BONJOUR PARIS: Cheese platters. Striped shirts. Eiffel Tower souvenirs. Artists doing live portraits, Montmartre-style. A mime with a toy baguette and beret.
Guests could easily play a game of “spot the Parisian clichés” at the opening of Jeanne Damas’ first boutique for her fashion label Rouje, which she coupled with the inauguration of her first restaurant, Chez Jeanne.
This was made even more fun by the fact that all women seemed to have the same look: red lips, mussed-up hair, red floral print dress. Of course, there was a lot of smoking.
Damas was looking radiant, if a little bemused at the raucous party raging within the walls of her new venture, a chic brasserie adjacent to the Rouje boutique on the Rue Bachaumont in the 2nd arrondissement.
“Growing up, I would always hang out in my parents’ restaurant,” said the influencer-turned-designer. “I remember being in pajamas alongside pretty well-known clients, like Johnny Hallyday and Jean Paul Gaultier, and that at the time dinners were very long, very loud and smoke-filled.”
Not much has changed there — save that Gaultier had been swapped for Simon Porte Jacquemus. The designer was holding court at a long table packed with Parisian friends, laughing and talking over each other as is often the case at the most memorable of dinner parties.
“I was 15 years old the first time I came to Paris, and I slept over at Jeanne’s, in the flat just above her parents’ restaurant,” remembered Jacquemus, who hails from the South of France. “The fact that today she owns her own place completely makes sense for me. I’m so proud and happy for her. This place is Jeanne from A to Z.”
Jacquemus is no stranger to the restaurant venture: After Citron, the café on the first floor of the Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées, he has just opened Oursin, a Mediterranean restaurant operated in partnership with Caviar Kaspia.
“I had a vision, but it was only made possible thanks to the talented people who worked with me,” said the designer. “The most important thing about a restaurant is the food, so chef Erica Archambault is the real star of the project.”
Past plates of tiny grilled cheeses and aubergine-wrapped mozzarella bites, barely audible above the din of live piano music and French chatter, lingerie designer Yasmine Eslami was making her priorities heard.
“I always choose restaurants based on the desserts,” she laughed. “I check if there are Paris-Brest pâtisseries or pavlovas on the menu — that’s the most important information for me.”