Chanel

29 rue Cambon, 1st (01.42.86.28.00 / www.chanel.com). M° Concorde or Madeleine
Open
10am-7pm Mon-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Practically synonymous with Paris, fashion legend Chanel is managing to stay relevant - thanks to Karl Lagerfeld. Coco opened her first boutique in this street, at No.21, in 1910, and the tradition continues in this elegant space. Lagerfeld has been designing for Chanel since 1983, and keeps on rehashing Chanel classics, like the little black dress and the Chanel suit with great success. For other branches, see the website.

 
Christian Dior

28 av Montaigne, 8th (01.40.73.54.44 / www.dior.com). M° Franklin D. Roosevelt
Open
10am-7pm Mon-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

To judge from the gaggles of girls who arrive en masse from the suburbs, life savings in hand, to choose a Dior bag, Nick Knight’s sexy ad campaigns have been successful. Outrageous, gifted and acclaimed designer John Galliano is behind this label’s upbeat, youthful and sexy image. For other branches, see the website.

 
Hermès

24 rue du Fbg-St-Honoré, 8th (01.40.17.46.00 / www.hermes.com). M° Concorde
Open
10.30am-6.30pm Mon-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Originally a prestigious saddler, this fashion and accessories house has managed to remain an independent, family-run business as well as a fashion star. For a long time its horse-themed scarves were associated with ladies who lunch, but after hiring avant-garde designer Martin Margiela as the womenswear head in 1997, Hermès brought its style right up-to-date. In 2004 Margiela handed the reins to Jean-Paul Gaultier. The fifth generation of the Hermès family continues to direct the company from this venerable building, inaugurated in the 1930s.

 
Jean-Paul Gaultier

6 rue Vivienne, 2nd (01.42.86.05.05 / www.gaultier. fr). M° Bourse
Open
10am-7pm Mon-Fri; 11am-7pm Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

King of couture Gaultier has restyled his original boutique as a boudoir with trapunto-quilted, peach taffeta walls. Men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, accessories and the cheaper JPG Jeans lines are sold here, with haute-couture upstairs (by appointment, 01.42.97.48.12). For branches, see the website.

 
John Galliano

384-386 rue St-Honoré, 1st (01.55.35.40.40 / www.johngalliano.com). M° Concorde
Open 11am-7pm Mon-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Designed by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte (who did stores for Cartier and Chaumet), this was the most exciting store to open in Paris in 2003. Though at Dior since 1996, Galliano still has his own range, confirming his reputation as Britain’s most original designer. Passers-by can view the small but diverse collection of well-cut delights through the showcase window; once inside, Louis XVI-style leather chairs complement the leather flooring in the changing room, and the divine hand-embroidered wall panels of Japanese cherry blossoms set in the candle-scented toilets. For outlets, see the website.

 
Lagerfeld Gallery

40 rue de Seine, 6th (01.55.42.75.51). M° Odéon
Open 11am-7pm Tue-Sat. Closed Aug.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Andrée Putman helped create this shrine to King Karl’s brand of stylish minimalism: Lagerfeld’s fashion creations and photography are both on display. You could just sneak in to browse the latest output of the fashion, beauty and art media, scattered over a handsome round table at the front of the gallery.

 
Louis Vuitton

38 av George-V, 8th (08.10.81.00.10 / www.vuitton.com). M° George V
Open
10am-8pm Mon-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Crossing this hallowed threshold has caused the odd Tokyoite to faint from sheer shock and wonderment. Since 1998 Marc Jacobs has been the artistic director of the luxury label, and was responsible for their successful first ready-to-wear and shoe line in the same year. Bringing the august label screamingly up to date, Jacobs has made Vuitton’s luggage and accessories, as well as their fashion line, as much in demand as water in the Sahara. In the meantime, you and I might just be able to afford a monogrammed pencil case. After major renovations the flagship Champs-Elysées store reopens some time in 2005; till then, this temporary outlet keeps the flag flying. See the website for other outlets.

