Tag Archives: Paris

Maria Grazia Chiuri

Dior Names Maria Grazia Chiuri Artistic Director

Anything can happen in the world of fashion and often does. In what seems like a big shake-up in the industry, Dior announces its first ever female artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri, who was previously from Valentino.

Chiuri, known for her romantic, intricate designs at Valentino, will leave the Italian House and her longtime creative partner Pierpaolo Picciolo, whom she’s worked with since 2008. She will not only fill the vacancy left by Raf Simons since his departure last October, but will also join an esteemed league of designers the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano, who previously helmed the label.

Meanwhile, Swiss design duo Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux, who have been holding the fort, will likely move to Dior’s haute couture department, with their debut couture collection showing in Paris on July 4.

The LVMH-owned couture house has reportedly seen a four percent drop in growth in the last quarter, while its turnover is also down by one percent to (EURO)1.39 billion, and the brand is hopeful Chiuri can improve the situation. To be fair though, the overall macro-economic situation is likely to blame and the ripples from Brexit (still a possibility at the time of this announcement) will certainly not help.

Brexit Inspires Paris Fashion Week Catwalks

Great Britain determined its fate in a referendum to break away from the European Union despite the best efforts of experts and, strangely, the world of fashion. The anticipation of the results has not only dominated the news cycle in Britain but also the rest of the world, including the world of fashion, as reported previously on L’Officiel Singapore. Over at Paris Fashion Week, designers are making their political stance clear with their designs — of at least taking inspiration from one of the most talked about issues in Europe in the last decade. Sadly for us all, expressions of affection from Europe did not convince the English to stay the course…

Little England was under the spotlight, with cricket jumpers, brouges, boating shoes as well as neo-Morris men seen on the runway. The trend did not rest with suave and stylish designs. Instead, designers also sent out sweatpants, parkas, tartan and charity shop suits. The Balenciaga show in question was also a significant milestone for the brand as it is the first menswear runway show for the brand.

While the political climate was clear, Britain’s politicians were also unlikely forms of inspiration for designers. Looks such as double-breasted suits and blazers worn by Leave campaigner and UKIP party leader Nigel Farage were seen. Though it must be said that it will be a cold day in hell, as they say, before the aptly named Farage is seen in a Balenciaga shoulder padded suit with high-heeled boots.

Though not as controversial as Balenciaga’s, Dutch designer Walter Van Beirendonck’s designs sought inspiration from the Pony club and Morris men motifs that are familiar sights in a London flea market. While he denies using his clothes to make a political statement, the designer did concede that this is the first collection that has seen him use black on this scale. And he chose a riddle from the most English of books, Alice in Wonderland — “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” — as the title of his show. “I was questioning why this was all happening,” said Beirendonck. “We don’t have answers to our questions. I feel the world today is a riddle without an answer.”

 

Beat Generation Exhibit Opens At Centre Pompidou

The spirit of the road embodied by the Beat Generation seems to have experienced a resurgence this decade, especially with the release of movies like On The Road and Kill Your Darlings. Both contained high-profile names such as Kristen Stewart and Daniel Radcliffe in their cast. While these movies didn’t exactly fare well in terms of their critical reception, at least they show how many are still enamored with the rebellious ideology of the literary and artistic movement. Now, the Centre Pompidou in France will be paying homage to them with an exhibition outlining their influence on culture as a whole.

The Beat Generation

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The movement was kickstarted by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, as well as a variety of friends and acquaintances surrounding them. Their literature was unabashedly about the rawness of life – drawing inspiration from earlier movements such as the Surrealists and the Dadaists. Kerouac’s seminal On The Road was written in a fever pitch solely from his own life experiences, dictating a journey across America that he took, and the adventures he had along the way. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, on the other hand, was a psychedelic and purposefully obscene novel that gained landmark notoriety when it was placed at the center of an obscenity trial for its content. Beyond their literary output though, it was the lives and personalities involved that were the primary draw.

The trio met in New York, and then shifted over to San Francisco on the USA’s west coast. From 1957 onwards they took to Europe by setting up in Paris. The city’s Beat Hotel proved a particular focal point – with the trio, and other regular beatnik guests like Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky and Brion Gysin.

