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NEW COLUMN - Crémant and Café Metropolitain explore French themes to attract Seattle winers and diners
NEW COLUMN - Crémant and Café Metropolitain explore French themes to attract Seattle winers and diners
by Corey Gutch - SGN A&E Writer

Welcome to the first installation of "Style Projector". This column will keep you up to date on all things new and stylish - fashion, places, people, interiors, art, whatever. The focus of this column is to introduce you to the things I love, whether it's something new, hot, cool, or classic, and caution you against the pitfalls of hype and fads.

Style is not about labels, it's not even about clothes or things, really. It's about living well, expressing who you are, and ultimately, it's about confidence, taste and fun. As simple as that may sound, style is certainly not effortless, yet paradoxically style should always appear effortless. However, the more you develop your style and have fun with it, the more effortless it becomes.

Good style goes hand in hand with good design. The purpose of design is to solve problems and improve our quality of life. Over the past couple of decades, design has entered our daily lives. Our collective design consciousness has increased in tandem with the advancement of technology, and good design is no longer just a high premium luxury. I am constantly reminded of the simple and elegant mantra from the graphic design house Émigré: Design Is A Good Idea.

Alright, enough with the fucking philosophy lecture. Let's get to it.

I've been so obsessed lately with the new fashion collections from Dior Homme. French designer Hedi Slimane, the creative director of Dior Homme, is the brilliant man behind the sexy, current "look" of rock, dressing everyone from Franz Ferdinand to Kanye West. I'm also crazy about Martin Margiela - a Paris-based Belgian designer, touted by many in the fashion industry as "The Last True Designer". His intelligent and unique aesthetic is stronger than ever - and you'll be hearing more about both of them in columns to come. These two Parisians, their creations, and a trip to France I'm planning for the fall, have been swirling around in my imagination, and informed my recent Seattle nightlife reality.

Friday night I met up with a friend, who just happened to have lived in Paris for 2 years, to get some drinks, catch up, and check out some new places. Our first stop was a little off the Hill, in Madrona, at the hot new French restaurant Crémant (1423 34th Ave). First off, the place looks fabulous. Before you even get inside, you're welcomed by the innovative and illusionary oversized (but not really) yellow door designed by Seattle artist and architect Roy McMakin. We nestled into the long burgundy bench in the bar area to suck down Ricard and Kir Royale. Amongst the minimalist, pale gray tables and contrasting French brocade wallpaper was a smattering of chic mixed couples dressed in head-to-toe black Jil Sander - which went perfectly with the licorice pastis. It was late, and we only had time for drinks that night, but I dined at Crémant a couple of weeks prior and was very, very impressed by their post-modern twist on French country. GO.

Following Crémant was the new Café Metropolitain (1701 E Olive Way), named after the Paris subway system. I've been hearing some chatter about this new bar, and neither of us had been there yet. While the place has a friendly vibe, it was sparsely populated - mostly with isolated groups of friends socializing over wine or one of the bartender's nightly special cocktails. The interior of the space has been meticulously designed to recreate a Parisian street scene. My friend commented, "It's SO Paris that it's almost satire. My Parisian friends would think they were being mocked." I applaud them for trying to create something new and different in the Capitol Hill bar scene, but I couldn't help feeling like I was at Euro Disney, and the floor was an inexpensive, unappealing linoleum. It's a large space, which made it feel a little too open, and pales in comparison to the stylish and sexy design of a place like Crémant. That said, the vibe was friendly and casual, so Café Metropolitain may live up to its name as a place to stop for drinks on your way to somewhere else.

Everyone is anxious for more chic and stylish places to open up in the area, and it's important for businesses to put their efforts in the right areas. Even though Crémant and Café Metropolitain are trying to bring a bit of France to Seattle, they're worlds apart when it comes to style and design. Crémant makes you feel like you're the sexy star in a film set in France. Café Metropolitain makes you feel like you're in a bar at Paris in Las Vegas.

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