Monday
Jun062011

A Girl in Boston Guest: Packing with Parisian Style

Hello Mon Petit Chou Chou readers, I’m Lissy from A Girl in Boston.  I’m so very excited to be here with you today while Lani and her darling husband are off gallivanting in Paris.

To give you a little tidbit about me, each day one of my very favorite things to do is to get dressed.  I find joy in color and whimsy and accessory overload. But the multitudes of options that I have at home clearly don’t work when traveling.  So what to do for my own upcoming Parisian voyage?  




In comes Ines de la Fressange whose most recent book, Parisian Chic, is going to help me in my endeavor to stay true to my fashion self while imbuing a sense of Paris style.  Here are some of Ines' tips that I am finding most useful in packing for my upcoming Parisian style endeavors.

Item #1 - sunglasses

“One maxi impact accessory with an ultra-simple silhouette.  The Parisian worships Jackie in her Onassis period; white pants, a black T-shirt, open-toed sandals, and oversized sunglasses.  Chic, effective and oh-so-easy to copy, right now!”



Sunglasses clockwise from top: Cynthia Rowley, Prada, Morgenthal Frederiks, Celine


Sunglasses are a must whether it's sunny blue skies or overcast and I've got several options.  The pair by Celine are classic, polarized and have been my go to pair of late.  Which is your favorite?

Item #2 - the tote bag

“The big tote bag: A faithful friend for every day. You can slip your clutch inside - handy if you are going out after work and can't go home first.”



Balenciaga bag



Miu Miu bag

When traveling, a big bag is essential for both the actual air travel as well as the daily jaunts.  These two bags are in my regular rotation and they fit the bill.  Each will fit magazines and my kindle for the flight and will serve me well for the daily travels to carry my camera in addition to all the regular daily essentials.


Item #3 - the clutch

“The essential evening accessory - or for daytime use if it's big enough and soft enough.  Perfect for raising the tone if you're under-dressed
.”



Clockwise from top left: Marc by Marc Jacobs, Tiziana, YSL, Longchamp, Tiziana 

Oh which clutch should I bring along for evenings out strolling the city streets and dining in charming Parisian bistros?  Basic black does go with everything but I think I'll opt for the blue YSL clutch.  Despite its small size, it fits my phone, camera and a small wallet and adds that little pop of color that I'm always after. 

And to end with some of Ines' most wise words.  Effortless style often takes, as it says, relatively little effort.  All you really need is loads of self-confidence...and a smile.” 

XOXO
Lissy


Friday
Jun032011

Not Just Another Milla Guest: La Parisienne's Paris Jardin du Luxembourg

Today I am thrilled to bring you a post from the fabulous Milla, of the eponymous, Not Just Another Milla. One of my particular favourite bloggers, Milla writes about fashion, food, and all things Paris as she discovers the city for herself. We will be sure to specially toast you all when we meet up for our afternoon of shopping and cocktails. 


The lovely Milla. 



I'm beyond thrilled to not only be asked to guest post on one of my favourite blogs, but to be meeting Lani in Paris this week. I've come to realise that wondering what Boston's most fashionable lady will wear in the city I call "home" is just as exciting as Inès de la Fressange's 'La Parisienne'!

Prior to moving to Paris at the end of 2009, I had visited over twenty times and foolishly believed I knew the city well.  How wrong was I?!  18 months later, and I'm finally discovering La Parisienne's Paris. I was rather sceptical when Inès' book came out because I've read the 'hip' guides and let me tell you, as hip as they think they are are, they scream "tourist". We've all seen Inès' beautiful daughter modelling the classics, but have you read further?  As a Rive Gauche chicca, Inès lists all of my favourite places from the exquisite department store Le Bon Marché to my local restaurant La Closerie des Lilas to my favourite Parisian brand - Maje -  and finally, the shop I most want an excuse to shop at: Bonpoint also known as the chicest children's shop in all the land.

