The Dress, part 2

Then we really went wild, jumped into a taxi and headed off for the Faubourg Saint Honoré. We entered boutique after boutique; it was as if time had stopped and we were running through a frozen film set. People came to life as we approached, everyone else blurring into the background. I tried on a slinky skintight sexier-than-peeled-grapes dress that looked great on me, and I relished watching Mr French eat me alive with his eyes (thank you for that, Mr Raf Simons). Almost everything seemed to fit, and as sales person after sales person entered the dressing rooms, I quite pleased I happened to be wearing my very best purple silk lingerie for the day.

Then we arrived at Prada. I was never much of a fan, finding the large metal logos on her handbags such a turn-off that I never looked beyond to the clothing. But the shop was there, and we were having fun, so we walked in and I asked the burly, rather intimidating security guard to point us towards dresses.

Downstairs, a lovely lady named Magali, asked if she could help us. I explained our challenge and she set to work, bringing me dress after dress. I did not know this at the time, but Magali is an image consultant, and spends her free time helping Parisiennes learn to dress. It was as if a good fairy had waved her wand, each dress was more beautiful than the next. It is no surprise that Miuccia Prada was nominated for the Design Awards for her spring 2013 collection. And she designed the dresses for Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby, adding a little capsule collection for the event. I was spoiled with an exceptionally rich collection.

I tried on a sublime finely knit black silk tunic with 1920’s fringe on the bottom that swayed seductively with every step. Then came a silk taffeta princess’ dress in rich blue with large green and ivory dots, a tight bodice and full skirt. A fun, 1950’s inspired white-trimmed black dress with a full skirt, v-neck and sleeves that rested just off the shoulders, followed by a shiny black silk dress with kimono accents that ended about mid-calf. It all fit, and it all liked good, I could tell by the look in Mr French’s eye as he sat there patiently waiting for me to don one dress after the other.

Finally, I tried on a grey silk dress that had been cut like it might have been made for Joan from the hit show Mad Men. Steel grey and sleeveless with a long pencil skirt, a fitted bodice and a rounded scooped-back opening nearly to my waist. The fabric was airbrushed with a large patch of white that through the skirt and across the bodice where some mauve Japanese style flowers printed on to the silk taffeta. Seeing it on there was no doubt. We had found The Dress.


The Dress, part 1

Last week I referred to a certain shopping trip for a special dress, but I was so distracted by the prostitute scene at a swanky hotel that I forgot to talk about The Dress. Or rather, Shopping for The Dress.

Between the two of us Mr French and I have five children (I know, this is an odd segueway, but bear with me). This is probably not the first time I mention this overwhelming fact. Five is a pretty big number, and it amazes me that we are responsible for all those little souls. They’re mostly grown, but we’re seven, so there is plenty of turbulence; emergency hospital visits, existential angst, growing pains and ski accidents are just a few of the bumps that have come our way in the few months. But right now, this week, everyone is doing ok. It’s amazing, and we are both savouring the moment, which is why Saturday was so damn fun.

We headed out the door to run errands; the cobbler, tailor, dry cleaner and the stationary seller were all on our list. As I Iocked the door, Mr French asked if I had brought the window dimensions along, we really should look into getting some curtains. I had not, but then again, neither had he.

Our errands brought us to the Bon Marche, and after getting ink for his pen, he suggested a visit to the clothing department for The Dress. I need a dress because we have been invited to a dinner party. In a palazzo. In Venice. Tenue de Soirée is what the very sober, elegantly engraved invitation read. I had called the hostess, and she had confirmed that she’d be wearing a long dress.

My first thought had been Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo jacket. I mean doesn’t everyone immediately think of the YSL tuxedo jacket when having a fashion emergency? No? Well, I’ve been thinking of this jacket for years, and this was the perfect once-in-a-lifetime excuse. I know it’s not a long dress, but it is THE Style Icon of my generation. I went to my nearest YSL and was quickly jolted back to reality: in my excitement I’d forgotten that the brand is now Saint Laurent. Again. After discovering that there were no jackets for me in all of France (yes, they took the time to look!) I complained to the manager about the name change, explaining that I was a traditional kind of girl.

