It was arranged that my eight year old daughter would spend a couple of weeks during the summer holidays with her father in France, and despite knowing that I desperately needed this time on my own to get my new studio, in fact my new life organised, I already started missing her before we got on the plane.
To overcome my sadness of not seeing her for so long, I booked the last return flight of the day, which seemed cheaper than going to London, and treated myself to a day in Toulouse, combining work with pleasure, looking for some continental fashion trend inspirations.
Toulouse, what a beautiful city! It’s got everything Paris has – only on a smaller scale, less hectic and with a lot more sunshine. Walking through narrow cobbled streets, I first discovered ‘Groucho’, a second hand boutique on 39, Rue Peyrolieres, offering clothing and accessories from 1900-1960. It was so charmingly displayed, I felt I entered another world.
Emerging back out onto the streets and into the midday heat, I started to feel the burden of my heavy rucksack. It was time to check out Galeries Lafayette and the new autumn fashion arrivals, that…and yes I have to admit, the possibility of cooling down in an air conditioned department store.
As the escalator slowly took me to the first floor I was confronted with my doppelgänger! I knew exactly how she felt!!
Having prepared my day trip carefully, I was excited to visit a design company who produced a very interesting collection in organic fibres, very French, very sexy and inspiring. I googled the address of the boutique and after a little lunch, I headed purposefully towards the other side of town, which is where my google map told me this company was situated.
Within fifteen minutes of walking I realised that I am about to visit a part of town I have not seen before. The streets became shabby and dirty, with prostitutes offering their services outside erotic bars. Feeling uncomfortable in my surroundings and desperate to find this place, I looked again at my map – but sure enough I was going in the right direction.
Finally I arrived at my destination only to discover a derelict house and a note on the door saying: ‘Sorry, we have moved to…’ – to the part of town I started out from. Argh!!
Returning exhausted to the Capitole de Toulouse, which is an enormous big ‘place’ in front of the stunning old town hall (to recover with une pression) I stopped in front of a shop window displaying designs by Sonia Rykiel. I love her stripy wool jumpers and coats, so elegant but still cheeky and was immediately inspired.
Suddenly something else caught my attention. Through a small gap of two houses, right in the back of a courtyard, I got a glimpse of another little shop. I walked through the dark passage and found myself standing in front of a Magazine des Tissus.
Beautifully draped fabrics everywhere, I felt at home tout de suite!