The Issue of Fashion

photo: cafe le saint tropez

Only minimal fashion is required at the Saint Tropez.

And Romans, Of Course

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 16. April 2001:- It did not actually snow in Paris yesterday, although it did snow in France. This is entirely my fault - for making reckless predictions based on living here for 25 years. Next year, do not watch this space to see any more idiotic predictions for Easter weather.

Now that Easter is out of the way, 'spring's' way is free to return when it wants, but most will prefer it to be sooner rather than later.

Since this may take a couple of days, and I have already read what is below, my suggestion is that everybody coming to Paris soon either bring a raincoat with them, or be prepared to buy a fancy new one here. Purple is 'in' this year.

Café Life

In some weeks, Café Life is sort of a formless jumble. In other weeks, Metropole's readers make it bizarroid. This week is one of the latter.

Paris Causes Fashion Angst

Ron Smith from Knoxville, Tennessee became a Cafe Metropole Club member recently. During the meeting when he and Tracy Smith joined, he managed - there was a riot going on - to tell other members about the Washington Post's current series concerning 'What To Wear In Paris' - "To avoid looking like a visitor from say, Knoxville," he said.

After Ron returned to Knoxville, he thoughtfully sent the URL for 'Rock City, and included an update of the Washington Post's efforts to make sure no American visiting Paris looks like a duffo - or an American.

Last week Ron sent another welcome update - "I am pleased to inform you that the Post has managed a reduction of endless lines of Monday chat to a single informative ground-breaking graphic on howphoto: square p langevin, ingres a tourist should dress. As a public service to your readers who have yet to set foot on French concrete, this is worth a look.

Wall decor in the Latin Quarter, near the Rue Monge.

"An interesting aside is that the lady pictured in the 'before' photo is, in fact, almost dressed appropriately for a big day in Rock City. If you fail to grasp this singular fashion error, it is the Northwestern sweat shirt. This should be replaced by a Tennessee shirt - or any shirt bearing the logo of a university from one of the seven states one might see from Rock City. Extra points if you also noted that the model is at least 40 pounds underweight and is not wearing blue stretch pants."

This vital message intrigued me, so I took a look - because the 'graphic' mentioned may be gone by the time you read this.

The Washington Post is, I am desolated to say, misinformed. Thirty million people in France do wear baseball-type caps and some form of running shoes. It is true few people here wear Northwestern sweat shirts, and hardly anybody wears the handy-carry 'bananas' anymore. This refers to the 'Come as Sheesh' character in the 'graphic.'

But where the respected Washington paper goes wildly astray is with their version of the 'Chic Type.' To confirm this, I took a five-minute tour on the avenue yesterday and looked in several shop windows displaying the latest Paris spring fashions. None of the mannequins were wearing sunglasses - there were no 'Foster Grants' let alone anybody behind them.

The vital details are too many to put into words - like the 'endless lines of Monday chat' - so I've summed them up in this week's cartoon. Because of its serious nature it is not really a 'cartoon' - you should consider it to be an 'earth-shaking graphic.' And a public service - especially if you want to know how to spell 'sheesh' in true metric European style.

In case you think this is supposed to be funny, you should also know that I've used a Galeries Lafayette flyer - bonafide until Saturday, 14. April - and the vast resources of Metropole's widespread network of expert readers and Café Metropole Club members, many of whom have actually been in Paris recently - like Tracy and Ron Smith, who get special thanks for helping to give Metropole this 'beat' on the Washington Post.

Although much of Metropole may seem like a 'formless jumble,' on the fashion front it is no more jumbled than what Parisians are wearing on the streets of Paris right this minute.

Hold it! Updates are pouring in because of the lack of the Easter Monday holiday, for some unknown reason, in the United States. From Metropole's own fashion experts:-

Update:- Jackson Heights, Queens:- Monday, 16. April:- Baseball caps are inappropriate unless it's a Mets' cap of course. You can wear these to an audience with the Pope. About the 'Chic' photo - where are the earrings? Everybody wears earrings in Paris. The all-brown outfit looks pretty drab to me, and I even like brown. I didn't see many folks in brown in Paris in March.

Overall, my take is that the French, even when dressed casually look put together - crisp, sophisticated and all grown up. Americans on the other hand look like they are about to water the lawn. It's embarrassing.

Metropole's suggestion to shop in Paris a good one. The exchange rate is extremely favorable. The department stores are not at all intimidating, and they accept US plastic with aplomb.

Shopping in Paris is an opportunity for visitors to get heads-up on styles that will eventually arrive in the States. I love to window-shop the clothing and jewelry boutiques too for fashion ideas. And didn't Metropole's 'Ed' decide to buy some pink pants after seeing them in the shop window in the 6th?

Report by reader and paid-up club member Loco Chanel from Queens.

Ed's Note:- When you can't afford snazzy pink pants, it's easy to 'buy' them. That's why it's called 'window-shopping.'

Update:- Knoxville, Tennessee:- Monday, 16. April:- To appreciate what's going on, visit the archives of the Washington Post's weekly travel chat.

Metropole needs to go out on a thin limb by requiring - the Café Metropole Club's first and only rule! - that all female members and pretenders to adoptphoto: rue rollin the attire or refrain from attending meetings until they do. This should make a tremendous 'Chic' photo, along the lines of last week's 'Jersey Four' at the club meeting.

Follow Rue Rollin from the Place de la Contrescarpe to the Roman Arena.

