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Archive for February, 2009

 

Claridge’s, Paillard’s, The Clover Club, Club Daunou, Chez Fysher and the Folies Bergere.

 Thursday 21st September

I am having lunch with Monty in the very Italian Gennaro’s in New Compton Street, relishing their amazing saffron rice that accompanies a rather delicious baked chicken dish.

“Lets go to Paris tomorrow for a long weekend.” he says “Dolly is going for the opening of a new show that she has dressed and I have got some business meetings I could arrange. She has already booked passage by aeroplane.” We race back to Monty’s flat. “I have to tell you Monty that I am rather nervous I have never been in an aeroplane before.” 

“Oh you will be fine dear boy. It is by far the quickest way and such fun”

“But what about accidents? You must remember about the two aeroplanes that collided in April?”

“Oh that was a terrible tragedy. These things happen but it is very rare and they have sorted out the routing issues so it will not happen again Fynes I am sure. Trust me.”

Monty makes some calls and books the last two seats and our rooms in Paris. I make calls too and arrange to meet Mimi and Cécile. Mama is not happy “That boy is smug and far too nice” she says. I have to say I very much enjoy Monty’s company. He is jolly, witty and affable. He is also knowledgeable about everything, observant and a clever writer. More importantly he is also very dashing like me which makes us both a perfect combination on our nights out – one dark and one blond – and both handsome. By the way; he derives his smouldering dark good looks from his Italian ancestry just in case you are wondering.

Friday 22nd September

Very early the next day the three of us get a cab to Croydon Airport. We fly with Daimler Airways who operate the service to Paris with de Havilland DH.34 single-engine biplanes. With ten passengers, the cabin is full and we are all wrapped up with rugs as we take off. We fly low enough over the mosaic of the green countryside to see a fox run off across a field. I hate the time over the water and feel very ill, especially when two other lady passengers are sick with continued turbulence. The smell of the oil and other stuff eventually gets to me too. Dolly is really sweet and takes my hand and squeezes it. Thankfully, within two hours we land at Le Bourget airport on schedule.

Dolly by then is as white as a sheet as Monty helps her out of the plane. Monty says “Well that wasn’t too bad.”

“You have got to be kidding. I am well and truly shaken just like a cocktail” she snarls.

“Me too.” I reply  “So, they put you in a box, they shut the lid, they splash you with oil, you are bumped around all over the place, you are sick, and then you are in Paris. Tres bon Monty.”

We get a cab into Paris and arrive just in time for lunch. By then we are feeling much better after our ordeal. We dine at one of Monty’s favourite Yankee hangouts, a tiny but lovely place called Vian at 22 Rue Daunou that has made a name for itself by pleasing Americans with corn on cob, corned beef hash, hamburgers and other dainty morsels.

Later, we check into the calm sophistication and glamour of Claridge’s on the Champs Elysees. This is my favourite hotel in Paris and we stop here if we do not stay at Aunt Mimi’s huge house nearby in the Etoile. I like the excitement of being here. Dolly disappears for dress fittings with clients and meetings at several costumiers. Monty also makes himself scarce. I take a nap.

Aunt Mimi arrives at 5pm for the The dansant which takes place every day between 4 and 7pm in the sumptuous ballroom, although the dance floor is not huge. As usual she is wearing a sublime ensemble from Lucile – like Mama, her favourite couturier – a chic little silver sequin coat over a cyclamen georgette frock dipped at the back.

‘Tu es beau” she says as she kisses me, holding my face in her jewelled hands.

She is radiant and charming when, a little later, Cécile and her mother arrive. Cécile is wearing a striking gown of silver cloth with a clever geometric design in black and white which I am told came from Patou and her mother in an exquisite creation from Worth.

We dance for what seems like ages. “Ooh la la Fynes, tu es un si bon dance” she says “combien fabuleux avoir eu des leçons de Leonara Hughes et Souers Dolly.”

