O, the things I saw, the people I met, and the café crèmes I drank!
Without a doubt, the absolute highlight of my Castaing fact-finding trip to Paris was visiting MC's former apartment at the intersection of the rues Jacob and Bonaparte. The current owner purchased a few select items from the estate, including the stove in the above photo which remains in its original position.* A wild bit of information I picked up - apparently furniture designer Eileen Gray lived in the apartment right next to MC's with their front doors just inches apart - can you imagine?!
MC's shop was located directly beneath the apartment and is now the premises of the venerable tea room Laduree. It was decorated by Roxana Rodriguez as an homage to MC...
and as you can see in this photo I surreptitiously snapped of the upper floor, some elements were preserved, such as these biscuit plaques
which were mounted by MC when she had this space installed as a bedroom.
If you've read anything about MC, you know that she loved to read Balzac and Proust and that she intentionally created a romantic atmosphere that recalled the poetic settings both writers so lyrically described. This made a visit to the Maison de Balzac museum, located in the tony if quiet 16th arrondisement, a must.
Balzac only lived here for a short period to escape his creditors and overall it was a bit disappointing. However, I did come across this stove which sparked all sorts of connections....
It seems l'esprit Castaing is truly in the air. While walking down the rue d'Assas, we espied these window vignettes installed by a young designer.
Codimat, the premiere carpet manufacturers who have the exclusive rights to the Castaing designs, will soon be launching new document MC patterns which will knock your socks off.
If there's one thing I learned on this trip, it's that there are many layers to the Castaing myth to peel back and that one visit is but a start. How very lucky am I.
* You may remember that the divine Patricia van Essche suggested I track down a pair of sizzling red gloves like the pair MC is wearing in her photo by the stove. I found my pair chez Alexandra Sojfer on the boulevard Saint-Germain. Although more tourists than Parisians patronize Sojfer's boutique, it is definitely worth a visit. Her family purchased Madeleine Gely, Paris' oldest umbrella shop, and Sojfer takes great care in preserving the high level of artisanry.
She is also constantly changing the interior and windows of the shop. This visit it was all fuschia and hunter green and reminded us of the eye-popping sets of the 1964 cinematic feast The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.