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Posts Tagged ‘Nilson Fysher’

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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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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