At 6pm there is a display of exhibition dancing from a wonderful couple whose names escape me. After cocktails, taken in the Grill Room, we move on for a quiet and intimate dinner at Paillard’s on the corner of the Boulevard de Italiens and Chaussée d’Antin. This is Aunt Mimi’s suggestion”It has a discreet but rich looking exterior which is an indication of the excellent food inside” she says as we congregate outside. The veteran owner M. Paillard greets her personally and we are clearly assured of an amazing feast. The white walls with their bas reliefs of cupids and flowers and the green panels in the white pillars convey an impression of luxury and repose.

Monty and Dolly arrive and join us in taking an apertif. Dolly arrives wearing an incredible Egyptian-inspired gown of rippled lamé in colours of orchid, mauve and leaf green that presents an effect of rare loveliness as she moves. The under bodice is of gold tissue and the overdress opened at the front secured with a central clasp of jewelled stones.

Cécile was clearly entranced and after introductions she says in perfect English “Miss Tree your gown is divine. Where is it from?”

“Oh I have been at dress fittings and couturiers all day. One of them was Péron Couture and this is a new model. I simply had to have it.”

“Ah I can understand why. We have heard about Péron but have never been there. Now I think we might just have to visit.” Says Cécile.

“I have been working with them for a while” Dolly says “they have created quite a few of my more modern stage dresses and I might even begin to design couture for them. Perhaps if you have time tomorrow I can take you there and introduce you?”

“Oh that would be lovely. Thank you”  replies Cécile.

As we browse the menu Mimi tells us ‘This was King Edward’s second best choice after the Café Anglais you know.” We eat our way through all the delicious specialities including Poulét a la crème with white Morille mushrooms, Potage Chicago, Sole Ravelias and Canard Paillard.

We move on to the modest yet well-appointed Clover Club at 25 Rue Caumartin formerly the theatre Caumartin for the height of our evening entertainment. We are there for the grand re-opening gala night. “I have been here before’ says Cécile ‘this is run by Oscar Mouvet and his brother Maurice and Leonara Hughes danced here in the Spring. And of course you know Leonara Fynes….”

We have a superb table and champagne and dance for a while to the White Lyres an excellent jazz band led by Bill Henley who played a series of tango numbers as well as the usual jazz numbers.

“Bill Henley was in the American Air Force during the war and based in Paris” says Monty “and when Jed Kiley, the dance hall proprietor, needed a band Bill recruited one from his colleagues. They became the first American Jazz band in Paris.”

The cabaret is dominated by the dancing of Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill, who we saw at Deauville in August. Dolly is ecstatic as her gowns created by Péron for Fay receive marvelled gasps and applause, especially the exotic creation of rose pétales de soie.

Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill

Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill

The amazingly original Duncan Sisters (Rosetta and Vivian) from America are in audience and are persuaded to take to the floor and sing The Argentines, the Portuguese and the Greeks. They are dinky, look like girlish Mary Pickford’s and made their name when still young in vaudeville in America featuring childish voices, close harmony and plenty of mischief. They polish off a rather wonderful entertainment with a great deal of fun and frivolity.

The Duncan SIsters

The Duncan Sisters

Saturday 23rd September

Our day is leisurely – breakfast, sight-seeing and lunch. Dolly meets Cécile at Péron Couture in the early afternoon while Monty and I have a gentleman’s shopping spree. Once again it is the same group as the night before and we take an early dinner at Viel, an elegant restaurant on the Boulevard de La Madéleine with grade A food, wine and service in the most comfortable dining terrace in Paris.

Dolly has used her influence to get us a box at the glorious Folies Bérgere music hall. The current show Folies Sur Folies was launched in February and has been a terrific success. She has already seen it several times since she has costumed most of it! It stars Constant Remy, Nade Renoff, Madeleine Loys and many others, But the British girl Jenny Golder and the energetic American dancer Nina Payne, whose character dancing is extraordinary, have become the toast of Paris.

