Prologue

Entering rue de la Paix from place de l’Opera walking toward the Tuileries and the Royal Palace (the Louvre) in Paris, the immediate and foremost imposing sight is that of Napoleon’s Roman Empire style victory column – as if ‘le petit corporal’ had been Hadrian, Aurelius, or Trajan himself – yet somehow the grand green artifact doesn’t look out of place, or out of style, and the first thing that comes to mind is why the giant imperial piece of bronze was never smashed and broken into pieces during the French Revolution at the time of the fall of the ‘ancien régime’ when everything royal in Paris was looted, burned, and torn down.   But then all of a sudden you realize that Napoleon the first came AFTER the French Revolution and not before, so that history still seems to be in good order, until you discover that in 1871 during the uprising of the Paris Commune the giant artifact was brought down anyway, only to be rebuild some years later when the latest popular revolt had passed.

And thus the whims and capricious fires of history play tricks on the mind in the very same fashion as light is refracted through superior crafted high jewelry into different directions – you never know when or where it will hit the eye – as you are now entering the inner sanctum of the world’s high jewelry makers, a grand plaza made to order in classic design by Sun King Louis the XIV in 1699 –, which today houses the beating heart of the world’s foremost artisans when it comes to gemstones and beauty: The Place Vendôme (*).

A print from the Mellerio dits Meller collections: 1837, view of Place Vendôme and Napoleon’s victory column from Rue de la Paix, Paris.

A print from the Mellerio dits Meller collections: 1837, view of Place Vendôme and Napoleon’s victory column from Rue de la Paix, Paris.

Place Vendôme

Whereas a well-polished mirrors made of Venetian glass or simple ‘bijouteri’ (the French language notably makes a distinction between ‘bijouterie’ (low jewelry) and ‘joaillerie’ (high jewelry), a class distinction not found in the English language) may offer you a nice and direct REFLECTION – often commonly called BLING today, only hand-crafted time-honored, and artisan traditional high jewelry accessories and time-pieces will be able to offer you multi-faceted and multi-colored REFRACTION, the stuff with the ability to create dreams and lasting legend, not in the mold of the vain desire of the bourgeoisie to impress others and to be seen, but rather invoking the brutality and certainty of kings and queens and other notables of yore, so as to confuse, to humble, to radiate, and to shine.

Here are found precious items made and crafted, not so that you buy yourself the ability to reflect well upon other peoples values or that you may be accepted into their society, but rather to give you the immediate assurance that wherever you go or that wherever you are that the immeasurable & mysterious refractions of your high jewelry or time-piece will render most societal invitations meaningless and obsolete because of the following simple, yet hard to grasp, paradigm: that ‘de se faire desirer’ (to make yourself an object of desire) is always going to be an art and a craft, and not just the adoption of a style or way of life through the purchase of an accessory.

Or as John Keats (Endymion) puts it:  “A thing of beauty, is a joy forever …”

La Grande Neuf, pink gold, automatic movement, alligator bracelet.

La Grande Neuf, pink gold, automatic movement, alligator bracelet.

The Man’s Watch as Jewel

Thus it is a great honor indeed for BDMOTP to be able to present to you the unique & timeless hand-crafted time pieces of Mellerio dits Meller, the oldest and very first grand house of high jewelry off the Place Vendome(*), to be found on 9 Rue de la Paix in Paris since 1815.

Timeless, because since 1993 Mellerio has been making man’s watches according to a special patent which exclusively allows the house to create time-pieces in the one shape otherwise only found in nature:  the oval shape of the egg (not every oval form is egg-shaped).  Aptly called “La Neuf” (the ‘new one’ (novum) but with a double-take on the shape for the word for egg in French: ‘L’oeuf’ (ovum)) the collection as a result of its inimitable forms boasts a CONVEX piece of sapphire glass set into a CONCAVE dial, which actually renders the watch a little ovoid (the oval egg shape in the third dimension).

La Club, pink gold, quartz movement, alligator bracelet

La Club, pink gold, quartz movement, alligator bracelet

And unique, because in real high jewelry, not a single piece of work will ever be reproduced or be made to order in the same way as another.  All is craftsmanship and all is art so that personalization no longer is necessary – there will only be ONE item in this world to wear and it is yours –, and it will have to be commissioned:  An egg-shaped piece of high jewelry for the ages over which posterity, in interesting stories yet untold, may fight some pitched battles so as to restore its ancient value to a future distant heir or, perhaps, to recreate a precious pedigree over the faded memories of some distant future’s illustrious forebear.

Each unique item (both accessories and time-pieces) can be ordered to beauty and crafted to precision according to the 400 year old Mellerio family tradition.  Yellow, white, or pink gold is used and a single order can take from two to four months.   Watch movement for La Grande Neuf is automatic and mechanically Swiss made.  This watch is a private commission for a time-piece as a jewel.

Boutons de manchettes en or jaune / yellow gold cufflinks, lapis lazuli or malachite

Boutons de manchettes en or jaune /yellow gold cufflinks, lapis lazuli or malachite.

Cufflinks

But here the search for perfection does not stop with a precious watch.  Not with a house which ranks as the oldest high jeweler in the world – given its first royal jewelry-making privileges by Marie de’ Medici in 1613 – and who counts the LAST queen of France, Marie-Antoinette, as their FIRST in a long and uninterrupted list of royal clients until today.

Mellerio may very well be the only house on the planet with the ability, the tradition, and the savoir-faire to be able to lift the art of high jewelry making to the point of perfection where it includes the exclusive creation of one of nature’s favorite shapes:  The oval egg-shape and the ovoid.  For this is the ONE house of high jewelry with its very own cut for diamonds (the Mellerio cut, see picture below) because the general technicalities of creating the egg-shape in gem stones are so difficult to master.

The Mellerio cut compared to regular gemstone shapes.

The Mellerio cut compared to regular gemstone shapes. 

And so Mellerio has the capacity and the sole right according to patent to also create and craft ‘Neuf’ cufflinks – oval shaped ‘boutons de manchettes’ – set in yellow, white, or pink gold.  Once the shape a given, these cufflinks can come in the colors of elements that one would expect to find in treasure proffered after by mistake you have rubbed an old lamp found in your grandmother’s attic only for a genie to appear granting you an unexpected wish (your FIRST wish): turquoise, opal, lapis-lazuli, jade, amber, malachite, and aye, including but not limited to, hmm, dinosaur bone. A kaleidoscope of colors captured in one single and ubiquitous shape, a form of nature, a stand-out collection fit for a prince, or if you wish (your SECOND wish), to be commissioned as an actual ovoid made of solid white gold (see picture below).

The ovoid cufflink made of solid white gold.

The ovoid cufflink made of solid white gold.

