Sample sales and vintage victories

Paris has started with a bang. A buying bang. That is, once all the bureaucratic faffing was out the way and access to a functioning French bank account with money in it was gained. Then there was a bang. Think of it like a firework and you’re waiting for it to explode but there’s some technical hitch which Dad is trying to sort out; he’s wading through paperwork, waiting on letters, setting up transfers, waiting on transfers to take effect and then BANG, we’re off!

So, once said access was gained, I entered the world of Parisian journalist perks and the treasure trove of vintage wonders that the city of lights has to offer. First up, Sonia Rykiel sample sale. Sonia Rykiel is not a brand that has ever popped up on my radar too much (aside from her gorgeous Poor Boy sweaters, featured in British Vogue when I was working there), and so it was without much expectation that I went along to the sale with my colleague. What was the lesson learnt? Do not ignore Sonia Rykiel. Beautiful coats, butter soft leather bags, and a pair of maribou feather heels which in fact feature on a picture which I’m looking at hanging on my wall as I write this (thanks to my lovely ex-boss). It was a dream, and quiet to boot meaning ample touching and feeling time before leaving  with a gorgeous necklace, having been my most restrained self. I could have left with a navy blue ponyskin bag – too impractical – or a gorgeous, minimalistic camel coat – waiting until I can afford a cashmere one – not to mention a wealth of other beauties, but control was exercised. Needless to say the prices were fantastic, and my colleague nabbed herself a ball gown and left feeling like a thief for having paid such a good price.

Saturday brought with it more bargain promise, and it dealt up the goods. First up, a “vide-robe”, literal translation a “wardrobe empty”. People registered to come along and set up a stall where they sold their unwanted clothes. Simple. Being Paris, this wasn’t unwanted Primark and Topshop (although there was a lot of Zara on offer), no, clothes ranged from two season-old YSL blazers, to €1000 vintage Hermès bags, with a lot of Maje and Sandro on the way. I won the shopping award, scooping up a delicious military green Equipment blouse for just €40, a bargain seeing as they can cost up to €400 and mine is unworn. Equipment is a French brand, run by the husband of Carine Roitfeld, ex-Editor-in-Chief of my current employer, Vogue Paris. They specialise in silk blouses and are, in my humble opinion, the leader in this particular niche of the fashion world.

Rubbing my hands with glee, I headed further into the Marais under the guidance of my lovely colleague Holly, to explore what ancient treasures lay in the many vintage shops. The discovery was not what I expected. Spoiler alert: vintage shops in Paris are amazing, and cheap. The layout is generally hectic and you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some digging, but, my friends, the rewards will be plentiful. If you’re in the market for any type of sheepskin or shearling jacket, the Parisian vintage world is your oyster. Unfortunately, this savvy shopper saw the shearling jacket of her dreams on the back of someone as they walked out the shop having purchased it. Not one to dwell on what might have been, I quickly snaffled up a very loud, printed shirt, an oversized men’s navy corduroy shirt (new favourite item) and a top so Nineties, only Buffy (the Vampire slayer) would wear it.

So there you have it, the first forays into the Parisian shopping scene for Fashion(Ed) in London. I wonder how many people have read to the end of this and not given up, wondering why there are no photos…

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Hipster Home

St Petersburg is the place for all those British hipsters back home. We should pack them up and ship them here to free ourselves of them (sorry Hipster friends) and let them run wild in the various hipster-friendly spaces in this city. I have stumbled upon so many places here with a very laid-back, cool atmosphere; the kinds of places which back home would be overrun with annoying, pretentious ‘cool-kids’ but here, they are populated by students and lovely, friendly young Russians.

