PARIS — The couture season kicks off Wednesday, and although it is much abbreviated, the schedule remains packed with shows, presentations and parties. For those few moments of downtime, here are some stores, restaurants and galleries to check out.

Imagine a peek into the little black books of eight chic Parisians, including Marie-Hélène de Taillac, Loulou de la Falaise and Georgina Brandolini. Personal shopper Susan Tabak did just that with her new book “Chic in Paris,” to be unveiled during couture week. Although she makes a business out of sniffing out the best of Paris, the New York-based Tabak learned a couple of new addresses. “Ines [Fressange] introduced me to a wonderful vintage jewelry store, Barboza, on Rue Saint-Honoré, as well as Bread and Roses, a bakery on Rue de Fleurus,” said Tabak, who prefers to keep her addresses under lock and key. Her 120-page book, priced at $30, will be available at Galignani and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs shop ahead of a fall launch in New York.

Couture may well be all about dressing up, but Bert Stern‘s infamous Marilyn Monroe photo series, “The Last Sitting,” proves the lady could put on quite a show in her birthday suit alone. Fifty-nine photos of the late icon — often wearing not much more than a swish of eyeliner and lipstick — are on show at the Musée Maillol until Oct. 30. The series, owned by collector Léon Constantiner, is part of 2,571 snaps taken by Stern during two separate sessions with the star at the Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.

Musée Maillol, 61 Rue de Grenelle, 75007, Tel.: 331-42-22-59-58

Issey Miyake has brought his colorful collection, Me, to Paris with a new shop at 29 Rue du Dragon. The 430-square-foot store boasts the label’s full range of one-size-fits-all, lightweight T-shirts, dresses and skirts spun off from Miyake’s Pleats Please label. Rick Owens picked Palais Royal, home of fellow American designer Marc Jacobs‘ Paris flagship, for his first freestanding store at 130-133 Galerie de Valois. It’s expected to open in time for couture week, along with Azzedine Alaïa‘s first accessories shop, on Rue de Moussy, and the long-awaited Chrome Hearts store on Avenue Montaigne.

This story first appeared in the June 30, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Kuwaiti retailer Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah of Villa Moda will definitely be paying a visit to the Louvre in between couture shows. That’s because his family is displaying its collection of rare and spectacular Indian jewels from the time of the Mughal rulers, a period that stretches from 1526 to 1857. More than 300 pieces will be displayed over 13 rooms, including turban ornaments, court objects, daggers and jewelry. Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and his wife have been building the collection since the mid-Seventies, housing it at the Kuwait National Museum since 1983. The exhibition, in the Hall Napoleon, runs from July 6 to Sept. 4.

Two bistros in the lively 11th arrondissement have just been taken over by young and dynamic chefs. At Le Chateaubriand, Inaki Aizpitarte delivers an incredible ceviche, combining various white fishes, chives, grilled buckwheat, olive oil and a lychee sherbet. And his chocolate mousse with Espelette pepper is already a legend. Decor is minimal, but who cares, since the waiters are the sexiest in town. A few blocks away, 53-year-old bistro Astier tapped a new chef, Benjamin Bajolle, Yannick Alleno‘s lieutenant for two years at the Meurice. Top choices include roasted chicken served with morel mushrooms and killer mashed potatoes. Over in the eighth, a new Indian restaurant called Ratn has brought an exotic note with specialties like traditional Mongolian lamb meatballs stuffed with pistachio nuts and eggs or spicy grilled chicken with fresh mango, peppers and tomatoes. But if all that sounds too rich, Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat, a chef from the prestigious Thai spa Chiva-Som, created a summer menu for the Pourcel brothers’ trendy eatery Sens. The chef proposes dishes made of crab meat, cucumbers, green lemon and spicy vinegar, or beef skewers with citronella and curry almond dressing with the promise of a slim and healthy summer. Kate Moss, Isabelle Adjani and Princess Caroline of Monaco are among habitués of the spa.

Ratn: 9 Rue de la Tremoille, 75008, Tel.: 331-40-70-01-09

Le Chateaubriand: 129 Avenue Parmentier, 75011, Tel.: 331-43-57-45-95

Astier: 44 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011, Tel.: 331-43-57-16-35

Sens: 23 Rue de Ponthieu, 75008, Tel.: 331-42-25-95-00

Bypass the lines at the Louvre and head for Paris’ new cultural hot spot, the Musée du quai Branly. The tribal arts museum is French President Jacques Chirac‘s homage to “art forms and civilizations too long ignored or misunderstood.” Jean Nouvel‘s footbridge-like building, home to more than 300,000 works from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, stands in a sprawling garden on the banks of the Seine. Opening exhibitions include “What Is a Body?” showing how the human form is seen as a link to ancestors in western Africa and as a male and female mix in New Guinea. For fashion diehards, a textiles exhibit portrays traditional dress.

Musée du quai Branly: 222 Rue de l’Université, 75007, Tel.: 331-56-61-70-00

While fashion folk will likely hit the Balenciaga retrospective at the Museum of Fashion and Textiles, other museums and galleries have plenty of art on offer. Starting Thursday, Pierre Passebon‘s Véro-Dodat gallery will showcase works by Olympic alpine skier turned photographer Hubertus von Hohenlohe. A retrospective of the 30-year career of photographer Cindy Sherman is on at Jeu de Paume. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France has portraits of celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich by the Seeberger brothers. Place Vendôme also promises to be a sparkly stop-off with an open-air display of 18 photos by Dutch duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin of diamond pieces made by resident jewelers. On the contemporary front, Paris’ Museum of Modern Art has a retrospective of Dan Flavin, while Art Deco icon Tamara de Lempicka is featured at the Musée des Années 30 in Boulogne-Billoancourt. Meanwhile, La Cinémathèque Française, 51 Rue de Bercy, is dedicating an exhibition to Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.

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