Postcard from Paris: Fancy Feet

Strappy gladiator flats and ballet flats spotted at the Marais district's outdoor market.

The fashion festival in Hyeres officially ended on Monday, and it’s been an intense and invigorating week of sightseeing, socializing and reporting! But before leaving Paris for Hyeres, followed by a side trip through Provence and Central France for some other adventures these past few days (more on all of that to come), I sent this e-postcard to the Chronicle, posted on today’s sfgate.com.

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Oh la la! Scarves are hot!

I reluctantly parted with Paris  today by train after an inspiring week of total fashion immersion. (But much more to come here in Hyeres!) I spent my last few days in the city soaking in street style– my attempt to pay tribute to the great Bill Cunningham of the New York Times. The trend I spotted? Scarves in Paris, even in balmy springtime temps, are all the rage. Check out my latest post here on  Unzipped, sfgate.com’s style blog.

More street style photos to come… stay tuned!

St. Germain, Paris: Hot Chocolate, Writers and Springtime

Love is in the Air: A view of Place de St. Germain des Pres from cafe Deux Magots.

There’s something magical that happens to Paris in the springtime, when the city has defrosted, people begin packing onto the outdoor patios of the cafes again, and the sidewalks turn into a parade of warm weather fashions.

My last trip here in January was a wholly different experience popping in and out of the metro to get from one neighborhood to the next as a quick refuge from the bitter cold. While there’s something to be said about visiting a destination city in the off-season when you feel like you’re living like a local, I couldn’t wait this time to meander around on foot with my camera, even at the risk of being out-ed as a (gasp!) tourist.

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Paris Window Shopping, or What I call “Productive Jet lag”

The art of the drape at TG931, a Thai concept store in Paris.

It’s been less than 48 hours since I arrived in Paris, and needless to say, I’ve been experiencing a bit of  jet lag. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., and was relieved to discover my husband was having the same problem. We decided to forgo the tossing and turning and instead head out together for a brisk morning walk.

The end goal? Land at a boulangerie that would serve us freshly baked croissants and espresso at this unreasonable hour.

We wandered around the area near our apartment, the chic Marais neighborhood in the 3rd arrondissement (city district), with little luck in the way of finding breakfast. Most of the streets were still. Shops were closed, except for a butcher or two unloading the day’s supplies into their boucheries, and a few café owners, who were beginning to distribute colorful, wicker chairs and bistro tables onto the sidewalks.

But even at the break of dawn, it’s easy to keep yourself plenty occupied in Paris. In fact, empty sidewalks make for ideal window shopping in a city where store displays are an art form in and of themselves! Here’s a glimpse at what I saw on my morning-stroll-turned-fashion-scouting.

Sandro- French ready-to-wear chain with shops throughout Paris

More of Sandro--Scarves are a must at any time of year in Paris!

Zadig & Voltaire-- Another French brand with a look comparable to Rock & Republic. The new SF boutique "La Boutique" in Jackson Square has started selling a limited selection of its collections.

Fragonard-- This famed Parisian perfume maker sells alluring fragrances, candles, soaps and a small selection of clothing. The brand also runs the Musee du Parfum in the Opera district.

Pring Paris-- The weather is still brisk here (only about 35 F in the mornings), but spring/summer collections have arrived in full force. Heel heights are still varying at the extremes from four-inch platform sandals to open-toe ballet flats, but I'm already seeing the shift to more mid-height heels on the streets.

Stacked heel gladiator sandals at Pring Paris

Another perfumerie in the Marais with a playful cocktail themed display.

We eventually found coffee and croissants (framboise, or raspberry jam, and chocolat noir) at 7:30 a.m. Success!

Fashion Dispatch from Paris: What is Hyeres?

Courtesy of Hyeres 2010 International Festival de Mode et Photographie

I’m in Paris for the next nine days before heading to the South of France to cover the 25th annual International Festival de Mode et Photographie in the city of Hyeres for the San Francisco Chronicle.

With all the chaos happening for the past week in Europe, caused by that now infamous and insanely-hard-to- pronounce Icelandic volcano, my husband and I were anticipating that our working vacation might be postponed. But as good luck would have it, we left without a hitch on one of the first flights out of San Francisco to Charles de Gaul, which finally reopened this morning. (It was obvious that a crowd of anxious Europeans who had been stranded abroad were on our flight when the plane erupted in lively chatter and applause as we touched down.)

Although not widely covered by the American fashion press, the upcoming festival in Hyeres (pronounced ee-AIR), which takes place from April 30 to May 3, is an influential fashion festival and competition that showcases up-and-coming talent from abroad, and has served as a launching pad for such designers as Swedish knitwear designer Sandra Backlund and women’s- and men’s wear designer Henrik Vibskov of Denmark. Viktor & Rolf are Festival d’Hyeres alumni, having won the prize in 1993.

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