The programme for the Folies Bergere

The programme for the Folies Bergere

There are numerous spectacular scenes but what stood out for me were the lace costumes in Les Dentelles Lumineuses (All Kinds of Lace) and the flower, feather and fur costumes – a jazz band of colours and a whirlwind of styles – in Pour Que Les Femmes Solient Jolies (Let Women be Beautiful). Erte’s costumes in Le Culte des Baisers (Kisses Kissing) and Le Palaises Hindou (The Hindu Palace) tableaux were also equally stunning.

Dolly leans over and tells me “All the bird costumes have been sold to the Shubert brothers in New York and will appear in their new Passing Show shortly. I will be seen in New York darling!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Dolly Tree's costume designs for the Folies Bergere

One of Dolly Tree's costume designs for the Folies Bergere

 

We decide it is not quite time to retire to bed yet and whisk off to 21 Rue d’Antin, not far from the Opera, to Club Fysher, on Aunt Mimi’s suggestion. She knows the owner Nilson Fysher of course. “He is an amazing songwriter of British origin but born in Turkey and equally famous in New York and London. However, he has always held Paris in the palm of his hands” says Mimi affectionately “his little cabarets are always cozy and intimate and although he does not have much of a voice he sings with point and intelligence. If we are lucky he might sing his signature song Un Peu d’Amour.” He does but the star of his petite boite is the wonderful singer Mlle Gaby Montbreuse, regarded as the Parisian Marie Lloyd.

We finally head off round the corner to the bustling Rue Daunou and the Club Daunou at number 7 above the Theatre Daunou owned by actress Jane Renouardt. Mimi of course knows everything and comments quietly “Miss Renouardt is the mistress of the Belgian financier Jacques Wittouck and he gave her this theatre which she opened late last year. She actually has made a great success out of it. The nightclub is new of course.”

The interior decorations of the ballroom are in laquer red and royal blue and were designed by Jeanne Lanvin who besides being a celebrated couturier is also a clever interior designer. The club is buzzing with a very young, lively and bohemian crowd and is more to my liking than the Clover Club last night. They have two first rate bands and the cabaret featured the dancing of the American couple Irene Hammond (wearing some amazing gowns by Lucile) and Charles Stuart.

Cécile and I dance. She whispers “You know Fynes you are a better dancer then Charles Stuart. And, you are certainly far more handsome.”

Dolly and I dance. She whispers “I rather like you Fynes.”

Monty is dancing with a very delectable jeune fille and smiles at me from afar and I smile back.

I dance with Irene Hammond. I can see from her expression that she is surprised. “Hmmm, you are rather dapper dear boy.” I am amused and thrilled. I am finally dapper!

When I sit down Aunt Mimi says to me “Admiration is like champagne.”

I am perplexed but I know she has been watching me intently “Stimulating, you mean?” I ask.

“Yes – when it is fresh, but it soon goes flat.”

 

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The Criterion, the Winter Garden Theatre and the Queen’s Hall Roof.

Tuesday 19th September

 I meet my oldest school friend Aubrey for an early dinner at the wonderfully elegant Criterion Restaurant on Piccadilly Circus. It has long been a favourite of my family and is actually a large collection of restaurants all in one building. We sit in the East Room on the first floor, which has been famous for half a century. It still keeps its decoration of white and gold, panels painted with Watteau subjects and the dainty harmony of rose and grey in carpets, furniture and curtains. The music from the orchestra perched in a gilded cage above the big entrance hall comes to us softened by distance. We are near enough the large picture windows to see the rush and swirl of Piccadilly Circus below. I eat and drink modestly, after all a long night awaits me, but I take advantage of my favourite dessert Croûte Caume; an admirable dish with banana, pineapple and apricot in kirsch. We swap stories about our respective summer holidays. Aubrey has just returned from a long trip around Europe and I have to say is looking rather radiant.

The Exterior of the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly, London.

The Exterior of the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly, London.

