Who would have thought that I would be blogging? I have never been able to keep a journal. It is a warm and misty idea that to date has not worked for me. My hand would get a cramp and then it would be over. My handwriting, starting out perfect, by the end of the page would have rendered itself into something similar to chicken tracks making a slow crawl downhill, being instant death to the romantic notion of recording one’s thoughts. Because if it didn’t look good, who cared? Certainly not I, and I was the only one who was going to be reading it, so that settled it.
But here I am – blogging. There is no hand writing involved, and I am not the only one reading it. It’s kind of scary, like telling everybody you’re going to go on a diet and hoping you don’t get caught with a stack of cookies. And I don’t really like the word. It sounds like something you would do with your nose. (“He has a terrible cold and was up all night blogging.”) Most frightening of all, it ultimately ends up being about content – a thought that chills my blood, for I suspect that every word I deem so important will soon seem like just another blast of hot air into cyberspace. Maybe blogging is the cause of global warming.
At any rate, I have to get this started, so here it goes:
I am typing this from an apartment rental in Paris. I am here with my friend, event planner Elizabeth Allen, laying the ground work for an upcoming project. Due to the nature of the party, that’s all I can say for the moment.
While Paris is lovely, this time it’s hard for me to get motivated. My mood is a bit off due to recent trials and tribulations of running a business in New York, a particularly astrologically horrific September and having just been here for Maison-Objet a few weeks earlier. The October Parisian weather is that strange combination of muggy one second, chilly the next, and I want to take everything I packed and throw it into the middle of the street. And of course it’s fashion week so the peacocks and gazelles are out in full force, and to top it off, I screwed up my foot during my morning run through the Jardin du Luxembourg. Cry me a river.
After a late start, we finally make it out of the apartment and take a taxi up to a new shop called Merci on Blvd. Beaumarchais. While I am not going to give you the full editorial history of Merci – you can read that in Vogue or Departures – the basic premises is a large, three-floor shop in the upper Marais with wares varying from dishtowels to colored pencils and all profits going to charity.
We did not enter through the main door, but rather through the small flower shop on the street level. While the day may have started out on the wrong note combined with my natural predisposition to being cynical (“another fabulous shop, another must see…will of course be filled with fashion cattle and Americans…blah, blah, blah”), I barely pass through the door and start to smile. The charcoal walls, of course, make me feel right at home (did they know I was coming?) as do the stack of rustic apple crates filled with organic aka wormy apples, armloads of wild grasses, day glo magenta callicarpa berry, dahlias as big as your face and of course, my favorite – lots and lots of garden roses.
My mood instantly changed, we walk through the flower shop and down a small hallway that leads us into an gorgeous industrial space that opens into an amazing retail/gallery experience of furniture, art, garden goods, dishes, candles, men’s and women’s clothing, etc. etc. Colorful, bohemian, industrial, raw, vintage, modern – it is a happy store, and I don’t mean that cloying-Americana-prozacky type of happy. This is a place that validates everything I love about life, inspires me and pushes me further. The courtyard vegetable garden – j’adore! (I assure you there will be future posts on the potager, one of my major loves in life.)
The irregular, mouth-blown vases and glasses – I want them all! The buckets of “country” flowers in the middle of a most sophisticated city (again, all fodder for blogging), the cafe wall lined floor to ceiling with used books, and the trellises woven from branches which have sprouted and are as much living things as the plants they support. I don’t know where to look first! I am a kid in a candy shop.
In this city of lights, so filled with beauty, glamour and history, this visit it is all falling flat on me – until I walk into this shop. I haven’t felt so uplifted since I first went into the new Dries van Noten boutique several years ago which proved that fashion does not have to be displayed amongst plexiglas and phaelenopsis. To see colors, textures, life and nature used in such a free and democratic way is inspiring and uplifting. It is moments like this, these days seemingly few and far between, that make me want to jump on the plane and go back to work with renewed vigor. And then I know it was a worthwhile trip.
Merci! Merci! Merci! I’m going back tomorrow.
111 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris