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The Kooples: kooky couple ads

15 Mar

The hot fashion name on everyone’s lips this season is The Kooples.

The Parisian brand’s popular ad campaign features real-life couples dressed in its trademark classic tailoring with a grungey edge.

couple kooples ad french fashion

A couple wearing the Kooples: clever ad campaign

I’m sure you’ve seen the ads – The Kooples has recently expanded to the UK. The idea is that people in long-term relationships often borrow each other’s clothes; think androgynous separates you can mix and match for an edgy look.

Minimal and chic with a rocker vibe best sums up the clothes. If you haven’t yet ventured into one of London‘s flagship stores, do so now. It’s pricey, but quality.

It comes as no real surprise that the clothing line’s founders are the three Elisha brothers, also behind the very chic Comptoir des Cotonniers – famous for featuring mother and daughter pairs in their ads.

But what of the ads? For Spring 2012, they’ve brought in a host of famous faces. Pete Doherty sums up the overall look very nicely.

But my favourite is Fréderic Beigbeder. This is quite the coup (in my humble opinion.)

frederic beigbeder kooples lara pub

The Kooples 2012 ad featuring Beigbeder

The famous French critic, author and personality is best known for his self-deprecating sense of humour. That and being caught snorting coke on a car bonnet at 3am. He has no shame, but is generally loved for his larger than life persona.

The poster features the 47-year-old posing with his lovely 21-year-old (ahem…) girlfriend, Lara, next to the words: “Fréderic et Lara en couple pour 3 ans. Au moins.”

The joke is completely lost in the ad translations I’ve seen across the pond. The Kooples is riding on the success of Beigbeder’s directorial debut, “L’amour dure trois ans.” The January box office hit is based upon his own bestselling novel of the same name. It’s very funny, you should read it.

film beigbeder l'amour dure trois ans

L'amour dure trois ans

The pessimistic premise of the book/film is that love doesn’t last more than three years. Beigbeder is completely convinced by this depressing mantra… but is of course proved wrong. The slogan is therefore a joke.

It made me chuckle, anyway. Perhaps you have to be French.


Life’s a cabaret for Christian Louboutin

9 Mar

Louboutin + Crazy Horse = shoe heaven

Iconic shoe designer Christian Louboutin has teamed up with Parisian hotspot the Crazy Horse for their new show “Feu.”

The club:

crazy horse club paris

Crazy Horse logo

The cabaret is famed for its leggy dancers performing raunchy routines in barely-there costumes. Yet the legendary nightspot (which charges 125 euros per head with a ‘generous’ half bottle of champers thrown in) is no strip club. Celebrated for its glamour, futuristic light shows as well as collaborations with well-known choreographers ensure it stays firmly in the performance art category.

The club has been going since 1951. Having been lucky enough to step inside its gilded walls and film the dancers for its previous show “Desirs”, I can reveal ‘le Crazy’ is well worth a visit.

crazy horse dancers

Glamour and seduction: Crazy Horse dancers

crazy horse dancers lights

Striking the balance between stripping and art

The show:

Louboutin has created four unique tableaux for “Feu”, which take inspiration from everything from art installations to hip-hop. The main focus is – of course – the legs and the feet. The shoe king was involved in everything from the routines to the set design, not forgetting the shoes.

Each ‘act’ has its own shoe concept – from strappy silver ‘half shoes’ to black curved spiked pairs, they’re sure to steal the limelight from the dancers and give a whole new meaning to the term ‘stripper shoes!’ “Feu” opened on March 4.

The shoes:

red soled louboutin shoe

The much-coveted black Louboutins

Louboutin’s trademark red soles are beloved by celebrities and fashionistas the world over. But the hefty price tag means most girls can only dream of owning a pair. To satisfy the public’s collective lust, London’s Design Museum is hosting the first UK Christian Louboutin retrospective starting May 1st.

Not only can you drool over 20 years’ worth of shoes and inspiration, but you’ll be able to follow the construction process from start to finish. Shoe-tastic.

Paris according to Sedera

31 Jan


Presenting: Sedera

British Girl in Paris talks to Sedera Ranaivoarinosy about her personal experience of Paris.

A journalism student at NYU, Sedera is something of a music guru who loves good films and experimenting with photography. The 20 year old has lived on three continents; oringinally from Madagascar she has resided in Paris most of her life but now studies in New York. Read her weekly musings on her blog.

What is your absolute favourite thing about Paris?

les quais, la Seine

Les quais de la Seine

I love the quais because it’s so calming to walk along the water (the Seine and the canals), or sit there to read, eat or even nap. I also love the parts of the metro that are above ground, like around the Boulevard de Grenelle and near Barbès. I like the design of the bridges the trains run on and the way you can see into the life going on around you (the train is on the same level as many apartment windows). I don’t mean that in a creepy way; I just like seeing the city flash by me.

