Au Fil D'Elise
Every once in awhile, I secretly wish I lived in Jane Austen's England. Gossamer, corseted dresses that accentuate every sigh and breath. Layers and layers of pillowy white undergarments. Lace. Mystery. For some reason, today was one of those days. I think the fantasizing began somewhere around 7th Avenue and 30th Street in Manhattan. There was something about the cheap neon knits in the fabric stores and the thigh-hugging shorts of a hipster crowd that tipped off a daydream about riding side saddle on Mr. Darcy's horse in an ankle skimming white dress. Okay, not really, but I did spend a few minutes thinking about the appeal of that fantasy. Would I really want to wear a confining, floor length dress all day? Give up my converse? My combat boots? Surely not. So why the fantasy? I blame it on Jane, and I blame it on Au Fil D'Elise. Au Fil D'Elise was a few doors down from our apartment in the Marais last winter. I'd often walk by early in the morning with the boys on our way to the parks. Because it was closed, and no one was there, I was able to peer into the shop without fear of being invited in (with kids? no way), or of revealing that I was drooling. Quaint little racks of lacy, feminine garments in shades of white and the palest peach all looked like they might have belonged to a progressive grandma or a 40s Hollywood star. I wanted to touch every piece, sift through the baskets and breathe in the vintage fabric. But as I never seemed to wander past the shop when it was open, the gowns and undergarments were relegated to fantasy - much like wearing Elizabeth Darcy's dresses. I still haven't been inside (I took the above shots from outside), and I wonder if it's better that way. Once the telltale signs of commerce--price tags, cash registers, shop owners--pluck me from my fantasy and place me into Paris 2010, I'm pretty sure the reality will pale in comparison to the reverie. Then again, from the outside looking in, it seems like a magical, almost mythical place. Speaking of magic, I'm pretty sure the shop owner had it in mind when she wrote this about her shop: "Deep in the heart of the Marais, nestling between the Ile Saint Louis and the Place des Vosges, is where, in my mind’s eye, I imagined a very special place. Waiting there in welcome, pure, uncluttered, and bathed in that sweet, soft light so reminiscent of the spirit of a bygone era, when life was refined and so very feminine. A remarkable, intimate world that conjures up images of the fashionistas of the last Century, recalling too the battered old trunks of our grandmothers and taking us back in time to the “good old days” that we knew when we were young." The shop's blog is an almost daily visit. It's a beautiful, feminine escape. I needed that escape today.