PARISIAN PILGRIMAGE OF GLAMOUR

Holiday moments are best captured by disposable camera.

The graininess of film and its unpredictability gives images a timeless look, a subtle charm that is lost in the sometimes flat and mundane smartphone images which float across social media.

I love the nostalgic feel of lifting out that crisp plastic to slot it in yet another selection of memories, the quality matching that of baby photos taken of me during the 1990s.

For me, adult life is all about pursuing those childhood dreams, often conjured by the films we watch, the books we read and how they compare to our own surroundings.

On that Eurostar to Paris, a warm sensation of achievement filled my soul, knowing that the intense desire to learn languages that I cultivated at the age of 15 was in all aid of the moment I stepped into Gare du Nord, looked around and felt at home.

In the penultimate episode of Sex and the City, Carrie goes to a bar with her Russian boyfriend. In enters a tall, flamboyant métisse goddess with a buoyant afro, her French rapid and unabashedly confident.

Western television fails deeply when it comes to representing people of all colours as capable of the glamour and exuberance often depicted by white characters. If they are shown to possess these traits, it is often used as an amusing sideshow of stereotypes –  an exotic but brief distraction from the Eurocentric scene at hand.

But this woman truly spoke to me. At that time in 2009, I too wore an afro, but I realise now it was also an invisible bid for some form of whiteness, everyday blowdrying my hair out so it had a straighter appearance despite the afro being a symbol of black pride in the past. I would step out my door, hoping and willing for one of my white oppressors to just ignore me and not shout ‘microphone head’, ‘Michael Jackson’ or the worst insult of all, ‘nigger’.

I saw this woman and her ability to simply own her look, and it was clear that there was no subservience to the white ideal of beauty. She was a part of Parisian high society because of her sparkle and talent, her use in the scene dignified and inspiring.

Place de la République
This stunning courtyard was where I stayed for the week, living in the spare room of the famille Courmier. The trees and wet cobbles made me think of the visit to Venice in Brideshead, a great source of fantasy for the budding aesthete.
Taken by Ruth, a friend of a friend, whom I met at said friend’s 18th birthday party three years ago.
Later that evening at the legendary Parisian nightclub Les Bains, where I felt very bit the glittering socialite, led straight past the queue on my first night in Paris and handed a glass of champagne by the doorman, a good acquaintance. One piece of the absurd daydreaming fantasy!
Une image majestueuse, proudly peacocking in Parisian couture with the Tour Eiffel in the distance. After having studied Part Une of American Girl in Paris obsessively, absorbing all the nuances of gesture and behaviour, it felt phenomenal to finally make the pilgrimage to the hotel. I can’t put into words how important that moment was, having worked so hard for the persona of Gavino di Vino and all the wonderful attributes this worldly character possesses.
I strutted into a private view in the Champs Élysée flagship Louis Vuitton store, the room filled with plumped and pouting society women of all nationalities. A mother and daughter did stand out to me, dressed in the typical New Russian style of colour blocking in the most expensive clothes, their faces so rubberised it was impossible to decipher their age, even their species!
In Bvlgari, having found the perfect violet scarf for the outfit, further accessorised with the most delicious of €200 perfumes.
An elegant silhouette stands proud in Hermès in Paris’ most luxurious shopping district.
A monumental if badly taken photograph outside the Dior store where Carrie fell, just minutes away from her hotel, Plaza Athénée
A photo that requires explanation – Diane Pernet and Gavino di Vino smile for a photograph in Les Deux Abeilles, a welcome break after my spiritual pilgrimage to the world of Parisian capitalism.
Sloane spotting on the métro. The Barbour, boat shoes and ruddy complexion was a giveaway

With the extreme emotional trauma of adolescence which we all experience, there is often a disconnect of our child’s self, our true self, and the more staged post-adolescence self, the supposed adult that relies on the present and the thoughts and feelings that only exist in this strange realm.

Take a disposable camera on your next trip, put the photos in a book and enjoy the seemless curve from the past to the present, an apprecation of the entire journey and the realisation everyday of childhood dreams sure to lead to a happy, grounded future.

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