Girl Talk with Pamela Boulet
Like so many women who end up in Paris, Pamela Boulet went for work and stayed for love. What was supposed to last just a few months ended up as a 20-year stint, and with two children and a French husband, it seems she won’t be coming home anytime soon. Pamela has the kind of job so many women I know would kill for. She sells high-end fashion via trunk shows all over the world. Flitting from Southampton to Hong Kong, she sells the designs of Andrew Gn to the international fashionista set. Thankfully, Pamela was kind enough to open her address book and share her very special stylish version of Paris with all of us.
How long have you lived in Paris, and what led you to the City of Light?
I have lived in Paris since 1990. Previously, I was living in New York doing PR for foreign films and was invited to Paris by the American Center here to organize a film festival. This endeavor was supposed to last 6 months, and 20 years later, I’m still here! I came to Paris for work and stayed for love—my husband is French (very French!), and my two boys (12 and 14) are bilingual culturally and linguistically. They are die-hard soccer fans and can also give you the starting lineup of the New York Yankees. Whereas I tend to emphasize my American identity in Paris, my children really consider themselves Franco-American.
You work in fashion, so tell us a bit about the designer you are working for and what you enjoy most about your job.
After the film festival finished, I wanted to stay in Paris (I fell in love with a Frenchman and with Paris) and began working at a modeling agency in Paris, where I worked for the next 15 years. The last few years were with the men’s division, which made me a big hit with my girlfriends! I started working with Andrew Gn, a Paris-based designer from Singapore, about six years ago. I organize trunk shows in the fall and spring, and bring private clients into his showroom during the year to see and order his collection. His collection is available at Bergdorf’s and Barney’s in New York, as well as other outlets, but in these stores you are only seeing the selection that the buyers chose. In the showroom, you have the ENTIRE line, and can pick and choose fabrics, colors, lengths, etc. You are really getting an haute couture salon experience with a ready-to-wear collection. Andrew is always present in the showroom, and his enthusiasm and charisma add to the showroom experience. Previously, he designed for Balmain before starting his own line. I just finished a hugely successful trunk show in Southampton, and my next trunk show was in Paris on October 7 and 8, followed by a first-ever trunk show in Hong Kong. I love seeing a woman’s whole persona brighten when she tries on his clothes. Andrew Gn’s clothes do just that. I honestly would not be able to sell anything that I wouldn’t wear myself.
How would you describe the state of the fashion business in France right now?
The state of the fashion business in Paris right now is on an upswing. The Parisian woman is a totally different shopping species than an American woman. For example, a Parisian woman will buy a really fabulous piece, say, a Chanel jacket. That jacket will stay in her closet for years and will never look outdated. An American woman shops by season, and her closet will reflect trends and often risks. French women know what looks good on them and keep it safe, classic and chic; whereas American women are more willing to take chances with color, smaller labels and new designers.
What are your favorite activities to do in Paris: shopping, museums, walks?
I love the Musée Jacquemart-André, and its gift shop is incredible. An old mansion with an incredible history, filled with treasures. The period rooms at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs transport me back in time, and the art deco rooms are stunning. My kids love to come here and see how people lived without iPhones and TV.
My favorite place to walk is the Marais. Starting at the beginning of the rue des Francs Bourgeois and ending at the place des Vosges, with a stop on the rue des Rosiers to get a falafel fix, and at Fragonard for candles, perfumes, linens . . . great gifts.
Describe your ideal Parisian day.
My ideal Paris day begins with a long run in the Bagatelle gardens, which is across the street from my house. I try to avoid the peacocks in my path. Then off to Ladurée on the rue Bonaparte for an almond croissant (or two!) and a café crème. A walk around the fabulous art deco galleries in and around the rue Bonaparte with my husband, with whom I share a passion for anything made in 1930. Meeting my friends for lunch and intense people-watching at Orient Extrême, and ordering the black cod in caramelized miso sauce. Picking up my boys at school near the parc Monceau and having a goûter with them at Les Enfants Gâtés, on the rue Cardinet (best éclair au café ever). I love cooking, and my husband loves shopping for the best products at the marché Poncelet, which makes dinner a true team effort. A dinner à la maison with my dear friends at the table—a boeuf bourgignon with a gratin de pommes de terre, wine, wine, wine, and finishing with a warm tarte fine aux pommes with yogurt ice cream from the St.-Tropez glacier Barbarac. The perfect ending to a perfect day.