I like it here” he says.

“Did you know that it was opened by two Englishmen who were famous caterers in Melbourne in the days of the gold fever?” I reply.

“Oh really”Aubrey says completely disinterested as he sips a glass of sherry. “I am so sorry I missed you at Deauville…. by the time I arrived Alphonso King of Spain was causing such excitement. Not least because he was seen every night in the company of your new friends the Dolly Sisters in the Casino with Fausto, the son of the Marquis de Viana. Equally, the gossip at the Potiniére was rife, with sightings of both of them leaving the rooms of those naughty girls at the Hotel Royal each afternoon.”

“Well they are still delectably adorable” I reply tartly “despite the gossip.”

Aubrey changes the subject again by talking about the Aegean crisis and the conflict between Greece and Turkey over Thrace but then asks abruptly “Where are you going tonight?”

 “Oh I am meeting Monty and his friend Dolly Tree and we are going to the opening night of The Cabaret Girl.” I reply, relieved that I do not have to hear all his insufferable details about politics; sometimes he can be a real flat tyre. You see he has some sort of strange job at the Foreign Office and loves to discuss current affairs ad nauseam. “Dolly has designed the costumes for some of the main scenes. It is supposed to be an amazing production and Dorothy Dickson is incredible…”

 Monty and Dolly meet us at our table and I make introductions. She is wearing a delightful creation; a white frock with a velvet top and a skirt of silk fringes over silver lame and three rows of lovely pearls. ‘Elegant simplicity’ which is I gather, one of her hallmarks.

 Aubrey is instantly flirtatious “Why, hello my dear. You look simply divine. Such a fascinating gown.”

 She is use to such attention and deals with Aubrey with great aplomb. “Why thank you Aubrey, That is your name isn’t it? Well, if you like it you can have it! It might just fit you dear.”

We leave and get in a cab to the Winter Garden Theatre in Drury Lane where we are ushered in on the VIP list to a cosy box replete with champagne on ice. The show was magnificent. The plot was in the familiar musical comedy vein of rich boy must marry a suitable bride to acquire his inheritance but falls in love with a showgirl instead.

The last act formed a representation of the ‘Midnight Follies’ at the Hotel Metropole with costumes designed by Dolly. There was an Hawaiian chorus who accompanied Dorothy Dickson when she sang ‘Ka-lu-a’ and Heather Thatcher appeared in a sumptuous Oriental tableau. This was followed by a series of mannequins dressed in a range of bewilderingly eccentric outfits.

Dorothy Dickson in The Cabaret Girl

Dorothy Dickson in The Cabaret Girl

 “They are amazing Dolly, you must be so proud” I whisper to her with a peck on the cheek.

 “Although the plot is rather predictable I think this is going to be a big hit’ Monty says afterward. ‘The book is witty, the music quite above the commonplace, the cast exceptional and last but not least your dresses are divine. I will write a glowing review of course.”

We toodle back to the Criterion for an hour of dancing in the Italian Roof Garden. This is one of the prettiest places to dance and dine. Vine-decked loggias surround the room with a blue ceiling, a silver moon and stars that give the illusion of being in a roof garden. It is a picturesque setting made to look like an Italian landscape. Aubrey is there with a crowd and we have a delightful time. Just as we are about leave Eva walks in. Aubrey rushed up to her and kisses her on both cheeks.

 “Fynes dear boy. Let me introduce you to the delightful Evangaline Lampton” he says with a beaming smile ‘we met in Paris last week and had a spiffing time on La Tournee des Grands Ducs.”

 “Oh we already know each other Aubrey dear. We met in Deauville and Fynes took me for dinner last night, didn’t you?” she says sweetly and kisses me on both cheeks.

Aubrey is bright red and looks as if he is about to explode. I am smiling to myself. I certainly do not tell Aubrey everything and it looks like neither does Eva.

 “We had better get going” says Monty coming to the rescue. “Otherwise we will miss the show.”

