Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Le Train Bleu

Le Train Bleu stands as a paragon of Parisian elegance and sophistication. Situated on the first floor of the venerable Gare de Lyon train station, it beckons patrons with the promise of gourmet French cuisine, ensconced within an atmosphere of unparalleled refinement. This establishment, with its opulent and lavish decor, transports diners back to the golden age of luxury travel, where the interior itself is a work of art.

While some may consider the decor to be extravagant and ostentatious, it has earned its rightful place on Paris's list of historical monuments since 1972, steadfastly preserving its original features, including the 41 magnificent paintings adorning its walls. The restaurant's history, characterised by its 1900s ambiance (parquet flooring, sumptuous leather-upholstered seating, rich wood paneling, and ornate gilt and painted ceilings), sets the stage for a gourmet dining experience within the heart of the Gare de Lyon. Here, one can follow in the footsteps of illustrious travelers who have graced this establishment with their presence.


From the moment of its inception, Le Train Bleu has been a magnet for locals and tourists alike. To this day, it serves approximately five hundred patrons daily, all eager to revel in the restaurant's breathtaking setting overlooking the railway tracks of the station while savoring exquisite French cuisine. Adjacent to the main dining area is the Big Ben Bar, a sanctuary of elegance and prestige, offering Sunday brunch along with a selection of coffees, cakes, and gourmet snacks, including club sandwiches, throughout the week.

´Offering traditional French cuisine, blending elements of both brasserie and gourmet dining, diners can choose from various menus, such as the Tasting Menu, served per table in the evening, accompanied by half a bottle of champagne per person for €98. For a slightly more economical option at €70 per person, there is the Sarah Bernhardt Menu, which includes a choice of starter, main course, dessert, and coffee. Those on a tighter budget may opt for the Rejane Menu, priced at €56 per person, offering a three-course meal with a glass of wine or mineral water.´ - Charles Daniel McDonald

As expected, an à la carte menu is also available, featuring starters ranging from €20 to €29, showcasing delights like Home-smoked Scottish salmon with crunchy vegetable spring rolls and balsamic cherry dressing or Lyon pistachio sausage with mashed potatoes in chive and mustard dressing. Main courses offer a selection of fish and meat dishes, such as Scorpion fish and scallops A la plancha with creamy shellfish risotto and cuttlefish ink dressing or Charolais beef steak tartare, prepared to one's taste, with homemade French fries and mixed salad.


Prices for main courses range from €30 to €45, with options like a whole grilled turbot for two at €95, or a vegetarian choice. For dessert, Le Train Bleu tempts diners with an array of indulgences, including vintage Rum Baba with whipped cream, lemon and lime tart, or bourbon vanilla layer cake. The restaurant also offers Sunday brunch in the bar lounge for €40 per person (€20 for children under 12), featuring a buffet of bread, jams, fruit juice, cheeses, and hot drinks, followed by a table-served starter and a main hot dish of meat or fish, concluding with assorted desserts.

Le Train Bleu is nestled in the 12th Arrondissement, within the Gare de Lyon train station and remains open every day of the year. The Big Ben Bar welcomes guests from 7:30 am to 11 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to 11 pm on Sundays and French national holidays, offering beverages, pastries, and gourmet snacks. Sunday brunch in the bar lounge is available from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, except during July and August, and advance reservations are strongly recommended by phone. Le Train Bleu's restaurant hours are from 11:30 am to 3 pm for lunch and from 7 pm to 11 pm for dinner, with last orders accepted at least an hour prior. The restaurant welcomes guests every day of the year. For group bookings, business lunches, or special events, enquiries can be directed to Le Train Bleu at +33 (0) 1 43 43 09 06.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Stella McCartney’s Sustainable Marketplace S/S´24 Show

“Stella’s Sustainable Marketplace”, featuring her favourite eco-minded collaborators and her dad’s vinyl collection, formed the backdrop for Stella McCartney’s spring/summer 2024 show in Paris. Below, British Vogue critic Anders Christian Madsen shares his key takeaways.

It was Stella’s Sustainable Marketplace

Along the Avenue de Saxe in the 7th arrondissement, Stella McCartney set up temporary shop on the Monday morning of Paris Fashion Week. She created Stella’s Sustainable Market: a classic Parisian marketplace lined with stalls featuring her favourite sustainable collaborators as well as nods to parents, Paul and Linda McCartney. “There’s a music stall with some of my dad’s music. My mum’s vegetarian food company is here, too. Bringing families together is the most important thing.” The collection featured 95 per cent conscious materials, the activist designer noted. “We’ve never gone that high before.”

