Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paris 1986

It was August 1986, I was in Paris enrolled at Esmod  doing an accelerated course for a trimester. My daughter who was three years old at the time remained at home (Barbados) with her dad. I wanted to see if I had talent or not.  Well Madame Pelletier was impressed and I came in top of my robe du soir class.  I started the flat pattern making class when I saw some students working directly on the mannequin (model form). I was intrigued so I went to Madame and asked her if I can switch to that class. I presented my portfolio  and after looking at it she said yes and voila, the rest was history. By the way Madame spoke no English and my french was pas mal.

Now Esmod is the leading school for Pret a Porter..... the ready to wear trade. The Chambre syndicale is the couture school where many top couturiers studied.  The building  that houses the school is amazing. The school boasts of being  the oldest  fashion design school in the world. It now has schools all over the world from China to Brazil with the exclusion of North America.

Here I am with my good friends and Mme Pelletier our teacher.  Anita who hails from Jakarta is standing to the right next to Mme Pelletier,  designed the black dress that Badi who is from Algeria  is wearing.The fabric shops were intoxicating and a favorite was Bouchara where we bought the fabric for our dresses.

It was a wonderful time to be in Paris, it was a dream come true for me. This was my fourth time in Paris and the longest I had ever stayed.  Accommodation was difficult  to find due to the Pret, the season's ready to wear shows where buyers from all over the world come to view and order their clothing lines.  However, I managed to stay at a pension for the first few nights and after which I secured lodgings in Quartier Latin at a residence where I shared a room with a girl from Guadeloupe. I later  moved Ledru Rollin to an apartment  (a friend of a friend's) in the 12th Arrondisement at Rue Emilio Castelar. It was the hive of activity for  furniture showrooms . There was an open market nearby and very often I would visit to purchase  flowers, fruit and pastries. My classes started just after lunch and finished at 6 pm so I had loads of time to explore the markets and shops. I was agog with excitement when I saw the cut flowers, especially the gladiolus. On several occasions I bought a bunch for myself and one for Mme Pelletier who was touched that one of her pupils bought her flowers.  This post has made me nostalgic for Paris (Paree). 

Whilst in Paris, there was a week's holiday at school in late October,  so a group of us (three) decided  to visit the South of France. We travelled by train overnight  to St. Raphael and stayed in Boulouris. We told Madame that we were going there and you should have seen the shock on her face. She exclaimed that she had a house there and she and her husband would also be down there. She made us take her number to call her when we got there, we did and she invited us to lunch.  St. Raphael was quite pretty, and  we took the train along the coast. We visited Cannes, St. Tropez, Monte Carlo  and  Ventimiglia a market town on the border of Italy where designer knock offs were on sale for low prices.  We traveled by train back to Paris at the end of the week and classes resumed the following Monday. 

One day in class, we had a visitor. Madame called me to her desk and introduced me to the visitor. He owned an atelier ( a work room) and wanted to buy some patterns. Madame asked me to show him my toiles , she pulled me aside and told me to demand the best price. Well I sold  4 of my toiles...I was rich LOL. I took my friend Anita to dinner and  we had a great time. I returned home to Barbados in mid December to my darling daughter whom I missed soo much.


Virginia said...

I am enjoying this new blog immensely!!

Anonymous said...

My mum looks like she is 12 lol

kanak7 said...

Helen...a life that I cannot even imagine. Wow...studying fashion, that too in the fashion capital of the world!! Loved going through your images. Beautiful and oh, so elegant!!

Fly Girl said...

What an amazing experience. This is a fascinating account of Paris fashion life. I'm so glad that you decided to hare this.

Giancarlo said...

un caloroso saluto...ciao

obat mata minus ampuh said...

thanks for sharing,good job

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