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Much like Andy Warhol’s Factory set much later, the Beat Generation artists and writers epitomized recklessness and freedom. The drug use, Buddhist undertones, and backpacker attitude of the beatniks transferred over into the 1970s hippy movement, and the rest from there is history. What the Centre Pompidou aims to showcase in their exhibition is exactly this ‘centerless-ness’ that so embodies the movement.

The Exhibit

The exhibition will be split geographically into sections – covering New York, California, and Paris – as well as smaller sections on Mexico and Tangiers.

The New York section focuses on the relationship between the literature and music – especially Jazz music, which was a primary influence on Kerouac’s writing and Ginsberg’ poetry. It also goes into the technology of the age such as vinyl records and typewriters. These were especially important to Burroughs, who developed a method called the ‘cut-up technique’ that utilized mixing together different fragments in audio recording and printed media to achieve new literary effects. The California area focuses on the general literary and artistic scene from 1952 to 1965. This was the primary period where much of the movement’s breakthrough works were released.

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The Mexico section explores many factors that drew beatniks over the border, including the country’s violent yet magical appeal. Tangiers looks into the influence of trance music recorded by composer-artist Paul Bowles, who met the Beat Generation writers over there. Finally, the exhibition ends in Paris – going into the poetry written at the Beat Hotel.

Since live readings and concerts were an important facet in the movement, there will be several of those – as well as meetings, films, and other events accompanying the exhibition.

For any Beat Generation fans still out there, this definitely makes for an exhibition not to be missed. It’s running now, all the way to October 3 2016.

Park Hyatt Vendôme Offers Best Value Luxury

While the term ‘affordable luxury’ may seem an oxymoron, a recent study conducted by the research firm Consultourisme has discovered which luxury hotel offers the best value out there. The 5-star Park Hyatt Vendôme was discovered to be the least expensive option out of all the ‘Palace’ hotels located in Paris.

The vaunted ‘Palace’ status is only awarded to the most prestigious hotels in the country. The city of Paris itself happens contain eight of these ‘Palaces’ – out of a total of 16. Consultourisme (which did the study for Tourmag.com) did a first comparison of rates in February for a two-night stay in a double room from April 1 to 3. A second comparison was carried out mid-May for a weeknight booking for the following day for a one-night stay in a double room with breakfast. From this, the researchers managed to check out which of the Paris ‘Palaces’ offered the best in terms of price.

In both cases, the Park Hyatt Vendôme proved the least expensive option at a rate of €1,394 for two nights booked in advance or €868.80 for a single night booked last minute. On the other hand, none of the hotels really stood out as the most expensive. The priciest two-night stay booked in advance came in at €3,167.50 at the Plaza Athénée, whereas the Royal Monceau topped the list for last-minute one-night bookings at €1,316. Of course, all this is dependent on the season and events being held in Paris, such as the popular fashion weeks. Prices are also dependent on whether it’s on a weekends or weeknights.

One of the great things about all the Paris ‘Palace’ hotels are their locations – they’re all found somewhere in the 8th and 16th arrondissements. This puts them in close proximity with the city’s major tourist sights, like the Louvre or the trendy shops set along the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré. For those of you interested in visiting the City of Lights with a bit extra to splurge, you might want to consider the Park Hyatt Vendôme as the spot to check out.

Change is Coming: Paris Men’s Fashion Shows

Following on the heels of London and Milan, it will soon be the French capital’s turn to showcase its Spring-Summer 2017 collections for men. We have the latest news on the newcomers, the big names who won’t be there, and some changes in store.

Will Paris be the only fashion capital to resist the far-reaching changes shaking up the ready-to-wear and luxury fashion industries? Whatever happens, its men’s shows will give us a first glimpse of the fashion of the future.

Upheaval in London and Milan

There has recently been a move away from tradition, with designers and luxury fashion houses increasingly combining their men’s and women’s collections and moving into “see now, buy now” as they believe there is too long a delay between the shows and the clothing going on sale, given current social media trends. The consequences of this move were seen in London from June 10 to 13. Few of the big-name fashion houses were present, and Burberry – which is normally a leading light at the event – cancelled its show in order to combine its men’s and women’s collections together next September. This was a major shakeup to the London schedule.

