Fab French Fashion - NBC Bay Area

Fab French Fashion



    Fab French Fashion

    I feel like I've just been given a top-secret map and a skeleton key that I should hide in the bottom drawer of my dresser or better yet, sell to the couture-craving fashionistas of San Francisco for a profit.

    Today, you're in luck because for the bargain price of free, I'm going to reveal to you a retail treasure.

    Fresh-off-the-runway threads flown in directly from Paris and Milan are in Hayes Valley. It's true.

    The hidden gem, is called Nida and it's nestled perfectly between antique shops and quaint cafes with outdoor seating ... all of it evoking that magnetic Parisian flare.

    Nida is a family-owned and operated business, originating in Italy over 40 years ago. The San Francisco boutique opened in 1995, selling collections from only the most exclusive designers.

    Store manager and assistant buyer, Jamie Hillman, gave me a quick tour of the women's clothing that comes primarily from France, as well as, the men's selection that's mostly from Italy.

    One of the haute lines that has every fashion-hungry palette (including my own) salivating eagerly for a taste, is Paul & Joe SISTER. Nida is the only retailer in SF that carries it.

    If you're not really into fashion, imagine if there were only ONE place to get a hot fudge sundae or only ONE place to get an ice cold beer and you just found out where it was. Cool, right?

    Paul & Joe, named after French designer Sophie Albou's two sons, actually began as a mens line. Albou's fresh take on sportswear left the ladies begging and pleading for a collection of their own. Albou delivered.

    "An active, sparkling, anti-conformist who loves travel and luxury," is how Sophie Albou describes the Paul & Joe woman.

    Albou's looks are truly wearable, and the cuts and fabrics are perfection, but they come at a price.

    Again, answering to the needs of her die-hard fans, Albou created Paul & Joe SISTER, specifically for the high-fashion girl on a budget.

    "Paul & Joe SISTER has all of the craftsmanship and fabrication of its parent line, the only difference is, it's affordable," Hillman explained as she handed me a melt-in-your-hand silk tiered dress with an asymetrical shoulder line, that left me drooling.

    I must have been making some sort of desperate face, or maybe I really was drooling, because Hillman slipped "my dress" onto the front mannequin in the store.

    It all got very Discovery Channel-wierd when I caught myself circling it, like some wild predator.

    Hopefully, Hillman didn't notice.

    Pocketed cotton shorts, a navy frock with a crocheted racer-cut neckline and a short-sleeved, heavy knit sweater that looked like it would hug and slouch in all the right places, also caught my eye.

    Hollywood fans who've been able to get their hands on Paul & Joe SISTER include Julia Roberts, Gweyneth Paltrow, Sienna Miller, Nicole Ritchie and Vanessa Paradis.

    Hillman, said that there is no average age or profile that fits the line, or the Nida store.

    "They're in their early 20s to late 50s ... and they're very loyal, " she added.

    This all proved true in the short time I was there, women and men of various ages and personal styles walked through the door. Some of them even called Jamie by name.

    Nida, located at 544 Hayes Street, is having a sale May 5-14th. Mark your calendars.