Posts Tagged ‘Lucile’

Bois de Boulogne: Auteuil, Cafe d’Armenonville, L’Hermitage, Pavillon Dauphine,  Pre-Catalan, Clover Club, Jardin de Ma Soeur, Chateau de Madrid, Abbaye de Theleme

Thursday 21st June

The entire family has decamped to Aunt Mimi’s house in Paris and we are living in organised chaos with Mama as usual in charge of exactly what we are doing each day. Even Sir Oliver, Mimi’s new husband has acquiesced to her will for a quiet life.

Paris in June is blissful and offers racing to the turf enthusiast nearly every day. Usually there is wonderful weather and relaxing outdoor fun. We have missed the Prix de Diane at Chantilly on the 7th June and the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on 14th June but we are here today for a family outing at Auteuil for the Grand Steeple. Auteuil is set deep within the Bois de Bologne on the western fringe of the city and it does feel as if we are in the country.

We loiter in the pesage or paddock, the exclusive enclosure with the viewing stands. And alternate watching the races with strolls behind the stands over the luxurious green lawns with decorative flower beds, popping into a cafe where necessary.  Here the fashion parade unfolds with beautiful women showing off all the latest couture.

“There is an air of restful refinement about the races in France, in contrast to the noisy race-tracks of England and the United States.” Says Aunt Mimi as we take an early lunch.

“Yes, there is also an absence of the “horsy” type so prevalent at Sandown Park or Epsom Downs.”
Adds Sir Oliver with a smile.

During the summer the races have become an institution with practically every American in Paris attending. Papa remind us that racing in France owes much of its prosperity to American sportsman.

“American methods of training and riding are scrupulously followed by the French. Most of the well known jockeys are Americans and most of the prominent owners are American too.” Papa says authoritatively as he waves at a very smart gentleman wandering around with a huge entourage. “Ah, he is a case in point. That is A.K. Macomber of California who married into Standard Oil and purchased the entire Vanderbilt stud including the latter’s breeding establishment at St Louis de Poissy.”

After a delightful day we drift through the Bois de Bologne along the Alle de Longchamps towards Paris. As Mama constantly remarks. “The Parisians have succeeded in turning the beautiful Bois into a  paradise of artisitic artificiality.”

Map of the Bois de Boulogne

Map of the Bois de Boulogne

Through tangles of undergrowth run driveways and equestrian paths and scattered within its leafy interior are not just several race tracks but a dozen or so restaurants and cafes that become the centre of the Parisian social scene and nightlife in the summer.This time – 5pm – is the fashionable hour for the Bois and every inch of the avenue is taken up with luxurious automobiles and elegant strollers. We stop at the small, confined but terribly Parisian Cafe d’Armenonville on the Paris side of the Bois near the Porte Maillot which is the smartest place for tea and fashionable for luncheon too. It is owned by the Mouriers, who also own the Café de Paris, Fouquet’s bar and the Pre-Catalan.Parisians love the ‘intimite’ of d’Armenonville and marvel at the agility of the waiters as they slip between the tables so discreetly.

As Mama says “Put a Parisian in a large room with plenty of space and he perversely refuses to come again… they love crowds!”

The place is awash with the rich and famous and well-to-do folk like us. There is the princess who has eleven dogs of various hues to match each gown she wears. On our left is an actress who wears a coat made from the skin of her pet baboon and there is also a famous demi-mondaine who is brunette in the daytime and blonde at night.

Millie observes “One will notice that women are wearing long diamond necklaces many with a marvelous emerald pendant as dignified protest against the too great influx of artificial jewelry that one sees far too often these days.”

When I observe how warm it is, especially dressed in my evening suit, Millie tells us an amusing story “Last year, when it was really hot there was a bit of a scandal when two men arrived with some ladies in evening dresses but they were wearing pyjamas!”

Each of the Bois venues has its special gala night where tout Paris is to be seen. It is important to be at each place on each successive night. Famous dancers or the latest cabaret favourite usually supply the entertainment. We rush back to Paris, change and freshen up for a quick cocktail before darting back into the Bois to the l’Hermitage on the far fringe of the Bois on the banks of the Seine near the Longchamps race-course and the Porte de Suresnes.

L'Ermitage Nightspot, Bois de Boulogne, Paris

L’Ermitage has a paradoxical rusticity and gives a pleasant sense of escape from the city with the Siene lapping lazily by along the edges of the terraces and the green stretches of Longchamps not far way. The gardens here are immense and create the illusion of being completely in the country.  It is quite lovely sitting outside having dinner and drinks in the gardens where the warm nights make it a delight to linger under the trees in the soft glow of admirably planned lighting.

The entertainment tonight is superb with the fabulous singing and antics of the Trix Sisters and the dancing of Charlie Stuart, Barry Bernard and Joan Pickering, who are all doubling up at the Club Daunou later in the evening.

