Jul 032012

I took a wander through Paris and thought I’d post some pictures as a scrapbook. Above, a chiseled street sign on the Rue des Francs Bourgeois in the Marais. Below, the Place Vendome.

Yesterday, Louis Vuitton opened a new boutique on the Place Vendome for its growing fine jewelry collection.

By the way, the company has significantly expanded the selling space in the Champs Elysee store. There is a complex second floor area now that includes a second handbag selling counter, fine jewelry and watches, an expanded shoe area, and several rooms for the ready to wear clothing. Pretty windows:

Pretty door:

Outside the RItz, Glee fans gathered hoping for a celebrity sighting (apparently, actress Lea Michele):

Finally, in my quest to find the perfect macaron, I explored Le Cafe Pouchkine.  Some bloggers are pronouncing these better than Laduree. They certainly seem larger and they have a sort of shimmery sheen on the cookie part.

I cannot imagine why I bought so many. The store is located on the first floor of the fashion (or “mode”) building of Le Printemps. As for a comparison of quality, I think more testing is required. Much more.


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Jul 032012

I made a fast stop at Colette, an eclectic Parisian store–here’s a link to their website (warning, music will start to play if you click, usually French pop or chill). This store goes “on” and “off” the cool list so often than I (as a non-Parisian) cannot hope to keep up.

The store is full of art books, t-shirts, Celine and Lanvin. There is everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Apparently, Karl Lagerfeld drops by for books and CD’s. Sometimes Colette stocks little Karl dolls and t-shirts. As it is couture week here, I saw more than a few fashionistas and I believe one prominent fashion journalist.

Current Front Windows at Colette (Fendi Bag Variations)

Colette does have a very tiny, well-curated Beauty Bar on the second floor. The store tends to carry niche beauty brands, usually exclusives. Their mainstays are RMS Beauty and Uslu Airlines.

This time, I picked up a few more Less is More travel sized hairbrushes (7 euros each). They come in fun colors, and they are small but mighty. They pull through my thick hair and take up about as much room as a cell phone in my purse. Seriously, you can tuck one of these anywhere. And they work.

I also picked up an Ilia Lipstick in Arabian Nights (22 euros). Ilia a line I’ve never heard about. But that’s why one goes to Colette-to find things that one’s never heard of. The lipsticks seem very moisturizing but pack a nice, modern color. Also, I liked the stainless-steel tube.

Third, I got a pretty little white handkerchief (well, a few as gifts) that has “Fix Your Mascara–You’re Amazing” (19 euros) in bright pink from Helpful Hankies. Because really, those are five words that I cannot hear enough.

Plus, Colette thoughtfully provided a Diptique skin care sample in the bag. Cute, right?

Colette has a very small and well curated perfume section. Here’s The Nonblonde’s trip report from her walk through the Colette beauty bar in search of gorgeous scents.

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Jun 272012

As the famous line from The Devil Wears Prada goes, “Gird your loins!” The French government authorizes only two sales per year. No, I’m not kidding. Today was the first day (except for store cardholders who got to first pick over the past week). It can be an absolute madhouse. If one is serious about these sales, one is waiting at the door at 8 am. This year, I was not one of those people.

By the time I arrived mid-afternoon, the aisles were packed with shoppers. By the way, why are some rolling suitcases behind them? Does any one know? Are they buying so much? Some of the major couture houses had lines outside the door. Guess which line I was in?

As I expected, only very trendy/seasonal items had been marked down and the selection had been whittled down to the unappealing by the time I arrived. Even a discount isn’t really a discount if you’ll never, ever wear it. On a happier note, I did find some patent red Lanvin flats for 30% off at another store.

 Now to figure out how to get that gorgeous box home in my already-overstuffed suitcase. The sales will run until July 31st, consisting almost entirely of the spring and summer items. In the meantime, the stock shrinks, the discounts get deeper, and lines start to put out their Fall 2012 merchandise to tempt you into paying full price for the newly-released items.

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Jun 262012

So many people visit Paris and look at the breathtaking architecture. Most of these buildings are in everyday use in the city. For example, the Palais Garnier (above) is an incredible building that actively houses ballet, opera and concerts throughout many months of the year.

One of the very best ways to see these theaters is while attending a live event. As a major cultural center, Paris presents some of the most incredible performances in the world.