What areas do you like best and why?

I like the area where I live, the 20th arrondissement by the Gambetta métro stop, because you can tell people live there and interact unlike the 16th arrondissement for example, which is very fancy, but in my experience, rather dull. The Canal St Martin is a very nice area as well, especially during the summer time when you can hang by the water. It’s surrounded by lots of cute places to go to for a nice bite. The food selection around there is often a bit more edgy than other areas.

If you only had 24 hours in Paris how would you spend them?

I would visit the catacombs because I have never been and have always wanted to go. Then I would visit a museum, probably the Musée D’Orsay, which I haven’t been to in a while. Finally, I’d picnic at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and finish off my day by eating a blanc manger at the restaurant Hôtel Du Nord, where the movie of the same name was set. I’m not exactly sure what the ingredient is, but they put in little crunchy things in the dessert that create a sort of firework in your mouth. It sounds ridiculous. Until you eat it. It’s delightful.

What are the most overlooked attractions in your opinion?

vintage clothing shop barbes metro

Vintage clothing shop Guerrisol near Barbes metro

Paris is known for its shopping options, but going to the Galeries Lafayette and the Boulevard Haussmann won’t really give you a selection that is that different from other capitals of the world. If you have the patience to dig through the masses of throwaway clothing, the thrift stores of Barbes like Guerrisol are full of good finds. A thorough search through the racks at a thrift store could lead to a much more unique, and sometimes much cheaper, find.

What is the one thing you like least about Paris?

The métro, as convenient as it is most of the time, only runs until 1 am on weeknights and 2 am on weekends, which always makes my evenings end early. I don’t have the type of stamina that would allow me to party repeatedly until 5:00 am, when it reopens, so it would be nice to be able to hop on a metro at 3 am sometimes instead of waiting for a night bus or taxi. Parisians also need to pick up the habit of cleaning up after their dogs.

Any favourite films set in Paris?

One of my favourite films of all time is Les Chansons d’Amour by Christophe Honoré, which is set in Paris. There’s also Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet; I love the playful way in which it represents Montmartre.

What about music – any songs that you feel capture the essence of Paris?

An old classic, Jean Renoir’s “La Complainte de la Butte,” which Rufus Wainwright covered, comes to mind because it references an iconic area of Paris, Montmartre. For a more updated view, Thomas Dutronc’s “J’Aime Plus Paris” and Camille’s “Paris” articulate well the love-hate feeling that can arise towards Paris after a while. In both songs, the protagonists sing about their disillusionment with the French capital and threaten to leave, but do not succeed. The stress, the dirty sidewalks, the early nights etc. cause annoyance but it’s a city like no other; it’s hard to get away once you’ve made your nest there and its advantages always manage to trump the inconveniences.

How would you define being Parisian?

That’s a really tough question because the socio-economic make-up of the different arrondissements are so different but I would say first and foremost that a Parisian is an urban being. He/she cannot function outside of a big city, no matter how enjoyable a few days away can be. It’s only enjoyable because it’s not a permanent move. Also, an encyclopedic knowledge of the metro map, as wellas the exact places to be on the train to get to your exit of the metro stations the fastest, is essential. I always used to feel odd telling people I was from Paris when I lived in the suburbs. Now that I am in Paris intra muros, as they say, and the metro is not the mystery it once was, I feel like much closer to owning that “Parisian” moniker.

Pont des arts, Paris

People relaxing on the Pont des Arts in Paris

Do you think the Parisian stereotype is true?

If by Parisian stereotype you mean the idea that the Parisien is pretentious, stylish, unpleasant and intellectual all bundled into one, there’s some truth to it in the sense that Paris doesn’t always emanate friendliness: people seem rushed, nervous, and never run out of things to complain about, especially when public transportation employees are on strike. But in more personal environments, Parisians like to chill with a bottle of wine and have a laugh as much as the next person.

And even though there is lagging sense that being Parisian is better than being from other places in France, which I don’t agree with, I think the problem is due to the way France is represented elsewhere: unlike what could be inferred, this fancy image of Paris applies to a specific population and area. The way it is often depicted as being representative of the entire country unrightfully brings down the other regions and cities.

Paris in winter

3 Jan

A day out in Paris: an art exhibition, exploring the Christmas market, great food and strange fashion.

What to do

The exhibition du moment is Claude Monet at the Grand Palais. Over 200 of Monet’s best paintings have been reunited in this special showcase, including some of his best loved works such as “Les Coquelicots.”