Milan will also be impacted by this upheaval. The number of shows is slightly down compared to last year (just five shows less), but a number of big names – including Ermenegildo Zegna, Roberto Cavalli and Bottega Veneta – will not be there. Some of the houses which decided against a fashion show, chose instead to provide a simple presentation, while others decided not to unveil their collection at the event. Fashion fans can console themselves with the fact that Prada, Missoni, Vivienne Westwood, Marni, Versace and Giorgio Armani will all be there.

Paris is resisting the trend

The French capital seems to be fighting these changes, for this season at least. Although one major announcement caught everyone by surprise this month. Saint Laurent announced on June 7 that Anthony Vaccarello, its new creative director, will not be presenting a show during men’s fashion week in Paris. The designer’s first collection for Saint Laurent will be unveiled during Fashion Week in September. Is this the first in a long list of no-shows or is it simply because the timeframe was too tight for Saint Laurent’s creative director who was only appointed last April? Only time will tell.

Songzio, which has put on a runway show in Paris for several seasons, will also not be there this time. However, the unveiling of the brand’s SS 17 collection was not cancelled, as it was organized in London, on June 13.

In the meantime, the newcomers seem to be unaffected by these seismic changes in the fashion world. For the first time, the Sean Suen brand will present a collection as an official member of the event (on June 26, at 15:00), as will Facetasm (on June 22, at 11:00) and Off-White (on June 26, at 17:00). Three shows worth watching in light of what’s going on.

And the heavyweight fashion houses will still be present, including Dior Homme, Lanvin, Hermès, Balmain Homme, Cerruti, Berluti, Kenzo, Louis Vuitton, and Valentino.

Stella McCartney Designs First Menswear Collection

Long regarded as one of Britain’s most talented designers, Stella McCartney has dressed some of the world’s most elegant women. While the likes of Kate Middleton and much of Hollywood have donned her designs, it is the men who have yet to strut out on the red carpet in her creations. Come November, McCartney will be expanding her vision to include collections for both genders.

The men’s collection will debut with the latest women’s spring 2017 line at a special fashion presentation. The designer’s Summer 2017 collection will hit the runway October 3 during Paris Fashion Week, prior to the unveiling of the highly anticipated Spring collection for men and women.

Those looking forward to the brand’s new menswear collection will be able to shop the designs when they arrive in stores in early December at selected Stella McCartney boutiques. The collections will also be made available to customers online and at major Stella McCartney retailers worldwide.

Le Bristol x Kamel Mennour Artwork by Daniel Buren

From now until October 6, Le Bristol Paris will host a colorful pergola by Daniel Buren. The installation can be seen opposite the hotel’s triple Michelin star restaurant, Epicure, and is made up of five colours that are arranged alphabetically.

The structure that was created just for the garden, takes the place of the climbing plants and flowers that usually line the path of a traditional pergola. The beauty of the artwork comes to life, as the sunlight shines and moves across the panels that hang overhead and the play of colors is reflected around the gardens in various ways. Daniel-Buren-le-bristol-paris-article

The one-of-a-kind pergola is the result of a collaboration between Le Bristol and Galerie Kamel Mennour. Along with the pergola, the hotel will also feature an installation by Hicham Berrada in the hotel’s bar where ethereal videos are projected onto a giant mirrored screen. The project named “Le Bristol x Kamel Mennour” is hardly the first time that the hotel has opened its doors to installations. Other well-known artists who have been featured in Le Bristol over the last three years include Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Hans Op de Beeck and Gianni Motti.

Daniel Buren, who along with Berrada is represented by Galerie Kamel Mennour, has been known since the ‘60s for creating pieces that combine white and coloured stripes that are featured in private and public spaces. Back in 1986, his installation named “Deux Plateaux” — also known as “Colonnes de Buren” was installed in the inner courtyard of the Palais Royal in Paris. Hicham Berrada, is a young artist who trained at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He enjoyed a residency at the Villa Medici in 2014 after his first monographic exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2013.

Guests can catch “Le Bristol x Kamel Mennour” at the Le Bristol Paris from now until October 6. For more information, visit Le Bristol Paris.

