Wednesday, October 19, 2005


We may just need to invent a new word for what Didier Ludot does. To say that he has a vintage shop does not even begin to prepare you for the amazing collection of mint condition Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, Givenchy and every other heavyweight designer you can think of that greets you as you enter his shop. I was also greeted by an enormous funny looking yet adorable bulldog that I later found out is called Kelly. Talking of Kelly, I gawped in disbelief as my mind tried to comprehend that what I was looking at was an entire rail of at least 50 pristine black patent crocodile leather Hermes Kelly bags.

We've become so used to shops that define themselves as 'vintage' but really don't have stock that different to a branch of Oxfam, except the price. Didier Ludot is in another league.

Until this Saturday the shop windows in the arcades of the Jardin du Palais Royal are home to L'Esprit Dior, an exhibition of Didier Ludot's personal collection of Dior. Each little antique shop, gallery space, even a hairdressers has quirkily imaginative displays of Dior, from it's beginnings and the new look silhouette - which I'm rather partial to, through Yves Saint Laurent to John Galliano.

The only word I can use to describe this hommage is magnificent. I don't think I've ever used that word to seriously describe something before. (Only ever in the piss taking context of 'would you look at that guy's toupee, don't you think it's truly magnificent?') A walk round the arcades, (which is a pleasant enough thing to do on any day) is like a history of fashion degree in one sitting. I went round three times and still each time I noticed something new.

There was a pair of turquoise Roger Vivier for Dior shoes, stiletto heel, pointed toe covered completely in what I think were peacock feathers, including the heel. These were displayed in the window of an antique store, in a glass box on a yellow cushion - everything about the display contrasted and juxtaposed perfectly.

I think one of the reasons I loved it so much was that here is one guy who obviously loves what he does, opening up his own private collection in an original interesting way. It felt so different to seeing that kind of thing in a museum exhibit.

All I can say is if you happen to be in Paris anytime between now and Saturday just GO!!!

I know what you're thinking, I've gone all fashiony and 'oh but darling it's magnificent!' I kiss Kaiser Karl's hand, I salute Yves Saint Laurent and his le smokings, I take my hat off to Didier. It's true. But that is because what I have been seeing is the result of originality, hard work, talent, striving for perfection and taking something to the limit of how good it can be.

And that's why I loved fashion in the first place. And I've fallen for it all over again.

The thing I keep thinking here is that whatever people choose to do, they really push it to the limit. They don't just bake a loaf of bread, they become the best at making the best bread, and become artisan bakers. They actually have a guild called something like 'The Federation of French Artisan Bakers League of Bread and Flour'. I kind of made that title up a bit but you get the general idea.

In 3 days I will be cruelly snatched away from this rarefied and refined atmosphere and dragged by Eurostar back to London. I am not sure how I will cope with this. I already find myself planning a strategy to get home from the station with the least possible exposure to ugliness and burger outlets.

Didier Ludot, 20 -24 Galerie Monpensier, 75001 Paris

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