|Hat by Marie Mercié|
I'm grateful that before departure, I read this aphorism, which holds true no matter where one lives:
I could have refused all, the ultimate freedom, but I'd arrived with a short list of things I needed: shoes for a son's end-of-summer wedding, and possibly a "dress-up" top for related festivities.
I admired this silk blouse, printed with the doors of Lisbon, by the designer eun hwa:
Beautiful? I thought so, though beauty is a matter of individual judgment.
Adaptable? Yes, it could be worn as a blouse or light jacket, and goes with any solid colour.
Sound? I had to look up the definition, as it's an unusual word to apply to a garment. One meaning is "showing good judgment or sense"; another is "solid". (She probably wrote this in the 1940s, when the Dirty Thirties were but a few years in the past. Not everyone wants clothes to last, but I share her view.)
The blouse did not meet that third criterion. In our climate, there are only a handful of weeks in which to wear that weight of silk comfortably on its own. Upkeep would be costly; the vendeuse said "Don't even think about handwashing". Given the steep price (over $US 400), I decided no.
A week later, after a delightful where-did-the-time-go lunch in Galeries Vivienne with the lovely, vibrant author and blogger Tish Jett, we visited one of my favourite Paris boutiques, Wolff & Descourtis, a 140-year-old family firm who produce exquisite textiles of fine wool, silk, and velvet plush as a tabby's neck. The shawls and scarves are limited editions; only twenty-four are made in each pattern.
Tish and Victoria Wolff liked me in a paisley shawl of soft "English colours", gentle rose, taupe, robin's egg blue, ecru. I too responded to the scarf's serene charm, but as I carried the bag to our apartment, began to question why I have no other clothes in that colourway.
When I modeled it, Le Duc said, "The colours are so subtle and marvelous—but they wash you out. I think you can do better."
Why is this sound? It's portable (when traveling, it folds to a small roll and shakes out unwrinked) and gives at least three-season wear; I mean, I came home on April 23 to 1C/34F and snowflakes! Though it eventually requires drycleaning, because it's worn on top of other clothes the frequency is far lower than the silk blouse.
The price was about $US 265 given the detaxe allowance for non-EU residents. Silks and velvets, especially the devoré pieces like those Luciano Pavarotti collected, are far more.
Is also there a lesson here about others' advice? If someone "loves it on you", relish the compliment but don't make it the deciding factor. Even though Tish, Victoria and Le Duc each have a superb eye, they are different eyes. (His first choice was not the one I chose, either.) Also, I chose the first scarf when tired; its calm colours soothed. After a night's sleep, my mood changed.
When Victoria handed the box to me, along with a small bag of marrons glacés, she remarked that I had picked the "Parisienne hipster one", tongue firmly in Gallic chic.
Wolff & Descourtis pieces are not sold online, so there's an excuse for your trip.
PS. For those intrigued by pearls: Kojima Company have just begun their spring sale: 19% off with code DARAJA till May 11.