The French Jeweler's Smock

Going back to my post in December about the book Cheap Chic, I mentioned that I found a French Jeweler's Smock on my first-ever trip to Paris (1983; I was living in Northern Italy at the time). It was made of unbleached linen, about knee-length with long full sleeves and open sides. I found one photo of me in said smock, which I usually wore that winter with a long full black skirt and cotton turtleneck underneath, and a pair of cheap suede ankle boots purchased at an Italian chain store I want to call Basta (but I don't think that's right). In this picture I'm also wearing it with a fair isle sweater vest and cotton scarf I got at a Paris flea market. (The weather was very chilly and damp that winter. We lived in an apartment built in the 1500s, no central heating, no phone, no laundry facilities.)


The baby's not mine. I babysat for some friends in exchange for use of their washer and dryer. The bag at the left was a splurge at a local boutique: a raw leather backpack I carried everywhere.

I don't remember what happened to the smock, for which I now give myself a big dope slap every time I think of it. It disappeared in one of my subsequent (frequent) moves.

This is the closest thing I have been able to find, from an artist's supply in Great Britain:

Not the same, though. Mine had no buttons, it just slipped over the head and had a bateau-type neckline with small pleats.



The missing shipment has been found and is enroute from NYC! so while I wait for my inventory to arrive, enjoy...

✜How did I not know about this blog before?! "How to Be Like Robert Benchley":
Look at the people in the Congress, or the Chamber of Deputies, or the Parliament in London, and listen to what they say. The only logical ending to it all is that the world is headed for dementia praecox, with all the buildings tumbling down, all the water works shooting up into the air and all the citizens bumping into each other with trays of hot soup.

And yet automobiles dodge each other as if by magic, passable motion pictures are produced, many people stay married all their lives and actually don’t seem to mind, and only occasionally does hell break loose entirely. It’s a pretty lucky old world we live in, when you consider its possibilities.

✜And this store? Office supply heaven.

✜Sylvia Plath wrote a children's book? An odd concept, maybe, but the illustrations by Rotraut Susanne Berner are charming:

and I'm off to mail my first modest round of packages...

Glad to be unhappy?

from Godard's Band of Outsiders via google
 ...it may well be that the French are only less likely to call themselves happy—and what’s unclear is whether the gloomy or skeptical turns of phrase that they use to describe their states of mind correlate to their actual states of mind. It may be the language of happiness that eludes the French rather than the underlying condition. Unhappiness, after all, often implies the desire for change—in circumstances, or even in oneself—and so dissatisfaction with life despite its material benefits suggests a kind of idealism—of intellectual vision of possibilities beyond the actual—that would, at the very least, match up with even the most superficial or stereotypical view of French culture...

In debates here over teacher evaluation and the testing of student skills, what has been lost is the question of the very substance of education. I have long thought that there is a quiet conspiracy at work to reduce education to training—to generate students who have the skills to get a job rather than the historical perspective or theoretical detachment to criticize authority. It’s a commonplace that knowledge is power, and the emptying-out of classroom substance in favor of abstract and deployable abilities is a terrifyingly surreptitious way of shifting the balance away from the individual. The rumblings from France may be just what the utilitarian faction has in mind to avoid.

From Richard Brody in the New Yorker.