Monet: "Les Coquelicots"

Claude Monet, "Les Coquelicots, Environs d'Argenteuil"

People waited in line outside for hours, yet once inside the rooms were so full you had to queue to see each painting. Impatient art lovers forget their manners and there was much pushing, sneaky queuing and swearing in true French fashion. And that was just me. Read The Telegraph’s review to see what you’re missing. The exhibition ends 24 January.

The Christmas market at the end of the Champs Elysees is well worth a browse. Selling everything from furry hats to watches, rich tourists left laden with gifts. The best part is no doubt the food; from sweet treats to cheeses and sausages, the air is thick with tempting smells. There is even a special ice sculpture exhibit and fairground slides for little ones. It certainly puts Cardiff’s measly craft and food stalls to shame. Unfortunately, it is very popular with tourists, and the crowds can be off-putting.

Eating out

You can’t get much more French than Le Relais de l’Entrecote.

le relais de l'entrecote

Le relais de l'Entrecote's only dish: steak frites

The famous bistrot had tourists waiting in line outside until the doors opened at 7pm. Alarmingly, there is no menu. Ushered to your seats like children in a school canteen, you are served a small and flimsy salad for starters. But then comes the main course; juicy steak and homemade frites allumettes with a rich basil sauce. As soon as your last mouthful is finished, the brisk and no-nonsense waitresses dump a second portion on your plates, despite any protests you may have. Even with a dessert and a coffee, you’re out within the hour and the second seating begins. The efficient service and excellent food have earned the restaurant its top reputation much like the famous Chartier. I defy you to find a more French menu anywhere. For very reasonable prices, these eateries pride themselves on giving tourists and locals alike a classic taste of France.


Doudounes uniqlo

Doudounes from Uniqlo; invading Paris

Doudounes appear to be the height of cool. I have been informed by a current lyceen that owning one, especially an expensive one, gives you cool status in school. About eight years ago, we banished them to the backs of our wardrobes after years of wearing unflattering knee-length ones which made us look like Michelin men.

Michelin man

The Michelin Man look is back, apparently

Now they are back and invading Paris. In all colours and price ranges – because, yes, there are designer doudounes de luxe which cost hundreds if not thousands of euros – they are sported by people of all ages and backgrounds. You cannot walk down the street without being assaulted by an army of doudounes… it’s enough to contemplate buying one, except I know I’d look like a prize wally upon returning to the UK.

Top 10 tips to get the French look

23 Dec

Parisian girls’ simple and elegant style is coveted by many. Renowned for their taste, class and effortless cool, it’s no wonder Paris is considered the fashion capital of the world.

Here is your essential guide to getting the French look:

1.) Favour dark and neutral colours. Black, navy, grey and white are staples. Don’t be afraid to bring in one brighter colour as long as the rest of your outfit complements it.

Budding French fashionistas

Petites Parisiennes showing off their Vanessa Bruno handbags

2.) Arm candy: no self-respecting Parisienne would be seen dead without her Longchamp handbag. Preferably get your hands on one in every size and colour. Alternatively, the sparkly Vanessa Bruno bag is still proving very popular. From schoolbag to night out, these brands are versatile and a mark of class.

3.) A good pair of jeans. There just isn’t the same demand for leggings over the pond, especially not for crazy patterned ones. Don’t even think about wearing your leggings without a skirt or top over them, c’est tres vulgaire. Likewise, bare legs at this time of year (even on a night out) are a no-no.

4.) Tracksuits are banned unless on your morning jog; always dress smart. Parisennes would be horrified to discover that UK residents feel no shame in going to the supermarket in pyjamas (ahem… guilty.) First impressions count, and there’s no room for slobs in Paris.

5.) Layer, layer, layer. Mix fabrics and pile them on. For example: a silk top with a loose wool cardi and a short leather jacket to create texture.

6.) Keep hair natural. Long, brunette, side-parted and wavy is the style worn by the masses. The trick is to look like you’ve barely had time to brush it even if it is in fact perfectly coiffed.

7.) Likewise makeup. The look is all about moderation. Fresh-faced and natural is the way forward, so put away that tango tinted foundation and emphasize the eyes.

French girl simple style

French street style: simple, textured and chic

8.) Quality over quantity: French girls would rather spend more on quality items (think Gok Wan and his capsule wardrobe.) And with no Topshop or Primark to tempt you, it’s easier to hit Kookai or Zara and invest in some quality, key pieces rather than go mad picking up ‘bargains’ you’ll only wear once or which will fall apart in the wash.

9.) Invest in key accessories and only wear one or two at a time: ie chunky necklaces and silky scarves are tres French. Shoes are key; pretty flats aka ballerines are the clear winners, even in winter.

10.) Basically, keep it simple. A plain Tshirt and jeans will look very chic when worn with sunglasses and an air of confidence.

And remember the saying: “Il faut souffrir pour etre belle.”