In search of perfection

Indeed it is precisely this timeless loyalty of high hand-crafted jewelry that gives such creations for men their ultimate value:  Because it is as close as one can come to perfection in shape, form, color, and time, these items will survive you and they will carry with them precious memories from the past for generations to come, each memory made precious to perfection, not for the sake of BLING in the reflections of a smooth mirror-image surface – so that others who are curious about your past will be able to interpret things and see you and remember you for the way you used to be, but rather like a bright amber burning fire gently refracting different colors in myriad of different directions of a dark room, causing different shapes, shades, and forms – those mysterious and unknown projections of Ali Baba’s cave of which we dream when we are still children – and emanating from the simple shape of an egg.

This begs for powerful men an old but dangerous question:  If only man would be able to create, or wear, ONE object so perfect that it is worth dying for, what would it be?  Be careful what you ask for, because the THIRD wish is known to be the tricky one…

The mathematical equation for the shape of an egg.

The mathematical equation for the shape of an egg.

BIJOU 7 mathematical equation for the shape of an egg

‘Montre de Col’ or simply ‘pocket watch’ made by Mellerio dits Meller circa 1880 and showing the house signature and the house address. 

(*)  on and around Place Vendôme the following jewelers can be found (this is not an exhaustive list), but only few of les grandes maisons de haute joaillerie listed below create all jewelry on commission where each piece crafted is unique or singularly made to order  (Mellerio is one).

Boucheron (house 1893, Place Vendôme 1893)

Buccellati (house 1919, Place Vendôme 1979)

Bulgari (house 1884, Place Vendôme 1996)

Chanel Joaillerie (house 1932, Place Vendôme 1997)

Cartier (house 1847, Place Vendôme 1899)

Chaumet (house 1780, Place Vendôme 1902)

De Beers (house 2001, Place Vendôme 2008)

Dior Joaillerie (house 1998, Place Vendôme 2001)

Louis Vuitton Joaillerie (house 2009, Place Vendôme 2012)

Mauboussin  (house 1827, Place Vendôme 1955)

Mellerio dits Meller (house 1613, Place Vendôme 1815)

Piaget (house 1874, Place Vendôme 1992)

Repossi (house 1920, Place Vendôme 1985)

Tiffany (1837 house, Place Vendôme 1999)

Van Cleef & Arpels (house 1906, Place Vendôme 1906)

Posted by Sandro Joo.

VicomteYellowSubmarine2

If you ever wanted to know what the French acronym BCBG means in fashion lingo, now you know (not to be confused with CBGB the old punk rock haunt of Ramones legend in NYC, or BCBG Max Azria, a female fashion brand): it stands for Bon Chic Bon Genre (Bon Chic = good elegance/style & Bon Genre = good class/manners, but, in double entendre, also ‘the right kind (of people)’) which, for purposes of talking about the interesting, fresh, and elegant style of Vicomte A., we are going to translate freely as either ‘preppy, upper crust, upper class, or gentry’.

We all know the look very well:  It’s that polo, hunting (not fishing), horse & yacht racing look often copied and woven into the fabric of elite global institutions of higher learning who have appropriated it as the trademark, and the introduction, of what is claimed to be a superior education and Preparation (‘preppy’ as in ‘preparatory school’) before real pitfalls and rumbles of life commence – even inside the doldrums of High Society. It is that collegiate look, in which a tie (or the colors of the stripes thereon) or a butterfly around your neck becomes a tool, not to succeed in dress-for-success business meetings, nor to simply show your fashion for the sake of pleasure or style, but to set yourself apart – and distinguish yourself – from other levels & classes of society, assuming others’ values are different from yours, not even mentioning the quality of taste of others’ fashion: because not everybody is equal!

VicomteModels

So which a grand idea indeed to make this type of exclusive high society style (Vicomte A. has its origins in Paris and Palm Beach) available to all people and to the general public at large, ready-to-wear, ready-to-buy, and in the grand array of all the effervescent colors siring the rainbow! Back in the sixties it was precisely this power that Yves Saint Laurent harnessed by ‘democratizing’ fashion with prêt-à-porter, the ready-to-wear, in a time when both sex and rock ‘n roll (and also fashion) conspired for the great universal brotherhood and equality of mankind; so why not also make the preppy collegiate look available and accessible to everyone: superior ‘gentry’ style for the masses and affordable to all, in many bright colors, in many different forms & patterns, and of course not without the odd accessories to go along (hmm binoculars maybe).  Because not just every look comes with so many values or pretensions!

VicomteBlaserRedPants

So do allow me, Sir, to wear this hunting jacket, even though I do not own any hounds; and please I would also like to have that bright yellow parka, so that I may impress my friends with my own importance despite not visiting any races; and, for esthetic pleasure’s sake, also, please, that college scarf, it is no ordinary Scottish square I presume that pattern, but verily a checkered ‘Prince de Galles’ (Prince of Wales), is it not, and by all means not to be confused with an ordinary boring ‘brownish’ Burberry I hope?  Ah, a real Vicomte A., you say – the French answer to (Polo) Ralph Lauren and Paul & Shark; but you still won’t find me in the Hamptons, in Newport, or Gstaad, Switzerland, for now, mind you; I will just wear all of this on the streets; the streets of my small provincial town. For I am not Jay Gatsby; and I like to be stylish, but not so preppy!

VicomteScarf

Thus Vicomte A. is a very interesting, successful, and young & fresh French fashion company founded in 2005 and managed well by viscounts Arthur de Soultrait and his brother Marcy. The brand has many stores world-wide in upper crust locations and the brothers made good use of branding their aristocratic title for a global audience while creating a multi-effervescent colored style of high-line high class collections made available and accessible to the public at large. Like at Ralph Lauren the original colors and styles of Vicomte A. originally hark back to the sport of polo, but also, in lesser extent, to ‘hippique’ (horse racing/riding), hunting, and yachting. Yet the colors used are much brighter than in the Ralph Lauren collections; this must be that famous Paris light effect of which Parisian painters spoke of old. The style of the collections can be considered as‘chic’ (VA’s motto is ‘l’instinct chic’, the chic instinct) but probably a little more sporty and casual (décontracté in French) than Ralph Lauren, perhaps a little bit closer to the collection of GAP, but of course, not nearly as ‘common’. BDMOTP would call it sporty, collegiate, yet fresh & elegant.

