Wool Week in Paris

The glamour sheep

The glamour sheep

Glamour and glitz are not words I would expect to use in the same sentence as sheep yards.  But on Tuesday night a handsome flock of Merino Rambouillet sheep in a designer farmyard took pride of place at the glamorous Vogue Fashion Night Out event on Rue St Honore in the heart of the Paris fashion district.

This was all part of the launch of Campaign for Wool’s presence in France and the start of Paris Wool Week 16-21 September 2014.  Along with The Woolmark Company, CFW were co-sponsors with Vogue for the VFNO event.  This is a big do for fashionistas with activities like make-up demonstrations, a photo-shoot set as well as retail stores offering lucky draws, goody bag specials, champagne, cocktails and so on.  With a free invitation included in the September issue of Paris Vogue and the map and guide to all the events from the wool-focussed VFNO guide, my DB and I dressed up and headed along for a look.  Even if we felt a little out of place (and old!) it was an interesting experience.  The streets were packed with fashionable young men and pretty, red-lipsticked women.  The queues to make it inside the boutiques were patrolled by doormen so elegantly dressed they could have stepped out of the magazine pages themselves.

Off to VFNO

Off to VFNO

The sheep have now relocated to the Berges de Seine for the continuation of Wool Week activities over this weekend.  There will be sheep shearing demonstrations, educational information about wool and exhibitions of interior design and fashion with wool.

For the next two weeks there’s an installation of photographs and information about wool at one of Paris’s most loved and busy department stores le BHV.  I happened to be there when a camera crew from London were filming under the watchful eye of the Woolmark Company people.

Does this all make a difference?  According to the Campaign for Wool’s website, their activities since launching in 2010 have “influenced a new demand for wool on an international scale”.  If my amateur assessment is anything to go by I’m pleased to say yes.  Amongst the winter clothing ranges in stores here there are even more beautiful wool garments than I noticed last year.  The fashion glossies like Vogue are full of models snuggled, wrapped or elegantly suited up in wool; wool is getting serious attention.  Fashion is only one aspect of the campaign, but as a wool lover, knitter and proud New Zealander I’m pleased to see the best of wool being promoted here in the fashion capital.

And now I need to get on with my knitting, I’ve had an awful lot of inspiration and encouragement this week.

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Time for a fashion fix

If you are like me and get pleasure from fashion and clothes and shopping then what could be more enjoyable than a fashion reconnaissance mission – or two or three – in Paris?  There’s hardly a better place than the big department stores to search out what’s looking hot for winter.  Le Bon Marché over the river in the 7th arrondissement and Printemps and Galeries Lafayette side by side on Boulevard Haussman reign supreme as temples of style and fashion, but the little boutiques out of the city centre offer nice surprises too.  I have a few favourites in the 17th that are worth a visit.

As I executed my mission, (I don’t need the shop floor plans anymore) I spied with my little eye…..delicious, dark, ripe berry colours; colours of Chianti and Bordeaux, paired with black and probably fifty different shades of grey.

Mustard and tan featured, as well as elegant deep peacock blue colours.

There were boots, boots and more beautiful boots, and better still; brogues.  I think brogues are going to be my treat this season.  I’ve seen French women wearing them looking terribly chic, so I hope I can emulate the look when I’m out walking wearing a gorgeous pair.

I oohed and aahed when I set eyes on the knitwear.  I touched it, stroked it, and examined details of the patterns and fibre content.  Every designer brand name had knitted jerseys, cardigans, scarves, hats and more.  There was a ton of texture with patterns and cables, luxuriously soft cashmere, shimmery threads added for interest and even bejewelled accessories.

Absolutely, completely and utterly, knitted garments have escaped Fuddy-Duddy and captured Chic.  Such inspiration – I am so glad I can knit.  The needles are busy.