“Then you should love it!” He protested, filling me in on the history of the brand and letting me know that Hedi Slimane, their new Creative Director, was taking the brand back to its origins, using the original name and the original logo. I didn’t leave with my smoking, but I did walk out that door convinced that Saint Laurent has some of the best customer service in Paris.

I would not be getting my dream garment. Not wanting to spend a fortune on a dress I’d have very few occasions to wear in this lifetime, I was determined to visit my old friends at Reciproque, a consignment shop that has a room of gowns. My friend Out and About in Paris had an even better suggestion: La Femme Ecarlate, a gown rental service. But everytime I’d suggest a visit to either shop, Mr French would simply grunt and head to an art exhibit.

So we were looking, but I was not shopping. Because the party is in Italy and there may actually be a spot of sunshine, I was hoping to wear a bit of color. At the Bon Marche, in an area featuring new, international designers we spotted a dress we both liked by someone from Lebanon. And then another, and another. Enough choices that it was worth disturbing the saleswoman to try on a few pieces. I went into the dressing room as she brought me the wrong dress, and then one that was two sizes too small, before confessing she didn’t have any of the dresses in my size. This made me feel fat and kind of grumpy.

Around the corner Alexander McQueen had a gorgeous tuxedo jacket with exquisite tailoring, the lapels integrated into the body of the vest. Even better, there was a dress version of the design. The designer, or creative director as they are now known, Sarah Burton, knows women and our bodies. I slipped into the dress, and it was a perfect fit. I liked they way it felt, they way it moved and the way Mr French looked at me wearing it. But it was black and stopped at the knees, and I didn’t really see the point since I already have something similar. At least I wasn’t feeling so grumpy any more.

Then we really went wild, jumped into a taxi and headed off for the Faubourg Saint Honoré…


Reciproque – 93 rue de la Pompe, 16e – 01 47 04 30 28

La Femme Ecarlate – 42, avenue Bosquet, 7e – 01 45 51 08 44

The Closet

Somebody recently googled “in every Parisian’s closet” and landed on my blog. I’m sure I’ve written this sentence one or sixty times, but I have never actually produced a post about what I imagine to be in every Parisienne’s closet. So I thought I’d put it in writing. But, despite dwarf sized apartments with miniature closets, the list is long, très long. Especially when we start talking shoes.

The list is so long, in fact, it requires a book, not a post, so today I’m sticking to spring 2012. If you want the whole enchilada, I suggest consulting Inès de la Fressange’s book, but be forewarned; her list includes grandmother’s diamonds and vintage Hermès bags, so its not what the French would call accessible to every woman. Rest assured, this list is more reasonable;

1/ A military shirt. I found one at the military shop at Montparnasse and has a large, black ink HS (hors service) stamped on the back. At 20€, it was a easy purchase for all the girls chez nous. But, even the designers like Hartford are getting in on the action, re-vamping the classic for those who want a fresher look.

2/ A dark blue blazer. Some like them in linen for the summer, but usually they’re just a light weight wool. They’re worn by everyone, of all ages, even teens are happy to be sporting them.

3/ White or colored jeans. Denim blue is oh so very yesterday this summer, although I have no doubts it will be back for the fall. It is particularly obvious this spring because the weather has been too abysmal for the skirts and dresses we’re all wishing we could wear.

4/ Low ankle boots. Gotta have ‘em. With a dress, with jeans and even with shorts (if you’re young enough, or brave enough), looking like a cowboy from the Camargue is definitely a fashion faut this spring. Of course, we don’t have a lot of options as torential spring showers keep flip flops, or any kind of sandal from being a serious option.

