What’s not to love about Paris? I arrived in the fashionable and fabulously decadent city, after a quick pitstop in Athens, on a mission to scout out new international designers for LILA. The trip was, as expected, way too short and bittersweet. However, I couldn’t be more excited about the new designers we’ll be bringing to LILA. In a TWO-PART series on Paris, I’m sharing a sneak peek of some of the pieces you can expect for spring/summer ’17 (we’ll be revealing more over the next few months so keep checking back!), plus a photo diary of my stay, which talks a whole lot about food (hello, newfound macaroon-mania!), favorite sights, general Parisian awesomeness (cause there’s a lot of it) and, of course, more swoon-worthy fashion!
I stayed in a cozy part of the city, fondly known as Montmartre. This historic little neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement, to which artists like Dali and Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh and Pissarro flocked during La Belle Epoque at the turn of the 20th century, and where influential writers like Stein, Joyce, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, crowded into smokey cafés, was remarkably charming. Narrow cobblestone streets give way to many tiny shops selling art prints, souvenirs and other trinkets; bistros and brasseries spill out onto sidewalks, enticing with a delicious meal and al fresco dining.
Settling into the tiny boutique hotel that would be ‘home’ for the next few days, I was feeling adventurous enough to make the trek up to Sacré-Coeur, the beautiful white basilica sitting high atop a hill in the heart of Montmartre. What a view! After wheezing my way up to the top (clearly, I need to up my cardio) and catching my breath, I was able to take in the spectacular cityscape, just as the sun was beginning to set. A magical first night in the city of light.
View from Sacré-Coeur
Cappuccinos and pastries at Paul
One take away from Paris – don’t even try to ask for non-fat. Parisians take full pleasure in their carbs – baguettes and buttery pastries are consumed guilt free, on the daily (for me they were an indulgence), while frites, wine and deliciously stinky cheeses accompany every meal. My many failed attempts at requesting skimmed milk or sweeteners (in both English & French!) resulted in more full fat cappuccinos than I’ve consumed in my life. I guess, when in Rome…
The popular Paul and Le Pain Quotidian were conveniently located on our street, and were an easy fix when we were headed for the show and short on time. For more leisurely mornings, favorite local bakeries enticed with window displays overflowing with freshly baked bread, pies and other sweet pastries, and drew crowds out the door and around the corner.
A charming bistro in Montmartre
Our hotel was surrounded by dozens of bustling cafés and brasseries. Leisurely lunches and wine dinners that last late into the evening are part of the infectious mode de vie. The French seem to treat life like one large dinner party. Sure, it has its obstacles, but all can be overcome with good company a few glasses of wine.
Yummy fresh fruit and veggie stand
A neighborhood press shop & bookstore
The little shops, art galleries, boulangeries and patisseries, stalls selling fruits, vegetables and fresh fish, cafés and restaurants bring a lively hubbub to our cozy little neighborhood. I stumbled on this charming bookstore, tucked away on a side street, while out exploring early one more morning.
Bonjour, Arc de Triumph!
Sightseeing was squeezed in at random – whenever a free moment presented itself. The Arc de Triumph heads up the fashionable and famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Though incredibly touristy, every major label represents on the street (think Zara, Gap and Sephora to upscale designers like Lacoste, Hugo Boss and the venerable Louis Vuitton store which draws crowds!). Perfect for people watching or grabbing a bite at one of the avenue cafés… or both!
Obélisque + prep for PFW in the beautiful Place de la Concorde
When in Paris, a short walk can easily turn into a half day hike around the city. Everything seems close on a map, and I confess I relied a little too heavily on mine. Walking the length of the Champs-Élysées, a feat in itself, the massive Obélisque de Louxor (a mind boggling 3,000+ years old!) in the Place de la Concorde comes into view. You’ll notice the large tent in the background for Paris Fashion Week (PFW) – no better location to set up shop than wedged between the Place de la Concorde and sprawling Jardin des Tuileries (below).
Loved strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries
The weather gods must have been in my favor, for I could not have wished for more perfect temps. The weather was resplendent – sunny days tinged with crispness. An amuse-bouche, if you will, to autumn. Strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries was pure delight and a hotbed for fashion bloggers, editors, social darlings, personalities and the sartorial set, who were swarming the scene to report on PFW.
Monet’s water lilies
A visit to the L’Orangerie museum, located in the Jardin des Tulieries, to admire Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s water lilies was a must. We then migrated over to the museum café for a quick tea and pastry, followed by a token tour of the gift shop where the temptation to buy everything was only too real.
Haute couture on the streets of Paris
Paris isn’t considered the fashion capital of the world for nothing… haute couture abounds in the city, and I was twice lucky to chance upon major photo shoots. From the decadent gowns to the iconic locations for the shoots – I’ll be keeping an eye out for the editorial spreads in the pages of French Vogue.
Snaps along the Seine
Can’t get enough of this view!
The surest way to kill your battery life? Strolling along the Seine, of course! Breathtaking views from every angle fueled my frenzied snaps and over 300+ photos when all was said and done. Oops…
The bewitching hour at the Eiffel Tower
This moment definitely made it to the Top 3. The dazzling light show at the Eiffel Tower is not to be missed. It’s hard to describe the overwhelming feeling of wonderment and childish delight, staring up at this massive wrought iron structure (a true feat of human engineering!), all lit up like a Christmas tree. Almost 2,000 miles away in Athens, I can still picture it all glow, and glittering. It’s a memory one does not soon forget.
All for now! Coming up for Day 2 of my Paris Fashion Diary – highlights from the trade show and some of the pieces you can expect for spring/summer ’17 in the LILA storefront and web shop. Plus, more snaps from the city! Bisous xo
For more updates on fashion trends and other news, stop by the LILA e-shop and official blog at lilafashioninternational.com!