We are going to The Queens Hall Roof, where the cast of the Cabaret Girl will be celebrating their first night. Both Aubrey and Eva decide to come with us and we all hop in a cab and race up to Langham Place at the top of Regent Street. The Queens Hall is the premier music venue in London and very grand indeed with a blue-green colour scheme, an arched ceiling with a painting of the Paris Opera House, by Carpegat, with attenuated cupids clad in sallow pantaloons and seating for 2,400. At the top of the building was a smaller cigar shaped hall with windows in the ceiling where a cabaret show had been staged since April.

Programme for Cabaret Follies at the Queen's Hall Roof

Programme for Cabaret Follies at the Queen's Hall Roof

 “This reminds me a little of Ziegfeld’s Roof Garden in New York.” Monty says as we all take our seats and order some supper and champagne. Dolly introduces us to many of the cast of The Cabaret Girl who sit at adjacent tables. Monty knows Miss Dickson of course because he has interviewed her several times both in New York and London. “She is a jewel” he says and then adds “she started off as a society dancer with her husband Carl Hyson in Chicago and they became big stars in cabaret and then on the New York stage.”

 Just in time, we catch the midnight edition of the new show called The Cabaret Follies. It has been produced by Jack Hylton, one of our new and most original jazz band-leaders and the actor Jack Buchanan and is a striking production. There is a beauty chorus of 16 gorgeous girls who appear in 8 numbers, including one where they support Flora Lea, a one time Ziegfeld girl when she sings Evergreen Eve. All the girls and Flora are decked out as a confection of foliage. The glamorous American sisters Josephine and Helen Trix, wearing Molyneux gowns, which give the effect of old red lacquer, were sensational with their amusing antics and singing fabulous songs. Henry de Bray and May Vivian were equally wonderful principals and the elaborate costumes of Oriental splendour for the finale ‘Song of India’ were magnificent.

The Trix Sisters

The Trix Sisters

A scene from The Cabaret Follies

A scene from The Cabaret Follies

Don’t worry I didn’t design the costumes this time. My friend Guy de Gerald did. Alas, I was far too busy on other projects.” Dolly tells us as we all gawp at the end.

 Within seconds the band starts playing and everyone starts to dance. Aubrey grabs my arm “Fynes, you are a cad. Why didn’t you tell me about Eva? I bet she is one of those women your mother has lined up for you isn’t she?”

 “I never thought about any of it being that important.” I reply innocently with a smile.

 After returning from the bathroom, Eva wanders up to me, also clearly intent on having a quiet word. “Fynes, I do like you and I love our nights out together” she says sweetly fluttering her eyelashes and caressing my arm “but, please remember that I like going out a lot. And, well, I really like Aubrey, and Biffy, and Clarence, and Peregrine, and Bottom, and Smarty….and,  I am not quite ready to settle down yet and choose. You understand darling don’t you?”

 “Peregrine Wilberforce-Watson too?” I say aghast “He’s even more boring that Aubrey!”

 Aubrey gets up and smooches with Eva while I dance with Dolly.

 “I had forgotten just what a great hoofer you had become Fynes” she says “I think you ought to dance with Dorothy you know. I think she may well like your style.”

 I ask Miss Dickson to dance and soon I am spinning her around the dance floor as Aubrey looks on in amazement as he treads on Eva’s toes.

 “Hey mister” she says in her wonderful American accent. “You are a swell dancer. I might just need you in the show! Where did you learn to be so good…”

 “Ah that is my secret” I say mysteriously. I always find it is best not to reveal everything.

“Do you like London?” I ask.

 “Oh yes very much so. I have been here for just over a year and we are having a ball. But I am so glad that cabaret has come to London. When I arrived I was disappointed that there were few supper clubs and cabaret shows that one could go to late at night. Now they are springing up all over the place. London is truly becoming brighter.”

 “London is truly brighter with you here my dear” I say. And, I mean it. She is so sweet and so pretty and boy oh boy what a dancer.

