By Colette Davidson
So, you’re walking along the Seine in the south of Paris, as the Notre Dame Cathedral disappears from view. And out of nowhere is this neon green, worm-like monstrosity, snaking along the edge of a building and protruding out into the river. What the heck is it, you’re probably wondering? This architectural wonder, or eyesore, (however you want to look at it), is part of Les Docks: Cité de la Mode et du Design – holding Paris’s school of fashion, plus restaurants, bars and shops related to all things design.
The destination is a place for designers, artisans, representatives of top brand names and fashion lovers to meet, discuss and compare their work. The 15,000 m² center is split into several sections – to create, shop, eat and party.
Start at the main museum, which advertizes its “art ludique” – a steady stream of exhibitions from new and established talent. Here, the art world’s barriers between Manga comic books, film animation, drawing, painting, sculpture and video games have been broken down.
Looking for something special for your place back in the states? Peak your head into Silvera Outdoor, which boasts well-made, unique furniture and decorations by Fermob, Tribu, Paola Lenti and Extremis. Or stop into Magasin M1 for jewelry, lighting design, books and home decoration, all displayed on open, pine-colored wooden shelves.
Once you’ve had your fill of art and design for the day, head over to M.O.B and lap up some of the best vegan cuisine in Paris. These all-natural, faux hamburgers, hot dogs and other American-style delights are tastier than you may expect. But don’t just stay for dinner at the Cité de la Mode – there’s plenty to do here in terms of nighttime activities. Move up to the rooftop bar, Nuba, where a tropical cabana-like ambiance will transport you south of the Equator. Nuba even grows fresh mint behind the bar, and servers use the herb liberally in their homemade cocktails. Classic white tents and mini hanging lights set the festive mood. Then, there’s the Moon Roof, where you can relax with a flavored hookah, a drink and a full view of the Seine.
Or, if you’re in a true party mode, stop into Wanderlust, a proper club within the Cité de la Mode. The weekly program is divided between Hip Hop, electro and funk, and is the place-to-be on a weekend night. But prepare before you go – a handful of menacing-looking bouncers stand at the ready to turn down potential guests if the dress code is not followed properly. Never fear though, Wanderlust is also open in the daytime, with activities like yoga, ping pong and Crossfit offered every Saturday on the massive terrace. Sundays are great for bringing the kids, where the terrace turns into a giant playground and offers workshops as well.
And of course, we can’t forget that at the root of it all is the French Institute of Fashion (IFM) – counting 150 Master level students and 2,000 professionals in training in fashion, textiles and design. The school often holds conferences open to the public and has its own reference library for true fashion lovers.