While Paris is known for its haute couture, it is also a great city to find other custom-made goods, including lingerie. Here are two examples of stores that are putting that savoir faire to use for innerwear and sleepwear.
Nestled just off Rue Saint-Honore is Cordelia’s, a little lingerie shop that might not catch the eye unless someone was looking for it. But for more than 35 years, clients from around the world have been seeking out Cordelia’s for it’s made-to-measure nightgowns, negligees and robes.
“Our clients are very loyal because our products are very specific,” said Josse Schvirtz, who has been in sales at Cordelia’s for 10 years. “No matter what age, no matter what size, women can wear our lingerie.”
Customers choose from books of models, fabrics and trimmings to create lingerie that best fits their figure, their tastes and their budgets. A simple polyester negligee at Cordelia’s can cost $100, whereas a silk nightgown and robe ensemble with ruffled trimmings can run as high as $2,300.
Clients wait from two to 10 days for the completion of their lingerie, depending on the intricacy of the piece. The boutique also sells pre-made, high-end bras and underwear. Cordelia’s has a second boutique in Vichy, France, near where the company’s atelier is also located.
Charvet was founded in 1838 and has specialized in made to measure since its first day. There are approximately 6,000 fabrics from which to choose, all stocked on the third floor of the five-story boutique. All the materials are natural cotton, wool, silk or linen.
Although it is traditionally considered a shirtmaker, Charvet makes men’s suits, has a women’s floor and even does clothes for children.
“Anything is possible,” said Ann Marie Colban, whose family owns the company. “Part of our success comes from our discretion,” she continued, referring to its service to famous clients.
There is an existing line of pajamas, dressing gowns and nightshirts available, but it is also possible to order styles, colors and fabrics and order custom-made pieces. Pajamas start at $350 and a nightgown starts at $400. Charvet is located at 28 Place Vendome.
“Each collection I create is like a novel I write — the characters in the novel are the clients I dress,” said Fanny Liautard, who designs luxury lingerie under her own name and who in September opened a freestanding boutique on Rue Saint-Florentin, near Paris’s Place de la Concorde.
But after viewing her collection of lingerie and evening apparel in her airy and elegant boutique, it seems Liautard is writing less of a novel and more of a fairy tale. Her romantic designs, which use materials such as silk, tulle, crepe and chiffon, enhanced with lace, pearls and embroidery, are meant for women of every age, shape and size.
Her collection is displayed simply on wooden hangers throughout her boutique, featuring a range of merchandise from a short taupe silk nightgown with draped neckline to a three-quarter-length, off-white lace wedding sheath, with hand-embroidered flowers.
“My designs are ageless because women’s sensuality is ageless,” said the designer “My clients range from jeunes filles to mature women.”
Trained in haute couture under the watchful eye of Hubert Givenchy, she brings this savoir-faire to lingerie and sensual evening apparel and offers made-to-measure services as well. Liautard’s small atelier, full of fabrics in a plethora of colors, styles and materials, is located in the basement of her boutique, where her two-person technical team bring the designs to life.
The Saint-Florentin boutique is not Liautard’s first. The designer opened her first boutique 10 years ago at Place de Vosges. Although she decided to close the store in 1992, Liautard said it was important for her to again have her own boutique to showcase her entire collection of lingerie, cocktail dresses, evening gowns, wedding dresses and accessories.
Her pieces range in price from $160 for a semi-transparent, black, viscose nightgown to more than $1,100 for a fuchsia floor-length silk robe. In addition to her new boutique, her collection can be found at Franck et Fils in Paris, and at Victoria’s Secret, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys in the U.S.
After nine years working and designing in the lingerie business with French luxury maker Brault, Sabrina Nadal took the plunge and launched her own line. Her first signature collection, a range for spring-summer 2000, bowed at the Lyon, Mode City trade show in September.
“Lingerie was very fashionable in ready-to-wear two years ago and I was tempted to start my own collection back then,” said the 32-year-old Nadal. “But I don’t want my line to be a fashion trend that comes and goes. I want it to last.”
Nadal’s collection is modern with a feminine touch and includes lace-embellished silk slipdresses layered with polyamide, and glazed organza covered with chantilly lace. The colors remain basic — black, white and cream — but she plans to expand the palette for what she shows at the Salon International de la Lingerie in January.
“I want to do warm hues like beautiful purples and browns,” she said.
The collection is manufactured by Brault, based in northern France. Neiman Marcus in New York, Le Bon Marche, Frank & Fils in Paris and Agent Provocateur in London are some of her first clients. Prices range from $42 for a simple camisole to $300 for a glazed organza slip dress. Prices are translated from the franc based on current exchange rates.
While in the City of Light for the Salon International de la Lingerie and Interfiliere, here are some new hot spots that will hopefully make Paris more comfortable and more enjoyable.
Four Seasons Hotel George V: Set to reopen on Dec. 18 after a $125 million renovation, this luxury hotel, which first opened more than 70 years ago, is located just off the Champs-Elysees. Address: 31, Avenue George V, 75008, Tel: (33-1) 4-952-7000.
Hyatt Regency Paris-Madeleine: Located in the heart of Paris, this hotel combines classic French style with modern luxury and is just steps away from the exclusive Rue de Faubourg St. Honore shopping district. Address: 24, Boulevard Malesherbes, 75008, Tel: (33-1) 5-527-1234.
Hotel Sofitel Le Faubourg: A quick walk from the Place de la Concorde, this four-star hotel, which opened in May, is surrounded by some of the city’s most chic restaurants and boutiques. It’s own artsy Cafe Faubourg and Bar 30 are choice destinations for Parisians and tourists alike. Address: 15, Rue Boissy d’Anglas, 75008, Tel: (33-1) 4-494-1414.
Helene Darroze: Just downstairs from her well-received restaurant, renowned Southwestern French chef Helene has opened a more affordable alternative to Provencal and Mediterranean cuisine. Address: 4, Rue Assas, 75006, Tel: 01 4-222-0011.
No Stress Cafe: Take a load off here after a long day. This super-modern cafe offers shiatsu massage and bottled oxygen. Address: 25 Rue Balard,75015, Tel: 01 4-558-4568.
Barrio Latino: This Latin-style restaurant/bar/lounge is one of Paris’s trendiest places to see and be seen. Enjoy tapas or choose from an ample dinner menu. Dinner is served until 12:30 a.m. Address: 46, Rue Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012, Tel: 01 4-558-8475.