It was inspired by McCartney’s family

McCartney’s models walked the virtually mile-long marketplace runway in a shared wardrobe that represented the family feeling she wanted to convey. “This was one of the first shows we’ve ever had with women and men. It was about showing that everyone can wear it, and how you say what you are through what you wear. I think, if you’re part of the Stella McCartney community, you’re already in the now: you’re part of the next generation and part of the future of fashion,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what gender you are. Our brand is open to everyone.” That included Cate Blanchett, Robert Downey Jr and Chris Rock, who all came to support McCartney.

It featured a collaboration with Wings

In the spirit of the marketplace, the collection was a hotchpotch of the life and passions of Stella McCartney. She looked to her personal archives of clothes accumulated from her parents’ wardrobes and her own, and reworked them into a look that often bore evidence of stage costumes. “My parents made their owns clothes, too,” she said, explaining how she hadn’t messed too much with the original points of inspiration. “I used to wear them all and now my daughter steals them off me.” Wings materialised as couture-like gestures on dresses that billowed in the wind, but also in a formal merchandise collaboration with the band of the same name, formed by her parents in 1971.

McCartney worked with the artist Andrew Logan

The show was largely defined by the couture-like shapes McCartney proposed in a wealth of flowy dresses with dramatic sleeves, but also in dresses adorned with “wearable art” by the English sculptor Andrew Logan. McCartney exercised her excellent tailoring in voluminous his-and-hers suits that echoed the shape of her denim trousers. Her boldest proposition was a cummerbund silhouette incorporated into trousers and jeans, which continued the hip-centric focus of her recent Y2K nostalgia and made for a pretty cool idea.

It was about giving people access to sustainability

After the show, guests were invited to peruse the market and learn about the sustainable partners McCartney works with. “I want to give people access to all this information. That’s why I did it,” she explained, reflecting on the impact the environmental cause in having in our daily lives. “I think the next generation of people do it. You’re doing what you can. We’re not here to make you feel guilty about not doing it a hundred per cent. Meet people, learn about things, and try not to consume quite so much fashion. Because we don’t need it.”

Alexander McQueen Taps JW Anderson’s Seán McGirr As Creative Director

After much speculation during Paris Fashion Week, Alexander McQueen has tapped JW Anderson’s head of ready-to-wear Seán McGirr as creative director, succeeding Sarah Burton, who spent 26 years at the brand and 13 as creative director, the brand announced Tuesday.

Burton bid farewell to the house in an emotional final show in Paris on Saturday, dedicated to brand founder Lee McQueen, after her departure was announced earlier this month. Burton took over as creative director in 2010, following McQueen’s death.

“We are delighted to welcome Seán McGirr as creative director. With his experience, personality and creative energy, he will bring a powerful creative language to Alexander McQueen while building on its unique heritage,” said Alexander McQueen CEO Gianfilippo Testa in a statement.

McGirr joined JW Anderson in 2020 as head of menswear before taking over womenswear to lead all ready-to-wear. Prior to that, he was women’s designer for Dries Van Noten and was part of Uniqlo’s creative offices working on Christophe Lemaire’s collections. He started his career assisting at Burberry and Vogue Hommes Japan after graduating from Central Saint Martins’s MA fashion programme in 2014.

McGirr’s appointment continues a suite of shake-ups across Kering’s portfolio over the last year. McQueen appointed Testa in 2022. Gucci’s new creative director Sabato de Sarno debuted last week at Milan Fashion Week, and longtime CEO Marco Bizzarri departed following the show. Bizzarri’s permanent replacement is yet-to-be-announced. Francesca Bellettini, the CEO of Saint Laurent, was also appointed deputy CEO of Kering in July.

The appointment follows a trend of hiring designers who are relatively unknown to the public, but hold important design positions at key brands, following the success of Gucci’s appointment of Alessandro Michele from within its ranks in 2015. Matthieu Blazy was promoted to lead Kering’s Bottega Veneta in November 2021 after serving as design director. Simone Bellotti replaced Rhuigi Villaseñor at Bally earlier this year, while Ann Demeulemeester promoted menswear designer Stefano Gallici to succeed Ludovic de Saint Sernin, who departed in May after just one season. Replacing Burton with a male designer is a notable loss of one of fashion’s few female designers leading a major luxury house, industry observers noted.

“Alexander McQueen is a house we are passionate about, and we are confident that Seán McGirr will be able to pursue its journey with a new creative impetus,” said Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. “We look forward to opening this new chapter in the history of this unique brand.”

Rosemary Ferguson Had A Homecoming On The Runway In Paris

“I haven’t done a proper show show for a very long time,” says the ’90s model-turned-nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson. She’s speaking over the phone from Paris, on the eve of the closing day of fashion month. Ferguson, who – along with her friend Kate Moss – was one of the most in-demand faces on the circuit 30 years ago, was readying herself for a runway return in Miu Miu’s spring/summer 2024 show. Her cameo today represents something of a homecoming for the mother-of-three, who, long before the likes of Storm Reid and Emma Corrin were tottering down Miuccia’s catwalk in kitten heels, served as the brand’s original cool girl campaign star in 1994.

After being spotted in McDonald’s on Oxford Street by Corinne Day – legendary British photographer and an architect of the grunge movement that blew through fashion in a whirlwind of slip dresses and smudged liner in the ’90s – Ferguson was cast as the first face of Mrs Prada’s new diffusion brand following its launch in 1993. Day captured the rangy brunette in grainy black and white, dressed variously in briefs under a leather coat, a barely-there babydoll dress, or fishnet tights and Mary-Janes. The spring/summer 1994 campaign found the model lounging on an unmade bed in a drab flat, wearing denim hot pants and a plain grey tee.

“When I look at the pictures, I see me,” the model says of why she loved the images as much at the time as she does now. “Corinne could be quite difficult to work with sometimes but the energy was really good. [The autumn/winter 1994 campaign] still looks really modern. It was quite punchy at the time for it to be in black and white, [to spotlight] a boyish body. It was about a young woman being full of attitude and it felt really good. It still makes me happy. I’m still really proud of it,” says Ferguson, who confirms she has Miu Miu pieces from back then in her wardrobe at home in the Cotswolds to this day.

No doubt her vintage wardrobe is a major source of temptation for her daughters – two of whom have already followed their mum into modelling. All three (Rose is mother to Elfie, from a past relationship with Barry Reigate, as well as Bliss and Blythe, her daughters with her artist husband Jake Chapman) were suitably impressed to learn their mother would be walking the runway in Paris for a brand whose ballet pumps and sparkly knickers are right at the top of It-girls’ wishlists. “They were like, oh my God, mum, you’re going to do Miu Miu? That’s so cool!” Ferguson says, laughing. “Jake’s also coming to the show, which is kind of a sign of what a big deal it is.”

The family support might go some way towards soothing the butterflies Rose confessed to feeling ahead of her first catwalk in years. “It’s a big stage to step onto,” she says. “I’ve lived a very different life for a long time now. But when you’ve been around fashion for a while, whether you’re active or not, there’s a lot of love there. I know
Guido is doing the hair for the show, so I just text him and said, ‘Oi, I’ve got you tomorrow, be nice!” But in a way I suppose I’m actually more confident now. I have a lot more life experience – and I know how to walk a bit better than I did when I was doing it the first time around.”

Pre-show nerves aside, Ferguson intends to make the most of stepping briefly back into her old world of Eurostar zips across the Channel, backstage glam and champagne-fuelled fashion parties. “I’m really just enjoying the moment,” she says, detailing her plans to spend the night before the show taking in John Galliano’s new Maison Margiela collection before dinner at Brasserie Lipp. No late-night dancing in Paris for Rose this time around, though. “I’ll be getting my beauty sleep tonight, the way I didn’t in the ’90s. I could get away with it then, 30 years on I’m not so sure.”

Maison Margiela’s Electrifying S/S´24 Show

John Galliano’s spring/summer 2024 Maison Margiela collection was as creative as it was life affirming, says Anders Christian Madsen. Read his five takeaways from the Paris Fashion Week show, below.

It was electrifying

This season, more than a few designers have cited “joy” as the feeling they wanted to convey. Often, putting it in neon lights can feel a bit forced. At Maison Margiela, that wasn’t necessary. The energy that lifted John Galliano’s collection off the floor of his runway room at Place des États-Unis was so electrifying, it generated something more important than conveying a message of joy: the actual of joy being creative, using your imagination, and coming up with fantastical new ideas. After the show, the mood was elated: “This is what fashion is all about,” said one guest. “That made my month,” said another. On Instagram, an industry colleague posted a video from the show with the simple but forceful words: “The staggering genius of John Galliano.”

