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How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Caroline de Maigret at FIAF

UGH, the FRENCH. What is it about them? I just returned from Paris a couple of weeks ago (I hadn't been in years) and I can attest that French women have something magnificently special about them - a certain confidence, a certain ease, a certain willingness to eat dessert (really!) that's just so, so sexy. It never feels like they're trying too hard. Maddening, I tell you. Maddening.

In an effort to better channel the appeal of a Parisian, on Friday, February 13th, you'll find me at FIAF - the French Institute Alliance Française - to absorb all of the wisdom that Caroline de Maigret - style icon, music producer, muse and author of the bestselling How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style and Bad Habits - is willing to offer up. Maigret is impossibly chic, of course, and How to be Parisian Wherever You Are is a fun and irreverent read.

The talk, part of FIAF's ongoing Creative Leaders series, will be followed by a book signing; more information and tickets are available here!

When in London: Guy Bourdin, Image Maker

When in London and Paris for work last week, I snuck in a little time for culture and high on my list was the Guy Bourdin exhibit at Somerset House.

For the uninitiated, you're likely...not. You've seen Bourdin's work or felt his influence countless times. Best known for his years of collaboration with the now defunct Charles Jourdan, Bourdin's work was sexually charged and laced with surrealism. He was also a pioneer of fashion film, and often shot Super-8 films at the same time as his on-location photo shoots, documenting the process behind capturing the perfect image.

If you'll be in London, visit the Guy Bourdin: Image Maker exhibit at Somerset House, now through March 15. Advance tickets (not necessary, in my experience) are available here!

Shop This: Rent the Runway Sample Sale

A New Year, A Fresh Start: Spa Castle Premier

Photo via Racked

A new year, a new you, and I don't know a better way to start anew than with a Korean body scrub, peeps. I most recently indulged at the newly opened Spa Castle Premier, sister to the relaxation mecca in College Point, Queens. Three-levels of pampering, including an indoor bade pool with reflexology-style jets and swim-up bar (drinks are EXORBITANTLY priced, fair warning), nude water lounges, and six different kinds of saunas are located discreetly in an inauspicious Midtown office building - you'd never guess it was there.

The center of any Korean spa experience is, make no mistake about it, the scrub. And for the unitiated, it's not a relaxing experience by any measure. You'll be fully nude, and a likely tiny Korean woman in a bra and panties will scrub you, quite literally, within an inch of your life using scrubby washcloths like these. Scrubs at Spa Castle Premier are surprisingly and offensively expensive, starting at $165/50 minutes, but it was $165 well spent regardless, particularly considering that a massage, facial cleansing and shampoo/condition are all part of the experience. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've never felt cleaner, softer or more ready to take on the world than when I left.

Take some time to lounge in the cafe area, and enjoy something savory (dumpling soup with rice cake?) or sweet (Korean shave ice). You won't want to miss the kimchee either - Spa Castle Premier's was the best I've had, weirdly, ever.

Spa Castle Premier passes, which allow unlimited access to the facilities (scrubs and massages are additional), are $65. To learn more, click here.

BYOB: Build Your Own Birchbox in SoHo

Earlier this week, after a workout, I dropped by the Birchbox SoHo store. If you have yet to visit, you're really missing out - there's a great assortment of established and niche beauty brands, great gift-y items, mini services including manicures and, perhaps best of all, a Build Your Own Birchbox station.

While I need more beauty products like I need a hole in my head, I used my upcoming 8 day business trip to London and Paris as an excuse to justify building my own Birchbox - this month's samples were too tempting to resist.  For $15, here's what I picked up:

They threw in single-use packets of Oribe Brilliant Shine Shampoo & Conditioner, and also a Dr. Jart Pore Minimalist Sheet Mask as a GWP at the counter, which was a great little thank you (the sheet mask is valued at $7.50 alone.)

Have you visited Birchbox SoHo yet? The bi-level store is located at 433 West Broadway, between Prince and Spring.

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