One Thing in a Neesh Day

Merci Paris!

Eiffel

Hello my Neeshies…

Sorry again for the long delay in writing to you.  The Holidays have passed. The New Year has begun.  The days will now become longer.  I’m beginning to get that feeling of hibernation that comes with the post holiday excitement.  So what better time than to share with you my gratitude for the past year and hope for the New Year!

And that includes hope for my adopted City...Paris!  May it continue to offer all the splendor and beauty that exists.  May they continue to preserve a culture that embraces all that is joy; art, music, food, technology, literature, café culture, openness to new thought and diversity, even in uncertain times! 

Through the years I have had the desire and good fortune to spend quite a bit of time in Paris and would love to share with you everything that continues to inspire and astonish me about the city.

I have walked every street in every neighborhood and pretty much know every pastry shop which I happily sample at any given chance. 

Pastries

No more maps needed, no more dinner reservations made in advance, now I can find my place in any neighborhood and am happy with a crepe, salade et un petit pitchet du vin rouges! I can find the best salted caramel, lemon tart, the crispiest crust baguette (bien cuit, as I like it). 

I am a well known “butter smuggler”. I have never known the taste of butter like the bordier butter in France so I have taken to bringing the big freezer bag and stuffing many packets of it in my suitcase hoping the adorable beagle brigade will not sniff me out when going through customs. 

Beagle

 Butter

I only delight in sharing all that I know and love about Paris, so please feel free at any time to ask me anything!  J’adore Pareeee!

I like to stay in the 6th arrondissement, on a quiet little street directly behind the Eglise Saint-Sulpice. I have been staying here for years and now am known by all the staff who are lovely and helpful, and keep an eye out for me when I travel alone.  I look forward to seeing them two to three times a year when I am there!

My room on the courtyard…always a bottle of wine and pastry bag on the table.

Hotel

The hotel is very near the Luxembourg Gardens where I often take a morning jog, or find a table for a glass of wine as the evening begins to settle in.  And the people watching is amazing. Where children are dressed as little dolls!

Little Girl

Not to mention the Dads, who are equally as beautiful!

And the sights!  Everywhere I walk I am filled with a visual feast that creates a memory that nearly takes my breath away!

Breath Away

This is a place where respecting the old is as important as embracing the new.  And then lighting it like a candle on a cake!

All Lit Up

This is a place where a lit street will illuminate a historical masterpiece…and make even a non believer want to enter and light a candle for all.

Street Shot

This is a place where a department store can offer a brilliant idea to turn your books into an occasional transportable table top.  Yes, the French have been way ahead of all in preserving and honoring our environment, and what a way to recycle!

Books

This is a place where a simple crepe becomes a masterpiece—made with bordier butter and delicately sprinkled with cheese, thin slices of chorizo and perfectly cooked fried egg to break the yolk and combine the perfect blend of tastes!

Crepe

This is a place where a building in the middle of a sprawling city can look like a ship that has dry-docked in the middle of a forest!

(New Louis Vuitton foundation in the Bois de Boulogne)

Louis

This is a place where a wall of graffiti inspires and informs one of color, placement, proportion and excitement!

Graffiti

And this is a place where a gentleman can wear a hat and stroll the avenue with confidence and grace.

Gentleman

Another year has come and gone and I would like to offer all of you Neeshies my Sincerest Merci!!!!!  And to share with you my gratitude for your support, and my favorite place in the world, Paris! 

The Legend of Mr. Gantarski

Paris is my favorite place in the world.  Just in case you didn’t know that.

 
The best part of my profession is that Paris opens up a world of awe, wonder and inspiration. It’s a place I must return to again and again to get my “fix”. And so I do.  Most of the Neesh fashions and fabrics you see are inspired by these little trips to my favorite land and home away from home.

 When I first started my business back in 1991, my label was D.A.R. Do you remember it?


Why so simple? Initially I only made two sweaters for a friend of mine (she had an adorable store in Boston on Newbury Street). I had no intention of making any more so I quickly embroidered my initials on some satin ribbon and added a small lingerie rose and VOILA! My label.  Who knew some 10,000 sweaters later I would still be hand embroidering all the labels?  (More specifically, my Mom embroidered them for me).

 
One of the features of these special handmade sweaters was the vintage buttons that I used on every single sweater.  And as my business grew, so did the need for vintage buttons.  How lucky was I to discover that the largest supply was in a stall at les Puces de St Ouen in Paris? What a find!

 
 
For those that don’t know about this flea market, it has been operating in some form since the Middle Ages! It is open every weekend, year-round and is filled with the most wonderful treasures (though first you have to maneuver through traditional flea finds like tube socks, cheap leather jackets and old sneakers).  If you are lucky, you may also see a very luxurious doggy like I did.

 
It took a little time to get to the level of importance that the owner, Mr. Gantarski, would speak to me.  My French was very poor and his constant chess game and cigarette smoking was not to be interrupted.  But with time, he warmed up to me and handed me off to one of his employees to take a trip to the excitingly mystifying and off-limits basement. From there I pointed and picked out all the buttons I wanted to purchase.  It was divine!

 
My trips to Les Puces continued. At first I would pack all the buttons in an extra empty suitcase brought specially for them.  But with time, the suitcase was too heavy and so the buttons were shipped to Chicago.

Mr. Gantarski was a mysterious man. There were many stories that circulated…Where did he come from? Where did all those pre-World War II buttons come from?   How many packs of cigarettes did he smoke a day?  Was he once a professional Chess player?

 Regardless of Mr. Gantarski’s origins, it appeared that these buttons survived the Nazi occupation of Paris.  Many of the buttons were still on the original cards.


 The story goes that during the Paris Occupation, the buttons were loaded up into trucks and parked somewhere in the South of France where they were left alone and discovered some time after the war. It was a charming story to think that they survived and were now being used all over the world as well as adorning my beautiful handmade sweaters.

 Sadly, Mr. Gantarski has “graduated” and is no longer seen with a puff of smoke and a hand held up, pausing all conversation while he contemplates his next chess move.

But many customers may still have their original D.A.R. sweaters from long ago and now will have a little legend to go along with them.