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In 1603 a French King needed a toilet.
True story. Henri IV — the first French King of the Bourbon family (the last kings of France) needed to build a pump house on the Seine. The water was for fountains and… other things. The Samaritaine was built.
It sits next to the Seine. It’s right between the river and the Louvre — the King’s palace in 1603. Today, of course, the Louvre is the greatest art collection in the world.
The Samaritaine isn’t a pump house anymore either. It is the most unusual — and important — department store in the world. Why does it matter? It carries first-run designs of the most exclusive brands in the world — Bvlgari, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, etc. This isn’t clothing. It’s art.
Maybe you’ll discover it, like I did, on my last day in Paris. Or, maybe you’ll go there on your first day.
Paris is more than a place. It’s a dream, a goal… an experience. Almost like your wedding day, you’ve imagined how it will feel to walk down these streets… to shop in these stores… to be in love with a city. When you live that dream, I hope you’ll stay in a suite at the George V… with a man who adores you. He’ll hold you on your patio while you watch the Eiffel Tower lights up on the hour.
And he’ll arrange for a private shopper at Semaritaine.
The quartzite on the floors glitter. The interior is framed with glass — encasing beautiful couture.
The stylists are young and well versed in the fashion industry. Their speech is broken English, with strong country-French accents. What I remember most about the clothes was how soft and thick the fabrics were. And the vibrant colors.
One of the stylists, with auburn air and an incredibly slender frame studied fashion in Paris. She later worked for Mr. Marc Jacobs in London. And then in New York. She was, clearly, an artist. She sketched beautiful designs. She had incredible talent.
But her career story is a cautionary tale.
Some of her designs became Marc Jacobs’s most famous brand work. But… did she get the credit? Did she become a famous designer? Nope. She was at Semaritaine, dressing private clients like me.
Her supervisor took credit for her best work. And blamed her for her own designs that he didn’t like.
In so many aspects of life, we find ourselves in a competitive environment – forced to interface with people who push you down and are ruthless in their pursuit of power and authority. There will always be people in your life who feed off of you and create negative experiences, testing your ability to be resilient. Keep pursuing your dream anyway.
My stylist is launching her own brand. The next time I go to Paris, I’ll be at her boutique.
The Independent Blonde