Postcards from Paris: {La Chambre des Dames}

When I am not out and about collecting stories and stamps for Postcards from Paris I get to spend my Tuesdays and Thursdays in Belleville on the rue des envierges, where I pass the mornings and afternoons with Stéphanie Coudert and her assistant Zoé.
Once described as La Chambre des Dames, the name has defined Stéphanie’s atelier as a place where her girls come in to cut, sew, or draw croquis alongside her. It’s a nice set-up at l’atelier de la chamber des dames and there is always an energy of collaboration and open-mindedness. Stéphanie balances her brand between two labels, Stéphanie Coudert and Maison Coudert. Her cuts are unique, and seams are placed in unexpectant, clever spots. Her aesthetic is edgy with a strong sense of feminity.  She often lends her designs to costumes, and has collaborated on several theatrical performances by writer Joel Jouanneau, creating whimsical pieces for the performers.

On one special occasion, I came in one morning to discover that she was working away on an outfit for a trapeze artist who belonged to a small circus company from Bretagne. We were to cut and sew a costume out of Colombian burlap sacks to drape over her as she performed a trapeze-act to Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. As bits of burlap filled our noses and eyes, I felt invigorated by the idea that the work I was a small part of would be enlivened by a circus. We quickly finished before the little bus of performers arrived at the atelier, closed up shop, and had a small spectacle performed right there amongst the cutting table and sewing machines.

As charming and quaint as it seems within the workspace, the surrounding atmosphere is a pleasant correspondence to the atelier. There are several artists residing on the rue des envierges, and often drop by for a quick, “coucou” sometimes even to share lunch together. Only a two-minute walk away there is a humble, yet beautiful view overlooking all of Paris, and just below is the Parc du Belleville. Here gardeners are constantly changing the color schemes of the flowers and often school children run through with papers and pencils trying to identify the varying types of vegetation.
Check out her website for a look at more of her designs.



Halloween in Black and White

We are ready to be spooked, haunted, and startled into a sugar coma!
Halloween is upon us and there is nothing we love more than some black and white imagery and oodles of inspiration from eras of the past.  
Here are some of our favorite spooky snapshots!

What will you be this Halloween?!


Wrap it Up with these Stylish Spools

Our newest collection of ribbon loaded spools have us all ready to gift wrap and bow everything in sight. From Grosgrain, to embroidered, to soft velvets, you are sure to be struck with ribbon fever.
Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate this common day wrapping supply into your stylish day. 


Treasures from the Underground

As far back as we can imagine people have been digging in the ground. 
Whether it is some drive to explore the inner-workings of our planet or to seek some untold fortune, we humans just love to dig. This primitive act has not gone unrewarded, as we have discovered such wonders only to be believed by the naked eye. Diamonds, Gold, Quartz, are only some of the treasures we have discovered by going under ground. Here are some of our lastest specimens from down under, here to grace our showcases and your home with a few unearthed curiosities.

The Mineral Pyrite, or Iron Pyrite, is an iron sulfide. This mineral's metallic luster and pale brass-yellow hue have earned it the nickname "fool's gold" because of its superficial resemblance to gold.

Trilobites are a well-known fossil group of extinct marine anthropods dating back to 250 million years. The study of these fossils has facilitated important contributions to evolutionary biology and paleontology.

Kyanite, whose name derives from the Greek word kuanos meaning deep blue, is a typically blue silicate mineral, commonly found in aluminium-rich sedimentary rock. 

Citrine Quartz
Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown. Natural citrines are rare, most commercial citrines are heat-treated amethyst. The name Citrine is derived from the Latin word citrina, which means "yellow".

Ammonite Madagascar
Ammonites are an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals. These mollusks are more closely related to the common octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish. Ammonites are excellent index fossils, and it is often possible to link the rock layer in which they are found to a specific geological time period. 

Quartz Cluster
Quartz is an abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust. There are many different varieties of quartz, several of which are semi-precious gemstones. Throughout the world, varieties of quartz have been the most commonly used minerals in the making of jewelry and hard stone carvings.

Metacantina are extict sea creatures similar to the present day horseshoe crabs. They had hard exoskeletons with many multi-jointed legs. As one of the predominant animals of the Palaeozoic Era (600-225 million years ago), they were the first organism on earth to have highly developed vision.