5/ The Vanessa Bruno bag. That’s the canvas bag with sequin straps that you see on every other Parisienne as soon as spring has sprung. My first year in Paris, I was totally mystified when I opened my front door on that first warm day to discover that everyone was sporting the same design. I became convinced that I’d missed the national spring fashion bulletin. It has been popular for years now and will probably be so for many years to come. Boring, but tried, true and oh, so practical.

Perhaps, as the season progresses, the sun will come out and I’ll be able to add a bit of color, a swooshy skirt, or a lovely dress to the list, but for now I’m staying covered up.


Hitting the streets a bit late with this post today, because Friday@Flore has left the café and headed to the Tuileries gardens where the Issey Miyaki show was going out on to the catwalk in the “tente ephemère” that city officials construct and de-construct each season, for Paris Fashion Week.

The designers are unveiling their Fall 2013 collections just as the kids in Paris head off on their winter break. Having a kid in Paris means that I’ll be missing most of the shows as we head off to the mountains and I do my Mom thing. I know, “We’re going to the alps” sounds oh, so, chic, but last time we went to the this resort I came down from the slopes in an ambulance and spent more time in the hospital than at the hotel!

I am in town long enough to attend at least one show, so I bundled up and headed out to see what the designer of Pleats Please had in mind for us. As always happens during Paris Fashion Week, I saw some really great street fashion along the way.

More than previous seasons, I was shocked by the uniformity of it all. There is definitely an accent color that is “IN” ladies and gentleman, with a second color trailing close behind.

As a pale skinned red head, this does not bode well for me, but everyone else looked simply ab fab in their quirky mustard yellows and warm reds.






Everyone except the star of the day for me, Mr Bill Cunningham, the street fashion reporter for the New York Times and my idol. He was wearing the cooler blues and greys. I am not usually great at recognizing celebrities and I don’t recall ever having seen the man, beyond the tiny photo of him on his bike that they use for the online NYTimes, but I recognized him immediately. And then I stalked him, noticing what he was photographing, and how, adding a street fashion master class to my day at Paris Fashion Week. I can now head for the slopes, visions of silks and laces slaloming in my head.


Inès sez…

Inès sez…
To heat things up this winter wear a lacy bra under your cardigan, its the sure fire way to keep the gentlemen around you feeling a little hot under the collar.

Inès is the face of l’Oreal Rivatlift, for heaven’s sake! She’s fifty! I know women who believe that turning fifty is going to be the beginning of the end, but Inès knows better. She’s French so she knows, unflinchingly that there is no age for being hot, it is all about style and owning your sexuality. Even my daughters’ 72 year old French Mamita turns men’s heads with her elegant chignon and pencil skirts and winter is no reason to cover up.

This understanding is one of the things I adoooore about living in Paris. I don’t have to go to workshops to remember that being sexy is a great, healthy part of life, I’ve got women like Inès and the ads on bus stops to remind me that there is no age for workin’ it!



SMILE everybody, it’s a snow day!!!

These photos were taken over the weekend, when it really was snowing outside and blustery and beautiful. Today we’re back to DIOR grey skies with sub zero temperatures.

Loving the gloves. All that slush and nasty wet stuff on the ground means most parisiennes are wearing practical shoes. Does not happen often folks, so to lighten the moment, fun little touches like these gloves are being slipped on.

Sitting in the Flore enjoying a “noisette” that I dosed with a healthy serving of Mr French’s chocolat chaud, I noticed a lot of gorgeous handbags. I don’t know if this is because all the black coats guaranteed we’d see the bags, or if it is because everyone is desperate for a splash of fashion, which is not easy when bundled up like the Michelin Man.


And just like the crowd leaving the Chanel Haute Couture show, St Germain’s golden youth was getting their fur on. Even the boys.






I loved this lady’s snow day attire, a splash of instant sunshine. I am sure that she has read the poem, “When I’m an old lady I’ll wear purple.” She may have even scoffed at the thought of ever being an old lady herself, despite already being old enough to be my grand mother.





















People were staying close together, supporting each other when the going got difficult and generating some mutual warmth. It was a loverly day for a stroll.