VicomteBeigeGreen

So to finish off this ‘colorful’ essay on collegiate wear for the upper classes now available to the masses thanks to Vicomte A., of course BDMOTP would not let fashionistas off the hook without a fine (mass marketing) sample of some of the sophomoric behavior and taste which every now and so often inadvertently seems to accompany the global elite on their travails, long-sufferings, travels and behaviors.  Benetton does it and is well known for it.  Abercrombie & Fitch thrive on it, and even have a budget for it in case it leads to lawsuits.  Calvin Klein pioneered it.  And so Vicomte A. apparently does it every once in a while by throwing a party:  it is called shock or scandal marketing for the very reason that it can never be considered real branding. A most royally colorful assembly indeed!

Photo from Flynet.

Photo from Flynet.

Voici Monsieur le vicomte Arthur lui-meme, during the bash for the 7th anniversary of Vicomte A. in 2012. And here, perched above his left shoulder, we see Pippa Middleton – related to British royals, but not by blood – dressed in the very same pink colors as the bright anniversary pink of the Vicomte A. house brand. So scandalous, so naughty, so bad!

Back in the 17th century Monsieur le vicomte would probably have been imprisoned (‘embastillé’ in French, as in ‘sent to the Bastille’) for ‘lèse majesté’ (co-optation of royal prerogatives, of the royal pearls and insignia, while not mentioning the perversion of  the royal court’s morals as a serious crime because this type of offense was better left to be pursued by ‘lettre de cachet’) in much the same way as Nicolas Fouquet, the first French minister of Finance, was imprisoned for life by Louis XIV after simply daring to build a more beautiful chateau and garden (Vaux-le-Vicomte) than the Sun King had ever owned himself.

And so today, 350 years later in our contemporary climate of global buzz marketing & instant publicity, anything with a direct mass appeal to popularity and your ‘number of likes’ is allowed: Voila Vicomte A.: because it is good to be the King!

Posted by Sandro Joo and photos by Yulia Gromova.

The Gosling Effect

The Gosling Effect

BDMOTP has already written about celeb favorite Ryan Gosling and his incredible transformation from normal dude to fashion icon, otherwise known as ¨The Gosling Effect¨. We put this theory to the test in Washington D.C with young Miles, a normal guy who was transformed into a stylish, elegant gentleman via the Gosling Effect. A series of unfortunate events actually led us to good fortune, as BDMOTP had the opportunity to try a Gosling Effect makeover out in Europe with young lad Benoit.

Welcome to the Gosling Effect: Á La Française!

Chilling in the cafe.

Chilling in the cafe.

Prologue

Oi! Life is a drag!

My name is Benoit – but call me Ben; I am 29 years old and I live close to the Belgian border in France in a small town of 17,000 souls.  I work in supply, sales, distribution, and delivery of supermarket products, and one day last month – I swear by the steeple of a Belgian beer-brewing monastery – I am on the auto-route on a Friday at 9 PM driving coming back from Paris close to the airport, when a  guy gets stranded running off the highway with one wheel on the bare rim – worst exploded tire I have seen – but I am right there so I help him, and bail him out; and this guy Sandro– I am not kidding you – he gives me a business card from BDMOTP, some US based fashion blog, and he invites me to come back to Paris soon to thank me, where he says they will style me,  where they will pimp me out, where they will groom me, shave me, and dress me up for the day!  Oi, we pimped his car all right, and it took several guys to fix that bloody tire and to get the wheel back on.

So Sandro from BDMOTP has offered to style me into becoming the French Ryan Gosling, the Hollywood actor, so that I will start to look smooth and cool and stylish, and I suppose also sexy and unrecognizable, and so that all the ladies will look at me – they call it the Gosling Effect:  Changing the regular guy into a well-dressed and stylish man –, so yeah man, why not, I need some style too, and if I can skip being a hipster all together – no need for that, then why not try to go straight from the cobblestone streets in the provinces near Belgium to the boulevards and catwalks of Paris; but is it really possible ?!  So oi, yes, I am coming to Paris guys, and I am now standing in the metro waiting for the train to take me to meet my stylist, but I am a little bit nervous…

I anxiously wait for the metro...

I anxiously wait for the metro…

 The Story

They say they have a stylist for me and that she has worked for Gucci Homme—and her name is Noor, and frankly, yes,  I am nervous because I am supposed to be just the regular guy – not some fashionista or hipster – and besides, what am I going to tell the stylist, and what will my friends say back at home?   We are meeting with BDMOTP to go to see the barber first, and I know what a barber is all about, although I have not cut my hair in three months, and no I didn’t shave for a week, so maybe the change will be huge!  But wait, what is this barber doing to me – they are calling him a visagiste homme – he is using an electric trimmer on my unshaven face giving me a goatee, and is then using the clipper to shave my hair; can someone please stop this, because I feel uncomfortable:  There goes all my hair!?  This barber is in one of the ‘quartiers populaires’ of Paris – in the hood, in the ghetto – where people still know how important style can be to make a difference in a man’s single life, so what am I going to do, I cannot go home like this now, it is too late, but my hair is being pimped, and I am losing it:  ‘Help!’  This looks like a ‘coupe de cheveux moyen-age homme’ – a medieval man’s haircut, and I am now starting to look like, not like Brad Pitt, but more like Jean, Duc de Berry, in the year 1382, somewhere before the battle of Roosebeke…

Petrified, I watch the barber chop and chop!

Petrified, I watch the barber chop and chop!

Goodness, no, my visagiste just did my face with a small single razor blade, removing everything except my skin around my new goatee, but quickly – oh there she is, my stylist is coming to the rescue –, what is this green substance – hmm, it is Brut, the original, and it smells good but it burns my face!?  I guess they thought about everything with BDMOTP, but we have to leave now immediately because we are on a strict time schedule and my stylist, she is now supposed to help me find a store where we buy a suit or a costume.  But I still prefer my jeans, my sweater, my hoodie, and I need my backpack too.  Which store will she enter?  All these stores look expensive to me, and we have only a shoestring budget, so I will never find something decent, and I confess that after the barber started shearing off all my hair that I almost lost all confidence in this project, but that the presence of a real stylist has given me a new reason to believe; perhaps I am even up to it now!  We are on the Rue de Turenne in the Marais district of Paris, and I hear this part of town is well liked by both hipsters and people with style alike, because it is well-known for men’s fashion.  Welcome to the big city I guess, because they have been taking my pictures since early this morning – flash, flash, flash –; hmm, this store is called Zakoya, and my stylist, she likes the blue suit in the window for only 139 euro!  Oi, we are going inside, and I think I am ready…

Trying on the blue suit...maybe this isn't so bad after all!

Trying on the blue suit…maybe this isn’t so bad after all!

