Cashmere Craze

Cashmere Craze

It’s only natural that Eric Bompard, purveyor of fine cashmere, would settle on that bastion of bourgeois chic, the rue du Bac, for his new flagship store, which carries his full range of styles for men, women and kids. The ultra-sleek two-story boutique makes a nice counterpoint to the elegant 18th-century building, and says a lot about Bompard’s strategy: be up-to-the-moment but not stray too far from the classics.

At a time when even H&M is cashing in on the cashmere craze, Bompard remains the gold standard: his togs are made from top-quality Mongolian yarns, from 2-ply through 14-ply, in a huge range of sophisticated colors. Anything you could possibly want in cashmere Bompard’s got, from dressy and casual scarves and gloves to overcoats, underclothes, a half-dozen different caps and, of course, any kind of sweater under the sun. Salespeople are knowledgeable and will gladly explain how to keep your cashmere in good enough shape to pass down to your grandkids—first rule: never dry clean! Cashmere should be washed, by hand or machine. Even the adorable shrugs and chic oversized jogging suits are destined to last for years, and the cute children’s styles actually make a lot of sense, since machine washing is obligatory. Bompard’s cashmere may be a bit on the pricey side, but that’s okay because—current craze or no—cashmere really never goes out of style.

Eric Bompard 31 rue du Bac, 7th, website

Speaking of cashmere and the rue du Bac, there’s also the spanking new ASAP boutique (As Sustainable as Possible), which brings a classy Italian edge to its luxury cashmere creations. The name’s a bit unwieldy, but the concept is sound: retrieving discarded or overstocked cashmere and other luxury yarns from top fashion houses and giving them new life. The concept of sustainability here means using only natural dyes and manufacturing the garments in Italy to safeguard the tradition of excellent craftsmanship and keep the carbon footprint down. It also means a move away from fashion’s normal raison d’être, the “forced replacement of seasonal goods”, by offering styles that can be worn season after season. Fortunately, ASAP proves that lofty ideals and a great sense of style can go hand in hand: the clothes may be as sustainable as possible, but they are also beautiful. Styles include smocked cashmere knit dresses in dusky hues or a stylish dot pattern; an elegant serpent-weave button-down sweater, long open-weave scarves, and flowing featherweight cardigans. Clever and useful items, like cashmere eyeshades, adorable ear socks or a luxurious cap-and-booties set for newborns, make great gifts. There’s also a small range of handsome vegetable-tanned leather goods.

ASAP 99 rue du Bac, 7th, website

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Originally published in the March 2011 issue of France Today

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