This story originally appeared in the September 2019 issue. It was written by Martinique Lewis.
Paris has often dictated what’s fly. Since the eighteenth century, the popular French city has set trends and the rest of the world has followed. It’s the birthplace of haute couture, the fashion capital of the universe. There’s no place quite as dazzling as the City of Light. It’s vibrant, chic, sexy and cutting-edge. From the first to the twentieth arrondissement, arts, culture and melanin make up the city’s DNA.
But it’s Paris’ welcoming legacy that is the reason for its enduring popularity. African-American musicians, writers, artists and political exiles came to Paris from the 1800’s through World War I and later during the Harlem Renaissance through the 1970’s, fleeing racism in America. Along the way they infused the city with their unmistakable flavor. Though unknown to most, a thriving Black community is at the center of Paris’s style. We brought cultural richness from across the African diaspora, so our influence can be seen and felt everywhere around town.
We are the tastemakers, trendsetters, designers, filmmakers, social activists and entrepreneurs. We are innovative and creatively exceptional. We are Black Paris. There’s a reason Josephine Baker said, “I don’t want to live without Paris,” and after you visit this majestic city, you may feel the same way, too. We caught up with Paris’s most influential Cool Girls for an exclusive look at the city through their lens. Whether it’s your first time visiting or you’re a regular, you’ll want to take notes.
Adama Amanda Ndiaye
Fashion designer, entrepreneur
The MUVA of noire fashion, Ndiaye is the creator of Black Fashion Week. Her collections shut down the runway season after season.
SEE: La Coulée Verte “The rather unusual scene of an old railway line that’s now covered in vegetation” is the perfect spot for photo ops.”
EAT: Boulom “It translates to ‘bakery where we eat’—a chic French-African restaurant and lounge.”
SHOP: Saargale “A concept store that showcases rare African pieces.”
STAY: The Jules & Jim Hotel “It’s located in Le Marais and has a beautiful bar! If you love art, you’ll love this. They have different exhibitions [running throughout the year].’’
Model, influencer, charity founder
She took home the Miss France title in 2014, so you’ve got to put some respect on her name. When she’s not slaying advertising campaigns for major beauty brands, Coquerel is influencing change via her charity, Kelina, which supports various initiatives throughout Africa.
SEE: Saint Germain, Le Marais, Montmartre “I love to walk on the river bank in these areas. You need to walk to discover Paris.”
EAT: Republique of Coffee “It’s amazing for brunch.”
SHOP: Les Grands Boulevards “If you like to shop, then this will definitely be your paradise.”
STAY: Le Marais “This neighborhood is perfect because of the location. You’re not far from the Louvre Museum or the Opera.”
Eclectic, daring and visually appealing, Anthony is trusted by the masses when it comes to creative content and styling.
SEE: Parc de la Villette “A huge park where you can lie out and [enjoy] concerts, cinema and expositions.”
EAT: Strasbourg– Saint-Denis “One of the Black areas of Paris that I love! It’s loud as hell, but if you’re trying to get your hair and nails done and want some fried plantain and jollof rice at an affordable price, this is for you!”
SHOP: Galeries Lafayette Champs Élysées “Full disclosure: This rec is only if you don’t mind spending.”
STAY: Place de la République “A joyful area where you can cop pieces from the pop-up store or just chill.”
Journalist, host, filmmaker
There’s nothing this BET France TV host, published author, awardwinning documentary filmmaker and journalist can’t do. SEE: Le 104 “They host great shows and allow any dancer to rehearse inside.’’ EAT: Villa Maasaï “One of the finest African restaurants in the city center, performance happens here. People bring their own music, food and drinks. Everybody is singing, dancing and chilling.”
EAT: Mama Jackson Restaurant “It’s absolutely DÉ-LI-CIEUX! SHOP: Urban Vintage Paris “I buy all my vintage stuff here.” FADILY CAMARA Stand-up comedian, actress @Fadilycamara You can catch Camara filming episodes of Soul Sister around the city or onstage making folks laugh. She is Paris’s next big thing.
SEE: République “Every manifestation, savage concert and animations it’s modern and traditional at the same time.”
SHOP: Minoï “I’m a huge fan of this shop created and run by designer Sophie Soga.”
STAY: Renaissance Paris Republique Hotel “Have Sunday brunch at its beautiful garden restaurant.’’
DJ ANAÏS B
DJ, producer, designer
If Paris had a sound, it’d be whatever Anaïs B is playing. From Afro Punk to the city’s famous Brown Sugar Days, Anais B supplies the beats that keep the party lit.
SEE: Le Comptoir Général “A [dope] spot where you can drink and dance.’’
EAT: Le Maquis “An African restaurant where you can connect with Afro Parisians. If you see Margi, make sure to say what’s up—he’s the plug!”
SHOP: Marché Noir “A great collective of vintage African pieces made for individuals not afraid to push boundaries.”
STAY: Étienne Marcel “Literally the heart of Paris, this area has restaurants and shops at your fingertips.”
Stand-up comedian, actress
You can catch Camara filming episodes of Soul Sister around the city or onstage making folks laugh. She is Paris’s next big thing.
SEE: République “Every manifestation, savage concert and animations performance happens here. People bring their own music, food and drinks. Everybody is singing, dancing and chilling.”
EAT: Mama Jackson Restaurant “It’s absolutely DÉ-LI-CIEUX!
SHOP: Urban Vintage Paris “I buy all my vintage stuff here.”