It came with a transatlantic narrative

Guests entering the foyer of Maison Margiela’s headquarters were met by a projection of a massive early-20th century ship dwarfing the roofs of an English port town. In front of it, a live pianist and cellist made you feel as though you were on the deck of that ship as a part of the story Galliano had spun for his collection. Upstairs, in his brightly lit white runway room, the narrative unfolded: two teenagers locking eyes on an old-world transatlantic voyage, the deck populated by characters from all walks of life. For his collection, Galliano imagined the clothes that would have been packed in their suitcases, and how their present-day descendants might have customised those garments and accessories to suit their own identities.

Masculine tailoring was imbued with narratives

Galliano scored the show with the powerful song “Masculinity” by Lucky Love. Its lyrics – “Do I walk like a boy, do I speak like a boy, do I stand like a boy” – served as a reminder of the genderless attitude with which he approaches fashion. With that in mind, we were ready to take in a collection that opened with Katharine Hepburn-esque tailoring fused with gestures from the mid-century lady’s wardrobe in a string of coats and suits that nailed our burgeoning appetite for elegant ease and simplified sophistication. Later, Galliano continued his tailoring story in jackets cut in the image of mid-century mauvais garçons – street urchins – and the gestures that shaped their clothes. Galliano cast those movements with Oscar-worthy gusto.

It was about customising an inherited wardrobe

Imagining how a young, present-day descendant might customise an inherited wardrobe, Galliano proposed a series of “exfoliage” dresses where the top layer of the bust had been ripped off and pulled down over the skirt to reveal its lining. He’d then boldly run that silhouette over with a laminate roller (at least figuratively speaking) and covered the fabric in high-shine varnish, creating a relief effect where it was layered. He evolved that technique in “pressage” dresses and shirts, which you have to imagine came out of a suitcase completely flattened after which they were laminated, their creases and drapes pressed down for eternity. In the “misfit” evening dresses the closed the show, Galliano evoked the gestures of DIY party girls, shortening hems with tape, twisting necklines into straps, and styling pieces back-to-front.

It was life affirming

The Maison Margiela moment was creativity-driven and life affirming: a designer having a tonne of fun with fashion, but executing his ideas with the most inventive, cutting-edge expertise. Books have been written about Galliano’s genius, but often its most immediate effect lies simply in the gesture of a mid-century hat made from wire and bin liners, or a polka dot you suddenly realise looks like a cartoon character, or the sassy walk of a model who finally gets to have a good time on a runway. All this, of course, is a product of the authentic and truly passionate love of fashion that compels this designer to imagine stories, dress up its characters in his mind, and execute those fantasies in real life. I recently asked Galliano how he remains so inspired in a socio-political climate that doesn’t always provide the best environment for creative optimism. “I am grateful for the life force itself, and consciously remind myself of this daily,” he answered. All aboard that state of mind!

Louis Vuitton’s S/S´24 Hot Air Balloon Show

A kaleidoscope of prints and pattern, eras and dress codes, Nicolas Ghesquière’s spring/summer 2024 collection for Louis Vuitton was high on adventure, says Anders Christian Madsen. Read on for five things to know about the show at Paris Fashion Week.

The show took place on the Champs-Élyséees

Louis Vuitton usually presents its shows in the great architectural landmarks of Paris: the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, on the Pont Neuf. But the reality is that many tourists who come to the City of Lights will recognise its store on the Champs-Élysées to a similar if not greater degree than those structures. This season, Nicolas Ghesquière chose the maison’s new building on the boulevard – currently under renovation and therefore tourist-free – as his monumental show venue.

The set felt like a hot air balloon

Ghesquière called upon the American production designer James Chinlund to construct a runway that would the convey the feeling of being inside a hot air balloon. That’s not an unusual feeling for show-goers in the age of climate change. Fashion month is hot. For that reason, the Louis Vuitton collection made lightness its point of departure in buoyant garments that evoked the breezy, billowing effect of sails.

The collection was high on adventure

The idea of the hot air balloon set an adventurous mood for the show, entirely in the vein of Ghesquière whose approach to Louis Vuitton’s voyaging genes is often rooted in the dream of time travel. He expressed it in a similarly adventurous collection, which defied the constraints of eras and dress codes and freely spliced together silhouettes and wardrobes in a dynamic look that jumped between the 1950s and the ’80s, with occasional 19th-century stopovers.