On our return to Paris we stop off very late at the salubrious Pavillon Dauphine for champagne and a little more dancing. Situated at the bottom of Avenue de L’Imperatrice, and just inside the confines of the Bois within its own luxurious gardens, this stately building was erected on the site of a Chinese Pavilion in 1913 by the city of Paris. One gets an amazing view from here of the Avenue as it rises toward the Arc de Triomphe. Its initial purpose was to serve as a place to receive official delegations arriving by train at the Porte Dauphine station before being taken to State buidlings such as the Elysee. It is now a famous summer rendezvous for drinks, dinner and this season they have a superb cabaret headed by the wonderfully eccentric American dancer Nina Payne, straight from her performance at the Folies Bergere and the Dorel Sisters. However, I am told that for some it is too close to Paris!

Friday 22nd June

Tonight we are off again to another gala in the Bois this time at the Pre-Catalan. Cecile is joining us. As usual all the ladies are gowned beautifully with Cecile and Millie in creations by Paul Caret and Mama and Mimi in Lucile concoctions. The Pre-Catalan used to be a dairy farm and now has a charm all of its own with its gardens and flowers and lights in the trees. It is situated in the middle of the Bois in its own grounds of several acres not far from Autueil and the Lac Inferieur.

The restaurant is a handsome domed hall with an excellent dance floor and we alternate between the restaurant and the gardens until the cabaret begins with Moss and Fontana. They have been dancing in Paris for a while and once again perform their amazing repertoire with astounding dexterity.

We leave in two cars and on the way back to Paris, Millie and Henri and Cecile and I drop into the  Clover Club in the Rue Caumartin to see the dancing of Dina Harris and Ted Trevor before making our way to the Jardin de Ma Soeur or the Embassy not far at no.17 Rue Caumartin. Here there is a so-called  ‘Plantation night’ with Maurice and Leonara Hughes and Harry Pilcer. We have a delightful end to our evening and once again Leonara insists on dancing with me. She is quite lovely.

Saturday 23rd June

Tonight is a gala night at the favourite society place of the Chateau de Madrid in Neuilly on the edge of the Bois and we are all there. It is a scene is of fairylike enchantment. We take dinner and dance in a large garden under the trees with fairy lights and the beautiful architectural background of the chateau. It is like a private garden party, with the soft strains of a perfect orchestra, the glistening of hundreds of immaculate shirt fronts and the flashing of jewels in the subdued lighting.

Chateau Madrid, Paris

We observe many well known personalities including Grand Duke Boris who keeps a suite overlooking the garden, the ex-film star Pearl White and various other well known actresses plus a sprinkling of  society. However,  despite the presence of many celebrities we deduce that the audience is composed one third Ritz, one third tourist and one third business.

“Have you noticed” says Aunt Mimi “that the Bois is becoming a little passé due to the vulgarisation of the automobile making it far too aceessible. It used to be just all Ritz types here.” We all laugh.

“Well I have noticed something else” says Cecile diplomatically “that the lights in the trees and on the tables are cleverly arranged so that the light and colour over the faces of the dancers changes with every hour?”

Sunday 24th June

We are back at Auteuil for further racing and spend the evening in and around Montmartre ending up at the Blue Room of the Abbaye de Theleme and once again marvel at the dancing of Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill and others in a new show called The Midnight Blue Cabaret. I am sure that Fay’s exquisite costumes are created by Dolly Tree.

Friday 29th June

Today is the Grand Prix at Longchamps and the Bois is swamped. It is a glorious day followed by another visit to the Hermitage de Longchamps to watch the assorted pleasures of Carl Hyson and his company that includes Peggy and Betty Harris.

Our conversation returns to observations of the Bois and its night-time inhabitants and we discuss the rather rigid set gala nights that each venue in the Bois stages in rotation.

Millie pontificates “The crowd of spenders like us are referred to as ‘Tout Paris” but we might as well be called ‘Tout Etranger’ because Americans and English form the majority, followed by South Americans and Spanish. The French lag behind the Italians, Swiss and Germans in number. Although there is a lot of spendthrifts there are not enough and so the restaurants in the Bois take it in turn to entertain them with these set gala nights.”

Aunt Mimi offers “Well, last year at the Pre-Catalan on a Friday night, the telephone boy told the head waiter that there as a call for a Monsieur Gaston Francois. ‘Who?” he asked. And then realised – ‘Ah you mean the Frenchman!”


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Poccardi, Club Daunou, Fysher’s, Le Perroquet, Caveau, Zelli’s, Larue Restaurant, Mitchell’s, Theatre de Vaudeville (Rip Revue), Trix’s Blue Room (Abbaye de Theleme) and Jardin de Ma Souer.

