Every time I am in Paris (and I am there frequently), I always find something, even when I am walking rues that I have walked down hundreds of times before. On one particular weekend, I had met up with a certain Mr. Coleman, who had a Rolodex of excellent restaurants, bars and cafés.
We had just spent an afternoon at La Perle (yes, that bar…) enjoying cocktails and watching Donald Sutherland walk his multiple beagles past us. The drink was beginning to take hold and dinner was imminent.
As we stumbled away, we ducked down a side street that we hoped would lead to a Metro stop to the great hotel, Mama Shelter, in an obscure arrondisement of Paris. Before I dive into the clothing, I must tell you about a very peculiar aspect of Mama Shelter. Apparently the hotel was built inside an old parking garage so the walls are hard concrete painted in sombre blues and greys. Instead of reading lights by the bed, there are workman lights with a mask of either Batman or Robin on a hook in front of the light. Great, huh? It gets better.
Instead of a TV, Mama Shelter mounts an Apple iMac on the wall through which you can get a much richer bouquet of media than the normal hotel fair. Weather reports, TV channels, free “blue” movies, and, the most interesting, the ability to contribute to a gallery using the camera on the iMac so that you can document for public consumption all that you have done in the room.
Of course, I looked through all of the photos in the gallery, but only found one that is was in the least bit salacious.
Now, back to the fashion. This small side street had a variety of boutiques, ironically with a distinct bent towards men’s clothing. I found a particularly lovely one, French Trotters, that had a variety of garments from Engineered Garments. For all of its Brooklyn demeanor, Engineered Garments was founded by two Japanese gentleman, Daiki Suzuki and Shinya Hasegawa, who both worked at Woolrich (with the plethora of melton and plaid, it may have even been Filson!). The clothes do seem to be inspired by traditional American work and sport clothing of years past, again reminding me of the interest the Japanese have with traditional American culture and “authenticity” in clothing.
As luck would have it, I found the F/W ’11 Cruiser Jacket in Loden. A beautiful (and warm) jacket, engineered with the needs of a hipster soldier with so many pockets for devices and papers and coins that the jacket must weigh a good 2 stone when fully equipped. The inside is quilted and there is a little “bib” inside that prevents the wind from going through the snap enclosures. Although this may look like a choice find from an army surplus store, the sophistication of the pockets gives it the twist that it needs. Paired with a pair of brown doeskin gloves and a muted but colourful scarf, there wouldn’t be a finer doughboy in Ypres.