Treasure…or ephemera?


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Over the past month, I’ve written about organizing (using the Marie Kondo method), the passing of Karl Lagerfeld,  and a walking day in Paris.  During this time I also read a book, “The Paris Seamstress”, written by Natasha Lester in the historical fiction genre I love.  As I was reading, the storyline had me thinking…

The story follows two timelines.  One is set in Paris, in the early 1940s (during the occupation of WW11) and the other is the present day in Manhattan.  It is about a young woman who had to leave Paris during the war arriving in NYC with only a sewing machine, her sewing basket, and a wealth of experience gained in the sewing rooms of a Paris fashion house.

As I read the paragraph below (from The Paris Seamstress), I earmarked the page thinking that it rang true to what was on my mind over the past several weeks…possibly somewhat abstractly but you know how the mind wanders…

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After C C on Whyte closed, I had good intentions of getting my house organized…to do all the projects I never seemed to have time to do.  It’s almost four years since the store has closed and it’s taken this long to actually do what I said I was going to do!  As I’ve said before, being a mini Martha is not and cleaning have never been on my list of “good things“…until recently!

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Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 4.31.11 PM     Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 4.33.58 PMThis past weekend I tackled my butler’s pantry.  I have more dishes, serving pieces and linen than I’ll ever need and over the past years,  new purchases have just been jammed into a spot that fits and most of it piled up on the counters.  I took everything out of the cupboards and drawers.  Then I made areas of ‘like’ objects and figured out how to put it all away in an organized manner…the Marie Kondo method (I found the “joy”!).  In the end, I didn’t toss anything. As I was going through everything, I realized  I actually use 90% of it…well maybe I’m nostalgic about some things!   Getting it put away in an organized manner will make it much easier to find the serving pieces I usually need in a hurry because there is always a catastrophe going on in the kitchen when the meal is about to be served!

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Getting back to tying previous posts to the quote from the book…

  1.  On Marie Kondo…As I was putting everything away in the pantry, I realized that I appreciated the usefulness of each object and because many of the pieces came from my store there was considerable sentimental value.   Treasures not ephemera.
  2. On Karl Lagerfeld…He was a genius at creating timeless fashion.  Although few of us can afford to dress in Chanel Couture or in the Chanel RTW (ready to wear) collections,  we can make a conscious decision to buy clothing that is not disposable…we can choose wisely for the design, workmanship and suitability.  French women learned these lessons decades ago.  The number of pieces in their wardrobes is a fraction of most North American women.  They buy the best quality they can afford and wear these pieces for years.  No need for purging their closets annually using the Marie Kondo method.  Treasures not ephemera.
  3. On Paris…The government and taxpayers of Paris realize that the beauty of their city comes from taking extraordinary care of existing architecture,  infrastructure (e.g. the exceptionally beautiful bridges), public art, trees, and gardens.  They lovingly maintain these centuries-old buildings and gardens.  You don’t see large cranes in the city centre where buildings have been torn down making way for newer, bigger and better (?) ones.  In my city, it’s frustrating to see developers tear down (with the blessing of city council!!!) historic buildings and build the same standard, cookie-cutter strip malls in every new development.  These are built strictly for cost effectiveness…not to last longer than the foreseeable future and certainly not for beauty.   Whereas walking down any street in Paris offers both beauty and a lesson in history.  There is nothing throw away about Paris!  Treasures not ephemera.

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This is a card with a drawing done by Karl Lagerfeld that was left on every chair at the Chanel Fall Ready-to-Wear fashion show at the Grand Palais on March 5 …definitely Treasure not ephemera!



5 thoughts on “Treasure…or ephemera?”

  1. Excellent post!! Loved the quote and your pantry. I worry that Americans seem to really value very little, appreciate nothing.

  2. As always, a joy to read. I love your pantry… all white. Mine is a mish-mash of collected “treasures”. You’ve inspired me to organize it, at least.
    Agree totally about this city.Now they are allowing the Macdonald Hotel to be “revamped.” It will look like any hotel anywhere. Guess that’s what the owners think people want.

  3. Hi Eva, I’m sad that they are “revamping” the Library Lounge at the Mac too and I agree that it will probably look like any hotel out there. I was in the Fairmount Hotel Vancouver this year, now that it has been redone and it is really disappointing.

  4. Thank you for this lovely post Judy. I whole heartedly agree with, The Paris Seamstress, quote. I recall women of my mother’s generation, who bought fewer, but high quality clothing. Even though they wore the same outfit many times over, they always looked elegant. Quality over quantity. Congratulations on the pantry – love all the white! Keep the book references coming. Love historical fiction.

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