Under the Louvre

Two Sundays ago I attended an event that gathered 250 artisans under the Louvre. Called Le Carrousel des Métiers d’Art et de Création, five huge showrooms offered stand after stand of jewelry, hats, clothes, bags, home décor, and art. There were also works by art schools on display: avant garde dresses on mannequins and students, imaginative jewelry, stained glass, and hand bound books. Often, students were present to work on their craft: young shoemakers, embroiderers, and frame makers bent over the tools of their trade.

Most objects were for sale and were tied to boutiques from the Paris region and beyond. Everything had more of a creative streak and a freedom than what you see at regular markets. Even the people walking around tended to possess a style outside of the box. It made me think, why don’t we push our everyday fashion a little farther? It’s fun.

A visual feast of aesthetic creations, it was probably the best event I’ve been to all year. It was free too.

It’s funny to think that above the salon rested time-tested paintings and sculptures like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. That spirit of experimentation and inspiration that lived in those artists was evident in the artisans’ work down below.

What about a headpiece made of origami? 100.artisanslouvre.201aI thought there was something timeless about this silver necklace against the brick and velvet black background. 100.artisanslouvre.201bVive la créativité.

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Gros Bijoux

This past weekend my friend invited me to a jewelry exhibit recommended by one of his clients, who is a jewelry designer. I met him in front of Eglise St-Germain-des-Près, which at ten centuries old, is the oldest church in Paris. After a walk around inside, we crossed the street to the Hôtel de l’Industrie for the première edition du salon Mes Créateurs Joailliers, a two-floor event consisting of fourteen jewelry companies presenting their jewels.

We admired the artistically presented jewelry and pointed out our favorite necklaces, earrings, and rings. A variety of stones, colors, and cuts were on display. All were for sale. Many were pièces uniques, or one-of-a-kind. Representatives encouraged us to let them know if we wanted to try anything on (well, I suppose their offer was directed to me since the only men’s jewelry available was cufflinks).

At the stand for Bermudes, a Parisian jeweler, the representative chose two rings for me to try on. He then pulled out from under the glass what appeared to be a wavy gold stone-studded earring. He asked me to push back my hair to libérer my ear. I made a motion to remove my left earring, but to my surprise he reached over and in one motion clipped it on the upper part of my ear. He held up a hand mirror to show me. I loved it.

After some internet research, I learned that it was an ear cuff, or une manchette d’oreille. I am now on a mission to find the perfect one to buy. I like that it adds a bit of edge, especially being asymmetrical—only being worn on one ear—without requiring a second pair of piercings.

Following the jewelry salon my friend suggested having hot chocolate at Les Deux Magots, the famous café next door known as the gathering place of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, and James Joyce. Considering its reputation and history, it was less uppity than I had thought. Cozy and bustling with staff than included a waiter with sideburns, it was a nice spot out of the rain to pour thick hot chocolate from a milky white pitcher into two matching round cups on saucers.

Sometimes I am amazed by how smart and interesting my friends are. We discussed the death penalty, prison rehabilitation in France versus the United States, what we were like in high school, where and with whom we would be for Christmas. Perhaps, almost a hundred years later, I had my little Simone de Beauvoir moment. An indulgent thought, as I adore her. I, however, do not search for a Sartre, as I can sing along with but not abide by Taylor Swift’s lyrics, “I love the players, and you love the game.” No tortured love for me, please.