curating inspiration

As anyone in Paris is well aware, given the amount of fashion forward (and fashion faux pas) walking the streets of Paris these days, it’s Fashion Week. Rather than attending crowded shows to catch a glimpse of new trends that are often only seen on the catwalk, I chose a more inspired path. Friday night was the opening of the Dries Van Noten exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I was lucky enough to join Anne of Ritournelle Blog, along with the who’s who of fashion, including Dries himself! This is the Belgian fashion icon’s first solo exhibition, aptly titled Inspirations. Not merely a fashion exhibition, but a look into the mind of a designer through art, imagination and creativity.

IMG_7217The starting point of a collection can be either very literal or abstract, a painting, a certain colour, a thought, a gesture, a smell, a flower, anything really. What matters to me is the journey from that first flash of inspiration to the final destination, the individual garments, the collection.

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I was impressed and inspired by this in-depth look into the mind of an artist. Here’s what Suzy Menkes of the International New York Times had to say, along with a video tour with Dries himself. This exhibition, which took 2 years to mount, will be on display until August 31st. Well worth a visit for anyone with creative sensibilities and a love for fashion, art & travel. Worth even a trip to Paris!

supporting the small

Today is Small Business Saturday, the day following the largest shopping day in America. Even prior to starting my own handbag business I always tried to support small enterprises, those with the courage, passion and drive to start a venture of their own. One such Paris-based, chic, eco-conscious scarf company I recently learned about is Krama Heritage. Here’s a little background.

The Krama, which has been traditionally worn in Cambodia for centuries, is the Khmers’ belonging sign and a very useful scarf in their everyday life. For us, it’s the best way to develop a social project in Cambodia: all our Kramas are woven by a cooperative of weavers in fair trade conditions and, for each Krama purchased, we hand out €3 to the Non Governmental Organization Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile).

Krama Heritage

Launched 11 months ago, these unisex scarves are making a statement around the world. I share one with my Italian, and each time he or I wear it I think of Cambodia and it’s people. Having been to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh during my travels, and meeting the locals, I know how greatly such a business can benefit it’s people. Bravo to Krama Heritage for thinking globally and acting locally!

Krama scarf

On our recent trip to Bruges, a little piece of Cambodia proudly accompanied us.

Find out more about Krama Heritage on their website and Facebook page.

And thank you for supporting small business!

indie elegance

When it comes to French fashion, Paris tends to overwhelm with endless designer boutiques lining the streets, particularly in the Marais. The question is, how NOT to look like all the mannequins peering out the windows, enticing you to fall in love with the latest trend. Not to mention the women parading around the city, an ever changing fashion show. Thus, when I discover an independent designer that suits my (classic with a twist) fashion sensibility, I become a loyal follower.

One such designer I met by chance, as she happens to be my manufacturer’s wife. On first glance of her ‘elegant yet casually chic with just a touch of masculine’ ready-to-wear collections, I was smitten.

Suppan is unique not only in it’s Indo-Austrian roots but in it’s philosophy.

Our approach is to reconsider production standards. We build our collections through a humanistic point of view, starting from the conception up to the manufacturing process and propose a selection of timeless and handmade items in a limited edition, entirely crafted in Paris. We try to distance ourselves and our creative process from cultural and social conditioning and conformity and propose a bare aesthetic, contrasting with fine materials, refined treatments and handcrafted finishing details.

Yes, it’s all about quality and details.

This weekend join us in Paris for a VENTE PRIVÉE, as we showcase our limited edition pieces, womenswear by Suppan and handbags by Kasia Dietz. Many of my new handbags will be featured!

VENDREDI 30 + SAMEDI 31 MARS : 11 H À 20 H

DIMANCHE 1 AVRIL : 10 H À 17 H

9, RUE TAYLOR 10ÈME

95 years young

Since I was a little girl I always appreciated (and often preferred) the company of elders. If given the choice whether to play with kids my own age or accompany my mom to a friend’s, I usually chose the latter. Perhaps I knew early on how much more you can learn from those older and wiser.

During my colorful New York chapter there was one particular uniquely wise and eccentric woman I often encountered, also perhaps the oldest fashionista to grace the New York nightlife. I first met Zelda Kaplan during my film debut. Aren’t we all entitled to 15 minutes of fame? Along with many other young women we starred in a film directed by Elise Bennett, Beyond the Ladies Room Door. Incidentally, the screening took place close to home at the Hamptons Film Festival. It was a bonding experience, spending time getting to know so many woman, filming for days in a bathroom… Zelda being the wise sage we all sought advice from. A role well suited her.