Saturday 21st April

It is almost time for Aunt Mimi’s wedding so on that pretext I go to Paris early on my own. This time I take the usual transit by train and boat. I conspire to help aunt Mimi with her wedding arrangements and Papa is fine about my missing work days. Lorenzo is in Paris for business and pleasure and staying at Claridge’s. After depositing my suitcase at aunt Mimi’s, who is out, I head straight there. We have a rather pleasant re-union. But there is no time for extensive pleasantries. The night is beginning. We meet Gabrielle and Cécile in the foyer. They are thrilled to see us and look incredible – Gabrielle in a blond lace gown by Patou and Cécile in a Calvarrac dancing gown of lemon georgette decorated with silver ribbon and rococo roses. We wander to Fouquet’s for cocktails and Mimi and Sir Oliver are there with a big group of friends.

“Fynes darling. There you are.” Exclaims Mimi engulfing me with a big hug and kiss before she introduces everyone. Sir Oliver orders more champagne and we have a jolly hour before the four of us head off to eat.

Lorenzo has decided to visit an Italian restaurant called Poccardi situated rather appropriately I thought, at 9 Boulevard des Italiens. I am told it is highly regarded and it certainly appears to be very popular because it is overflowing with people. We immediately begin with a range of hors d’oeuvres washed down with a sparkling Lacrima Crisiti Rose. Moving onto the Chianti we devour a rather extensive menu of minestone soup, lobster Fra Diavolo, linguine with red clam sauce, thick country bread and shaved Parmesan cheese, mini Calzones, eggplant Parmigiana, grilled Italian sausage and Veal Sorrentino. Lastly, a simple zabaglione and then cheeses with some delightful dessert wine.

I have chosen a rather interesting route for our Tourne Du Grands Ducs. We start the night at the Club Daunou where Ted Trevor and Dina Harris perform their wonderful dances. We then visit Nilson Fysher’s spot on Rue d’Antin for the exquisite singing of Yvonne George and Dora Stroeva.

Yvonne George is a Belgian blonde sensation, who, over the past few years, has been making a big impression in Paris and has just returned from appearing in the Greenwich Village Follies in New York. She is tall and beautiful with an expressive pale face and unusual violet coloured eyes. With her bobbed and slicked back hair with a single lock over her forehead, she gives off an air of utterly natural feminity. But her ‘look’ is also intense and ‘wild’ a little like her songs and her voice. She gives an emotive performance channelling what must be her own pain into her delivery with a series of tragic songs about real life but then lightens the mood with parodies of Russian and Spanish songs displaying a sophisticated sense of humour.

Yvonee George

Yvonee George

The exotic gipsy singer Dora Stroeva, the latest star of Paris cabaret, sings her songs in Russian or French accompanying herself by guitar. She commanded complete silence when she mounted her high stool to begin. She had a white face, scarlet lips and black hair like a painted skull-cap and was dressed in a simple black skirt and jacket, a low cut white shirt and bright scarlet scarf wrapped about her throat. She is wild and quiet all at the same time with a masculine edge to her voice.

We then move on for an extended stay at Le Perroquet and dance for what seems like hours. Finally we climb the hill to Montmartre and visit the Caveau at 54 Rue Pigalle. This spacious haunt was famed in revolutionary days and currently has two artists who have an equal genius for casting a spell. Mme Efremova sings strange gipsy songs in the dim lamplight conjuring up love and romance while the beautiful Cora Madou sings deeply moving songs with an amazing voice accompanied by a piano only. We then pop into Zelli’s for a spot of cheek to cheek dancing before ending up at Mitchell’s at about 5.30am.

Cora Madou

Cora Madou

As a regular habitué of Le Perroquet, Cécile tells us all about Louis Mitchell. “He is an American singer and drummer who came to Europe in 1912 with James Reece Europe supporting the dancing team of Vernon and Irene Castle. After the war he returned with a 7 piece band called Mitchell’s Jazz Kings and performed at the Casino de Paris and later at Le Perroquet. Now he has opened his own club here.”

Gabrielle adds. “You always come here on at the end of a Paris night out. It is the last resort. We are told by our American friends that it is Harlem transplanted to the Place Pigalle.”

“By the look of it, I am sure Monty would agree if he was here.” I say.

It is a tiny place with a small dance area and it is packed solid but we do get a table, drink the usual fizz, nibble on the house specialities of hot cakes and sausages and listen to a trio bang the piano and sing and then we dance on the 2×4 floor space.

“This place is so small that it has the air of always being overcrowded and therefore highly successful!” Says Cécile.

Monday 23rd April

I assist aunt Mimi with her wedding preparations and post a series of After Dark pieces to my newspaper. By the way, my weekly column is being received well.

Tuesday 24th April

All the family have now arrived and we meet in the drawing room of Mimi’s house for cocktails. We then go to the Theatre de Vaudeville on the corner of the Rue de la Chaussee – d’Antin and the Boulevard des Capucines to see the new Rip revue. Rip, whose real name is George Thenon, is a French institution and a famous cartoonist turned revue writer and satirist.

Programme for Theatre du Vaudeville

Programme for Theatre du Vaudeville

Mimi warns us beforehand. “The show will display all the wit and malice in which Rip excels but to fully appreciate a Rip revue one has to be acquainted with all the current potins of Paris so as to follow the allusions.” She pauses. “Ah, potins means gossip darlings. I will try and fill you in as we progress.”

