“Blink” Retail: Etat Libre d’Orange à Londres Est

I’m a very sensitive-nosed person and so scents are a very important thing to me. I’m in a long standing love affair with Jo Malone‘s Red Roses and Diptyque‘s L’Ombe dans L’Eau (every lady has a day and an evening scent don’t they?). It would take something pretty spectacular to change what have been my signature scents for several years now, but I think perhaps I might have found a new contender!

When I was in Paris in September I came a cross a store that was new to me. I was first drawn in by the bold pop art style graphics and after crossing the threshold I was totally immersed into the world of Etat Libre d’Orange, avant garde French fragrance house. This is a burgeoning market and barely a week passes without us learning about a new brand of premium scenting products. Well, these guys have approached their craft in such a unique and innovative way, from the environment to the names, and of course to the scent themselves that I think this is a stand out label that will soon be as well known as that other French scenting institution, Diptyque.

The store in Le Marais (69 rue des Archives) is a quirky combination between vintage pieces and super shiny, glossy imagery. The scents are neatly arranged on a central table and the very knowledgeable staff are on hand to help you navigate through the varied and brilliantly composed scent offer.

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

The young man who was helping me understand whether I was feeling more ‘Fat Electician’ (vertiver, chestnut cream, olive leaves, vanilla, opoponax, myrrh…) or ‘Putain des Palaces’ (rose absolute, violet, leather, lily of the valley, tangerine, ginger…) happened to mention that the label had just opened their first outpost in London, so upon returning home I made my way over to Redchurch Street to have a look at the new store.

Etat Libre d'Orange, London

Etat Libre d'Orange, London

In stark contrast to the Paris store, this East London shop, designed by Shed, is quite clinical with a touch of the laboratory about it. It feels utterly appropriate for the area, and also the innovative and cutting edge nature of this brand. I love the simplicity and functionality of the space which utterly puts the perfumes at the centre of the experience. I met with Heba, who masterminded the brand’s arrival in London. She helped me to navigate around the scent options a little further and encouraged me to step away from my usual rose based choices. Heba described ‘Fils de Dieu’ to me and I was utterly entranced. It sounded more like a recipe for a wonderful Thai curry than the composition of a perfume, featuring ginger, coriander, lime, shiso, jasmine, rice, cardamon, cinnamon and coconut. I braced myself and allowed Heba to spritz me up.

Fils de Dieu, Etat Libre d"Orange

Fils de Dieu, Etat Libre d"Orange

As I carried on with my day, letting the scent settle with my skin’s chemistry (never choose on first sniff!) I loved this perfume more and more as it developed. The start was like the smell of tropical holidays with coconut mainly coming through, along with sweet floral elements. After about 20 minutes the coconut had stepped back to allow the deeper elements to emerge with musk and amber giving this a very sexy edge. I think I have found my new scent addiction so I will be back on Redchurch Street this weekend to make a purchase. I mean who could resist a perfume that’s described with the statement “de la confusion des genres a la theorie du sexe des anges” which translates as “the blurring of a theory about the sex of angels”. That is poetry in a bottle.

For more retail news, take a look here. For more beauty inspiration, look here.

“Blink” Travels: Paris, mon amour- A Stylish Stay

So, we’re skipping back in time a little bit as the “Blink” blog has been pretty much dedicated to LFW coverage for the past few weeks- and there is more of that to come too! We thought we’d start dropping some other topics in there too, just to make sure we didn’t hold on to it so long that it became ancient history! We’re starting with some posts from our petit séjour à Paris from just before LFW.

It was Paris Design Week, and also Maison et Objet (a huge home products and interiors show) so the city was teeming with design type folks, of a different variety to my usual fashion-fixated crowd. The change of focus didn’t stop me pursuing my usual, well trodden fashion route around town, but it did put a different emphasis on the look and feel of some stores, which was rather nice to see. I hope that you liked the post from Friday featuring those wonderfully inspiring paintings. Well, there’s more of that kinda stuff stashed and ready to be shared.

We’re kicking Monday off with a look at the hotel that very stylishly hosted our stay; the small but perfectly formed ‘Hotel Jules et Jim’. Set in one of small streets of Le Marais, the discrete entrance is subtle and low key, leading you in to the reception hung with cool photographic art, and then on in to the courtyard that the hotel is constructed around. Our room, with its little balcony, faced on to the courtyard so our room was completely, blissfully peaceful.

