Fashion designer Rachel Gilbert travels to Paris bi-annually for work, and it’s the city’s sophisticated spirit that often inspires her elegant collections. Here, the bridal and eveningwear designer opens her little black book of where to eat, stay and play in a metropolis known for it’s cuisine and cultural scenes.
Most stylish hotel
The Westin Paris – Vendôme
“This hotel is in the hub of the fashion district in Paris, Place Vendôme. You’ll find fashion-industry heavyweights staying here – from buyers and designers to magazine editors. The courtyard of The Westin is a great place to unwind and relax with a cocktail after a day of sales meetings. Many of its rooms offer impressive views of the Eiffel Tower and I love that the hotel is located just across the road from my Parisian agency’s showroom.”
Best places to shop
“As far as I’m concerned, this is the best department store. The building itself – with 10 floors, a dome roof that dwarfs you and intricate Art Deco finishes – is reason enough to visit. This is a great place to splurge. Perfume, watches, handbag, shoes – you’ll find it all here. And that’s before you start on the impeccable fashion offerings… or the alluring champagne bar.”
“If it’s high fashion you’re after, look no further than Avenue Montaigne. I could spend hours walking this beautifully tree-lined street, popping in and out of luxury stores that – if you happen to be in Paris at the right time – host in-store exhibitions, showcasing fashion archives, photography and art collected by designers."
“What I love about Place Vendôme is its diverse offering. Here you’ll find high-street favourites (think Zara, H&M and Topshop) as well as Parisian shopping institution, Colette – a cult favourite with the fashion set. Thanks to its impeccable merchandising, quirky water bar and the next big things in fashion, it is a must if you’re in to style.”
Best place to refuel
“L’Avenue’s crab salad is heaven! And dining here is quintessentially Parisian. People watch out on the terrace and enjoy a glass of wine.”
“The fashion industry descends on Hotel Costes during Paris Fashion Week. This is my all-time favourite bar in Paris, especially after a day of back-to-back meetings. The food is divine – you must try their lobster pasta – and their courtyard has an incredible ambience.”
“You can’t miss The Palace of Versailles. Although it is an hour outside of Paris, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t make the effort to see it. This famous attraction satisfies my interiors obsession. It influences my collections as well as my vision for my home in Sydney. It is beyond elaborate and I always leave feeling unbelievably inspired.”