European Short Breaks: The couture club 
Picture: Image Bank

Despite all the column inches given over to the
‘metrosexual’ male, the trend for getting in touch with
your feminine side clearly hasn’t made its way to my

Over a Sunday afternoon pint with friends on their way back from
Millwall vs Burnley, I explained how I’d forsaken the match
go to a vintage clothes and fabric fair with my wife. I downed a
Kronenbourg as I told them all about it, but it might as well have
been a Babycham as far as they were concerned.

Fortunately, there are cities a man can act the dandy – and
Paris one of them. The French capital has long been a magnet for
fashionistas, helped by the fact so many of the styles we covet
originated there.

Take Roger Vivier. No humble cobbler, Vivier collaborated with
Christian Dior in the 1950s and with Yves St Laurent in the 1960s.
Vivier died in 1998, but his store on the swanky Rue du Faubourg-St
Honoré is still run by his muse, Inès de la Fressange,
who helped explain the complex relationship Parisians have with

“Our customers are more than passionate about their shoes.
The women are bad enough, but you should see the men – they
say to their wives, you must have this pair. And these. It’s
more like working in a sex shop.”

And not a cheap one. A pair of Vivier’s iconic stiletto heels
will set you back in the region of 300 euros, which, in the
über-chic 8th Arrondissiment is not unusual. This is the
spiritual home of haute couture, where the store directory reads
like a checklist of designer names: Dior and Chanel on avenue
Montaigne; Givenchy and Gaultier on George V; Chloé and John
Galliano on Rue du Faubourg-St Honoré.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous head over to the
Marais, which is busy reinventing itself as a nerve centre of
trendy hotels and one-off boutiques. Along its higgledy piggledy
streets you’ll find everything from Asian-boho at Antik Batik
and wild patterns and dense colours at Erotokritos, to utilitarian
chic at French streetwear brand APC.

Most importantly, the Marais is home to two new hotels with an
impeccable fashion pedigree.

The Hotel du Petit Moulin on Rue de Poitou is one of the most
talked about places to stay. Converted from a 17th century bakery,
each of its 17 rooms was designed by local Christian Lacroix.
Checking in starts at £130 a night.

No less starry is the Murano Urban Resort on Boulevard du Temple.
Elegant townhouse on the outside; futuristic white cube on the
inside, it’s been designed with the fashion set in mind: you
can tweak the lighting to match your outfit. And forget keys
spoiling the cut of your suit – doors open by fingerprint

Rooms aren’t cheap – doubles start at £240 –
but can you put a price on fashion?

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