One definition of happiness for us simple souls is finding a little black dress, and there's a whole store in the Palais Royal, Paris, dedicated to "La Petite Robe Noire." It's part of the vintage kingdom of Didier Ludot, whose adjoining shops will make you rethink your attitude to vintage shopping. I have loved the idea of fabulous vintage ever since the days when Himself's firm threw a formal dinner-dance every year, requiring a very formal dress that would never be worn again. One had to look like the Event was being taken seriously. The lovely gowns of the 1930's made me feel not such a fool, and none of the senior partners' wives would admit being old enough to remember them, although I always wondered whether someone would recognize something her mother gave to the maid. Himself would reassure me on that subject: noone related to any of that crowd would give anything away without getting a tax deduction, he'd murmur soothingly.
So, the Palais Royal. This is a lovely square - rectangle - surrounded by arcades. At one end, Le Grand Véfour, an exquisite jewel box of a restaurant, which has been on that site since Parisians started to sell cooked food to be eaten on premises. Inside, everywhere you look, you're surrounded by the kind of beauty that is so badly copied elsewhere. There are little plaques telling you what historical figures insisted on which table, we once sat at Napoleon and Josephine's table!
But inflation and currencies and strange herbs attempting to show that the kitchen is up-to-date, have taken their toll, not on the restaurant, on us. Eating here is the kind of investment where you have to be very very sure that you will truly love everything you order, and honestly, the past few times we've stood outdoors and read their menus, we've concluded we can't be sure. However, we always walk by and check, just in case...
Yes, Chanel, Chanel, Chanel.
Note how Chanel does casual sequins, in a little baseball jacket that is meant to be worn open over black satin pants, sleeveless v-neck top.
The lace dress is Balmain, 1960's, merci beaucoup.
Several shops sell military decorations. I always think one or two of these would look great on a little black dress, or on a little black jacket, or on a jean jacket. And then I start wondering why they're here for sale in the first place, and I get sentimental thinking of an old soldier down on his luck or the distressed relatives of a forgotten hero.
This is the entrance to the Metro (subway!) nearest the Comédie Française. Now I'm not suggesting that you invest in tickets to a classical play declaimed by actors you may not understand. Chances are, if this is for you, you already know about it. BUT - did you know about the Boutique de la Comédie Française (psssst - the gift shop!) ? This is where you buy souvenirs like cocktail napkins and little children's books in French and TEE SHIRTS ON WHICH THE FRENCH IS NOT ONLY GRAMMATICALLY AND ORTHOGRAPHICALLY CORRECT BUT IS A WITTY QUOTE FROM A FAMOUS CLASSICAL FRENCH PLAY. See? It's possible. Actually the museums and great sites cooperate in marketing, so these tees (M, W, Child) can sometimes be found at their gift shops. Not that you would visit the Louvre for its gift shop (by the way, it's a mall. A.Subterranean.Mall).