When we traveled to Monmarte on Saturday, Sharon and I had some of the students with us from the Academy. We took them to the fabric store to help buy silk for their dress design projects. We got off the Metro and when we turned to the corner the street was full of marching people carrying signs. We found out if was about this: Tens of thousands of demonstrators protested in several cities on Saturday against Sarkozy's security crackdown, which has included the highly publicized rounding up and expulsion of illegal Roma migrants.
On Sunday after coffee and (of course) pastries we took of to the Marche du Puces. There are actually 4 flea markets within this and quite overwhelming. We were on a mission though to find certain shops that had been recommended to us and I was not disappointed!
We went to a lovely shop, LES PERLES D'ANTAN run by Flora Barlan. Such wonderful vintage trims, buttons, and beads. Flora's family ran a business that manufactured trims for Chanel so some of these trim pieces I purchased were from old stock after the business closed. Such finds!!
We also visited other little shops along St. Ouen and then headed back to the apartment to ready things for a dinner party we were having that evening. A friend of Sharon's was visiting from St. Louis and her friend from Seattle came along with some local friends and Alicia from Mexico. We bought rotisserie chicken which is very popular in Paris from a street vendor and the guests were all bringing dishes to go with it. Sharon had a reserve bottle of champagne we served first with French cheeses, like triple cream, for appetizers and then on into the night with red wines and ending with dessert wine and rice pudding Alicia had brought.
Monday we worked on nuno felting in the apartment and I made some bracelets cuffs. After I got home I added some embellishments and button closures to finish them.
Tuesday we were at the Academy with students. Wednesday we trekked out in the rain to visit the fashion houses on the Champs-Élysées. We went to Dolce & Gabbana first and while we liked some of the designs, the workmanship was not the quality I thought it should be. Would you pay $750.00 for a blouse that had threads hanging from the hem around the sleeves? (would you pay $750.00 for a blouse period?). We went into Chloe and liked many garments here and the workmanship was much better. I know that many of the garments we buy from department stores are manufactured in China, India, Korea, etc. but I was surprised to find most of these haute couture pieces are too. I did find some of the things from Chloe manufactured in Italy. Curious.
Most of the current fashions being shown were made of heavy, bulky woven, tweedlike fabrics. The 70's again. Sigh. Lots of fringe, bulky spun yarns. We got to Chanel wondering what would be shown and there in the window was the same bulky, fringy, 70's stuff. A skirt with fat, loose spun wool hanging from the waist. I have a suspicion the fringe would be easily caught in doors and snagged on chair corner when you sat in it. We took some pictures of the store windows and then went inside.
We were actually there doing industrial spying and while I hesitate to print this publicly I doubt Chanel is going to hunt me down. I'm not planning to manufacture their designs or compete with them. :) There was a beautiful coat we were admiring and a clerk (do you call them clerks at Chanel?) came and asked Sharon if she'd like to try it on. She was saying "No" as I exclaimed "Yes! try it on!". So the clerk takes this coat off the hanger and says to follow her to a dressing room. Alas there were none available at the time so she said we should wait. There were leather sofas and lounge chairs set around glass top tables where she said we could wait. "Did we want something to drink? Coffee, tea?" We asked for water which she returned with, two chilled glasses of water on a mirrored tray. We felt so elegant. While we waited we watched an Italian woman talk incessantly on the phone while her granddaughter tried on clothes. The young woman had someone helping her alter a dress, pinning the hem up, while the grandmother was waving her hand and and demanding (while she's on the phone) the hem should come down! Some things never change.
When a dressing room opened we were shown in for Sharon to try on the wool coat with a subtle herringbone pattern and leather trim. The zipper worked like butter, so smooth and easy. I got out my little sketch book and began taking notes and sketching the details. Oh my the details, such workmanship! The clerk knocked and we asked for a different size. I hid the sketchbook behind my back as she came in and left. I quickly started sketching again as Sharon was saying"Get this sleeve detail, did you get this pocket design?" Enter the clerk, hide the sketchbook. The coat fit like a dream but for $3500.00 Euro we had to pass. What fun though.
We went on to have a fine lunch of moules and Belgium beers and then home.
Thursday we were at the Academy with students. Friday we went exploring, shopping, looking for fabric finds and vintage notions. We visited Ultramod, Mokuba, and Fil 2000. Saturday we worked in the Academy studio again and that evening we joined some of the American students at a local jazz club.
Sunday we up early and off to the Marche aux Puces again but this time a different part of the flea market looking for the "Button Man" all the while humming "Have you seen the muffin button man, ……" we were being so silly! We found the button man, we bought, we went back home happy with our finds and then we went to the studio.
I just realized how long this post has gotten so I'm going to stop now and finish my Paris trip in part three.
If you made it this far I hope you will leave a comment, you deserve to!!