Live is better

Of course, you might say: LIVE is always  better! Yet in these digi-days, it is not always forthcoming or convenient. ‘From the comfort of your own home’ is so doable, be it learning or shopping or even corresponding with strangers. However, yesterday was LIVE and it was very definitely much better. I attended my first ever Etsy Event and actually met the people behind as well as lots of people actively  selling on Etsy.

A sparkling, beautiful sunny day. Amsterdam was overflowing with tourists. The Etsy event was held in an elegant canal side building that used to be a concert hall aptly named Cristofori for the builder of the world’s first piano.

It was great to meet my fellow sellers although I was one of very, very few vintage shops represented; clearly the majority of those attending were craftspeople. It was also very good to meet real LIVE people who actually work for Etsy. They had arrived from the offices in London and in Dublin and gave excellent presentations.

To say I learned a lot is an understatement, and I’m really looking forward to putting some best practices into true practice on my two Etsy shops.

On the way home, I fantasized about meeting my customers LIVE, in person one day. They live in 14 different countries so that is truly not doable, but it would be fun to meet my most important ETSY connections: LIVE.

http://www.etsy.com/nl/shop/eurovintageclassics

http://www.etsy.com/nl/shop/femmeenfrance

 

 

 

Busted!

I like to think of myself as a model citizen. When I speed (which admittedly I do from time to time) I pay my fines. I pay my taxes and I protect ladies even older than myself from getting hurt while crossing the street or doing their shopping. So you can expect my incredible surprise when I received an email from the Etsy LEGAL department. What did I do wrong while uploading my cherished vintage finds from France? Turns out I had been hunted down by the Chanel Squad…

Coco Chanel is one of my all time favorite design icons as well as a personal source of inspiration: men wise, money wise, world wise. She was so elegant, so courageous, and let’s face it, so naughty: what a great example to modern women! So why were her legal police after little ole me…because, quite frankly, I gave her a compliment. A HUGE compliment. I described one of my items (Haute Couture, signed by designer Jean Biolay, and made in Paris mind you, so FAR from a rip off ) as ‘inspired by Chanel’. Because it is! A black and white checked jacket with gold button trim. Far enough from Chanel for the other French designer not to get into copyright trouble, yet close enough for the Chanel Police to bust me!

It was a Compliment!!! Like Bach quoting Vivaldi, or Karel Appel citing Picasso…
great art that inspired great art.

Nothing came of it further. I removed the compliment from my Etsy listing and that was that. But it is strange. I do NOT buy nor sell rip offs: Ever! I do NOT condole the existence of rip offs as they are most likely made by children who should be in school as opposed to in slavery. I can recognize a fake from a distance, and I DO recognize greatness, genius even.

And that is what Coco Chanel was.

So Chanel police: please, leave her admirers alone, and spend your energy on catching the crooks that knock off her bags in third world countries with the assistance of slave labor.

And please, just accept the compliment to great, great vintage, yes, even timeless, design.

Instant Heirlooms

Tis the season to be a-giving: fa-la-la!

We read so much in the media about gifts, and buying and shopping and cyber chaos. Not to mention footprints, bounty, trash and returned items…where does it all lead? Why do we put ourselves through this all year in, year out?

Gifts: a problem? A challenge? An opportunity?

We have scaled back, and downsized this year. Less is more! We have attempted to think deep and hard about those individuals we want to give a gift too: not something old, borrowed or blue, but something worth cherishing for years to come. The current fashion for vintage certainly helps. And as we are truly vintage minded, instant heirlooms (of all shapes, sizes and values) are what we hunt!

What makes an item an instant heirloom? The words imply age, value as well as spontaneity.

One of the best moments I have ever experienced as a gift giver was when I gave my Complete Works of Shakespeare – dog eared and studied to the hilt – to a teenager fascinated as well as proficient in English lit. Instant heirloom for sure.

Before running off to the crowded mall, hustling for a parking space and purchasing more of what everyone already owns, let’s look to possessions we have cherished for years, and pass these along to younger generations. Let’s search for heirlooms that have history and give (vintage) gifts that will stand the test of time.

Have a Very Merry!

Parisian vintage paradise

Les Puces de Paris

It is described as the largest antiques and vintage market in the world. And indeed, it is an entire neighborhood of little winding streets, full to the brim with all manner of vintage, brocante and antique treasures, often organized by type (art deco, art nouveau, classic, 1950’s retro, even North American Indian antiques!) Most shops are however, a true ‘mélange’ so having a shopping list of concrete items to hunt makes sense, otherwise it is quickly and completely overwhelming, like one of those American supermarkets that are so full, you can’t find any food!

I visited on a Monday morning so many shops were closed as the website honestly communicates. Thank goodness, otherwise I never could have left! My fellow shoppers were truly international: tourists to Paris of course but also many Asian dealers. It was a sunny and rather hot day so the ambiance was laid back. Shop keepers were recovering from an undoubtedly busy weekend, reading their news and wandering back and forth between each other’s shops.

Prices are far higher than country flea markets: these are urban shop prices. Nevertheless, it is a must visit for vintage lovers! Inspiring to continue the hunt for the house wares, décor and clothing that add instant charm and personality to our homes and wardrobes. What with all the flea markets and online shops these days, there is the fear that France will be completely void of vintage at some future date. Les Puces is immediately reassuring: this wonderful country full of beautiful objects will certainly never run out of brocante, vintage and antiques! There is a lifetime of treasures still to be found at this very large and very special Parisian market.