Diner en Blanc 2016 at Place Vendome, Paris

The Place Vendome in Paris was a sea of white on Wednesday evening as diners took part in the Diner en Blanc (Dinner in White). Over 7,000 people were part of the classy, well-dressed and well prepared mob who showed up to the exclusive event in the French capital.

Like the spin-offs that have been held yearly in areas such as Shanghai, Mumbai and Stockholm, the venue was a closely guarded secret. With picnic baskets and linen napkins at the ready, the participants are to ensure that they “conduct themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette”. Guests are also required to leave the venue at the stroke of midnight and ensure that the venue goes back to the way it was before the dinner began.

The concept is not a new one, having started in 1988 by Francois Pasquier. The French Businessman had dreamt of eating out in the open in unconventional places, thus giving birth to the first Diner en Blanc at Bois de Boulogne Park in Paris. Today, the event has spread to 70 other cities and continues to grow. Previous venues to have hosted the secretive upper-crust club of food lovers, include the Champs-Elysees, Chateau de Versailles as well as the gardens under the Eiffel Tower.

To attend the soirees, one must first be invited — making this all the more enticing. Only people invited by Diner en Blanc members can attend the gatherings, which are run with almost military precision, with guests and authorities only alerted to the precise venue at the last minute.

Paris Ritz Reopens After Renovations, Fire

Finally, after four years of renovations and a major fire that necessitated restoration, the landmark Paris Ritz hotel will be reopening its doors to guests. The new Ritz, situated on the Place Vendome, will only have 142 rooms and suites, compared to 159 previously, and not all of them will be immediately available as the final touches are still being applied. The hotel boasts a legendary history – with names such as Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway having visited since its founding by Cesar Ritz in 1898.

Hemingway, especially, was enamored with the place, once making the statement that: “When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz”. The writer famously rallied a group of Resistance fighters to go and liberate his beloved hotel which had been requisitioned in June 1940 by the Nazis and occupied by German brass. However he was too late as the Nazis had already left, so he took to the bar where he is said to have run up a tab for 51 dry martinis. The hotel was also the place where Princess Diana spent her last hours before her tragic car accident while being chased by paparazzi.

The refurbishment started in 2012, with an estimated $150 million brought together to spruce up the whole establishment. Although it was slated to re-open in March this year, a fire ravaged a section of the building and caused delays. All that is over now though and the new Ritz is ready for business, boasting a summer restaurant under a movable glass canopy, a larger ballroom and the latest technology in its rooms.

If you’re interested in finally being able to experience the atmosphere of the Paris Ritz, you can check out their website over here. Bear in mind that rooms are severely limited and demand is projected to be unreasonably high…

Un Art Pauvre: Paris Pompidou Explores Simplicity

Although Andy Warhol is probably the most well-known artist in the attempt to breakdown the demarcation between ‘high’ and ‘low’ in the arts, there were many others who attempted the same – albeit through different paths than Pop Art. The Paris Centre Pompidou will focus on one such group in their exhibition from June 8 to August 29 2016 in Galerie 4, where they’ll dive into the work of the Arte Povera (‘poor art’) artists from Italy. The exhibit is a multidisciplinary event entitled “Un art pauvre” that also extends to music, design, architecture, theater, performance and experimental cinema – all meant to showcase a return to simplicity in art forms.

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Height: 120 cm. Diameter: 200 cm. Iron cage, plastic bags filled with clay, neon lights, batteries. Collection Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI

Originating in the early 1960s, the Arte Povera sought to use recovered or recycled materials in order to infuse their art with a “new symbolic power” separate from previous conceptions of beauty. The two predominant figures of the movement were the art critic, Germano Celant, who named the movement, and Alighiero Boetti, who created the “Manifesto” poster listing 16 artists. Beyond that, they’ll also focus on other post-war Italian artists such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Alberto Burri. The show will explore the diversity and roots of Arte Povera through some 40 works by these and other less well-known artists, focusing on the decade 1964-1974. Throughout you’ll be able to see the whole scope of the movement’s irreverent attitude towards art and relentlessly avant-garde vision of the world.