Metropole can attempt to torpedo the Washington Post by insuring that the WP's 'travel chic' photo is widely circulated in Paris as a public service with the warning - 'Beware, American Women Attempting to Pass Themselves Off as Parisians!' Metropole tells you how to decipher the tell-tale signs. (Historical note - read about 'Operation Grief,' an effort by the German army to infiltrate Allied units by adopting GI uniforms.)

Finally, do a double reverse. Publish a special edition - this could be your annual Fashion Edition. This works darn well for Sports Illustrated, even though it's not published in Paris.

If necessary, I will travel to Rock City or K-Mart and obtain photos of the tourists. Put these under the header - 'What Smart Parisians Are Wearing This Year.' Have someone check into to the Washington Post's 'Travel Chat,' citing this as the definitive source on the subject. In legal terms, this would be 'heinous, amoral, atrocious and cruel,' but a lot of fun.

Ed's Note 2:- The above updated update is from Ron Smith in Knoxville of course. He is not a known stockholder in the 'See Rock City' corporation.

Passing off photos of what Parisians wear while visiting Rock City would not be in Metropole's editorial spirit, which is to be totally ignorant of what Parisians and visitors wear in Paris - as opposed to what is shown in shop windows, and nobody wears.

As before, the Café Metropole Club's secretary is reluctant to institute any 'rules' for the club, so any sort of dress code is unlikely. However, if members have been shopping for fancy throat-upholders - 'soutien-gorge' - in Samaritaine before club meetings, the other members will likely welcome seeing these.

Metropole Offers Its Photos

The offer of Metropole's large-format photos continues with a new photo / image page, which is included in this issue.

In general, one or two 'best' photos - or a cartoon - will be offered each week. Many of Metropole's weekly crop of other photos will match the 'best' one for interest and quality. If these are not specifically 'offered,' it does not mean that they are not available.

This project is operating without impersonal 'Internet-robots' to handle the transaction. This means that the process depends on personal emails. This also makes sense because I've taken the photos with you in mind.

More details are on this week's 'Photo' page. Check it out. Any suggestions, advice and comments, will be welcome.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Last Thursday's club meeting scored a rerun of semi-chaos with the attendance of the 'Jersey Four,' which was a dubious 'first' of some unforgettable sort. It is only April and New Jersey towns are leading this year's crop of 'Cities of the Week.'

Other existing members put in appearancesphoto: window box too, but were outnumbered. You should read the 'report' to find out how this meeting unfolded, nearly much as usual despite the lack of any new plastic 'Zulu' Mardi Gras beads from Baton Rouge.

Keep up with your club's doings by checking the 'report' of the last meeting. It's details may seem more bungled than usual and this was entirely the secretary's doing.

Doubtful plastic flowers may be real sign of spring.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 19. April 2001. As is now sort of usual, this particular meeting will only happen once. If you miss it, it means you can try again any other Thursday, except for past ones.

All readers and prospective club members can take a look at the antique but current version of 'About the Club,' which is useful for learning about the club's reason-for-being, its meeting time and location and so on.

This page also contains vital 'facts' about this free club in Paris, which is the only one this magazine has for all of its readers who are either 'Metropole Paris' readers or Café Metropole Club members, or are in Paris for any reason or no reason in particular at all. If you do not fall into any these categories, you may be from Mars. 'Mars' has not been 'City of the Week' yet.

Metropole's Affiliates

The following product or service providers have chosen Metropole because their offers may be of value to readers and I agree with them.

'Bookings' has a reservation service for a selection of Paris hotels. Check out their offer and make your choice long before your arrival in France.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' as well as travel insurance for potential Paris visitors. These services will be a real benefit if you've signed up for them before you need them suddenly. I hope won't be the case but you can never tell.

'Petanque America' imports quality Obut boules from France and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas - which will save you from carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first in your neighborhood to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. No particular expertise is necessary.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.16 - 17. April 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Weather Fixation 'Fix.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Is There Life After 60?' This issue had one feature, titled 'The '20's and '30's In Boulogne.' The Café Metropole Club continued laconicaly with 'More New Members.' The club's weekly update on 20. April featured 'Non-Readers Become Members!' The 'Scene' column's title was 'Last Minute Easter Program' - which eclipsed this year's no Easterphoto: sign, ex rue d'arras program. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Birds Sing.' Or, whistle in the dark.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.16 - 19. April 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Backpacking Without a Pack.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'How To Quit Drinking, In France.' Say, what? This issue' had one feature titled, 'With a Home On Your Back.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Speed-Record Set at Achères.' Where? There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Restless Visitors.' Ed remembers it well.

The 'Count-Up' - Part 16

Last week I stated here that the anniversary of the second millennium of Roman rule in Paris was celebratedphoto: sign, rue saint julien le pauvre on Tuesday, 8. July 1952. It has come to my attention that this event may have happened in 1951 - which, if it was on 8. July, was a Sunday. I apologize for this error.

Since the new - since last week - 'Count-Up' personality was Charles A. Lindbergh - but with a so-far unknown exact arrival date and time in Paris - it was sometime in May of 1927 - I think it is time to let this 'Count-Up' feature cool off a bit until Metropole's fact-checking department returns from its visit to Rock City.

But until they do, last week's number will be retained. This means the current Count-Up starts from a nighttime in May of 1927. Believe it or not, and I don't, it is about 9547 days, give or take 12 or 13 hours either way - which might make it 9546 or 9548 days.

Did Elvis ever visit Paris?
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini