There are few places more visually inspiring than the French capital, so it’s worth finding a couple of hours while you’re at Salon International de la Lingerie to head into town and nourish your creative side. Here are our top lingerie-friendly stops.
Fashioning Fashion: Two Centuries of European Couture
Silhouette, contour and embellishment are all explored as part of this exhibition of 18th and 19th century pieces from the incredible fashion and textiles collection at Les Arts Décoratifs, at the Carrousel de Louvre. While you’re there, drop into the major jewellery exhibition Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of High Jewellery, to gaze at masses of art deco sparkle, and take in the Campana Brother exhibition Barocco Rococo, for a masterclass in making the elaborate baroque style modern.
Les Arts Décoratifs, 107, rue de Rivoli, www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr (€9-18)
Impressionism and Fashion
Try to catch the last days of this wonderful exhibition, which pairs some of Impressionism’s most iconic works with original 19th century costumes, images and artefacts of the era. For anyone interested in corsetry, lace and fabrics, as well as costume’s social context, this is an entrancing assembly of pieces. It’s timed entry, so book ahead.
Musée d’Orsay, 5 Quai Anatole, www.musee-orsay.fr (€12, until January 20)
Museum of Eroticism
Not one for the fainthearted, certainly, but this is by no means a seedy porn museum. Just round the corner from the Moulin Rouge, in the Montmartre/Pigalle district (full of sex shops, but rapidly gentrifying), the museum has permanent displays of erotic art and artefacts from around the world, some thousands of years old, as well as temporary exhibitions on subjects like brothels or erotic photography. A fascinating spot for those interested in the sexier side of lingerie.
72 Boulevard de Clichy, Pigalle, www.musee-erotisme.com (€8)
Le Crazy Horse
Paris’s famous cabaret spot, just off the Champs Elysées, may not be as well known as the Moulin Rouge, but it prides itself on its avant-garde artistry and its crowd includes Paris’s great and good, as well as the likes of Christian Louboutin, Jean Paul Gaultier, Steven Spielberg and anyone else passing through. Artists on stage have ranged from Dita Von Teese to the late Serge Gainsbourg, and the tableaus are gorgeously choreographed, with exquisite dancers dressed by the corsetière Cadolle.
12 Ave George V, www.lecrazyhorseparis.com (from €85)
While you’re in the Saint-Germain neighbourhood, pop round the corner to rue de Grenelle, where you’ll find several lingerie boutiques, including the Belgian designer Carine Gilson. In her chic premises the lovely kimonos, lingerie and swimwear are shown off to superb effect, their vibrant colour combinations set off vividly against pared-back décor.
18 rue de Grenelle
Last May, the vintage-loving designer Fifi Chachnil opened her third Paris store, at 34 rue de Grenelle, and it is just as you’d hope: pinkish, girlish, witty, with curtains and dressing tables and feather-pom-pommed mules and bottles of scent, gorgeously showing off those frothy, frilly nothings.
34 rue de Grenelle
This extraordinary haberdashers, or “mercerie”, in a narrow passage off the Avenue de l’Opéra, is not a lingerie store, but it is packed with inspiration. There are two shops, opposite one another, one selling millinery trimmings and equipment, and the other full of sewing silks and notions. It’s been there since the late 19th century, but was bought from the owners in the 1990s by a former financier, together with all the vintage stock therein, and it’s the vintage pieces that are on sale: tulle, ribbon, silk flowers, threads, buttons… Jean Paul Gaultier is a regular visitor, as are many others in the Paris fashion trade.
3 and 4 rue de Choiseul 75002
The corset-makers that have dressed everyone from Mata Hari to the Duchess of Windsor, and claim to have invented the bra for the 1889 Great Exhibition, Cadolle is a jewel of a shop on Rue Cambon (a few steps from Chanel’s headquarters).
While there are gorgeous silken and lace readymade pieces in the boutique, the real treat is to have Poupie or Patricia Cadolle – the fifth and sixth generation – measure you for a bespoke corset from the best makers in the world. The price might seem extreme, but so is the quality. Book an appointment well in advance.
4, rue Cambon, www.cadolle.com
Running parallel to Rue Cambon is the grand Rue Royale, so after a sneaky macaron at Ladurée, take the time to visit the new couture showroom of the revived Maison Lejaby. After near collapse in 2011, it has been revamped and turned into a salon of made-to-measure pieces in French lace and silk. It will be fascinating to see what changes have been wrought with this venerable brand.
5 rue Royale
One of Paris’s most famous lingerie shops, this tiny boutique in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Près district has, in the 30 or so years it’s been open, attracted film stars and rock icons for its beautiful silken nightwear and lingerie in a huge assortment of colours. The silks and lace are all made in France, exclusively for Sabbia Rosa, and special orders can be made to measure too.
73, rue des Saint-Pères