On this Valentine’s Day

A reprint to warm your heart…

For those of you newly engaged or seasoned in marital bliss, take heart of the love in Paris or on the streets in Florence, Italy.

Have you ever noticed that attached to the metal rails on many of the Paris ponts were locks? And I mean thousands of them. Each had a heartfelt message, initials or a date. What a wonderful way to leave a little of your love behind.

This bride had the same idea. However, her love was to be caught on film. Isn’t it wonderful? And what a beautiful dress.

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It must be contagious – that is – love. Here is a bride and groom-to-be in front of Notre Dame.

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Or how about at the artists’ enclave at Montmartre just a few steps from the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.

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Heart-warming pictures of some very stylish brides.  Send your pictures to stylespotter@aol.com.

Please note this will be my last posting for a while as I recharge my (camera) batteries on future trips to Europe.  I will respond to comments that are forwarded.  Thanks for reading The Style Spotter.

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Lost in Bliss and Other Suggestions for Gifts

Can’t afford Vionette or Cartier, Prada or Lalique well here’s the answer… a BOOK!

Jump into the history of designers, jewelers, crafts people and furniture makers while enjoying the eye candy popping pictures that can be had in a book.

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs located at 107, rue de Rivoli (75001) is just a stone’s throw from the Louvre. This is a fabulous museum filled with collections and exhibits to delight any Style Spotters’ fancy. Several months ago an exhibit of the stories of Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs ended. Not to fret, there is usually something wonderful on the horizon. But I would like to bring to your attention their gift gallery aptly known as 107 Rivoli, The Boutique. They have a fantastic collection of gifts and their book collection, well, you could spend hours, perhaps days looking.

So, if you are in Paris, drop by. There are usually no lines to get in. Not in Paris, get to your local museum, book shop or library.

Have a title to share? Love to hear.  Happy shopping!

Saved by the Supplement

Not really.

I was intrigued a while back by an email I received from PBS showcasing their upcoming programs. One of their links was 5 Myths About Nutritional Supplements. I thought this an odd link since it was not showcasing a television program. However, as I read and thought about it, wouldn’t you agree that when you feel fit, well rested and of a positive mindset you can conquer the day?

The article presented the myths followed by the facts. I am not a nutritionist or healthcare provider so I cannot comment on the content or recommend vitamins or supplements, but I would just go on to question each of you Style Spotters what are you doing from the inside out? You could be sporting the latest trend or in our case the most stylish outfit but if you are not feeling great even the best of outfits won’t save the day. (Or maybe it will?)

It’s been over 11 months since New Year’s resolutions were made. Perhaps it’s time to rethink and take one small step in a positive direction be it a healthier diet, exercise, educational stimulation or community service. We don’t need to wait for January 1st for new resolutions!

Almost every women in Paris looked fit and healthy. What’s her secret? Any thoughts?

Now for my Real Passion

I am a jewelry junky.

No, I do not have a ridiculously large or valuable collection, but everything I have I love. Thanks (not really) to my house being robbed quite a while ago, I started from scratch rebuilding and replacing my collection. Luckily, I was not at home when I was robbed but none-the-less felt ever so violated. And of course on that day I was wearing my junk jewelry. I lost some very heartfelt pieces – my grandmother’s wedding link bracelet, a gold watch that I received from my parents on my 13th birthday, an emerald ring and a few other memorable items. Other pieces I cannot remember but I was able to purchase new items with the insurance coverage. Things such as an Elsa Peretti floating heart necklace was easily replaced, others took much longer as I am very particular.

I was in the retail jewelry trade for 10 years having worked in both an artisanal boutique and a very well known high end luxury chain. I met artists, designers and commercially successful owners – brands from David Yurman to Verdura and mom and pop businesses to successful one horse shops. Surprise, I feel the same about jewelry as I do about clothes and accessories. I am not particularly keen on commercially successful brands that everyone is wearing. Give me a piece of jewelry from an unknown artist and I am happy. Of course the piece must be practical to some degree, that is, will stand the test of time but it has to have its own voice and not worn by the masses.

I have purchased jewelry in various places: craft shows, small retailers, a major US store or two and of course in Italy. In Italy, if you have a good eye, you can pick some treasures from the mass of commercial pieces. Yes, I love the Ponte Vecchio and I long to look out the back window of a shop to the Arno River some day again soon. And of course in Florence – gloves, handbags, clothes… and lots of gelato! Yum!

Paris certainly has its share of jewelry establishments. You can peruse in luxury retailers, historically successful stores such as Cartier or Van Cleef and Arpels, other shops on Place Vendôme or hunt around the arrondissements for its flavor of jewelry.  There is no shortage of selection just the proverbial shortage of time and money.  Here are a few of the brands in Paris that seem popular – Dinh Van and Emmanuelle Zysman.  I am particularly fond of Tiany  Chambard, a terrific little shop in St. Germain, stocking vintage jewelry. 

For those of you Francophiles living either in the US or abroad, please share your jewelry store finds. Mama Mia, Italian sources are welcome too.

The Feeling of Freedom

The feeling of freedom… a cross body bag. 

