Shopping in Paris: Le Bag
If Parisiennes are known across the globe as the chicest women on the planet, there must be a very good reason for it. Which is why I follow their fashion choices carefully, especially as I head out to do some shopping in Paris. The international press is full of photos of women sporting the latest it-bag, with initials like CD, YSL and LV. But most of the local women I observe are toting brands very few of us would recognize, so if you would like to go home with a fabulous handbag that makes you look like a chic Parisienne, and you don’t mind that your neighbors may not know the designer, there are a few le bags in every Parisienne’s closet.
My first spring day in Paris, I opened the front door to our building and was stunned to find that every woman in the city had received a telepathic fashion flash, and had started toting a canvas bag with sequin trim. I’d never seen a bag like it before and was mystified that so many women had known exactly which bag to buy and when to take it out. I soon learned that the bag was from Parisian designer Vanessa Bruno and that it had been le bag to wear for several years. That was nearly a decade ago, and I still know spring has arrived for good when women start taking out their Vanessa Brunos.
One secret to being chic is learning to accessorize, so clearly one bag is not enough. For weekends and travel throughout the year, the natives seem addicted to their Longchamp Pliage bags. From the small handbag to the large over-the-shoulder and even the pragmatic backpack, these colorful bags are perfect for holding your goodies while shopping in Paris, and now you can customize your own on the Longchamp Web site.
The 36 Hours, by Gerard Darel, is the leather it-bag of the decade. The metal hardware, with large, rounded tabs, and elegant strings are distinguishable from far away, and the bag is now a local wardrobe basic. Plus, it is incredibly practical, with enough room for your water bottle and a Paris map.
Other popular, more locally known brands to look for as you shop in Paris are Lancel, Sequoia and Furla. Bring one of these bags home and you’ll relish replying to compliments by saying, “Oh, this old thing? It’s what all the Parisiennes are wearing.”