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70 x 23 x 37 cm. Granite, lettuce, copper thread. Collection Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI

Furthermore, architecture and design from names such as Ettore Sottsass and Andre Branzi will be featured on level 5 – focusing on installations, films, photos, models and objects created around the 1973 “Global Tools” movement. This was a movement that called for a return to manual skills in the face of a growing industrial landscape. The Centre Pompidou has also teamed up with IRCAM (a French institute for the science of music and sound) to stage film screenings, dance events and theater performances exploring the idea of “plainness”.

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Height: 57 cm. Base: 40 x 30 cm. Painted wood, brass, metal and silk shade. Collection Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI.

You can check out more on this exhibit, and the wide variety of other exhibits running in the Centre Pompidou over at their website.

Louvre Evacuates Artwork In Wake of Floods

As one of the most visited tourist sites in the world, the Louvre museum’s location next to the River Seine is well known. Yet, after days of torrential rain hit the French capital, causing the river to burst its banks at some places, the location is fast becoming a liability. Due to worry about artworks held in their underground reserves, the museum is closing for a short period in order to evacuate the most valuable works.

This isn’t the only museum to be affected though. Opposite the Louvre, on the other bank, the Musee d’Orsay closed early on Thursday to put its own “protection plans” into place. This is to be expected, given that such masterworks as paintings by Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh and Degas, as well as 24 works by Gauguin are held inside its galleries. Both museums have anticipated the possibility of flooding before, and they have extensive emergency plans to follow in such cases. They’ve even organized drills for it, with the Louvre evacuating the whole of the underground section of its new Islamic art galleries in a day during March.

Hours before its decision to activate these plans, the Musee d’Orsay had played down the threat to its vast underground stores which are fitted with anti-flood pumps and sealed waterproof doors – at least until the Seine swelled up to more than five meters above its usual levels. The estimate is that the river could rise 6 meters above its usual height Friday.

In order to prevent such things from happening in the future, The Louvre has plans to move its vast stores from its vulnerable riverside site to a new building near its satellite museum at Lens in northern France in 2019.

Saint Laurent Unveils New Changi Airport Store

Now that Saint Laurent has opened its doors at Changi Airport, waiting for your flight will prove to be a less dreadful affair. The new store, situated at the bustling Terminal 2, is the first direct operating airport store worldwide.

The interior is typically Hedi Slimane with the marbled interior, stark lighting and minimalist furnishings (you’ll see the similarities with other stores worldwide immediately). While the last thing you’ll find are frivolous decorations, you will, however, find lots of precise geometry that add dramatic visual rhythm to the 104 square-meter space, where you’ll find the full range of women’s and men’s accessories.

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Shop the brand’s unique brand of Parisian chic at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, Departure/Transit Lounge Central, #026-074, Singapore 819643. Tel: +65 6214 9647 Opening Hours: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Read more about the store at L’Officiel.com.

Live Like A True Parisian with Airbnb

What’s a holiday in Paris if you don’t live like a true Parisian? If you happen to be in Paris from June 2 – 5,2016, you’re in luck. As part of its ‘Live There’ campaign, Airbnb aims to give tourists an authentic glimpse of France’s joie de vivre via workshops and events. Hosted at a pop-up venue in the bustling 11th arrondissement, the company will organize a whole slew of activities that are quintessentially French – from learning to create a classic French meal and making your own perfume to attending wine tastings and running through the streets of Paris with the local Nike Run Club. This isn’t the first time France has amped up its tourism initiatives. HomeAway is currently running a contest for a chance to spend the night on the first floor of city’s iconic landmark, in lieu of the UEFA Euro 2016 Games.

If you already have a trip to Paris planned later in the year and have enquiries, Airbnb hosts and travel experts will be at your service when you hashtag #dingdong.

Click here to find out more.

Paris Couture Week Lines Up Alberta Ferretti

All the news that’s fit to print on couture does not always revolve around fresh faces, as we learned this week with the revelation that Alberta Ferretti will present her first ever runway collection at Paris Haute Couture Week.

The designer will show her demi-couture Limited Edition line on Sunday, July 3, as she revealed to Vogue.

Unlike true haute couture pieces, which are bespoke made-to-order, Ferretti’s demi-couture dresses are not one-of-kind, but are still only available in very limited quantities.