 

 

Les Soldes – Paris on sale

Max et Moi boutique

Max et Moi boutique

Hip hooray – the annual summer sales (les Soldes) started last week.  The sales; both summer and the winter season in January, are highly anticipated events because a) there are serious discounts and b) the sales don’t happen any old time.  The sale dates are just one part of the trading laws regulated by the French government.  (Remember – bureaucracy is a French word.)  Stores can only have a sale at other times with permission, and I gather the sale must be for a reason such as a special promotion of something, although with the economic crisis apparently more leeway has been allowed.

Queuing to buy shoes at Le Bon Marche department store

Queuing to buy shoes at Le Bon Marche department store

This summer-sale season runs from 26 June to 30 July.  Bargains start at 30% off and as the sale time progresses items become more and more discounted.  Some items start out at a higher discount; 40% or 50% off, even more if you are lucky.  So the strategic shopper must plan carefully and weigh up the risk of missing out versus holding on for a better bargain.   The first days were hectic; crowds of locals and tourists joined in the queues.  But as a seasoned strategic shopper I had planned ahead and tried on a few things in advance so that I could avoid the change room melee.

I’d had my eye on a jacket and some trousers; I now own them, the discount met my pre-determined buy/wait equation and, well, there was a gorgeous coral coloured top that was unplanned but will be terribly useful for the upcoming beach holiday.  That’s shopping serendipity!  I can recommend the pleasure of sales shopping; there are some wonderful bargains especially as the spring/summer weather here has been a bit of a fizzer so far, and this is the fashion capital after all.

My new coral top

My new coral top

 

 

 

The high end stores have sales too, but are more discreet in their promotion.  Window shopping last weekend on Rue Faubourg Saint Honore I noticed a small elegant sign placed in the shop window advising the price of the clothes on display explained that sale items were available inside.  The big department stores go full on to the extent of bold neon signs to announce their sales.

Les Soldes at Printemps department store

Les Soldes at Printemps department store

One of the added attractions to entice shoppers in catered for true Parisians – those who normally take their dog out shopping with them.  In the first week at BHV store, a business called Doggybox was on site to look after your dog while you shopped.  Take a look here and click on the video– there’s even a chocolate lab featuring!  As the man in the film says c’est chouette! Cool!

You want purple shoes?

You want purple shoes?

 

Spring is around the corner

When I left Wellington (New Zealand) in October and came over here to Paris I wasn’t really looking forward to my second winter in a row. Thankfully I’m not sick of it yet; just as well because it’s not officially spring until March and even then it will be some time before its reliably warmer I suspect.  We had a few more snow flurries last weekend; and although it was darn cold the snow is still a bit of a novelty.  But already the first hints of spring are here, there are bulbs popping their shoots up in the park gardens, tree buds are bulging and early blossoms colouring up and best of all the days are getting noticeably longer.

Bulb shoots in Martin Luther King Par

Bulb shoots in Martin Luther King Park

la fleur perce-neige (Snowdrop)

la fleur perce-neige (Snowdrop)

The other sure sign of the change in season is the revelation of spring fashions in the shops.  The sales (les soldes) haven’t completely finished yet and just like our own “House of G” (aka Glassons) the “High Street” shops are bursting with new wares to tempt shoppers whose enthusiasm for spending might be on the winter wane.

I snapped a few window shopping treats to show you…….lovely bright colours, especially ORANGE.  I am always keen to see what knitwear fashions emerge and inspire me, and oh yes, I have already seen some eye-catching models.  The Spring/Summer knitting pattern magazines that I subscribe to are being released now as well so I am not short of inspiration!

Ralph Lauren's proposal for your Spring wardrobe chaps.

Ralph Lauren’s proposal for your Spring wardrobe chaps.

Love this vest!

Love this vest!

Ralph Lauren for women. Trousers are BRIGHT, Gentian Violet purple.

Ralph Lauren for women. Trousers are BRIGHT, Gentian Violet purple.

ORANGE! on Rue de Rivoli

ORANGE! on Rue de Rivoli

Turquoise boots, oh la la!

Turquoise boots, oh la la!