Actually, the whole place could be described as quite peaceful, with clever yet subtle design features throughout our small but perfectly formed bedroom, soothing scents wafting through the low lit reception area from the Francis Kurkdjian candles and the softly spoken, sweetly helpful staff. The bar serves as a laid back breakfast space in the morning (a delicious but rather pricey spread) but of an evening I think this may turn out to be not such a peaceful element of this set up- as is only appropriate of a cool bar in heart of Paris’ super cool design heart.

Hotel Jules et Jim, Paris

Hotel Jules et Jim, Paris

Hotel Jules et Jim, Paris

Hotel Jules et Jim, Paris

I think we may have found our new Paris home…

For more from our travels, have a look here.

“Blink” Travels: Karl Lagerfeld in Paris

I kind of have a love/ hate thing with Karl Lagerfeld. I get a bit rankled by how deeply affected he appears, just adding to the myth that you have to be mental to be a grand force in fashion. I’m not a huge fan of his own label, and yet I adore what he has achieved season upon season at Chanel, and I also am a huge fan of Fendi. I’m also more enamored of him due to his love for his cat, Choupette (though slightly worried by his apparent desire to marry said cat…). Another huge point in the ‘love’ list is the he seems to have a rather good sense of humour. How else would Kaiser Karl have sanctioned this hilariously cute mini version of himself?

Karl Lagerfeld, Paris

Karl Lagerfeld, Paris

We spotted this in the Karl Lagerfeld store in Le Marais, Paris. So in balance, we do love you Karl, but would love you even more if you busted a bit of colour and left the gloves at home occasionally…

For more retail news, click here. For more from our travels, have a look here.

“Blink” Travels: Advice from Eames

This stopped us in our tracks while we were fashion marching around Le Marais, salivating at the prospect of hitting the Isabel Marant shop. We passed a shop front plastered in black and white images of Eames designs, and featuring a quote that we think is just perfect for a Friday afternoon, as our minds all turn to the joy of a few days off over the weekend.

I am a huge Eames fan, but didn’t know this particular quote from Charles Eames, but it is my new favourite and I’m going to try and implement it from right now!

Charles Eames quote

quote from Charles Eames

For more posts from our travels, just click here.

Blink Travels: Paris Graphic, Le Monochrome!

Here’s almost our final hit of inspiration from Paris. We do have a wee bit more for you tomorrow..

This one is for you guys who are more graphically oriented. We really love street art, and Paris has a very special take on it. We found some really beautifully executed stickers and posters, as well as stencils and sketches. The over riding mood was monochromatic, with the odd flash of colour. Here are our favourites for you.

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Colette, Paris

For more on graphics, just click here. For more on Paris, click here. Enjoy!

Blink Travels: ‘Merci’ for Colour Inspiration

So, as we mentioned in yesterday’s post, the colour statement in ‘Merci’ was just gorgeous. There own label offer consisted of stunningly simple, ultra soft Indian cotton and slubby, easy jersey pieces all in a beautiful tonal palette of red, pink and coral tones. There were flashes of neutral and khaki too, but the overall impression was of this gorgeous, almost sunset feeling collection of colours. The silhouettes were all really simplistic, perfect for their theme of ‘Urban Picnic’ which seemed all about indulging in a relaxed beach holiday vibe right in the middle of the city, from cotton poplin triangle bikinis, ruched cotton mini dresses, throw on T shirt dresses and easy fit kaftan style tunics.

We hope that these shots inspire you as much as the face to face experience inspired us. We have tried our best to express the colours through pantones, but nothing quite compares to the varied base cloths, textures and finishes of the originals.

Merci, Paris

Merci, Paris

Merci, Paris

The pantone colours that we have selected to express ‘Merci’s offer are pearl (pantone 17-2601 TPX), freckle (17-1424 TPX), rouge (19-1557 TPX), burgundy (19-1726 TPX), tomato (17-1558 TPX) and apricot (13-1013 TPX).

For more inspirational colour palettes, just click here. Enjoy!

Blink Travels: Bonjour ‘Merci’

Another billet doux to ‘Merci’ for being the inspirational centre of the retail universe as far as we are concerned. If you haven’t read or heard about ‘Merci’ before, do have a look at our previous posts. Every time we pop in, its a brand new experience as the themes, layout, focal points and product all switch- but overall the mood is still the same- beautifully designed yet functional products for you and your environment, with a touch of humour and lots of personality.