I write this now in tribute to Zelda Kaplan who passed away last Wednesday, very fittingly in the front row of a fashion show, 95 years young, and filled with life. An example of how aging does not mean living any less vibrantly. Zelda always made a statement in remaining an individual. After all, she designed all her own clothes, very beautiful fabrics might I add, and lived by her own rules. And her advice was always worth listening to. “One must be interested in the world, not in one’s self.” Rest in peace, Zelda.

 

travel meets fashion

I love to travel as much as I love designing. Thus, I decided to design a custom travel bag, revealing the three cities closest to my heart. A seemingly easy task, at least for the first two. Paris, since this is now my home and ever since that first visit so many years ago, love at first encounter. New York since it’s where I spent some of the most memorable (and formative) years of my life.

As for the third, that was a challenge. There are many cities I became enamored with, mostly during my journey around the world. Buenos Aires, Hanoi, Ubud (more a town than a city), Sydney, Mumbai, Kyoto, Luang Prabang, Krakow, London, Mexico City… the list goes on. But where was it that stood out in my mind unlike any other? Tokyo. Perhaps because I was there with dear friends on both my first visit and my second. Or perhaps it was due to the freshest sushi I’ve even eaten at 7am after a night of darts and karaoke… or simply, the unique energy and electricity in the air.

Whatever it was, Tokyo won a place on my bag. Along with Paris and New York.

What are your top three?

To make this equally exciting for all fashion savvy travelers out there, I’m giving away one custom hand-painted reversible travel bag to a lucky traveler and fan. With your initials printed on the inside pocket. To enter, leave a comment stating your three favorite cities and join my facebook fan page where I will announce the winner on December 15th. Bonne chance and many a bon voyage!

To order a custom bag or join a bag painting workshop and create your own: info@kasiadietz.com

fashion forward

Every Paris Fashion Week I have the glamorous good fortune of going to at least one of the fashion shows, défilés de mode as they are called in this part of the world. Always an interesting and often inspiring experience, both for the fashion as well as for the setting. Last year found me at the Galerie de Minéralogie for Amaya Arzuaga with Melissa of Prête Moi Paris. This year the lovely Melissa invited me on another fashion adventure, this one taking place in a boat on the Seine. And for none other than one of my favorite French fashion designers agnès b. The setting alone was magical!

What fashion trends were revealed upon this grand bateau? That the little black dress I often associated with agnès b. is no longer a dress, nor is it black. 

This was only the beginning of what turned out to be a show of colors… and fairytale peasantry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After what felt like a theatrical performance, the elegance of agnès b. resumed. With a modern twist.

Following one more surprise… Who says the fashion world has no sense of humour?

Agnès herself took a humble strut to a cacophony of applause from a well entertained crowd.

Black is still black.

For more on Paris Fashion Week Spring 2012, take a look at Moon Young Hee and Agonovich!

a la mode

 

Many years before I first stepped my well dressed foot in Paris, I loved Parisian fashion. I found it to be timeless, elegant and classy. Had I as a child, watched too many films starring my beloved Audrey Hepburn? Perhaps. Nonetheless, for anyone who has ever been to Paris, there is definitely a ‘look’. Depending on the neighborhood of course, but in my designing eyes, Paris is the city of fashion. Once the home of Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent (to name a few), how can it not be?

Fashion week is upon us again yet I am losing track of it’s dates as every day can easily prove a fashion show. I tend to rely on basic black adopted from my NY days and select accessories, constituting my ‘Parisian look’.

For more of my fashion musings, here’s something I wrote for the ladies at HiP Paris: ‘Parisian Fashion‘.

 

And take care when you run to the boulangerie for a baguette, there does exist a dress code!

sharing the bag love

It’s been 17 days since I launched my new handbag business. I hadn’t planned on writing a post about it, but with so much attention, interest and orders from around the world, I simply can’t resist. Mostly, to thank everyone for all the love and support. Where to begin?

I was honored to be interviewed by friend and fellow expat Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland who writes a weekly column for BitchBuzz, a highly reputed women’s lifestyle site. It’s interesting (and challenging) to delve into your own mind and find out exactly what makes you tick, and in my case, design. Here’s our Q&A: from NY to Paris, also featured on her blog!

