Photography by William Ross

Jean-Michel Cazabat

Shoe Designer

| SoHo

There ain’t no party like a decked-out French party because the French just do it all better. The wine, the food, the clothes, the shoes— it’s rare we meet a Frenchie we don’t like. Like Jean-Michel Cazabat, the South of France native whose slightly rock, habitually glam shoes make us feel like someone between a Gainsbourg-singing Birkin and a beachside Bardot in “And God Created Woman.” Cazabat studied under footwear legends Charles Jourdan and Stephane Kelian and thanks to that certain “je ne sais quoi,” he’s caught the eyes (or feet) of gamines like SJP, Lupita N’yongo and Mary-Kate Olsen. For S/S ’15, his strappy, sun-bleached sandals lit up the NYFW runway too, footing models for rising designer Sophie Theallet’s current collection. French-on-French— just how we like it. Here, Cazabat sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: This is hard for me! I live in SoHo and the dinning options are endless. Some of my recent favorites include The Mercer Hotel (MAP IT, x), Ladurée SoHo (MAP ITBOOK ITx), Félix (MAP ITBOOK IT, x) and Omar’s (MAP ITBOOK IT, x).

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee from Cipriani Downtown (MAP ITBOOK IT, x) because they have a bold and creamy blend of coffee that reminds me of the coffee in Venice.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Indochine (MAP ITBOOK IT, x)— it was the first restaurant I went to upon arriving to New York so for me it hold a bit of nostalgia, but the food is divine and the ambiance evokes the spirit of New York.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A dry martini with just one olive. The Mercer Hotel‘s lobby bar makes a great one and the bar there is quintessential New York.

BUSINESS LUNCH: For a business lunch, the lobby bar I mentioned above at The Mercer is a staple for me— it’s classic, cool and I’ve been going for years. For dinner, I love Omar’s; it’s a great spot and perfect for dinner meetings. They also have a great selection of wines from what seems like every part of the world. I love trying a new wine every time I go there.

BEST BRUNCH: Félix on West Broadway is one of my favorites; it always has a great crowd of French and Brazilian people.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Cipriani Downtown.

HEALTHY STAPLE: The Standard Grill (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for a Caesar salad with shrimp.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Macarons from Ladurée SoHo, you can never have just one!

NY’S BEST KEPT SECRET: The garden at Ladurée— it is a piece of Paris in New York and perfect for dinning outside.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The energy and the lights of all the buildings.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Any event BFA is shooting.

TO RELAX AND UNWIND: Sunset Beach (MAP IT, x)— it’s a quiet escape.

CLOSET CHECK: My personal style is eclectic— it’s one part rock n’ roll (I love leather, studs and that cool kid look), and the other part French Rivera chic (mixing bright colors and patterns). I’m a visual person so anything that catches my eye is what I buy.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: I think a candle is always a thoughtful gift. One of my new favorite scents is from perfumer Francis Kurkdjian (x)— he has amazing candles at Bergdorf Goodman.

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: The Caudalíe Spa (MAP IT, x) where everyone should treat themselves to a massage once in a while.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Fashion week for me is such a surreal moment in New York. Working in this industry for so many years, I have seen the evolution of the shows and parties. For the S/S ’15 collection of Sophie Theallet, Sophie and I worked together on creating her shoes, a collection of beautiful and colorful sandals. Sitting front row the day of the show and seeing my shoes walk down the runway was an incredible moment. Even after all of these years in New York, I felt like the young kid from France who just landed here— it was a humbling moment, but one that made me realize anything is possible in New York. CP

Jean-Michel’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Ladurée’s SoHo garden; Macarons from Ladurée; Francis Kurkdijon fragrance; Cazabat’s men’s boots. Second Row: Cazabat’s women’s shoes; Sunset Beach; Soup at Félix; The Standard Grill.

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