 
Marni

57 av Montaigne, 8th (01.56.88.08.08). M° Franklin D. Roosevelt
Open
10am-7pm Mon-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

This neo-romantic Italian label was born in 1994 from a family fur company. Consuelo Castiglioni has fun mixing leather, fur, silk, cashmere and prints, creating an eccentric but cool mish-mash of textures and colours. Also mens- and childrenswear lines.

 
Miu Miu

16 rue de Grenelle, 7th (01.53.63.20.30). M° Sèvres-Babylone
Open
11am-7pm Mon; 10am-7pm Tue-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

A diminuitive of Miuccia, first name of Prada’s savvy director, Miu Miu is the principal label’s colourful younger (and cheaper) sister - notable for its frivolous, reckless style and fabulous shoes. In this simply decorated, massive two-storey boutique you’ll find both mens- and womenswear.

 
Prada

10 av Montaigne, 8th (01.53.23.99.40 / www.prada.com). M° Alma Marceau
Open
11am-7pm Mon; 10am-7pm Tue-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Miuccia Prada dusted off her family’s fine old leather company in the 1980s, turning Prada’s handbags into the cognoscenti’s accessory of choice. Ready-to-wear was launched in 1989, and fashionistas haven’t been able to get enough of Prada’s elegant designs since. The Paris boutiques are recognisable for the trademark cool, lime-green walls. See the website for other outlets.

 
Sonia Rykiel

175 bd St-Germain, 6th (01.49.54.60.60 / www.soniarykiel.fr). M° St-Germain-des-Prés
Open
10.30am-7pm Tue-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Even if her fabrics aren’t as super-soft as they once were, the queen of stripes is still producing skinny rib knitwear evoking the Left Bank babes of Sartre’s time. Menswear can be found across the street, while two newer boutiques feature the younger, more affordable ‘Sonia by Sonia Rykiel’ collection (59 rue des Sts-Pères) and children’s wear (6 rue de Grenelle, the site of her original 1966 shop). Just next door to this bastion of pre-pubescent fashion, her Sonia Rykiel Woman (4 rue de Grenelle, 6th, 01.49.54.66.21) store includes a range of designer sex toys - try the vibrating black rubber duck (€45). For other branches, see the website.

 
Tsumori Chisato

20 rue Barbette, 3rd (01.42.78.18.88). M° St-Paul or Hôtel de Ville
Open 11am-7pm Tue-Sat. Closed 3wks Aug.
Credit AmEx, MC, V.

Known for her inventive use of colour and wispy fabrics, this Japanese designer has a cult following among fashion-conscious Parisiennes. Artistic director of Issey Sports in the 1980s, Chisato set up her own label in 1990 as part of Miyake’s stable; her poetic, romantic designs are big on ingenious detail.

 
Yohji Yamamoto

3 rue de Grenelle, 7th (01.42.84.28.87). M° Sèvres-Babylone or St-Sulpice
Open
10.30am-7.30pm Mon-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

One of the few true pioneers working in the fashion industry today, Yohji Yamamoto is a master of cut and finish, both strongly inspired by the kimono and traditional Tibetan costume. His dexterity with form makes for unique shapes and styles, largely in black, but when he does colour, it’s a blast of brilliance.

Other locations: 47 rue Etienne-Marcel, 1st (01.45.08.82.45); Y’s, 25 rue du Louvre, 1st (01.42.21.42.93); 69 rue des Sts-Pères, 6th (01.45.48.22.56).

Yves Saint Laurent

6 pl St-Sulpice 6th (01.43.29.43.00 / www.ysl.com). M° St-Sulpice.
Open 11am-7pm Mon; 10.30am-7pm Tue-Sat.
Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Yves Saint Laurent retired in 2002 after an extraordinary 40-year career which began at Christian Dior, and continued with his fomenting an androgynous revolution in the 1960s under his own name, getting women into dinner and jump suits. It remains to be seen how the label will live on after Tom Ford’s departure in 2004. For other branches around the city, see the website.

 

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