What I Wore: From Odette to Colette

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While I usually tend to avoid the touristy Latin Quarter in Paris, this year, it was on my “to go” list. Why? Odette. After seeing countless photos of those photogenic French puffs on Instagram, I knew I had to try them. So after a leisurely stroll from our Airbnb apartment, we found ourselves in front of Odette. The place was tiny with limited seating, so we grabbed some petit-choux, and began to devour them right on the street. My verdict – they were ok. The coffee ones were my fave, but in general, I found them way too soggy and not as good as the ones from Nadege in Toronto. Nadege offers petit-choux that are light, fresh, decidedly not soggy, and so very flavourful. They may not be quite as pretty as Odette’s, but in my opinion, they are way superior in all other aspects.

After our petit disappointment, we walked back towards our Parisian apartment, exploring rue Saint Honoré. As some of you may know, rue Saint Honoré is home to one of the coolest shops in Paris – Colette, so of course, that’s exactly where we ended up. We nosed through the store’s trendy book selection, picked up some souvenir postcards, featuring Anna Wintour and other fashion notables playing soccer (it was World Cup season after all), and gawked at the gorgeous clothes displayed on the second floor – designs from Christopher Kane, Carven, Kenzo, Mary Katrantzou, Comme des Garcon, and so much more. There wasn’t a huge breadth of items available, but the curated pieces were enough to set my heart aflutter.

Sadly, I limited myself to postcards, and a fragrant melon that I picked up at a fruit stand nearby. The melon was sweet and the postcards were adorable, and even if I didn’t buy any fab clothes, my day was still quite perfect. As cliche as this may sound…I don’t need much when I’m in Paris…a walk through its charming streets is all it requires to make me realize just how freaking lucky I am.

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Inside Coco Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon Apartment

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Coco Chanel – designer, muse, visionary – was one of the world’s most complex and enigmatic fashion powerhouses. One whose life and life’s work still transfix and inspire hordes of fashion lovers (myself included) decades after her passing. So when I received an invitation to sneak a rare glimpse at Mademoiselle’s private apartment on rue Cambon in Paris, I may or may not have done a few cartwheels around my living room to celebrate.

On the morning of my appointment, I stopped to enjoy the anticipation of the big moment by grabbing a coffee and some viennoiserie at the nearby café, watching the rushing passerby, completely oblivious of my big day. The enormous grin on my face did nothing to conceal my joy.

Upon arriving at 31 rue Cambon, I was treated to a private walkthrough of the Parisian flagship boutique, where one could find an impressively extensive selection of Chanel pieces. Looking for that rare bag? Boutiques on rue Cambon and rue Montaigne are your two best bets. However, word to the wise – it’s ridiculously easy to get distracted from your original mission and end up overspending. It’s all just too tempting, and as I mentioned, the selection is amazing. Proceed at your own risk.

After having the boutique all to myself (crazy, I know), I was warmly welcomed and taken up the winding mirrored staircase on the chicest tour of my life.

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On the second floor above the Rue Cambon boutique, I was guided into the Haute Couture salon floor with its large sitting room, several salons, and piece-de-resistance – the haute couture closet. Hanging inside was the spring 2014 Haute Couture collection, worn by the likes of Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, and Rihanna. And since those exquisite pieces are one-of-a-kind, I actually got to touch the exact outfits that those beautiful celebs got to wear. Don’t be fooled by Rihanna’s seemingly curvy bod, that purple dress she wore to the fall 2014 show was definitely an XS or smaller.

Seeing the actual haute couture pieces inside the closet was pretty surreal. I got to see just how intricate every detail is on each and every single piece, and how dazzling haute couture is in real life. Oh, to one day be able to wear one of those dresses…what a dream!

Before I could embarrass myself by asking to try on one of the dreamy haute couture gowns, I decided that it was time for the main event – The Apartment. One more flight of stairs later, I found myself sitting on the exact step Coco used to favour while her collections were presented below, silently observing reactions of the attendees – the mirrors weren’t there for aesthetics alone. After several photos on said step, we proceeded to the entrance door, ready to walk into the heart and soul of Chanel.

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Right away, I was transfixed by the abundance of patterns, textures, and colours –  ornate lacquered Chinese screens attached to walls like super fancy (and expensive) wallpaper, golden baroque mirror in the shape of both Place Vendome and the infamous Chanel no. 5 bottle stopper, a pair of Venetian Blackamoors (Coco’s “friends”) welcoming all guests, mixed with decidedly modern sand-coloured carpet. I take refuge in beige because it is natural, and red because it is the colour of blood”, Chanel said once, and that’s precisely what I remembered, standing in that entrance hall.

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Highly superstitious, fond of crystals, camellias, stars, lions (she was a Leo after all), and other animals (always in pairs), Chanel filled her apartment with a myriad of knick-knacks – symbolic treasures that she collected over the years, and that inspired her. She designed the crystal chandelier in her living room, also full of important Chanel symbols – interlocking Cs, W for Westminster, number 5, camellia flowers (makes for a fun game of I Spy!). And that suede beige sofa that could easily belong in a modern living room – also Chanel’s custom design – one that inspired the iconic quilted bags.

