This was one of the chicest days of my life and I will forever hold it dear to me. I will think fondly back on all the fashionable things I did today and I’ll smile with pleasure. Let’s get started.
Today was mother’s birthday. In our original plans we were going to spend the day in Disneyland, but the weather was supposed to be uncooperative, so we stayed in Paris. It proved to not be so miserable, but that’s no matter.
I have a massive list of things to do when I’m in Paris that I’ve built up through the years. Pages and pages of bakeries mainly. There are a few museums and districts to see and the occasional shop, but mainly bakeries. I love bakeries. So, I scanned my list and tried to decide what to do. The answer was simple. Karl was having a gallery showing at the Grand Palais called “La Petite Veste Noire.” It was a collection of images feature models and celebrities and athletes and fashion VIPs all wearing the same Chanel jacket, only styled differently. I really didn’t know what to expect except that I should dress nicely and prepare to commingle with other wannabe fashionistas. I stopped by the ATM, as I had no clue how much it would cost to get it. It was a Chanel show basically, so I was sure that it had to cost a bit.
So, excitedly I exited the Métro and made my way to the Grand Palais, which I’ve never before visited. I’ve seen it from afar and from outside, but I’ve never been in. It looks lovely. Karl seems to do most of his shows there, this season had a stunning show where there were windmills and beach bags made out of hula hoops. It was too chic! The exhibition wasn’t located in the main part of the building, but in one of the many galleries on the side.
There was an abundance of security and I had to climb a spiral staircase and then before me was a massive black wall with THE LITTLE BLACK JACKET written on it in the iconic Chanel font. Thinking the ticket booth must be around here someplace, I stepped inside and was in the show. There was no fee! It was free! What is this madness? On one wall was giant prints of people in the jacket. Very elegant.
Some were styled bizarrely, like one woman who’s jacket had only the sleeves and the hems. Everything else was taken out and she had only some mesh lining that totally exposed her boobs. Hooker!
I passed into another dark room where there were huge panels that had been burnt with an image of a person in the jacket and then blown up and then blown up again so that you could only understand what you were seeing from far away. Up close it just looked of melted plastic.
I went back into the main room after this. The opposite wall of the one I had already examined was filled with more pictures, only smaller prints. There was Baptiste up top, the male model who stole my life. It should have been me! Why wasn’t I Karl’s muse? Why does he get everything and a cat that looks just like Choupette? My life is a constant injustice.
Further along was Anna Wintour with her back turned to us. Even with just her bob showing, it was obvious who it was. I love Anna.
More and more and more and each jacket was ever so slightly different. Karl made his point very well understood. You don’t need to have a lot of clothes to always be chic, you just need good versatile pieces.
On the way out, they give you a poster, again for free (mind blown!) of one of four images they had. The images rotate, so I didn’t get the one of Anna, instead I got one of a Chanel executive done up very punk rock. Elegance. I had a great time. I wish that somebody had gone with me, though, to take my picture by the entrance. Oh well. If you get the chance to, go!
My dear Lord Karl,
Find me. Make me fashion. I worship at your feet.
Where was I… Oh, yes. What should I do now, I wondered as I wandered back to the Champs-Élysées? I looked down at the rolled up poster and saw the words Chanel. It was obvious. It was a sign saying that I should go shopping at Chanel on the Rue Cambon! So, with eagerness, I promenaded along the famed boulevard and looked at the little shops that were being set up for the Christmas Market. Most were closed, but a few were open and I wanted to come back when it all opened. You could go ice skating, buy trinkets, get onion soup, buy macarons, sing carols, eat, eat, eat, eat some more. It looked like great fun.
At Place de la Concorde, I crossed over to the Rue Saint-Honoré and watched all the fashionable people parade past. I fell madly in love with an old woman who was draped in furs and had huge square glasses that covered half her face. A rather hideous hat was jauntily perched on the side of her head and she looked so smug with her salmon lipstick. I wanted to be her best friend, she was probably in her mid-70s. I don’t know why I’m so fond of old women. I always get along with them better. I don’t understand my generation. They’re so boring. They were Uggs. The only person I understand is Beyoncé. We’ve discussed this enough, you understand.