I think I am starting to like this, all the attention, so let them take all the pictures they want – who doesn’t love the limelight?  I am trying on that blue suit she selected, where is the mirror?  Ah there it is …   I’ll be darned if I look good after all this!  So, Ryan Gosling, ey?  I DO look good, first time I noticed a mirror in my life, and first time I am noticing not just myself, but my STYLE as well, I guess they call mirrors Venetian glass for good reasons, because yes, leave it to the Italians, they always have style, and because now I too, Benoit, have some serious style – I even have a STYLIST, and her name is Noor, and she has worked for Gucci Homme.  I bet you even Ryan Gosling does worse than this. Word! Here is my main man now, an expert sales associate who is dressing me up while my stylist is helping; this is like having a second stylist, and I know I am ready:  So yes, I say bring it all on and dress me up, measure my suit, knot my tie, wash my face, comb my hair, re-sizzle my frizzle, pimp my ride, shine my shoes, and hey, why not a manicure!  Paris here I come!   No more beer for me, I’ve got two stylists and one barber and one photographer, and that must be at least one more thing than which Ryan Gosling can account for – so from now on today it’s going to be mojitos, coladas, caipirihnas…

This whole Gosling Effect makeover isn't so bad after all...

This whole Gosling Effect makeover isn’t so bad after all…

I am leaving it all behind bro:  Robert Pattinson eat your heart out, because this is still a better love story than … – I swear by a good pot of moules frites marinières – your new Dior commercial doesn’t fly because you cannot act, because you are no Ryan Gosling, and I am not acting this part for I have a classy stylist, ey, I got two, and I even have a visagiste – so no need for Dior – or any other fancy brand name – with fancy camerawork and prancing pretty girls like entourage to make a good guy into a real man – I AM a real man because all you need is STYLE, a friendly stylist, a simple barber, a sales associate – and the Best Dressed Man on the Planet.

Indeed it was very nice of BDMOTP to arrange a black Mercedes to get me back to my hotel, because the Paris Metro can be dreary, a drag, and dangerous.  Now where is my backpack?  Ah here it is, there is plenty of space on this backseat, and I love the car, it matches my suit! Dior with all their black and white images can make my day – because my photographer he says he will be rotoscoping some of today’s pictures ; they have been flashing that camera all morning long all over me:  I have become the unlikely character out of a novel by Philip K. Dick, my image, my move no longer existing on screen, camera, or photo, but drawn on paper only, a drawn image of an image of a form of style – I have been ‘rotoscoped’; and nothing else remains.  Pimped and rotoscoped into the French Ryan Gosling!  So let’s take a ride and get back to the hotel, now that I have found the STYLE which makes it possible to turn my own image into a cartoon character – I am the road runner, and I am off!

Dashing off into the sunset in my black Mercedes...now I look the part!

Dashing off into the sunset in my black Mercedes…now I look the part!

Epilogue

You know what?  I never knew cigarettes tasted so good with Mojitos, and now I am going to have to give up on beers; but I am glad to be back and that this fashion deal is over and done with; yeah, I was nervous at first and I did not really want to lose my hair or want to change, but in the end I did, and now that I have found a style of my own and I love it.  After the shoot and the styling we tried to enter a fancy hipster hamburger place in the Marais but they refused us entry because it was five minutes to twelve and they only open up at noon.  Normally I would have never done this, but due to my newfound confidence and style, I was decided to tell them off for not letting us in and for leaving us standing outside to wait in the cold for no good reasons. Because, you know, style is timeless, and style waits for no one, and my own style is so special, that if it ain’t good enough for you, then I will simply turn around and go somewhere else where they will like it and where they can appreciate me for what and who I am:

‘Why ?  Cause I am Benoit, the Ryan Gosling à la française!’

Oi!  Let’s have a smoke …

A smoke and a mojito...styling...

A smoke and a mojito…styling…

Stylist & Visagiste (barber): 100 euro

Shoes : Bata 80 euro

Tie : Virtuose 10 euro

Shirt : Franco Nero 29 euro

Costume : Zakoya 139 euro

Belt : Zakoya 20 euro

Glasses : Ray-Ban Aviator 179 euro

After-shave : Brut 6 euro

Story & Photos by Sandro Joo.

After Milan Fashion Week, everyone rushed over to Paris to see what the French could offer in the way of mode masculine, or men’s fashion. Highlights this season include Ami and Junya Watanabe.

Ami

For Fall/Winter 014-15, Ami set the scene by having the models walk through a snow filled square. I suppose the best way to conjure up wintery feelings is to create winter!  Both professional models AND friends of Ami walked his runway this season, which was a nice twist. His Parisian sportswear stuck to elegant basics:  grey, black and tan with a pinch of plaid and a flash of houndstooth. Warm knits with deliciously large and comfy scarves wrapped tightly, a leather jacket to edge it up… this collection was simple but sophisticated.

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Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe took British punk prep to a whole new level. Not wanting to simply join in on the plaid trend, the patchwork pants gave a fun twist, using plaid and striped patches to embody the trend in a whole new way on his trousers. The velvet coats and blazers were lovely, and most pants were short and cuffed, exposing colorful and spirited socks to the world. The collection had old British feel, and the mohawks and mullets gave the designs a punkier edge.

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Posted by Lori Zaino and all images from WWD.com.

BDMOTP is back at London Collections Men for the Autumn/Winter 2014-15 designs. Fighting rain and wind, we saw amazing styles to kick everything off on Day 1, starting with Louis Leeman Paris.

Louis Leeman Paris makes handmade crafted shoes, and showed their line in the glamorous Cafe Royal Hotel. The Fall/Winter Collection was called “The Treasures of the Grand Bazaar” and was aptly named and presented, swathed in a beautiful room set with tree branches and gold fixtures. The richness of the colors and jewels decorating the shoes certainly seemed to emulate the Byzantium era, a period of opulence and luxury. The shoes incorporated trends such as the gold toe box and hand embroidery.

This regal shoe collection is for a confident man who would like to have a little extra flair or some blinge added onto his footwear! These shoes would absolutely brighten up any basic outfit.

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Posted by Lori Zaino, photos by Paloma Canseco.

It’s well hidden in one of the old Faubourgs of Paris (on the rue de Cotte in the 12th arrondissement) where the first layers of an expanding city were added outside the city center in the 19th century during the epoch of industrialization. The place drew many poor people, where covered arches, markets, and galleries with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, and many other things  one could randomly buy were traded, bartered, and sold at the time. As a result, many different artisans and craftsman decided to set up shop in the small stores lined across the narrow and crowded streets.

This quartier once known for poverty at the time has now, like so many streets in so many other big cities around the world, been gentrified when new money poured in over the past 25 years – during the financial revolution, so as to make a mark on the area and to introduce our own post-modern day epoch of high finance, hipsters, and luxury goods readily available for global consumption.

