June 26, 2005By Paris UpdateShopping


As chain stores continue to creep inexorably across Paris, filling empty retail spaces with their standardized clothing (with the result that every woman seems to be dressed in the same outfit), it’s always a pleasure to find a shop offering something unique.

In her boutique near the Canal Saint-Martin, Carmen Ragosta designs women’s clothing in the back room, has it run up by a seamstress, and sells it in the front, in between chatting with customers and neighbors.

Ragosta, an exuberant native of Naples who started out designing clothes for her Barbie doll as a little girl, has chosen Paris as her home. Since she doesn’t follow the traditional fashion system of spring-summer and fall-winter collections, shoppers can find something new nearly every time they visit the boutique. “I put out a few new items every weekend,” she says, showing off a wraparound skirt that is effectively two skirts in one since it looks completely different depending on how it is worn.

Her designs are mostly basics with a killer detail: a simple knit top with a couple of seams stitched on the front to form a subtle abstract pattern, for example, or an unusual mixture of fabrics. While new designs are always being added, she brings back the basics, but in different fabrics each time. Just about any woman could find something she likes here, especially with the help of Ragosta’s discerning eye.

The shop’s prices are surprisingly reasonable considering that each piece is unique: €49 for handsome white blouse, for example, €100 for a pair of pants, and between €100 and €135 for a skirt. Ragosta can also make clothing to measure and sells truly original Italian shoes that are da morire (to die for).

NapoliParis par Carmen Ragosta: 8, rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010. Tel.: 01 42 49 00 71. Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Monday.


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