With Paris Fashion Week creeping up on the calendar like an improbably chic cavalcade without breaks, I have been lucky to catch Biance for a quick coffee at one of her local haunts, the rustic Le Progrès in Montmartre. It’s a café that Bianca admits she frequented a lot more before the smoking ban came into effect in public bars and restaurants six years ago. ‘I used to come here every morning and have a coffee and a cigarette standing at the zinc bar, but now all that has changed’.
It seems surprising now that the French gave in so easily to the smoking ban, considering how zealously they guard many of their Gallic traditions. One of those traditions that seem so much part of the make-up of the Gallic imagination is its unceasing love affair with Fashion.
Bianca admits she isn’t a big fan of the sober so-called Parisian style. When I quiz her further she tells me that the Belgium designer Dries Van Noten is someone she admires very much. ‘I love his approach, he often creates very classic clothes but with an ethnic twist − often it’s very subtle. Then I really love Paul Smith for his originality. After that, Prada and Miu Miu are also favorites.’
I have tried not to stare at what she is wearing but a few glances towards the floor reveal a pair of fantastic faux leopard-skin ankle boots. She stands out for her original look, but with her perfect hair and distinctive rouge à lèvres, she still retains that polished finish French women are revered for.
She tells me about some of her favorite addresses in Montmartre and where she likes to take visitors on the Fashion Tour. Aeschne, 19 rue Houdon, is a favorite independent designer where she loves to shop. Paper Dolls, 5 Rue Houdon is another shop that she loves to explore: ‘it’s designed like a private apartment, with wardrobes, hat stands, and a small dinning room. It’s like a Galleries Lafayettes for young creators. Homies, 8 Rue des Abbesses, is somewhere I’ve been going to since I was 18. The owner has a very unusual approach, most of what she stocks is very 90’s grunge-chic.’
Bianca is a big fan of Asian food, she tells me about some of her favorite places to eat in Montmartre: ‘Ying & Yang, 8 Rue Astride Bruant, is a return to good hearty Chinese cuisine that I discovered recently. Its owner, a tranquil Chinese man, practiced Chinese medicine. His cooking is very healthy and adheres to the Chinese medicinal philosophy of 5 elements. He even gives you a little diagnostic if you ask him nicely about your ailments. There is also a little place called Coline d’Asie, that’s not so expensive.’
She tells me, ‘the Canal de l’Ourc is easily my favorite place to be in Paris, because it’s not so touristy and there are loads of great restaurants and bars. The atmosphere is great’
More about Bianca's Fashion Destinations
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