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As the poverty has receded the first local Starbucks on the street corner may very well move in tomorrow, perhaps across from where is now located Cafe le Chat Bossu (the Hunchbacked Cat), at the end of what still remains a street full of pride of the old glory of ages past: Here you will find the old artisans & craftsman ateliers (workshops) of yore : The carpet maker, the picture frame maker, the maker of shoes, and many others! Here you can still find a master carpet maker, a master framer, and at Atelier Pavin, a full crew of master shoe makers, both for men as well as for women. The French language allows for the interesting difference between ‘Cordonnier ‘and ‘Bottier’, which would be the difference between shoemaker and bootmaker, but for the former only doing reparations – like a cobbler –, and the latter actually involved in the art of making shoes and boots. And thus, at Atelier Pavin, we have found one of the last remaining real shoemakers of our times!

PavinFront
What a glorious grand art shoemaking is! Visiting the workshop we were given a thorough introduction into the high art and craft of making shoes and boots. Hundreds of workman’s tools were on display, and out of the necessary crew of eight different functions of people involved in the crafting (the word ‘manufacturing’ is out of place) of ONE pair of shoes or boots, three were present at the time. It can take up to 35 workman hours (a full work-week) to craft ONE pair of shoes, where as it can take up to 60 hours of craftsmanship for a pair of long boots. Prices range from between 250 and 450 euros for a pair of shoes SUR MESURE, to up to 1500 euros for your own MADE TO MEASURE pair of boots.

The craft man’s process is as follows: First there is a FORMIER who measures the foot and who makes a wooden shape of the foot according to the measurements taken. Secondly there is the EMBAUCHEUR who selects the materials to be used and who applies and measures the materials around the wooden shape. Then a PATRONIER – a real shoe designer, will draw the shoe or boot in all its form, style, and fashion on paper. You can witness the creative process of the art of high design first hand, as here is the part of the creative process where your boot or shoe is DESIGNED just for you — SUR MESURE, and according to your own measurements, your own style, your taste, your fashion…

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A COUPEUR will be cutting the materials (for men’s shoes mostly calf leather) and you will be halfway there when the MECANICIEN is introduced who will do the stitching but not the actual setting and the montage — because this work is left to the MONTEUR. Yet what is still not included is the setting of the heel and sole of the shoe. That part is left to the SEMELEUR, the sole and heel maker, a process done separately because of the difficulty and because of the importance of choosing and working the right materials. Mind you, to get it right, the sole and heel need to be worked and prepared in many different ways before they are actually put on the boot or shoe.

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Thus we witness a highly complex, very creative, and labor-intensive process at Atelier Pavin, which of course is not complete without the perfect final touch: A good old shoe-shine by the all-but-forgotten and legendary tradesman, the BICHONEUR or CIREUR, the shiner of shoes. The shiner of shoes waxes & shines, prepares & packages the shoes & the boots and is also responsible for timely and impeccable delivery. Voila in a nutshell the grand old art of making real boots and real shoes.

Artisan
Please read the above well and read it again gentlemen, ladies, because verily the beautiful art of shoemaking dating back to the middle ages where shoes and boots were once made SUR MESURE for kings and knights, may very well be a slowly dying trade and going out of style and fashion in today’s mass-production global luxury consumer markets, where luxury goods companies and brandname ‘maisons’ are offering and bidding the highest for the last remaining know-how of the true designers and artisans of this ancient craft. For this must unquestionably also be how also Prada once began, how Blahnik or Roger Jourdan once earned their reputation, and how Louboutin still claims a name to fame (they recently opened a ‘faux’ small artisan workshop for their shoe repairs in Paris): The old-fashioned artisan workshop!

Thus the unfortunate truth is that the ferocious and insatiable global hipsters and luxury lovers market is slowly buying out the remaining Last of the Mohicans of independent shoe and boot design and that soon most if not all artisan shoemakers will be working for either Givenchy, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, or perhaps even for Tod’s (pun intended). Shoe makers and designers of the workshop caliber are normally the veteran players in the A leagues of shoe fashion and they usually belong to a well-known brand or house. But at Atelier Pavin it is not marketing and branding which sells a shoe, but the real quality delivered by fine and diligent craft- and workmanship; here your shoe or boot is made just for you and not for the purpose of luxury. Here your shoe has your name on it, and not the name of the brand or the house to which the shoes ‘belong’. A real shoe is still made and designed with patience and humility, as in times of old, and is not just another brand name product in the luxury market to be shown off at your latest fashion party when you are desperately trying to leave an impression being in the presence of so many ‘names’.

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As a matter of fact, after having been initiated in the arts of shoemaking over the course of a long interview in French, we may report here that a ‘luxury’ market for shoes perhaps does not even exist. Because the art and craft of shoemaking and design is simply too complex and too labor-intensive for any brand or house to claim that one of ‘their’ pairs of shoes was made just for you, the highest a fashion house can reach for in terms of shoes and boots may be called ‘haut-de-gamme’ (high-end) and not ‘luxe-sur-mesure’.

There appears to exist a contradiction between a fashion house marketing their name attached to superior quality for the high-end shoe market using designs fit for haute couture, and the actual creative and labor-intensive process of shoemaking and design. There where style and form are unique, personal, and individual, branding has a tendency to become impossible. That this is different in case of shirts, ties, costumes, and coats tailored SUR MESURE, is because the creative process is less complex and less labor-intensive. A tailor/designer does not use ‘hundreds of tools’ in order to have a suit made. This privilege belongs to the shoemaker. Thus many ‘luxury’ handbags or suitcases for example can be made by a house of fashion, but shoes will always remain, well – perhaps because we walk on them –, very personal and unique!

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The moral of the story is this: Let fashion house designers tailor and design new suits, new shirts, new clothes and let them do this with a cool & hip brand name and in the style of the ‘maison’ to which it is attached, and I will be happy. But whatever you do, when it comes to my shoes, and about who makes them, please don’t step on my Blue Suede Shoes! These, my shoes are too personal, too private – please don’t touch them! Because they were made in the old Faubourgs of Paris where the poor used to straddle the narrow streets next to the old markets, by a real shoe and bootmaker – a real Bottier from times of yore, at Atelier Pavin.

Posted by Sandro Joo

SFPinkII
Not every man is comfortable in pink as  pink is the one color traditionally appropriated by women, but should we really care? Why NOT wear pink just like any other color on the spectrum? It seems to make no sense NOT to wear pink. There is no reasonable argument or logic not to wear pink. Yet despite the many pink business shirts or polos, and the occasional pink tie that we notice in man’s wardrobe & fashion, the color pink is generally grossly under-represented for men to wear since what appears to be the beginning of time.

Therefore, please follow carefully the following analysis of why perhaps men CAN wear pink if they want,after all, it’s analogy of sports fashion, which will indicate that no man should fear to wear pink, not in any form, style, or fashion.  Men in pink it is!

