Without giving you a long and drawn out commentary of my life (seriously, who cares?), let's just say that I've had my share of interesting escapades and deeply appreciate the trajectory of my life so far. In addition to the impact my mother's impeccable taste had on me, a big chunk of my life was spent in both the entertainment and fashion business, respectively; in Los Angeles mostly, and then I went to Europe for the first time and got. turned. out. I am an undercover fashionista. #DoubleOBrownGirl
Behida Dolic / Yellowfield 7
As a Southern California native living in the San Francisco Bay Area, however, I'm far more casual these days and I save my ultra-wicked European-inspired wardrobe for special occasions with my beau-husband. You can typically find me in my little French-themed boutique make-up free, rocking skinny jeans, a decent top, and with my dreads pushed back or hanging free and likely wearing a little hat. Admittedly, I often look a Hot Mess at work although at the opposite end of the spectrum, I freely admit to having a penchant for chic riding boots, funky jackets and cute little cloche hats. (Fun Fact: I used to handmake little hats as a part-time hobby/business called Le Joli Chapeau.) What I like better than getting gussied up, however, is putting my personal spin on some of my customers' looks. And so far, they seem to like it too.
|Boots by Aldo; Laraway US$180|
Interestingly, I don't stalk fashion blogs (but will re-share a memorable outfit on Facebook if something gets my attention) and have no undercover desire to be a fashion blogger. But I'm also not a hater and don't begrudge people who do; particularly since I happen to know some really cool fashion bloggers. Besides, I'm not the fashion blogger type. It's just not a part of my personality to put myself out there wearing my fashions-du-jour so freely. To be honest, if social media didn't demand engagement, coming out of hiding, and transparency, I would be content behind the scenes creating and producing whatever and you wouldn't even know my name. But that, my friends, is not how the cookie crumbles. And so here we are.
For the past four weeks, I've been here in Paris doing a variety of things including visiting Sarlat and the Dordogne Valley, visiting Josephine Baker's former chateau, interviewing a Paris expat, managing my Paris guests and shopping for my little store. It has not been a completely work-free vacation, but I can think of worse places to work, so hey *shrug*, I'm not complaining.
The first day I went out shopping for my store, I was mildly surprised to see that many of my vendors had far less to offer than in past years with far more vacant buildings in the wholesale shopping districts than last year, and far fewer buyers buying. The status of the economy, as I'm sure you know, is a worldwide phenomenon and not just relegated to the US. In fact, I've seen far more prostitutes than I've seen occupied buildings, which is another story entirely. (Random Fact: Prositution is legal in France while pimping is not.)I also noticed that many of the fashion offerings are far more American than I expected. Skulls, studs and peace signs adorn the clothing and shoes in many of the store windows here and remind me of Melrose Avenue in LA. How strange. Le Sentier, where I have in past years spent the bulk of my wholesale money, boasts mostly After-Five ensembles with loads of sparkle, but with none of the European shapes and flair I love so much. And what I do see that I like is way out of the price range for my store or can be found in the US without being strangled by the exchange rate. I'm always pretty picky about what I bring back from Paris, but this year, le shopping is very different (although I did manage to find 3 funky European jackets and some banging lingerie for myself in boutiques here in Le Marais).
When you get down to part of the Champs or Rue St-Honoré, however, the designer store windows are a whole 'nother matter. Fine Parisian duds fill up the windows and take my breath away. Even the After-Five more formal gowns are couture in nature. Now that's what I'm talking about.
|Photo by @OneBrownGirl on Rue St-Honoré #storewindow|
|Photo by @OneBrowGirl on Rue St-Honoré #storewindow|
|Coutoure wedding gown in Le Marais|
But please, don't get me wrong about what I wasn't able to find for my store because Paris will always be a fashion mecca and there will always be something exquisite to buy that'll have you whipping out your pocketbook quick, fast and in a hurry. Trust me, I know.
With a whole lotta undercover fashionista love, I'm...