Monday, September 21, 2009

Fashion in Paris: Priestly robes to Mini dresses

Sunday

in Paris began with the short walk to Notre Dame for a part of the Gregorian Mass. The blue tunics of the women singers and the green robes of the priests reflected the blue and green of the faithful depicted in the stained glass windows high above. The cathedral was packed with the attendees in the seats and with the tourists along the edges. When the stocky man in a suit came by with the offering basket, he apparently did not get the joke when I showed him the museum pass and he backhanded my temple. No, just kidding; I tossed in some coins.

I can see why more people dress fashionably here than other places. Fashion is everywhere. We spent most of the day close to home, in the Marais. The streets were packed with people wandering around, poking their heads into the shops and the open public buildings / monuments. (It was the rare weekend when the buildings open for the people.) Designer shops are everywhere, and many of the styles are terrific (some not so). Mostly, prices are pretty high, especially when one adds in the conversion rates from Euros to Dollars.

In addition to the fixed shops, 90 "créatures" filled an exposition hall with booths, showing and selling their wares. With all of these choices, it's easy to understand why you see some unique clothing on people, particularly women. By contrast, the choices in Portland are so limited that even if someone wanted to look beautiful, and sexy, she would have a hard time doing so in an elegant or stylish way. Instead, we get some young people who randomly take things out of the second-hand stores, mix them up, and dye their hair fuschia.

Sometimes, the most simple outfit can be quite memorable. As we walked down the street Friday, an older business man, with his suit jacket hack slung over his shoulder and briefcase in his other hand walked ahead of us with a younger woman. We assume these were just two business colleagues. They acted like it, with absolutely no hint of anything but a formal business relationship. She wore high heel shoes, out of which arose long, white legs with no stockings or legings. Not muscular, not fat (not yet). Her bare legs continued up and up and just when one would expect to see something other than legs, the "curtain" of the bottom of the mini dress blocked the view. The mini dress, was white or off-white with pencil-thin, black lines creating squares of about 1 ½ inches. Tailored perfectly, the skimpy dress probably cost more euro than what the man spent for his suit.

Other women in town dress elegantly, while covering more of their skin. Although, one sees a lot more cleavage here than in Portland. But it's not the cleavage, it's usually a slight tweak on an existing fashion that catches the eye. For example, one of the fashion booths had a long woman's jacket that could work for a lawyer in Portland. It was gray, but had rolled out cuffs with a colorful pattern that matched the fabric on the right shoulder (like a shotgun shooting patch). Instead of a straight line up for buttons, the top couple pulled over the center, suggesting a shawl. Stylish, professional, classy and about 340 euros.

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