Friday, November 14, 2014

Starved for Options



When B and I go to Paris, we have a standing joke that we share - basically, think of jewelry in some relatively uncommon design or motif (like a bracelet that are a bunch of hands holding each other, or earrings that look like lily of the valley), and without fail, somewhere along our walks, we will find said jewelry, and a million other things we would never have imagined...

I contrast that right now with the offerings in the US, where most department stores costume jewelry departments are dominated by no more than 5 designers, and maybe three other recognizable names. There aren't any small boutiques downtown that carry smaller brands, so if I'm going to make my purchase in-person, I'm going to have to venture further afield.

This is what we saw in Paris. Most of these are the windows in Diwali's shops:


A window that speaks to my monochromatic heart!



There are dozens of shops like this all over Paris. You can find the world's wildest range of jewelry in them (as well as scarves), and they always smell like incense...




Not at all sure where this is. I wish more stores near me would include the full range of items in an outfit in their presentations.







These are barrettes. Have you shopped for barrettes outside of a drugstore recently? I wear headbands, and they're trendy right now, so I'm stocking up!



Just some tee shirts in a range of pastel shades. So refreshing - the right woman could buy them all and be set for summer!



Bug brooches, and other very earthy offerings.



After you bought your assortment of pastel tee shirts, you could come here and get some coordinating jewelry. What a range of options...




And there is no color handbag that's not available somewhere. It's staggering.



Are there more options in Paris because the women there demand them? Is that what we need to do? 

This is why, when I show accessories on The Vivienne Files, they are often from Novica and Bottica (not related to each other, despite the similarities in their names) Novica is affiliated with National Geographic, and brings items in from around the world - often staggeringly lovely work at reasonable prices. (they make decorative items, bags, scarves and garments, in addition to the jewelry that I love so much). Bottica is a group of independent designers who promote their work collectively.  No recognizable household names there!

And that's what I want for us all - to be happy and unique.

love,
Janice

Beara Beara


24 comments:

  1. I love the window with the turquoise, blue and earth tones. I could wear all of those, every day.

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  2. These are lovely but I think I could find similar variety on the Commons in Ithaca New York quite easily. We are very lucky in that way to have artisans and local shops available throughout our area. Thank you for sharing your finds.

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  3. We need wardrobes with some of these, please! The monochromatic window, the one with the leopard cloth, the one with the rocks. Several others as well.

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  4. Do you remember where you took the picture of the barrettes? I have never seen them despite living very near Paris and te leaves ones look so lovely!

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    1. I don't, I'm so sorry! But it's pretty safe to assume that it was left bank, closer to the Musee D'Orsay than to the Pantheon, on one of the side streets. You'll just have to stay there for weeks and wander around - I'm so sorry!

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    2. No problem, I will try to go and wander around! Thank you anyway!

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  5. Those windows are gorgeous!

    I am now realizing just how lucky I must be because there are several small shops near me that sell wonderful, hand-crafted, one of a kind items at really decent prices. We also have several craft fairs every weekend throughout the Autumn and the Spring.

    What I do miss are the nicer department stores that dressed their windows. It used to be an event to see the new offerings, now, most of them in my area (if you can even count them as "department stores" since they all now seem to have centralized cash stands instead of staffing each department) just have racks of more poorly made clothing.

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  6. Magazine Street in New Orleans is lined with distinctive boutiques (and has been fighting off chains--West Elm just showed up). I wonder if a lot of that distinctive aesthetic has moved to Etsy.

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    1. I think so. But it's so maddening - I was literally miles, through all kinds of neighborhoods here in Chicago, and don't see, in a week, the offerings available in just one of these window displays. I want to find a way to encourage more of this, so that we can find things that really make our hearts sing.

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    2. I WALK. WALK WALK WALK. Not was. Although I was where I was walking... ;)

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    3. The Midwest (and Mideast for that matter) is conservative. I have found some good offerings at craft shows/fairs or the occasional gallery but mostly it is what I call The Land of Yurman- pretty but safe, and more often than not, overpriced.

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  7. I am with you, Janice...the monochromatic one is my favorite...I love photographing window displays!

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  8. First let me say how much I love what you do, and the fact that your blog is regular, not just when you feel like it. It is a credit to you. As for today's entry; it's so true, Janice. And that is why I started collecting antique jewelry, and later began making my own one-of-a-kind designs. My clients are people like you who don't want to see "themselves" coming down the street.
    LmC - Canada

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  9. Chicago has lost its edge, IMO, compared with 30 and 40 years ago. Other places have as well. And the lack of marketing savvy is remarkable!

    If you don't live near artisans (and have no interest in DIY), Novica and Bottica are terrific. Etsy is hit and miss, and hard to wade through.

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    1. It is a shame what Etsy is doing to itself. There are still plenty of fantastic things there but it is over run with cheap, mass made stuff.

      I've been selling there since 2010 but I am about to pull out, since it is nearly impossible to be found by customers there. I used to buy many things there (including some beautiful silk scarves) but I gave up.

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  10. And the thing about the shops in Paris too...look at the care and artistry in all of the window displays. I find that even shops with inexpensive items have such lovely and inviting windows.

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  11. Another great outlet for unique jewelry is local craft fairs. Many of the nicer shows have boutique-worthy jewelry.

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  12. I love ethnic gems...these displays are sumptuous!

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  13. As a suburbanite, I just assumed that all big cities had super cool boutiques with lovely unique things. How sad to hear otherwise. Next time I'm in Boston, I'm going to have to look around to see what my closest city has to offer. If I find any thing like those barrettes, I may have to grow my hair out.

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  14. I have several pairs of earrings I bought in Paris over the years. Most would qualify as "boho" even though many I got before boho was a thing.

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  15. In addition to the thoughtfully arranged pieces, you know what I love? That the prices are included. So helpful!

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  16. I bought a pair of earrings you featured recently from Novica- not my first purchase there. The quality was low; what looked like good weight sterling was flimsy, one of the fastenings did not work and finish was not as shown on the site. Returned.

    Been buying jewelry in Paris for better part of 30 years. There is huge amountt of terrific-looking but not very well-made tat there, and head-shop stuff. The higher-end costume (at the level of, for example, Scooter) is really fun, especially if you come from a city where such a sensibility is absent. Seems to me to be a shortage of the low-end "real".

    For fine jewelry, Paris is paradise but some of it is overpriced. There are very few vintage bargains as the dealers know what they have; however, you can bargain if you too know the price to pay for, say, a jade bangle.

    I think the best value/best design sweet spot comes from cities or large towns large and affluent enough to support local, highly-skilled artisans- that way you do not pay a brand premium. Finally, when you find an exceptional piece, buy it! I listen to women all the time who tell me about a perfect piece they passed up and now realize it's gone forever.

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  17. Lovely stuff! It's amazing how ordinary shops in Paris have some extra-ordinarily lovely stuff. Last time I was passing through I got a lovely scarf from Tie Rack in the train station, of all places! Most of the scarves of wool or cashmere were very expensive though.

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  18. Photos have gone straight to the 'Vivienne Files' in My Pictures!! Inspirational for the colours for me. We are pretty lucky in Australia to have a lot of reasonable quality pieces imported from near-by Asia (also a lot of dross!!) as well as artisanal work. Having said that, I bought my MOG necklace/earrings 'set' from a very small part-time silversmith on Etsy, from the USA!! I found the exact type of earrings I'd been searching for, and asked her to make a pendant to match (brushed sterling silver) and she was superb in her interactions, finding out about, and making exactly what I wanted.My friends were gob-smacked at the final cost-brilliant! (She doesn't seem to be making anything for sale at the moment.....pity.)

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