So, back to being a Rive Gauche girl; our apartment is located a mere 10 minutes walk away from the stunning Jardin du Luxembourg.  Listed under "Paris pour petits", my husband and I also enjoy strolling around the tulips-filled gardens on a Sunday afternoon. With musicians filling the bandstand, children running around, and locals and tourists alike marvelling at the beautiful palace and the 100+ statues, some from as early as 1826. Located on the border of the 5th and 6th arrondissement, le Jardin du Luxembourg was established in 1612 and sits in one of the most luxurious parts of Le Quartier Latin, making it the ideal place to stop off  post-shopping or as many locals do, to sit and enjoy the serenity.  I find the gardens to be most special not just because beautiful flowers but because I can see some of my favourite monuments  - Panthéon, the Eiffel Tower, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon and, of course, Montparnesse - from the centre of the park. 






If you find yourself in the neighbourhood, take a stroll and discover that each of Paris' parks are not only different, but also pretty darn amazing!  Oh, and don't forget that there is currently a photo exhibition by Olivier Martel on the railings of the Jardin du Luxembourg. He has partnered with the Women's Forum (and several other institutions) to display "Femmes Eternelles", which is a collection of over 80 portraits of women across the world. This exhibition alone is worth a visit. Art in Paris: who knew a cliché could be so interesting!

Don't you just wish lived here too? 



Wednesday
Jun012011

Ritournelle Guest: Merci the Concept Store with a Big Heart


For my first guest post, we have the lovely Anne, from Ritournelle, supplying her exhaustive, thorough, and thoroughly enjoyable post about her last trip to Merci, one of the stores that Ines de la Fressange reccomends visiting in: Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange. Enjoy!

Merci was the talk of the town when it opened its doors in Paris’s fashionable Marais district in March 2009. There was something unusual about this concept store with an eclectic selection of vintage Chanel bags, kitchen utensils and used books: Merci donates 100% of its profits to a charitable cause.


While charity shops are popular in English-speaking countries, it is not so much the case yet in France. Brands develop partnerships with charity organizations such as Product Red, but they are limited in time and in the number of items sold. Charitable movements like Emmaus use 100% of their profits from sales of used objects to combat poverty and homelessness. However, the quality is not necessarily good and their shops are not run by retail professionals.

Are charity shops popular where you live? Do you shop there or would you rather buy a product from a brand that has a partnership with a charitable organization?


Marie-France and Bernard Cohen are famous in the fashion industry for creating the very chic children’s label Bonpoint. Instead of quietly enjoying their retirement, the couple decided to use their experience for a good cause by opening a charity shop. Textile workers in Madagascar had produced Bonpoint clothing for 30 years, so the Cohens wanted to give back by donating 100% of the profits of the appropriately named Merci (“thank you” in English) to help women and children in one of the world’s poorest countries.


More than a year after its opening, I finally had a chance to see Merci for myself. I found the store outstanding for its very large and eclectic selection of functional and timeless objects. There is something in there for everyone in terms of taste, budget and needs. It is also a very pleasant place to visit: daylight streams into the 16,000 square feet of loft-like space through a giant glass roof and the displays are simple yet tastefully done.

A few changes have occurred since the opening. The flower shop located near the entrance has been replaced by an organic takeaway. As for the clothes, there is no longer a children’s section and Merci does not sell luxury brands anymore.


The entrance with its cute red car leads to a lofty room were you will find a mix of home decoration items, dishes, stationery, perfume, candles and fashion accessories.


At the Used Book café, you can grab a bite or drink a cup of tea in a very cozy atmosphere, surrounded by used books for sale.


The garden floor comprises the kitchen utensils section and an organic restaurant facing a lovely vegetable patch that I highly recommend.


The clothes and accessories appeal to women whose style is timeless yet trendy, with brands such as Isabel Marant, Swildens (the designer is the niece of the Cohens), APC, Paul and Joe and Petit Bateau. There is also a section for men. The prices are the same as in other stores, contrary to what has been said at the opening of Merci.


