The decision to head to Paris and London in January was made about ten days before Christmas, which, although last minute, made it all the sweeter. I am on this trip with my two sisters, Karen and Lisa. Karen works in interiors and for her it means Maison Objet (a massive furnishing expo), for Lisa it's a fabulous trip with her sisters and a first time visit to Europe, while for me it's a chance to soak up some “fashion vibes” in two of the worlds most happening fashion capitals.
Paris Menswear Fashion Week has been on, and I'd have to admit I've seen little evidence of it – the odd model sashaying through the streets (models look the same the world over – they stand out and are pretty easy to spot), a film crew on the streets and an installation glimpsed through the doors of a museum in the Marais District. Although I would love to attend a Paris fashion show but this isnt the time.
If anything Paris has served to debunk a couple of long-held myths for me: the first, that all Parisian women are slim and glamorous. Rest assured they most certainly are not – just like kiwi gals, there are glamorous women, but in such a busy city there are many more frumpy ones and as far as slim goes, the average size here would appear to be closer to a 12 than a 6. Myth number two? The French are arrogant and rude. This could not be further than the truth as I have found them to be incredibly helpful, unfailingly polite and genuinely friendly.
The final myth is perhaps the most disappointing for me: that everything you eat is amazing. Sadly, so far I've yet to have a meal in a restaurant that touches on the standard we enjoy in New Zealand…even in those that have come recommended by foodies. Admittedly, I don't have a big budget for expensive eateries, but be assured you can stumble across some pretty ordinary food in Paris as easily as Auckland.
What Paris does do better than anywhere I've visited though is amazing shopping. We are lucky enough to be here during sale season (as decreed by the French Government sales begin the second week of January and go for six weeks). There is only one word that can possibly come close to describing the Paris sales and that is “WOW”. They are truly amazing – great bargains across all levels, from vintage and outlet stores, to high end designers all have heavily discounted their wares. While I struggle to shop in sales in New Zealand, often feeling that all the good stuff has already gone, here it is very, very different. Yes, there is the added dimension of buying garments that you otherwise only read about in fashion mags, but the genuine reductions of up to 80% mean you are doing so at vastly reduced prices.
My purchases so far include a Paul and Joe dress discounted by 50%, a pair of stunning Chloe boots from a “vente” (clearance) store discounted by 80%, a fabulous knit dress from an emerging designer boutique on the back streets at 40% off, a cute tee, boots and jacket for a fraction of their original price and some great accessories for a whopping 70% off plus much more (I would tell you the rest but my husband will probably read this). I have to tell you, shopping in Paris on sale is like having died and gone to heaven. I whole-heartedly recommend it.
FashioNZs Style Doctor Jackie OFee is owner of Signature Style, Aucklands leading Personal Style consultancy. If youd like an honest shopping partner who has a vested interest in making sure you look great, give Jackie a call on (09) 630 5115, or check out her website: http://www.signaturestyle.co.nz/