A moment with Mélanie Raffit

This department store fashion buyer with an edgy rock ‘n’ roll-meets-baby doll style meets Lancôme in her colorful, vintage-filled apartment to talk Parisian lifestyle and her teenage years in the French capital.

Profession: Department store fashion accessories buyer.

17th Arrondissement.

As a Parisienne born and bred, what Parisian habits do you have?
I prefer living in areas that have a quiet, village feel and where there’s a great mix of people, like in Batignolles-Epinettes, around the 18th arrondissement town hall or even in Plaisance-Pernety.

Do you have any Paris happy places?
My Paris happy places are all related to my childhood and adolescence. I love walking across Parc Monceau to get home in the evening, I always get nostalgic when I walk past Lycée Chaptal (my old high school) on the Boulevard des Batignolles, and I always love eating at Entrecôte Porte Maillot, even though it’s forever full of tourists and is totally old-fashioned.
L’Entrecôte-Le Relais de Venise, 271 Boulevard Pereire, 75017 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 45 74 27 97.

Where do you go to relax and recharge?
La Villa des Platanes, a small renaissance château on boulevard de Clichy. It’s private, but I’m lucky enough to have a friend who lives there. It’s always a surprise to walk in. Then, Square des Batignolles, that was quoted in an old Telephone hit. It’s small and very charming. The ducks there are real kamikazes! You’ll often find them wandering the nearby streets, followed by locals on a mission to bring them back to the square. You see some really laugh-out-loud moments. Then, I have a fun ritual for stepping back in time at the Musée Gustave Moreau museum. I love going to an exhibition at what was Moreau’s home.
La Villa des Platanes, 58 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris.
Le Square des Batignolles, 144 bis Rue Cardinet, 75017 Paris.
Musée Gustave Moreau, 14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, 75009 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 48 74 38 50.

Do you have a favorite walk near you?
You can stroll down to the Saint-Ouen flea market from my place in the 18th arrondissement, which is a complete luxury.
Saint-Ouen Flea Market 142 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen.

Where do you go for inspiration in Paris?
The Nemours café on Place Colette, right in front of the Comédie Française theater. It’s the perfect spot for seeing inspiring and surprising people come and go.
Nemours, 2 Galerie de Nemours, 75001 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 61 34 14.

Who would you spend your perfect Parisian night out with?
With Lisa, Lorraine, Julie and Aurore, my high school friends. It would be at the Cyrano, an old dive near Place Clichy where you can hang out with eccentrics and surrealist artists. We’ve been going to the same bar for 20 years. It’s our “old ladies” place (laughs).
Cyrano, 3 Rue Biot, 75017 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 45 22 53 34.

Do you have any childhood memories that speak to your future character?
My first visit to a department store. It was to Printemps on Avenue des Ternes (it’s a FNAC store now). It was where I began to get addicted to department stores.

If Paris were an accessory what would it be?
A powder compact. Paris is like a beauty accessory: small, compact and delicate.

You’ve managed to translate your passion for fashion into a career, how do you link fashion and beauty together?
I actually started to become interested in beauty later in life, and really because I like color. It all began when I started to think about the exact color of my foundation. Then I began collecting lip colors in reds and oranges. I also started maintaining my coppery hair tone by always keeping it glossy. I’m obsessive about texture, after all it’s not just clothes that can bring out the beauty of skin, hair and lips.

Where do you get your passion for department stores?
The department store is a place that speaks to the past, to history and to architecture. It also speaks to the future, often with cutting edge product ranges. I love that multi-faceted feel to stores, it makes me feel connected to a strength that goes beyond me, one that brings together creativity and community. Fashion naturally plays a big part of that because it echoes whatever era we’re living in.

Happiness is…
Staying up all night with friends in Rio de Janeiro.

Do you have a good luck charm?
Yes, I found a mannequin’s hand in a beautiful window display at Bon Marché when I worked there and it’s been on my mantel ever since. I wouldn’t get rid of it for the world, even if some people think it’s kind of weird.

Name a movie that makes you smile.
High Fidelity with John Cusack, it’s a rom-com with a bit of an existential theme and a crazy, cool rock soundtrack.

Name three energy-boosting songs
I got my mind set on you by George Harrison, California by Phantom Planet and Gold Lion by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

What gets you out of bed on difficult mornings?
Reminding myself that I’m going to have breakfast.

What makes you smile?
My English boyfriend who gets mixed up and says ‘Bonjour’ when he means ‘Au Revoir’ when we're in stores.

How do you relax and disconnect?
By turning up the volume to Live Through This by Hole and the singer Courtney Love. It’s rock-meets-grunge-meets-punk vibe immediately relaxes me.

How do you beat the blues?
By always having some kind of project on the go.

When did you last get the giggles?
When I was having a chat with the new English girlfriend of one of my friends. She’s an interior designer, I thought I used the right word for designer, when I described her job, but I used the word ‘decorator’ which is more of a house painter in English. She was a little mad (laughs).

What’s your favorite breakfast?
At Joe Allen, you always know you’re going to eat well – and all inside a kind of historic homage to American cuisine.
Joe Allen, 30 Rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 36 70 13.

What’s your favorite French dish?
Special ‘boudin noir’ blood sausages with mashed potatoes.

What do you eat for an energy boost?
A brunch that includes Magic bread, using a recipe from New York chef Jim Lahey (it’s perfect to make at home because it doesn’t call for any kneading) along with some homemade guacamole and a poached egg. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Do you do any stress-busting sports year-round?
I swim whenever possible.

How would you describe the typical Parisienne?

As relaxed and elegant with a little vintage edge. I love the Parisian personality because we aren’t afraid to show off a little personal style. I don’t think there’s really just one type of Parisienne, but what makes the Parisienne special is the way she can combine several looks.

Name a typically Parisian beauty habit you love.

Do you have any special beauty habits?
I use a cold press whenever I have puffy, tired winter eyes.

Do you have any specific rituals to help you sleep?
I’m addicted to pillow sprays.

Do you have any home beauty recipes?
I drink half a squeezed lemon juice and then splash my face with the other half.

Do you have any beauty secrets?
I always get my brows done by a professional, it’s a very important part of the face to take care of.

Mélanie’s Paris address book

Where do you go for:

For fashion and accessories?
Chéri, it’s a beautiful little women’s clothes boutique, with pieces from all four corners of the world - from France to Morocco - and all very boho. This little jewelry box-like store lends its childlike, playful charm to the fact that it was previously a doll store.
Chéri, 8 Rue Brochant, 75017 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 63 23 93.

To de-stress?
There’s nothing like a good mani-pedi, I love to enjoy a little Zen break at Tammy American Nails.
Tammy American Nails, 2 Rue des Dames, 75017 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 44 90 00 27.

For tea, coffee or a cocktail?
Le Fumoir, its grand terrace opposite the Louvre and its elegant interior make it perfect for chatting with friends or with a date. Le Nemours is also a good choice: chic and right in the center of Paris (next to Comédie Française, the Louvre, the Arts Décoratifs Museum) and not far from the busy yet pretty Palais-Royal gardens.

Le Fumoir, 6, Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny, 75001 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 92 00 24.
Nemours, 2 Galerie de Nemours, 75001 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 61 34 14.

For lunch with friends?
The very British Rose Bakery in Montmartre, where you’ll find stacks of tasty cakes in a very cozy little old-fashioned grocery store atmosphere.

Rose Bakery, 46 Rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 82 12 80.

Photos: Saskia Lawaks