Commenting on the news Ferretti said, “I thought it was time to give a real identity to Limited Edition. When I started it in 2011, I only presented it once a year as a capsule created to meet the demand of my customers for both evening and cocktail attire.”

“Each year, it’s had a greater impact on the business. In 2015, I started to present it seasonally, completing it with shoes and accessories. I think now is the time to do a fashion show.”

The show also looks set to be an intimate affair, with just 100 guests invited to Ferretti’s Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré headquarters to view the collection.

Also confirmed to be showing during the week are Brioni, Hermès, Vetements, and Atelier Versace, who will present their collection right after Alberta Ferretti.

Longines Conquest 1/100th Celebrates Tennis

Ever a fan of tennis, the writer David Foster Wallace once characterized the sport as a “game of micrometers” in his essay on tennis player Roger Federer. It is in keeping with this line of thought that the Longines Conquest 1/100th Roland Garros was developed. As the official timekeeper and partner of the French Open at Roland-Garros since 2007, their whole thrust was to deliver the high precision timing needed for the high-speed high-impact sport, all the way down to one hundredth of a second. Deliver they did, reaching an extreme level of precision in the Conquest thanks to its unique (quartz, because it gets the job done) movement and a whole array of other innovations.

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Longines Tournament in Singapore

Other than the L440 movement, this new model will have a microcontroller with flash memory that allows for instant resetting, while tracking down the intermediary timings as well. The steel model includes an anthracite dial that displays all of its timekeeping functions, with a hand in orange pointing to those one-hundredth of a second spots. The dial features the logo for Longines as well, with its trademark winged hourglass – ever the representative for tradition, performance, and timelessness.

Beyond representing the French Open in this aspect, Longines is also hosting their own Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris. They’re inviting 16 promising young tennis players under the age of 13 to showcase their talent in competition. Right here in Singapore, the trial was conducting by the Singapore Tennis Association at Tanglin Academy in April, where Alexis Tan (aged 12) was chosen to represent Singapore in Paris.

Alexis Lynn Tan in Action

Alexis Lynn Tan in Action

Longines has had generations of experience as an official timekeeper for world championships and partnerships with other sports federations. With consistent elegance, they’ve fulfilled their duties countless times already. Their contribution to the clay courts will definitely be of great value.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 41mm
    Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
    Chronograph Functions: Central second hand, central 1/100th of second hand (in orange), 30-minute counter at 2 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 10 o’clock.
    Calibre: Quartz chronograph movement L440
    Material: Stainless steel case and bracelet with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism; anthracite dial with 1 applied Arabic numeral and 11 applied indices with Super-LumiNova; Sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating
    Water Resistant: 300 meters

Paris Luxury Stores to Open Sunday

As a visitor to Paris, Sundays have always been an excellent time to take in the scenery because the stores are closed – well, not anymore because the city’s top luxury stores will be throwing open their doors from this weekend onwards.

Tourists flocking to the French capital will now be able shop at luxury shops that line the Champs Elysees and the Place Vendome on Sundays as a key government reform comes into effect.

An agreement between luxury shops and employee unions on Sunday hours has come into force, said Sylvie Zawadzki, who heads up tax and social issues at the French Fashion Federation.

The deal allows shops to take advantage of a reform pushed through by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron last year allowing for shops to open on Sundays in newly created international tourist zones in Paris.

Sunday openings for shops in France is severely restricted.

“It is an agreement that provides companies the possibility to open (on Sundays) but it is a decision they take based on their commercial strategy,” said Zawadzki.

The flagship shops of luxury brands such as Chanel, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton are covered by the deal.

Zawadzki declined to say how many companies are concerned, but according to the business daily Les Echos some 30 brands and nearly 100 shops could now open.

Other international tourist zones cover the central part of Paris, including the area where many of the city’s top department stores are located, including Galeries Lafayette. So far only one, BHV, has reached a deal with its employees.

Fancy a One Night Stay Under the Eiffel Tower?

What’s more romantic than visiting the Eiffel Tower with your loved one? Spending the night under it, of course. In a lead-up to the highly-anticipated UEFA Euro 2016 games, short-term vacation rental site HomeAway has launched a contest offering up to 24 people a chance to spend the night on the first floor of the iconic landmark, reimagined by a Paris designer.