 

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Ciro’s and the Casino

Thursday 10th August

I woke up (far too early I hasten to add) to the sound of the surf and the smell of a brisk salt breeze perfumed with flowers in full bloom coming from my open window. I get ready, have a spot of breakfast alone and run to the beach.

It is not a good day for sunbathing or swimming. There is nip in the air and it is clouding over. I am told that the weather has been variable. The beach is sparsely populated and I wander around debating the pros and cons of getting wet. I stumble upon a photographer taking pictures of two amazingly adorable ladies. They look identical. They are short, slim, dark haired, exotic looking and amazingly beautiful. They are wearing matching black bathing suits. Whoever they are, they are noisy and seemingly having great fun as the photographer and his assistant fiddle with his equipment.

“Hello there” yells one
“Come and talk to us” says the other
“Who are you?” says one
“Yes, tells us your name” says the other

They have a strange accent. Vaguely Eastern European, vaguely French and vaguely American “How do you do.” I say in my best well-behaved British accent “Good morning ladies. I am Fynes. Fynes Harte-Harrington. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Pleased to meet you Fynes” says one.
“Oh” says another. They look at each other and giggle and then point at each other.
“This is Rosie”
“… and this is Jenny”
“We are the Dolly Sisters.”

By jove. The Dolly Sisters. I had seen them of course in London. But seeing them in the flesh was altogether a different matter. I should have put two and two together earlier! Silly me. “Gosh. I have seen you perform in A League of Notions. You were amazing. Are you having a well earned rest?”

“Why thank you Fynes” says Rosie “No, this is not a rest! We have just finished a tour of America and I have just had a holiday in Spain and Morocco.”
“… and I have been having great fun in Paris starring at the Acacias cabaret with Clifton Webb” says Jenny
“We make our debut at the Casino on Friday evening” says Rosie
“We do hope you will come and see us” says Jenny

“Oh, of course I will. We were there last night. Actually, I only arrived yesterday with my family. So I am just settling in. But I am told we go to the Casino every night.”

‘Oh we will be there too!’ they exclaim in unison.

“OK girls” interrupts the photographer “let’s get this show on the road.”
“Oh, do excuse us Fynes” says Jenny
“Seymour, please make sure that this charming gentlemen gets one of these photographs” says Rosie
“Bye bye and see you later mon cheri” says Jenny blowing me a kiss.

“One last thing ladies….” I ask with a smile ‘Would you dance with me tonight? You see I am expanding my repertoire and I bet you can teach me a thing or two.’
“Oh Fynes” says Rosie
“Of course we will”
“We will be delighted”
“After all we are good at that”
“We taught the Prince of Wales all his new dances you know….”

They giggle as I wave and wander off blushing like mad. What a story to tell.

The Dolly Sisters on the beach at Deauville

The Dolly Sisters on the beach at Deauville

I notice that more people had emerged on the beach as glimpses of sun flash through the cloud. I reach Mama and Papa and some guests lounging under a row of little striped umbrellas all wearing some rather splendid bathing outfits.

‘Fynes, mon cheri’ shouts Aunt Mimi ‘We decided to come here rather than Le Potiniére today. Come and play Mah Jong with us.’ I settle down and idle away an hour listening once again to further endless chatter.

‘Sem’s new book of caricatures is called La Nouveau Monde.’ Says Mama ‘it is rather good and once again makes me laugh.’

‘Well, it might make you laugh Alice’ says the Duchesse de Noailles (one of her friends) ‘but do remember opinion is divided between those who have achieved notoriety by having their weaknesses exposed to public laughter and those who have escaped, but who are hurt by the suspicion that they may be considered non-entities. You are not in the book my dear. I am surprised you are so happy!’

‘Regard’ says Aunt Mimi a little later, waving her hands at everyone now parading along the beach front ‘gone are the commonplace bathing coats of white towelling. Viola the futurists, Dadaists and cubists rule! Look at the latest brilliant designs Fynes.’