The first of these is Clockface, or Tsiferblat, an anti-cafe in the city, where you pay by time, not by what you have. For 2 roubles a minute for the first hour, and a rouble a minute thereafter, you can enjoy as much tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits, toast, porridge and cereal as you can manage. My friends and I take full advantage and compete to see who can eat the most for the least amount of money. I believe I win for having devoured countless biscuits, 2 slices of toast with jam, a pot of tea, a hot chocolate and then another cup of tea in the space of 2 hours, for a mere 180 roubles (roughly £3.40). There are 2 Tsiferblats in the city, both on Nevsky. One is situated opposite Gostinyy Dvor, on the 3rd floor of Passage; it is a bright, large room with high ceilings and an eclectic mix of furniture. There is tape of the floor, dividing the space into separate rooms to give the feel of a house. You can sit on Victorian style chairs around a mahogany table, recline on a bed or even lounge in a bath. The second is up by Ploschad Vostaniya and is made up of 3 rooms. Both have pianos and anyone is welcome to play and sing along. There is a real homely feeling to both, and truly, anything goes in Clockface.

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The second hipster haven is off the beaten track, a small vintage shop called Aloe. It is run by the absolutely charming Yana, who lives and works in the shop. She gave us her mobile number so that we could call her next time we want to visit as she said she’s not always there because she’s jetting off to Copenhagen or Berlin in search of more wares. The stock is relatively small but nice and reasonable quality. The prices are slightly higher than London vintage shops such as Beyond Retro as I suppose Yana has to cover her trips around the vintage world. I picked up a beautiful book of Russian Poetry, as well as some prints of Yana’s photos. The shop is on Moskovsky Prospekt, by Nab Obvodnogo Kanala. If you pop in, get chatting to Yana and she’ll make you a cup of tea.

Finally, we have Etaji, the biggest and probably most well-known hipster hangout in St Petersburg. Etaji means floors, and that’s exactly what this space is. The building is 4 storeys high and there are many different things on each floor, including exhibition spaces, talks, workshops, a barber, a hostel, a restaurant, and best of all right now, a pop up burger joint called Bro Burgers. For a mere £4, you can grab a delicious burger from a choice of 5 and it comes with a side of home-made chips. Fan-bloody-tastic. We inhaled ours in record speeds and the most unattractive fashion, but it was worth it. There are different things going on in Etaji all the time; it is a sea of change so always good to pop by for something new and cultural. Most of the exhibitions are talks are free, what more could you ask for? Etaji is on Ligovskiy Prospekt, hidden behind big metal gates covered in posters for the various events. In the summer, there is also a deck and rooftop space so that they can really make the most of the few short summer months and soak up enough Vitamin D to get through the winter.

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The young Russians are on to something, don’t try hard and these spaces will be organically inviting, unlike in Britain where most people steer clear for fear of mixing with hipsters who think they are just too cool to function. There’s a way to do it properly and the St Petersburgians have found it.

To Market, to Market

Today my friend Saoirse and I ventured into the north-east of the city to find a recommended flea market. We went on the metro all the way over 3 different rivers (or branches of the same river, who knows?) and ended up in an area known as Udelnaya. Here, there is a market akin to those that you find in East London, a little home away from home perhaps. The traders all have stall-shops, they display their wares outside but all have a covered ‘indoor’ area too to protect them from the elements. At Udelnaya market you will find fur coats galore, vintage clothes, military uniforms, shoes, bags – you name it, they will probably have it, if you’re looking for clothes. There was a disappointing lack of junk jewellery which is something I always search for. However I did buy a Pringle 100% cashmere beige jumper for 350 roubles (roughly £7) and a bright yellow sweatshirt for 200 roubles (£4) and who can complain at that? Udelnaya is well worth the relatively quick metro journey and we will probably return at some point to hunt some more.

In other news I’ve realised that every time I have a bad meal (as I just have), I miss home. When I have good food, I feel better. It’s the luck of the draw whether you live with a Bab who can cook or not. My family are lovely, but I seem to have been a little unlucky in terms of food, something very important to me. With that, I’m off to eat some chocolate.

From Russia with love.