Posted by: reecejharley | January 8, 2010

Fashion, street life and the Flaneur

Rosa Clara

I have never seen so many fur coats in my life! They are EVERYWHERE! Paris’s shop-windows and streets are full of beautiful fashion with the most exclusive boutiques centering around Place Vendome, Rue de la Paix and Rue Saint-Honore (adjacent to the Elysee Palace).

Gucci, Cocco Chanel, Yves St Laurent, Hermes, Lacroix, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co, Issey Miyake, Rosa Clara, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbanna can all be found within half a kilometre of each other.

Now let me clear the air, for all of my animal-loving readers… I think that the wearing, purchasing and admiration of fur clothing is vile and merely leads to the killing of poor, innocent animals who should otherwise be roaming free… The thing is, I can’t help but snap my head around when I see a tall, beautiful woman in a fur coat. Fur coats have become synonymous with glamour and elegance. In Australia the elegance of fur clothing seems to be a thing of the past and it’s considered not just to be unfashionable, but also cruel. Paris seems to have missed memo.

Fur coats

As far as the fashions are concerned, there is perhaps no domain, except that of painting, where Paris more richly deserves her reputation as a world capital. If it can be said that the new meridian passes through Grenwich, we can claim that the meridian of fashion always passes through the rue de la Paix.

In any case, the ingenuity and the taste of the Parisian dressmakers are unrivalled, and find their expression not only in the creations of the first class houses but also in a number of shops. Anybody who claims to know Paris would do well to consider this as part of her artistic life, which is more important than one might at first believe. There is often more art to be found in the creation of a great dressmaker than on several walls of an art gallery. (pge 69)

Fur coat in the window of a boutique on rue Saint-Honore

Paris is, like any major city, a cultural hot pot, buzzing with tourists, visitors and locals. The fashionable, the unfashionable, the students, the elderly, the kids walking down the street rugged up as if on their way to Alaska and… most notably, the tourists…

Paris is a tourist mecca, so let me give my readers a few tips about how not to stand out like a sore thumb when visiting the great capital.

1. If u have a camera, put it away when you’re not using it.

2. Paris is full of shops. You do not need to carry a huge bag around with you every where you go… you can buy things if you need them. Do you usually take a spare change of clothes, your toiletries, three guide books, a water bottle, a packed lunch and snacks with you when you go shopping? If you can afford to, buy your food on the go. You’ll learn more about Paris in restaurants, cafes and markets than just about anywhere else.

3. Have a good, long look at the map of the city before you leave for the day, memorise the main streets, remember the alignment of the main features and don’t be afraid to get lost. Avoid standing on street corners with giant fold out maps. Aside from attracting pick-pockets, you also look like another silly tourist.

4. Don’t be afraid to get lost. This is when things get most interesting.

5. Focus on the human interactions around you. Smile. Even if you don’t know the language, body language will get you a long way.

Framed photos in an arcade

On foot – If we wish to know the charm of the quays of the Ile Saint-Louis or to see the old mansions, this is the only way. The same for the shop windows of which some are beautifully studied by window-dressers, specialists of this decorative art, and specifically reflect the Parisian taste; these are to be found particularly in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, rue de la Paix, Place Vendome and rue Royale. (pge 54.)

Boulevarde Saint-Germain

We strongly advise a visitor to Paris to obtain first a general knowledge of the city before starting detailed visiting of its monuments and museums. He should also realise that Paris can only be satisfactorily seen on foot, except for certain extensive modern quarters of which all that is wanted is a general vista. But in the city centre and the old quarters, one can only get to know Paris in the course of many walks, and even by wandering aimlessly about. For the scenes and aspects of the city are are infinitely varied, never quite identical from one day to another, and the wonderful light of Paris is constantly changing. (pge 78)

Tomorrow, Paris by night…



  1. Really enjoyed this post.Is it cruel if I buy a second hand animal fur coat ……. Particularly a vintage coat? The animal is already dead

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