. . . . . . A place to contribute, exchange tips and ideas and find further info on the LDC group on Meetup.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Paris- Art, Architecture & Amour OR Fashion, Fabric & Food

Well, which would you go for?  To tell the truth you can do all six.  I was in Paris for a few days recently to visit an old Parisian friend, to catch up with some Canadian relatives while they were traveling in Europe (I love them dearly so there is the Amour) and to enjoy myself generally.
While I was there I went to a current exhibition," Paris 1900" at the Petit Palais, appropriately built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle-(Architecture), in which, according to the publicity "Over 600 works will plunge visitors to the Petit Palais into the atmosphere of Belle Époque Paris. There will be paintings, objets d’art, costumes, posters, photographs, films, furniture, jewellery and sculptures"- (Art).  It evoked a sparkly atmosphere of sophistication, luxury and change- ignoring the less fortunate of the time.  But what you want is the Fashion!
Look at the hours of work that must have been necessary to create this jacket. 

Clothes like these really were only for the rich. Even a day dress had much in the way of pin-tucks, insertions and frills to be sewn by some poor seamstress.

And you needed a maid to get into it as it is fastened down the back with buttons and hooks and eyes.

Even elegant footwear must have been a struggle to get on unaided.

And as for evening wear-  this dress is believed to have been designed by Worth, one of the most famous designers of the time, for a rich American client. 

However this exhibition closes on 17 August 2014.  Luckily you have until 2 November 2014 to get to  the Palais Galleriathe  and the exhibition  on French Couture in the 1950's.  Unfortunately absolutely no photography was allowed at this exhibition but you will see some images on another blog here.  This blog seems to indicate that it is only Christian Dior garments but it includes over 100 items from many different couturiers including Gres, Balenciaga, Cardin, Vionnet, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Piguet and many more.  It included both day and evening wear, swimwear, lingerie plus hats and other accessories.  Well worth a visit and I would have loved to get the hefty hard back catalogue but it was almost 45 Euros.

And I was saving my money for the next item- Fabric.  If you have never been then I can assure you that all you have heard about fabric shopping around Sacre Coeur is true.  And not just fabric but haberdashery of all sorts as well.  If you are going by Metro then the nearest is Anvers and the shops are concentrated in the area between that Metro and the steps leading to Sacre Coeur.  Look out for Rue d'Orsel, Place St Pierre, Rue Seveste, and Rue Charles Nodier.  Some retailers have several outlets so you come across stores with the same name "Au Bonheur des Dames", or  "Au Gentleman des Tissus" for example.  Just wander and rummage.  The most tempting are the "Coupons", lengths of fabric cut into 3 metre lengths and piled high inside and outside the shops.  You can also buy fabric by the metre, it ranges from the very cheap (and rather nasty) to the absolutely exquisite ex-haute couture and everything in between.  Furnishing fabrics are also sold.

Shops are open Monday to Saturday, usually from 9.30 to 19.00 but some do not open until the afternoon on a Monday.  The staff are usually knowledgeable and helpful.  Below is the lovely Sabrina, at one of the branches of "Au Gentleman des Tissus",  who eagerly asked me about fabric shopping in London.  I am about to buy the black and white striped cotton laid on top of the other fabrics near the counter: 3 metres of 148 cm wide for 10 Euros.  I eventually came away from the area with another 2 pieces of 3 metres each, for 5 and 10 Euros, making a grand total of 25 Euros for 9 metres of fabric.
There are several shops devoted exclusively to haberdashery with a fantastic range of colours in items such as zips and lashings of trimmings of all sorts.

Several shops also sell leather

And now for Food as after all that shopping I wanted a quiet and restful spot for a pot of tea so I went to my favourite place for afternoon tea and cake.
  Musee Jacquemart-Andre, 158 boulevard Hausmann- a fabulous mansion house, now a museum filled with works of art collected to decorate this home of a very wealthy 19th century husband and wife.  It is open every day of the year and, although you have to pay to go around the museum, entry to the cafe is free.  The cafe is a work of art itself with a ceiling by Tiepolo and Flemish tapestries based on the story of the Greek warrior, Achilles.

It is very peaceful ( I suspect people do not realise it is there and you can just go in the cafe without going to the museum) and I can imagine myself as a wealthy guest of the previous owners, choosing which type of tea I shall have from the varieties on offer, note that they do other drinks as well but tea has a sort of old-fashioned graciousness that goes better with the decor.  Oh, and the food- really you should go in two's because the cakes are so huge and rich and it is better for one's diet to share one.  However I did manage to consume all of this pile of deliciousness.  It's a massive pistachio macaroon cake filled with pistachio cream and the hugest raspberries I've ever seen.  I'm afraid I'd eaten a fair bit of it before I thought to take a picture But I think there is enough to give you the idea.