In The Magazine

Bonjour Paris

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pop culture enthusiast John Demsey is always on the pulse of what’s new and what’s next. As the executive group president at the Estée Lauder Companies Inc., he oversees a number of brands, including M.A.C Cosmetics, Tom Ford Beauty, Bobbi Brown, La Mer and GLAMGLOW, to name a few. He also serves as chairman of the M.A.C AIDS Fund and has a schedule constantly filled with events such as dinner parties and galas in New York. Three to four times a year, Demsey takes his social calendar across the globe to Paris, a place he refers to as “a muse in every sensorial way, from the street to the catwalk, to museums to the galleriesit is a moveable feast.” Here, the beauty guru shares his memories and must-sees from his visit to the capital of France during this year’s Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.

First on the agenda

I spent an afternoon as a jury member of the ANDAM Fashion Award, founded by the National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts developed under the initiative of the French Ministry of Culture. It’s a very exciting opportunity to view emerging talent, in which M.A.C Cosmetics has an integral part of their support and development.

Oh, it is love

I lived in Paris as a student during the late 1970s in a maid’s room underneath Andy Warhol’s outpost. This began my decades-long love affair with the City of Lights. Now when I’m here, I stay at the Bristol. I love classic, refined old hotels with impeccable service, delicious food (they prepare the best club sandwich and pommes frites on the continent), and I always run into people I know—along with the resident kitty cats that roam the floors, Cleopatra and Pharaoh.

Next up

Dinner in the garden of the newly renovated Ritz with my dear friend, Dr. Lisa Airan. Baguettes and brie, no botox…this time. After, I attended the magnificent Schiaparelli haute couture show on the Place Vendôme—Surrealism meets couture from this heritage house. The fun continued at Vetements debut couture show at the Galeries Lafayette. Amazing streetwear—imagine that a collaboration with Juicy Couture could be real couture.

Evening plan

A viewing of Versace haute couture’s collection with the amazing Donatella. The always radiant Carolyn Murphy opened and closed the show. I also met her lovely daughter, Dylan—lightning strikes again. Following, an inspiring dinner at the amfAR Paris Gala with dear friend Suzanne von Aichinger—longtime Dior/Gaultier muse, and currently social media whiz at Louboutin. Also at the dinner was Wolfgang Puck and his wife, Gelila, Olivia Palermo, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Garner and Karen Elson.

Traveling tips to live by

Definitely overpack and bring an extra canvas bag for more.

Shopping, shopping, shopping

Nothing is better than a lazy afternoon at Les Puces looking for vintage treasures. Also can’t go wrong with alligator belts at Hermès, custom shirts at Charvet, and dance mixes and CDs at Colette. I always visit the Frédéric Malle boutique on the Rue de Grenelle, the M.A.C store on the Champs-Elysées, and Le Labo in the Marais.

Favorite souvenir

My Hermès agenda in Yves Klein blue.

Celebrate good times

There’s nothing more glorious than spending Independence Day in Paris. After attending the Proenza Schouler resort presentation, I had lunch at the Café de Flore, where they have the best croque madame in the world. The July 4 evening continued with a barbecue at Lauren Santo Domingo’s home in honor of Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez at her magnificent maison particulière—I’m totally jonesing for François Catroux décor.


What a lucky guy I am to be able to travel to Paris to see the high life and the street life—from priceless jewels to ham sandwiches at 5 euros! 


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