I had to stand out in the cold much longer than usual to get these shots, as more people than usual stayed inside. But looking at them now I feel like maybe I need to be thinking about the roll of fur trim in my wardrobe. And I’m going continue wearing that chunky wool scarf that M just knit for me me last week, it is more in than I ever imagined!

Inès sez…

Confession time… don’t you love confessions? They’re so dramatic, n’est-ce pas? Especially as the confessor beats around the bush, writing in circles and dragging it out in an attempt to create tension for the dramatic unveiling when she announces that has a crush. A girl crush. I chose the word confession because it is no secret among friends and family that I absolutely adore, respect and admire Inès de la Fressange. I think she’s elegant, cool and terminally chic.

Despite my advanced age, I dream of being Inès some day when I grow up, but I can’t: too short, too wide and and then there’s that whole mistake about being born in to a family without a de…. attached to their name. But I try!!! Really, I do.

In case you don’t know who Inès is, she is a model who was once Karl Lagerfeld’s muse, then married a fantastic man she was very much in love with, had two gorgeous daughters and started a career as a designer in her own right. There were bumps along the way; a falling out with Lagerfeld, the death of her husband and the end of her fashion line. But she gets back up and starts over again each and every time, which is what I admire
most about this lady In her most recent incarnation Inès is the spokesperson for Roger Vivier shoes and the author/illustrator of La Parisienne, a book that imparts the secrets of Parisienne style, teaching a girl like me (or you) how to be chic. Like a Parisienne. Like her!

Clearly I am not the only one who dreams of having a smidgen of the de la Fressange style, because the book sold well and after the book there were agendas in which Inès shares her favorite tips on style and lifestyle. Her gems always seem to strike me as good ideas, sometimes funny, usually relevant, so I thought I’d share them here with you, a multi cultural blend of Inès’ thoughts and the thoughts they inspire inspire in me…
There is a thought a week in each agenda, as well as an entire book on her thoughts, so this is not an article, it’ll be a regular little pow-wow over here at FindingNoon. I warned you it was something of an obsession!!!!

Inès sez…
To deal with the extra weight gained over the holidays…

go to the gym! JK!!! No, she’s way to kind to say something like that.That was the pragmatic little yank in me who fininshed off her sentence before reading it through.

What she really advises is to wear an over sized sweater with straight legged pants. And she adds that its ok to leave the pants unbuttoned if you’ve really gone to town on the foie gras (not joking, she says that) during the festivities.

I love that she recommends pants, not leggings and not skinny jeans, because even if she can pull them off, they’re really not flattering on your average full grown female. I mean, they look fantastic on my 15 year old, but you know, she’s… Fifteen!!!!

Oops. Just read the next line of her notes, and yup, she does say to go to the gym, only she puts it more kindly….. Reminding you to keep your resolution to go to the gym, the one she is absolutely confident you’ve already made because, well, you know, she believes we’ve all got our inner chic going on.

Off for a run folks…. and while I’m out there, tell me, how do you deal with your winter fat?

Chanel Haute Couture

scroll down for English

Paris Fashion Week est de retour, mais c’est trompeur, car il ne s’agit pas d’une semaine, mais de plusieures, enchaînées dans les grandes villes du monde. Tout de suite après une semaine pour les hommes, c’est au tour de la haute couture.

Haute Couture appartient à un tout autre univers que le prêt-à-porter que j’ai suivi en septembre. Même les journalistes arrivent avec un sac Birkin suspendu sur le coude,  les gardes du corps n’ouvrent pas la porte à n’importe qui sans invitation officielle et ceux qui arrivent en retard restent les bienvenus. C’est le monde des VIPs !

N’etant pas une fashionista confirmée, je suis condamnée à rester dehors avec les autres ; journalistes, bloggeurs et designers en germe. À l’intérieur il y a les privilegés, le monde de la mode et des belles. Très, très belles, comme Inès de la Fressange qui tweetait des photos des ensembles richement élégants qui passaient devant ses yeux. Et quelle chance, elle a twitter la robe de mes rêves (1000 mercis Inès !!!)

