When I arrived in Paris it became immediately apparent to me that my neighborhood, the Marais, was every shopping enthusiasts' paradise. I came across one shop in particular that I fell in love with. Joy is a boutique that makes you feel like you're in Alice's Wonderland within A Midsummer's Night Dream on the set of the coolest 1960s French film. Does that give your imagination enough to conjure up some images?
I had the pleasure of getting to spend some time with the owner, buyer and designer of Joy, Valentina, who let me in on some of the secrets to what it means to be French, feminine and fashionable...
What makes your shop special and unique?
'We have a selection that highlights what is chic and trendy in Paris. Our fashion is very subtle and gentle so that it can be adapted to each time of day depending on the accessories that you decide to wear. We offer several very select brands. The idea is to have a representation of the each brands universe, its strengths and its essential parts; to mix one with the other and to have fun!'
What does 'joy' mean for you?
'Joy is a lovely word. It is just three letters, simple and light as fashion should be. It means fun and nothing else.'
What makes the style of French women stand out from the rest of the world?
'Our style is based on a way to dress with chic simplicity. It's the choice of deep and warm colors or a detail of embroidery...and always aggressively feminine. You dress in what you feel good in because the materials are soft and volume/silhouette follow the female body without ever contradicting it. The style of the young French woman could be defined by its light, clean lines and a very detailed chic.'
Do you have any fashion 'rules'?
'There are no rules in fashion, especially with our lives so sufficiently regulated otherwise. Try to never restrict yourself because you might end up imposing on something new! If there is one important thing to remember, it is to have fun and feel good. From there you have the right to do anything! However, I would say that a silhouette is beautiful when it is not overloaded. Focus on a detail, a mixture of material, a refined ornamentation, avoid adding all the rainbows and sky to an outfit. And especially...respect your body. Accept it as it is and don't force it. A figure is a whole, never a detail.'
What are the essential basics that every girl should have in her wardrobe?
'We are all different! I'm crazy about fashion, so for me everything is essential! I would say a dark blue skinny jeans, not black. Navy blue is used to associate the colors without 'breaking' them up and you can wear it with everything. A light silk dress you can wear with boots during the day and evening with something to offset it. A big, oversized sweater with a plunging neckline in a very soft knits...that's so Parisian. A masculine cut jacket in wool. A long chiffon skirt that can be worn with something oversized, as well as part of a more slinky outfit. And a pea coat. Each garment has a story should tell a story. If it does, that's all you really need.'
Joy seems to be a mixture of a playful youthfulness and adult chic. How can you balance these effectively?
'That is exactly what we all are! Women with a playful youth! Balance is created on its own. Try several things and work on combinations. Then all of a sudden it works...you smile when you look in the mirror and voila! That's the magic of it all and it's the most important part of getting dressed. We have beautiful and chic silk See By Chloe gowns with fronts that are very simple and minimalist. Then in the back, the collar is closed by a large knot keeping it chic but also very playful.'
What are your favorite brands and products at the moment?
'I must admit, the collections we have for winter are truly spectacular! There's this high-waisted wool skirt Sonia By Sonia Rykiel wool cloth with a belt that cinches the waist tied in a small knot...the blush pink silk blouses of Erika Cavallini/Semi Couture...vintage jewelry...a very soft oversized cardigan by Cacharel...Fred Perry boots...a See By Chloe bag in a beautiful sepia color...and, of course, the Alex Monroe jewelry! We are all addicted!'
Make sure to visit Joy's website where you can find more about the store and how to buy parts of the collection online. And if you're in the Marais, make sure to visit the shop itself. Valentina has made Joy a real oasis in the hustle and bustle of the city but also has some of the most amazing merchandising I have ever seen. Not too much, not too little and something for everyone who wants something with a story.
And don't forget, you have until Tuesday to enter our giveaway here to win a copy of the book 'Paris vs New York'!