Riina O at Les Suites Paris

Riina O would like to introduce our newest stockist in Paris – Les Suites Boutique. It is a great pleasure to work with this amazing shop in such a prominent district, just next door from Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe, with neighbors such as Cartier, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, to name but a few.

We took a trip to Paris to personally deliver a selection of gloves from our Autumn/Winter collection to the store, alongside with the leather bound lookbook for additional personal orders.

Riina O gloves

Les Suites has been crowned as the most beautiful luxury boutique in Paris. The striking decor takes you back to another era, confronting modern minimalism with the abundance of elegance and style. The majestic chandeliers shine upon haute couture gowns and exquisite accessories. All of this overlooked by an amazingly helpful team who will transforming shopping into pleasure. What a bliss!

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Les Suites
47 rue Pierre Charron
75008 Paris
Opening Hours: from Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 9PM

Paris in London

Hermés takes Londoners for a walk to their Paris Wonderland, an exhibition called “Wanderland” at Saatchi gallery. The exhibition explores the concept of “Flânerie” – urban wandering and observing, revelling in the unexpected ,exploring the  street settings and oddities of city life. As the name of Hermés company has derived from the eponymous Greek god Hermes – the messenger, who is all about travelling and wandering around.

You are lead through the dream world of joy and fantasy, with a Paris landscape as its backdrop. The exhibition is livened up by numerous interactive installations in various media, created by a diverse selection of artists,  and witty solutions that make you part of the setting, letting you interact with the environment and brings a smile to your face. For example passages through wardrobe doors, syrreal(but fully functional) walking canes, amusing boutique windows. In one room you are able to walk on the upside-down reflections of other people, video projected on the floor. By stepping on the projections´ heads it is possible to hear their inner thoughts. Another room welcomes you to the café of forgotten items with miniature videos displayed inside the bottles and glasses. The graffity-adorned room has a painted Birkin bag by the wall, the covered passage looks so very Parisian and as the “night comes” in one of the rooms, you can peek into the windows to discover the secret world behind – a magic room where strange things come to pass when the inhabitant is not there.

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Objects on display have been gathered from the Hermés archive and mixed with the brand´s contemporary collections. Items range from bags, walking sticks, travelling cases and gloves to small leather accessories and jewellery.

You can´t help but to leave smiling. I will surely go back for more!

The exhibition is open till the 2nd of May 2015.

Jeanne Lanvin retrospect in Paris at Palais Galliera

Lanvin is the oldest French fashion house still in business today. The first exhibition devoted to the creatress of the brand – Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946) opened in Paris in March, featuring over a hundred gowns at beautiful Palais Galliera.
At the beginning of the 1980s, in the musty darkness of the attics of the fashion house, more than five hundred models from the time of Jeanne Lanvin were discovered. They seemed to have been forgotten, to have vanished from memory since the death of  Madame in 1946. All that was needed was for someone to open the trunks and reveal their splendour.

Mademoiselle Jeanne began her career as a milliner in 1885. Even alongside the following couture collections hats were always an integral and indispensable accessory to the Lanvin ‘silhouette’. A few years later she opened her first shop in Paris. In 1897 she gave birth to her only daughter, Marguerite, who became her primary source of inspiration. On Lanvin logo you can see an image of mother and daughter – something very sentimental and emotional for a fashion brand.  Maison Lanvin adopted the famous logo, designed by Paul Iribe from a photograph taken at a costume party in 1924. The logo was first used on first Lanvin perfume bottle, dedicated to Jeanne´s daughter for her 30th birthday.

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In 1908, Jeanne Lanvin hit upon the new idea of children’s clothes, alongside with Young Ladie’s department. Stylistically speaking, the children’s and adult’s clothes were very similar, a feature that gave Lanvin creations their enduringly youthful character.
Maison Lanvin kept growing steadily into a fashion house that catered to all needs of their clients, adding wedding gowns department, lingerie and furs and in 1920s also interior decoration and sport, finally launching into men´s clothing. Lanvin opened shops all over France.

