Paris Shopping...What a Find

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When normal Americans travel to Paris, they worry about things like jet lag, the language barrier, and finding enough time to fit in the Louvre and Versailles. When an editor at a fashion magazine heads to Paris, her primary concern is her wardrobe.

So when I learned that I would be covering the launch of Armani's new fragrance collection, Prive Les Eaux (available in June) at the Armani Prive couture collection in Paris, I immediately consulted my French friend Celine Kaplan- she handles publicity for the chic, French brands Bourjois (cosmetics) and Eres (lingerie) in America- for her sartorial secrets. Based on her divine sense of style and knowledge of the Parisian shopping scene, I was sure she'd suggest I hit Chanel- or even that bastion of trendy designers, Colette- upon landing, where I'd stand little chance of finding anything to fit my budget or, quite possibly, body. But instead, she whispered one word: Maje.

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Go ahead, she said, I send everyone I know there. She claimed it was unique and affordable-of course, the exchange rate being what it is, I didn't have high hopes for my poor dollars. Nonetheless, I made my pilgrimage to Maje (42, Rue Du Four, though there are several locations throughout the city) on day one and to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement along the lines of saying one was pleasantly surprised by finding a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk. Not only were the prices affordable (comparable to Zara after you factor in January sales), but the clothing was downright fabulous-blousy jersey dresses, and cool metallic knit tops, as well as figure-flattering dark denims with playful stitching, and even winter-appropriate wool shorts (don't even get me started on the flats and glass baubbles).

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What really struck me was how well everything was cut. While trying (and buying) one of everything, I looked around and couldn't help but notice that the clothing was equally complementary to the short, tall, curvy or thin. Then I found out why: two sisters are the designers, and who better to understand the complexities of the female form? Since discovering my new favorite store, I've been told that Maje's sister Sandro also has an eponymous line- the two are sold side by side in some department stores in the UK. I can only hope that the sister act catches on in the US (occasionally some of Maje's pieces turn up in boutiques in New York's Nolita district). Because, let's face it, you still need to travel to Paris to get in on the deal. But at least you can flaunt your fashion savoir faire once you get there!

Check it out at www.maje-paris.fr

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