A Glossy Weekend In Paris With Liv Monaghan

From Montenotte to Montmartre in PARIS, stylist and jazz singer, LIV MONAGHAN’s weekend revolves around her passion for vintage fashion and music …

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I initially came to Paris to study costume design five years ago and have always felt at home here. I am based in Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, the historic artistic quarter of the city, living right next door to what was the famous Pathé cinema, the French equivalent of a Hollywood film studio which was huge in the 1960s though it is a school now. With its artists’ studios and independent boutiques, the area still has a homely, village atmosphere which I love. I have a studio apartment which is the most common accommodation in Paris for people who are not in a relationship – they don’t do the sharing flat business here, not to the extent as in Dublin or London. It’s an insight into French attitudes – the idea of sharing a living space with another, while not in a relationship is not the done thing.

My Saturdays start like every other morning, doing my vocal exercises on the piano. Weekends for me are quite busy with concerts; more about work than leisure so I don’t get into a conventional weekend rhythm. In the morning I might have breakfast with a friend in a lovely cafe near me called Les Novices where we will catch up over a cafe crème, a croissant or a tartine confiture.

Weekends are also when I have to think about what to sell on my website, so after breakfast I head to the flea markets – Porte de Montreuil on the west side has a lot of high-end labels as well as stuff from the 1950s and 1960s. Recent finds were an Hermès dress for €20, an Yves St Laurent jacket from the 1980s and a Givenchy dress. There’s something wonderful about picking up a Louis Vuitton cashmere cardigan for a fiver! For more antique pieces, I go to Porte de Vanves on the east side, but I always check online beforehand on the videgrenier website I never go to the tourist markets like Porte de Cligancourt because they are expensive and you don’t find bargains.

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Scouring the markets is hard work and I generally spend about four hours at it. After that I tend to go the 11th for lunch to chill at the Café CC for its excellent coffee, amazing cakes and small brunch style nibbles, nothing too heavy. Another favourite place is Chez Francis La Butte which is a more traditional French bistro but with a friendly welcoming atmosphere. Since I moved here I eat less but in a more healthy way and hardly any meat. I don’t have an oven at home which is very common in Paris apartments, so I tend to prepare clean, fresh food. I drink a lot of wine because good quality wine doesn’t cost a lot, though cocktails are very expensive. The drink culture is very different and the French don’t consume in the same way, or as much, as at home.

After lunch I prepare for my concert and do a bit of shopping for something new to wear. I don’t buy fast fashion and I have probably toned down the fun element in my dress, wearing more greys and blacks. The French are terrified of colour or straying from a classic wardrobe. Despite what foreigners think they are incredibly reserved and it is reflected in their style. One of my favourite vintage shops is Chine Machine (Rue des Martyrs) beside the Abbesses metro which is amazing – a lot of stars like Vanessa Paradis sell their clothes there and you can find super pieces.

Back home I do my hair and make-up which takes about an hour and prepare my set list for the concert which usually starts at 8pm. I eat at the venue beforehand with my musicians and most Saturdays at La Scène Thélème near the Arc de Triompe which is like a concept theatre, showcasing up and coming talent in France. It has a Michelin star restaurant so it’s a great pleasure having a meal there.

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Afterwards I’ll have a drink at the venue and then head to a house party in a friend’s house – there are a lot of house parties in Paris – the French are very into their private soirées. It could be quite late by the time I get home and on Sunday morning I tend to take advantage of the markets a bit closer to where I live. Depending on how I am from the night before I go to the quirkier and smaller Vive Grenier markets which means “emptying the attic”. After that I usually arrange a rendezvous with a friend in a lovely place called Soul Kitchen but sometimes I also sing at brunch in the Café Cave in my area. On a Sunday evening I love walking along the Seine and going to the bar at L’Hotel on the Left Bank which is stunning and where they do amazing cocktails like the Wilde called after Oscar Wilde who lived there until his death.

Otherwise I am singing on Sunday nights in some of the best jazz clubs in Paris – the Café Cave, La Scène Thélème or Sunset Sunshine, so it can be a heavy weekend and hard to socialise. In Paris on Sunday evenings it’s very common for people to go to the movies – cinema is a huge deal here with no shortage of good movie theatres. I love the Georges Méliès in Montreuil which is known as the “director’s cinema” for its huge library. It shows a lot of independent movies, has a lot of screens and a lot of choice.

I love clothes and I love music but music is what I have become known for here and it is easier now to describe myself as a singer even though I still work on high-profile styling assignments. My new collection of scarves for men and women incorporates lyrics from my EP Beauty in the Park and I like that idea of wearing art. There is a big social aspect to my life as a singer in that I am often meeting new and interesting people and discovering how to create new collaborations that way, so weekends are work-heavy, but have their rewards.

Liv Monaghan’s website is www.altofigaro.bigcartel.com.

In conversation with Deirdre McQuillan

This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this don’t miss our next issue, out Thursday May 4.

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