When you go to France, whether you are in a big city or a small village, you often get drawn by a delightful, sweet aroma or an exquisite, colorful display. The boulangerie has its own specialty sablés, the creamery its own artisan cheese, the charcuterie its own regional saucisses. The creativity is endless. The temptation is more than you can handle. You cannot resist.
Wherever you are in France, it is not difficult to find the “made in France” label. Whether it be for clothing or accessories, you will find that label. The little boutique or the trendy atelier on the narrow street in Paris will have it. Chances are, you will actually meet the designer/creator right there. I experience it every single time I am in France, and I often end up bringing in those marvelous, “made in France” creations back to the United States for my customers, my friends, and… myself!
Picture an old, imposing, dark green heavy door along a cobblestone sidewalk. The door opened to a rather dark large room, filled with bolts of tapestry and rows of purses. It felt like I had stepped back to the 1920s, which is when this company started developing an unsurpassed know-how in its own specialty. They have followed the modern trends, but they have not changed the manufacturing process over the years, and today, they pay the ultimate tribute to this noble art of tapestry which it has kept alive through the years and through the cycles of fashion.
Later, it was a window display that caught my eye. I stepped in, and I was greeted by the smell of fine leather. When I met the designer, I was impressed by her sweetness. Nathalie is a modern gal. She has a smart phone and a tablet. She travels. She also loves to write and organize her important notes. All this inspired her to create a one-in-all organizer, for her phone, her passport, business cards, credit cards, and notebook. “Le Petit Parisien”, as I call it, is as beautifully designed as it is crafted, right there, in that atelier in the heart of Paris, between the Picasso Museum and the National Museum of Modern Art.
Most recently, I was in Mirepoix, in Occitanie, walking from shop to shop and looking for treasures. I fell in love with some exquisite, unique, urban-style, super cool raincoats. I looked at the label, and sure enough, they were made in France. Excited and eager to import those raincoats, I spoke with the designer. Long story short, she now personally sews some custom raincoats for me. This is France at its best! The creativity and the focus on quality make it so unique!
Artists, creators, designers, all people with skills can succeed in France because craftsmanship is not only encouraged but also rewarded. The École des Arts et Métiers (Arts and Trade), a prestigious technical and vocational school, prides itself for shaping the best product engineers of France – the list of notable alumni is their best testimony. The École des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts) turns aspiring artists into solid, influential, and successful artists in painting, sculpting, designing. Reputation, pride, and prestige are and will always be at the heart of these institutions. So, next time you are in France, look for the “made in France” label. Support these incredible designers. Let them know that you admire their creations. Encourage them. We rely on them to keep the traditions alive. France is a traditional country with a traditional culture. Most of us want to keep it this way. Let’s all make it stay this way!