In this feature, InStyle's Accessories Director Leah Karp documents what she packed and what she wore for her trip to Paris for Paris Fashion Week.
I love Paris. It’s such a treat. I go twice a year—in September and February for the shows. I'm in Europe for almost three weeks each time. I go to all of the shows and, in between, I go to accessories appointments where I see all the new shoes, bags, and jewelry, months before they hit stores. The whole time, I'm taking pictures and sort of creating my own digital lookbook for when I get back to New York.
Paris is where you start to see the real trends come together. Of course, you start with the New York shows, but everything is sort of a mix at that point. In Paris, you’re seeing the color, texture, heel height, and the shape of the bag.
The days are incredibly long. I start first thing in the morning and go all day, back-to-back between shows and appointments. Sometimes I'll do a coffee with someone, then a drink after a 5 o'clock show, and then a dinner after an 8 o'clock show. It’s labor-intensive, but it’s amazing. I also enjoy my time there because I live for a cheese plate, so the fact that every restaurant, even the hotel—basically everywhere you go—you can order cheese. It’s my favorite thing in the world.
While that’s always consistent, my packing strategy varies from season to season. This time around, I thought about the color story—sort of like what we do for shoots—and I packed things that would be interchangeable and that I could sort of play with when I got there.
I check two suitcases. With the number of accessories I bring, it’s the only choice. I probably had about 15 pairs of shoes with me, 10 handbags, and a whole big pouch full of jewelry. Sometimes I plan out my outfits accessories-first, but only if it’s a really standout shoe or bag.
I would describe my style as minimal with an edge. I add the edge with jewelry or minimal pieces that are crafted in leather, like a skirt or pant. Generally, my jewelry is Jennifer Fisher. She’s one of the coolest people and a good friend. When I found her jewelry, I was like "I'm done. I don’t need anything else."
When in Paris, I manage to stay true to my personal style but I do bring out special pieces, like a tiny Chanel "Boy" bag. In New York, it's harder to do so since I’m so back and forth to the office—I'm carrying my life around, so I wear a higher heel and carry a smaller bag in Paris. There’s that luxury of going to shows and not carrying everything around with you. It's very French.
What you get to do and what you get to see—I almost can't describe it to someone: you have to experience it. It's like a marathon. You feel like you've run a marathon. I genuinely feel lucky that I get to do this, and I know that I am. It's a dream.
—Coordinated by InStyle’s Senior Market Editor/Digital Correspondent Dana Avidan-Cohn
1. Handbag Essentials"The Clinique Black Honey lip gloss is the best. I've been wearing these Oliver Peoples sunglasses for about seven years now; they're my go-to. And I wear the Jennifer Fisher choker necklace all the time. These are all in my bag every day, no matter where I am—except for the key to my room at L'Hôtel Le Bristol. The key is so, so heavy. They have an old-school system where you come down in the morning and drop off your key into a drop box. When you return, you have to pick up your key again. The Bristol just isn't one of those hotels—you're not going to get a magnetic key card there. It feels very Paris, very French, like a throwback."
Proenza Schouler clutch, $875; saksfifthavenue.com for similar styles
Oliver Peoples sunglasses, $365; oliverpeoples.com
Jennifer Fisher choker necklace, $375; jenniferfisherjewelry.com
Urban Decay Naked2 Basics eyeshadow palette, $29; urbandecay.com
Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder, $24; clinique.com
Smith's Strawberry Lip Balm, $7; americanapparel.com
Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, $16; clinique.com
2. What I Wore to the Chanel Show"These Christian Louboutin shoes are my favorite shoes I've ever seen in my life. They are hand-painted python, so I live for them. The Dolce amp Gabbana skirt fits like a glove and it's beyond timeless. There's nothing better than a black Dolce lace skirt. I bought the COS top while I was in Paris. I love it because all I brought with me was black and white, so when I found it I was happy to add some color."
COS top, cosstores.com for similar styles
Valentino handbag, $1,845; valentino.com
Dolce amp Gabbana skirt, $747; matchesfashion.com for similar style
Christian Louboutin pumps, christianlouboutin.com for similar styles
3. My Weekend Look"I wore this look on the Saturday that I was there. That day, I had a ton of accessories appointments—there weren't as many shows—so my outfit was a little more dressed up-casual. It's a comfortable look for running around. I love cargo pants; I love how they feel and that you can dress them up or down."
Joie top, joie.com for similar style
Jason Wu bag, jasonwustudio.com for similar styles
Current/Elliott cargo pants, $335; stylebop.com for similar styles
Oliver Peoples sunglasses, $365; oliverpeoples.com
Herve Van der Straeten cuff, stylebop.com for similar styles
Christian Louboutin pumps, $875; christianlouboutin.com
4. Beauty Regimen"I do the same routine morning and night. I'm really loyal to my beauty products. One time, for a trip to Paris, I forgot my Aveeno face wash. I had everyone search for it—even the concierge. You just cannot find it there, so I had it over-nighted because I can't go without it. I also swear by the Biologique Recherche lotion. I discovered it because I have this girlfriend whose face is literally wrinkle-free. I had to ask her what she used. Once I found out, I made a pilgrimage to go get it in Paris. You can get it in New York, but it's much more expensive."
Biologique Recherche lotion, biologique-recherche.com for locations
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, $7; aveeno.com
5. What I Wore to the Louis Vuitton Show"The skirt is Theory; it's one of my favorite. The funny thing is, my friends were laughing at me while I was wearing it. Because the shows are in such amazing places, you're walking up and down stairs a lot—sometimes you're going into old castles or these gorgeous, gorgeous buildings, so I had to hold the skirt up like a princess going up and down the stairs. It was the funniest thing."
Zara top, $70; zara.com
Theory skirt, theory.com for similar styles
Chanel bag, $6,100; chanel.com
Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses, marcjacobs.com for similar styles
Jimmy Choo pumps, $595, jimmychoo.com
6. At the Hermès Show"The Hermès show is the final show in Paris. It's on the last day at 5 o'clock and they sort of make it like a celebration about the end of Paris Fashion Week, which is really sweet. There's champagne and hors d'oeuvres and you're standing outside in this beautiful garden. It's the quintessential French experience."