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From the Fleurs to the Goude of Fashion


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Every year mid March, in a somewhat stupid ritualistic fashion, I “schlep” the six-wheel ‘Rolls Royce’ of a shopping cart (by Rolser — it jumps the steps like a kangaroo) down to the quai de la Mégisserie (between Pont Neuf and Place du Châtelet) to purchase flowers for the window boxes. I make it a point to lunch first at “Au Vieux Châtelet” on the corner at the Place, except that this year the café is seriously undergoing massive renovation…so we opted for the café next door — Le Reynou at number two.

Owners of a brand-spanking-new apartment we are soon to launch on Parler Paris Apartments called “Au Vieux Paris” (by coincidence to the café name), decided to join me in order to purchase flowers for their own window boxes. Their apartment has five windows on two very historic streets in Le Marais with a drop-dead amazing view on the carousel just steps away at the Saint-Paul Métro entrance and was renovated and decorated by interior architect Martine di Mattéo to look and feel like a Paris bistrot. It’s a ‘must stay in’ fabulous one-bedroom luxury apartment and, with bright new red geraniums, is going to be even more delightful.

After lunch we headed down the quai to peruse the flowers at each of the shops before deciding which of them should be the lucky vendor we’d patronize. It was not at all unusual that Vilmorin would have the best selection — they do most every year, without a question. Rows and rows of many different colors, they are THE spot for geranium-shopping.

The price, however, seems to creep up a bit with each passing year. A “barquette” of 10 potted geraniums was going for 24€ when last year it was 22€.

We anchored down the Rolser with a huge bag of dirt, then loaded it with a barquette of reds, a barquette of fuschias, a thick pot of rosemary (for “Le Provençal“) and a big pot of flowers (I don’t have a clue what kind) for the terrace at “La Paris Plage,” then jumped on the 96 bus to head home with all our purchases.

My housekeeper of 17.5 years looks forward to this almost as much as I do as she helps me both make and clean up the big mess that potting geraniums in a Paris apartment can make. We get such pleasure from tamping down the new fresh earth around the baby plants, watering the window boxes so that the water and fresh earth fall to the street (possibly hitting a few pedestrians on the head unintentionally) and watching the windows come to life! Then, we treat them like our babies and nurture them until next winter when they die again. Ugh.

This year I screwed up and failed to purchase enough plants, leaving “Le Parisol” and my daughter’s bedroom window without any. Back to the quai I will go this coming weekend…and here we go again, making another mess, if not as large a one.

Sunday we left the flowers to their own acclimating while we headed to the “Goudemalion” Jean-Paul Goude Retrospective exhibit at Les Arts Decoratifs in the west wing of Le Louvre. It was the last day — which isn’t very kind of me to tell you that you missed (as I almost did) one of the most amazing exhibitions ever.

Jean-Paul Goude is the artist behind Grace Jones’ iconic image (with whom he has a child) and the master of Galeries Lafayette’s advertising campaign featuring top model/actress Lætitia Casta. He became a “household name” in Paris when he designed a parade down the Champs Elysées to commemorate the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

Aside from the mind-bendingly stunning photos, highly stylistic drawings and brilliant conceptual works, there were a few over-the-top surprises — such as a live woman in period costume sitting still as a mannequin facing a mirror that with her hands, head and feet placed in just the right position, looked to be flaming. The same woman came out into the open at one point and glided around the room as if on wheels (perhaps she was, as we couldn’t see her feet).

In one room were almost two dozen video screens placed on the four walls all at the same height. On each a Métro train passed in different stations, each station displaying one of Goude’s famous Galeries Lafayette-Lætitia Casta posters. The train passed from one screen to the other, without any break in the rhythm, and as each train passed, the people on the platform either got on and others got off the train, or they stayed on the platform, but in each case, each performed some different pose or action. One could have stayed there for hours trying to understand the entire story and taking in all the characters.

To know Jean-Paul Goude, one only need to search in Google Images and you will be amazed by this one man’s creative genius. He’s forever in our Parisian lives even without realizing his presence. From now on I will recognize it.

Two other creative geniuses are on display at Les Arts Decoratifs — Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, having just opened this past March 9th and on until September 16th, 2012. The exhibition juxtaposes the two men’s contributions to the fashion world beginning with the industrialization and ending with globalization. If you’ve ever loved the classic Louis Vuitton trunk, then you’re going to love the Marc Jacobs handbags designed for the House of Vuitton.

Don’t miss this one…at least!

A la prochaine…

Aprofile200croppedreverseAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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au vieux parisP.S. “Au Vieux Paris” is not up on our Web site quite yet…but if you are interested in being one of the first to reserve your stay (sleeps up to four), email [email protected]

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