Imagine

Lark Lane Liverpool

Arriving at John Lennon airport, tastefully adorned with some of his most memorial lyrics, Liverpool’s most famous son as well as his fab four mates are assumed to be the biggest attraction for world travelers to this city. European Cultural Capital of 2008 (carpets still proclaim the same in the arrivals hall), the city’s 19th century parks, stately homes (despite visible decline) and abundance of huge churches and mosques is certainly worth a visit as well as all the Beatle memorabilia. Yet we, the vintage obsessed and continually on the hunt, have discovered that Liverpool is a super destination for those vintage-inclined.

Coincidence has us staying in an exceptionally comfortable apartment – Casa Ana- run by Luis from Portugal and booked via booking.com (although his own website is complete with info too and he is definitely a hands on host: www.casa-da-ana.com). The 2 bedroom flat is located on the corner of Liverpool’s Lark Lane, a modest street fully packed with vintage wares and world cuisine. We have had Turkish, Greek, Indonesian and Chinese food of all price classes, from chique restaurant to take-away. All of it very good!

But I digress from vintage and antiques. A sweet little shop on Lark Lane is entitled ‘Remains to be Seen’. It is stocked with antiques and near antiques and run by a distinguished and extremely honest man. It is not often open but take the chance when you get it!

Another good Lark Lane shop is aptly named: Larks mixes vintage with modern gifts in well-planned suites organized by ambiance. (www.larksonline.co.uk) Just around the corner, Larks has opened a vintage warehouse GASP– and we did!- (www.larksonline.co.uk/gasp) also well organized and chock full of finds.

Food and vintage; antiques and world cuisine. Satuday’s adds a farmer’s market of fresh produce, bakeries and meats: have we died and gone to heaven here in Liverpool? We will be sorry to fly out tomorrow morning…

O Canada

While the rest of the world is admiring Canadian prowess on skis and skates (impressive indeed!), we are presently traveling through Montréal and Québec. Both cities are elegant, beautiful and surrounded by impressive landscapes. Narrow, car-less lanes lined with small boutiques and restaurants remind us of Zürich or Macon or Lübeck or…: all European.

Proud of its continental connections both past and present, Québec’s two major cities have both proven to be good vintage hunting grounds. And with minus 20 degree temperatures, we have truly enjoyed stopping into brocante and antiques shops for more than one reason!

We saw less of Montréal that we had intended as the freezing cold and biting wind literally forced us inside, but we can report that Vieux Montréal is certainly charming; our studio apartment at Habitation Vieux Montréal was superb. On to Québec, Vieux Québec to be exact, where pretty shops and restaurants are housed in well-restored, well-maintained 19th century brick and wooden buildings. Very colorful! Rue Saint-Jean, Rue Saint-Paul, Rue du Petit-Champlain: we have enjoyed them all but for art, brocante and antiques, a vintage lover’s paradise is Rue Saint-Paul, down towards the huge and now frozen harbor.

The sweetest of the shops was, to our mind, Le Rendez-vous du Collectionneur. Run for 18 years by Gervais Tremblay and Thomas Arsenault, the shop caught our eye with a window brimming with old hotel silver: ‘argenterie’: wonderful soup tureens, HUGE casseroles, heavy tea pots and creamers, lots of flatware. They shared that they had bought it all from Château Frontenac, an impressive, massive hotel that overlooks the Saint Lawrence River from Québec’s high rocky banks. Built in 1893 by the great railroads, the hotel has a long and rich history that includes wealthy tourists, Roosevelt and Churchill conferring during the Second World War and Hitchcock film productions. What tales that silver could tell!

Vintage finds here in Canada very often include Inuit Art – telling in its simplicity. There are lots of wooden toys and statues as well as horse related paraphernalia. It is a curious mix of elegant house wares and rugged ‘western’ gear. O Canada: we have enjoyed our visit and our vintage hunts here. Merci!

http://www.fairmont.com/frontenac-quebec
http://www.antiquepromotion.com

Looking for a small item to add character to your home, a unique conversation piece, an heirloom in the make, all from Europe without the travel and the search? Or that perfect gift for someone who already has everything. Want to break out of the mass produced housewares and accessories rat race and recycle something special? Please visit our shops:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/Eurovintageclassics
http://www.etsy.com/shop/FemmeEnFrance

A New Year, new treasure hunts

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It can be amazing what you’ll find roaming around estate sales here in Europe. Entire lives represented by beautiful things, treasured mementos, housewares long out of style…That they all eventually pass into new hands is a great tradition: too much creativity and hard work have already vanished onto garbage dumps!

So while traveling on holidays just before and after the New Year, we stopped into several sales and walked briskly past many a souvenir shop and department store whose boring wares were so brightly adorned to ring in 2014. Granted, the thrill of the hunt is part of the charm…carefully lifting mountains of French linens to discover those still unstained, gently turning over coffee cups to check out porcelain marks, wading through old prints to separate the wheat finds from the reproduction chaft.

Not only did we find some beautiful classics, we were even inspired to open a second shop on Etsy!

Wishing all vintage classics lovers happy hunting for 2014!

Perhaps we’ll meet up in some old barn, flea market or estate sale when you join us for a jaunt through central Europe:

there you’ll find timeless souvenirs no shop can compete with! Happy New Year!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/eurovintageclassics

http://www.etsy.com/shop/FemmeEnFrance >>> NEW. vintage classic garments for women.

The jug included above is by the renowned Quimper pottery from Brittany.