The stars of the show are Marguerite Deval and Gaby Montbreuse. We had the joy of hearing the latter sing at Chez Fysher’s last September. It is sumptuously staged and costumed with an interlude showing the latest creations of Madeleine and Madeleine each baptized with a name. However, the most intriguing portion for me was the ballet ‘Arlequin et ses Poupees’ performed by Robert Quinault and Iris Rowe with the theme of the illusion of a harlequin who takes a doll for a woman. Quinault uses his acrobatic skill intelligently to express a beautiful conception. They both also appear in Les Pirates, the finale of the revue.

They are an amazing combination and in the interval I overhear someone talking about them. “Iris Rowe is English and a pupil of Margaret Morris. Quinault is French and was a performer for the Opera Comique. They met when he made his debut in Cochran’s London, Paris and New York in 1920 and she danced Columbine to his Harlequin. They have been dancing partners since.”

After the show we congregate at the famous Larue Restaurant at 27 Rue Royale for dinner. It is amusing to be given a royal salute by the three smart chasseurs on the door step. Regarded as one of the gastronomic delights of Paris all the treasures of the earth are perfectly prepared by an illustrious chef. It is indeed delightful with its little tables with rose coloured lamp shades and pink satin seats and we are surrounded by famous writers, foreign princes and charming women. I am told that much wit sparkles here and though I am unable to deny or confirm that rumour I can assure you that the multitudinous diamonds, sapphires, pearls and rubies, beyond price, sparkle here nightly. We indulge in the house specials of Caille a la Souvaroff, Becasee Flambee and Crepes Suzette.

I am allowed to leave early and meet Lorenzo, Gabrielle and Cécile at Le Abbaye de Theleme to see the lovely Trix Sisters once again in their Blue Room cabaret. This time they have the added bonus of the singing and dancing of Josephine Earle. She spots me, waves and blows me a kiss. Later she comes over and I introduce her to everyone.

“What is happening with that Dolly Tree?” She asks. “Still engrossed with that cad Mr Dolly I guess.”

“Yes, Jo.” I say “She is as busy as ever.”

“Well, I will see her in a few weeks time. I have fittings. Oh I guess you do not know. I have a big part in the movie that she is dressing called Woman to Woman. We start filming shortly.”

Thursday 26th April

Today is Aunt Mimi’s wedding. It is rather auspicious because it is also the day of the marriage between Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the Duke of York in London.

Mimi’s wedding gown is from Lucile of course and she looks divine. It is of soft silver tissue cut on straight Grecian lines. Gracefully draped at the back with a large bustle bow and the two ends forming narrow trains. Plus an enveloping veil of Brussels lace secured with clusters of orange blossom.

The simple ceremony is in the town hall with just close family. Sir Oliver has quiet a following but they are a very cosmopolitan crowd that fit in with us terribly well. Perhaps I have forgotten to tell you, like Mimi, Sir Oliver had been married before but his wife had died. Included in this throng is one of his son’s called Julian who is slightly older than me who is rather tall, slender and delicate but very handsome. He is an artist like his father and works in London and Paris.

We all swiftly decamp to Ciro’s on the Rue Daunou for lunch. This is followed by a vast evening dinner and party at a private room in Claridge’s to which Lorenzo, Gabrielle and Cécile have been invited. I am thrilled that there is an exquisite series of exhibition dances by Samya and Sawyer who are also appearing in the ballroom. Needless to say my father is pleased too.

Much later as the mmod gets quieter we scoot off in our finery to visit Le Jardin De Ma Souer at 17 Rue Caumartin on the suggestion of Cécile. This resort, also called The Embassy, was opened in late 1922 and managed by Oscar Mouvet.

“Why on earth have we not been here before Cécile?”
I ask. “This is incredible.”

We are in, what I consider to be, the smartest and most beautiful room in Paris. It is spacious and airy and the general décor and ambiance is delightful.

Jardin de Ma Souer (The Embassy)

Jardin de Ma Souer (The Embassy)

“I have been keeping it a secret.” Says Cecile slyly with a grin. “I have brought you here because tonight the cabaret features a special act!” I am intrigued.

After a lot dancing to an excellent band, the cabaret begins. The first dancers are sisters – Ethel and Marion Forde – who are dressed beautifully and give a spirited repetoire of dances.

“They are American and arrived in Paris late last year making some appearances at Le Perroquet. We saw Marion Forde in En Douce at the Casino de Paris.” Cécile says.

However, the real stars of the night were the imcomparable Maurice Mouvet and Leonara Hughes. Cécile smiled when they came on. Partly because she knew about my lessons with Leonara in Deauville last year and the fact that I have been wanting to see Maurice dance. They were sensational and received the most rapturous applause I have ever known.

Afterwards, Leonara came up to us and asked me to dance.

“My oh my Fynes, you have progressed rather well. In fact you are quite simply marvellous.” She said. I was very happy.

