Friday, February 3, 2012

Francophile Friday: Paris et Le Bon Marché

pigment ink pen & watercolour illustration, 7" x 8.75" [18 x 22.5cm] BROWSE PRINTS

To make amends for my lamentable effort on facts and figures in last Friday's post, I have actually done some research this week.  {May I offer you some smelling salts?} 

Back in 1852 when an enterprising draper's assistant had visions of what was possibly the world's first department store dancing around in his head, I can only begin to imagine what some of his family and friends might have said.  Something like, "Have you been sniffing the fabrics again?" or "Lay off the green fairy {la fée verte}, you crazy dude," for starters.  But thanks to Aristide Boucicaut and his wife Marguerite, a revolutionary concept was born, offering "fixed prices, lower margins, home delivery, item exchange, mail order, promotional periods and sales, private concerts, a reading area and much more..."  An art gallery was opened in 1875 to further cement Le Bon Marché's air of distinction and forward thinking.  Louis Auguste Boileau was consulted for the construction of a new home for the store ~ this one ~ in 1867, and when his son Louis Charles Boileau continued the store in the 1870s, he consulted the firm of Gustave Eiffel for parts of its structure.  I guess that makes it some kind of second cousin by marriage to La Tour Eiffel.  So without further dilly dallying, please try this on for size ~ or perhaps this.  Oh, heh, I mean this, and we shall entrez.  A thousand thanks to our dear Katie for the beautiful photographic inspiration for today's illustration.  Katie, I chose this outfit especially for you.  Edgy but feminine ~ I think you'd rock it!  And on that note...

Happy Francophile Friday to you!

34 comments:

  1. Lovely post! Learning about the history of Le Bon Marche is fascinating and fun. And Katie WILL rock that outfit :-) By all means, let's entrez....

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    1. It's a lovely story, Ms M. After you...

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  2. Oh, I just love your architectural musings, ma chère! You would look adorable in the striped skirt; I'll take the other outfit—and our Hugh of course. But if he sees Katie in her special chosen-by-you ensemble, I'm afraid the rest of us don't stand a chance.

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    1. Thanks, dear Alexa! I didn't think of competition for Hugh when I chose that outfit for Katie. {Curses.} Lucky we're magnanimous around here, isn't it. ;)

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  3. The details! The colors! The cat! Did I mention the details? You have the patience of a saint cause this illo (like all the rest) must have taken ages to produce. But we're worth it. I mean, the effect is worth it!

    What's this? Katie and Hugh are going steady? No wonder she hasn't shown up tonight.

    (Blogger is so polite: please prove you are not a robot.)

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    1. Cali, oh, please, don't stop, even though my beret is growing too tight! Funny, I'm not renowned for my patience in some areas, but when it comes to my illustrations, it's endless. And yes, you are worth it. ;)

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  4. Hey Shell. Great post, makes me want to visit right now! And great illustration as always.
    xxx

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    1. Always lovely to see you, GyPsY. Thank you... x0

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  5. How lovely! The architecture is beautiful! Enjoy the gorgeous weekend, Kellie xx

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    1. You too, Kellie ~ and all the best with the Society Social range. It's beautiful.

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  6. Bags I have the black and white skirt, please, before anyone else claims it. And I love the idea of "fixed prices, lower margins, home delivery, item exchange, mail order, promotional periods and sales, private concerts, a reading area and much more..." - it sounds so good, so different from my own experience of pushy, noisy department stores. Where did it all go wrong? Or perhaps Le Bon Marché still has it right: I must pop over on the avoin and see.

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    1. I had a feeling you'd go for the black and white skirt. You look smashing in it.

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  7. sigh... buildings in Paris... so tres bonne...

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    1. Glad you're enjoying the scenery, dkshopgirl. Thanks!

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  8. You must think I'm imitating you, Mise, but you always get here before I do and we really do just think alike. I was hoping for the skirt but as you already have dibs on it, I'll wear the plaid pajamas I have on. Right? They'll still let me in if I dress them up with some cute boots.

    Shell, this one is super.

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    1. Thanks, Petrea! And if they don't embrace your plaid pyjamas ensemble, I'll write them a very refined letter to express my dismay.

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  9. What an interesting post! I love to visit the grand department stores when I'm in Paris. I've just stumbled across your blog and I'm so pleased I discovered it. Your beautiful illustrations are so creative and chic. I'm a true francophile and I shall now be enjoying your posts by email too!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hi, miss b ~ thanks very much for your kind thoughts and for dropping in. I'm glad you're enjoying your visit and thanks for following via email.

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  10. Shell, I wonder if you were standing next to me when I took this picture?
    http://toutparis.blogspot.com/2010/10/paris-bon-marche.html

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    1. Jeff, it's a very similar perch and yours is a fine photo ~ I love it in the B&W. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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  11. Shell, I neglected to mention that the smelling salts joke made me laugh so hard John had to ask me what was going on.

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    1. Heh! Thanks, Petrea. I'm always glad to make people laugh. Preferably without the participation of a banana peel.

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  12. Shell this is such a delightful illustration! And I much prefer it to my photo, especially since for some reason I can't see kitty in my image. (And Jeff although your photo was taken from almost the same spot as mine, I hope it wasn't exactly the same as I snapped mine from an open window in the ladies power room!) I love the idea of everyone wearing beautiful B&W clothes to visit Bon Marché - and I adore my outfit -- thank you! And although I would very much like to say I was wandering around Paris with Hugh, alas I wasn't. But a girl can dream, and stepping into this perfect Paris is a great start!

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    1. Katie, that's hilarious!! I must remember to check the view from ladies' powder rooms whenever I'm in Paris. I'm glad you like your outfit. If Hugh saw you wearing it, he'd have been dazzled.

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  13. Hey Shell. Great post, makes me want to visit right now! And great illustration as always.
    xxx

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  14. Oh, Shell. I've so enjoyed this history lesson! You're a natural teacher, using this gorgeous illustration (kitty cat included), fashion and Hugh to educate us. The only problem is I *must* wear that black and white skirt. Apologies to Mise and Petrea! It's just that, I must.

    p.s. I'm so happy to have the powder room tip!

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    1. Thanks, Susan ~ I'm very chuffed. And that skirt would suit you wonderfully. If you can prise it from the determined fingers of Mise and Petrea, it's all yours.

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  15. I read a book about Le Bon Marche in grad school. I've never been there, but it has an interesting history.

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    1. I'm keen to find out more about it, too, Margaret. A friend Lois thoughtfully recommended Émile Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames {The Ladies' Delight/Paradise} to me when she saw this post. "The novel is set in the world of the department store in the mid-nineteenth century. Zola modeled his store after Le Bon Marché."

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  16. "Edgy but feminine." That is so Katie.

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    1. That's a relief, Hiker! I feel somewhat bold choosing an outfit for someone else.

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  17. Talent + fashion savvy + great taste in men, add to that a sprinkling of newly found history buff, mix it together with a silver spoon, and you get SHELL SHERREE!

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    1. Debs ~ have I told you lately how much I like you?

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Merci, grazie, thank you for joining our conversation lounge. Your smile lights up the room. Even more beautifully than our crystal chandelier. x