It was all about patterns

Patterns became the focal point of the collection: English checks were twisted and turned into billowing blouses and sharply-cut flowy skirts. Stripes increased the graphic value in shirts and trousers borrowed from the men’s wardrobe and magnified in expression. Scarf-like chain prints found their way onto skirts, and checkerboards and houndstooth animated broad-shouldered jackets.

It was a flying trunk

From the hot air balloon interior to the wealth of graphics that hit its runway, the Louis Vuitton show was a sensory overload of impressions. Connecting it to the house’s travel history and the sense of adventure that filled the room, it felt a little bit like being a stowaway in the flying trunks from the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. A 19th-century contemporary of Monsieur Vuitton, the two clearly shared the era’s taste for magic – just like the house’s current custodian.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Valentino’s Freedom-Of-Choice S/S´24 Show

Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli reflected on Italy’s victim blaming controversy during a fashion month unusually devoid of political statements, says Anders Christian Madsen. Discover five takeaways from the spring/summer 2024 collection, below.

FKA Twigs performed at the show

Before the first model entered the great hall of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, FKA Twigs and her dancers had already set the tone at Valentino. Dressed in little besides leotards toned to their skin, they performed highly physical choreography spanning expressions from the strong and mighty to the sensual and delicate. When Kaia Gerber opened the show, she wore a creation reflective of those same symbioses: a minidress structured from all-white ornamental fabric elements embroidered together like the swirly moulures of baroque ceilings. Framing and revealing the skin, it played with perceptions of exposure, creating a tension between a refined, almost interior-like dressiness and a scanty, girly grace. As things go in the world of Pierpaolo Piccioli, it was ripe for analysis.

It was a reflection on recent political comments

“This summer, there was this horrible violence in Italy,” Piccioli said in a preview, referring to rape cases that filled the news. “And the government’s response was to say that girls should be careful what they were wearing, not to provoke reactions. This is a big step back. Real feminism today is about giving women freedom: to be naked, to expose their body… not to be someone else.” The partner of the right-wing Italian PM Giorgia Meloni – who herself opposes female quotas in parliament and businesses – further seemed to suggest that women could avoid rape by not getting drunk when going out. The reactionary waves washing over Italian politics – and elsewhere – are incensing Piccioli, not only as the head of a fashion house historically devoted to serving women, but as the father of two daughters, including a teenager.

It was about ease, effortlessness and lightness

“I don’t believe in these ideas of women as ‘the clever one’, ‘the sexy one’, and ‘the romantic one’. Feminism is a celebration of women’s freedom,” Piccioli said. He expressed it in a collection underpinned by his new swirly moulure technique – which he coined “altorilievo”, meaning high relief – but embodied in a heightened attention to ease. Lightweight tailoring was constructed in fabrics evocative of shirting, floor-length dresses had the casual feel of a T-shirt, and the denim trousers Piccioli put on a pedestal in July’s haute couture show were back in force, adding their effortless, empowering cool factor – some intricately embroidered using altorilievo. “Maybe this is the most exposed collection I’ve ever done. It’s about body and nudity but without any clichés of sexiness.”

It continued the tone set in July’s Haute Couture show

The collection hit the high notes of Piccioli’s haute couture collection in July. It was a similar return to a more reduced, purified Valentino that conjured the spirit of Piccioli’s most masterful couture collections, but injected with a crispness and freshness that felt intrinsically Roman in a modern, youthful and effortless way. In a season that hasn’t offered much in the way of political input from designers – which is surprising in an industry reliant on the freedom of choice and expression – his candour was also refreshing. “Italians come from a Catholic culture with the idea of the Original Sin: ‘You have to cover yourself.’ But the real virtue is to be free and make your own choices. You don’t have to look different to look serious.” Asked why he thinks designers aren’t participating in the political debate, Piccioli shrugged. “Maybe they’re afraid not to sell that one more handbag?”

There were organic accessories… and Cher on the front row

Piccioli used his accessories to emphasise the dialogue between freedom and dress codes. He grounded looks with low kitten heels, or pragmatic but elegant flat sandals that allowed for freedom of movement. Bags played with the idea of adapting their shape to the contours of the body, underlining the physical overtones that filled the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts thanks in no small part to FKA Twigs. She followed her intensely choreographed opening number with an emotive vocal performance that had Cher sending approving glances from the front row.