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The Piccadilly Hotel, the Hotel Metropole (Midnight Follies) and The Flames of Passion.

Tuesday 5th December

Eva telephones me at 6pm “Fynes where have you been?”

“It is my second day of working Eva.” I say with a deep sigh.

She ignores my news “Well I am bored. I know we are going to the Hotel Metropole later but can we go for dinner first?”

“Of course we can.”

“Oh thank you Fynes. You are a dear. Can you pick me up at 7. I want to go to the Piccadilly Hotel to see the new ballroom.”

I pick her up and I am staggered at how beautiful she looks in a simple pale yellow gown encrusted with pearls from Worth. It is rather nice snuggling up to her and her chinchilla fur coat in the cab as it is rather cold.

The Piccadilly is an impressive hotel built in 1909 and favoured by Americans. We have dinner in the main restaurant which has some of the finest oak panelling in London. We admire bright crimson carpet with a large and impressive gold pattern and the general Louis XIV style decor. We eat a striking dinner.

The Piccadilly Hotel

The Piccadilly Hotel

“Did you know that the Piccadilly was the only London hotel to place adverts in the New York press?” I tell Eva.

She takes no notice as she tries to read the menu. I decide what we will eat because Eva has no idea about French. I could be unkind and say she has no idea about English either.

To start we have Les Hors d’oeuvre Moscovite comprising numerous little Russian dainties on toast. At once savoury, piquant and sharpening this was a good alternative to caviar. The salmon was delicately cooked with a creamy curd between the flakes with La Sauce Mousseline et les Concombres. The saddle of lamb (La Selle d’Agneau Orloff ) was exquisite. This dish was named after a former Russian ambassador in Paris. The lamb is roasted, filleted and sliced. A purée of mushrooms is layered with the lamb in the form of the original saddle. It is covered in a sauce Soubise with sliced truffles and garnished with braised lettuce, potato noisettes and stuffed tomatoes.

The Casse Royale brought pheasant, quail and larks. The latter was stuffed with foie gras and served with a Cumberland sauce. To round things off we had L’Ananas Glacé which was not too creamy and the best fruit to close a long dinner with its slightly acid tang.

After coffee and liqueurs we wander off. The new ballroom was opened in October and I am embarrassed to say that this is the first time I have been despite my love of dancing.

As we walk down the stairway from the restaurant I say “This must be one of the most beautiful ballrooms of the metropolis.”

“Metropolis?” queries Eva innocently “what’s that?”

The lofty and well ventilated room is extremely large and decorated once again in the Louis XIV style and I have been told it has a capacity of 4-500 people. At one end is a handsome gallery for musicians and it has a marvellous oak floor.

De Groot’s Orchestrasupply the first rate music and we dance to our hearts’ content. And, I have to say that despite not being a linguist Eva does know how to look good and dance.

In an intermission we watch Mr and Mrs David Leslie perform some novel dances. This is their first engagement in London but they are, I am told,well known at Claridge’s in Paris, on the Riviera and at Etretat. Later, several sketches are provided by another couple called Mabel Holmes and Wallis Norman, of whom I know nothing.

We move onto the Metropole Hotel in Northumberland Avenue and the Whitehall rooms where the Midnight Follies hold sway. The hotel was opened in 1885 and as we know Jack Haskell staged the first cabaret show here in October 1921, just over a year ago. Since then there has been a major battle with the London County Council who were horrified at the thought of a hotel providing a cabaret. It is perfectly legitimate for a private member’s club to stage a show but not seemingly a hotel or restaurant. So the LCC have been imposing severe restrictions on cast, sets and costumes in an attempt to close down the Follies and set an example to other aspiring cabarets. Of course behind this all is the rather boring Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks (‘Jix’ to the cartoonists) who seemingly abhors anything that gives people pleasure and has a reputation for hating nightclubs and drinking.

London’s swankiest place is the main ballroom which was a big lofty room lit by Chinese lanterns with a cluster of small supper tables arranged in a horseshoe fashion around a good sized dance floor in the centre. There were also discreet corner alcoves and a few even more discreet boxes but we were sat on larger tables on the edge of the dance floor as ‘the wishers-to-be-seen’.

The Midnight Follies at the Hotel Metropole

The Midnight Follies at the Hotel Metropole

We are in a swell (that is a nice American word isn’t it?) party with Dolly, Monty and Dorothy Dickson and a host of other acquaintances and friends including a dour looking Aubrey. Who is clearly not happy that I have taken Eva out. It looks like the whole of London has turned out for tonight’s show in demonstration against the LCC and that idiot Jix!

Dorothy remarks “Good news. The LCC gave consent for an elaboration of the show right at the last minute. Carl has been frantic and Gordon designed some amazing new costumes for the chorus which you will love Dolly I am sure.”

“Oh how rude of me – this is my friend Gordon Conway” Dorothy adds introducing her companion – a gorgeously chic attractive redhead wearing a provocative navy blue and white polka dot dress.

