As the shops re-do their store windows after les soldes, in their half-finished state, there’s always a little note (usually hand-written), saying something along the lines of, “Please excuse us, the window display is in the midst of réalisation”
An elderly couple, parents of a friend who live across the street, invited me for dinner last night. Both are in their early 80′s and their apartment is filled with years and years of memories adn relics of a lifetime in Paris. The walls in the apartment are filled with paintings done by their children (who are artists in Paris), shelves have weathered religious figures and peculiar sculptures. Most of the lampshades were so old, the shades were parchment-like, and a giant model of an ancient sailing vessel rests on the wall. The flickering candles dripped copious amounts of wax, spilling over the candleholders, forming little pools on the crisp, French linen tablecloth.
We ate off dinnerware centuries old. My plate had a tableau of some peasants with large blades eviscerating a small cow that hung limply from a tree. Everything else was a hodgepodge of mismatched forks and knives as well as chipped or cracked stemware that had been gathered during decades of accumulating. All evidence of a stubborn refusal to part with a past, I suppose.
They’d been avant-garde window designers in Paris, during the middle of the last century, starting in the 1950′s. And after dinner, the scrapbooks came out (at my urging) as we looked at some of their designs.
Then, I turned the page and saw her…
“What’s this?”, I exclaimed after I picked myself up from the floor, “C’est fabulouse!”
“Mais oui”, they explained, “…she came to model for the display that we had created for a shop that was opening, and our friend took that picture while she posed for us.”
(If you look behind her, to the right, you can see the crowd gathering outside the window.)
Photo by Sabine Weiss