In the Bag
In Paris a woman’s purse is very important. It declares her style and status openly and immediately to all who pass, and it must, therefore, match her outfit at all times. Coming from the California car culture, I don’t naturally fret over my handbag and what people will think of me. What obsesses me, in fact, are the contents of my bag. When I first came to Paris and had to carry a bag with me at all times, I was unorganized and I lost hours of my precious time scrounging through disgusting crumbs at the bottom of the bag looking for my house keys. For reasons related to shadow and light that I’ll never be able to explain, orange items were the only things that I could see in the dreaded depths of the bag. Five zillion unidentifiable crumbs later, it was time to convert the contents of my bags to orange.
The first item in my collection, and the object responsible for this life-altering discovery, was the sleek and practical boîte mignon (cute box) that I purchased at the Maeght Gallery, on the rue du Bac, and it is made by Giorgio Fedon, so it was not long before I found myself in Fedon’s gorgeous leather-goods store on the avenue de l’Opéra to purchase a butter-soft orange leather wallet. Its entire collection is orange or black, which seems to confirm that I may be on to something.
Several months later I passed by the seductively old-fashioned papeterie (stationery store) Pages Blanches et Stylos (51, rue du Four, in the 6th), where I found the incredibly practical V.I.P. bag organizer. A bag to put inside my bag. How complicated is that? But it’s wonderful, too, because now I know where to look for my much needed objects without scrounging through the bag. While here, I also picked up the classic Rhodia notepad, a leather Jacob’s ladder wallet for my metro tickets, a leather pen case, some cheap Addex plastic pens and three cases for business cards in corduroy, plastic and leather.
Longchamp began making leather goods more than 50 years ago, but originally it focused on supplies for its tabac customers—pipe stands, tobacco pouches and cigarette cases—so I was pleased to find that it had come up with an orange leather phone case for my collection (orange Motorola phone purchased separately). By this time my collection was impressive and my intentions clear. The Frenchman felt compelled to support this quirk of mine with the gift of a stunningly beautiful, discreetly elegant enameled pen from Delta Italy. Pens like this are on display at a myriad of serious pen shops throughout the city.
My final run was to the Bon Marché, where I picked up a plastic pillbox and a checkbook cover in the stationery section, a foldable Reisenthel bag in housewares and an eyeglass case with, well, the eyeglasses. My most unique find was in the bookstore: hidden among the city guides I found the newest Plan de Paris, edited by Blay-Foldex. It is conveniently and gloriously orange. More confirmation that I am not completely insane and that there must be more orange aficionados here in Paris.
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