Dans les tweets j’ai remarqué des plumes. Beaucoup de plumes, ce qui ne m’etonne pas vraiement. Je les ai vu pour les fêtes chez Zara et H&M, sans parler de Brunello Cucinelli qui ornes des simples chemises en plume de boa. Soit j’ai une obsession ornithologique, soit les plumes sont ‘in’ !





La fourrure est à la mode aussi. Pas forcement sur scène, mais sur chaqu’une des spectateurs. Chapeaux, manteaux, gants, bottes, tout le monde était à poil !!!


Its Paris Fashion Week, yet again. That’s a lie, folks. There isn’t a fashion week. There are several weeks, one blending into the other in all of the major cities across the globe. This week’s fashion week is Haute Couture (last week it was men’s fashion).

Haute Couture serves a different clientele, so it brings in a different crowd. Even the journalists for these shows are toting Birkins, the guards don’t let in wanna bes like me without an invitation just because we look particularly deserving, and late comers are allowed entrance, this is haute couture after all, and everyone is a VIP!

My dream dress...

I stood outside with fashion journalists, bloggers and someday designers while the affluent and influential, the stylish and the gorgeous folk, people like Inès de la Fressange sat inside, tweeting each outfit, including my dream dress(es) and showing us what was coming “in”.

As people came out of the show they were happy and smiling and I even heard one American repeat the word “gorgeous” several times. This is extremely enthousiastic compared to anything I witnessed while stalking the prête à porter scene.

From the tweets, I saw feathers, lots of feathers. Which isn’t exactly a shock. I saw them on dresses at H&M and Zara this holiday season and Brunello Cucinelli has been using them as shirt collars for a year or two now. But this is Karl, so its official, they’re in.

Another ‘in’ is fur. It wasn’t in the show, but it was on pretty much everyone who attended the show. From hats to muffs, trimming coats, shoes and gloves, the fur was flying!!!



+ d’images….


Advent -5

Works like a charm….

In her book on Parisienne chic, Inès de la Fressange notes the Parisienne’s passion for good-luck charm bracelets, and who am I to argue with Inès? I actually noticed this habit when I first moved to Paris ten years ago, when every other Mom I saw at the café across the street from the girls’ school had her wrist tied up in a collection of multi-coloured strings. It immediately went on my ‘I want’ list and has stayed there every year since then. After all, a girl can never have too much good luck.

Of course, the penultimate parisien charm bracelet is a set of Dinh Van handcuffs (600€), which I absolutely adore for the slightly twisted message they send out with absolute simplicity. And it is one of the few bracelets I wouldn’t mind seeing being worn by a man.

Since my charm bracelets are usually gifts from my charming girls, the budget is considerably more modest. I have received Brazilian friendship bracelets that they knotted themselves from a selection of embroidery threads (10€) bought at La Droguerie’s stand at Le Bon Marché. As they’ve gotten older, they started giving me engraved charm bracelets (24€) from Mitabaya. Personalized with their names or little sweet nothings, and in a variety of shapes and materials, I wear these bracelets daily, even to the most formal of occasions. Not only do I love wearing these bracelets, but I love coming up with thoughtful or particularly personal messages and giving them as gifts to friends and mentors.

These charms are all lovely and I’d be happy to wear any one of them for any occasion, but we all have more traditional people on our gift list. People who may turn their nose up at a simple charm on a string. For those giftees La Perle de Lune has a an entire collection of gold charms on gold chains (245€) that are accompanied by a series of candy toned jewels you simply want to devour.

Apriati, means gift in Greek and the jeweler on the rue du Four makes some exquisitely elegant pieces (60€) with simple charms that a delight to give. The artist works with hammered gold and had more intricate pieces that are built on several string, include diamonds and are even built up into cuff. If you visit the shop, everything is displayed in glass encased, pop out drawers you can open and explore, like a kid in a (very expensive) candy shop, making the shopping almost as much fun as the gift giving.








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