Monday, November 22, 2010

There Goes the Neighborhood

I used to have a love/hate relationship with fashion shopping my Paris neighborhood.  I loved it of course because Le Bon Marché was there, but more importantly because there were two tres tres cool designer discount shops nestled in among some of the more mémé (matronly) shops.  One, Le Mouton à Cinq Pattes on rue St. Placide, was so incredibly inexpensive that I bought (among many other items) a Jean-Paul Gaultier blouse that didn't fit "but might someday," so I simply had to take it home.

Enter the "hate" part.  The thing hung in my closet, tags on, until I packed it up and took it with me to the States, and sold it at a US consignment shop for way more than I had paid for it.  "Hate" because I couldn't go into the shop without parting with my dwindling savings, which had been budgeted in les dollars.  Yes, it was that wonderful.

Moreover, there was La Piscine on rue de Sevres, incredible discount designer clothing and shoes in an old indoor hotel pool (drained of water, but with sand and fake palm trees, fabulous mosaic of tiny original turquoise tiles, and, well, just so cool and so very French.) Rows and rows of marques degriffees arranged by color.  A few white wicker folding screens that served as dressing rooms. I dropped some major euros at La Piscine, but it was a key spot in helping me shed my New England wardrobe for a more Parisienne look.  I'm just a girl who can't say no... to a fashion bargain. 

Finally, in an extreme fiscal move, I forbade myself from entering either beloved shop.  It simply was too much of a hit on my wallet, you know, "saving" all that money on bargains.  But when I walked down rue de Sevres, I would often gaze longingly at the entrances, imagining the enticing discounts beckoning me from within.

Then, one day I walked by La Piscine , and *poof* -- it had disappeared.  Boarded up,  just like that. La Mosaique next door had its windows soaped over.  I mourned, I asked the nearby shopkeepers, but no one seemed to know the fate of the store.  I imagined with horror that some luxe developer was going to turn it into a luxe spa. The sign on the door invited customers to visit another "La Piscine" location.  But I knew that wherever the location was, it didn't have a swimming pool and palm trees. I wanted my bargain-basement-swimming-pool in my neighborhood, even if I wasn't buying!

Now.  Guess what? The La Piscine space on rue de Sevres has just been resurrected, but don't go looking for bargains.  It is none other than the brand-new chic left-bank flagship store for Hermès. 

I love Hermès.  The rive droite side of me loves Hermès, but it seems that there is less and less of a distinction between the right and left banks these days.  Hmm -- the 7e and 8e arrondissements are becoming the 7.5e arrondissement??


Susan B said...

Wow, another Hermès store? I hope it turns out to be less of a tourists-by-the-busload venue. I'd hoped to by a scarf in the FSH store, but the Sales Associates were swarmed by Asian ladies doing some serious shopping. La Piscine sounds like divine shop.

Carrie said...

What a BUMMER! Polly, do you have any interior photos of La Piscine? I'd love to see it, I never went in there.

Anonymous said...

From Pam W: ooops Hermès in that location? Time to go, too rich for my bargain-hunting blood. - I liked La Piscine too but I can't spend money in a place I feel like I have to look good to walk into.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Carrie, I searched all my photos, but none of La Piscine interior. I can recall every inch in my mind, though: coats to the right, dresses and such in the long room to the left (both with windows looking down over the pool yard), shoes downstairs by the pool, underwear and belts on main level by the cash register. I just never dreamed that it would go away, or I would've taken pix. Sob.

I know what you mean. The Hotel -which-my-old-guard-friends-won't-pronounce (sshh: Lutece) is clearly verrry happy about the upscaling of that corner of Sevres-Babylone!

Anonymous said...

Fashion is so expensive in France... Everytime I visit, my friends in Canada ask me what I bought. The answer? Nothing. 150 EUR for a pair of jeans, are you kidding? I get Levis jeans for $50 in Canada!

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