It’s best to order your tickets online before your trip, because performances sell out. The other day, I went to the theater with a glowing complexion thanks to Edward Bess South of France Quad Royale. To compliment its pink tones, I also used Nars Gaiety blush, Chanel Variation Quad Eyeshadow, and Burberry Hibiscus Lip Glow Gloss. I loved the effect. Bravo!!

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Jun 262012

On the Cafe Makeup menu today, this mille-feuille pastry (also called a Napoleon). This, made of an unbelievably flaky and light pastry, includes a touch of custard and cream. This one is from Lenôtre, which consistently presents picture-perfect, stunning creations that only the human hand can create. With something so beautiful, who needs to actually taste it?

If you enjoy learning more about excellent French pastry, you might enjoy a documentary called The Kings of Pastry (trailer is here). It’s a charming little film.

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Jun 172012

For summer, the Serge Lutens boutique at the Palais Royal is featuring the light summer L’Eau Serge Lutens fragrance on long, tall lighted pedestals.

Some of the windows used an ice cube motif to emphasize the cool qualities of the fragrance.

 Others used clothespins as a whimsical reference to its freshness.

The Beauty Look Book has done a lovely review of L’eau here.

Incidentally, those of you who are familiar with the Palais Royal might be interested to know that the construction around the Comédie-Française appears to be complete. The area that was formerly open is now intersected with a large wall that serves as an entrance to the theater. You can see the words “Comédie-Française” in neon along the top of this wooden structure.

Along the way, some areas that were formerly open archways have now been closed off using the same blond wood theme. This is not the entire long facade, but just a few selected pieces (for example, the front of the Serge Lutens boutique now faces a closed wall):

 One image from inside, so that you can see the mix of old and new:

Thank you for sharing a little of my Sunday in Paris!

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May 182011

I’m working my way through Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange ($18 on Amazon.com/paperback).  It’s the closest that I can get to Paris without stepping on a plane.  If you love French style, buy it immediately.

Parisian Chic was written with Ines de la Fessange, a French model and designer.  She has come a long way since the time that she modeled for Chanel during the 1980’s, and her beauty has endured.

Another of Ines as a Chanel model:

Last year, she made an appearance in the Chanel Couture show for Spring/Summer ’11 (ending her 20 year feud with Karl Lagerfeld):

Parisian Chic is full of the simple, yet somehow complicated, secrets of French beauty and style.  The fashion advice is practical and elegant, suggesting touches to any woman’s wardrobe to make it both more classic, edgy and more interesting.

There are sections on food, decor, sights to see in Paris, and even a compilation of boutique hotels to try on an upcoming trip the city of light.  It is delightfully illustrated, clearly written and gorgeously authentic (it is written by a Parisian style icon, after all).

I very much enjoyed the relaxed style of the writing–Ines is as careful to tell you what not to worry about, as she is about what matters.  It’s an engaging read.  I loved how her advice helps me understand how to look feminine without looking like a “good girl.”  Because, let’s face it, when has following the rules ever gotten anyone anywhere?

There is a slim chapter on beauty, featuring some of our favorite lines.

If you are interested in what women in Paris are wearing and doing right now, you’ll love Parisian Chic. At less than $20, it’s far less expensive than plane fare and a wonderful way to pass a few lovely hours learning about French beauty and style.

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Apr 082011


A month ago, I offered this look inside my suitcase to show you what I brought to Paris.  Now that I’m returning, I wanted to do a quick sketch of what worked, what didn’t and what I missed most from my permanent stash.

First:  What worked? As some of you probably guessed, I brought way too much.  Like Rachel Zoe packing shoes for Fashion Week, I could have easily left one-third of these items at home.  On the road, I almost never had time to play with new looks.  Also, the culture of makeup in Paris emphasizes great skin and minimal eye color.  When I saw so many women like myself wearing understated color (except for lips, of course!), I didn’t think about deeply pigmented teal shadow.  If you’ve read Café Makeup, you already know my aesthetic.  Multiply that times 1,000, omit bronzer in favor of a nude blush and you’ll get my perfect Parisian face.

My standard everyday face included:

  • Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B10 Great coverage, no breakouts.  By the way, if you haven’t seen this video by Lisa Eldridge on Chanel Confidential about the use of Vitalumiere Aqua, you should. I highly recommend watching this, even if you already own and love the product.

  • Nars Maui multiple. This added just the right touch of nude glow, contour and highlight.  Liz picked it up for me before I left, and I’m glad that she did. I loved it, wore it nearly every day.
  • By Terry Eye Primer. Adds a touch of moisture.  I followed up by adding a touch of concealer on top (usually the Cle de Peau).

