Friday, 29 February 2008

Car-Fag Man the Estate Agent

We are tentatively looking at the Paris property market, which involves dashing round the city on metros and Vélibs poking around other people's flats, sometimes with them in, sometimes not, which I am loving.

The other night we were down to see a place over near Jourdain - I say near, as it's an expensive area, or at least if you belive Car-Fag Man, an estate agent we have seen once before in the area, who uses the traditional hard-sell, charm-the-ladies-to-get-to-the-men approach. I'm not suggesting that all estate agents are of his ilk, we were shown round a delightful flat in the 18th arrondissement (which we are possibly thinking about maybe putting an offer in on next Wednesday evening) by a lady who hummed a little tune all the way there and all the way back and was really lovely and not at all pushy, which completely changed our experience.

But back to Car-Fag Man, so christened, because both he and his vehicle stink so badly of cigarettes that I thought I might be sick there and then. The last flat he showed us frankly wasn't all that, dark and in a rather perculiar area where it seemed that no other people lived, so I didn't really hold out much hope this time. Nevertheless we had a rendez-vous, D and I, so we were planning on getting it over with and getting on with our evening.

Unfortunately, D had a meeting which overran so I went on my own. From the minute I darkened the door of his poky little office populated by people just ike him of varying sizes, he played the faux-galant ('Madame, allow me to take your coat... Madame knows me, that's why I immediately phoned her when this gem of a flat came on the market this morning' - I don't and he didn't, D found it on a website), while I tried to dodge his breath and fixed my eyes on the holes in his shirt to avoid looking at his big, grey, insincere face. Once in his vile car, I concentrated on the road ahead and told him tales of the UK, where his daughter (how he has kids I don't know, maybe he hasn't always been a Car-Fag Man) is studying.

On arrival at our destination - area not bad, not great, but not actively bad - I was immediately greeted with the sight of peeling paint in the staircase and corridor and a smell of dinners, providing that somebody was cooking old turnips and wet cabbage for their delicious evening meal. On opening the door to the flat of our dream, a smell of damp hit me 'because they haven't had the heating on for a while', a decrepit electric heater hangin off one wall, which didn't look as if it had been turned on ever, let alone for a while.

'What's so charming (charming?)about this flat is the size, you have two big rooms which you could do plenty with and if you're like me (I'm not anything like you) you'll like a big bedroom'. I'll give him the size and the potential and the fact it was on a quiet road, although being on the ground floor and slightly below street-level it was beginning to feel a little like a dungeon.

The pièce de resistance however, came with the bathroom, which Car-Fag Man had been saving up until last, so confident he was that I would fall in love with it and put in an offer there and then. 'The bathroom,' he said, looking unacountably pleased with himself, 'is newly-fitted (are you sure?), the toilet is around this corner, a great use of space.' Great use of space I'll give him, the reason being, that the previous owner had made a sort of glassless window in the wall between the bathroom and the 'kitchen', which meant that they shared a large sink enabling one person to have an interesting and no doubt stimulating conversation with the other, one in the bath and one preparing food. Less than a metre apart. The reason the toilet was around the corner in the 'bathroom' was because it was effectively the same room. Ingenious.

The fact that the kitchen was non-existant - some pipes and tiles - paled into insignificance in the face of the toilet-bath-kitchen set-up. Despite my firm 'I'm not really sure about the kitchen' and 'I'll have to explain this to Monsieur' the creep spent the whole drive back to my métro station ('because we can't have you taking the metro all the way on your own') trying to convince me how great it was, before holding out a flabby claw-hand (with long nails, beurk) for me to shake as I got out. I washed my hands immediately I got home and tried to exorcise the whole thing from my mind. Ugh.

I don't want to live near where he works anyway.

NB - I mean fag as in cigarette, in the Brit English sense of the word. Click on the links for Etsy finds.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Talking Japanese

New from AO3 is this fab handbag. Tomato red is one of my new favourite colours, so I thought I'd feature it. Plus, I love handbags.

Then I went to check out her shop and found the gorgeous clutch as well, yum:
Looks like kimono fabric for the lovely muted colours - check out pink milk's own vintage kimono fabric corsages, or which there is only one left and at the bargain price of $7.50 to you, darlin'.

Whil we're talking Japanese, I just came across sakurakittycreatives, with lovely little birdy barettes:

So that's what I'm loving this week. Looking forward to a quiet weekend, so more to come then.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Modern Urban Art Hits Paris 17

Our little corner of Paris is not the most contemporary and cutting-edge the city has to offer - think old ladies in fur coats with small dogs, rather than young bobos in Marc Jacobs with It-bags - so I was somewhat taken aback (but rather pleased) to find a piece of urban art 500m from away from our résidence, which materialised overnight just before Christmas and happily, is still there, in front of the fire station.

