Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Dolly’

The Ritz Hotel, Ouistiti Roof Garden, New York Bar, L’Ours and Champs Elysees Restaurant

Sunday 1st July

Like any good visitor to Paris who is in the know, the only place to be on a Sunday night at this time of the year is the Ritz. Well, this is the official statement from Papa, hence his insistance that we all go. Instead of Fouquet’s all the family, along with Cecile, meet up in the Ritz bar for cocktails situated on the discreet side of the Ritz Hotel on the Rue Cambon. However, the ladies are not admitted into the main the bar, and have to sip their drinks in an adjoining annex. This of course is not appreciated by our lady-folk who are of the more strident kind. Without doubt, the bar we are in is one of the most select watering holes in the world and Frank Meyer who is in charge is the best-known drink shaker anywhere.

We collect the disgruntled ladies. “It is the last time I do that” says Mama indignantly.

We make our way into the stupendous Grill Room with its restaurant, gallery and dance floor for over 400 covers. The world that counts gathers here and it is regarded as the place for diplomats, foreign princes, newspaper proprietors, great dressmakers and American millionaires. Indeed, tonight there is a reigning King and Queen, the heir to a famous throne, the richest banker in the world, a once famous beauty who has just divorced a steel magnate, the head of the greatest jewellery house in the world, a dowdy old dowager, a French newspaper baron and a string of American woman who have married into French artistocracy including Princess de Polignac.

Papa tells Cecile “this is the habitat of international society. They talk a common language, wear a common livery, and they are as much at home here in Paris as in London or New York. But, they will only gather here together under this roof.” Cecile is looking a little uncomfortable. I do not blame her and squeeze her hand under the table.

It is a rarified atmosphere of polite extremes that I find very tedious. In fact it is rather stuffy. But our dinner is exceptional. Under M. Elles, the manager, the chefs have gained a great reputation and the cuisine features the best French dishes that include Poularde sauté au champagne, Caneton la bigarade (a succulent duck served cold with orange and porto jelly), Poularde Vendome (a stuffed bird with foie gras served with tarragon jelly) and vol-au-vont de sole Marquise.

Between courses we dance but there is no real excitement. I am relieved when we retire for coffee and cognac in the long narrow lounge. Afterward, Cecile and I, along with Millie and Henri, pop into the Ouistiti Roof Garden above the Marigny Theatre, Champs Elysees. This is our second visit to see the elegant dancing of Florence Walton and her husband Leo Leitrim, who have been dancing here for what seems like a long season. Their popularity is undiminished. Equally, this is a lovely venue and we have a marvellous time in an atmosphere much more to our liking.

Monday 2nd July

In light of poor Cecile’s ordeal at the Ritz, Millie and Henri and I decide to take her out to the Rue Daunou for a lighter, more enjoyable evening. We start by having a delightful informal dinner at Ciro’s (6 Rue Daunou). Like the Ritz this is also a society rendezvous but Millie says “this is the place where anybody who is anybody goes to see what everybody who is anybody is wearing. Far more interesting than the Ritz.”

Between the end of dinner and 11.30 when the supper-dancing establishments open there is only one thing doing in Paris and that is the cabaret underneath the famous the New York bar at 5 Rue Daunou.

Henri, who is a regular, tells us “It was first opened by Mrs Milton Henry wife of a well known jockey in 1911 but she sold out. During the war the bar became a favourite meeting place for war correspondents. In 1920 Mrs Henry returned, re-purchased the bar and installed Les Copeland at the piano as the cabaret.”

“Ah, we saw Les Copeland only the other night at the Jockey Club”
says Cecile.

“He is amazing and I used to come and listen to his singing all the time” continues Henri “anyway, in 1922 Maurice and Leonara Hughes arrived and opened the now defunct Clover Club in the Rue Caumartin. They brought with them two singers from New York’s East side – Tommy Lyman and Roy Barton. Lyman was not happy with his treatment by Maurice and so moved to the New York bar when Les Copeland quit. The boxer Jack Dempsey and Damon Runyon, who knew Lyman were then in town and made the place famous.”

“One particular night last year” says Millie “Irving Berlin was playing at the piano and Jenny Dolly was asked to dance. She persuaded Dempsey to join her and they performed a rather spirited jazz dance that they called Chicago’ on top of the piano.”

“I believe Mrs Henry has now sold the bar to a Scottish gentleman called Harry McElthone, who used to be head bartender at Ciro’s in London. I guess it may well be renamed Harry’s Bar.” Says Henri.

