Ssshhhh…it’s all so quiet in Paris

Unlike most people who can’t wait to be on their summer holiday, I truly enjoy spending my summer in the city. Already mid-July, you start to feel the city empty out a bit. People seem more relaxed, traffic jams and honking cars cease to exist and most importantly, nonexistent parking spots suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Come the month of August and Paris literally goes silent. The hustle and bustle of city living just disappears. Cars sporadically pass by, shops are mostly closed and the only thing left to do in your free time, weather permitting (we are in Paris after all) is to simply enjoy long leisurely walks, early morning breakfasts on quasi-empty terraces and afternoons spent in the numerous gorgeous parks and gardens the city has to offer. Or simply put, rediscovering the city I always love but never take the time to wholly appreciate.

So tell me, how do you spend your time during the summer months?

M.

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Great-grandma Esther is pretty in pink

I absolutely love this picture of my great-grandma Esther taken in the 1940′s. I was never lucky enough to meet her and know very little about her life but when I look at this picture, I feel a sense of warmth and kindness emanating from her. Her laughing eyes , rosy cheeks and timid smile shine through this vintage picture my Mother let me have of her. I have no idea what the original colors of her dress and makeup are (maybe blue with white dots?) but it doesn’t really matter. As much as I’m an Instagram lover, it just doesn’t quite match an original vintage photo.

M.

PS: On a completely different note, I haven’t blogged in so long but I’m going to do my best to post regularly from now on.

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Being a kid again-for one delightful afternoon

Like many Parisians, I eagerly headed over this weekend to the Carnaval de Colette in honor of the shop’s fifteenth anniversary  not quite knowing what to expect and all the while sensing it would be a day to remember. We are talking about Colette here, as in the Paris-based concept store known world-wide for its diverse and edgy selection that mixes fashion, art and culture. I do not know of one instance when they’ve put on a show that wasn’t to say the least memorable.

I’ll readily admit I feel somewhat ambivalent towards Colette. Their selection is absolutely incredible but I find some of the recent ground-floor items to be a bit more tchotchke-esque than I care for from such an avant-garde boutique. Regardless, the idea that such an elite store would choose to open the celebration to us common folk was quite refreshing and in a way, so Colette.

And so I went over to the carnival with a friend, her nine-year-old son and his best bud, as well as her parents visiting from London. I’m not going to bore you with all the details from our fun-filled afternoon. All I will say is this: I haven’t felt like such a kid since…well, since being an actual kid! The sweet smell of candy apples and cotton candy filled the air the minute we stepped into the tent. With a New York style hotdog stand and burger food truck, I felt like I was in the good ole’ US of A on a hot lazy summer afternoon enjoying lunch before heading to the beach. Vibrant colors, textures, and amazing imagery at every corner, I was in total sensory overload.

My friend and I jumped from one stand to the next, giddily laughing like ten-year-old school girls and trying everything out with the boys: polaroid pictures taken, Jeremy Scott for Adidas cardboard-clothing cut-outs tried and tested; candy bought at the all-American food stand (frootloops and pretzel M&M’s here I come!) And because this is a Colette shindig’ a slightly more glamorous activity, getting my hair styled by the David Mallett’s pop-up salon. I swear, forgetting my sartorial inadequacy, I was ready for the Oscars.

But the best part? The general ambiance. Colette wanted the celebration to be friendly and open to all. And that’s just what it was;  bobos, hipsters, edgier crowds mingled naturally with rather mundane families out for a fun afternoon with the kids. Young, old, hip or not, you could hear/see/feel laughter everywhere.

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Spotlight On >> Catherine B

 

It’s not every day that you meet someone as dedicated and genuinely attached to their craft as Catherine B. The owner of two boutiques specializing in true vintage Chanel and Hermès, Catherine is very quick to point out that these are not secondhand shops. ” I am a fashion antiquarian” she says. And this sums up perfectly the subtle nuance of her craft.

Clients worldwide come to her for the unique and exceptional selection. The boutiques only carry vintage, in the true sense of the word, meaning that the items come from an original or limited-edition collection or that they no longer exist or are no longer produced. There is no bargain hunting at Catherine B. She buys at a high cost but also sells at a high price. It’s the nature of the game when you are a true antiquarian. Incredibly passionate, it’s not about the money. She readily admits that she’s willing to pay three times the price for an item if and only if she really wants it. Hermès and Chanel collections from the last five years? Not interested. Hermès and Chanel circa 1970′s or 1980′s, definitely.

More than a simple shopping experience, the boutique also boasts Catherine’s personal collection on full display for clients to drool over (figuratively speaking of course). My heart skipped a beat when a dark navy weekender-sized Kelly, known as the Kelly Relax caught my attention. I’ve always said that one day, budget permitting I would gift myself a camel-colored Kelly. As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats it. However, the Kelly Relax is really the icing on the cake. A Kelly? Great. A Kelly Relax? Better.

 

And just when you think you’ve seen it all, out comes the unique giant-sized Mademoiselle purse from Chanel. I rarely find myself speechless but there’s always an exception to the rule. Wow. I immediately thought of Miss B from A Girl A Style and her love for Chanel and trying to imagine her reaction to such a treasure. Oh and did I mention that Catherine is also the proud owner of  the original Birkin, as in the one belonging to and named after Jane?

(Yes, ladies, this is the original Birkin)

As you might imagine, what was supposed to be a thirty-minute stop by the boutique turned into a three-hour visit and an afternoon coffee break. I do not think there is someone more knowledgeable about the history of the collections on display and the technical details of each item. Every piece has a story to tell and in a split-second, Catherine is able to give you a comprehensive description and background of the bag/shoe/jewelry/clothing you’re lusting over as well as how it joined her ever-growing offering.

 

Though the selection is currently quite extensive, there are fewer and fewer items for her to purchase for the boutique. Of course, there is lots of vintage Chanel and Hermès on the market, but not up-to-par with the quality requirements Catherine insists upon. She will gladly purchase Chanel tweed jackets that she’ll never sell just to recuperate the original buttons and chain to mend another jacket in perfect condition if not for the missing or damaged button. The idea of putting current buttons on a true vintage jacket seems absurd to her, if not completely lacking authenticity.

Such dedication and respect perfectly exemplifies the craft of Catherine, a true fashion antiquarian.

Les Trois Marches de Catherine B – 1, Rue Guisarde 75006 Paris – Tel: +33(0)1 43 54 74 18

Boutique Catherine B – 3, Rue Guisarde 75006 Paris – Tel: +33(0)1 43 25 64 92

www.catherine-b.com

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