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21 May 2009

Paris Report: A Proustian Madeleine

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.

11 comments:

Mrs. Blandings said...

Fabulous! Wonderful! I'm so glad you're home. I missed you.

Janet said...

Oh, goodness, where to begin...I am still stuck on the red gloves, and the Castaing/Grey revelation. So glad to have you back! I look forward to digesting all of this...and more! xo

Anonymous said...

Dearest Triple E,

It all sounds so completely super duper, I am over the moon excited for you!! You look to be in heaven in your portrait with red gloves and stove....it's very touching. Cant wait to hear all about anything and everything CASTAING!

- James

pve design said...

After all, those red gloves must be smiling - knowing that they were meant to be. Such layers of meaning.
Wonderful post.

Toby Worthington said...

These threads of association that lead us from MC to the Umbrellas of Cherbourg~charming! You've been missed. Welcome home!

vicki archer said...

What a dream trip and where better to be than MC former abode, xv.

Anonymous said...

What a delight! KDM

home before dark said...

Will there ever be a Madeleine Castaing movie? I love the gloves. I love the IDEA of a wig held on by a chinstrap that also smoothed back wrinkles. I would have looked like an organ grinder's monkey but the picture of her with her red gloves with her strapped on wig looked damn good! Glad you had fun. Now the work begins. Best of luck with it all.

The Peak of Chic said...

So happy the trip was a success, and it makes me even MORE anxious for your book! I love the vignettes in the shop windows- perfection!!!

The Peak of Chic said...

E- A question- is Codimat represented in a US showroom??

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Jennifer, for the moment, some of Codimat's line is available at Stark. However they are in the process of partnering up with Tai Ping Carpets in New York and London where the entire line will be available exclusively.

Codimat is top top of the line and still does all its weaving in France. When I asked if everything is 100% wool, the director gasped in horror at the idea that it could be anything else!