Azzedine Alaia exhibition in Paris

If you’re coming to Paris before June 10 (or are lucky enough to live here), the Azzedine Alaia exhibition should be top of your to-do list.

Mostly monochrome, with a flash of red, it showcases 41 of the Tunisian-born designer’s works, chosen by fashion historian Olivier Saillard.

As Vogue’s Suzy Menkes mentioned on Instagram a while back, among the pieces on display is the dress worn by Naomi Campbell on the runway of Alaia’s last show in 2017, and a white version of the vivid pink draped dress worn by Grace Jones in 1985.

Tickets cost a bargain €5.

Azzedine Alaia “Je suis couturier” is on through June 10 at the Azzedine Alaia Association, 18 rue de la Verrerie, 75004.


Musée Yves Saint Laurent

If the Dior exhibition on at Paris’ Les Arts Décoratifs was right up your street, then the recently opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent is not to be missed either.

The museum is located in the legendary hôtel particular at 5 Avenue Marceau, where Yves Saint Laurent designed his collections for almost 30 years, from 1974 to 2002.

Around fifty designs are on display, alongside sketches, photographs and videos.

Visitors can see the haute couture salons, where clients would be welcomed by after collections were presented to place their orders, as well as the studio where Saint Laurent worked.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent, 5 avenue Marceau 75016

Hermès: Les Mains Sans Sommeil

The Hermès Les Mains Sans Sommeil (The Sleepless Hands) exhibition on at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo is so wonderfully weird, I went to see it twice in one weekend.

It showcases the work of the nine artists that took part in the second cycle of the Artists’ Residencies programme of Hermès’ Fondation d’entreprise. These chosen few, who were mentored by leading figures on the contemporary scene, were able to discover the artisan skills used at Hermès’ workshops, with work created during this time showcased alongside other works by the same artists.

From spoons to shoes via a shop of nightmares, this must-see installation will definitely leave its mark.

On until 7 January at Palais de Tokyo, 13 avenue du président Wilson, 75016.


Hermès celebrates Leila Menchari

If you haven’t yet been to the free Hermès exhibition at Paris’ Grand Palais, make sure you fit in a visit before it closes on 3 December.

The exhibition celebrates the work of Leila Menchari, arguably France’s most famous window dresser, who was responsible for creating the flamboyant window displays of Hermès’ flagship store at 24 rue de Faubourg Saint Honoré.


Dazzling in Dior

“How much does one of those cost?” and “Will I ever be rich enough to afford one?” were the questions that immediately sprung to mind as I salivated over the haute couture gowns on display at the Dior exhibition at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs (on until 7 January).

Called Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve, the exhibition celebrates the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior, showcasing more than 300 couture gowns created between 1947 and the present day.

Most of the pieces on display have never been seen before in Paris, coming as they do from Dior’s heritage collection.

Looking at the exquisite craftsmanship and stunning designs, it’s not hard to see why Dior has dressed royalty, first ladies and maybe one day (in my dreams)….Isabelle Andover?


To market, to market


For a long time, I never went to French food markets at the weekend. Because, well, I was a bit intimidated by the hustle and bustle of it all.

I worried about getting an ankle injury as people barged past with their shopping trollies, intent on snapping up a slice of brie or a rotisserie chicken, paying scant regard to who or what was in their path. And I also worried about placing my order: where does the queue start, what the hell is that weird shaped vegetable, and how do you pronounce fenouil anyway?

But then I went with an actual French person, and was converted. Because just as much as an attraction as the food on display are the interactions going on around you.

Take the exasperated stall-holder and the old French woman who wouldn’t get her hands off his plums, for example. “I want some plums,” she says, squeezing five or six of them in turn and smiling widely. “Please don’t touch them,” he replies, a muscle working in his jaw. “I’ll take three,” she says merrily, squeezing them again for good measure. “Madame,” he barks, “Please don’t touch my plums, it’s difficult to sell them afterwards.” And on and on it went.

Watching agog from the next stall along, I was so fascinated by the exchange that the fact I was now apparently obliged to pay €12 for a sliver of cheese barely registered. Well, I could hardly say I’d changed my mind. And besides, one has to treat oneself sometimes. The trouble is, you get so seduced by the juicy strawberries, ripe cheeses and freshly baked bread on offer that before you know it, you’ve spent a week’s wages on half a week’s worth of food. Oh well, as they say here in France. C’est la vie.


Paris Dark Side tour

IMG_3018.jpgDespite having lived in Paris for many years, there’s still so much about the city I don’t know. So with Halloween fast approaching, my friends and I decided to book ourselves on the Paris Dark Side Tour to see a few sights not in the guide book.

Our tour guide was Justine, who, armed with her history degree and bags of enthusiasm, dug up lots of interesting facts about Paris, the French revolution and writers like Marquis de Sade, Victor Hugo and Jean Paul Marat.

We visited the site of Paris’ first cemetery, the city’s morgue (which apparently used to attract up to 40,000 people gawping at the dead) and learned about the non-Disney version of Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Then it was off to Hotel de Ville, where public executions took place, and on to Place des Vosges, where Justine read us a passage from Peter Weiss’s play Marat/Sade. We finished up, quite fittingly, at Place de la Bastille, the birthplace of the French Revolution.

And once the tour was over, we decided to book ourselves onto the pub crawl, which was also organised by Sandemann New Europe Tours. Because you can take the Brit out of England…

The Dark Side tour is running up until Halloween, so make sure you don’t miss out.