“We go back a long way” Monty tells me quietly “she is an amazing illustrator and costume designer and very close to Dorothy. She is married to the business man Blake Ozias but I do not know where he is tonight.” It turns out Monty and Gordon were dancing partners in New York.

Dolly and Gordon hit it off like a house on fire, no doubt talking shop and swapping notes.

On the stroke of midnight the orchestra stops playing, everyone hurries back to their seats, drums roll, trumpets blow a fanfare and the curtains open to reveal a series of glittering tiers descending to the stage. The show begins as a bevy of showgirls in wonderfully spectacular costumes descend to the floor.

The show staged by Carl Hyson has been produced by Paul Murray and is presented by three statesmen of the London theatre – George Grossmith, JAE Malone, Andre Charlot.

Carl appears in one number assisted by Vera Lennox and Cecile Maule-Cole and in another by Marjorie Spiers. The leading lady is Gertrude Lawrence, the star of Andre Charlot’s show A-Z, who I suspect is going to go a long way and is an admirable and sparkling personality. Dorothy tells us that she is no newcomer to cabaret having spent two years as the star at Murray’s club not so long ago. Another feature is the dashing, tall and robust Tex McLeod who does rope tricks and tells stories and goes down a real treat.

Gertrude Lawrence

Gertrude Lawrence

“He is from Texas and is all round cowboy” Monty says “he appeared in numerous wild west pictures before finding cabaret another forte for his talent. His banter is a close imitation of our famous comic Will Rogers. ”

The Midnight Follies has been designed to attract modern people who wish to dine well, dance the latest steps, then relax, drink and be happy to enjoy the cabaret. The whole atmosphere was one of young gay abandon. It is magnificent.

After the show we resume dancing. I have been dancing energetically with Dorothy and have two dances with Dolly. When we get back to the table Eva whispers “I really don’t like that Dolly Tree.. You dance with her all the time and leave me on my own.”

“Well Eva, all I can say is that I have counted at least 4 of your other beaus here. If you are that bothered I suggest you go and dance with one of them. Look Aubrey is very keen.”

I get up and ask Gordon to dance. Eva wanders off, but snubs Aubrey and finds Biffy instead. She ignores me for the rest of the evening and Monty tells me that Biffy takes her home. At 2pm I start thinking about the fact that I have to go to work and decide it is best not to stay out all night. To be my surprise the next day Eva phones and thanks me for her night out. It would appear I have been forgiven.

Wednesday 6th December

Mama wants to go to the cinema to see The Flames of Passion, the new film starring the American actress Mae Marsh at the New Oxford since the reviews have been excellent.

“I am told that the story is as broad as it is long, as fascinating as it is complicated and is improbable as it is unique. And yet it is very entertaining. Besides Lucile has dressed everyone and I want to see the result!”

The dramatic story is about a dissolute chauffeur who betrays a beautifully innocent young girl and through a vagary of fate kills his own daughter only to discover her true identity. However, there is also an amazing ballet scene created by Miss Purcell, the celebrated instructor, that softens the rather gloomy nature of the plot. Having said that Mae Marsh is superb and is supported by a galaxy of brilliant British stars such as Eva Moore, Hilda Bayley and others.

A scene from The Flames of Passion with Eva Moore and Mae Marsh

A scene from The Flames of Passion with Eva Moore and Mae Marsh

“Although it has some comedy touches, the tragic vein of the story is well suit to Mae Marsh who plays such distressed heroines so well” says Mama afterward “I am now looking forward to the next Graham Cutts’ film with Mae Marsh called Paddy the Next Best Thing, with more Lucile finery I am sure!”

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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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The Normandy Hotel, Ciro’s and the Casino

Wednesday 9th August 1922

I am over the moon. Mother and Father decided I could accompany them on their annual two-week soujourn in Deauville. We arrive from London via Southampton and Le Havre. My friend Monty says it is ‘the city of spectacular sin’ and he should know since he is a journalist and American to boot. He says I am going to have a whale of a time and that he will pop over and see me to ensure that I do. But, I have been told that I must behave, act sensibly and entertain. In return I have my own room adjacent to my parents’ suite at the rather stuffy Normandy hotel and they are organizing a special 21st birthday party for me at the Ambassadeurs restaurant.

The Normandy Hotel, Deauville

“It does have a rather quaint charm” I tell father with a sly smile as he shows me around the hotel and introduces me to everyone that matters, including the manager, a M. Wesssinger, who had been a Blue Devil during the war.

“Deauville has been the resort of the wealthy since the Second Empire, dear boy” Papa said as we wandered around “but this place was built by our dear friend Eugene Cornuche in 1913. He’s the one who put Maxim’s in Paris on the map and he always had a thing for your mother you know.’

Gosh, the things you learn about your parents when you least suspect.

