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Paris: Inès-Olympe Mercadal

The fifth-generation shoe designer for Atelier Mercadal, who will open a new store in St.-Germain-des-Prés this month, tells us how to be well-heeled in the City of Light.

Author Sara Lieberman Photography Guillaume Gaudet

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Everyone considers Paris the fashion capital of the world. What should people wear to blend in?
Trying to blend in is not very Parisian. It’s more about having unquestionable attitude—but not to be a snob. A real Parisian girl is supposed to be à l’aise, to feel and look good in every Paris district, to wear the same dress to a posh private party or to an underground exhibition.
 
What do you think about the beret being representative of Paris? Très chic or très gauche?
I don’t think much about the beret.  I’d rather wear a  jeweled turban!

Aside from your family, where do you find all your vintage clothes?
Flea markets and boutiques like Hippy Market, and Les Merveilles de Babellou at Marché Paul Bert in Sant-Ouen, and Mamie Blue in the 9th [arrondissement]. I have some marvelous furs that I cannot afford new, so I buy them from my friend’s boutique, Studio 21, in the Marais. I bought a white fox cap with the head on it! I also shop in H&M and Zara. So I’ll put a vintage crocodile belt from Chanel or Hermès with an H&M dress. And, of course, I’m wearing nice shoes.
 
Can you take us through what you’re wearing today?
This is a vintage hat from my grandmother that was made sur mesure [custom], a satin trench coat from H&M that I wear as a dress because it’s so soft, and a sample from my new collection of sexy chaussettes [socks and stockings], which I designed with [lingerie brand] Le Bourget. Of course, I’m wearing Mercadal pumps, the “Jerry.” And Emmanuelle Khanh glasses and some vintage Poggi and Chanel pearls from my mother. I don’t know why, but on this day I was feeling like a Spanish vintage retro widow.
 
Are the glasses just for show?
No! I swear, I’m almost blind in one eye. I have a strabismus divergent, just like Jean-Paul Sartre. So chic, non?

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