I bought a few practical things for myself and put this beautiful Etoile Isabel Marant coat on my wish-list. It’s so warm and comfortable!


The home section is mostly in the rustic style with lots of wood furniture. There was a lovely display with a table set under a wooden canopy holding a crystal chandelier. Among the objects I noticed were a Baccarat lamp and Martin Margiela trompe-l’œil doors.

Love that stool!

These vases made of silicone are paper-thin when empty.


It was important to Marie-France Cohen, the co-founder of Merci, to sell perfume and candles from her late sister’s brand, Annick Goutal. This section is displayed as a laboratory, which contrasts deeply with the extremely refined identity of the brand. 5 fragrances (Eau de Camille, Eau de Charlotte, Passion, Heure Exquise, L’Eau du Sud) are sold in flasks so their prices are 30% to 40% less than in Annick Goutal stores. Likewise, perfumed candles are sold with refills.


I had heard negative feedback on Merci as a place for “bobos” (a French expression describing “bohemian bourgeois”). The clientele can indeed be categorized as such, but Merci sells products for every budget and the staff is very friendly and helpful. I found it surprising though that Merci does not communicate more on its charitable actions. There is no mention of it in store, not even on the receipt. I would have appreciated to know what will be done with the money I spent. According to the founders of Merci, people are nowadays constantly asked to donate money. The concept store managers ask suppliers and brands to help them with their cause, but demand nothing from their clients and therefore do not mention their charitable actions in store.

Merci – 111, boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris. Phone +33 1 42 77 00 33

Monday
May302011

Parisian Chic


Tell me you have heard of, and purchased, Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange? If you have not done so, I seriously urge you to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Ines de la Fressange: model, author, mother, Roger Vivier creative director and now ambassador for all that is Parisian Chic. Apparently, Ines and her assistant were so swamped with requests for places to go while in Paris (eat, dine, shop, you name it) she decided to put all her advice to paper. We are the happy recipients of her thorough research.

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Part city guide, part fashion bible, Ines also includes advice on how to achieve that certain French je ne sais quoi style that all women strive to attain. The fashion advice is basic, but includes the type of guidance that has withstood the test of time. Less is more. Buy quality over quantity. Take one accessory off before leaving the house. You know the drill. Ines brings us delightful illustrations to clarify her points and even has her oh so gorgeous daughter Nine join in the fun and model her recommendations.

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The book starts with the essentials. How to dress like a Parisian......and eases you though the basic items every woman needs in her wardrobe, how to accessorize them, and finally where to buy them in Paris, along with where to dine in your new chic outfits and where to shed them and rest up with a spa day.

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Above: Cheat sheet to French style

"I know women need help! I did this book for women who don't necessarily have imagination or time," explains de la Fressange in the recent Vogue article covering the release. "What I don't like is convention. It's boring." Who likes convention? I know Ines and I are kindred spirits. Ines, seriously, call me some time.

I plan to live this book while I am in France this month. Rejoice readers- you too will get to enjoy chic adventures as some of my friends (I assure you all well versed in Parisian Chic) take the helm of Mon Petit Chou Chou, sharing inspiration and what they took away from Ines' magnum opus to all things Paris as well as what they love most about Paris.

Enjoy the trip!

Friday
May272011

Chocolate Cracked Earth: Flourless Chocolate Cake

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I made this recipe for a dinner party recently and it was such a hit I had to share. Don't let the name of the desert throw you off, it is not earth like at all, just chocolatey, airy, delicious goodness.

The dessert is actually more akin to a chocolate souffle than the typical dense flourless chocolate cakes I have made before. Lighter than your typical chocolate fare you don't need to feel as guilty about indulging!

It was sinfully easy to make, the only ingredients being chocolate, butter, sugar, cream and eggs, lots and lots of eggs. Nine to be exact! Click here for the full recipe.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, crack open the spring form pan, and serve with my favourite, amaretto whipped cream and fresh fruit.