My husband and I recently moved to the oh-so-stylish 16th arrondissement in Paris. After what seemed like an endless search for the ideal place, we were thrilled to find the apartment. The best part is the big communal garden, which delights our 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Tess.
Tess is possibly the cutest dog in the world -- she manages to convert even the most convinced cat lover within minutes. Japanese tourists even take her picture. Needless to say, she became an instant hit in our new neighborhood.
Shortly after moving, in I set out to discover my new surroundings with Tess by my side. Well-dressed women are the norm here, but my neighbors in particular
have that certain je ne sais quoi which is just so Parisian. Their outfits are usually paired with matching manicured hands and feet -- they seem to excel at color coordination. Not to mention the "perfect" accessory.
Never have I seen so many Birkin bags being proudly paraded around. On one of my first shopping excursions up to the rue de Passy, I counted at least eight in the first 10 minutes. (The Goyard canvas tote comes in at a close second place.)
Their grooming is also impeccable: Most women here always look like they recently stepped out from the hair salon. I just don't know where they find the time for all this, but they do.
Even though I work in the fashion industry, I am hardly obsessed with the latest "It" bag or any particular brand in general (although I could clear out the Lanvin store in no time if my budget allowed it). However, I am a strong believer in quality over quantity, and with the right accessories you can get away with mixing and matching almost anything, an art that French women (and their young daughters) excel in.
The first time I met Camille, who was to become our favorite dog walker, was on a scorching hot summer day. I had decided to treat myself to a trip to my local nail salon and was comfortably installed in the massage chair being pampered with an equally happy Tess close by.
In walked a very young girl. Pretty, poised and perfectly groomed, she was sporting the very same Chloé bag I had just purchased, plus the Chanel flats I had been lusting after for quite a while. I could tell that she was obviously a regular by the way she was greeted by the staff, if not a VIP client. I was a bit bemused, but after all, this is the 16th arrondissement. I kept expecting to see her mother arrive but no, she was on her own getting her manicure and very much à l'aise doing so.
Tess too had noticed Camille and before I could stop her (my nails weren't dry yet), my pup did what she does best: A full-blown charm attack involving huge licks and excessive tail-wagging and Bambi eyes. Camille let out a surprised squeal and was finally rescued by the owner of the salon who tied Tess to the sink. I apologized profusely but Camille merely laughed and spent the next 20 minutes on her iPhone, but I did catch her looking intensely at Tess more than a few times.
A few days later, I was with Tess in our garden and much to my surprise there she was again. This time, Camille wasn't on her own but with her two adorable younger sisters. She was wearing skinny black jeans from Notify and the cutest Marc Jacobs flats. Her siblings looked like they just stepped out of a Bonpoint commercial.
It turned out that we lived in the same building. Within minutes, the girls were playing with Tess. Since that day, Camille has been our very own chic dog walker and sometimes sitter. Tess adores Camille and vice versa.
I just love watching the two of them together but I shamelessly admit that I sometimes feel tiny pangs of envy over Camille's ever-expanding wardrobe. She definitely has that something -- along with what seems to be an unlimited budget. She may be spoiled in the clothing and accessories department but she remains a very lovely and polite girl.
One evening, I arrived home from the gym to find Camille at the door, asking to take
Tess out for her afternoon walk. She was wearing the Isabel Marant sneakers I've been wanting and sporting a Birkin, no less! She is just 11 years old.
I am considering investing in that Goyard dog leash. Camille did politely inquire whether I had a spare for Tess that would more suitably match her pale pink dog collar.
This is Paris, after all.