Monday, June 3, 2013

Shopping for Chic: Avenue Montaigne

Shopping in Paris is far more than a mere act of self indulgence. It's the best way to discover the glamorous side of the city as well as France's renowned tradition of quality and inimitable sense of luxury. Though there are several distinctively different "fashion neighborhoods" around the city, none compare with Avenue Montaigne's aura of elegance. Lined from end to end with a who's-who list of legendary brand names, this street represents the best of what fashion has to offer on the planet.

For more than a century, Avenue Montaigne has been THE place for high fashion thanks to the presence of renowned labels like Christian Dior (#30), Valentino (#17-19), Chanel (#51) Nina Ricci (#39), Harry Winston Jewelers (#29) as well as the plush Plaza Athenee Hotel (#21), a favorite amongst many barons, billionaires, movie stars and heads of state.

Chez Dior
First named "Allee des Veuves" (Widow's Lane)--because ladies in mourning found solace in its leafy shadows--in 1723, the street was renamed Montaigne. By the mid-19th century, it quickly became one of the most popular places in Paris thanks to the lively Saturday night "Mabille Balls," illuminated fountains and some 30,000 gas jet lames. This along with Chinese billiards, ring toss games and energetic bands playing polkas, waltzes and quadrilles, crowds flocked the to area for more than a quarter century. However, the neighborhood experienced a veritable metamorphosis at the turn of the last century, which saw the area gradually evolve into the chic quarter it is today.

Chez Dior
 Though the area became known as a core of Haute Couture by mid-century, thanks to Christian Dior, Balmain, Balenciaga and the like, many luxury brands from around the globe began to flock to the avenue in mass throughout the 1980's and 90's including: French Luxury group LVMH's Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Dolce & Gabana; Germany's Escada and Jil Sander, Italy's, Giorgio Armani (who replaced Ungaro at #2 and is also at #18), Max Mara (#31), Gucci (#60), Pucci (#36), Prada (#10), America's Ralph Lauren (#52) and more recently Malasian born shoe designer, Jimmy Choo (#36).

Like the typical "grand dame" of fashion that it has become, avenue Montaigne is pretty complete. Parfums Caron (#34), a gem of a perfume shop with pearl gray drapes, stylist mirrors and a grand crystal chandelier, boasts a dozen monumental Baccarat urns filled with re-edited precious scents dating as far back as 1919 and sold nowhere else in the world. Take a break and have lunch at L'Avenue (#41), or at the chic canteen at the Relais Plaza (#21), Take in a concert at the Theatre des Champs Elysees (#15), or indulge in dinner at the Maison Blanche (#15) a sleek and distinctly noteworthy restaurant atop the Salle Drouot-Montaigne, itself a highly esteemed auction house.

Since there's nothing like a little window shopping to get the creative juices flowing, today's the "girls" take you on a walk with them down the most stylish street in France.

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Dior windows.....with doll!!!!

Who's that doll!!???!!

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