Fashion Week

An Americano (or Two) in Paris, and One from Spain to Boot

Fashion Week Journal for Monday, March 9

It’s weird but true: a good coffee in Paris is hard to find. Unless, that is, you happen to go by Vogue’s Americans in Paris Fashion Week showcase where a certain award-winning, coffee-making expat is pulling shots and doling out croissants.

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Melodie Knight is French on her father’s side, but all-American, in the best way, on the other. Her most recent stateside years were spent in Seattle, where she ruled the city’s caffeine scene and sang and played with the indie band Campfire OK. But Europe called, and for the last two years she tripped from the south of France to the north before settling in the city, and returning to coffee.

And coffee is different in Paris. Oh, there’s a Starbucks on every street and a few bean-centric spots exist akin to the ones we know, love and depend on like oxygen, but they’re just not as prevalent, and the common cafe’s coffee or cappuccino just falls a little bit short to those of us spoiled rotten by single origins and boutique roasting.

Knight might be changing all that. Can I just tell you that she is the French champion in one of five competition categories that baristas and coffeemakers around the world compete in? That an American holds that title in France has to tell you something, right? She’s worked and consulted with all the hip, emerging artisan spots in Paris, and has for the time being settled into a catering gig that takes her all over Europe—and, as it turns out, into the fashion world.

It was pure coincidence that her company sent their American star to talk with the folks putting together Vogue and the CFDA’s Americans in Paris. The elevated showroom-like experience is the magazine’s way of supporting emerging designers; by putting them into the European market, and then hosting buyers, editors and everyone else inside a warm, homey hangout zone complete with croissants, free Wi-Fi, comfy leather couches and top-notch fuel. Once the Vogue team learned of Knight’s American and French pedigree, the deal was sealed.

And once I heard of Knight’s position, I had to quiz her on fashion people and their coffee while I tried my best not to take advantage of her expert macchiatos.

On the standard order: “Lattes. They almost always ask for a latte.”

On milk: “They do ask for soy, but we don’t do soy.”

With this, Knight launched into a wonderfully geeky discourse on nondairy fats and proteins and how they separate or don’t to form proper and beautiful foam. As it turns out, Vogue’s petit cafe offers several bottled offerings from Bob’s Cold Press, one of very few juicing operations in Paris (hello, entrepreneurs with a travel bug—get in on this!), one of which is almond milk. And almond milk is the only nondairy milk that passes Knight’s scientific and taste-based tests. Vogue visitors with lactose qualms are in luck, but in general, if a rice or soy triple-cap is your standard order, you will very likely need to alter it upon traveling to the City of Lights.

On asking for a ‘regular coffee’: “I know most of these people have been traveling for a few weeks now, and that they travel a lot in general. And they’ve come from all over! So when they ask for a ‘regular coffee,’ it’s hard to know what that means to them. For example, in Italy, a regular coffee can mean either a very short or a very long espresso; in America it means either a drip or an Americano; and here in France it usually means an espresso.”

On Anna Wintour’s order: “I was so excited to see her, but all she wanted was a glass of water.”

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While I was visiting with Knight at Americans in Paris, along came Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim and her team who are in town buying not just for our radical Pop-Ins, but for a new Kim-curated emerging-designer initiative that we’re excited to tell you more about in weeks to come.

Kim, her team and I all visited for a while with Tanya Taylor, a new-to-Nordstrom designer who was among the ten designers selected by Wintour and company to rep the States in the showroom.

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The Toronto-born, New York-based designer’s fall collection is a spirited mix of knits, wovens and faux-leather textiles in sparkle, stripe and abstract that come together for a very Brit It Girl sort of feeling. Taylor’s got a super-fresh perspective on the modern contemporary sweet spot—in other words, the sort of everyday-to-special-day pieces that women love to wear, at prices they love to find. Her footwear collaborations with Paul Andrew add even more interest and activation.

We can’t wait to see where Taylor takes her line—and where you take her pieces.

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Shop: Tanya Taylor current season

 

Finally, before I sign off for the day, how about a Spaniard in Paris?

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I ducked into the art gallery serving as Pedro Garcia’s Parisian showroom to get a look at what we’ll be offering shoppers next fall, and got fully immersed in his world of comfort and luxury. As always, many of Garcia’s fall styles rest (literally) on that comfy cork footbed and run the gambit from casual to collection-worthy.

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Extra bonus cool news: HANDBAGS.

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Here, your sneak peek of some of Nordstrom and Garcia’s Fall ’15 best—and no, Garcia didn’t make pairs of fur-lined, open-toed knee-highs in two colors, it’s just that the showroom model was kind enough to slip on one of each—black and grey—so that we could see them in action.

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Oh and here’s something new: Men’s! Pedro Garcia for men will be offered at our brand new Puerto Rico location.

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Shop: Pedro Garcia current season

 

—Laura Cassidy