I felt about the same shopping in Milano, but Paris is The City of Style and Fashion where tendencies drives the world’s fashion.
But for this Virtual Shopping Tour I chose Av Montaigne. I get off at the Franklin-Roosevelt subway station (a good exercise walk toning up legs and bum).Even though, I take the mechanic stairs exit facing Gucci Shop. And guess what? Just in front of me the bags!!! Finely crafted Leathers, monogram twill fabric, clutches, shoulder bags, python skin shoulder bags, luggage, GG everywhere, the latest one with top models name like Indy;
They all drive me crazy but I just enjoy the look of them; my credit card is sweating but given the euro vs dollar exchange rate of 1,56 Euro to 1 dollar, there is no hope for me. Anyway, I take the stairs and meet the shoes, loafers, sandals and stilettos all GG signed. I still resist but for the pleasure of my eyes I enter the scarves, clothes and belts treasure room. Too expensive for me so I resist easily. Back downstairs, I take a glance at the sunglasses wall and I can imagine myself wearing Gucci glasses on Rodeo Drive.
Enough daydreaming, it is my first stop. Avenue Montaigne here I come!!
I pass the S.T.Dupont door, the Krizia building and I rush into the LOEWE Boutique; Spanish luxury with comfortable loafers and outrageously beautiful bags. I enjoy the design of the shop itself but my walk is not over. What to do cross the street and go to Montaigne Market or stay on the same side of the road. I hesitate for few seconds and I cross TO visit Montaigne Market where everything is displayed like a fashion museum. All the IT pieces of the moment are there waiting on hangers :the Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress (I will end up buying a BCBG by Max Azria wrap dress),the Marc by Marc Jacobs bags and shoes, etc. But thanks to the fashion buyers of Montaigne Market there is nothing for luscious black ladies, the biggest size being a French 38-my size when I was 18!-.Great money saver….
I stay on the same side of the street,Escada ,Bulgari, but it is the new Roberto Cavalli store that drives my attention. All those silk Djellabas, blouses and dresses are teasing my eyes. Nothing is below 400 euros. I can barely afford a t-shirt but I love eye shopping.If you go to Cavalli invest in a solid denim pair of jeans, the cut is perfect and it gives a great shape believe me (ok at 400 euros the jeans it should). I cross back to the other side of Montaigne and here I go standing in front of Chloé but it is time to go to Chanel Boutique. Always the same guy at the door very polite and courteous, Chanel classic bags in my opinion are one of the Must have fashion items of the Fashionista (save on the air ticket to Europe this year and tell a friend to bring you a black classic chanel with silver or gold chain). No need to have several of them unless you can afford it; If it is the case also go for the beige, the chocolate and the navy blue. Same thing for the shoes as I am tall 1,82m, I always go for the flat ballerinas.
Buying classic pieces doesn’t mean having the classic look from head to toe, Mix and match, Zara shirt with a Chanel bag, nice jeans with your flats. That is the key of Style, and like my friend Elsa would say “Nothing can beat simplicity”.
Enough blablabla, the tour is not over yet Celine is just few meters away, the epitome of French class and subtle elegance. The favorite brand of Cameroonians ladies , always very elegant but in a very classic style.But there is the Jimmy Choo Paris address .The sexy bling bling sandals are winking at me. Will I resist?
My little walk is not over, Christian Dior Paris one of the most beautiful boutiques of avenue Montaigne. The place where “Lady Dior”, “Gaucho” and other well chosen names have a handle and mean quality. My head is spinning. Shoes, bags, home ware, sunglasses….Everything Dior is here. It’s either you invest in leather Lady Dior bag in neutral colors with gold metal (you know black, brown, beige, navy blue, tan…) the red being the only color you could wear with everything. If you crave for a flashy color, wait for the sales you will get a Dior orange bag at half price. Avoid fabric bags unless you are very rich or somebody’s buying it for you (in that case you can change it with the cashier ticket). Then Baby Dior where I spoil my boys when they are on sale, Dior Jewelry with their fabulous rings for the pleasure of my eyes.
Then D&G, Prada, Louis Vuitton , a couple of Chinese in the street tried to convince me to buy a LV bag for them but I don’t want to take any risk. I am not really a LV freak but it is part of the tour must-visit and the shop design and deco is awesome. So I follow the flock of Koreans, Japanese and Chinese rushing in the shop.
After that virtual shopping tour, I go to the Plaza Athénée for a well deserved 40 euros tea and cakes (at least I can afford that)…
P.S: Shopping tips you can save up to 20% by shopping at Printemps Haussman or Galeries Lafayette where they give a 10% discount card to all foreigners by presenting your passport, on top of that you benefit of a 12% tax refund.