Moving on we visit L’Ours cabaret at 4 Rue Daunou. Small and intimate it is nevertheless luxurious and caters for a very ‘Daunou’ smart crowd. Tonight the cabaret features the dancing of a rather wonderful English couple called Sielle and Mills. I have heard of them but Millie knows a little more.

Robert Sielle & Annette Mills

“Robert Sielle is rather fun and cheeky. He had been in the Royal Flying Corps during the war and had also entertained the troops. After being demobbed he found he could dance, met Annette Mills and they formed an act. One of their first sets was at the Criterion Roof Garden in 1921 but since then they have performed on the continent as well as in London. Their great strength is that they can do the usual dances exceptionally well but they introduce an element of humour by clowning around.”

They are very polished and accomplished and their novelty numbers that included a golliwog dance were wonderfully funny. They introduced little bits of fantasy by wearing extra items of clothing over their evening clothes, which was particular effective. They remind me of Fred and Adele Astaire, but actually I think they are better.

Wednesday 4th July

Monty and Dolly Tree are in town and we meet at Fouquet’s. Dolly is very animated and orders champagne “we need to celebrate. I have become sole designer for Peron Couture. My first collection will be unveiled later in the year. I am so excited.”

She kisses both of us and we congratulate her effusively.

I have got tickets for Harry Pilcer’s Independence day fete at the new Champs-Elysees restaurant which opened a few weeks ago on 63 Avenue des Champs-Elysees. An array of French and American stars will appear as the entertainment with the proceeds going to blinded war veterans. So we continue our celebrations. We have drinks first in the bar in the basement which is the largest in Paris, and the most comfortable, before moving upstairs to our table.

The restaurant is owned and run by an American called Jules Ansaldi. Monty tells us “He was well known in New York and was considered to be one of the originators of the cabaret on Broadway. He first operated Louis Martin’s club then the Sans Souci and launched the careers of the dancers Maurice Mouvet, Joan Sawyer, Florence Walton and the Castles. After the First World War he ran the Grande Bretagne Hotel on the Rue Caumartin and in 1920 changed the restaurant into Maurice’s club.”

Dolly Sisters in Paris Sans Viole (Paris, 1923)

We have an amazing dinner and the cabaret is superb, the highlight of which was the dancing of Harry Pilcer and the gorgeous Dolly Sisters, who are still appearing in Paris Sans Viole at the Ambasadeurs. It is delightful to cause such a stir with onlookers when both of them take turns to dance with me afterward. I am indeed very lucky.


Read Full Post »

Ambassadeurs (Paris Sans Viole), Weber’s, Ouisiti Roof Garden, Acacias, Ciro’s, Club Daunou, American Midnight Frolics and Abbeye Theleme.

Friday 31st May

We are in Paris again with Monty and Dolly. Lorenzo is on his way back home to Italy and we have all been given special preview seats to see the Dolly Sisters debut. We settle in at Claridge’s since Aunt Mimi has a houseful of guests and meet Cécile and Gabrielle at Fouquet’s for cocktails. They both look ravishing as always. Cecile had taken Gabrielle to Paul Caret’s and they were wearing their purchases: Cecile in a sleeveless dancing gown of lemon georgette, belted with double silver ribbon strewn with rococo roses and Gabrielle in a low cut, backless taffeta gown with shoulder straps of flowers in soft glazed red and silver. They immediately start talking frocks to Dolly.

We wander down the Champs-Elysees to the Ambassadeurs Theatre, tucked just off to one side. Here in this small yet perfectly appointed theatre Oscar Dufrenne, presents the Dolly Sisters in a show entitled Paris Sans Viole or Brighter Paris, a title clearly used as a reflection of the success Brighter London was having at the London Hippodrome.

Programme for Paris Sans Voiles at the Amabassadeurs, Paris, 1923

The show, also includes the home grown talents of Edmonde Guy and Ernest Van Duren, and our friend Eddie Dolly, fresh from his London triumphs for C.B. Cochran, arranged all the dances for a troupe of 8 ‘London Boys’. The Dollies first appeared as American roses in ‘Let us make a pretty bouquet’ and then danced a rollicking mazurka in a scene depicting the Grand Prix in 1883 contrasted with the Grand Prix of 1923. Oddly they became negresses in Plantation Days, where, surrounded by growers and planting machines, they danced and sang plantation songs. By far their most important scene was Destiny, a sketch in four acts, where the Dollies dressed by Jeanne Lanvin, performed a melodramatic depiction of the life of an actress, tragically terminated by an acrobatic dance in a seedy nightclub. This apparently had been a big success in New York. The sisters alternately held the role of an artist who was reduced to the lowest ebb of misfortune by the spirit of evil in the form of a tempting man about town played by Max Berger. We are led to believe that the same woman is playing the character throughout and marvel at the quick change in costume until the couple appear together in the last act where the dying dancer sees the image of her happy girlhood being a reproduction of the first scene revealed at the back of the stage.

