From The Straits Times    |

Austrian company Freywille marries art and jewellery. Among its offerings are silkscarves, jewellery and watches for women, and ties, cufflinks and tie clips for men. Its designs are either inspired by, or done in collaboration with, renowned artists, then brought to life with a unique enamelling technique. Some 80 steps – many by hand – are needed to achieve a vivid and glowing piece of wearable art. Expect to find collections like Hommage a Claude Monet – a collaboration the Claude Monet Foundation initiated with Freywille in 1995, in honourof the French Impressionist painter, and Passionate Russia, a tribute to thecultural diversity of the country.

Freywille is located at #03-08A, tel: 6268-8892. Open daily, 10am-9.30pm.

Founded in 1927, the Spanish brand deals in high-quality, hand-stitched, long-lasting espadrilles. Its claim to fashion fame happened when it made the first wedge espadrilles for French design house Yves Saint Laurent. Since then, Castaner has collaborated with other luxury brands like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Fendi. The store is the brand’s first in Singapore, having found its footing in other Asian countries like China and Japan. Besides the famous wedge espadrilles, which come in different heights to suit your comfort level, you’ll also find cosy canvas and leather slip-ons, sandals in metallic colours, and purses and bags.

Castaner is located at #03-14, tel: 6694-4535. Open daily, 10am-9.30pm.

American Vintage
American Vintage is actually French. Founder and designer Michael Azoulay was inspired by his travels to bring American essentials – T-shirts – to his hometown in Marseille, France, but with a difference. He wanted a lived-in look, a feature that’s become characteristic of the brand. A decade on, American Vintage has mastered using super-fine Supima cotton to craft its perfect-fit jersey basics – great must-haves for our tropical climate. You’ll find crisp and minimalist silhouettes in pastel hues that keep you looking sharp. And if you love the look of the trenchcoat but find it too impractical for our weather – pick one of its lightweight jackets or coats.

American Vintage is located at #03-13B, tel: 6734-2750. Open daily, 10am-9.30pm.

Rue Madame
The young multi-label store features an eclectic mix of accessories and clothing. Its founder, Ariane Zagury, grew up in a family of textile retailers in France. After moving to Hong Kong, she set up Rue Madame in 2010 to introduce a one-stop Parisian shopping experience to stylish women there. Carrying European labels such as Tara Jarmon (left), Essentiel, Ba&sh and Leon & Harper, and dainty jewellery by Didier Dubot, you may be overwhelmed by the selection of tops, bottoms, dresses, bags and accessories in-store. Butretail assistants are onhand to help. Each piece is limited, with less than five for each size, so it’s unlikely you’ll run into someone else wearing the same outfit.

Rue Madame is located at #03-13C, tel: 6734-2782. Open daily, 10am-9.30pm.

La Cure Gourmande
Stepping into the French confectionery’s Asian flagship store, it’s hard to not feel like a child in wonderland – especially if you have a sweet tooth. With more than 100 products, from biscuits to chocolates, lollipops, madeleines, nougat and more, the store has something for everyone and every occasion.The bestsellers are its filled cookies, which come in six flavours – chocolate, lemon, apple cinnamon, raspberry, caramel and apricot. The cookies, sold by weight, are crisp and crumbly, and the filling doesn’t overwhelm the biscuits’ delicious buttery taste. Buy 500g and above, and you can get the cookies packed in a quaint tin box – a great gift.

La Cure Gourmande is located at #03-09, tel: 6684-2983. Open daily, 10am-9.30pm.

Established in 1995, 999.9 or Four Nines, derives its name from what’s engraved on gold to indicate its purity. The Japanese eyewear brand, which emphasises its impeccable service and Made in Japan tag, is sold in other Asian countries like Thailand, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia, but this is its first store outside Japan. It carries over 300 spectacle frames (from $500 a pair, excluding lenses) and sunglasses (from $600), all under the Four Nines label; staff can help you find one suited to your needs and face shape. It takes at least four days for your glasses to be ready, but with its after-sales care – customers are encouraged to bring their spectacles back every three months for cleaning and maintenance –managing director Tsuchihashi Masanao says a pair of Four Nines glasses can easily last 10 years or more.

999.9 is located at #03-09A, tel: 6694-0049. Open daily, 10am-9.30pm.

ABC Cooking Studio
Founded some 30 years ago in Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan, ABC Cooking Studio has since become a chain of cooking schools all over Japan, with over 130 branches there. This is its first foray into Singapore, and it’s a good place to pick up Japanese culinary skills.There are four main course categories – Cooking, Bread, Cake andWagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) – with the latter three divided into Basic and Master levels. Menus change every month, only the Cooking Course doesn’t repeat its dishes. If your little one is interested in cooking, a Kids Course is also available.

ABC Cooking Studio is located at #03-12/12A, tel: 6694-6104, Open daily, 10am-9.30pm.

This article was originally published in Simply Her August 2015.