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  • Shelley Dark

27. Avenue Montaigne etc

No trip to Paris would be complete without a day strolling along the haute couture streets would it? Window-shopping, admiring, trying things on. It’s such fun to go into the smartest shops as if you wouldn’t dream of shopping anywhere else. And we were meeting Monique for lunch.

In years gone by, in stores like Dior or Chanel, I was often met by elegant staff member’s hyper-critical glance which started at my feet and swept up to my face. The implication being that madame might be out of her league. Or was that reserved for me? :-)

Not any longer. Today's Paris haute couture stores, at least the ready-to-wear, seem to welcome visitors and happily ooze warmth.

We strolled across the Pont Alexandre, admiring it’s statues and its gorgeous gold decoration, looking back at that fabulous axis ending in Les Invalides.

I'd like to pretend I took my life in my hands to stand in the middle of the road for you, but I was on a traffic island.

Past both the stunning Petit and Grand Palais, across the park on the corner of Avenue Montaigne - a tasteful jumble of pink and grey.

This narrow manicured hedge and gravel parterre right at the beginning of the Avenue Montaigne set the style.

Finding parking in Paris is so boring. This should do the trick.

Cally saw a bag she fancied in Jil Sander, our first stop. After much discussion, she decided that the leather tie at the top would be a nuisance. I loved the stool - leather on wood, joined by mortise and tenon, brand unknown.

Spotted a modest little trinket at Ralph Lauren. Black gloves and you’re ready for the opera.

Actually I did quite fancy this one.

Chloë boots have gone all yeti-furry. The shop had a wall of pearls - great idea, but my control-freak stylist alter-ego thought it might have been more effective if they were hanging down from a horizontal plane somehow rather than drooping off a wall. I've always got to be redesigning the world. Tough gig.

Dior. Sigh. It’s always such a joy to visit. I loved your your recent visit, Jenny Rose-Innes, and couldn’t wait to see it again for myself. Typically, it's the fit-out I love admiring as much as the stock.

Dior has my favourite chair in the world. It’s circular and based on the leaves of the gingko biloba tree. Last time I saw it, it had a huge display of white hydangeas inside. Today they were pink. I couldn’t get a full shot of it as there were people sitting on it. I almost asked them to move for you. Almost.

Please forgive me if you already know the information I give you.

It was designed by Claude Lalanne, the wife and artistic collarborator of Francois-Xavier (1927-2008). He was famous for his animals, particularly sheep. Claude, born in 1924, was more fond of botanical things. She also did a single version of this chair. One sold recently for about $50,000. And others. Two-seater etc.

I fell in love with this table at Dior too. Having been a fairly traditional furniture girl all my life, the cutting edge stuff appeals to me now as a counterpoint. I asked the attendant in French if I may photograph it. Usually a better response when you speak in French, however fumbled.

He said, Désolé, ce n'est pas permis, Madame. (I'm sorry, it's not allowed) I replied, Would you be prepared to turn your back, s’il vous plâit Monsieur? Voilà! He smiled and turned.

It was designed by André Dubreuil, who lives alone in his family’s 18th century mansion in the Dordogne. He considers himself not a designer, but an artisan in metal. He works from a barn on his estate with his employees, and doesn’t make two of anything. His is the spine chair.

Isn't this part of the Dior floor fun?

love this sculpture too

As we walked out the door of Dior, Cally's lovely neckpiece bought the day before at Cécile Jeanne, fell to the floor - not done up properly. The doorman gallantly came to her assistance: picked it up, fastened it, and adjusted it so it was centred properly. Cally asked him if he'd like to come home with her.

We thought we'd duck into the Plaza Athenée for a quick peek. No time for morning tea. They're having an exhibition of Julien Marinetti's whimsical animals at the moment. (I know this because on Instagram I follow @dorchestercollection, and Alpana answered my question toute de suite!) A rather large dog was guarding the front door. The maître d' of the dining room said certainly I may take photos if I were discreet about it. I'm very discreet.

crazy shiny silver alcove banquettes!

I wonder how many of these tiles are set into the footpath on Avenue Montaigne - we only saw two. They must have done a series on the oldest fashion houses. Would have been fun to search them all out. No time!