Brummell is back. Printemps has has just opened a smashing new Brummell men’s boutique in its Paris flagship store to inaugurate the label’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection. The newly revived Brummell line hearkens back to the 1950s, when the brand—named for the 19th-century dandy Beau Brummell—was synonymous with custom-tailored luxury, and new manufacturing techniques allowed the store to deliver an impeccable made-to-measure Brummell suit in just four days. Mass production and the subsequent trend toward casual clothes hastened the brand’s demise, and it was discontinued in 2000.
But in response to a resurgence in demand for quality menswear, Printemps is bringing back Brummell with a small but impressive collection of suits and separates that go from work to evening to weekend. The beautifully finished suits tend toward the European style—elegant and close fitting, in luxurious woolen fabrics from the famous Lanificio di Tollegno mill in Italy. Classic-cut cotton shirts come in a range of weights and colors including sky blue, Parma violet and dove grey. For casual wear, essential wardrobe staples emphasize mix and match in muted classic colors. Casual trousers are cut along the same lines as those for suits, but fabrics are less formal and designed to complement, say, a light merino cardigan or a summery linen jacket. Prices are reasonable for the superb quality, with suits at €375–€575, dress shirts €65–€75 and separates ranging from €85–€350. Printemps Homme, 61 rue Caumartin, 9th, 01.42.82.50.00. website
AVRIL IN PARIS
Avril Gau is not a household name, but if you’ve worn shoes by Robert Clergerie, Chanel, Loewe, Charles Jourdan or Stéphane Kélian in the last 20 years, chances are you’ve worn her handiwork. In spite of her long career, Gau’s beautiful new boutique in Saint Germain des Prés is the first dedicated to her own label of shoes, bags and gloves, and it’s earning rave reviews from Parisian fashion mavens.
Gau cut her teeth with Clergerie in the 1980s, then moved on to Chanel, where she designed 11 shoe collections before going freelance in 1996. Taking her cue from the iconic style pictured in French films of the 1960s and 1970s (think Seberg, Bardot, Deneuve), Gau’s most recent collection reflects the independence and insouciance of that era—with heels just high enough to elongate the leg but not so high as to restrict a woman’s freedom of movement. The sleek pumps, sandals and ballerina flats in top-quality leather, reptile and lambskin are a welcome departure from currently ubiquitous platform stilettos. Gau also offers a sophisticated line of handbags in classic styles designed to withstand both the whims of fashion and the wear and tear of everyday use. In short, Gau’s leather goods are some of the most intelligent and stylish to be found anywhere in Paris this year. 17 rue des Quatre Vents, 6th, 01.43.29.49.04. website
GLAMOUR ON THE GO
The bohemian-luxe womenswear label Antik Batik has a new collaboration going with Laura Smet, globetrotting daughter of eternal French rock star Johnny Hallyday. Smet’s vibrant new Spring/Summer 2011 mini-collection is right in sync with Antik Batik’s peasant-chic look, immediately recognizable for its blending of colorful silks and cottons with tasteful touches of beads, sequins and embroidery. The brand originally made its name with voluminous caftan-like tunics in diaphanous silk chiffon, and has since branched out into hot trends like baggy shorts, sexy floor-length evening wear and pencil-slim leather jeans. The new Laura Smet line includes separates for daytime and evening that emphasize glamour and versatility as well as comfort for stylish women on the go. Standouts include an elegant metallic turquoise-and- silver cocktail dress with a plunging neckline, superb buttery crocodile pressed-leather cigarette pants and a sky-blue macramé bikini. A selection of coordinated accessories punctuates the collection: a flowing lightweight scarf, adorable beaded sandals, a reversible leather travel bag. The collection arrives in stores in June. 26 rue Saint Sulpice, 6th, 01.44.07.68.53; 18 rue de Turenne, 4th, 01.44.78.02.00. website
Galeries Lafayette has just made shop-till-you-drop refueling more of a pleasure than a necessity—and guilt-free to boot. Lafayette Organic, the newest addition to the Boulevard Haussmann flagship store’s several on-site restaurants, offers a scrumptious range of hot and cold dishes and meals to go, all 100% organic. The cafeteria-style café makes it easy for flagging shoppers to grab a quick snack, enjoy a civilized sit-down lunch, or indulge in a tea-time pick-me-up, and there’s a lovely outdoor courtyard terrace for warm weather. Delicious gourmet sandwiches on whole-grain bread include such choices as cured ham with fig, tomato, grilled leeks and Parmesan, or egg salad with cornichons, parsley, capers and onion. There’s also a soup du jour, along with quiches, a variety of mixed vegetable and whole-grain salads and a tempting array of pastries and organic chocolates. And it all comes in a serene, earth-toned setting designed by French superstar designer Patrick Jouin. 48 blvd Haussmann (corner rue de Charras/rue de Provence), 01.42.82.34.56.
Through April 26, 2011, Galeries Lafayette is also paying homage to La Parisienne. Hardly surprising that they’ve chosen fashion icon Inès de la Fressange as the symbol of the quintessential Parisian woman—a legendary femme described as “urban, trendy, bohemian, rebellious, im- pertinent, assertive, stylish, sophisticated, passionate and invariably chic”. Among the ephemeral mini-events on tap: a “chignon bar” for pointers on achieving that effortless Parisian hairstyle, “new look” bars offering makeup tips, and a range of La Parisienne lipsticks at the lipstick bar. 40 blvd Haussmann, 01.42.82.34.56. website
Originally published in the April 2011 issue of France Today.