The Dolly Sisters in their Mazurka costumes

Monty was effusive. “Wow the Dolly Sisters were enchanting and they will have a formidable triumph on their hands I am sure.”

We take a short walk and go around the corner for dinner at Weber’s, 21 Rue Royale, regarded as a very salubrious place. It was started many years ago by an Alsatian who made a speciality of Alsatian beer and food and originally the clientele was mainly English but now it is more mixed

This is regarded as the traditional place for posh Parisians to sup after the theatre and this vast café-restaurant is crowded with actors, politicians, writers and mere theatregoers like us. We particularly like their boullabaisse which is highly recommended.

Monty then tells us about his recent interview with Edmonde Guy. “She is simply the most ravishing creature and during the run of Oh Quel Nu at the Concert Mayol earlier in the year she posed for the great Dutch painter Van Dongen. At one of his soirees she was introduced to a certain Giovanni Dal Terroni from Palermo, Sciliy. A man of means, he convinced her that he was producing a movie of Mascagni’s masterpeice called Cavalleria Rusticana which was to be staged near Palermo and he wanted her to play the part of Santuzza and pay her $1,000 per week and all expenses for her and her maid. It was a great opportunity. The only way to get out of her obligations at the Concert Mayol was to feign illness and so she vanished.”

By now we are all sitting riveted to his words.

“Arriving at Terroni’s country villa in Sciliy, he informed her that preparations for the picture were not complete and there would be a delay. She was suspicious. The next morning her maid saw Terroni beating a young servant girl and Edmonde came to the conclusion she had been lured into a trap. She decided to play Terroni at his own game in order to escape. She had lunch with him dressed seductively and he admitted his plan to abduct her because of his infatuation. Later Edmonde lured into her bedroom and managed to lock him in, while the mad did the same with the caretaker. They found the girl that Terroni had been beating who claimed he was a monster and she took them to the French consul at Palermo. Edmonde returned to Paris but the shock forced her to bed for 2 weeks. Then a package arrived from Palermo containing a diamond sunburst and a card that said “you are very clever mademoiselle.’”

After coffee we visit the Ouistiti Roof Garden at the Marigny Theatre, Champs Elysees and delight in the dancing of the wonderfully dainty Florence Walton and Leo Leitrim backed by the famous Red Devils band. I know she is familiar and Monty reminds us that she is American and the ex-wife of Maurice Mouvet.

“She only married Leo last December, and although no-one can compare to Maurice, he is a good partner for her. She always presents class and style in both her dressing and her dancing. And in my opinion she is far superior to Irene Castle in both personality and skill.”

We soon dart off to the other side of Paris to visit the Acacias, which is in essence a glorified hall in the rear of the Hotel Acacias at 7 Rue des Acacias near the Bois de Bologne. There is also a delightful garden very useful for the hot weather in the summer.

Programme for the Acacias Nightclub, Paris

Cecile tells us the history. “It was originally opened in the summer of 1921 by the legendary singer and dancer Maurice Chevalier and the comedian Saint-Grenier. Last year it was taken over by that rather obnoxious society social fixer Elsa Maxwell and the charming English couturier Captain Edward Molyneux. They re-modelled it as a Southern plantation and had Jenny Dolly and Clifton Webb as the opening act.”

“This year it has been taken over again by that wonderful American dancer Harry Pilcer.”
Says Gabrielle. “And, he has had the good fortune to get that incredible dancing team of Moss and Fontana for a 6 week season.”

“We saw them in London at Ciro’s in March.” Dolly says. “And they are magnificent.”

Monty adds. “M. Andre de Fouquieres known everywhere as the Beau Brummel of Paris society and dictator of its amusements, paid them a handsome compliment saying ‘with them it is the art of dancing seen in all its beauty’.”

Saturday 1st June

Tonight is Lorenzo’s last night and we all decide to go out with a bang and visit lots of places. First stop is Ciro’s for a spot of dinner, followed by the Club Daunou where we watch the exquisite dancing of Joan Pickering and Charlie Stewart. Dolly is entranced as are the other girls with Joan’s frock by Ninette of London in ecru lace on powder blue faille over flesh pink georgette.