The old joke is that in order for a man to qualify to be on the Italian National Soccer Team, one’s first qualification must not be talent, fitness, stamina, or experience – but simply beauty. One would expect therefore that Italian men in soccer would neither exhibit fear nor shame to wear pink. And indeed, the venerable soccer team of Juventus of Turin (whose nickname is the Old Lady), last season (2012/2013) for the first time dared to have their AWAY jerseys – good grief – in the controversial color of pink. Why, we shall never know – besides the fact that sponsors and clothing manufacturers often change the away jersey kits while keeping home jerseys colors the same –, but for this season (2013/2014) Juventus now has changed their away jersey from beautiful pink to ordinary canary yellow. Was pink too progressive even for the Old Lady? Even for beautiful men, all of them close to gods?

No, but now we must look to most southern and isolated part of Europe, a place which was once part of ancient Greece, and not of Rome, to find the ONLY soccer team in Europe which has the courage and the sense of style and fashion to wear pink – pink & black shorts, pink jerseys, pink socks – for their home jerseys; it’s the Sicilian city of Palermo.  The Telegraph of London once had the Palermo outfit listed as number one in a series of ugliest sports’ wear on record, but we respectfully digress, because the Palermo players look good and comfortable in their jerseys, and most definitely handsome as well.

PalermoPink

But its glaringly clear that all men are not comfortable in pink. Not even in sports. Quick research shows (and you can try this yourself) that if you Google a man’s sport and the color pink that many different items show up, but hardly any teams or players. Palermo is an exception confirming the rule. The NFL has a pink program to create awareness for breast cancer apparently, but no team has appropriated the color. No hockey or basketball or baseball teams in pink. Pinkseems to be limited for fundraising efforts in men’s sports, also in baseball. And when grown up men and professional soccer players are asked to put on pink shirts for just one such a fundraiser, the results may be sadly comical. Here is, if one picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of Everton (the Premier League) trying on their pink fundraising jerseys before the match; all players look HIGHLY uncomfortable (except the goalkeeper who is in green).

EvertonPink

So are there really no real men who love wearing pink in the universe except the beautiful Greek-Italians of Palermo?
Well, to make mother proud, and to change the name of the game, there certainly is ONE gravity defying professional rugby outfit in the Capital of Fashion itself – the Stade Français of Paris – who may very well have appropriated the color pink in a way that no woman’s sports team ever could. They wear pink on their sleeves, not just soft pink like Palermo, but frequently outrageous bright pink, decorated with flowers no less, setting the tone in voluptuous colors, and not just the tone before the match. These guys mean serious business not only when it comes to crushing opponents, but when it comes to style. If indeed it is true that, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, every good conversation always starts with a pose, then these guys are not afraid at all, and they will start their rugby games with no fear and living the full bounty of what is superior style & color. Pink is their name & pink is their GAME. It is said that a man’s armor is his body and such, in all their skin colored hues, Stade Français, make all MEN – and their mothers – proud! Shocking indeed, but shockingly beautiful!

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Thus visiting the Stade Français boutique at the stadium to do research for this article, the thought dawned that perhaps here was the only Pink Men’s Wear Store in the world. All items imaginable (lanyards, flags, hats, scarfs, shirts, underwear, socks etc. and then some) at the store were available in different hues and shades of pink, generally ranging between the color of fuchsia and soft pink, but with the flash pink missing for this season.

BoutiquePink Caps2Pink CapsPink

Stade Français carries a beautiful and grand Lily as a logo on all items (many rugby teams worldwide, both at the national level as well as club, have appropriated symbols NOT from the animal kingdom, but from kingdom of plants (the English Rose, the Fern of the All Blacks, the Lily-of-the-Valley by Toulon rugby, etc.)) and recently the venerable South African rugby team, to stay in style, has changed its logo from the Springbok, an animal, to the King Protea Flower, a grand flower, as the new symbol of a united post-apartheid South Africa.

Stade Français, by living up pink, has single-handedly smashed with both hands the stereotype that pink for women only.  The color pink has now become available for men to be courted and used. But how is this going to affect men wearing pink in the future of every-day life? Pink in the office? Pink at the bar? Hmmm.

Must we really first become a soccer prima-donna with a gun tattoo on the arm, and wearing a number 10 on the back, and then score goals like Fabricio Miccoli of Palermo?

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Must we really become first like James Haskell of Stade Français: Ugly, mean, English, and fearsome, before pink looks good on us!?

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No! I think not.

Aerosmith sang long ago:
Pink, it’s my new obsession
Pink, it’s not even a question
Pink, it’s the color of passion
Cause today it just goes with the fashion

So just to make sure, and to be on the safe side, we asked the pretty saleswoman at the boutique Stade Français, what, if anything, a man should NEVER wear in pink. The answer was ruthlessly immediate and direct, and yes gentlemen, there does remain a single taboo which even Stade Français Rugby will not break for you: A man is never EVER to wear PINK dress shoes …words to live by!

Posted by: Sandro

For a business man, a trip to Alain Figaret is a real pleasure, because when you walk in, you know you will walk out as a better (dressed) man.  The store specializes in men’s dress shirts on the high-end of the market and offers luxury finishing on each item, in which it distinguishes itself from the competition (Van Laak, Arrow).  Clearly the market for men’s business & dress shirts is a global one, but only at Alain Figaret will you be able to personally design your business shirt à-la-carte.

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Begin by chosing your fabric, the design, the width of the stripe, the colors, and most importantly the length of the threads with which the shirt is woven, because this length determines the quality and finesse and softness of the shirt fabric:  The longer the original thread, the better the shirt.

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Now chose the custom fit/cut (coupe in French) which measures best to your body’s shape: X Slim, Slim, Droit, and the ready-to-wear size which is indicated in both American and European measurements.

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Then you are ready to select the type of collar:  The traditional ‘French’ collar, which is the classic one.  An ‘American’ collar in France is the one with two buttons on the collar.  The ‘English’ collar has two buttonholes to close the collar and a small rope or chain link in the front of the collar.  The ‘Italian’ collar (say ‘Napolitaine’ and it’s understood when you say it) has the collar stand up on both ends like a toxedo shirt.  These are just the basics but frankly the variety of styles and shapes is endless.

PicCollarsFabricsAF

PicCollarsAF

Is your shirt selection made-to-measure (sur mésure) & ready-to-wear (pret-à-porter) now finished?  No, because you have to select your cuff (poigné in French).  And also the cuffs come in various shapes and forms.  Will you have a cuff with buttons, or with cuff links?  What is the cut & shape of the cuff?  What is type and the color of the button which you will select?  Alain Figaret offers a great variety of real mother-of-pearl buttons in a variety of colors.