It wasn’t long until I was on the Rue Cambon, and even though I was rather nervous–it’s the capital of Chanel, celebrities are always tweeting about being there–I walked determinedly towards the entrance and made sure I looked like I belonged there. I looked fabulous, so I played the part fantastically. The doors opened for me and an army of Chanel employees greeted me with a “Bonjour, monsieur.” Bonjour, I replied and strolled in. There was room upon room upon room, each more gorgeous than the next. My favorite was the room of couture dresses. They looked very distinctively Chanel and I was enamored of them. There were gorgeous people, young and old, lounging on couches strewn about the store, flutes of champagne in their hands. I never did figure out where they got those. I would have partaken. I love me some champagne.
I thought perhaps I would get myself a small jewel or something, so I went to the jewelry department and then the leather goods department, but nothing was right. It’s not a men’s store, obviously, but there had to be something somewhere. As I continued my roaming, I came upon the cosmetics and fragrances. Perfect, I sighed in relief. What is Chanel famous for, if not for their perfume?
“Bonjour, Monsieur,” a woman asked me then wondered if she could help me in four or five languages. I would have responded sooner, but I was taken back by the rapidity with which she switched between French then English then German and then Italian. There might have been another, but that’s all I picked up on. I said that I was looking for a fragrance for myself and she demoed all the men’s fragrances for me as we made polite chit chat about Chanel and Karl and my interest in the shop. She’s met Karl, of course. I want to work at Chanel and meet Karl. She asked if I had browsed around the shop. Yes, I said, but I hadn’t seen the iconic mirrored staircase.
“Oh, yes,” she smiled, “you can catch a glimpse of it from the entrance, but it’s restricted.”
“Ah,” I said with a bit of a sigh. I would have liked to see it better.
She bit her lip and shrugged. “I’ll show you, though.”
I had to do my best to refrain from doing my best SNL impersonation of Adrien Huffington, “Are you for cereal, Seth?”
We finished our transaction first, though, I chose a bottle of Chanel Pour Monsieur, their first men’s fragrance that was based on No. 5. It smells vaguely like it, but it’s crisper. I loved it. She sprayed it all over me. I took a Chanel shower. I loved watching her wrap up my purchase. She put it in a small bag but then said, “You need a big bag, too,” and placed it in an even larger Chanel bag. She knew me well. Then the bags were tied with Chanel ribbon and a fabric flower was attached to the front of the bag which she sprayed with more cologne. It was a delight for me.
She took the bag and winked at me, “Follow me.”
She escorted me to the entrance and said a few words to the security guard who looked at her suspiciously and then waved me through. There in front of me was the mirrored steps where Coco had watched all of her shows and where Victoria Beckham had just been with Karl.
“Upstairs is the couture houses and then above that the Karl Lagerfeld offices. Restricted, of course.”
“Of course,” I mumbled, and followed her back out into the shop. I hadn’t expected to do that and I was very happy. I mean, me and Vicky and Karl are going to be besties before long. That was so nice of her. I don’t know if that’s something they do often or not, but it made me feel rather special.
From the staircase she took me to a little office where you pay. It was awfully chic. You sit in a comfortable chair and I assume if you spend a lot of money you get champagne. I filled out the registry and quickly my bag was placed in a rainproof bag and my kindly perfume lady escorted me to the door. It was such fun. If you ever get the chance to, go. You’re treated like a socialite. It’s amazing.
I whipped out my cellphone, a novelty to me in Europe, where I’ve never had one, and rang the apartment. Jessica answered and we talked about the Internet. The solution they had for us was not going to work. We’re advanced people with iPads, we don’t travel with laptops anymore. This is 2012 darlings, not 2010.
My apartment on this trip is very close to Chanel, ten minute walk or so, and before long I was back upstairs. I gave mother some Chanel face cream, which I had been given, for her birthday and she said that she refused to accept it. What a horrible mother. Sorry for getting you something anybody else would have appreciated!
We needed some stamps, so we went back to the Louvre to the little post office that is in there and got a few and then looked around the Carrousel for a bit. My beloved Virgin Megastore has been turned into an effing Ladurée! This is not acceptable. Laduree is shit.
From here we went back onto the street and went to Colette. For those demode peasants amongst you, Colette is the chicest of shops for all the young people and fashionistas. Karl often shops there. Rappers seem to live there. You can usually find a model or two. I met Dita Von Teese there. Lovely place. Expensive place. Lots to see. Kate Moss was there doing a book signing today and I said to myself. “Well, I’ll go, she’ll see me, she’ll say, ‘Oi, you! Handsome man! Come here and take a photo with me on my mobile phone. I’ll text it to Tyra and have you on ANTM in two secs.’ Ok, I’ll pose with you, Kate, I’ll say, and everything will be wonderful.”