The Normandy Hotel, Deauville

Monty warned me this place is infectious and that you swiftly get caught up in a delightful social whirl of nothingness. “Deauville is a true butterfly, a phenomenon of whirling colour, social high lights and unparalleled gaiety for a brief breathless period out of the heart of the summertime.” That was a piece Monty wrote for the Chicago Tribune last year. He is quite right. It is wild.

I was taken to the Potiniére café at the foot of the rue Désiré le Hoc by Mama. Apparently it is THE place to be at this hour (11am). We are sitting on the distinctive little green chairs in a big group on the terrace in the cool shade of a tiny grove of trees just behind the casino having tea and biscuits. Everyone is gossiping. My head is abuzz with all the endless chat. My, oh my, women do go on. And, why is it that they all talk at once.

Le Potiniere Cafe, Deauville

“…. Oh it is such a shame that the dapper Maurice has been taken ill with a bad lung attack… he is immensely becoming” said the Duchess of Sutherland at our table.

“Do remember dear…” said Mrs Reggie Fellowes “… he will be cited as correspondent by Thomas Furness when he divorces that dreadful Elizabeth…”

“I have never cared for her at all” added Lady Rocksavage “she gave Tommy a black eye you know.”

“Well, she is American, what do you expect!” replied Mrs FitzGibbon.

“Oh really” scolded the Comtess de Maza “Maurice is technically American and you adore him so not all Americans are hideous!”

They all giggle and then Mama says “Don’t believe a word of all this nonsense ladies… I know Maurice. He simply isn’t THAT kind of man.” She leans over and whispers to me “Maurice is the amazingly handsome and clever dancer who has been performing in the casino with his new partner Leonara Hughes – everyone is devastated. He is a darling! Take no notice…”

Hmmm, I think I would like to become “immensely becoming” especially since all the ladies swoon at the thought of him. Although I can dance of course, I am going to take lessons and become dapper too.

I am amazed at the cosmopolitan crowd – every rank and nationality from royalty to mannequins. My parents know everyone and everyone knows my parents. For example, father arrives deep in conversation with Lord Beaverbook, the newspaper magnate and Baron James Henri Rothschild. I just hope he isn’t trying to get me a job.

“Oh there is Lady Diana Duff Cooper…” squeals mother as she waves furiously and beckons her to our table with her companion the French actress Polinaire.

Suddenly, there are gasps as a delicate young man turned the corner and walked past the cafe leading a very fine and perfectly well trained Persian cat on a string with a diamante collar. Puss walked along in a stately manner oblivious to the scowls and barks of the assorted nearby doggies. Polinaire, declared with an indignant wiff “Tomorrow I am going to bring a nice fresh, pink pig… I simply cannot be upstaged. Oink, oink.”

We changed for luncheon to be taken on the edge of the open terrace of the Normandy Hotel. As Papa took me to our rather large table I could see that Mama had clearly invited three debs to join us along with their equally snooty mothers. I smell a rat. I am being set up. As I bristled Papa held my arm and whispered “Fynes, this is in your best interest you know. One of them could be your future bride. Please be charming.”

“Hello ladies.” I say; as I know where my bread is buttered and let’s face it I knew they would try and marry me off. We have a delightfully boring lunch in the shade and breeze of the trees with dappled sunlight my only consolation. I quickly decide that of the three Evangaline Lampton is the best bet. At least she smiles and is pretty.

That afternoon papa takes me to the horse racing and then we move on to watch the lithe and agile tennis star Suzanne Lenglen delighting huge crowds and proving once again that she is totally invincible. Papa gives me the full background of each eligible girl and her family. I listen but I am getting weary it is time for a nap.

Cing et Sept. I love it. We are all spick and span and dressed up. Cocktails are served in our suite. The three snooty debs and their mothers are there again. Yawn. Mama is wearing a beautiful Lucile conncoction. She hates the idea that she likes Lucile because Lucile is English and not French. Hmm, perhaps I haven’t told you yet that Mama is French? Our other guests are mostly French too, including my aunt Mimi (Mama’s sister).

“I hear you have been doing the rounds today dear boy” she says affectionately “You will swiftly get used to t,he routine of all these gay-hued care free birds and their migratory flight patterns from one pleasure pasturage to another.”

Then she whispers in my ear “Eva est la meilleure” and gives me a big grin and pats me on the head!

At the door of Ciro’s Papa introduces me to the rather affable manager Julian, who sweeps us toward our table. To my surprise there is my elder sister, Millicent and her husband the Marquis de Cazes.

“Darling” she squeals “Surprise….”

She runs up and kisses me on both cheeks and hugs and kisses Mama and Papa as Henri, her husband, shakes our hands warmly in turn.

“Oh my Millie you look gorgeous and that is simply a divine frock” I say.

According to Mimi when Millie was courting she was regarded by her numerous suitors to have the narrowest hips, the reddest lips, the shortest hair and the most life of any girl in London. She is looking resplendent in a silver gown embroidered with pink and white flowers and with a startling décolletage. She is decorated with a string of pearls, some delicate matching diamond and silver earings and bracelets. Henri has clearly been taken on an expensive spending spree. She acquired him at a hunt ball and it was love at first sight, especially when she discovered he was a Marquis and heir to small fortune.