I like the way it looks like a little tower, as if someone could actually live in it, stand on the balconies and look out over Paris.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Les Années Folles

Round the corner from the Musée Galliera, Paris 16, 17th Feb 08

On this sunny Sunday afternoon, I wandered down to the Musée Galliera, museum of fashion of the city of Paris, to catch the Années Folles exhibition before it ends next week (it has since been extended to March 30th). With queues round the block since it opened in October, I'm delighted I managed to catch it.

The show took us through the Roaring Twenties in style. The floaty, free shapes of Poiret and Fortuny - whose Greek-inspired Delphos dress weathered changing styles for nearly forty years as a wardrobe staple beloved of stars of the time like Isadora Duncan and Sarah Bernhardt - cut for women like Poiret's wife Denise, celebrating a new-found independence
are well-known precursors to the flapper look, widely seen doing the Charleston or the 'Boston Hésitation' in the nightclubs and dancehalls of Pigalle and Montparnasse. With economic prosperity, came easier travel and trade, reflected in the Orientalisim and exoticism of Asian-inspired beading, African prints and Indonesian batik, along with fragrances of the time like Guerlain's Shalimar or even Chanel No 5, heavy, serious scents which trail after the wearer and left their mark in a world which was witnesses women's first tentative steps out of the shadow of their men.
With new modernity, came new fabrics like Chanel's silk jersey and low-cut waists on fluid, comfortable outfits, for active women who now drove cars, went dancing, played tennis and skied with their male counterparts, although they would have to wait another 20 years for the vote in France. Velvet, silk, fur all oozed the luxe of the lifestyles of the young and well-off, who could afford 'afternoon' outfits along with their morning dresses, to see them through a tea dance or garden party, to the cocktail hour and beyond as boundaries blurred and fabrics and finishes traditionally considered 'evening' were seen during daylight hours. In a world of decadence, opulence and smoking, satin pyjamas and trouser suits soon took over the from the afternoon dress as de riguer for lounging.

The emergence of garçonne style, an androgynous look with masculine tailoring, ties, jackets and sometimes even trousers was another controversial style step, which spawned unisex fragrances like Jean Patous's Le Sien, decades before Clavin Klein came up with CK1. For all the severity of the Louise Brooks-style bob and the newly-chic black, previously only seen for funerals, the sheer volume of beading and embroidery in the show and the energy of the soirée outfits against a backdrop of jazz and Josephine Baker, brought home the hedonism and excitement of the inter-war period in Paris.

Musée Galliera, Les années folles (1919-1929) 20th Oct 2007 - 30th March 2008
10 avenue Pierre-1er-de-Serbie, Paris XVI
10am to 6pm

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Little Red Anorak girl

pink milk stationary has arrived, featuring the Little Red Anorak Girl on notelets, writing paper and postcards doing a range of nice things like looking in shop windows, posting letters in red post boxes and taking her little dog Sammy for a walk...

Most of the range sold out last night, but we restocked this morning for your writing pleasure.
Other nice red things in our lives include the Roses are Red vintage necklace recently listed on pink milk vintage
...and the beautiful roses bought for me for Valentine's day by my cher et tendre.

Monday, 11 February 2008

"Camden town ain't burnin' down"

Despite a major drug problem and the US authorities' best efforts to keep both her and it off their hallowed soil, Amy Winehouse won five well-deserved Grammys this weekend for record of the year, best new artist, best female pop vocal performance, best pop vocal album and a final nod for the writing and producing of her simmeringly soulful album 'Back to Black'. (I *strongly* suggest you buy it if you haven't already.)

In her acceptance speech, she dedicated her success to her mum and dad, 'my Blake, incarcerated' - her husband, currently doing time in a London jail for legal complications arising from a pub brawl - and her hometown of London. "'cos Camden Town ain't burnin' down!" The haunted surprise on her face as she was announced winner of record of the year echoed the sadness felt by many, as firefighters fought to control a blaze in one of the city's best-known landmarks and a haven for indie designers, artists and shoppers alike.

It is still not known whether the fire was started deliberately on Saturday, but it is estimated that more than 300 independent designers and traders in the market could lose their livelihoods. With part of the historic Canal Market (great thai noodles) razed to the ground, along with fabled Britpop hangout the Hawley Arms, let's hope that the wounds heal as quickly as possible for the people who live and work in the area, many of whom were evacuated from their homes on Saturday night.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Editions Falbalas

A busy week after a beautifully relaxing weekend away at Fontainebleau for D's birthday. The fresh air and the forest was lovely and we found a fab boutique hotel which overlooked the chateau. Good, clean fun in the winter sunshine...

Thrilled to find that somebody has thought to start a publishing house entirely devoted to fashion, especially seeing as it is Sophie George, a form stylist for YSL. Aimed at professional fashionistas and high street divas alike, her first publications are beautifully produced and stylishly bound. Strictly limited edition, she is set to publish four titles a year, starting with the bilingual 'Le Vêtement de A à Z', an encyclopoedia of fashion terms on French bookshelves since January 16th and on my birthday present list since this morning, with a second title on 'Les Essentiels' of la mode in French, with a planned release in English as well, from Editions Falbalas, available on Amazon.

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