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Posts Tagged ‘Constant Remy’

Folies Bergere, Boeuf Sur Le Toit

Tuesday 6th March 1923

Monty is miffed because Edward Dolly has popped up in Paris and Dolly has gone gaga and keeps disappearing like Aunt Mimi. However, we are all terribly excited. Dolly has got us all tickets for the launch of the new show at the Folies Bergere. She has created some of the scenes. We all meet as usual for a quick aperitif at Fouquet’s.

“Hello boys.” Dolly says slightly sheepishly.
“Hi guys.” Says Eddie with his beaming smile. “How are you doing?”
“We are all just dandy.” Says Monty rather pointedly.
“What are you up to?” I ask Eddie politely.
“Well I am just having a break and then I am off to London to attend to some business. I am staging the dances for C.B. Cochran’s show Dover Street to Dixie. My sisters will help when they return but they are still currently working on the Riviera. I am also engaged in negotiations for the debut of the Dolly Sisters here in Paris. All hush hush of course. ”

With this exciting news, we head off to the Folies Bergere but have to take several taxis. I am with Henri and Millie and Millie says rather sweetly “That Eddie is quite a ladies man you know. I have had a quiet word with Dolly in case she gets too involved.”

As we arrive it is clearly a very glamorous affair with a glimpse of who is who in Paris streaming into the Music Hall. Besides the usual programme they have now produced a rather glamorous fully illustrated souvenir brochure which is a really smart idea.

Paul Derval’s show En Pleine Folie stars Yane Exiane, Nade Renoff, Miss Flo, Nina Payne, Constant Remy, Madeleine Loys and the John Tiller Girls in 3 acts and 32 tableaux. There are a host of incredible scenes that would take ages to describe including Les Frivolities du Second Empire with frivolous Victorian fashions and Au Pays de Lotus D’Or with oriental splendour dressed by Brunelleschi; Les Frivolities du Second Empire (Montedoro); the exotic Les Grottes de Crystal (Georges Barbier) and the sumptuous finale Les Grands Fleuves du Monde or the greatest rivers, dressed by Erte.

A scene from the Folies Bergere with a sketch by Dolly Tree

A scene from the Folies Bergere with a sketch by Dolly Tree

Dolly Tree’s first scene Les Nuits du Bois (Night in the Woods) was meant to be representative of the nocturnal “goings on” in the Bois de Bologne and was, I have to say, rather audacious. Several walkers stroll through the woods in the autumn moonlight, including Mlle Yane Exiane. The wood becomes alive with mytholgical satyrs and nymphs dressed in beautifully flowing gowns and dryads perched in the bough of the trees presumably meant to represent tree spirits. The scene ends when the Police arrive and everyone vanishes.

Nuits de Bois scene in the Folies Bergere show

Nuits de Bois scene in the Folies Bergere show

Monte La Dessus (climb up there) was a symbolic scene about Montmarte which capitalised on the view that the area was the home of the real Parisian underworld and featured a chorus in traditional French country costumes with striped bouffant skirts and French caps in red, white and blue. The scene progressed into Tu Verras Montmartre with a depiction of showgirls wearing totally bizarre costumes representing a range of drugs such as L’opium, L’Ether, La Morphine and Le Coco, with each ‘drug’ being revealed by means of colour back-cloths.

The Monte La Dessus scene from the Folies Bergere with sketch by Dolly Tree

The Monte La Dessus scene from the Folies Bergere with sketch by Dolly Tree

It is a magnificent production and seemingly the most ambitious show being staged in Paris.

We decide to have supper at the night-club and restaurant of high repute called Boeuf Sur Le Toit situated at at 28 Rue Boissy Anglais just of the Place de Concorde. This is the creation of Louis Moyses and opened in late 1921. It is sponsored by the great avant-garde artiste Jean Cocteau and here the most extravagant fancy is found side by side with the best old tradition. It is one of the smartest rendezvous in Paris with an atmosphere all its own. Le Boeuf is a melting pot of lively and entertaining discussions and one comes across the very latest developments of the artistic, cultural and literary worlds. In short it is terribly bohemian and very a la mode where high society mingles with artists, business men, actors and writers.

It is in fact two large rooms on the ground floor. We have dinner first in the restaurant and the cuisine was surprisingly good for a night club of snob repute. Since the cooking is Alsatian, the foie gras in pastry was particularly good. We also sample le Sole Maison and Crepes Flambees (Pancakes in hot caramel sauce made with blazing brand).

Mama and Papa and Mimi and Sir Oliver leave and the rest of us carry on drinking champagne. There is a small gipsy band and we can dance on the small dance floor, but it is not long before we are tempted next door to the bar and for the next few hours we switch back and forth. In the bar the walls are hung with photos by Man Ray of some of the celebrities that frequent Le Boeuf and we listen to the French pianists Wiener and Doucet who have made an international reputation jazzing the classics.

Since Dolly is stuck like glue to Eddie, Cecile dances alternately with Monty and I. She is so charming and so easy-going. I dance with Millie at one point.

“That Cecile is quite delightful.” She says.
I know.” I reply

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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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