Made in France: La Flâneuse Dresses for a Stroll Through the City

April in Paris. Tulips are in bloom. The flaneuse dresses for an idle stroll, selecting from her wardrobe French-made lingerie, jeans and sweater, before putting on her French-designed sandals and setting out with her French-made umbrella. It’s a Made-in-France day, she thinks, a never-know-who-you’ll-find, never-know-who-you’ll-come-across day.

By Gary Lee Kraut and C. C. Bell

Partly sunny with a few dark clouds – that’s both the day’s weather and the mood of la flâneuse as she dresses for a day of idle wandering about the city. She’d like to get over to the Luxembourg Garden to see the tulips at some point in the afternoon, but she has no set schedule, no firm plans. She’ll do what she does, see what she sees.

The Woman with Apples, Jean Terzieff, Luxembourg Garden.
The Woman with Apples by Jean Terzieff in the Luxembourg Garden. Photo CCB.

Fresh from the shower she opens the top lingerie drawer of the dresser bought last fall at the neighborhood vide-grenier (garage sale). It’s a Made-in-France day, she thinks, a never-know-who-you’ll-find, never-know-who-you’ll-come-across day.

She smiles as she selects the comfortable Madame Aime (7 Fashion) mesh hipsters with lace trim, smiles as she recalls buying them as much for the look as for the name of the brand. Aime, pronounced like her first initial. This is Aime’s day, she thinks. She feels too nude in the matching bra so she chooses a simpler, blue Madame Aime triangle.

Agathe Diaconu, Madame Aime, 7 Fashion.
Madame Aime lingerie is made in Bourg-en-Bresse (between Lyon and Geneva) by 7 Fashion, under the direction of Agathe Diaconu, whose parents purchased the company from bankruptcy in 2014. 7 Fashion also produces lingerie and women’s bathing suits and loungewear for other companies. Madame Aime products are found in several stores in France and elsewhere, including the United States, as well as online. Photo GLK.

The flaneuse opens her Ikea closet. Feeling both insouciant and determined she takes out her new pair of Terre des Anges (Kiplay) jeans.

Kiplay, manufacturer of Kiplay Vintage, and Gentlman Viking and Terre des Anges jeans.
Terre des Anges jeans are made by Kiplay (formerly Letard Degasne), a family-run business headquartered in Saint Pierre d’Entremont that has been manufacturing clothing since the 1920s, when it was founded by the grandparents of the current director Marc Pradal. Specialized in workwear and jeans, their current lines include the vintage-style brand of worker’s clothing Kiplay Vintage (launched in 2017 and modeled here by Pradal’s son Clément, the production manager) and the men’s brand Gentleman Viking, both made in France, as well as the women’s brand Terre des Anges, which is partially produced in France. Kiplay also produce jeans for other companies. Photos GLK.

To break them in, she thinks. She crouches down, as though to get close to the tulips, to see how the jeans feel. Just fine.

Tulips in the Luxembourg Graden. CCB

Light pink cardigan, decides the flaneuse. She puts it on. Then, opening the window and putting her hand outside, she recalls the saying En avril ne te découvre pas d’un fil (in April be wary removing too much thread). She’ll hold off on the cardigan until a sunnier day, or until May, when you fais ce qu’il te plaît (do what pleases you). The grey and ivory Chasse Marée (Bonneterie Dupé) pullover will work well today. Work: she laughs at the thought of the word as she pulls the sweater over her head.

Didier Dupé, Jean-Francois Dupé, Bonneterie Dupé, Tricots Duger.
Bonneterie Dupé manufactures the Chasse Marée line in Linselles, near the Belgian border just north of Lille. These and other Dupé products (not all are made in France) are sold in the family’s Duger shops in the northern towns of Linselles, Méteren and Dechy, i.e. places the flaneuse is unlikely to ever visit; she purchases them online. The company also produces clothing for other brands. Several members of the Dupé family run the business, including Didier Dupé (right), his two brothers, a sister and their children, among them Didier’s nephew Jean-François Dupé (left). Photo GLK.

Looking in the mirror above the dresser she admires the way the grey and ivory pullover casually shows off her figure (enough, but not too much to be bothered). The sun the dissipates behind a cloud, stealing light from the room. I need some color, she thinks.

She tries on a scarf. No, replies the mirror, too winter. A beret? No, replies the mirror, too… intentional. Several umbrellas hang from the coat stand which she inherited the former renter. That’s it, she thinks, my fuchsia and navy blue striped Pierre Vaux umbrella, practical yet suave on a you-never-know walk-about day like today.

Dominique and Dora Vaux of Pierre Vaux umbrellas and parasols.
In 1920, Dominique Vaux’s grandparents moved from the Corrèze region of central France to Saint-Claude, in the Jura region, near the Swiss border, bringing with them their know-how in the repair of umbrellas. Their son Pierre Vaux, Dominique’s father, started to manufacture umbrellas and parasols in the 1950s. At the age of 10, Dominique knew already that he wanted to work in the family business. His wife Dora is happy to share the shelter and the shade with him. About 50% of the company’s production is sold under the Pierre Vaux brand. The other half is sold under the brands of other companies. All are produced in Saint Claude. GLK.

La flâneuse goes into the living room and stands back from the ornately framed mirror above the chimney (circa 1890). She holds the umbrella against her chest like a sword. Perfect. Ready to rumble, she thinks, or at least amble. Only then does she look down at her feet and laughs at herself for having left them undressed.

Tulips, Luxembourg Garden.
Tulips in the Luxembourg Garden. GLK.

Is it too early in the season to wear her Mangalani sandals?, she thinks. Oh, but the butterfly leather reminds her of a palate of spring flowers. In April, be wary of removing too much thread, goes the saying, but removing a bit of leather, why not! She take her sandals from the bookcase in her hallway, and with it her Mangalani purse.

Fatimata Soumare, designer of Mangalani shoes and purses.

Fatimata Soumare, Parisian designer of the confidential line of Mangalani sandals, ballerinas and purses, is a solo entrepreneur. Unlike the others mentioned here she came to the field not by following in the footsteps of her parents but by departing from the footsteps of her fellow lawyers. Photo of Fatimata Soumare by GLK.One last look in the mirror and la flâneuse is ready to stroll, to wander, to idle, and to follow her nose, her eyes, her intuition, with the vague notion that she will eventually reach the Luxembourg Garden, to see the tulips in bloom.

Tulips, Luxembourg Garden.
Tulips in the Luxembourg Garden. CCB

© 2017, Gary Lee Kraut / C.C. Bell

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