The Issue of Fashion

photo: cafe le saint tropez

Only minimal fashion is required at the Saint Tropez.

And Romans, Of Course

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 16. April 2001:- It did not actually snow in Paris yesterday, although it did snow in France. This is entirely my fault - for making reckless predictions based on living here for 25 years. Next year, do not watch this space to see any more idiotic predictions for Easter weather.

Now that Easter is out of the way, 'spring's' way is free to return when it wants, but most will prefer it to be sooner rather than later.

Since this may take a couple of days, and I have already read what is below, my suggestion is that everybody coming to Paris soon either bring a raincoat with them, or be prepared to buy a fancy new one here. Purple is 'in' this year.

Café Life

In some weeks, Café Life is sort of a formless jumble. In other weeks, Metropole's readers make it bizarroid. This week is one of the latter.

Paris Causes Fashion Angst

Ron Smith from Knoxville, Tennessee became a Cafe Metropole Club member recently. During the meeting when he and Tracy Smith joined, he managed - there was a riot going on - to tell other members about the Washington Post's current series concerning 'What To Wear In Paris' - "To avoid looking like a visitor from say, Knoxville," he said.

After Ron returned to Knoxville, he thoughtfully sent the URL for 'Rock City, and included an update of the Washington Post's efforts to make sure no American visiting Paris looks like a duffo - or an American.

Last week Ron sent another welcome update - "I am pleased to inform you that the Post has managed a reduction of endless lines of Monday chat to a single informative ground-breaking graphic on howphoto: square p langevin, ingres a tourist should dress. As a public service to your readers who have yet to set foot on French concrete, this is worth a look.

Wall decor in the Latin Quarter, near the Rue Monge.

"An interesting aside is that the lady pictured in the 'before' photo is, in fact, almost dressed appropriately for a big day in Rock City. If you fail to grasp this singular fashion error, it is the Northwestern sweat shirt. This should be replaced by a Tennessee shirt - or any shirt bearing the logo of a university from one of the seven states one might see from Rock City. Extra points if you also noted that the model is at least 40 pounds underweight and is not wearing blue stretch pants."

This vital message intrigued me, so I took a look - because the 'graphic' mentioned may be gone by the time you read this.

The Washington Post is, I am desolated to say, misinformed. Thirty million people in France do wear baseball-type caps and some form of running shoes. It is true few people here wear Northwestern sweat shirts, and hardly anybody wears the handy-carry 'bananas' anymore. This refers to the 'Come as Sheesh' character in the 'graphic.'

But where the respected Washington paper goes wildly astray is with their version of the 'Chic Type.' To confirm this, I took a five-minute tour on the avenue yesterday and looked in several shop windows displaying the latest Paris spring fashions. None of the mannequins were wearing sunglasses - there were no 'Foster Grants' let alone anybody behind them.

The vital details are too many to put into words - like the 'endless lines of Monday chat' - so I've summed them up in this week's cartoon. Because of its serious nature it is not really a 'cartoon' - you should consider it to be an 'earth-shaking graphic.' And a public service - especially if you want to know how to spell 'sheesh' in true metric European style.

In case you think this is supposed to be funny, you should also know that I've used a Galeries Lafayette flyer - bonafide until Saturday, 14. April - and the vast resources of Metropole's widespread network of expert readers and Café Metropole Club members, many of whom have actually been in Paris recently - like Tracy and Ron Smith, who get special thanks for helping to give Metropole this 'beat' on the Washington Post.

Although much of Metropole may seem like a 'formless jumble,' on the fashion front it is no more jumbled than what Parisians are wearing on the streets of Paris right this minute.

Hold it! Updates are pouring in because of the lack of the Easter Monday holiday, for some unknown reason, in the United States. From Metropole's own fashion experts:-

Update:- Jackson Heights, Queens:- Monday, 16. April:- Baseball caps are inappropriate unless it's a Mets' cap of course. You can wear these to an audience with the Pope. About the 'Chic' photo - where are the earrings? Everybody wears earrings in Paris. The all-brown outfit looks pretty drab to me, and I even like brown. I didn't see many folks in brown in Paris in March.

Overall, my take is that the French, even when dressed casually look put together - crisp, sophisticated and all grown up. Americans on the other hand look like they are about to water the lawn. It's embarrassing.

Metropole's suggestion to shop in Paris a good one. The exchange rate is extremely favorable. The department stores are not at all intimidating, and they accept US plastic with aplomb.

Shopping in Paris is an opportunity for visitors to get heads-up on styles that will eventually arrive in the States. I love to window-shop the clothing and jewelry boutiques too for fashion ideas. And didn't Metropole's 'Ed' decide to buy some pink pants after seeing them in the shop window in the 6th?

Report by reader and paid-up club member Loco Chanel from Queens.

Ed's Note:- When you can't afford snazzy pink pants, it's easy to 'buy' them. That's why it's called 'window-shopping.'

Update:- Knoxville, Tennessee:- Monday, 16. April:- To appreciate what's going on, visit the archives of the Washington Post's weekly travel chat.

Metropole needs to go out on a thin limb by requiring - the Café Metropole Club's first and only rule! - that all female members and pretenders to adoptphoto: rue rollin the attire or refrain from attending meetings until they do. This should make a tremendous 'Chic' photo, along the lines of last week's 'Jersey Four' at the club meeting.

Follow Rue Rollin from the Place de la Contrescarpe to the Roman Arena.

Metropole can attempt to torpedo the Washington Post by insuring that the WP's 'travel chic' photo is widely circulated in Paris as a public service with the warning - 'Beware, American Women Attempting to Pass Themselves Off as Parisians!' Metropole tells you how to decipher the tell-tale signs. (Historical note - read about 'Operation Grief,' an effort by the German army to infiltrate Allied units by adopting GI uniforms.)

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