Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Linger in an online lingerie lounge

It's well known that lingerie sells in France. But how did you just mentally pronounce the word "lingerie"? lon-jer-ay? lan-jer-ee? ling-er-ee (horrors)? lahnzhjree? It's one of those pet peeves in my lexicon of unpronounceables, because one never knows if the French way is the same as the American way of pronouncing. Online dictionaries offer a little lesson.

Lingerie may be unpronounceable at times-- but, luckily, no longer "unmentionable." That's soo last century.

Oh, the lure, the lore of lingerie. Paris has no fewer than 246 lingerie boutiques -- specializing in "lingerie feminine, corseterie, et maillots de bain." Leafing through the Paris yellow pages (les pages jaunes) it's interesting to note the locations by arrondissement. The 1e, 16e and 17e arrondissements are tied for first place with a whopping 26 boutiques apiece. Next in line are the 8e (21), 6e (18), 15e (15), and 9e (14). Last place goes to the 3e arrondissement, which lists only one lonely, lovely lingerie boutique. Their wares range from luxury "sur mesure" silk lovelies to more lusty avant-garde fabrics and designs. Lots of lace, naturally.

The shops' names run the gamut as well. The famous haut-de-gamme boutiques such as Chantal Thomass and Cadolle certainly don't need my introduction. And there are well-known chains such as La Perla, Eres, Princesse Tam-Tam, Laurence Tavernier, and Etam.

Most of the small boutiques carry the name of a woman, presumably the owner/designer. Evocative, lilting, très feminin. Here are a few other enticing names which caught my eye on pages 1004-1005 of the pages jaunes. I am instantly smitten:

Amours Delices Orgues
Bas et Haut
Cent Dessous Dessous
Paris Montmartre Investissements
De Jour Comme de Nuit
Boobs Glamour
A Toutes les Filles
La Dame de Coeur
Les Nuits Bleues
Merry Dreams
New Girls
Oh et Bas
Up Style
Pour Nous les Femmes
Ultra Femme
Les Dessous d'Eve
Secret et Mystère de Femme
Soie Sauvage

Oh, you bet I'm pulling your leg about the Paris-Montmartre Investissements, right? Pas du tout! Just think about it.

(As I assemble this list I am reminded of my long-held love for quaint names of small-town hair salons in the US, such as Shear Heaven and The Last Tangle. Or my other favorite, spotted in London, called It Grows Back Anyway. But that's for another day.)

If all these ladies' seduction selections are overwhelming for you, there is another solution: Petite Coquette. Not to be confused with Petite Anglaise, La Coquette or Petite Brigitte, some of my favorite fellow Parisian bloggers, Petite Coquette is a French blogger, based in the UK, who writes about the luxe lingerie industry. If you lasses are still trying to learn the difference between a bustier, a guepière and a porte-jarretelles, log on to Petite Coquette. Not only is her website in both English and French, but she also tells news of the latest lingerie collections, sales, where to buy online or in boutiques in both in Europe and the US, with helpful sizing information, and lots more. Makes you want to slip into something slinky.

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