Amethyst Chunk
Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz often used in jewelry. In Ancient Greece it was believed to have the power to protect its owner from drunkenness. Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in belief that it would prevent intoxication. Amethyst is one of several forms of Quartz and is the traditional birthstone for February.

We've dug up some of the most beautiful pieces for your office, coffee table, and home.
 Dust off that dirt and head over to The Paris Market to pick up some earthy gems of your very own.


Celebrating All Saints Day, The French Way

In France, on November 1st, we celebrate "La Toussaint" or All Saints Day. All Saints Day is one of the most respected National Public days in France. During this bank holiday, French people pay tribute to their relatives. It's an opportunity to get together, spend time with family, and remember the deceased.

In the village of Forcalquier, located in Haute-Provence, most of my family members are buried. Like any french holiday, "La Toussaint" is a feast. Relatives from all over join together to eat, drink, and then visit the cemetery. On "La Toussaint" you may see family members you haven't seen in a year, for unlike America, Christmas and Birthdays are only spent with close family. As far as back as I can remember, November in my village offers up the perfect weather to ride your bicycle through the winding streets that lead to the cemetery to visit your ancestor's tombs. We would leave our bicycles at the gate and enter the silent cemetery, surrounded by other families from all over the village who are also visiting the dead.  

This celebration of the dead is very different than the American Halloween. There are no ghosts, zombies, or monsters, but hundred year old monuments, twisted Labyrinths lined with sculptures covered in flowers. In many ways the beauty of these cemeteries is equal to the grandeur of the gardens of Versailles.

"La Toussaint" is a day to be with family and to remember generations of the past. Because many families stay in the same village their whole lives, the knowledge and stories of family members is passed down. Children grow up knowing these stories and pass them down to their children. Great Grandparents, Grandparents, and Parents gather together to clean, water, and arrange flowers on the graves of their ancestors, while the children listen to stories about births, weddings, and deaths of all the people who where somehow linked to their family tree. Through these stories, it seems like the dead come back alive and that fifty years ago seem like yesterday.

"La Toussaint" is a beautiful day to remember...
who you are.

A bientot,


Postcards from Paris: {Autumn Highlights and Life in a Greenhouse}

On Fridays when the weather is accommodating I often go to the greenhouse park in Boulogne-Billancourt.
The grass in this park is always trimmed, and most of the time I only see older men and women, who hint on the side of elderly, but I’m sure they wouldn’t admit to it. They often dress from another era. My favourite look for the gentlemen: hand-knit cardigans, thick-rimmed glasses, and tailored slacks, assumingly held up by a handsome pair of suspenders. Pour les dames: curled silver strands pinned back with tortoise shell barrettes and complimenting neutral toned wool suits with pencil skirts and always pantyhose. I imagine them all having a similar collection of Charles Aznavour records, with interiors covered in vintage wallpaper and fine, dark wood antique dining room sets.
Sometimes together, often times alone or with a furry companion. Lately the common thread is not only the era-dressing, but the pastime activity they all seem to be participating in: simply sitting on a bench and admiring the golden tones of autumn. Every now and then, a child makes an appearance, and immediately becoming the focusing view, “Ces jeunes; une telle énergie!”
One particularly energetic set of siblings ran across the well-marked keep-of-grass to dive into a pile of bright amber leaves. Then they scurried along towards the greenhouse, the main attraction. Never-ending summer inside, the greenhouse plants are ignorant to the changing tones beyond the glass walls. The only hints of golden tones are from the coy fish swimming in the center pond. I love the idea of life in a greenhouse.
 Once the sun sets and the glass doors are locked, what goes on inside?
There are bird cages filled with tropical chirping birds, but at night instead of their chirping do they discuss politics or do they prefer poetry?
And the coy fish, always seen swimming in circles waiting for bread crumbs from stale baguettes. At night are they tired of the same old fish faces they’ve been making all day? Do they indulge in smiles and laughter, showing their gummy, peculiar fish teeth smiles?
I wonder about the plants, with their healthy lush leaves and their many branches for arms; do they move about embracing each other? Perhaps unlocking the doors to get a breeze of autumn air.
It’s all so curious, but I have a feeling that the man, who tends to them, always wearing a newsboy cap and soil-stained overalls, has an idea of such greenhouse scenes.