As much as I love this city, it’s incomplete.
Day after day, I arise from my bed, open my French windows, take a deep breathe, smelling the balmy Parisian air and smile.
And then I remember. I will not be going to Topshop today. Like all the days before, today will be void of the British high street fashion chain that once brought me so much consumerist joy. For Paris, is not home to Topshop.
Alas, I’ve come to accept it.
But then yesterday, everything changed. A friend informed me he had spotted a pop-up shop for Topman (Topshop’s men’s line) in the Printemps department store in Paris. My palms began to sweat as I dialed the number of the store to get the full story. ‘If there’s a Topman in Paris, there has to be a Topshop, there’s just gotta be’, I thought to myself, rocking back and forth…
As it turns out, only the boys have been deemed worthy enough of Topshop’s presence in Paris and no women’s line has yet to find its place at Printemps or anywhere else in the country. Why the oppression? Who is behind this conspiracy?
I decided to stop being a victim and to start asking questions.
Posing as a [very serious] freelance journalist putting together a feature article on the growth of high street fashion in Paris, I emailed the fashion group’s press office asking, “Can you shed any light on the reasons why Topshop has stores in locations such as Slovenia and Iceland and not in Paris?”
Their response was as follows from PR manager, Mark Kean:
I’m afraid until the feature is commissioned we would be unable to get time from someone out of their schedule to commit. If you could let me know once it is confirmed then I can see who might be available.
Okay so they blew me off and my ‘hard-hitting’ questions. [I really thought I was going to get an exclusive scoop there, didn't I?!]
But why the tip-toeing? Why such commitment needed to answer such a simple question?
Smells like there’s a bit more to it. Quite clearly, there are no plans to open in France in the near future otherwise their response would have been a simple, ‘we plan to open branches in Paris within the next…’.
There are news articles and press releases on the internet from 2009 announcing that Topshop would be opening stores in Paris and Milan. No such openings ever happened.
And we can’t blame it on the recession because we all know high street fashion is good for these penny-pinching times.
More than ever, French fashion magazines are heavily featuring Topshop products on their pages (but the tempted reader would have to pay overseas shipping costs if they actually wanted to buy) and making cross-channel Topshop day trips via the Eurostar is now becoming a common commute for franco-fans of the brand.
So what is the real reason for its absence in Paris? Why have other high street giants like H&M made it onto the Champs Elysée and not Topshop? Have they been barred? Do they not like the French? If it means going undercover and undergound, I will get to the bottom of the Topshop conspiracy in Paris. To be continued…
An Avant Garde Social Life
I think it’s safe to say that the habit of capricious shmoozing and boozing is quite common amongst the jeunesse in Paris. If you’re a Parisian/ honorary Parisian, you might agree that weeknight ‘aperos’ with the unchanging casual dress code and the same faces at the same local bars and cafés– can sometimes get a little monotonous. Sure, it’s all about the bohemian life in Paris, but what if I wanted an excuse to put on a pair of heels once in a while, slip into a little black dress and sip champagne?
Excuse found. Avant-Garde is a new art circle in Paris, founded by a group of expats over at the Musee d’Orsay that I’m very keen to rub shoulders with when they burst onto the social scene this October. For young art lovers, aged 21-40, Avant-Garde will be hosting rather exclusive art-related parties at venues across town, starting with their wine-tasting launch party on October 11th at Ô Chateau.
Encouraging productive and fruitful mingling at cultural events rather than chez your local watering hole, count on flowing champagne to compliment a private Picasso viewing, hors d’oeuvres at exclusive venues like Sotheby’s Paris and most importantly, a reason to wear that little black dress.
If you don’t know jack about art, even better– you get to learn something. Your lack of ‘expertise’ can be the source of charming conversation starters for the entire evening, such as, “Why is that awful sculpture worth so much damn money?”
Psssst! These events also happen to be kind of ideal dating pools!
Yoga in French
Somehow I’ve got the idea that I need to take up yoga this winter. As if entering a foreign environment filled with flexible, overly-healthy people isn’t daunting enough– I’ve decided to do it with Parisians. How do they say ‘downward dog’ in French anyway? Well luckily for me, I’ve come across a charming little yoga centre in the 6th arrondissement which has daily classes in english (presumably with a bunch of unhealthy out-of-shape english people … right?– Yeah totally). Okay, I know, I know, I should be immersing myself and taking the French classes. But I really believe there are just some things you don’t do with the French. Like camping … (don’t ask).
Interested in taking up yoga in Paris? www.beyoga.fr
Le Snooze Bar
This next little Paris tip is right up my street. I remember those afternoons in the office when I was supposed to be working on an editorial but found myself working harder on keeping my eyes open. I can also recall the numerous techniques I mastered during my school days of how to look like you’re not asleep but in fact deep in concentration. A little business venture in Paris has taken this very common problem and found a solution. Zen nap bar is a bar where, no kidding, you can go and take a nap. At €12 for 15 minutes, you can take refuge on massaging bed of jade stones or a relaxation chair cradled in subdued light and soothed by soft music.
ZEN Nap Bar
29 passage Choiseul, Paris 2nd
Tel: + 33 (0) 1 71 60 81 55
Paris Fashion Week … it is what it is
Okay so I know I said I was going to do a part deux of my Paris fashion week adventures. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as eventful as I thought it would be. Surprise, surprise, fashionistas competed for the most ridiculous outfits, models managed to walk in a straight line and VOGUE Japan editor, Anna Della Russo still thinks she’s twenty-one. I couldn’t even tunnel my way into the one fashion show that was remotely interesting (the entire front row at Balenciaga fell on their butts when the bench collapsed). Oh well. I took a few snaps so I might as well show ‘em off. Here ya go…
Spotted some cool accessories…
a new breed of boys attending fashion week …
mixing high fashion with tattoos and a dose of bad ass …
Street style illustrators replacing street style photographers?
front row doing … whatever the front row does…
models …. modelling
and ofcourse, someone had to show up in a gold tin foil cape…