Fashion & Shopping
When I was a child, my mother used to take me to the park after school but before doing so she would change me into play clothes. Why? She felt – and I agree – that there was little sense in getting mud on my ballet flats, ripping the seam on my linen dress, or staining a cashmere sweater when I swung from the monkey bars, dug holes in the sand pit, or chased friends around an elm tree. Returning home I was inevitably stained-scuffed-muddied-and-filthy but my school clothes were safely folded-tucked-and-treasured at home.
In Paris however, fashion is imposed on children from an early age (read: before birth). Have you ever walked into a Parisian clothing shop for children? Try to venture inside but be warned that you should leave your credit card at home in order to resist the tempting-tantalizing-and-dangerous purchases. Items range from decadent to to haute couture. I had to giggle when I saw a cashmere-panty-cover that one puts over a diaper for the nickel and dime price of 200Euros - did people forget that diapers leak? And by the way, what they leak is neither pleasant nor lovely, and when they leak is not predictable but almost always happens only when wearing a 200Euro cashmere-panty-cover and almost never happens when wearing the 3Euro panty-cover from Monoprix.
While a child clothed in sneakers and jeans in the park is an unlikely viewing, the peacock plumage of luxurious cashmere sweater sets, suede flats and velvet jackets on full display is quite entertaining. I am sure that I spotted Anna Wintour lurking behind the elm tree today, frantically scribbling notes for the upcoming fashion trends a la toddler. In fact, the first time we ventured to the park I was also tempted to hide behind a tree myself but only because of my shame in poor fashion and parenting skills. What kind of a monstrous parent allows their child to wear scuffed up Converse sneakers to the park?
Oh be still my beating heart - I had a confirmation this weekend that I am not a monstrous parent. I met a woman at a birthday party who wears jeans and scuffed up sneakers. As do her children. As does her husband. And she finds it acceptable, comfortable and even a bit of a political statement. I suppose that, since she is the founder of a famous fashion house in London and her husband is a renown haute couture photographer, they have more liberty to wave about their carte blanche, but nevertheless, she was a breathe of fresh air.
Despite my determination not to succumb to social pressure, Cedric's already cute wardrobe has been massively upgraded. Oh yes, no more shopping for mama since the monthly fashion budget has been reallocated. He himself recently decided that one pair of his shoes were "no beautiful" and tossed them into the garbage. Myself, I find that I now wear heels and lipstick to take Cedric to school in the morning for fear that someone might mistake me for the car park lady rather than a student's mother.
Beyond fashion, outdoor antique markets are lovely but the bargaining is not as transparent as in China. Funnily enough, someone called me a Chinese (under their breath, while coughing and flashing a fake smile) when I attempted to bargain a bit. Of course they had no idea we had just come off the boat.