This contest is not all luck though. The four best answers to the question “What would you do if the HomeAway Eiffel Tower was all yours for a night?” will be awarded the opportunity to bring along five guests each for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Winners can also expect three additional nights in a Paris HomeAway vacation rental, round-trip transportation and a gourmet dinner – as if the Eiffel Tower stay wasn’t a sweet enough deal.

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This isn’t the first contest of its kind – short-term vacation rental companies have been trying to outdo one another with wacky and exclusive properties. ‘Sleeping with sharks’ may have seemed like a ridiculous proposition but Airbnb made the impossible happen for three brave couples with its custom-built underwater chamber at the Paris aquarium last month. Denmark’s Kronborg Castle also threw open its doors for the first time in a century to mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in April, allowing two guests to live as Hamlet did (if he wasn’t fictional).

The contest runs May 19 – 31, 2016 in the United States, May 20 – June 5, 2016 in Asia and May 19 – June 5, 2016 in Europe. The four lucky groups selected will be hosted June 23, June 28, July 4 and July 8, 2016 during the UEFA Euro 2016 games period, and winners will be announced June 10.

Click here to find out more about this contest and to participate.

French Trains Receive Palace of Versailles Makeover

The next time you happen to be on a train in Paris, don’t look out. Direct your gaze, instead, to its interior, because you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. The usually unassuming décor of the trains running along the suburban RER C train lines have been ditched for a more sophisticated rendition of the Palace of Versailles.

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Available on board five trains under the SNCF, France’s national rail network, the cabins have been plastered with trompe-l’oeil images of the royal chateau. The refurbishments are designed to evoke memories of the palace and its grounds. Famous sites such as the Hall of Mirrors, the Gallery of Battles and Louis XVI’s royal library have been layered on with a high-tech plastic film. Such a project isn’t a first for the SNCF though. The rail company had a similar initiative in 2012 with Art in Transit, a collaboration with 3M that transformed train cars with Impressionist art and a train station with stain glass inspired by the Musée d’Orsay.

France_train_Palace of Versailles

Taken by about 500,000 passenger a day (of which 10 percent are tourists) the train is en route to 36 stations along the RER C line, which runs through five departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne, Essonne and Yvelines. The makeover was no mean feat – 10 full-time employees, including an engineer, quality control supervisor and eight technical specialists were required to apply a staggering 941 panels of film to the train’s interiors with utmost precision. A small price to pay though, for a travelling experience you’ll never forget.

Haute Couture Week 2016 Names 5 Guests

For the top-tier Haute Couture Fashion Week, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris has named five fashion labels to display their works as guests alongside the other more established houses in July. Among them are designers who have displayed great depth of innovation and futuristic vision. The inclusion of the subversive rebel design collective Vetements into the mix is a bit of a surprise move on the part of the venerable Chambre. Here is a brief look at all five.

J Mendel isn’t exactly a “spring chicken” since it started out in the 1800s. This label specializes in exquisite furs and displays a penchant for innovation in their use of the material – manipulating it as easily as other types of fabrics.

Iris Van Herpen and Yuima Nakazato definitely represent the future possibilities of fashion design. They’ve embraced technologies like 3D printing and using digital design to push forward the possibilities of what’s possible in their clothing. Form-eschewing sculpted wearables are well represented in their creations.

Francesco Scognamiglio straddles the divide between the classical techniques he picked up from Italy and his own desire for avant-garde expression. The Neapolitan designer can style sensual feminine dresses but he always likes to find a way to infuse it with his own touch of Romanticism. This puts him on the map as a curious designer to look out for.

Inviting Vetements into this Haute Couture Fashion Week is kind of like inviting The Sex Pistols to sing opera. The underground label has been favored by various celebrities – including Kanye West – but they represent everything opposite to what the fashion industry stands for. Their designers aren’t named. They run underground fashion shows far away from the catwalks. They don’t used established models in their shows. Then again, even rebel leader Che Guevara’s face is now being sold on shirts everywhere. How the label aims to maintain their anti-establishment aura while participating in such a high-profile establishment event will be interesting to watch.