Kate was somewhere else in the shop, though, so we only saw the army of chic, thin fashionistas swaddled in designer clothes in a dozen shades of black. I guess I’ll just have to audition for Top Model like normal person. Lots of things to buy, but Jessica and I each chose to get the Colette Surprise bag (a twenty euro grab bag) because honestly, how bad could it be? If I’d only known.
We stepped out of the crowded shop and strolled back to the apartment. There is a rather nice bakery very near called Martin Yannick, so I bought a lemon tart and a chocolate tart, too, for good measure. Back in the apartment, we opened the grab bags and they were dreadful. There was nothing worth getting in them. If you get the chance to, don’t buy these. Spend twenty euros on something in the shop that you know is good. Like a solid gold iPhone or a foreign fashion magazine or some gorgeous shirt. Oh, the pastries were delicious. Probably the best lemon tart I’ve ever had in Paris and I’m including Miss Manon.
Since it was mother’s birthday, Jessica decided that she needed cake. So we went to the Sugarplum Cakeshop, which Jessica is overly fond of. It’s good, but she gets nuts when she thinks about the carrot cake. Last time I had a rather good raspberry cake, so I looked forward to going.
I wanted to walk so that I could see this villa that was being restored last time. This proved to be a bad idea because it was an awfully long walk and it was rather chilly and it was up a hill. Oh well, we made it. Ma was pissed. Jess was pissed. I was indifferent. I rather like walking about. They didn’t have raspberry cake, so I ordered a red velvet cupcake. I don’t like cupcakes, but it was the only thing that sounded decent. There was not a spot in the shop, so we ate outside. By some freak accident, my red velvet cupcake was not red velvet…but raspberry? Does that just happen? It was good, but I still hate cupcakes. How do you eat them and not look like a fool? At least they serve them on a plate with a fork here. In America, it seems you’re just supposed to stuff it in your face hole. Jessica had her cake and looked like a starved dog as she ate it. Ma had a cookie and enjoyed it. Out of nowhere, an old crone thrust her face into our group and started shouting for money. We, of course, did not give her any as she did not say please.
Jessica immediately began crying. She’s not of a very strong character. I found this deeply annoying.
Anyway, there was still time to kill, so we headed back to the Champs-Élysées to see the Christmas Market. The Métro was packed and the streets were lined with people. What was happening? Was it the president? Was it Karl? Who could it be?!?!?! All of a sudden a couple lights came on around the trees and the crowds burst into joyous whoops. They were all standing in line for a couple strands of rope lights? How very strange. (Later, I found out that Diane Kruger had flipped the switch. Big whoop.)
We went to McDonalds to do some more eating. We have been just starving on this trip. I had some of those wonderful potato wedges that they make here. Why don’t we have those back home?
I really enjoyed the Christmas Market that evening. So did Ma. She said it was the perfect thing to do on her birthday. Jessica was, of course, pissed. I don’t even know why this time. It’s silly to try and remember because she gets mad about everything. You could literally breathe funny and she would shout at you. One time I was looking out the window and she yelled at me for being unsociable.
We walked all the way down the market. I had mulled wine. Gross. I wanted to try the Parisian Mushroom soup, not sure why I didn’t. I’ll make some when I get home. You could buy anything. There were all sorts of artisanal goods for sale, like nesting Russian dolls. Those are neat. I once saw a set on the Internet that was painted to look like Eddie, Patsy, Gran, and Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous. They weren’t for sale, though. Sad. [Update: You can buy them now! $150! It’s almost Christmas, beloved readers!]
You could buy sausages and cheese and churros. You could try all sorts of soup and there was cotton candy all over the place. Good fun.
At the end of the market, which is the Place de la Concorde, there was a massive Ferris wheel, which Ma wanted to ride. It was ten euros each. Geeeez. Fun, though, nice views of the city. We even saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It’s pretty every time. One time I was flying into Paris from Nice and saw it sparkle from way up in the sky. That was pretty cool.
After the Ferris wheel, we decided to look up the other side of the market and Jessica just couldn’t believe it. She got a dish of scalloped potatoes and ham and she ate it all the way to the lettuce. (She made me say that. She didn’t eat a whole lot.)
I stopped at a stand that sold macarons. There were these really puffy macarons of a variety I had never before seen. They were ugly, but I was intrigued. The vendor explained to me that they were not made with almond flour, but instead with almond paste and had no ganache. Weird. I bought a couple. They were gross.
We were hungry again, so we went to Monoprix and bought some more soup. We ate it.