the woman behind the girl

good morning guys! it’s a chilly, dreary morning in paris but what else is new? we’re up early for a market held every day called marche d’aligre. it’s been packing and shipping central around here and before everything is en route to the us i thought you’d enjoy one small unappreciated box out of a million that were tossed into piles at lille.

i got this paper filled, obviously long forgotten collection of clippings, patterns, catalogs and dreams at the last minute when we were packed like sherpas and all i wanted was a catalog from au bon marche. the guy gave me a good deal on it and i had to say yes, both because it was embroidery stuff  (i inherited an appreciation for it since my mom and gram were always hand making the most beautiful things). the second is that i knew i could send bits of it to you.

when i was in lille i guess i was imagining the 20s or 30s glamour gal to be living in paris, the talk of the town, but this box make me think about an era i rarely do, the turn of the century. i think this humble but grand dame lived in lille and was the woman behind the woman i conjured up.

the box has been untouched for almost a humdred years.  the papers are from 1908-1914 and it is a tiny window into her life, one not so different from ours but maybe light years away from her own daughter’s. she saved catalogs and made patterns, wanted to create heirlooms and make a happy home.

planned dinners and bookmarked pages of things she hoped to have one day.

she was concerned about her apprearance

and may have even had extensions!

she worked hard to make beautiful things for her family to inherit, her daughter probably thought she was old fashioned.

but she wanted to feel pretty, even sexy maybe in her corset and garters

when she traveled it was in style with everything in its place

lotions and creams (sorry for the bad pics, it was so dark in here last night)!

amazing how generation to generation things can change so much.

she still had questions

and life was centered around creating a well decorated home with all the trimmings.

well my guests have arrived and we’re off to the market. i hope you have a fabulous day!

September 5, 2012. Fashion, flea markets, Fleamarkets, France.


  1. Vicki Archer replied:

    Love these Claudia… sounds and looks like you are enjoying Paris and all the markets… xv


  2. Paris Rendez-vous replied:

    What a beautiful post Claudia….I love these old papers and the way you have woven your story around them….I am also collecting ancienne lettres and cartes postale…I find them intriguing. The covered passages in the 9th also have a fabulous range of these ‘windows into the past’.


  3. Nikon replied:

    I love vintage & wow, that was an incredible display of vintage!


  4. dewvintage replied:

    This is the most incredible post. Truly Beautiful! Such a lovely find, and your post sets such a lovely story. Funny how that same lady could translate into a very modern woman today with all the same concerns and interests! I just love the hair extensions! Thank you so much for sharing, do you mind if i share you post via my blog? Rosalind @ Dewvintage


  5. Dad replied:

    If she lived today, Miss Boum-Boum would have fit right in!


  6.  lighthouse replied:

    just saw a century or so old play “a woman of no importance” (oscar wilde) with family and friend at the theatre last night… rather recalling this!


  7. Desert heels replied:

    I love these photos!


  8. Peggy Braswell replied:

    What a wonderful post! + Sooo cleaver.


  9. Connie replied:

    Just wonderful. One of the nice things about owning previously owned things is imagining the stories within them. You do this soooo well.


  10. Jen O replied:

    These pages are just lovely and you paint such a clear image of this wonderful woman. But I can’t help but feel sad for her, knowing as we all do, what would happen to that life in France in the few short years that followed.


  11. Siobhan replied:

    Stunning post…just lovely! Siobhan. xo


  12. Merillion replied:

    Hi Claudia,
    This woman sounds a lot like all of us! Wants to be pretty, have a nice home, roast half a pig for dinner. :)
    These posts you’ve been sending us are such a feast for the eyes! I love it all.


  13. Geri Texeira replied:

    What a wonderful gift you got. To be able to experience someone from the past dreams and dress just conjures up all sort of wonders of who, what, and where did she go. The patterns are so precious as you can take them and adapt parts to make modern special.


  14. siany replied:

    great finds, I wonder which epoque are those pilule article being published?


  15. Vania replied:

    Lovely I enjoy the idea of touching/holding something that is a 100 years old what a great find..


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