Almost at once everyone stopped talking and gawped as a young man walked past wearing a black cloak of shiny satin with a wallpaper design of large pink roses. He marched along with two large Alsatian wolf hounds and riding on the back of one was a small brown monkey who was having great fun picking up peoples slippers and other things and throwing them around!

“Oh my word…… Deauville becomes more eccentric about its pets every day” said Mimi with a shrug and adds ‘Often the most eccentric people are the best you know” and winks.

Mama is on the terrace at the Normandy for lunch with three new prospective brides and their mothers. I admire Mama’s tenacity. This time the candidates are all French. Taking Aunt Mimi’s advice, which I am sure was intentional, I gravitate to Cecile d’Orsay and her mother who are from the famous French perfume company. Cecile is the complete opposite to Eva – dark haired and clever. She is also a hoot and not in the slightest bit stuffy, unlike the other two. I suspect Mimi was giving me a coded message earlier.

In the afternoon I meet Leonora and a gramophone for my dancing lessons in a private room at the Casino. ‘Let’s dance and I can see what you are like’ she asks as we play several records and go through one-steps and Waltzes. She introduces me to some new variations and finally says ‘You are good Fynes. You simply need a bit of a brush up and we need to add some sparkle.’ We both laugh and carry on talking away as we dance  “in the next few days we go through the tango, the valse, the foxtrot and perhaps even the apache!’

As usual, after a pleasant nap, cocktails were taken in our suite before a large party of us swept off to Ciro’s for dinner. Cecile and her mother were there and joined us. Later, I took Cecile onto the dance floor. She was wearing a simple black satin form-fitting gown, devoid of decoration but framed by an array of glittering diamond rings, earings, bracelets and necklace. She smelt divine of course.

‘Tu es magnifique!’ she whispered in my ear. I am over the moon. ‘Toi aussi, ma cherie’ I reply.

Ciro’s have a cabaret of sorts and I was stunned by the dancing of Samya and Sawyer. They gave several usual yet original variations and then performed an extraordinary number called Une Danse Macabaretre. She a beautiful vision in a silver frock as she dances and gazes at her own beauty in a silver mirror. Behind her stalks la Mort, (Sawyer) in skin tight clothes and a skull cap as a terrifying apparition. Their dancing gets wilder, she becomes breathless with fear, she falls to the floor and death clutches her throat and claims her. Everyone stands and applauds voraciously.

Samya and Sawyer

Samya and Sawyer

‘They have been a hit in London and the Riviera’ says Papa ‘she is exquisite but also quite the business woman. She demanded a huge fee for dancing exclusively for the Ciro chain for one year and got it.’ To my surprise Papa heads straight for Samya who is now sitting at a table with friends. Hmmm, they appear to know each other rather well….

Friday 11th August

Monty arrives in the morning. I meet him in the foyer of the hotel after he has checked in.

‘Dear boy’ he exclaims ‘…you look marvellous: this place must be agreeing with you!’ I give him a run down of the most recent developments.

‘Well as it happens I have a surprise for you’ he says with a beaming smile looking toward the staircase as a chic, bobbed, flapper, cigarette holder and all walks toward us wearing a divine silver satin lounging suit edged with white fur and a string of pearls. I can see the other guests and staff raising their eyebrows. ‘Ah, there she is.”

‘I am Dolly Tree’ she says and extends her hand to me before she sits. “I am so pleased to meet you Fynes. Monty has told me so much about you.” Absolutely exquisite just like Samya, she is clearly what is called a New Woman – strident, confident, independent and glamorous. I shake her hand and sit back down instantly in love. I am a little flustered and blurt “Miss Tree, your gowns for Fay Harcourt were beautiful. I saw them last night. Everyone gasped when she first emerged to dance!’