Jeanne Lanvin´s  inspirations ranged from etno-exotic to religios and medieval, as well as modernly geometrical and Art Deco.
The exotic has always been inspiring for Western fashion, but it reached its peak in 1920s. the embroidery motifs inspired by China, Turkey and Japan appeared on the gowns and were executed at skillful workshops set up in Paris by Russian refugees. Jeanne Lanvin  used travel diaries, swatches of ethnic fabrics and a vast library of art books to feed her curiosity and inspire her to create fabrics, patterns and exclusive colours.
By mid-20s ecclesiastical motifs and monastic lines pervaded the work of Jeanne Lanvin. In her work you can see the artistry in materials, embroidery, topstitches, twists, spirals, cut-outs – all the virtuosity of the couturière’s craft.
At the same time there was also a dress with very controversial silhouette to that day, making it´s  name as “Lanvin´d robe de style”. This line was equally indebted to the 18th century and the second Empire, and to hoops and the crinoline – slender bust, low waist, ample skirt – contrasting with the tubular line of Art Deco with its black and white geometrical patterns, the profusion of ribbons, cristals, beads, and silk tassels. The robe de style, a garden-party dress, came into full flower at Maison Lanvin in the 1920s and found lasting success with children, girls and women.
In 1920s quattrocento blue became the symbolic colour of the label.
Evening gowns, boleros and magnificent coats were examples of the prodigious skill of the Lanvin workshops and made a major contribution to the fashion house’s fame. World War II was looming, but the summer of 1939 saw haute couture in one of its most glittering phases. Romantic evening gowns, ample and diaphanous, were an “invitation to the waltz”. “Paris was rarely more sparkling,” Christian Dior recalled. “People flitted from ball to ball … Dreading the inevitable cataclysm, they hoped desperately to avoid it, but whatever happened, they wanted to go out in style.”
A capacity for hard work and an intuitive understanding of the modern world only partly explain the extraordinary success of this discreet woman.

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Alber Elbaz, current creative director of Lanvin, worked closely with Palais Galliera on creating this exhibition. “It is a “whispering exhibition”, it´s not loud. It is not about information, you don´t have to know everything, because all this knowledge is not always important. Just feel, work with your intuition, look at the endless beauty of these pieces, observe how timeless they are and enjoy the moment, ” says current creative director of the fashion house. He is right, as you walk through the rooms of the exhibition, you can´t but stop and observe the handmade details and hand stitched beads on the evening gowns that quietly tell their story of hours of hard work.
Many dresses shown at the exhibition are timelessly modern, something that could be worn  today, just as it was nearly hundred years ago.

Lanvin today
In 2001, Alber Elbas was appointed artistic director of  Maison Jeanne Lanvin. Albert Elbaz shares Jeanne Lanvin’s taste for discretion. To this stimulus for creation, a motif in which forms turn out to be even more timeless, he adds the insolent characters that signify his style.

Looking at the latest Lanvin collection for Autun/Winter 2015/16  presented in Paris in the beginning of March, Alber Elbaz said to have gone back to his Moroccan roots, as he was born in Casablanca. Last year Maison Lanvin celebrated their 125th anniversary, keeping the style simple, so this collection made more of an impact. Alber prefers the introvert approach to creating, looking  for inspiration among his personal emotions and intuition. “Fashion is a human story,” he insisted, “an industry that makes things with its hands. High tech stole the glamour of fashion.”
The collection went on adventure, travelling to Morocco in military-striped slightly baggy trousers with tassels hanging from waist, matched with Russian style high boots. Military style-influences could be also noted in the latest collection.  Leather one-shoulder pieces looked to be the extensions of to the belt, contrasting quite  minimalist flowing dresses. Other keywords include dresses with geometrical lines and occasional fringing edges, Maroccan patchwork and exotic skins, sheepskin coats and ethnically-inspired rich print patterns.

Unbuttoning inspiration

Last week in Paris I had a chance to visit an exhibition devoted to buttons. “Deboutonner la Mode” exhibition at Musée Les Arts Decoratifs presents a collection of more than 3000 buttons, following their evolvement through history. Although small in size, buttons can sometimes tell a whole story. Buttons not only decorate a piece of clothing or accessories, but also play a crucial role in creating balance in a silhouette, pinching in at just a right place. Over times buttons have been made from gold and jewels, bones, stones, glass, plastic and other materials. They have been used for social or political identification, bearing humorous or intimate messages, depicting a story or affiliation, reflecting the zeitgeist of an era and expressing artistic movements of the period.
“Buttons are the make-up of dresses” as famously said by the magazine Modes et Travaux in 1941.
The exhibition stays open till 19th of July.

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Developing Riina O´s latest collection “Tempus Loquendi” we also looked at buttons for inspiration. Historically buttons have been used on gloves for practical and decorative purposes. With Carmela model we followed the example of ladies´ long evening Mousquetaire gloves to improve slim fit around wrist and add an elegant detail with leather coated buttons. Adelgunda gloves looked more closely at military uniforms of 19th century for inspiration, while Victoria gloves´ buttons got embraced by soft hairy pony skin turning into little “furry creatures”.

