Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Go to the record store, and visit your friends

Mikhail Baryshnikov (actually it was him playing Aleksandr Petrovsky, my all-time least favourite of Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriends) once said that Paris is the most magnificent city in the world.

He was right.

I've spent collectively perhaps 12 hours walking around Paris--Christian Dior once said the only wartime deprivation he didn't mind was the lack of fuel, because it meant people began to stroll around the city. It was like walking on a cloud. And I don't say this from the perspective of a wide-eyed Canadian girl who "loves" fashion. It was more than that. Being in a city like Paris reminds you that you will never hope to know all the legends who've walked those streets. Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior used to design in Paris together for Lucien Lelong and then they'd go spend time at Balenciaga's apartment. It was in paris that Chanel insisted on living throughout the occupation, to keep one eye on her #31 Rue Cambon boutique and another on a handsome German officer. Louis XIV visited Paris only a handful of times during his entire reign, but Margeret de Valois and Henry de Navarre were married there, at Notre Dame in 1572. It was a wedding that helped spark the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. Mary, Queen of Scots was married in the same cathedral to Francis II. Paris is also where Napoleon I held his coronation, where he (and Jim Morrison) have been laid to rest, and where Hemingway liked to chill.  Gertrud Stein called it, simply, her hometown.

When the Nazis invaded and occupied the city, they planned not to squash Parisian culture, but to co-opt it. They wanted not to feel inferior to Paris but to call it their own. Oddly enough, I got to stand in the same spot as Hitler stood for his famous photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. For better or worse, this is a city full of history, culture, beauty and tragedy.

This long pre-amble is essentially my way of saying that since leaving France, I've experienced a huge jones for this city. The friends I went with were slightly less impressed (what can you expect from a group of 25 year old [straight] guys?) But I couldn't move past the fact that Paris is so old, and like a person, its lived a beautiful, long, complicated and often haunted life. Its cobblestones hold a million stories of the famous people who've walked along them, as well as those unknown people who call Paris home.

To aid both my Paris-jonesing and my poor French, I've been checking out a pretty great blog on Parisian street style. Thankfully, it isn't all always in French, but it has some pretty great street style shots (reasons we love Tommy Ton!) and if you look close enough (past the fabulous clothes) you can see tiny snippets of my favourite city.  So, Style and the City is pretty worth checking out, but then again, so is the real thing.

Posted by: Carla

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