Today we are celebrating Saint Catherine.
There are many Saint Catherines, but the most celebrated one is probably the early 4th century Saint Catherine of Alexandria, also known as ”Saint Catherine of the Wheel” or the “Great Martyr Saint Catherine”. (You can read more about her here.) After different methods of torture, she was finally beheaded by the Roman Emperor Maxentius.
Saint Catherine is or was the patroness of many, including young maidens.This makes the link to the French tradition to ”celebrate” girls, still unmarried at the age of 25, on the Saint Catherine’s day. The unmarried – referred to as “Catherinettes”, are supposed to wear fantasy hats with coloured bands (green for wisdom, yellow for faith), to go out dining with friends and perhaps go dancing, maybe in the hope to find a future husband before the end of the day. (Originally you were also supposed to make a prayer to Saint Catherine.)
On the Square Montholon, along rue Lafayette…
… you can find a statue of some “Catherinettes”. It was made in 1908. Things have changed since then. Maybe those days, more than 90 percent of the girls had found a husband before the age of 25, today the percentage may be around 10 or 15. Less and less people get married and if they marry, the average age for the female partner has during the last 50 years increased from 23 to 30.
I took these photos about a week ago in the sun and the autumn colours…
What we see above is the hotel and shopping building which today stands close to Place de Clichy.
Until 1973 a completely other type of building stood here, first built for horse racing, a hippodrome, which stood ready in 1899, also used for soccer games and all kinds of shows, then for a while used as a circus.
Rather soon it was transformed to a cinema and took the name of « Gaumont Palace » in 1911. The projection of films those days involved a great danger of fire – some serious accidents had occured including the one at the « Bazar de la Charité ». (I talked about it in a previous post.) For this reason the films were in the beginning projected from a seperate room behind the theatre (a mirror system) on a transparent screen.
1930-31 the architecture was seriously modified in an Art Deco style - as well the interior as the exterior. It was said to be the biggest cinema theatre in the world with some 6 000 seats. Different modifications took place over the years to adapt to new projection techniques, a giant screen… , but fashion changed, the large public was not there any more … and the Palace disappeared in 1973 and was replaced by the hotel and shopping building you van see on the top picture. .
Music was performed in the cinema theatre. There was an orchestra and an organ. The organ has been saved and can today be found in the only « pavillon Baltard », which was saved when the « Les Halles » were remodeled (to say it kindly) in the beginning of the 1970’s. You can find it in the suburb Nogent-sur-Marne. Today « Les Halles « are again remodeled, but that’s another story.
Since 2009 I have taken photos of the Christmas show windows of the department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Here you can see what they look like this year. (Click here to compare with the years 2009-2012.)
First Printemps. Most of the windows are perhaps more devoted to luxury fashion than being children-friendly. The top picture is however from Printemps. The exterior with its towers is really specatcular.
There are a few more children-friendly windows at Galeries Lafayette. The exterior decoration (perhaps more spectacular previous years) was changed already last year. What espeically, as usual, draws the attention is the giant christmas tree under the cupola.
I recently made a post about the sculptor Jules Dalou (see here). I neglected to mention one of his works which can be found on the façade of a building in the 18th arrondissement.
Started in 1856, the “Grands Magasins Dufayel”, increased in size over the years and was, when complete in 1913, considered to be the world’s largest department store, specialized in furniture and house equipment. There were some 15 000 employees. “Dufayel” seems to have been the first to offer organized credit to customers. (A staff of 800 employees visited then people to get the weekly installments.) The stores were situated in a working class area and the clientele was not only “bourgoise” as was rather the case with the other newly started department stores. “Dufayel” closed in 1930 and was later taken over by a bank, with a transformation (demolition) of the interior. In the 1990’s large parts of the buildings were further transformed, rebuilt to apartments.
Some pictures “stolen” on the net show what the interiors once looked like. They included a concert hall, a theatre, a cinema…
The main entrance, decorated by Jules Dalou stood ready in 1895. His works represent “Le Progrès entrainant l’industrie et le commerce” (Progress drawing along industry and commerce). The dome on the top, which also was some kind of lighthouse, disappeared in 1957.
This is what you today can see of the partly tranformed buildings. ("Virgin", recently closed, had an outlet here.)
Yes, autumn is here… time to visit museums.
The Galliera Museum was recently reopened after important restoration.
This remarkable and extravagant building, which stood ready in 1894, is the result of a donation by the Duchesse de Galliera, rich heiress of the Duke. It belongs to the City of Paris (by mistake ; the duchesse wanted it as a gift to France).
It was intended to house the family’s art collection, but before the museum was finished, the Duchesse got a good reason to be upset – being of direct descent from the Royal House of Orléans, she was supposed to be expelled from the republican France. Consequently, the art collection was given to Genoa, Italy.
So, the museum was for a long time used for various exhibitions, temporary shows, auctions… Since 1977 it has been operated as a Museum for fashion. Normally, you can find dresses worn by Marie-Antoinette, Audrey Hepburn… and a lot of dresses made by leading designers like Balenciaga, Balmain, Dior, Fath, JP Gaultier, Givenchy, Rabanne, Yves Saint Laurent… Right now there is specific Alaïa exhibition.
However, photos from the inside are not allowed.