Where do you head for a fabulous meal?
For a fabulous meal, I always head to L’Entredgeu, on the rue Laugier in the 17th. It’s a traditional neighborhood bistro that changes its menu (prix fixe) every night and never disappoints: warm welcome, warm ambience, excellent food and service, French comfort food. I LOVE soufflés, and the soufflé mecca in my opinion is Le Récamier. I have a three-course soufflé meal and always have room for the caramel salé soufflé for dessert. Chez Georges, on the rue du Mail, is also one of my favorites: old world bistro, great garlicky snails and the best french fries in Paris. Andrew Gn and Natasha Fraser turned me on to the restaurant Petrelle, and will kill me for divulging this one, on the rue Petrelle in the 9th—romantic, delicious, chic and fabulous decor. After dinner, Bar Mathis is intimate and chic for a last glass before heading chez soi.
What are your favorite stores?
Corto Moltedo for bags; Karry’O for vintage jewelry; Montaigne Market for everything; Moss—best shoes!—in the 7th; Bernardaud—its new porcelain jewelry line is so modern and elegant; Fragonard for gifts; Galerie Chahan, in the 7th, for the pleasure of my eyes; the gift shops at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Musée Jacquemart-André; and of course, Monoprix!
When girlfriends visit, where do you take them?
When my girlfriends come, I do all of the above!
What do you do for relaxation?
For relaxation, I love the Espace Payot spa, on the rue Pierre Charron. The space is calming, the pool is gorgeous and the treatment rooms are a perfect minivacation after dealing with the French social security office one too many times. Our country club in the Bois de Boulogne, Le Racing, as it is known, is also great for working out, playing tennis on the red Roland Garros clay and swimming. The 1900 Olympics took place here, so it is always a thrill to be a part of history when I walk through the gate.
And when you want to escape Paris, what is your favorite weekend destination? On the weekends, we love visiting friends in London and Madrid. The Eurostar has made it incredibly easy to leave Paris in the morning, have lunch with friends in London and be back in Paris in time for dinner. Madrid is a quick flight from Paris and so culturally different that we feel we have gone to a faraway destination. We are planning a ballooning trip in Normandy in October and always are awed by the American cemetery and Normandy beaches. We love skiing and have been going to Méribel and Courcheval for 10 years. The TGV train makes everything easy to get to for a weekend.
What do you love most about Paris, and what do you like the least?
For me, Paris is a very feminine city and, like a woman, it is hard to tell her exactly WHY we love her—her beauty, elegance, creativity, imagination, soul, cooking, style, soul. However, what I love least about Paris is the overuse of the sentence “Ce n’est pas possible.”
If Paris were a movie/book or song, what would it be?
If Paris were a movie, it would be a montage of Charade, Sabrina, Gigi, Jules et Jim, every Eric Rohmer movie, Amélie, Last Tango in Paris, Frantic and, of course, Ratatouille. As a song, Paris IS Maurice Chevalier’s voice, with a little Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on guitar.
If you could live anywhere else, where would it be and why?
I could live almost anywhere in the world surrounded by my family and a good boulangerie.
Describe for us your most treasured or secret haunt in Paris that most tourists would never find.
A secret spot for any architecture fans are the homes designed by Corbusier in the 16th district on the rue du Docteur Blanche. The two homes—one designed for a friend, the other for his brother—are next to each other at the end of a quiet, almost hidden impasse. The homes are a testament to the International Style, and if you call ahead of time, you can tour one, complete with original furnishings [01 42 88 75 72; [email protected] ]. A stroll around this neighborhood yields other architectural treasures.
If you had to leave Paris, what would you miss the most?
If I had to leave Paris, what would I miss the most? Easy question—warm baguettes and the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night.
Andrew Gn’s pieces can be found at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and at his showroom in Paris.
3, rue de Ponthieu, in the 8th Arrondissement.
22, rue de Grenelle, in the 7th.
01 42 22 01 42.
21, rue Bayard, in the 8th.
01 47 20 91 58.
4, rue Bernard Palissy, in the 6th.
01 45 48 92 27.