“Its absence of adornment is its greatest charm which lends its wearer that coveted jeaune fille appearance.” Dolly tells us. “It is a masterpiece.”

She is so generous in her praise of others.

We move onto to the new American Midnight Frolics at 30 Rue de Grammont which is a Souer-dansant de luxe and like so many places of the same ilk, hailed as the most chic location in Paris. It is of course no better and no worse. The cabaret produced by the English-Australian Dion Titheradge has two sittings from 12.30-1am and 1.30-2am. We catch the former show. Joyce Barbour and Max Rivers (the latter we saw in Carte Blanche at the Court Theatre in April) dance nimbly and Tex McLeod is amazing replicating his act that we also saw at the Midnight Follies. There is also a West End chorus and other acts that include the singing of Winifred Roma.

“It was bright and snappy and not bad but not good.”
I say afterward. “The girls were gorgeous though…”

“The place was opened in mid-May and I thought here we go again, another attempt to imitate Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolics. I also remember reading an odd comment somewhere that said ‘it had a real American atmosphere of intimicy so necessary to the proper expression of the artists talents’. What? The only American in the cast is Tex and the chorus is from the West End.”

Our last call is the Blue room on the first floor of L’Abbaye de Theleme. The Trix Sisters have now left and there is a new show with favourites Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill, who dance amazingly, the American Goode Sisters, Rene Gagan, Barry Barnard and once again, the glorious singing of Dora Stroeva.

We all retire to my suite at Claridge’s and order breakfast. Lorenzo has had a great send-off before his departure for Rome.

Read Full Post »

The Cri Bar, The Palace Theatre (Music Box Revue), Kettners, Murrays and The Embassy

Thursday 17th May 1923

I have returned to London via Paris. The building work on the villa is superb. All is well. And, a week with Lorenzo on our own, was quite simply bliss. He has come to London with me and my parents have allocated him his own room in our London house in appreciation for keeping me company on the Riviera. I am in great demand and after only a day of rest we are out and about.

First Julian (Lucile) asks us for an early drink at the basement bar in the Criterion that I never knew existed. It is clearly a place you go if you are in the know. The bar is simply known as the Cri and you have to get to it via the less obvious service entrance in Jermyn Street which is better than the grand staircase from Piccadilly if you are wearing a tiara and furs.

“Hello darlings.” He squeals as we enter the rather busy room. Tonight he is the correct gender as Julian since he is coming out with us and will be meeting the crowd. He orders drinks and says “Now, before we go any further, this is the meeting place in London before and after the theatre.” The room is full of men in smart dinner suits like us and rather elegant ladies who look a little out of place since they are all really men and certainly not as beau as their French counterparts. Suddenly there is applause as a rather large and older matron descends into the room covered in gold chains and diamond jewels. “Oh that’s Rosie Baroness Bothways.” Julian says with a giggle .“He is a Welshman He lets everyone think he is a millionaire but he is in fact a cook for a rich old boy in Mayfair.”

After the frivolity downstairs we go upstairs to the more salubrious bar and meet Monty and Dolly who I have not seen for sometime. Amidst some rather lovely cocktails, Dolly tells me about developments with Eddie.“He’s gone off with an actress called Velma Deane.” She says with a sigh. She is in remarkably good spirits given the circumstances. Perhaps Millie’s words of caution about Eddie’s reputation lessened the blow.

“We are still friends and they are meeting us in the foyer of the Palace along with his sister Jenny and the free tickets.” She says with a shrug. Monty has his eyebrows raised.

Julian interjects aiming his comments more at myself and Lorenzo. “By the way, you have both missed an amazing performer called Barbette. A kind of glamorous, trapeze strip act with a twist that was launched first at the Finsbury Park Empire and then transferred to the Alhambra. I am told that Barbette will be appearing in Paris soon so look out for her.”

Julian then adds. “Oh and Monty I would definately hunt her down for an interview. Barbette is going to be a big star darling…..”

We meet the others at the Palace Theatre. Velma is charming but quiet which is understandable. Jenny is in good spirits and says we will all love Dover Street to Dixie that she and Eddie are choreographing for the Pavilion Theatre. The Music Box Revue is another C.B. Cochran show and it is a mix of exquisite stage scenes, beautiful dresses, music and dancing and first rate fooling around. In the beginning, the alleged plot is stolen by a troupe of dinky burglers and then one gloriously splendid scene after another unfolds.