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As the tour went on, I learned many fascinating tidbits from Chanel’s life, about her childhood, her lovers, her friends, her work…nearly every piece in that apartment had a story to tell. Virtually untouched, the east-meets-west apartment still serves as a place of inspiration for Chanel’s designers and staff, and no wonder – even though she’s been gone for over three decades now, Mademoiselle’s presence is still felt inside the ornately decorated rooms. And every bit and bob from the apartment could pop up unexpectedly in a bag, a clasp, a garment print, or even influence an entire collection, as some have in the past.

At the end of the tour, standing in the now familiar entrance hall, I was invited to sit down in the infamous Horst chair. I tried to look pensive as Chanel had in the iconic photo, but all my face could do was smile…awed and happy.

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And while the apartment may not be open to the public, I recently learned that Sam Taylor-Johnson’s photographic exhibition of the private apartment of Mademoiselle Chanel, “Second Floor”, will open at Saatchi Gallery in London this September. The series of 45 photographs captures the private rooms of Mademoiselle Chanel at 31 rue Cambon in Paris, giving visitors a glimpse at Coco’s fascinating life. “Shooting at Coco Chanel’s apartment was an unexpectedly absorbing experience,” says Taylor-Johnson. “The essence of Chanel is firmly rooted there in all of her possessions and I truly believe that her spirit and soul still inhabit the second floor.” I couldn’t agree more.

“Second Floor” Exhibit
Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ King’s Road
Friday September 12th, 2014 until Monday September 22nd, 2014
London, SW3 4RY
Free admission

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What I Wore: Let Them Eat Cake

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The Palace of Versailles has always been a place I wanted to visit eventually…what with all the drama, intrigue, excess, and history surrounding this royal château, I knew it would be worth the trek. The only reason that I have avoided visiting Versailles for so long is the fear of endless line-ups and tourists. Usually, with the exception of the Eiffel Tower, we try to stay away from crowded and touristy places, but this time around, we decided to just go for it.

As expected, the place was teeming with people…SO.MANY.PEOPLE! But not to worry, after about 30 minutes of waiting for our tickets, and then lining up to get in, we were finally inside Marie Antoinette’s stomping grounds! The palace was definitely very impressive, with rooms full of beautiful art, ornate doors (and ceilings, and floors), and of course, plenty of historic tidbits to glimpse and learn – totally worth it the wait.

But as cool as it was to see the Hall of Mirrors and the grand apartment de la reine in person, the gardens were a highlight for me. After hours of frolicking around, lying in the grass, sipping iced chocolate on Angelina’s terrace, and taking way too many photographs, I don’t think we covered even half of the massive grounds. I guess another trip to Versailles is in order…maybe next year!

Have you ever visited Versailles? What was your favourite spot? Share in the comments.

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What I Wore: Eye See Paris, Eye See France

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As you can see I am stretching my vacay posts out…mostly because I want to relive those fun moments over and over again, and that’s what these blog posts help me do. So, I hope you don’t mind too terribly.

This dress is one of my absolute faves. It was love at first sight, and after a quick alteration (it used to have a mock turtleneck), it was perfect - eye-catching and fun. I wore it in Paris to celebrate my friend Al’s birthday (Gemini sistahs), and after yet another visit to the Eye-ffel Tower, we spent the rest of the day in a leisurely state of bliss – enjoying a delicious lunch with a perfect view at Frame, grabbing a dessert at Laduree, hiding from the rain at CHANEL on Rue Montaigne, enjoying the scenery at Les Invalides, after hours of wandering around the city. It’s so easy to just do nothing in Paris. Every street oozes with charm, and every streetside cafe beckons you to seat down and take in everything and everyone around you. The city makes you both speed up and slow down, and I couldn’t love it more.

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Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2014 Collection

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I am so excited about Paris Haute Couture fashion week, you guys! If, like me, you’ve been missing the excitement and drama in fashion lately, now’s the perfect time to feast your eyes on the hautest gowns of the upcoming season. And while some couture shows left me bored to tears (or nearly), thank goodness for CHANEL, and of course, Karl Lagerfeld. Love him or hate him, the man’s got imagination.

CHANEL Haute Couture Fall 2014 show featured a variety of surprising elements, including what looked like fancy flip flops worn with exquisite gowns, a pregnant model closing the show (apparently Karl loves the pregnant ladies, who would’ve thought?!), messy feathery up-dos topped with Maison Michel’s tiny hats, and a Kardashian strutting her stuff on the runway. *I wonder if Kim’s jealous of Kendall’s fiery rise to the top? I mean, walking in a CHANEL show and having Karl’s approval has got to be more meaningful than scoring half of that VOGUE cover, amiright?

But no matter, despite the pared down setting (no supermarkets or icebergs at this show), the clothes spoke for themselves. Karl’s modern vision, infused with baroque touches and youthful styling, resulted in a dazzling, but still wearable couture collection. One that I am certain we’ll soon see on various red carpets (most likely on Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, and the like), and I honestly can’t wait! I especially want someone to wear that poofy feathery blue confection…I think with softer hair, it can look both cool and ethereal…also, I am kind of obsessed with it.

But tell me, what do you think of CHANEL Haute Couture Fall 2014 collection? Are you as obsessed as me? Share in the comments.

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