Sunday, December 2, 2012

Peau du Bete by Les Néréides N2

I've not been to Europe many times, but every time I have been there so far in my life, part of the trip has included Paris. And somehow, every time I go, I end up at Galeries Lafayette PARIS HAUSSMANN for various reasons, not just visiting the Opera nearby. It is practically an inadvertent tradition to take some time to visit there now. I've also learned it's an excellent spot for finding gifts that say "Paris" but without being quite too tacky for words. But last year, at the end of my most recent trip, our last afternoon was spent there with extra time since a performance closed the Opera early despite my best planning.

So having sent everyone in my group to their various shopping areas, I wandered around the jewelry counters and discovered the Les Néréides N2 display. I was looking for it although I didn't know what it was at the time. But I had time to burn and had already used up the bookstore area. (A real France tradition is to pick up ONE fairy tale picture book in French as a personal souvenir. Narrowing to one, not easy, but my luggage thanks me.)

I didn't know the brand yet but remembered the Little Red Riding Hood Jewelry I had seen there before in 2008. I knew nothing else and didn't expect to see the same jewelry again. Then I turned a corner and saw it! N2 is a subbrand of Les Néréides, a costume jewelry maker in France. Part of their line includes fairy tales which they rotate through semi-regularly, although Little Red Riding Hood appears to be a mainstay. And last year they had a Peau d'Ane collection. Or in their naming Peau du Bete.

Now this is not jewelry that would normally attract me in any way. Although when you handle it you realize it is high end kitsch, it is still kitsch and looks like it belongs at Claire's Boutique here in the US. Not that I mind Claire's and buy my own share of their hair accessories from them. But that's the closest equivalent. This is not girl's jewelry in price. Or quality really. The parts that aren't plastic or enamel are much nicer than they appear at first. (Nicer than Claire's jewelry in heft and components.)

But it was on sale, a very good sale. And I was working on finishing Cinderella Tales From Around the World. And do you know how hard it is to find ANYTHING connected to Donkeyskin in the US? Virtually impossible. And I had money to burn having spent almost nothing during the trip on anything beyond food and admission tickets. I immediately gave myself a mental budget and started fingering pieces, trying to decide which ones were going home with me. Because wouldn't these make great conversation pieces, especially during any author talks or presentations I might make for the book? Yes, that's the internal conversation that was racing through my head.

After several minutes of choosing, I chatted using my poor conversational French with the saleswoman who showed me catalogs and made my decisions much harder. But I had to stick with what I could immediately carry away, what fit my predetermined budget, and what made the most Donkeyskin impact. So I did. And I have yet to wear it a year later, but I smile when I think of it. And now that Cinderella Tales From Around the World is out in the world, the necklace I composed that day just may meet the light of day again, too.

My necklace isn't as well-populated as the one above, but I got Peau d'Ane and her dresses and the book and I'm not sure what else, to be honest for those were the priority.

The line is obviously more inspired by the Donkeyskin film with Catherine Deneuve, an iconic film in France, but it was well-inspired by the tale, so no complaints. Yes, a star dress would increase impact but I can make do with the sun and moon dresses alone.

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