac and light up a cigar. The interior courtyard, originally stables for carriages and horses, is a charming alfresco seating alternative if you prefer something a little lighter in your dining decor (see story below). At 2135 square metres it is the American label’s largest flagship store in Europe and showcases a full range of men’s and women’s collections, accessories and watches (the 30,000 Euro  divine dark navy Ricky bag was not on my shopping list!)  Ralph Lauren has delivered the most exquisite attention to detail and luxury with a capital L. Ralph Lauren, 173 Boulevard St Germain, 75006 Paris.


Ralph's is the very chic and rather relaxed restaurant on Boulevard St Germain. After an 'eye spy' of the store earlier in the day I was lucky enough to secure a table for one that very evening. On a balmy autumn night in October I dined al fresco in the cobbled stone courtyard. I found the staff to be completely charming and the food good. I had heard rumors about how 'outrageously expensive' it was to dine here but in my experience it offered value for the euro I parted with. I also expected it to be full of Americans but non! I was surrounded by tables full of well-heeled locals. Bookings are essential.

Ralph's.  Ralph Lauren, 173 Boulevard St Germain, Paris.

Ralph Lauren Food Paris

I love Printemps

Printemps was loving their New York designers last month. I was loving their windows (although I was not loving the amount of time it took to get these pics ... I think I snapped about 30 shots of each window to try and get at least one without a passer by in the frame).  Printemps, Boulevard Haussman.

Printemps Fashion Paris

Tres Bon

Le Grande Epicerie is the fabulous and tres delicious food hall of the department store Le Bon Marche. I remember being wowed when it first re-opened about 8 years ago and it remains a serious foodie destination in Paris.

The lovely Solenn Gubri looks after the PR and she kindly gave me a guided tour and some quick stats on this Parisian icon.  Here is the express summary: 8000 people visit the food hall daily and around 1/3 of these visitors do most of their weekly food shop here. Another 1/3 come in for specific products and exclusive lines or are tourists (approx. 12%) and the remainder come in daily for a ready to eat lunch. The hall covers some 3000m2 with another 3000m2  in the back of house which includes 4 production kitchens or 'laboratories' which include the largest bakery in Paris, a full butchery that breaks down the entire carcass under the paddock to plate philosophy, a highly skilled pastisserie and a prepared meals kitchen.

Like the best food halls around the world LGE has exclusive lines and works in partnership with artisan producers to develop new product for Le Bon Marche. Can A Suc were commissioned some years ago now to make specials sugars and invented the sugar heart for LBM, they are now a global brand and make the most stunning formed sugar "decorations" as a result of this partnership. Daniel Mercier is their star chocolatier of the moment producing exclusive treats just in time for Christmas. If you're planning a trip to Paris then this foodie heaven should be on your 'must do' list.

Le Bon Marche Food Paris

Still impressive

I'm working off the assumption that not every reader has been to Paris so I've decided to include the fabulous and very famous ceiling of Galleries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann. Whilst this grand old dame is looking a little tired in places I love the old world charm of the lifts, staircases, Juliette balconies that stunning ceiling. Whilst I've 'been and seen' this store a few times before it never fails to impress.

Pool to luxury cool

Little did I know what was hiding behind the Hermes hoarding that caught my eye on the Rue du Sevres when I was in Paris last month. Last Thursday they snipped their signature ribbon on a stunning new store that was once the bottom of the Hotel Lutetia pool, its past use referenced by a shimmery new mosaic tile floor. In what sounds to me like a complete luxury shopping experience, the product ranges from the familiar Birkin and Kelly to  leather sofas and dining tables, backgammon sets, folding screens and upholstery fabric. Three large sculptural wooden pods showcase different product categories. This super mod store also features a tea salon, bookshop and a florist.  I really like what the MD said about their latest store "If we are not full of surprises and audacity, then people will not be interested any more", a philosophy that has seen the brand enjoy sales growth during the GFC. Designed by RDAI agency, Hermes remains a family owned company.  Via: My on line research to find out about this stunning space lead me to a well written article by The Australian's fashion editor, Georgina Safe, it's well worth reading if you want a succinct overview of the current status of the Hermes brand.

Hermes Fashion Paris

Oh what a tangled web we weave

I can assure you this would be in more than a tangle if I'd helped out with the install. In what sounds like a simple exercise (take a lot of little cup hooks and looooooads of black wool) I can assure you this must have been quite a challenge to execute so well.  The talented Trimapee team not only design their own clothing, but also their stores (including the installation), direct short films and a whole lot more... demonstrating that a brand is no longer just about the clothes (oooh it's a complex retail landscape to navigate out there these days).  Trimapee's latest store is now open on level 1 at Melbourne's GPO.

Oh My

It's been a long time in the making but seemingly it is going to be well worth the wait. Now in the final construction stages, from what I spied last week Myer Melbourne has pulled out all the stops and gone a long way towards changing the Department store design landscape in this country. Elegant art deco elements combined with clean modern angles, lots of natural light and some great arrival moments render the store we have known for years gone by as unrecognisable. The new location of the lifts makes loads of sense and I love how the landing on each floor is framed by glass showcases telling fab VM stories. Whilst they are still fitting out, word on the street is that the works will be completed by mid February. I'm sure the neighbours are more than a little nervous.

Myer Fashion Melbourne

Student designers on show

RMIT School of Architecture & Design's Fashion Program is showing a selection of student works at Melbourne's GPO. If you're in the city it's well worth a peek. Take the escalators at the Lt Bourke St end of the building up to Level 2 ... that way you can stop and shop some of the edgiest labels in town like Trimapee, Manning Cartel, Life with Bird (... the list goes on...) on your way back down to ground level again.  The exhibit is open 12 to 6pm daily until the 28th of November - be quick!  GPO, cnr Bourke & Elizabeth St.

Design Fashion Melbourne

Florentijn flips out

BFF told me about 'fat monkey' by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, a giant site-specific project created for The Pixel Show Conference held last month in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The inflated form clad with thousands of the Brazilian icon - the flip flop - results in a pixel-like effect. Vee Cool. Check out Florentinjn's web site for more pics and a short movie on the making of this installation.

Design Other Brazil