  • Sublime de Chanel Mascara. Reviewed here. I’ve falled in love.  According to Chanel, it’s coming to the U.S. in August.
  • Edward Bess Soft Smoke Eyeshadow trio. Hello, I’m in Paris–a nice neutral deep eye is perfect here.  Edward Bess’ Soft Smoke has a subtle highlight, the perfect mid-tone grey and a nice black liner color (reviewed here). I wore this almost every single day.  These colors look simple, but really they look extremely good when applied on the eye.  I’ll never take that for granted–it’s much harder to find an excellent near-matte neutral that makes you look luminous and alive than you would ever think.  It’s an investment palette–but well worth it in the long run.

  • Le Metier de Beaute Precision Eyeliner.  No extra brush required.  It can go subtle or heavy, depending on the application.  I used this almost every day.  Plus, it’s tiny and so easy to pack.

  • Lip Product de Jour. I liked the options that I brought, plus I added some Chanel Rouge Coco Shine on arrival.  Overall, I had a nice variety to add color to an otherwise neutral face.

Second:  Let’s talk skincare!

  • Suncare:  Even in the cloudy, grey days of March, I didn’t go anywhere without sun protection.  When I travel, I’m outside for hours at a time, and sometimes all day.   Sometimes the weather was gloriously sunny, but even cloudy days let some UV light do their damage.  Every day, I applied EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46, which is absolutely awesome for my acne prone skin.  It includes physical sun protection and seems to disappear into my skin without leaving a tint or white cast.  Because I wasn’t bothered by the paparazzi (note to self: work on that!) I can’t comment on how this looks in flash photographs.  In daylight, the texture was very workable.  Most importantly, it didn’t break me out.  I bought mine at my dermatologist’s office, but it’s also available online from the Dermstore and elsewhere.  Worth every penny.

  • Cleansers/toners: Good skin must be cleansed.  This time around, I threw in a travel-sized Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Buffing Beads from this Sephora Fabulous Four set, a decant of my Shu Uemura Cleansing oil, and a decant of my DDF 10% Glycolic toner.  Perfect combination.  It’s really important to bring an oil cleanser to get any sunscreen off.

Third:  What could I have left behind? My biggest packing error was too many duplicate products.  Here’s what I would have pared down:

  • Too many eyeliners.  I had three–Bobbi Brown’s Chocolate Shimmer and Black Ink, plus Le Metier de Beaute’s liquid eyeliner pen.  I should have picked one black liner.
  • Too many concealers. I have three in the picture above, then I added another in my carry-on bag.  Really, one is enough.
  • Duplicate bronzers.  NARS Maui multiple and Chanel’s powder bronzer was one too many.
  • Sephora straightener for Europe.  A few years ago, a blogger recommended buying a European-specific hair straightener because her U.S. version had blown up even when using a converter.  So I got a Sephora straightener (which is made by Corioliss) made for 220 volt systems.  This year, it stopped working the first week–what a waste of suitcase space and money.  Next time, I’ll look at a battery-powered option.

Fourth:  What did I miss?

  • Brow pencil. I had nothing for brows–no pencil, and no good powder substitute.  I bought Chanel’s new Crayon Sourcils Sculptant almost immediately when I arrived and used it every day.  I like that it includes an eyebrow brush on one end, because I hadn’t packed one of those either.  I loved the texture.  I bought it in the lightest shade, Blond Clair 10, which is a touch too yellow for me.  I’ll be excited to see the other shades when they arrive in the U.S. in August.

  • Clarisonic Skin Cleanser. I made the right call to leave this at home.  It’s really bulky (although the new, smaller Mia might be better).  Unlike my computer and camera equipment, it’s not compatible with Europe’s 220 electric system.  There is no comparable product sold in Europe.  So, even though I was correct to leave this out of my already-overflowing suitcase, I really missed it.

  • I missed my nail polish range. Again, I made the right call not bringing more than two bottles–a clear Sally Hansen and Chanel Strong. My nails get completely trashed when traveling, there’s no avoiding it.  Still, I missed not having any nude or taupe options, or a nice clear red.  I don’t think there’s a good answer for this.  You just have to give up some things when you’re on the road.

Well, my dearest readers, how did I do?  Do you have any travel tips you’d like to share?


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