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You think you are done?  Well almost, but now the fun part begins because you can now personalize your shirt in two or three different ways.  The inside of the collar and the inside of your cuffs can be made ‘en-opposition’, which means another color, design or fabric on the reverse…maybe the best part of your new shirt?!  And of course you can have your initials embroidered or even your own personal logo or anagram put, where you deem it convenient. Finally, last but not least, you may chose the color and the strength of the buttonhole threads.

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A dress shirt is a thing of beauty, and a mark of style of men, after all!

Alain Figaret has a total of 23 stores in France and one in Tokyo, and is considered a ‘maitre chemisier’:  A master shirt maker!  At France’s number one shirt maker it will be possible starting October of this year to do mailorder & shipping on their website.  Yet it is much better to walk into one of their stores in person when you are in Paris, at least the first time, to get yourself measured up.  You will need to know the measurements of your collar, your shoulders, and your waist.  A completely finished shirt will cost you around between 150 – 250 euros, depending on the extras, and that does not include shipping or handling.  It is an affordable luxury!

In Paris there are several locations, one on the rue de Longchamps, one on the rue de la Paix, and the one we visited for this article, the one on the Rue de Sevres in the St Germain district.  Ask Pierre-Jean or Anne-Sophie for a guided tour of the two floor store, even if you are not planning on buying a shirt, as the explanations on the arts of men’s dress shirt making are quite impressive.

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A final small note of importance and perhaps the best but unseen quality that Alain Figaret has to offer:  Visiting the store I asked if it was normal for well known business men and others to visit and order shirts.  The natural reply was that of course well known executives and politicians were clients of Alain Figaret and that of course their names or identity would never be disclosed.  And for THIS, you have to love France in this global age of indiscretion and openeness where everything we say, think or do, or communicate, is instantly known globally through mass & social media.

Thus, the best thing Alain Figaret offers global intrepid executives for shirts is the priceless and invaluable quality of DISCRETION.

Posted By: Sandro

Sometimes in order to write a good fashion story – you need help, so I had asked my friend Qi from BFIT (Beijing Fashion Institute of Technology) to join me when we obtained an invitation from the Karl Lagerfeld press office to come and visit the new store on the Boulevard St Germain – a visit organized in advance to be able to write a blog article.

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She showed up in a skimpy white Chloe dress, with Coco Chanel jewelry, and most importantly in ROCK CHIC gold studded noire Roman sandals, which, unbeknownst to me at the point when we first entered the store, is actually the ‘style préféré’ – the preferred style – at the Karl Lagerfeld store.  And not just for women.  This style apparently works for men too!  As a matter of fact ROCK CHIC proves to work well for both men and women and for women and men.

To summarize ROCK CHIC think of Glam & Rock in black and white and 50 shades of grey but without the platforms; throw in some Neo-Punk but without the vulgarity; then have ROCK CHIC launched at you at warp speed haute-couture in the form of ‘accessible’ luxury.  Et voila! You will have a VERY DAFT punk experience which can be instantly and virtually tailored & communicated directly TO THE PUBLIC so as to immediately gratify your own material AND virtual needs:  In style ROCK CHIC, at Karl Lagerfeld’s, your fashion, your fetish, your style will can be instantly tweeted on Twitter, fashioned on Facebook, and tubed on Youtube – while you still think you are shopping, whereas in reality you have now entered the Twilight Zone of REAL time and your new style ROCK CHIC is already streaming LIVE unto a larger audience.   Expect an interview with the Vampire.

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At Karl Lagerfeld’s your identity will not only be personalized (as at let’s say chez Louis Vuitton or chez Yves Saint Laurent) or enhanced by style (as with most other brands), NO SIR, at Karl’s in Paris you will have the singular opportunity to actually BECOME THE BRAND and you may find yourself with a feeling of vertigo when your identity takes a hit, when it starts to drift, and when it even may be starting to SHIFT.  Visiting Karl’s is a remarkable & highly recommended experience which takes the whole notion of what constitutes ‘shopping’ to what is most probably the next level in branding, concept, & design in fashion.

Essentially the consumer is integrated directly into the concept store through a POST ROCK experience at Karl Lagerfeld’s in the same way & fashion Damien Hirst integrates visitors coming to a museum into a POST MODERN ART display:  for example, it’s the man watching the Shark in Formaldehyde inside the large fish-tank who has become part of the exhibit AND the OBJECT of the art at large, rather than just a passive visitor.  In similar mode & fashion, at Karl’s you will become part of the act.

Thus the Karl Lagerfeld store – painted black – offers an outstanding CHIC ROCK ‘experience’ and is located on the Boulevard St Germain on a rather famous ‘coin de la rue’ – street corner – where you will also find the Café de Flore, the Restaurant Les Deux Magots, and the Brasserie Lipp, all of which were once the décor & setting of various movie & photo shoots, as well as the well-known venue of dark conversations between existentialist Rive Gauche philosophers from bygone years.

KL storefront

Film Noir, Café Noir, Noir Coeur, existentialist conversations – you get the drift –, is right here, on the Boulevard of Paint-It-Black, that in recent years ago a large invasion took place by high-end luxury and fashion concept stores – some of them, most of them, actually PAINTED BLACK.  The corner store is Armani – in black (even has a restaurant – in black).  A little bit down the road you there is The Kooples – in black.  Not far on the same side of the Boulevard there is Sonia Rykiel – again in black.  Donna Karan & Calvin Klein must be dying to get in on the action here!  Halfway across the street from Karl, there sits the grand Paris flagship store of Polo Ralph Lauren – the only store NOT in black, but which has its own interior court & restaurant – as the Fashion Anchor on the block.  And then when you skip halfway across the street to Karl’s, the image of Mr Lagerfeld himself in his famous sun glasses holding his even more famous cat Choupette, appears in the window.

We were received very kindly by two young and expert staff members at the Karl Lagerfeld store, who clearly explained to us all the concept, design, and fashion of ROCK CHIC and how the style offers the opportunity to be appealing for men as well as for women.  The store, small from the outside, has a large interior with two floors, which is greatly enhanced by its POST ROCK atmosphere by means of superior branding and design:  Prepare to imagine yourself on the movie set of the latest Ridley Scott Sci-Fi movie.  There is a grand staircase to the first floor where there are two different rooms with clothing for men.

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All items are luxury products but the concept is that all luxury in the store is not only designed to fit your personal CHIC ROCK style but that it is also ‘ACCESSIBLE ‘.  In other words, where at other brands you would pay the price according to not only luxury, but also the brand name, at Karl Lagerfeld your luxury – AND the quality, AND the name – basically becomes affordable – even if you are just simply holding a single steady job in today’s down economy.  At Karl’s, ROCK CHIC – in all its luxury hues of black and white – becomes available to you.

