InStyle Fashion News Director Eric Wilson Shares His #PFW City Guide to Paris
Fashion week spans an entire month, with a week dedicated to each of the four fashion capitals of the world: New York City, London, Milan, and Paris. As seasoned showgoers, InStyle editors know the ins and outs of each city. We asked Fashion News Director Eric Wilson to share his go-to spots, favorite landmarks, and local boutiques in Paris.
1. Where do you go for a drink in between shows?
"The bar at the George V is more often than not our office-away-from-office. I've taken more meetings there with designers, retailers, and publicists than anywhere else in the city, and what I love about it most—besides the fact that there's always magically a table available for hotel guests—is that the bartenders, when asked for a martini, do not immediately assume one means a tall glass of vermouth. Second best is their ginger tea, which is perfect for settling a stomach upset by too many martinis."
2. What's the landmark you never fail to Insta?
"Would you believe it is the Statue of Liberty? It's true. I'm a big runner, and have been running in Paris for more than a decade. My favorite route is to trace the banks of the Seine, from the Tuileries (particularly on Tuesdays when the beefcake Parisian firefighters do their training there) to just past the Eiffel Tower, where a small, strange, artificial island exists called Île aux Cygnes, or island of swans. It is a narrow strip of land with a running path that ends with a small replica of France's famous 1886 gift to the United States—this one being about a quarter the size of the original and facing west, in the direction of New York City. I often wave toward home as I run by Madame Liberté, then head back to the hotel."
3. What is your favorite local boutique? And why?
"My latest picks are all in or around the Marais: Tom Greyhound, which is a multi-brand concept store that specializes in both obscure and premiere French and American labels, as curated by a Seoul specialty store owned by the Korean retail giant Hyundai Department Store. It's a bit of a different perspective on designer fashion, or at least pieces from designers like Alexander Wang, Kenzo, and J.W. Anderson that you won't find in every other store. Another curious shop is called The Broken Arm, and it's fairly tiny but amazingly packed with great designs by Raf Simons and Nike's Gyakusou collection, its cult-inducing collaboration with the Japanese label Undercover. I also love to stop into Ami, a great new men's shop next door to Merci, even though the entire collection is now carried at Barneys and Mr. Porter. It's still fun to see how the designer Alexandre Mattiussi has placed everything in his own store."
4. What is your favorite import that you like to stock up on, and why?
"Teas from Mariage Frères, which are incredibly fresh. Some of the ingredients are still moist when you open the packages, and the scents and displays are magical. Sometimes I like to go to Le Bon Marché and stock up on buttons."
5. What's your favorite place to grab dinner? Why?
"I've been to all the latest hipster haunts, like Bones and Septime, but it's my guiltiest pleasure to arrive in Paris in the early evening and head directly to Ferdi, a tiny restaurant in the 1st that serves what is well-regarded as one of the best cheeseburgers in all of Europe. Also, this is the place to go for a dirty martini. You'll find all the top models there munching away, too. Sadly, Kim Kardashian spilled the beans on Ferdi as her favorite restaurant last year, and now it's haunted by paparazzi during fashion week."
6. Which place serves the best coffee?
"At the risk of being deported, I dare say there is a sad misconception that coffee is better in France. Who has time for all those café rituals, let alone spare change to tip everyone. I say embrace your inner Americanness and head straight to the nearest Starbucks for a grande cappuccino à emporter, and walk around proudly with your to-go cup held high. Bonus fun: Pronounce your name with a French accent and see how they spell it on the cup."
7. What’s the night spot to see and be seen?
"During fashion week, it varies from season to season, usually following a campy tour of the ancient haunts, like Regine and Maxim's, though wherever the NY NY Party is happening will usually work. Balmain once had a party at the Crazy Horse burlesque club that I swear was one of the best nights ever."
8. What’s the best way to spend an afternoon off?
"I love a day at Les Bains du Marais, a French twist on a hammam, but you never know who you'll run into with their clothes off there during fashion week. I usually look for an offbeat destination as well, such as Le Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, a bizarre destination to discover the history of hunting (not for vegetarians). I believe this season I might also return to the National Museum of Natural History, since it was described so evocatively in Anthony Doerr's wonderful novel All the Light We Cannot See."
9. What’s the #1 travel tip for the city?
"Do NOT poke around the bushes in front of the Louvre late at night."
10. Where do you usually stay when you visit?
"Being such VIPs, ahem, the InStyle team naturally stays at the Four Seasons George V, or the Bristol, or somewhere equally fabulous. Did I ever tell you about the time I was using the gym at the Bristol when Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo were having a chit-chat across the way on the treadmills? Or when Mario Testino was riding the elliptical next to me? No? Well you'll never guess who I bumped into in the steam room at the Four Seasons spa, either. Awkward! But when traveling on my own dime (really, that's all I have), I like to stay at the Hotel Mansart, which is perfectly located in the 1st, and incredibly reasonable for the center of Paris. There's no real room service besides breakfast, mind you, but that just forces you out to experience more of the city. And there's a Starbucks just up the street."