Yesterday was the inaugural Vogue Experience day in Paris, and it was every bit as fabulous as it sounds.
The French fashion bible chose the prestigious Hôtel du Duc near Opéra for the setting, with a dozen or so masterclasses spread across two floors.
Attendees could customize their Nike trainers and Levis denim up on the second floor, while the first floor featured skincare diagnosis with French brand Lierac, a blow dry bar courtesy of Dyson and make-up animations from NYX and Guerlain.
My personal favorite was learning how to authenticate an Hermès Birkin at a masterclass from French online luxury secondhand retailer Vestiaire Collective.
And because fashion is thirsty work, there was a Ladurée tea bar where you could stop and refuel.
The highlight was definitely getting my copy of Vogue Paris signed by editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt. And the Vogue tote bag with a selection of goodies that we were presented with on the way out was the icing on the cake.
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.
Today I met the fabulous Sophie Kinsella at a book signing in Paris, and it was a bit like how I imagine meeting royalty to be.
Having rushed there from work (hence the ‘just been dragged through a bush backwards’ look), I was alarmed to be told that the queue for signed copies had closed 15 minutes earlier. After seeing my crestfallen face, someone kindly took pity on me and I was mercifully allowed on the other side of the gilded rope.
Half an hour later and I was in front of the Queen of chick lit.
I think I finally understand how One Direction fans feel when they see Harry Styles – I have been a huge fan of Sophie’s books for as long as I can remember, and meeting her in person induced a level of excitement in me that I hadn’t felt since Christmas day 1999.
In person, Sophie is as witty and warm as the characters in her books.
I love all of Sophie’s books – they are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and I’ve re-read them all more times than I care to remember. I’m a massive fan of the Shopaholic series in particular, and can’t wait to curl up with the kitty to read my signed copy of Shopaholic to the Rescue.