KL Store 2 KL Store 1

Integrated into the visual merchandising on both floors and into the larger concept of the store you will find technology.   Well, this is nothing new you probably will say, as many other concept fashion stores are nowadays using large flat screens, advanced audio, and high tech modeling displays (Benetton, Armani, Dolce & Gabana, etc.) – among other gadgets, which are then fully integrated into the store concept & the interior design, but at Karl’s they are taking technology one leap further:  Each display has its own IPAD which allows you to not only take an immediate look into the full virtual catalog of items, prices, and sizes available at the present time of the item you are currently admiring, but the devices also allow you to immediately tweet, youtube, email and book whatever you admire directly into the cloud, so that all your virtual needs are being taken care of AND gratified instantly.

This process was dubbed & branded KAPTURE KREATE & POST for at the larger IPADS in the store, and the ones inside the beautifully crafted & designed changing cabins, it is possible to take instant snapshots & photos of whatever you are trying on in whichever pose you feel like attempting at the given time.  So aye, now you can immediately and instantaneously youtube, book, email or tweet yourself together with your chosen ROCK CHIC item, tailored to accessible luxury perfection, directly into cyberspace.  And by doing so, THIS is where YOU become part of the store, part of the concept, and perhaps even part of the design.

Back on the ground floor at Karl’s you will then find leather bags, wallets, belts, watches, and different types of shoes & boots, and all the other accessories that luxury goods stores carry and when we descended there, it prompted and begged the question as to which items were for men and which items were for women.  The staff proved to be more than knowledgeable in their answer, and they proved to be as smart as that they were smartly dressed ROCK CHIC, because ROCK CHIC accessory items were explained to us as available for BOTH for men AND for women at the same time.

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Larger watches are carried by both men and women today.  Handbags, wallets & pocketbooks – studs & decorations all – are carried by both men and women these days.  The same goes for scarfs, sun glasses, and many other accessories.  In short everything which does not need a specific size for a man or a woman can be shared universally among men and women in a style of most androgynous ROCK CHIC fashion.   The concept was introduced to us very well and I was allowed to try a ROCK CHIC black silver studded handbag under my arm even though I had walked into the store in traditional cowboy boots, a fedora, and a conservative pin-striped black jacket.

We were then asked to sit down and relax in a large & hairy black velvet lounge fauteuil (armchair) and they served us an excellent black espresso from a white cup.  And as we sipped espresso they took pictures of us posing with a ROCK CHIC item on one of the larger IPADS, while simultaneously displaying the latest collections of the item directly from the IPAD by fingertip-flip straight onto the wall-sized fashion modeling multi-screen (four screens integrated) behind us, the only thing missing and not yet ‘mise-en-scène’ was perhaps our own real-time image together with the ROCK CHIC item flashed over to the multi-screen as integrated part of the collection.  Who knows what the future will hold? Yet, regardless and in spite of ourselves, we had become an integrated part of the concept & the design of the Karl Lagerfeld store.

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So when next time you visit Paris and YOU are sitting in the black velvet chair chez Karl trying a ROCK CHIC item, maybe allow your mind to wander a bit, and perhaps that you will imagine DAFT PUNK – helmets on and all – to come walking into the store at that very moment, or maybe Billy Idol, or Gene Simmons, or Flash Gordon, or perhaps even Mr. Lagerfeld himself with Choupette in his arms.  Not so far-fetched maybe as you are now rapidly moving BACK TO THE FUTURE …

Posted by: Sandro

* The Karl Lagerfeld store in Paris is on Boulevard St Germain.  There is a smaller version in the Marais and other stores are (will be) located in Berlin, LA, and Hong Kong.  Visit Karl Lagerfeld on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.

The Vintage Shopping in Paris Tour continues on.

If you keep going down down Rue de la Verrerie will then run into the FREE”P”STAR which also has an outlet one block over on the Rue St Croix.  Not my favorite store of the bunch, because it is something like a flea market and it is always crowded there and for good reason, as they do have great deals on vintage items for both men and women.  However, the set-up lacks a certain style and coziness that the other stores do possess.  One could term the Free”P”Star perhaps as Vintage-Ready-to-Wear (Frip-Pret-à-Porter), hm, a pun on this ‘jeux-de-mot’ clearly intended.

FreepStar (3)Paris FreepStar (2)Paris

This last vintage experience will then set you up for the grand finale & climax on the short vintage trip just a little bit further down the road, again on the left side of the street where you can find the main chapter of an actual CONCEPT VINTAGE STORE simply known by the name the Kilo Shop.  The Kilo Shop has several stores in Paris (one on the Boulevard St Germain) and apparently one or more in Athens, Greece.

I stumbled on it when all other stores in the city were closed one day for the May 1st all-workers-unite festivities (yup still exists) – it was the only store open in town because at Kilo Shop people actually want to work and make money and they are not part of the Union.  It has an amazing concept and by far the grandest and greatest collection of global vintage clothes I dare say on the PLANET.  It’s concept is simple.  Divide vintage clothes and other vintage items in three color-coded categories and measure the price according to these codes by the Kilo (or the pound if you wish).  You can weigh them yourself anywhere in the store as if you are weighing vegetables at the supermarket.  It is an excellent concept and if this store does not become globally for vintage what Amazon is for books within the next twenty years, then we will all have missed out big time.

Kilo (3)Paris Kilo (5)Paris

Largest collection of Americana I have ever seen either in the States or here in Europe.  Looking for that old High School Football jacket you left many years ago by mistake in the trunk of your old Chevy?  Go to Kilo Shop.  Looking for a matching Cheerleading outfit of the girlfriend who ditched you that night?  Visit Kilo Shop.  Looking for that mean old German Army trench coat you always wanted and were never able to find without people staring at you?  Kilo Shop.  Largest global collection vintage of American Eagle, Hollister, A&F, etc. etc.?  Kilo Shop.   Just bloody incredible.  Vintage shoes, boots, belts, flight jackets, helmets, hats, jeans, scarfs, shirts, you name it, basically everything except underwear … Kilo Shop!  A concept store.

In the two Kilo Shop stores I visited the main floor was for women whereas the basement was reserved for men, which meant that here, at last, there was to be found the actual me’s only collection of vintage clothes and accessories I had been looking for for this article.  And to be honest, the place is a little heaven for those who like to dress nice but who cannot afford to buy great brands NEW.  Highly recommended for men’s vintage:  Kilo Shop, hopefully SOON to be found in a location near you!

Make sure to check out Vintage Shopping Part 1!

Posted by: Sandro

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