Thursday, October 18, 2012

Once more in Paris ...

"Well," she said, after a pause, "that is a shop!"
The Ladies' Paradise (Au bonheur des dames) by Émile Zola
"Thus The Ladies' Paradise, after eight-o'clock, blazed
forth beneath the clear rays of the sun, in all the glory of its great sale of winter novelties."
"...whilst in both streets the windows developed symphonies of displays, the clearness of the glass showing up still further the brilliant tones."
"Do you require anything to-day?" he asked her.
"Of course, or else I should not have come. Have you any silk
for morning gowns?"
 "Does madame require a cheap pair of garters?" asked a salesman of Madame Desforges, seeing her standing still. "All silk, twenty-nine sous."
"I really think I shall lose my skirts in this crowd," remarked Madame de Boves.
"Mouret's unique passion was to conquer woman. He wished her to be queen in his house, and he had built this temple to get her completely at his mercy."
"His sole aim was to intoxicate her with gallant attentions, and traffic on her desires, work on her fever."
"It was an exhibition of silks, satins, and velvets, arranged so as to produce by a skillful artistic arrangement of colours, the most delicious shades imaginable."
"...the head-dresses alone appeared, decked with feathers and ribbons. A few men's hats introduced here and there a black spot, whilst the women's pale complexions assumed in the fatigue and heat the transparencies of the camellia."
The Bon Marché department store, one of the models for the great department store which is the subject of Émile Zola's novel, The Ladies' Paradise (Au bonheur des dames).

"Just at that moment Madame Desforges, after having nearly had her mantle carried away in the crowd, at last came in and crossed the first hall. Then, on reaching the principal gallery, she raised her eyes. It was like a railway span, surrounded by the balustrades of the two storeys, intersected by hanging staircases, crossed by flying bridges. The iron staircases developed old curves, multiplying the landings; The iron bridges suspended in space, ran straight along, very high up; and all this iron formed, beneath the white light of the windows, an excessively light architecture, a complicated lace-work through which the daylight penetrated, the modern realisation of a dreamed-of palace, of a Babel-like heaping up of the storeys, enlarging the rooms, opening up glimpses on to other floors and into other rooms without end. (Zola liked long sentences.)

A visit to Paris is not complete for me without a stop at Le Bon Marché. This year, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is celebrating 160 ans de création. Zola spent 4 to 5 hours a day for a month at Le Bon Marché and the Louvre (another store) before he began his novel, compiling over 380 pages of notes on the demoiselles of the stores and their environs: their rooms, overheard conversations, love life, clothing, hours and salaries.
Le Bon Marché has an exhibition showcasing the 160th anniversary. I  purchased this postcard which shows an original design detail from the store.

A few fripperies from Le Bon Marché.
In honor of the 160th anniversary of Le Bon Marché, the store windows featured wonderful vignettes of the grand dame of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve. Here they are for you to enjoy too.

Le Parc Monceau
On a lovely Sunday afternoon with the temperature pushing 80, Richard and I spent some hours at an intriguing park in the 8th arrondissement, Le Parc Monceau. The place was buzzing with people lounging on the lawns, with children playing, and others strolling. 
The park began in 1778 as a duke's private garden.
Now it's more a play ground for the young-uns of the Dukes of Hazzard.
Some of the children are very chic indeed, 
like this little girl all in white linen and a dapper white fedora cap.
The tricycle is Lilly Pulitzer pink & green.
 Le Parc Monceau  has fanciful faux ruins.
The park is a paradise for kids,
with pony rides, no less.
Thank heaven for a little girl in a pink, be-ribboned bonnet.
Notice the little drawing of a Parisian shopping street 
on the hem of her skirt?
I mean I half expected to see this child in
Le Parc Monceau, for heaven's sake.
 This scene takes on the quality of a Seurat.
French Daddy is minding French baby.
Every Paris park has a carousel!
Ma mère parisienne est très jolie.
A Journey to rue Barbette
It started with an issue of British Vogue. I comb the pages of my fashion magazines, and when an arresting object, say an incredible parasol adorned with fantastic black palm trees, stops me in my tracks, I focus my eyes on the teeny-tiny type to see from whence this object hails. The caption read, "Umbrella, Tsumori Chisato, Paris." Bingo. What a coincidence. I will be in Paris soon, I say.
A google search finds the Tsumori Chisato boutique on rue Barbette. Ah, just the kind of hunt I love. An obscure street, an under-the-radar label, and the promise of magic. So one morning in Paris, we ordered a taxi, and the driver took us to rue Barbette a mere alley in the wilds of the Marais
An art installation in the entry gallery to the Tsumori Chisato boutique on rue Barbette, Paris.
Chisato's Autumn-Winter 2012 pieces use a motif inspired by the Alps.
The lantern-like objects are ski lifts, represented on the printed dress to the left.
Tsumori Chisato was the head designer for Issey Miyake Sports in 1977. In 1990, she started her own line featuring luxurious textiles, intricate beading, embroidery, appliques and prints.
Chisato opened her first shop outside of Asia in Paris in 1999. 
The dress that I purchased.

A story-book Alpine landscape on the hem of the dress. 
Perhaps Heidi and Peter the Goat Herd live in this chalet.

The dress has a bib of black sequins.
 La vendeuse lovingly wrapped my dress.
 Richard handled the financial transaction.
Like a coddled baby girl, my dress is
 safe and sound back in our hotel room. 
P.S. When I got back to New York, I found the Chisato pieces
at Kisan in Soho. My dress, however, was sold out.
Good thing I bought it in Paris, n'est pas?
Le Grand Déjeuner au Grand Véfour
Our big-splurge lunch was at Le Grand Véfour, a beautiful and venerable restaurant next to the Palais Royal. Le Grand Véfour has been a gourmet rendez-vous of haute Paris for over 200 years.
To wear a tie, or not to wear a tie, that is the question.
Richard wore a tie, while other, less sophisticated patrons, did not.
The extremely gilded, and decorative,
 dining room of Le Grand Véfour.
It's all about the gorgeous room here, but the food, by Michelin-
starred chef, Guy Martin, is wonderful too.
This one's for you, Philippe Montanari,
my Napoleon-obsessed French teacher at The New School.
We sat at Bonaparte's table. The manager told us that Woody Allen had also sat at this table while he was making Midnight in Paris. In fact, the manager had a brief cameo in the movie.
Ok, so I got this text from Richard to have his oysters ready at 6 o'clock.
So where is he?

Next week, we're off to Nice, France
I hope to see you there on Femme et Fleur.
À Bientôt!

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous post in every way. The dress is so beautiful that I have no words to describe it. Thanks for taking us with on your journey!