Monday, February 14, 2011

Delicate things

The first time I went to the Antiquities Brocante at the Bastille, I remember being awestruck by this wonderful 1920s lace cloth of the most delicious shade of yellow. It was a remarkable piece. I remember too stroking it for the longest time to the bemusement of the lady seller.  Unfortunately I left the brocante without it as due to its great age, it had not survived unscathed. A slight tear towards the bottom marred its perfection.  The seller was willing to give me a discounted price due to the tear and my inner voice told me to buy it right then and there but the cold voice of reason won out. What, it asked me, would I do with such a fragile piece of cloth? And it was torn to boot.  I’ve regretted it ever since. Its funny how loss can make one realize just how much one wants what is gone.  I suppose this is true for a lot more things than a piece of cloth from a bygone era. But as I write this, I realize that I love lace. There’s something so elegant, so refined and old world about it.  If the wear and tear of daily life would just permit it, I would swan about dressed always in the delicate weaves of a lace pattern.  When I do indulge myself, I find myself gliding, rather than striding about, holding myself erect rather than hunched over and weighed down by my everyday things.  

Imagine then my happiness when I discovered a darling little store just full of the most beautiful lace dresses and linens. Perhaps I'll find the twin of my lost lace cloth or perhaps I'll find something else equally precious.  Au fil d’Elise with its inventory of over 1000 pieces, ranging from the 1800s to the 1950s, is the kind of place you can spend hours in, just browsing and marveling at the treasures contained within its walls. It helps greatly that the owner is patient and nice enough to answer all your questions.  The store itself is luminous and full of charming and whimsical decorative touches.  

The store carries a lot of what they call the “trousseau de marriage”.  Long long ago, girls getting married would bring to their new home all the house linens that they would need to set up their marital home. This included among other things, bed sheets, tablecloths, and table napkins.  And because during those days every thing was made painstakingly by hand, what we find now at the store is in wonderful condition. The linens are delicately embroidered yet solidly built.  

But house linens aren’t the only treasures to be unearthed here, there is as well a wonderful selection of dresses that wouldn’t look amiss on a fancy night out or the theater.  To go with such dresses, there are little jeweled bags and vintage jewelry.

Drawers full of beautiful lace and fabric

My absolute favorites though were the delicate negligees and peignoirs in silk and satin, edged in lace, in white or palest peach.  They are so pretty and romantic looking. And while they are supposed to be worn for sleep, I would proudly wear them as inner day wear. I can just imagine how pretty the lace edging would look against the skin as it peeks out of a no-nonsense boyfriend blazer.  Having something pretty against your skin is always a good antidote against ho-hum days.  

And now for more photos of this charming place:

My favorite pieces

A beautiful lace dress

A basketfull of pretty hankies

Jeweled brooches

A bit of evening wear

A fine example of a lace blouse
She even carries delicate lace gloves

A last look

Practical details:

Au fil d'Elise
2, rue de l'Ave Maria 75004


  1. The shop is very Pink Princess! ;-p Did you come home with any loot?

  2. oh gosh, all those house linens! lovely lovely shop. and yeah i like the idea of the lace on those delicate peignoirs peeking out of a boyfriend blazer. so chic!

  3. thanks so much for your comment on my blog & your book recommendations! the sally garland books are definitely on my list to check out...thanks!