A day of fashion, food and frou-frou dogs

Okay, so I couldn’t resist all the “f” words, but what do you expect from a girl visiting Paris, France. More so, fabulous eco-friendly finds are not a dime a dozen, so when I stumbled upon a couple, I was elated…

For me, there’s nothing quiet as visually descriptive and bang-on-the-mark gratifying than getting to know a city through its fashion. (and vegan restaurants, ever since loving plant-based foods).

So to get a grasp a city’s fashion sensibilities, especially during short city stays, I research, select and hire a local, fellow personal shopper to show me the ropes, (or in this case the threads). In comes Lilye, not only an informed Parisian stylist but also a wonderful person whom, I just know, given more time, we’d easily befriend one another.

3 stylists in Paris

What Lilye was quick to caution me about though was that my choice to eschew all leather, fur, silk and wool (anything that takes, so cruelly, from animals), would leave us with few options, if her brief was to find ‘intentionally’ vegan fashion stores. Undeterred, I encouraged Lilye to give us a taste of Paris fashion through individual, upmarket (but not top-end designer) stores, with a little thrift and vintage thrown in too.

We zig-zaged down the famed cobblestone streets in the Marais district of Paris and after three hours of “oohs and aahs”, two greats buys by Chanelle, and a promise to hook up with Lilye on the next visit, I remained, and somehow proudly so, empty-handed.

That was until I stepped into an eco-store, called Ekyog. Not then knowing the brand, or what it stood for, was somewhat unsurprising as I hadn’t yet delved deep into sustainable fashion, while their French website, Twitter and Facebook online presence doesn’t easily translate to English. (I’m thrilled to see though that there’s now a store in London, which I plan to visit on my up-and-coming UK trip).

Nathalie Lebas-Vautier, the co-founder of Ekyog can teach the global fashion industry a thing or two, just by her example of bringing socially responsible fashion into the mainstream fashion market.

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 3.24.10 PMWhile this French label originally launched, in 2003, as a women’s concept boutique that sought to combine ecological awareness and yoga clothes (hence the name Ekyog), it’s shifted the focus onto source-conscious, beautifully made, and perfectly French, everyday wear.

What I was most excited to try, and then spent my euros on, were some of the organic cotton pieces from their ‘Metamorphose’ range. I decided on a wonderfully comfy, highly stylish piece that’s worn either as a dress or top. Two styles in one garment, now that’s consumer and environmentally friendly!

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 12.09.13 PMFor the same reason as using organic cotton, they also use a lot of linen in their collections, with organic crops requiring very few fertilisers and pesticides. Linen is also extremely absorbent when it comes to dyeing, so it cuts down on water usage and other resources.

When our shopping was done and our bellies growling for attention, we headed back to Rue de Rosiers for a chick pea and tahini fix at L’As Du Fallafel.

The quick-moving, but impressively long, queue for these huge (they fill both hands, so don’t be laden with shopping bags) were stuffed to the brim with sweet, fresh ingredients. Crunchy cabbage, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, delightfully greasy slices of fried eggplant and golden brown falafels, are laced with a generous smothering of tahini, hummous, and spicy sauce (if you want it). This delicious, inexpensive, and “naturally” vegan specialty is best described as ‘pure taste’!

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 9.59.30 AMBe warned though, the falafels are messy to eat, but that’s part of the fun right, and we simply ate ours while doing some last minute window shopping and people watching.

An amble down any Paris street will confirm that dogs are part of the fibre of daily life in the city. They’re toted around by their owners, either on leash or in their own stylish bag, visitings restaurants, patronising hair salons, and riding the Metro.

IMG_2655Mm, I don’t know how I feel about showy, ‘dolled-up’ dogs. No, actually I lie, I know exactly how I feel about clothed dogs. Other than for functional warmth or the occasional bow or bandana, complimentary from my dogs’ parlour, I’m not for dogs in garb. They’re blessed with divine hair and their nakedness is nice and distinctive, so why mess that up with superfluous fashion? I can’t help but think of sad, similarly dressed, monkey performers.

This little man (eyes on the canine please ladies), was obviously chosen for his toothy grin, but his numerous jacket changes and model-styled posing didn’t seem to give him anything to smile about.

After another busy day I was excited to introduce Chanelle, my omnivore friend, and myself to the city’s vegan fine dining experience. A quick search online at Happy Cow found us an entirely vegan option nearby. From the minute we walked in I knew we were going to enjoy the Gentle Gourmet Café.

IMG_2694While the restaurant has an upscale, clean decor, proving a great start, being enveloped in the restaurant’s bold aromas was what instantly captivated me. If I could have bottled them, I’m certain I could have sold the little bottles of scented veganliciousness at a high price.

With so many enticing dishes on offer, and having initially decided on only one entrée, a delicious beet salad, we quickly added to our entrée course by ordering the ‘Starter Tasting’, an equally delicious and healthy plate with a sample of each of their starters. What a great idea that is!

What was selling like hot potatoes were their Marinated Portobello Burgers. Topped with caramelised onions, arugula and 5-pepper sauce and served with scrumptious fried potatoes (with parsley and garlic) and a fresh green salad.

Heavenly and healthful, I would go back for more in a heartbeat!

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