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Sep 2014

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Fashion

New Couture Café Makes You Sweat for Style

Sweat-Shop-Paris

Photos by Fabrice Fortin for Paris by Appointment Only™

Even though they live in the capital of couture, most Parisians can’t sew a stitch. Like most countries, France kicked home economics to the curb decades ago. Since hardly any one knows how to shorten a hem, fix a button, or take in a seam, you can find a retoucheur on practically every Parisian corner. But all that is about to change thanks to Sweat Shop, a new creative collective in the residential 10th whose mission is to teach Parisians how to make and customize their own clothes.

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Filled with revamped 60s school desks, a large central worktable, vintage sewing patterns, pools of colorful yarn, top-of-the-line Singer sewing machines and an adorable chill-out corner with sweet treats, Sweat Shop is a fun communal space where work equals wardrobe.

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WARMI: Handmade Knits from the Homeland

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Snugly stylish sweaters are the most wanted items in a wardrobe. Without them, you may as well spend the winter in bed. That’s why I dream not of sparkly jewels or wads of cash but of owning an army of grannies who send me a steady supply of gorgeous handmade knits from November through March (yes, it’s that cold in Paris).

Turns out my fantasy isn’t all my own. Sylvia Toth, a Columbian designer who moved to Paris eight years ago, dreamed up a way to battle the bitter winter months by hiring a gang of knitters from her homeland. Lucky for us, she shares the handcrafted gems through WARMI, her artisanal fashion label.

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Launched in 2008, WARMI is a Franco-Columbian brand that blends contemporary style with indigenous craftsmanship. Each collection is designed by Toth in Paris then produced in a remote mountainous village in Northern Columbia by a cooperative of women weavers. Though you’d think the name was just a funky new diminutive for “warm,” WARMI means “woman” in Quechua, one of the last living indigenous languages of the Andean region.

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Chavernet: Parisian Couture for the Modern Chick

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Over the last ten years hundreds of French fashion artisans have been given the ax at venerable houses by number crunching executives sending production overseas. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure…especially when centuries-old savoir-faire is heaped high in the bin!

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Taking advantage of luxury industry’s shortsighted greed and indifference towards its own heritage, Chavernet, a new Paris-based couture house, is putting Paris’ forgotten couturiers back to work.

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Le Jour de la Sirène: A Fashion Happening Fit for Film

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All images by Nicholas Calcott for Paris By Appointment Only™

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Leading Role: The ageless, timeless Jacques Fivel (above), a man of many hats, including vintage fashion dealer, sculptor and gong therapist.
Supporting Cast: His wife, the amazing tattoo artist Philippine Schaefer (above), their two young kids, a couple of cats, and whoever else shows up.
Setting: Jacques Fivel’s vast, ground floor atelier in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, a remote neighborhood in the Northeast corner of the city.
Décor: A cabinet of curiosities, Fivel’s place is packed to the rafters with gorgeous handcrafted aural sculptures, random artifacts, ancient hunting tools, Balinese totems, and racks and racks of fabulous frocks.

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At high noon the first Wednesday of each month a series of sirens rings throughout Paris to test the city’s emergency warning system. Startling at first, the practice grounds you in the present—at that very moment you know exactly where and when you are. The sound is also a haunting blast from the past (it’s impossible not to think of curfews and distress alarms when you hear it). For those in the know, the signal has another sense entirely: it’s a stirring reminder to attend Jacques Fivel’s monthly fashion happening, Le Jour de la Sirène (The day of the siren), later on that evening.

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Much like the bell for which it’s named, Fivel’s party has a bygone, La Dolce Vita feel to it. Full of fascinating eccentrics, surreal conversations, flamboyant costumes and breathtaking décor, it feels like a fin de siècle film thick with decadence, elegance and intrigue. With the exception of few added flourishes, the cinematic show unfolds much in this manner:

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