COUNTER CULTURE: Given that he’s one of France’s most beloved chefs, Joël Robuchon’s new restaurant has Parisians waiting in line for his gastronomic delights. The 40-seat space, which features an eating counter rather than tables, does not accept reservations. Patronslucky enough to get in can sample appetizers like red snapper filets with hot black olives or a creamy lobster broth with morels. There are also one-dish options like calf livers served with Robuchon’s famous mashed potatoes. Paris-based designer Pierre Yves Rochon created the modern black and red decor, which offers all diners a front-row seat to the open-concept kitchen.
L’Atelier Robuchon, 5 Rue de Montalembert, (33) 1 42 22 56 56.

SWEATER GIRL: Former Valentino and Balmain executive Georgina Brandolini is welcoming the couture crowd to her new showroom at 57 Rue Pierre Charron to show off her first complete collection of signature sweaters. Her focus is evening, with sexy silhouettes and subtle details, including lace panels and cutouts. Brandolini already shipped her first capsule collection to half a dozen stores in Brazil and Spain. Wholesale prices are in the $100-to-$230 range, with coral-beaded sweaters running up to about $400. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange.

FINE CHINA: As 2003 has been designated the Year of China in France, the Pompidou museum is celebrating in a big way with a major show of contemporary Chinese art. A larger-than-life video game welcomes visitors as they pass through the plastic curtains of the sprawling, interactive exhibition, an entertaining mix of installations, videos, photography, performances and other media. The show runs through Oct. 13.

STRIPE IT RICH: A year after Felipe Oliveira Baptista won the grand prize at the Hyeres fashion festival in southern France, the 28-year-old Portugal-born, Paris-based designer is striking out with his debut collection. “The idea was to play with stripes and turn them into something new,” said Baptista, who has worked at Cerruti and Max Mara. Baptista, who won a $35,000 grant this year from France’s ANDAM association, plans to present his first runway show in October, but he will wholesale the line at a showroom presentation at 96 Rue Maubeuge through July 10.Meanwhile, Italian couturiers Antonio Grimaldi and Sylvio Giardina, known together as Grimaldi Giardina, present their first couture show in Paris on July 10. Sponsored by the house of Emanuel Ungaro, the designers said “Alice in Wonderland” would inspire their collection. On the same day, Elie Saab, the Beirut-based designer who has dressed Halle Berry and Queen Rania of Jordan, has been invited for the first time to show on the official Chambre Syndicale de la Couture calendar. Previously, he showed off-calendar.

ASIA MAJOR: Luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is out to make its Samaritaine department store and neighborhood an around-the-clock destination, and two restaurants by Laurent Taïeb, owner of Bon and Bon 2, should help matters. Andrée Putman created a new-look Lô Sushi while Philippe Starck did Kong. A high tech, interactive affair, Lô Sushi serves up sushi on a miniature conveyor belt. Between bites, diners can surf the Internet or chat with other guests on one of 65 digital screens. Five floors up is Kong, where Starck explored a manga theme under the restaurant’s glass roof. Chefs Fumiko Kono and Richard Pommiès’ menu is also Asian-inspired.
Lô Sushi : 1 Rue du Pont Neuf, (33) 1 42 33 09 09.
Kong : 1 Rue du Pont Neuf, (33) 1 40 39 09 00.


INSIDE OUT: Catherine Goux lets women show off their best lingerie — at home or on the street. That’s because her delicate silk nightgowns with ornamental embroideries can double as dresses. “Lingerie should be worn as jewelry is worn,” Goux reasons. She has inaugurated her first boutique, a 540-square-foot space at 10 Rue du Cherche-Midi in the chic Saint-Germain neighborhood. Retail prices range from about $220 for silk camisoles to $1,735 for a silk dress festooned with Indian-style embroideries.

WINDOW DRESSING: Embedded among the stuffed animals and antique shotguns of the Hunting and Nature Museum in Paris are the extraordinary sculptures of the late Janine Janet. Her work, inspired by all aspects of nature, caught the eye of Cristobal Balenciaga, who asked her in 1954 to decorate the window of his store on Avenue George V. Quickly, Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy, Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Jacques Fath and others designers were also placing orders. Surreal busts covered with nails, straw or seashells are among the famous works on display. The exhibition, at 60 Rue des Archives, runs through Sept. 21.A STRETCH: Located in a quiet courtyard only steps from the Comedie Francaise is what is arguably Paris’s first proper Pilates studio: Elements. Large metal doors at 41 Rue de Richelieu give way to a Zen garden with yoga, Pilates and private massage rooms where one can enjoy shiatsu, deep-tissue, California, energetic and cellulite massages. Even the somewhat torturous Pilates equipment looks almost welcoming. Private lessons on the apparatus run about $68 while yoga and Pilates mat classes are $228 for 10 sessions.

WORK THAT BODY: Among the newest Parisian venues for massage is La Bulle Kenzo. The quirky, 1,780-square-foot spa contains two treatment rooms — one replete with a working mirror ball — for face and body massages. The treatment lineup continues the disco theme, including massages “choreographed” to music (45 minutes for $80). There are also funky areas for testing products. It’s part of the Kenzo fashion and beauty brand owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and is in in the same building as the new Kenzo fashion flagship.
La Bulle Kenzo, 1 Rue du Pont Neuf, (33) 1 73 04 20 04.

FOR GRANTED: Seven years after founding his house in a tiny ex-barber shop on Paris’ funky Rue des Rosiers, Australian designer Martin Grant, known for his sophisticated, slightly retro clothes, has moved to bigger digs. Granted, they are located just around the corner, at 44 Rue Vielle du Temple, but the move signals a new period of growth for the designer, who sells to Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus, among others.

SHOW SPACE: Paris decorator and furniture designer India Madhavi has turned her offices on at 3 Rue Las Cases, on the Left Bank, into a showroom. “I wanted to be able to show all my furniture to people under one roof,” said Madhavi of the simple, yet chic space. “Before, I only had a few things on display.” Madhavi, who has designed boutiques for Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, has transferred her offices to a location on the same street. Her creations are available on a made-to-order basis.TAKE A CAB: The Cabaret restaurant and nightclub just underwent a major renovation. It added 5,000 square feet to the existing 13,000 and entrusted 25-year-old French designer Ora Ito to refurbish the place in a retro-futuristic style reminiscent of James Bond and the cult sci-fi movie “Tron.” The kitchen is still headed by Thierry Gay, while the nightclub, now dubbed Cab, features a mixed musical menu from hip-hop to jazz soul.
Cabaret, 2 Place du Palais Royal, (33) 1 42 97 94 40.

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