July in Paris: All that glitters

Featured image
Invitation to The Fine Art of High Jewelry and Timepieces gala at the Louvre Museum.

April in Paris has its charms, but so does July, especially during haute couture week which is when I spent a few whirlwind days in the City of Light, getting an up-close look at glittering jewels and glittering fashions, all the while enjoying some wonderful meals and squeezing in a bit of shopping (mais bien sûr).

I had traveled to the French capital at the beginning of July to see a few friends and to attend a special jewelry exhibit at Christie’s and a gala dinner at the Louvre, both organized by Judy Price, founder of the National Jewelry Institute. The festivities, which also included a cocktail party at the peerless Hotel Le Bristol, were part of a collaborative educational initiative between the National Jewelry Institute and Parsons School of Design called The Fine Art of Jewelry and Timepieces.

The excitement continued as my companions and I moved on to Versace’s Fall 2016 Haute Couture show where A-list attendees caused a paparazzi stampede. It was all an eye-popping if not movable feast.

The jewelry and watch brands on exhibit at Christie’s.

At my first stop, Christie’s, guests were treated to a dazzling display of jewels and timepieces chosen by a select jury for awards recognizing the best single piece from several of the world’s leading watch and jewelry brands. Participants included BulgariBreguetChopardHublot and de Grisogono, among others. The awards ceremony followed at my favorite Paris hotel, Le Bristol, where the cocktails and conversation flowed.

Judy and Peter Price at The Fine Art of High Jewelry and Timepieces exhibit at Christie’s.
Jewelry designer Payal Mehta on the right.
Judy Price with Malina Gilchrist, Market Director at T, The New York Times Style Magazine.
Payal Mehta, Eleonor Picciotto, and Judy Price.
Arina Kockergina on the right.
Delia and Kevin von Neuschatz at Le Bristol for The Fine Art of High Jewelry and Timepieces cocktails.

Some of the jewels on display at Christie’s:

Several of the “best of” award winners:

L. to r.: Chanel.; de Grisogono.

The next evening, July 4th, saw a mix of jewelry industry heavyweights, European aristocrats and even some Hollywood denizens attend a gala dinner at the Louvre which was co-hosted by Princess Camilla de Bourbon des Deux Siciles and Burak Cakmak, dean of the School of Fashion at the Parsons School of Design.

The courtyard of the Louvre museum. The gala was held in the atrium under the I. M. Pei-designed glass pyramid.

With some of the shimmering gowns and jewels on display, it was a veritable feast for the eyes. It was also a feast for the taste buds for the three-course menu was prepared by Le Bristol’s triple Michelin-starred chef, Eric Frechon. No one attends galas for the food so it came as a pleasant surprise that Mr. Frechon’s banquet was a mouth-watering occasion from the soft egg with truffle at the start to the roasted duck with cherries and finally to his take on the fraisier, a French strawberry cake.

Prakash Hinduja, Mala Kumar, Indian Ambassador to France, His Excellency Dr. Mohan Kumar, Judith Price, Princesse Camilla de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, and Kamal Prakash Hinduja.
L. to r.: SAR la Princesse Camilla de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, Duchesse de Castro, co-host of the Louvre gala.; Princess Severine Sanguszko, Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, and Princess d’Arenberg.
L. to r.: Emily Hwang, Solange Azagury Patridge, and Franck Cintamani.; Michele Gerber Klein.
L. to r.: Rosemin Manji and Shev Kumar.; Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna.
Judy and Peter Price.
L. to r.: Sophie Taylor and Fawaz Gruosi.; Delia von Neuschatz and Aline Thompson.
Xavier Degueldre, Beatrice Mouleyre, and Lorenz Bäumer.
Yulia Yanina, Princesse Camilla de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, Daria Yanina, and Princess Severine Sanguszko.
Sheikha Kasia Al Thani and Lisa Rinna.
L. to r.: Dr. Paul Chan.; Payal and Dipu Mehta.
The table settings.
The evening’s menu. Inset: Judy Price with the Michelin-starred chef, Eric Frechon.

The jewels and jewel-encrusted watches were not all that glittered in Paris during my stay. After the cocktail party at Le Bristol, my companions and I hopped into a cab and made our way to the Palais Brongniart, the former Paris stock exchange, for the Versace Fall 2016 haute couture show. As it happened, we were seated directly behind Naomi CampbellBradley Cooper and Jennifer Garner.

No sooner had Naomi Campbell approached the front row than the paparazzi descended upon her en masse, gathering intensity as her A-list neighbors took their seats. There were so many flashes going off from the dozens of photographers in front of us that it looked like the runway was lit up with strobe lighting. Eventually, the press was shooed away, the lights were dimmed and the show began – a march of the relentless glamor that is Versace, capped off with an appearance by the platinum-haired queen bee, Donatella (all in black of course).

Interior of the former French stock exchange, the Palais Brongniart.
The golden ticket.
Naomi Campbell posing for the paparazzi.
Photographers descending upon Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper and Naomi Campbell. Bradley Cooper was there to watch his girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, walk the catwalk.
Naomi Campbell, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Garner at the Versace Fall 2016 haute couture show in Paris.
Irina Shayk on the runway during Versace’s Fall 2016 haute couture show in Paris.

All the glitz left us hungry and thirsty so after the show, we made a beeline for Le Vaudeville — the art deco-inspired traditional French brasserie located across the street. Dog lovers that we all are, we were pleasantly surprised to come across a patron dining with her poodle sitting on her lap — something we would never see inside a NYC restaurant!

Dining with dogs – something that’s permitted in Paris restaurants.
The Terrasse Kléber at the Peninsula Hotel in Paris.

Several of the eateries we visited are worth mentioning. I had joined a friend for a delicious lunch at L ili, a Cantonese restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel. We ate outside on the hotel’s large covered terrace. One might not think of Chinese food when one thinks about French gastronomy, but the food, the service and the setting were wonderful and I look forward to paying a return visit. (Note to self: champagne pairs beautifully with Chinese food.)

To satisfy our craving for old-école French cuisine, my husband and I headed to Chez Georges on the rue du Mail, beloved by Julia Child and seemingly unchanged since she lived in Paris. The profiteroles deserve special mention here as they were the best (and biggest) I’ve ever had.

The profiteroles and the tarte tatin at Chez Georges.

For a lighter take on traditional French fare, I recommend the contemporary Café de l’Alma, conveniently located near the Eiffel Tower. During our last evening in Paris, my husband and I enjoyed a dinner at La Haute Cloche near Avenue George V. This “bistrot gourmand” offers a fresh, seasonal, farm-to-table menu which changes daily depending on the market produce. An added bonus – the affable owner Jean, a lawyer-turned-restaurateur – creates a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.

Of course, no trip to Paris is complete without a bit of shopping and these shoes called my name when I saw them in the window of Lorena Antoniazzi on the rue de Castiglione, steps from the Place Vendôme. The brand specializes in Italian-made luxurious knits and cashmere goods. These knitted espadrilles have become a summer mainstay as, lined in a soft buttery leather, they are extremely comfortable.

And just like that, our Parisian adventure came to an all-too-swift end. But, it’s au revoir and not adieu as I’m already plotting my next trip, for a regular Paris fix is one of life’s necessities!

Recent Posts