“Hmm, it is the newest thing from Paul Caret and look” she turned “… it is completely backless.”

“Divine my dear…” says Mama “but far too risqué for me I am sure” as she sat at our table, glaring at Lady Ludlow who is pouting disapprovingly and looks like she has just seen a naked harem dancer.

Millie is a darling but also a bit of a minx. I often think that she must be like Mama at that age. Her husband is a bore but very handsome and very well connected. He is also very French of course. You see it is surely no surprise that Mama encourages Anglo-French relations. I am surprised there are no French beauties for me to examine. I suspect that she may have that up her elegant Lucile sleeve.

“I’ve decided to become a dapper dancer” I say to Millie in one of our more private conversations.

“But you are a wiz already Fynes.” she says kissing me on the cheek leaving a big red mark.

“I need to brush up. I have heard all about Maurice and I have decided that I need his allure.” I laugh.

“Well…” Millie says “You have given me the perfect idea for THE most superb birthday present… Leave it with me” she giggles.

We leave Ciro’s early and miss the dancing. We approach the vast Casino, a huge white stone building with a façade reminiscent of Versailles fronted by a wide formal park, green lawns and flower-patterned terraces. It was all lit up and glittering like a magnificent jewellery box and you could hear the music of Billy Arnold’s American band.

The Casino at Deauville

We headed straight toward the music in the crowded ballroom adjacent to the Ambassadeurs restaurant, the only other smart place to be beside Ciro’s. Places had been reserved for us on the edge of the dance floor and we were surrounded by a plethora of familiar faces that we had to greet. We drank champagne and enjoy the music, conversation and the lively dancing. The fashions are astounding.

Mama sniffs and says to Millie “Our cousins from over the herring pond are trying to prove that the American woman is the smartest in the world; but there is no comparison with Parisian chic and English distinction.”

Then, to my great surprise, Eva runs up and grabs me. “Come and dance” she instructed. She led me to the densely packed dance floor.

I have to say she is looking quite ravishing. Her pale skin, bright blue eyes and short wavy blond hair was framed by an amazing dress of pale green chiffon covered in a flutter of bright pink and blue butterflies. It had a gentle simplicity of line that belied the frivolity of the butterflies and made it appear quite appropriate. And, more to the point, I rather like her brashness. I think she may well do.

Millie talks to a rather demure yet beautiful blue-eyed blonde lady who is immaculately dressed and has the most radiant smile I have ever seen. They keep looking at me. Their conversation is short and the blonde is whisked off to dance. Boy oh boy is she a dancer. Who on earth could she be I wonder? Eva has no idea and is a little annoyed that I am looking at her looking at me. But the blonde is causing a sensation.

I sit down next to Millie. “That was Leonara Hughes, Maurice’s dance partner” she says with a grin knowing that I was miffed. “… and more to the point she is going to give you dancing lessons at 2pm for the next few days as your birthday present. How’s that!”

My sister is well and truly adorable and as I kiss her on both cheeks, the orchestra stops playing, trumpets blare, the dance floor empties and a hush falls over the crowd. A spotlight appears on an extremely smart gentleman who says “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Casino! Our night of frivolity begins with the dancing of the extremely elegant Fay Harcourt with her dashing partner Harry Cahill. They have very graciously stepped in at the last minute due the indisposition of poor Maurice.”

I guess this is the cabaret. The elegant looking programme says Miss Harcourt is British and Mr Cahill, American. They enter with a flourish causing gasps of delight from the audience as she is wearing a most extraordinary gown. A faintly flesh pink bodice had a bouffant skirt of massed mauve and purple flowers over a filmy fullness of tulle frills, shading from mauve to pink accentuated with silver sparkling diamanté and silver accessories.

Next up is the dancing of Mitty and Tillio. I remembered seeing them in the production of the Golden Moth at the Adelphi late last year. However, this time, I was unprepared for Mitty’s brief, nay almost non-existent outfit, which caused a ripple of excitement throughout the room. She certainly wore more on her hair than on all of the rest of her combined. And, what infinitesimal cobweb she wore, was perforated, cut out and ventilated almost out of existence.

Mitty and Tillio

These remarkable acrobats are described as the premier dancers of France and I am really not surprised. The man appears to do just what he likes with her and tosses her around without a care in the world. But it is not so much what they do but the remarkably neat and clean way in which it is done.

Harcourt and Cahill give another two performances with two more stunning dress creations, designed I am told by Miss Dolly Tree. A name that is familiar to me since Monty has recently made her acquaintance in London, although we have not met. She is supposed to be quite a gal!

Needless to say the rest of the evening was spent in a haze of music and dancing. I am pleased that beside Eva, I know I caught the eye of several other rather interesting gals. I crawl into bed at 2am my mind buzzing with excitement.

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