Last week I referred to a certain shopping trip for a special dress, but I was so distracted by the prostitute scene at a swanky hotel that I forgot to talk about The Dress. Or rather, Shopping for The Dress.
Between the two of us Mr French and I have five children (I know, this is an odd segueway, but bear with me). This is probably not the first time I mention this overwhelming fact. Five is a pretty big number, and it amazes me that we are responsible for all those little souls. They’re mostly grown, but we’re seven, so there is plenty of turbulence; emergency hospital visits, existential angst, growing pains and ski accidents are just a few of the bumps that have come our way in the few months. But right now, this week, everyone is doing ok. It’s amazing, and we are both savouring the moment, which is why Saturday was so damn fun.
We headed out the door to run errands; the cobbler, tailor, dry cleaner and the stationary seller were all on our list. As I Iocked the door, Mr French asked if I had brought the window dimensions along, we really should look into getting some curtains. I had not, but then again, neither had he.
Our errands brought us to the Bon Marche, and after getting ink for his pen, he suggested a visit to the clothing department for The Dress. I need a dress because we have been invited to a dinner party. In a palazzo. In Venice. Tenue de Soirée is what the very sober, elegantly engraved invitation read. I had called the hostess, and she had confirmed that she’d be wearing a long dress.
My first thought had been Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo jacket. I mean doesn’t everyone immediately think of the YSL tuxedo jacket when having a fashion emergency? No? Well, I’ve been thinking of this jacket for years, and this was the perfect once-in-a-lifetime excuse. I know it’s not a long dress, but it is THE Style Icon of my generation. I went to my nearest YSL and was quickly jolted back to reality: in my excitement I’d forgotten that the brand is now Saint Laurent. Again. After discovering that there were no jackets for me in all of France (yes, they took the time to look!) I complained to the manager about the name change, explaining that I was a traditional kind of girl.
“Then you should love it!” He protested, filling me in on the history of the brand and letting me know that Hedi Slimane, their new Creative Director, was taking the brand back to its origins, using the original name and the original logo. I didn’t leave with my smoking, but I did walk out that door convinced that Saint Laurent has some of the best customer service in Paris.
I would not be getting my dream garment. Not wanting to spend a fortune on a dress I’d have very few occasions to wear in this lifetime, I was determined to visit my old friends at Reciproque, a consignment shop that has a room of gowns. My friend Out and About in Paris had an even better suggestion: La Femme Ecarlate, a gown rental service. But everytime I’d suggest a visit to either shop, Mr French would simply grunt and head to an art exhibit.
So we were looking, but I was not shopping. Because the party is in Italy and there may actually be a spot of sunshine, I was hoping to wear a bit of color. At the Bon Marche, in an area featuring new, international designers we spotted a dress we both liked by someone from Lebanon. And then another, and another. Enough choices that it was worth disturbing the saleswoman to try on a few pieces. I went into the dressing room as she brought me the wrong dress, and then one that was two sizes too small, before confessing she didn’t have any of the dresses in my size. This made me feel fat and kind of grumpy.
Around the corner Alexander McQueen had a gorgeous tuxedo jacket with exquisite tailoring, the lapels integrated into the body of the vest. Even better, there was a dress version of the design. The designer, or creative director as they are now known, Sarah Burton, knows women and our bodies. I slipped into the dress, and it was a perfect fit. I liked they way it felt, they way it moved and the way Mr French looked at me wearing it. But it was black and stopped at the knees, and I didn’t really see the point since I already have something similar. At least I wasn’t feeling so grumpy any more.
Then we really went wild, jumped into a taxi and headed off for the Faubourg Saint Honoré…
Reciproque – 93 rue de la Pompe, 16e – 01 47 04 30 28
La Femme Ecarlate – 42, avenue Bosquet, 7e – 01 45 51 08 44