“Dolly has been a busy little bee this summer’ interjects Monty ‘ with frocks coming out of her eye-balls for all sorts of things…. Haven’t you dear? Such a clever, clever gal’

We continue to talk about Deauville, London and Paris and who we know and we don’t know, before heading off to La Potinaire and then lunch. Miss Tree changes for each and wears even more wonderful outfits, all of which she designed herself.

Despite being introduced Mama is not happy ‘Who is this woman’ she whispers in my ear at lunch. ‘She is very famous Mama as a dress designer and she is a friend of Monty’s’ I reply rather sternly.
‘Hmmm I see’ she replies with a shrug ‘…well you know what I think about him…’

Brochure - programme for the August 1922 season at Deauville

Brochure - programme for the August 1922 season at Deauville

The day flashes by and soon we are once again in the Casino. We are a big group popping champagne like mad and having a great time. My dancing with Eva is attracting interest. She noticed several people who liked her and she told me about it. I saw many people who clearly liked me but I did not mention it. One devastatingly beautiful woman wearing an unfortunately old fashioned gown winked at me. Eva was not amused. ‘That gown is an anachronism’ I whisper
‘I expect you are right’ acquiesced Eva sweetly ‘I don’t know much about isms. I am never ill.’
Thereafter, my chat took refuge in generalities until the cabaret.

The Dolly Sisters were simply sensational. Their first dance was an old fashioned waltz with dresses of grey velvet, silver lace and fringe lined in turquoise blue with huge grey hats trimmed with osprey. The second dance was a mad kind of Apache dance but with elegant bride-like white chiffon frocks abundantly showered with brilliants and exotic white plumed head dresses. Their last number was a gipsy dance in deep orange chiffon with silver bodices, hung with bunches of cherries and matching hats. The applause was deafening.

The Dolly Sisters

The Dolly Sisters

The compére thanked the Dollies and then said ‘I must extend a special word of thanks to Miss Dolly Tree who designed all of the Dolly Sisters costumes and to our great delight she is with us tonight sitting with the Harte –Harringtons.’ There was a hearty round of applause and I turned to Mama who is smiling profusely. I think her reserve might have evaporated.

‘I am not sure I like them’ said Mrs FitzGibbon ‘I do find their ostentatious display of jewellery and their frivolous behaviour quite vulgar.‘

‘Oh don’t be so silly dear’ said the Duchess of Sutherland ‘we adored them in London. They are so pleased with life, so unspoiled and happy and gay and so full of fun. They are such a delightful contrast to some of the languid bored creatures one sees.’

Suddenly both sisters are at our table, wearing matching silver evening gowns and wearing a profuse number of glittering jewels. They hug and kiss Dolly Tree in turn.
‘Well, you two need no introductions…’ Dolly says
‘…hello Fynes, so glad to see you!’ says Jenny.
‘Would you dance with me Fynes?’ asks Rosie.
‘Who am I going to dance with?’ asks Jenny.
‘Oh I think I can oblige’ suggests Henri immediately.

My parents’ jaws have dropped. Monty is smirking. Millie nudges Henri in the ribs. Eva scowls. Mimi is smiling. Cecile is frowning, and Dolly is laughing.

Saturday 12th August

Today is my birthday. I am glad it falls on a Saturday. I have a lovely birthday breakfast with all the family at the Normandy. I spend the rest of the morning with Monty and Dolly at the Potinaire. We have a small private family lunch at Ciro’s. Finally, my birthday party dinner is in the Ambassadeur’s restaurant at the Casino which is a rather elaborate affair in a large private room for 60 guests.

A cake is wheeled in on a trolley by the Dolly Sisters who sing happy birthday!

Mama kisses me. Mimi kisses me. Millie kisses me. Eva kisses me. Cecile kisses me. The Dolly Sisters kiss me, one on each cheek. And, finally Dolly kisses me on the lips but lingers… hmm that is interesting.

Papa stands up and bangs his glass until everyone is quiet and says “congratulations Fynes. Now that you get your allowance I can take you into the Casino.’

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