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Foreign and Fashionable Talent
By The Fashion Fairy
Ah, yes, the fabled European boutique, where every piece merits admiring stares and wistful sighs. It's actually less of a fable than many Americans are willing to admit. I once knew a cobblestoned shopping district in a medium-sized French city with dozens of shops. Shopkeepers greeted you the moment they heard you walk through the door. Eager, smiling attendants waited on you until you had found what you wanted. And it seemed that everything they showed you was handsome in some regard, if not perfect. Think the BBC's Are You Being Served? without all the antics.
I remember one lingerie shop in this maritime city that interpreted Marie Antoinette's taste for the modern gal: lots of lace, plenty of pearls, bow upon bow, but in racy cuts or in bold blacks and golds or tropical colors. The styles might have seemed un peu démodé to the most fashion-forward Parisians, but, as an American, I found them positively irresistible.
At one shop, I discovered a tiered, calico prairie skirt in berry tones with a white tulle petticoat that poked out slightly from the bottom. At another, I stumbled upon a vaguely “African tribal” peasant top in uncharacteristically subdued colors. Was the tribal pattern perhaps an offensive cultural misappropriation especially given France's historical treatment of its African colonies? Maybe. Is it okay not to take yourself so seriously and just put on a top because you like it? Yes., at least in this case because the top was made in France, not Algeria. My whole shopping experience enchanted me. The unique clothes paired with the impeccable service was a combination too hard to find in most shops in the States.
Bethesda's Celine de Paris is a welcome exception, self-described as “so reminiscent of a high-end Parisian boutique that you may forget that you are in the heart of Bethesda, Maryland.” But Celine de Paris doesn't only tout beautiful French designers; the shop offers pieces by foreign designers from elsewhere, too. Take Juan Pajuelo, a Peruvian designer, for instance. (If you're raising your eyebrows at the mention of a Peruvian designer, read one of the gazillion pieces about Lima's fashion uprise on the racks and online.) Here are a few of Pajuelo's lovely alpaca pieces:
Model: Anastasia Marchenkova
Wardrobe: Juan Pajuelo Alpaca Couture
Available at Celine de Paris boutique.
Photographed at Celine de Paris boutique, Bethesda, Maryland
Photography by Alexander C. Kafka
Copyright © 2013 by Alexander C. Kafka; all rights reserved.