It feels awesome to have both hands free. I had been using a handbag for several seasons, like many of you, which hung from my forearm. Give the cross body a try. With the onslaught of structured long-strapped bags, I’m sure you’ll love the feeling of freedom.

Autumn is here and summer a memory (though today is 70 degrees).  Fashion Week is over and the designers and professionals are espousing for spring. But let’s enjoy fall and reminisce for a moment about the happy memories of summer before we think about spring.

Where have you, my Style Spotters, vacationed (at home or afar) this past summer? What fabulous styles have you seen, items have you purchased for yourself or have received as a gift?

Do tell!

FLATS and I Don’t Mean Tires

Flats. I’ve had my share of them (that is flat tires), but the only way I like to get around town, relax around the house, run errands or get to and from work is in flats. My feet are just not happy for any stretch of time walking in heels, so I wear them when necessary to look polished.

During my recent trip to Paris I stocked up on several pair. As I said early on, there are great shoes in many price ranges and for some wonderful reason European brands fit my feet well. And for those of you desiring heels or platforms, there are plenty of options.

Boutique Minelli – http://www.minelli.fr/femme

Minelli, 85 Euros

Boutique Heyraud – http://www.heyraud.fr/boutiques/

Heyraud, 129 Euros

Gelati – 75 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 and 6, Rue St. Sulpice, 75006

Gelati, 225 Euros (less VAT)

Also check out J.B. Martin and Accessoire Diffusion.

Have a favorite boutique, please share.  Happy shoe shopping!

To Be In Paris!

Hello, fellow Style Spotters!

Just the other day a friend called to say she was joining her husband on his business trip to Paris and she was anxious to be on her own during the day. I could not stress enough how easy Paris is to navigate. It turns out she is not much of a shopper but I suggested she think of what she might want to purchase (hello… great reasonably priced shoes…) and which sites and museums she wanted to visit.

So those of you who are new travelers to Paris here’s how I do it. And for the rest of you seasoned travelers or Francophiles, please add to the conversation.

First of all, a good map is essential. On my last trip I used The Paris Mapguide by Michael Middleditch. This paperback guidebook is slightly wider than a map but is lightweight and fits easily into a handbag. It was easy to use and read and was thorough. I also used Frommer’s Paris Day By Day which I purchased a few years ago. It is fairly lightweight and will fit into your bag. This also has a map with a nice full city view but not as detailed as The Paris Mapguide. It has enough history and museum details for an extended visit to Paris so you don’t have to carry a weighty volume with you.

Next, comfortable shoes. Sorry, no crazy heels during a day of sightseeing and power shopping. I wear soft-soled shoes because I put on lots of miles by walking. Can’t get much traction in heels and the blisters! Last winter when I was in Paris I watched the women walk by me and most were wearing black tights and boots with heels (and scarves). They looked so chic. Then I spotted a woman with torn hose at the knees and when she passed me I couldn’t resist the urge to see if she was wearing heels. Of course, she was. I hope the fall was not too painful.

Paris is a city of many faces. Peruse guidebooks before you leave and determine how you want to organize your trip. Do you want to visit certain sites or museums or do you have a hankering to visit Chanel’s store and showroom on Rue Cambon?

I just had to super-size this.

Here’s a sampling of a day for me… Dressed appropriately for the change of weather throughout the day, camera, maps and water in hand, I depart from my hotel. After a quick bite of a delightful, flaky croissant, I begin the walk to my destination. Taking in the sites and sounds – the beauty of the Seine, the Eiffel Tower lumbering sleepily in the distance, Notre Dame rising on the horizon – I cross one of the ponts and stroll to my destination of the day, the Marais. Assuming I am not immediately distracted by the shops I pass (yes, I am usually distracted), I head to the first of the selected cultural venues to visit. (While I love to window shop, I find it essential for some educational stimulation.)

So here are some places to visit in the Marais: Picasso Museum, Carnavalet (free and well worth a visit), home of Victor Hugo, and the Holocaust Memorial. Alternatively, you can join a group tour to learn in depth about the area. I joined a tour run by owner Karen Rudel of Sight Seekers Delight (http://sightseekersdelight.com/). It was approximately 3 hours including a group lunch break, and although I had been to the Marais many times before I learned so much from Ms. Rudel. Highly recommended!

Looking out from Musee Carnavalet.

Let’s continue. If I am touring on my own, I usually stop for a mid-morning snack – whatever delights my eyes hopefully satisfying my taste buds. Okay, now for shopping: check the streets Rue de Rosiers, Rue Des Francs Bougeois, Rue Vielle du Temple, Rue de Poitou and Rue Charlot. Frankly, I love to wander and with a trusty map you can’t go wrong. If weather permitting, grab a lunch to go – whether it is a falafel or baguette sandwich – enjoy the beautiful environment of Place de Vosges. Many years ago I had the delight in seeing a woman organ grinder singing there.

Depending on the time of the day, you can head back to your hotel to relax, sit at a café with a glass of wine or proceed to the Islands. For me, it’s off to Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Cite.

Pose any questions and I will try to answer them. And please keep spreading the word about The Style Spotter.