Bohemian Chic in Saint Germain

Cordelia channels bohemian chic with her fashion tour of the fascinating Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter of Paris. I meet Cordelia in a trendy café in her stomping ground of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Her great style and her wonderful, infectious laugh, makes me think her fashion tour of Saint-Germain-des-Prés would be fun. I mention how lucky she was to grow up in a Parisian quarter so steeped in history. She tells me that the area never ceases to surprise people. ‘The exposed wooden beams in my apartment make it look really rustic and people often remark on it resembling the interior of a ski chalet.’

La Rive Gauche: Last Refuge of the Intelligentsia

The area around Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain is traditionally known as the intellectual heart of the city and played host to a whole pantheon of great philosophers and writers. Recent history witnessed the heated student battles of 1968 that exploded from the lecture-halls of the Sorbonne, just a few metres from where we are seated. Cordelia says: ‘since then, the area has changed a lot. Fashion stores have replaced the bookshops. That’s a shame, but there is still much to see. I love to spend my afternoons browsing the books in Shakespeare and Co. Often you will hear someone playing the piano hidden in among the towering bookshelves − it’s another world.’

The Left Bank has always had the aura of other-worldliness. It has often been differentiated from its Right Bank neighbour in terms of its slow pace. As the main centre of learning, the Left Bank was know for its intellectuals and writers who sat for hours nursing hot drinks in the warm cafés because it was too cold to sit in their rented rooms. Likewise, when she has a bit of time, Cordelia likes to wander these hallowed streets. But unlike the starving artists of yesterday, she avails of the new flavours of exquisite macaroons that appear each week at the patisserie, Pierre Hermé. She likes to eat them by the Medici Fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Fashion Week Paris – Issey Miyake

When she’s not stuffing her mouth with sweet treats, Cordelia bides her time between working as an assistant for the legendary Japanese designer Issey Miyake and as a personal shopper and fashion tour guide for Localers. Curious about what it must be like to work for a big designer, I ask her to describe what she does. ‘Issey Miyake is a label that puts on big extravagant shows that take place either at the Grand Palais or in the Tuileries Gardens. I work as a production assistant. It’s a really interesting process because we work on putting the show together — from the design of the catwalk right down to deciding what the model will be wearing. On the day of the show it all happens back stage, and by the time the catwalk show begins there is a lot of energy – it’s really exciting. When the show is over ten minutes later, it feels like a massive comedown, because you have been working on this thing for months and it’s all over in a few minutes.’

Fashion Walk with a Veteran

I ask her about her fashion walk around the chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter . She says, ‘my fashion walk is totally tailor-made for the person taking the tour. I leave no stone unturned. However, one shop that I insist on people seeing is Les Ginettes, which is an amazing vintage store in the heart of Saint Germain. They stock everything from H&M to Lanvin. There is also a great selection of vintage furniture.’

She tells me if she could take a tour of the Parisian shops with anyone it would have to be Keira Knightley. ‘She really encapsulates the vintage look for me, and I think she is a really interesting person. I’d like to get to know her’.

Some of Cordelia's top addresses

Shakespeare and Co. 37 Rue de la Bucherie, 75005 Paris

Pierre Hermé 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

Les Ginettes 4 Rue du Sabot, 75006 Paris

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