Trendy pretty things
by Georgina Oliver

New places and fresh faces…

Back on the boulevards after a sizzling summer — marked by a succession of real-life “Apocalypse Now” scenarios, ranging from a record-breaking heat wave to America’s mega power failure — the number one “city thing” many Parisians did was to stand in line to see a movie depicting the dark side of urban existence. Set in a luxurious yet mysteriously sordid hotel somewhere in Central London, Brit filmmaker Stephen Frears’s “Dirty Pretty Things” features Audrey (“Amélie Poulain”) Tautou, in her first English-speaking part. Tautou, who’s surprisingly believable in the role of a Turkish chambermaid involved in a gruesome organ transplant scam affecting fellow illegal immigrant workers, seems set for planetary success!

A rising generation of 30-somethings is changing the face of French design. Among these, Sophie Larger has set up a company dubbed INOUI, as in “inouï” (loosely, “Wow!”). Her star products include “Mammamia” — a bright red sofa with “bobo” (bourgeois bohemian) attitude — and IOIO, a clever foam armchair, whose concentric circular structures “adjust” to the user’s shape and posture. (Sophie also makes fun “mobiles,” available from Ennéade, 43 bd Henri IV, 4e, tel: 01 40 27 07 67, a brand-new boutique, a stone’s throw from Habitat’s recently opened Bastille branch on rue du Faubourg St-Antoine)

No connection whatsoever, but… INOUI happens to be the name of a freshly-launched magazine, spotlighting fashion accessories. In the kiosks now, its October/November issue flaunts a red-hot cover designed to lure the reader inside... to a “matching” crimson-tinted jewelry and footwear spread, with “Moulin Rouge” appeal.

Tam Tam Fad
Be they timeworn ’70s originals flogged on flea market stalls or the quirky re-editions put out by Branex Design ( — Tam Tam stools are everywhere, on the decor front. A camouflage version is showcased at the Galeries Lafayette’s “Move” expo aimed at Generation Y trend-spotters (to Oct 15).

Bar à Choco
Another department store, the Bon Marché, has concocted a special treat for chic shoppers with a sweet tooth. Part of its “Très fille, très garçon” (Very Girlie, Very Boyish) clothing display (on level two, until Oct 11), an ephemeral Bar à Choco proffers a selection of “kid’ult” snacks, “concept” dishes, sorbets and drinks, all made from chocolate belonging to the Weiss brand’s celebrated gourmet range.

Arty Fooding
Restaurants for arty foodies are “in.” Within steps of the Musée Guimet’s spectacular Asiatic collections, the most “select” is “Les Arts.” Housed in an ultra-elegant mansion, which is home to the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers’ engineer-alumni — known as “Gadzarts” (“Arts’guyz”) — it boasts a club-like dining room overlooking one of this capital’s best kept “Secret Gardens.” No need to be a member, to savor former Ritz chef Thierry Chevalier’s modern updates of hearty classics, just reserve! (9bis av d’Iéna, 16e, tel: 01 40 69 27 00)

On the Champs-Elysées, Frank Hammoutène has re-concepted Renault’s “Pub.” L’Atelier Renault is a remix of assembly line-inspired gallery/loft and XXL automotive showroom, serving fresh fruit-based cocktails and cosmo cuisine, along with a few Gallic basics… The top quality entrecôte comes with homemade French fries. (Daily 11:30am to 1am, tel: 01 49 53 70 70)

In Store
To be launched this month… Iranian-born, London-based designer Eskandar’s latest venture is a Left Bank emporium, which reflects his conception of “art de vivre.” Ample modern linen and cotton attire for the entire family rubs shoulders with hand-blown glass, white tableware and “natural” bath time goodies. (7 rue Princesse, 6e)

Floral Effects
A florist “by appointment” to “palace” hotels such as the Meurice, Les Fées d’Herbe has revamped its 11th arrondissement shop, which stocks a poetic array of fresh flowers and trendy items with a “floral note.” Insectivorous plants ogle at dragonfly plates hand-painted by Sophie Masson… (23 rue Faidherbe, tel: 01 43 70 14 76)

“Such a perfect day…”
Une Journée Particulière is a photo studio, which treats its clients like royalty or any celebrity they care to be; its team of nine photographers and makeup artists use media-savvy techniques to glamorize “ordinary” people. (217 rue St-Honoré, 1er, tel: 01 42 96 51 92/

Elite Party
This rentrée’s most ritzy party? A “no limits” fiesta at the Ritz Club, following the French final of the Elite agency’s international modeling contest titled “Model Look France 2003” — held at the hotel’s swimming pool, which had been transformed into a temporary catwalk. This time ’round, two plucky “pretty things,” Tiffany Collier and Noëlle Roques, were picked to represent their country at the grand finale, which takes place in Singapore on November 8. The winners get to sign a coveted 2-year “Top Model” contract.

Milliardaire Nights
Jennifer Eric — a nightclubbin’ wunderkind with Swedish roots — is the energetic redhead who organizes the Milliardaire Club’s wildly festive Wednesday night DJ sessions and go-go dancer shows based on a variety of themes, “from ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Grease’ to cancan, hip hop and dirty dancing, etc etc...”. Jenny moved to the States at 16, then majored in Fine Arts and Political Science at UCLA, where she moonlighted to finance her studies. Initially, “as a hostess at the Barfly in West Hollywood.” Then, as “a gatekeeper” at the Grand Havana Room, a cigar club in Beverley Hills. This October’s Milliardaire highlights? A “Fashion Week Black & White Party” on October 8, plus a “Halloween Sneak Peak” on October 29. (68 rue Pierre Charron, 8e, cover charge 20E including one drink/ladies open bar midnight to 1am)

Cocktails at
L’Atelier Renault

Sophie Larger’s
“IOIO” chair

“Dirty Pretty Things” “passport” press kit

“Dirty Pretty Things” poster

Les Fées d’Herbe fl oral effect