This time, the theme of the store was ‘Urban Picnic’ and this translated as lots of gorgeous tonally dyed, soft Indian cotton and slubby jersey own label womenswear, from bikini’s through to slouchy T-shirt dresses, mixed with easy accessories so that you could be perfectly outfitted when using all of the innovative outdoor cooking and eating products on sale, creating a beachy, holiday vibe right in your own garden or your Parisian townhouse balcony if needed. More of that in our post tomorrow on the gorgeous colours we saw on this visit…

The charitable ethos of this store draws you in, but the product and the creative vibe is what keep you coming back, and back, for more. Every corner you turn is filled with the most beautiful things. We hope these pictures help to share our experience with you.

Merci, Paris

Merci, Paris

Merci, Paris

Merci, Paris

Merci, Paris

Isabel Marant at Merci, Paris

The Cinema Cafe, Merci, Paris

For more posts about our inspirational travels, just click here. Enjoy!

Blink Discoveries: Virginie Castaway, Paris

Its been about six months since I was last exploring Paris. It really felt a little too long and I was so excited to be going back. The room at my favourite hotel, Mama Shelter, was booked and I scored a deal on Eurostar. All was looking sweet until I went to get more euros and realized the exchange rate would make Paris as expensive as Tokyo. Where did I leave my thermos flask and Tupperware lunch box…?

The good thing about my extended absence was that I really noticed a change when wondering around my favourite retail haunts. There is a buoyancy, an energy and a wonderful creativity that is lacking a little in other fashion centres. As we dipped in and out of the intertwining streets of Le Marais, we came across a new store on rue Debelleyme, with an intriguing new name- Virginie Castaway.

Virginie’s Paris based business was born in 2006, after she spent some time in Australia soaking up the sunshine and beach-life. The collection is really lovely, sitting alongside Etoile Isabel Marant and Athe Vanessa Bruno, with a dash of Maje perhaps, in both an aesthetic and price sense. There’s a sporty, sexy feel with a touch of vintage detailing- something that innovative French brands are delivering brilliantly right now. It seems to be the new Parisian handwriting, and its really pretty irrésistible!

We found this video of the AW’10 collection online, and also swiped some shots from the Virginie Castaway website- which does have an online shop. There’s a cool Virginie Castaway blog for keeping up to date with brand news too.

in the Marais store

Virginie Castaway SS'11 collection, from the Virginie Castaway website

Virginie Castaway SS'11 collection, from the Virginie Castaway website

Blink travels- Paris, ‘Merci’ baby.

This week “Blink” becomes “Clignotement” as we post a few delights from gay Pareeee.

The first is one that we’ve been keeping in the locker since we were in Paris in February. Whenever we are in the City of Light we are drawn like a moth to the flame that is ‘Merci’. We know you know all about it as we have posted about this brilliant store before. If you happened to miss out on that, just click here.

This time, the courtyard was frosted with a fresh snowfall, and the store interior was dedicated to a collaboration with super cute kids brand, ‘Bon Ton’. The main central space played host to the biggest baby doll that we have ever seen. To us, it was creepy rather than chic, but the rest of the store was just as delightful as ever.

'Merci'

'Merci' 'Bon Ton' collaboration

Blink Travels- Thank you Paris

So, once we had managed to drag ourselves out of the hotel (due to Mama Shelter’s super comfy beds and nothing to do with the cocktails!) we set out to the Marais, our favourite area of Paris. We were on the search for excitement and we weren’t disappointed when we discovered the new style mecca, Merci.

We’d read a few articles and were very excited, yet amazingly this beautiful store exceeded our high expectations. We think Merci is the most brilliant Parisian fashion retail arrival since Colette. It combines an arty, artisanal, almost folky vibe with an absolutely up to the moment fashion feel. With three of the four floors dedicated to home, this is a lifestyle store far more than a fashion retailer. The clothing and accessories offer, covering womens, mens and kids, may be small but it’s perfectly formed. Combining vintage with cutting edge brands this store manages to be innovative whilst utterly commercial.

Merci is beautifully presented in a bright and airy warehouse style space around a small courtyard. A cafe in the second hand book department is the last word in relaxed chic. The florist section is rustically charming. The central store display of crockery suspended on ribbons is almost fairytale. In every section there are small, charming and creative touches that are not to be missed.

It’s a must addition to your Paris address book. We feel sure you’ll be saying ‘Thank you’ for Merci too.

Merci

Merci

central store display, Merci

central store display, Merci

the courtyard, Merci

the courtyard, Merci

Used Bookshop and Cafe, Merci

Used Bookshop and Cafe, Merci