England and France

Immediately after I got back from a trip to England and France (like 2 months ago), I had this idea for a post and am only getting to it now. Where does the time go?

As with the previous trip, there were noticeable differences in fashion in London versus Paris. In London, the look is relatively uniform. The majority of women (like 95-98%?) had a skinny silhouette for the legs – nylons or tights with a short skirt, leggings or skinny fit trousers. I saw a couple of women in a wider trouser, which struck me as unstylish in the context. (Too bad for me that that was my look too!) In Paris it was much harder to generalize because everyone seems to be doing their own thing, but the skinny silhouette was apparent there too.

Our base of operations in Paris was in the Sentier, which is the garment district. You’d think it would be great for shopping and perhaps it is, but between the language issues and the sheer number of shops, plus a healthy dose of “my proportions are odd so that nothing’s likely to fit me anyway”, I found it all completely overwhelming and didn’t do much more than peer into windows.

On weekdays, there was a constant bustle in the area – little vans dropping off bundles of fresh boxes, men rolling carts laden with massive bolts of fabric over cobblestones, rolling racks filled with multiples of a single style and colour of garment being trundled out of mysterious doorways and towards waiting vans. I’m pretty sure there was a manufacturer just down the block from us but nothing looks like a factory so I couldn’t be sure. Half of the clothing shops in the area indicate that they don’t sell retail. Stationers sell clothing-industry-specific items such as big paper bags and tissue paper, mannequins, tape measures, chalk, stiletto wheels, pattern drafting books, etc. There are trim shops, button shops, thread shops, fabric shops – all for the industry. I took photos on a Sunday when all was closed and quiet. The first three photos below are within a block of where we stayed.

Mercerie de France. Trim, yarn and various bits.

Boisson et Compagnie. "Fil" = "thread". "Fil" includes both sewing thread and yarn. Heavier weight is "cordon" (cord), which they also sell.

Boutonnerie Saint-Denis. Buttons.

Fabric shop - wholesale only.

These are the goodies I came home with. Yes, the purchase of books on trips is quite normal for us.

Aside from the books, I got a tailor's chalk that uses powder cartridges and refills, a stiletto wheel, and a wee plastic case from Muji to put together my own travel sewing kit.


About Zena

I sew sometimes.
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2 Responses to England and France

  1. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for the fashion perspective on London vs Paris. That is interesting that Parisians seem to be doing their own thing… hmmm. Did you buy any fabric whilst there?
    Thank you for your lovely comment on my Mum’s kimono and I will be sure to pass your kind words along. She will be thrilled to have received so many compliments!

    • Zena says:

      No, somehow I didn’t manage to find any fabric to buy. The retail shops I found were more geared to quilting and nothing jumped out at me. There were lots of wholesale shops that I couldn’t buy from, but they didn’t look particularly tempting anyway. I consoled myself with a lovely fine wool scarf from India instead 🙂

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