Parisian Chic

Parisian Chic

Cult Classic

Vanessa Bruno certainly qualifies as a born Parisienne-her mother was a Danish supermodel and her father founded the French fashion house Emmanuelle Khanh. Bruno’s collections manage to capture the fashion zeitgeist without screaming “total look”. Her pieces incorporate the seemingly effortless quality of Parisian fashion, offering attention to detail, hand finishing and comfort-her clothes look as if she tries out key pieces on the métro before giving them the okay. Highlights of her current collection include ruffle-front silk dresses, sassy mini-skirts with pleat and drape details, and flattering V-neck tops. Bruno is also renowned for handbags, and she has just launched a line of swimwear inspired by 1940s glamour and the heroines of Eric Rohmer films. The backless one-piece is a must!

100 rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd, or at Le Printemps

Queen of Knits

Flame-haired Sonia Rykiel, the grande dame of Left Bank chic, opened her first boutique on the rue de Grenelle in May 1968 and had to close it again the same evening as student revolutionaries started lobbing cobblestones. Dubbed “Queen of Knits” by American fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily, Rykiel went on to launch her own fashion revolution with her ultra-tight “poor boy” sweaters, her innovative use of outside seams and her random slogans emblazoned in rhinestones. Forty years on, now aided by the brand’s newly appointed creative director Gabrielle Greiss, Rykiel still has her finger firmly on the fashion pulse with trompe-l’oeil jumpsuits, dresses in computer-patterned floral chiffon and plenty of her signature stripes.

175 blvd Saint-Germain, 6th, or at Le Printemps

Fabulous Footwear

I’ve been raving about Pierre Hardy ever since I bought my first pair of slinky PH stilettos with a plunging décolleté and four-inch heels that caused me no discomfort. The French shoe maestro, with a background in architecture and dance, has an excellent grounding in structural design. After designing shoes for Dior, Balenciaga and Hermès, Hardy launched his own line in 1999 “to do everything I couldn’t do at the major houses”. And did he ever. A vertiginous wedge-heel platform model embellished with a silver leather disc won him Wallpaper magazine’s Shoe Designer of the Year award in 2006. His current crop includes Grecian flats, strappy gold-and-silver high-heeled sandals and cool sneakers for men. For those who can’t afford the fabulous footwear in his Palais Royal boutique, Hardy has done a capsule collection for Gap, with nine models for women and two for men. 15 rue de Valois, 1st

Sego Style

Nicolas Sarkozy may have won the French presidential election, but his glamorous Socialist opponent Ségolène Royal beat him hands down in the style stakes, far outclassing Sarko’s Mafioso-style bling. Many of Ségo’s outfits were by Paule Ka, a label launched by the French-Brazilian designer Serge Cajfinger. The Paule Ka look-which Cajfinger says is based on the ’60s style trinity of Jackie Onassis, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly-has been a favorite of trim 30- to 60-something Parisiennes for two decades. The spring/summer 2008 collection includes two-tone poplin dresses and Vélib-friendly pedal-pushers for day and a stunning bustier dress with a taffeta-and-organza-puff skirt for swish soirées. 20 rue Mahler, 4th, or at Le Printemps

Cheap Chic

For bargain chic, avoid the rue de Rivoli like the sartorial plague it is and head for the Champs-Elysées branch of Zara (yes, it’s a Spanish chain, but this is where Dior secretaries shop for classy separates and clever runway copies on their lunch hour).  Kookaï offers a young, fun and colorful take on fashion at reasonable prices, and the small-busted and skinny-hipped will find cute lingerie and trend-setting bikinis at Princesse Tam-Tam. Le Comptoir des Cotonniers is great for basic wardrobe fillers that, as the company’s ongoing ad campaign claims, look every bit as good on mothers as on their teenage daughters. And one final secret of Parisian chic on the cheap: the city’s numerous dépôts-ventes-consignment shops selling secondhand designer fashion. Réciproque and Le Dépôt-Vente de Buci are two of the best. Just don’t mention exactly where you found your sensational new cocktail dress-Parisiennes simply call it vintage.

Zara 44 ave des Champs-Elysées, 8th

Kookaï 70 rue Saint Antoine, 4th; Le Printemps

Princesse Tam-Tam 20 rue Saint Antoine, 4th; Le Printemps

Le Comptoir des Cotonniers 33 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 4th; Le Printemps

Réciproque 95 rue de la Pompe, 16th

Le Dépôt-Vente de Buci 4 rue Bourbon Le Château, 6th

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