Saint James: the best of Made in France

20 August 2016
Saint James Breton Stripe

In July, I spent several days traveling through Normandy and visiting landmarks in the region that, in one way or another, have informed and continue to inform the creative process and production of Saint James garments. I went behind-the-scenes at their atelier, met with the President, collections director and Managing Director for the U.S. and walked away blown away not only by the brand’s history but their upstanding sense of ethics. If there is a company to believe in, it’s this one. And if you find yourselves in the small town of Saint James, pop in! They’re happy to offer tours. Below, you’ll find a version of my story for Conde Nast Traveler that looks at the past, present and future of this iconic French fashion brand.  Peek into the closets of most French people and you’re likely to find at least one striped sailor tee or Breton wool sweater, as much symbols of Gallic craftsmanship as of style. Chances are high the left sleeve will bear the label Saint James, the 127 year old independent French ready-to-wear brand whose durable goods and timeless nautical looks have made it a national icon spanning generations. That the brand is experiencing two-digit growth today […]…

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More than a department store: Galeries Lafayette

25 May 2016
Galeries Lafayette Coupole, Paris

As a kid, I had a habit of pleading with my parents to take me to one of two places nearly every weekend: toy stores like F.A.O. Schwartz (RIP) or Zany Brainy (with a more cerebral selection than Toys R Us but no less fun) and the bookstore. Any bookstore. Provided I finished my homework for the week and didn’t pester my older sister, they usually agreed. These visits would sometimes last hours. The end goal wasn’t necessarily to go home with bags overflowing with new games or books  – my parents taught me to value and make the most of what I already had at home and be more discerning about new acquisitions – but to explore. Being surrounded by rows upon rows of books and games was an experience in itself, a place to lose myself to my imagination, and that’s all that mattered to me. That quest for experience, which any marketer will tell you is what defines the average consumers’ most abiding needs today, stayed with me, even as a suburban gal. I couldn’t find a veritable sense of place-experience in malls so I sought it out in the (infrequent) moments I’d find myself in downtown Philadelphia or in New York City, […]…

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French Goods for the Home: Introducing Flotsam + Fork

3 December 2013

If you’re like me, you reserve precious space in your luggage when you travel to bring back local food specialties. If you’re like Adrianna Fie, the extra wiggle room is needed for larger items like culinary stoneware and baking dishes. During her travels, Adrianna seeks out unique home goods that are largely inaccessible online or at shops back home. Having amassed a sizable selection, she launched Flotsam + Fork, a one-stop online shop geared toward kindred Europhile shoppers. Below, she talks inspiration, unique finds and the future of her new venture. Who is behind Flotsam and Fork and what motivated the project? Juste moi! Flotsam + Fork is mostly a solo project, though I do get a lot of moral support, pro bono editing, and errand assistance from my boyfriend, Joe. I’m a seeker who borders on the obsessive, so I started Flotsam+ Fork as a way of sharing the products I have found during my travels and online perusals. I wanted to create a venue to promote well-made products that won’t end up in a landfill. For the longest time, it was impossible to find a natural bristle vegetable or dish brush in the United States. When I found […]…

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Design Hunting in the Marais

2 April 2013

From rive droite to rive gauche, Paris abounds in hedonistic pleasures. The right bank has metamorphosed  into the city’s most sought-after dining destination while the left bank continues to hold the key to a visitors heart with its historic charm, iconic galleries and old-warm artist haunts. Everyday, people like me heed the incessant call of their bellies and eat their way across town while others follow their wallets straight to the city’s swishest boutiques. For fashion, accessories, cooking supplies and antiques, the list of recommendations in each neighborhood is robust. But where to go for homewares and design pieces? Back in December, I spent the day trolling through the Marais for the best design spots alongside friend and fellow writer Will Taylor (who I’ve interviewed for Franco File Friday) who was in town to research his next travel piece for Sweet Paul Magazine. The biting cold and damp weather couldn’t damper our outing and we had a ball hopping from one shop to the next, speaking with shop clerks and discovering just how much the neighborhood had to offer in unique finds. The final result: Will tells the story of his trip and the shops he explored and I chime […]…

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La Samaritaine: A Place to Rest your Tête

6 April 2010

La Samaritaine was a beautiful department store in the 1st arondissement with a stunning view of the Seine. Purchased by LVMH (what don’t they own?) in 2001, its doors were closed in 2005 for reasons of security. It is believed that the art nouveau building was no longer up to code due to structural weaknesses and fire hazards. It has remained vacant since then with signs indicating it would undergo renovations to improve security and would reopen its doors in 2011. Imagine my surprise when I read in the Herald Tribune that LVMH had selected the Japanese architecture firm SANAA to convert this Parisian institution of sorts into a hotel. I guess Paris doesn’t need another department store, but it also doesn’t need another luxury hotel. LVMH is prepared to pump €400 million into the renovations which will push back the reopening to 2013 mid-2014. I guess we’ll see what develops….!   Anyone been inside before they closed? Update – May, 2011: click HERE to view recently released architectural renderings of the Samaritaine project. Photo 1 Photo2 Photo3…

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