Nirit Sumeruk writes a very fashion forward blogazine Paris Popcorn featuring new and emerging trends, my handbags being one of them! She is particularly fond of the Paris Collection and asks the eminent question of anyone living in Paris: are you Rive Gauche or Rive Droite?

Speaking of Downtown/Rive Droite gals, friend and fellow NYer/Parisian (you can surely claim to be both, can’t you?), Amy Thomas of God, I love Paris, has chosen her favorite side, and bag.

My Francophile friend and blogger Andi Fisher of Misadventures with Andi generously included my ‘I heart Paris‘ hand-printed bag in the grand finale of her 12 days of Christmas giveaway. (You still have time to enter, winner will be randomly chosen at midnight PST on December 19th!) It’s also great to know which bags are favorites from both old and new collections!

Little did I know who else was sharing the love. Maggie Battista, part of the lovely HiP Paris blog, is coveting one of my bags on her ‘wish list‘ (perhaps her husband will get the subtle hint?)

I’m very proud to be a featured designer on Swelle Boutique, a showcase of clothing & accessories that bring the dreamy and romantic into our daily lives in tangible, wearable form. How fitting!

Please let me know if I am missing anyone, as I would like to offer personal gratitude.

Stay tuned via my Facebook Fan Page and twitter @kasiainparis (and for special bag promos @kasiadietzbags) for a lot more news and bag love in 2011!

fashionably speaking

Paris is the world’s fashion capital. And nowhere else is this more evident than on the streets of this fashionistas gone wild city. I’m lucky to be living in what I consider one of the most fashionable neighborhoods, the Marais. The streets keep me informed of the latest styles and colors, keeping me inspired in my own world of creation and design. I’m not one to follow too many trends, in my personal style nor in my designing, but do appreciate what’s ‘in vogue’ and enjoy this ever evolving creative medium called dress. I shared a few thoughts upon arrival one year ago during my first Fashion Week in Paris. And again in ‘the look of a Parisian’, as another Fashion week approached. 

The streets of Paris will remain my all-time favorite perpetual fashion show. Here are a few recent ‘street looks a la Parisienne’. This year however, at the invitation of Melissa, a fellow expat and blogger, I finally had a chance to see what goes on behind closed doors. Specifically, the doors of Galerie de Minéralogie. Where else but in Paris do you attend a fashion show in a history museum?

Spanish designer Amaya Arzuaga proved to have chosen the perfect venue to reveal her geometric designs evoking caterpillars, butterflies and other fauna. More on Melissa’s blog: Pret Moi Paris.



Ready to fly yet?

a hidden paradise

Before moving to Paris I could not get enough of the Parisian bistros found on nearly every corner. To sit and imagine my life as a French girl. These days, I no longer need to imagine as I sink further into my mostly blissful reality as an expat in France. I still revel in the cafe culture and often find myself sitting at a cozy cafe with every intention of studying French but much too preoccupied with studying faces and street style of the passersby.

Recently, on my way to such a cafe I discovered a doorway leading into a hidden paradise. A place to hide from the world and that could quite honestly be anywhere in the world (apart from the fact that there are floor to ceiling shelves of used French books lining the walls, a minor detail). This is my new haven. A place of tranquility and refuge in my beloved neighborhood of the Marais. A place to study, meet a friend or make a new one, peruse a French comic book (that’s about my level these days), splurge on coffee and cake, or simply dream. And should you need a new designer shirt, a Liberty mug, a dining table to put it on, or a lightbulb, voila! To the creators of this conceptual one-stop wonderland all I can say is Merci!

Passing the Fiat Cinquecento and stepping into the 3-story loft space that creates Merci, you feel like you are entering someone’s dream, if not your own. In fact, Merci is the realized dream of Marie-France and Bernard Cohen, the founders of the famous children’s clothing line Bonpoint. What makes this store so unique and even more highly venerated is that that all of it’s proceeds are donated to a co-op for young women in Madagascar. Thus, it’s impossible to feel any guilt while shopping! Not to mention that much of the unique, fashion-forward men’s, women’s and children’s clothing has been designed exclusively for this space and cause.


I’m wondering if they would mind if I moved in…

Merci, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris 75003 http://www.merci-merci.com