Riina O gloves
Riina O “Tempus Loquendi”

300 years old diner in Paris

Looking for a place to have dinner we stumbled upon this charming little French restaurant  just next to Notre Dame cathedral, on Ile de la Cité.
La Maison du Vieux was built in 1512, of the stones left over from building Notre Dame cathedral. At this time there were 37 houses built for monks and only 2 of them have survived  today. In 1723 the building was bought by a wine merchant, turning it into the restaurant that exists to this day. Being almost 300 years old, it is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris where you can really feel the history as you enter. Even the name of the place suggests that it is an “Old House” in translation.
Fortunately the history reflects in the tradition of French cooking, but not in the age of the food itself. They offer high quality courses freshly prepared of products coming from organic farms of South of France. The restaurant also has their own wine cellar.

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We were seated upstairs at the window with the view to the towers of the cathedral. History is reflected in every detail of the interior design: the heavily figured red fabric for wallpaper and tented ceilings, the antique prints, the exposed stonework and rich draperies. The whole place feels truly authentic and utterly French.
The food was very good! La Maison du Vieux offered a complementary starter of mushroom soup, I had scallops as main course and crisp Crème Brûlée for dessert, accompanied by the best quality Chardonnay.
All in all exceptionally pleasant experience and just the idea of the place having served meals for nearly 300 years already, made it feel really impressive!

Paris´ best hidden secret

Waking along walls of human bones with a slight smell of mold in the air. Bones of people who once were rich or poor, powerful or simple, lie mixed with one another, symbolizing human equality – if not earlier, then at least after death. Literally under the beautiful city of Paris there is another secret town with about 300 km of secret passages that have streets running parallelly under the ones on the ground, often bearing same names. Parisian catacombs are former quarries, dating back to Roman times. Strictly regulated stone digging went on until the prohibition at the beginning of 19th century. At the same time several Parisian cemeteries were severely overcrowded, starting to cause diseases to their living neighbours. It was then decided to turn the catacombs into common graveyard and transfer the bones underground. Additionally the underground space has been used for other purposes, such as covert during the Second World War. A small part of the catacombs have been open to public already since mid-19th century.
Public entrance can be recognised only by a long winding queue in front of it. Other than that it´s just an unremarkable black door of a random small house with a spiral staircase leading underground as you enter. The corridors are cut off with prison doors that trigger paranoid thoughts of getting locked up for good. However, excitement beats claustrophobia, urging to continue deeper and deeper underground.
“Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la mort.”
Bones of approximately six million people are laid out as straight wall of 18-27 meters in width, next to the side of a kilometer long passage. All of the bones are systematically grouped according to the cemetery where they are from. The first impression is quite appalling, but it is easy to get used to the surroundings. After a while you tend to forget that these bones ever had in fact belonged to people and this seems to be just part of setting.

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Most of the catacombs are closed to public. Despite it being illegal there are several secretive bands forming a subculture of cataphiles. Those are the people deeply into discovering catacombs through and through, having carefully mapped out the entire area. There is a danger of getting lost underground without knowing the passages. In the shadows of the night cataphiles crawl underground using drains and ventilation shafts. Although it is easy to imagine people holding extreme rituals, the main interest of cataphiles is just discovering secret passages, having underground picnics or throwing raves. Some of them even live there.
In 2004 police in Paris had discovered a fully equipped cinema with a small couscous restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern. It looked like an underground amphitheatre, with terraces cut into the rock and chairs. The whole thing ran off a professionally installed electricity system with several phone lines underground. There was a selection of movies from 1950s film noir classics to more recent thrillers. None of the films were banned or even offensive according to the spokesman. Three days later, when the police returned to investigate further, the place was cleared out with all of the phone and electricity lines cut off. On the floor they found a sign “Do not try to find us”.

Looking at Parisian catacombs from the style perspective, Alexander McQueen´ s sculls come to mind. Particularly his men´s AW 10/11 collection that was directly inspired of the catacombs with graphic prints on the suits.

Recently Riina O had a lookbook shoot collaboration with Belle Sauvage. Some of their AW 15/16 dresses suggested they had also used catacombs as one of their inspirations.

Parts of this story were published in Estonian newspaper Eesti Ekspress.