Yesterday as i was driving home comfortably seated in my car and driven by a driver I looked outside and my eyes met an old woman carrying heavy wooden sticks tied around a stained piece of material. She was walking slowly a piece of cloth wrapped around her waist …And my mind started wandering; she certainly had to do this to feed her children and to send them school, was she a widow? Or maybe her husband is unemployed? Questions were rolling out in my head when few meters further I see two young ladies with basins full of bread on their heads and so on…
Where are the men? Wrong question I told to myself, they are independent women fighting to have their own income, to make a difference in their lives and in their children; mother or sister’s lives. They are showing examples to my driver’s wife who doesn’t make any effort to take control of her life by selling few vegetables on a table, powdered milk or canned tomato paste in front of her house. They are showing examples to all those married women who just wait for their husband to give them a monthly allowance; they are an inspiration for all my sister abused by men because they have no choice.
My mother has always been a great role model to me: she was a widow at 20 and she already had me then, I was four years old. In Africa once your husband dies, some in-laws concentrate on taking everything from the grieved widow and her orphaned kids. And that was the case of my uncles. But Mum never gave up she fought and got a scholarship to study in France and from there became a very successful business woman; always on the go ready; ready to fight for her children and always sharing with others. She has friends all over Africa and everywhere I go, I can be proud of being her daughter. She has set the pace for us and is an examples for most of her nieces and friends. She lost her mother at eight and was raised by a wicked aunt of hers but she forgave long time ago and sent her to Makah few years ago. She gave me everything I could dream of ,made most of my dreams come true (I went on a trip around the world at 24), gave me opportunities to learn English by sending me to the States and England since I was twelve; She spoilt me with designers clothes and watches since I was in High School. I never had to envy anybody whether a President’s or a billionaire’s child. I was judged by my teachers to be a very balanced child even though I was raised by a single Mum; so if I am who I am today it is because my Mum took control of her life and decided to make a difference that I am who I am now: Independent, strong and hardworking.
Two days ago, I was walking by the river with a friend and we bumped into a tiny little girl selling papayas, carrots and bananas. We started chatting with her whilst buying two papayas and she told us that she was nine years old and still going to primary school!!!!! It was 7:15 p.m when we left and she was there standing, still waiting for customers.
I don’t want to comment that story because I don’t know anything more about her background but one thing I am sure about is if she can do it we can do it. So let’s make sure that from today you will work on making things happen in your life: Write if you want to write, learn designing, be a party planner, or anything else you feel like : just live your life to the full and be in charge.Have a great day!
My sister, I remember you at those fashion shows in Paris, in the 80’s.I was still a teenager dreaming like all African girls of my age to become a Katoucha, a Kadidja or an Iman. You had presence on the stage , giving life to Yves-Saint-Laurent’s creation , giving wings to silk and flow to any skirt dress or pants even though Haute-Couture. Katoucha! clothes were living through your Charisma.
Our Princess, I remember those nights or early mornings in » Keur Samba », you were hiding in ladies rooms, unaware of all of us, lost in your pain and suffering.
You are our icon, we Fulanis raised with an endless sense of pride and dignity no matter what…
You were always hanging with Chris Seydou, your spiritual brother and you inspired each other in your endless will to change the way the world was looking at our Africa.
Then you decided to go back home and you were betrayed by your likes, but you stood the humiliation, »Born to Survive ». Once again, you have overcome, always in action, creative and beautiful.
As I write , I see you laughing , knowing you wouldn’t want us to cry but your loss is painful big sister…Too hard on us… we have unfinished projects but for you I will continue and make it happen.
I never became a top model or even a model but you inspired me as other African women as a role model..
I remember those days in Abidjan, in 1997 when you came for the launch of your collection, wonderful,l African inspired but universal like you and perfectly fitted. I can see you pregnant with Hayden and madly in love with Nigel a bunch of roses in his hands for my mum. You were so happy!!!. Generous you were , always giving and sharing.
And then your Japanese adventure following your husband in Tokyo. I remember our phone discussions on life in Japan, the lack of afrocentric Hairdressers and »Tiep bou Dieune ».
I missed you when you were doing the Public Relations of the Pershing’s restaurant in Paris, you had left few minutes before my arrival…
I recognized you there, always ready to fight, to stand up, to BE.
Last April , I was in Dakar for few days and when you heard I was in town, you invited me to your Restaurant »Monte-Christo » in Ngor. I was so happy to see you as usual beautiful, sparkling and lively. You were perfectly dressed in a black suit designed by you and made in Senegal and then you started praising capacities of Africa to sell itself… We made plans on organizing a big event in Central Africa in 2008…I went back home and while on a trip to Paris Marie-Jeanne Serbin Thomas www.brune-lemag.com told me you had written a book « Dans ma chair » (in my flesh) and you were on a promotion tour.
When I read on the net that you had disappeared, I was worried but Hope was stronger so I called a friend in Dakar and she was positive telling me you might have decided to take a break from the world and its wickedness. She planted seeds of hope in my heart.
I bought the new Brune , Marie-Jeanne wrote a beautiful paper on you STILL FULL OF HOPE.
The BAD NEWS came by mail…
Great Lady, »Grande Dame », thanks for the wonderful time spent together, thanks for being an inspiration for all African women, we love you and will never forget you…