I am no longer able to step into the Hotel Costes without thinking of David Rakoff. He came to Paris with an American magazine to write about the Couture shows, which he recounts in Don’t Get Too Comfortable. He never mentions the name of the hotel he stays at, but it is so clearly the Costes. His driver warns him on the way there, “The people at this hotel are very beautiful, so if you want something, you must ask twice.” When he arrives in the dark lobby, he describes the beautiful guests draped “bonelessly” over the furniture, an observation he follows with, “Toad-like, I hopped over to reception.”
If you’re wondering what you see when you first walk in, this is a picture I took from the reception area, looking behind me.
The man checking in before me--early 30’s, handsome, cool sneakers-- calmly gets his room assignment. And then in the accent of an American who has spent a lot of time abroad, with the slight upward lilt at the end, he asks, “Did a package arrive for me?” There are packages at the end of the table; one is indeed his. He tucks it elegantly into his leather manbag, and pads away with the receptionist to find his room. I imagine in that moment that there has never been a day in his life when things have not gone smoothly for him: packages are always there; his room is always ready; his manbag never breaks its handle.
Toad-like, I check in.
When I’m shown to room 307 (overlooking the courtyard, which is the center of social activity), a bag of Lancome products sits on the bed. It’s a pretty sweet moment. I flop on the bed and squeal a little-- Julia Roberts alone in the fancy hotel after Richard Gere leaves. As many of you probably know, there is a pervasive scent in the Costes of seeds of coriander, musk, juniper, and lavender-- on sale, of course, in various candle and perfume incarnations downstairs, and also down the street at Colette. Surprise!
Next there is what we Americans would call a “Meet ‘n greet” in a little gem of a cushioned room in the far back of the hotel. I chat with Michel Campan who is VP of Interactive Marketing at Lancome and as it turns out, a fellow Bellevilloise—he lives a block away from me.
I meet Julie of Bloc-Mode, and when we’re filling out some legal waiver we notice that our birthdays are a few days apart, same year. “Two Taurus’s into fashion,” I say. “C’est normal qu’on est des materialistes alors,” Julie says laughing. I like the idea that my obsession wtih nice fabric might be in the stars rather than some snobbish side of my nature.
We go to Cafe de L’Homme for Lunch, just next to the Musee de L'Homme, where Stella McCartney has her ready-to-wear shows.
Edouard de la Taille from Lancome has an iPhone. We are amused.
Edouard and Garance
I really enjoy talking to Garance. Her blog has taken off in a huge way and I think it’s very good. Garance I met at the Hyeres fashion festival last April and see each other outside the shows where she shoots for her blog, but we had a lot of fun getting to know each other better over these two days.
There are sightseeing activities planned for the afternoon, but I have to return to my room to work on a story I’m copyediting for a freelance job. A bowl of red cherries arrives unexpectedly at around 4pm. I email various friends to tell them that I’m at the Costes, and about the surprise cherries, and to invite them over for a drink (which never ends up happening because there’s just no time). My friend Grandin, excited for me (which is what you want in a friend), emails right back: “Hollah for someone else’s dollah!”
And then it’s a cocktail downstairs in the hotel, and off to Maison Blanche. Now, all I really knew about the Maison Blanche was that it was fashionable, and that the French girl I used to intern with at a magazine in Paris would go there every Friday night with her “Meester Beeg.” There is something kind of Sex and the City about it. All sleek and glossy open white space, it feels un-Parisian in a way. Until you see the view.
Sometime after the main course, nearly the entire table—the three French bloggers plus Mathieu from Digitas and Marc Chaudmanche from Lancome (Chaudmanche, great name—translates to “hot grip”)—go out to the heated tent to smoke. You've probably heard that as of January people can’t smoke in bars and restaurants in Paris. Stéphane, who has recently given it up, observes that quitting smoking means you find yourself alone at tables a lot. Or in this case, with Americans. Trading up!
And then it was off to Paris Paris to watch a decent Berlin-based
band that was probably still in college. They threw confetti and the lead
singer occasionally shook a light-up tambourine. It was all very
faux-naive and playful. I had fun. The Lancome guys sat in their
black suits and drank champagne. The bloggers took pictures and drank
And then, well, it’s a long story, and I’ve been sworn to secrecy. No actually, I kissed everyone goodnight, and my ankle boots and I hoofed it back to the Costes a pied.