The classically statuesque and glittering ballet ‘Fountains of Youth’ showcases the daring dancing of the Americans Chester Hale and Albertina Viback, the black and white brocaded ‘Legend of the Fan’ scene is sumptuous and the shimmering and phosphorescent effects of the ‘Legend of the Pearls’ is breathtaking. Another set of dancers, the husband and wife team of Joseph Santley and Ivy Sawyer – are the exponents of modern ballroom dancing and in the ‘Dinner Menu’ scene they are the diners who sample the delights of the chorus dressed as the oysters, chicken, cauliflower and French pastry followed by the bill. My new friend Peggy Marsh is the French pastry. There is also comedy and eccentric dancing from Fred Duprez and Renie Riano, the three Brox Sisters doing a Duncan sisters act and more dancing from Dickson and Culver.

Jenny and Eddie are effusive. “It is great to see so much excellent dancing.”

Monty adds. “Well you know I hate to say it but it is of that skilful whirling kind that the us Americans prove so exhilarating at.”

We nip into the wonderfully sublime Kettners Restaurant which is a short hop and a skip from the Palace theatre. With a distinct atmosphere it is one of the main restaurants to bring in customers to this part of town. Established in 1869 it grew until it included a block of three houses and King Edward, then the Prince of Wales was a regular. After a period of decline the restaurant has recently been bought by Giordano who was for sometime Chef de Restaurant at the Savoy and before that the Berkeley. He has made it smart again with a major face-lift although it does retain its old world charm which I think is rather endearing.

You enter into a small entrance foyer and on the left is a pleasant little lounge and opening out of it a restaurant they still call the Shaftesbury. The décor here is a modern Florentine style. On the other side of the hall are three restaurant rooms leading from one to the other. The décor here is modern Parisian and very attractive with bright pink silk lamp shades distinctive floral arrangements on every table. In the third one there is a small central dancing area and it is just the right size for our modern dancing taste. There is an unobtrusive orchestra in one corner and often a performance from one entertainer.

The food is exceptional with a speciaility for Italian dishes. We eat our way through numerous plats du jours including Gnocchi a la Romaine, followed by Cannelloni Charlotte Kettner’s that contains a national macaroni made from a lighter paste than usual and in larger form, vaguely like an omlette and also something like a giant ravioli.

After dinner we decide to pop into Murray’s and take a look at Harry Day’s new ‘Rockets’ cabaret with Hilda Newsome, Levoi and Moran and the Rocket dancers. It does not really capture our attention and before long we move to the more salubrious ambiance of the Embassy Club. It was established at the same time as Murray’s at the end of 1913 as the 400 club. Its success is partly down to the presiding genius of Luigi, a small alert personality, who took over the club just after the war and made it extremely fashionable as the Embassy. It is not open to the general public and is regarded as the best dance club in London with a first class restaurant and bar.

The Embassy Club

The Embassy Club

Situated among the shops in the Piccadilly end of Bond Street the entrance is through a wide marble passage. At the end is two unpretentious looking glass doors. Within there is a tiny lobby guarded by some magnificent footmen and a counter to admit guests. On the inner side of the lounge are two more glass doors with attached curtains forming the entrance to the restaurant-dancing room. The room is a vision of grace, wealth, beauty and boredom. It is decorated in violet, jade green and white, luxuriously furnished with sofas and tables along the walls which held glass mirrors. Each table has a couple of green electric candlesticks with pink shades and amber lights hang from the ceiling. In the centre of the room was the dance floor and at one end of the room, on a balcony was the delightful Ambrose and his orchestra dispensing fabulous sounds.

“This is a most exclusive and sophisticated place, and anyone who really belongs to society belongs to the Embassy. It is of course a favourite of our current Prince of Wales.” Says Jenny to Lorenzo who has never been here before. “Look! Half the celebrities in Europe are here….” She waves at a dozen different people and tells us who they all are.

“The atmosphere is that of a rather intriguing aloofness.” Says Julian with a smirk.

“Well, the Embassy is the place where you must be seen fairly frequently if you have any aspiration to be in the mode.” I add. “Members come here to see, be seen and to dance. One third of the room is on the lazily intimate, wink and grin terms with another third while the remaining third wishes it was.”

“Which third are you?” Says Monty with a giggle.

“Definitely the lazily intimate variety!”

“Hey Fynes.” Says a familiar voice followed by a peck on the cheek.
“Peggy darling.” I squawk. “We saw you earlier and what a delicious pastry you make.” I say. We all laugh. And Lorenzo kicks me under the table.

Read Full Post »

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.’

Read Full Post »