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Posts Tagged ‘Nina Payne’

Saturday 4th August

Millie has completely re-decorated and furnished Lorenzo’s apartment. She has spent week’s co-ordinating everything with help from Liberty and Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s atelier in Paris. The result is stunning. Well, when you have unlimited funds supplied by a rich Italian what do you expect?

She has also organised a spiffiing welcome party from 6.30 -8.30 pm. Rather early I know but we do not want to start off on the wrong footing with the neighbours by having loud and noisy parties late at night. We have Champagne and canapés. The latter of which Lorenzo has co-ordinated himself which are delicious.

Millie has taken it upon herself to become the hostess with the mostess, in the most delightful way possible and greets everyone who arrives from her husband Henri and Henri’s sister Yvette, to Mama, Papa, Aunt Mimi and Sir Oliver. She introduces Lorenzo to dozens of her society friends and friends of our parents, but finally gives up when a flood of familiar faces descend including Monty, Dolly Tree, Eddie Dolly, Velma Deane, Julian (Sir Oliver’s son), Eva with Peregrine, Aubrey, Priscilla, Dora, Josephine Earle and Peggy Marsh and a host of all their guests. There are even scores of Italians – friends and acquaintances of Lorenzo’s family – that arrive and add to the joviality. We have a wonderful evening.

Much later when most people have left we take a late dinner at Bellomos nearby on Jermyn Street. Mr Bellomos is an artist in food and the restaurant is run on the most up-to-date lines (as is the hotel above). The menu was delightful with Hors d’Oeuvre Varies or Crème Jackson, Supreme de Merlan Italienne or Oeufs Brouillles au Jambon, Poulet Bouilli au Riz Sauce Supreme or Entrecote Minute or Hamord a la Newburg or Poulet Saute Chasseur with all the trimmings and either a Rhubard Tart or Beignet Souffle St Joseph for dessert.

In the following days we get ready to decamp to Deauville.

Wednesday 8th August

The promenade at Deauville

The world and his wife is at Deauville. It is tremendously busy. We take our usual rooms at the Normandy Hotel and Lorenzo and I share. Tonight, after dinner, we are in the Casino but something appears different. Mama is the first to observe ‘Oh dear it is far too crowded’ as we struggle to find seats in the gilded ballroom. ‘Not only that but it is full of rather vulgar rich Americans’ says Aunt Mimi with disdain, as we are all squeezed into a space that is really not to our liking. But we are positioned adjacent to some of Mama’s friends who come over to greet us and end up gossiping.

‘Oh it has been frightful this year. There have been the most rancorous disputes between the various French, English and American circles.’ Says Mrs Fitzgibbon. ‘Really, some people are losing the art of etiquette and politeness.’

‘Deauville’s reputation seems to be enhanced when it is contemplated from a distance. That is certainly the case with Americans. So many of them cross the Atlantic simply because they think that they must see Deauville’ says Lady Rocksavage.

‘The trouble is’ says Comte de Maza ‘Deauville is losing its exclusivity. There are more and more provincial tourists coming here trying to appear fashionable.’

‘….and then’ says Mrs Fitzgibbon ‘there is a new fashion to have a suntan. Some women are becoming brown you know!”

‘Heavens above’ Says Mrs Reggie Fellowes ‘Whatever next?’

Millie is uncomfortable, blushes and covers herself with her shawl saying ‘hmm it is a bit chilly in here tonight isn’t it?’ as the other ladies continue to gossip.

‘Come and dance with me’ I say and we head off to the dance floor to join Lorenzo who is already dancing with the daughter of the Comte de Maza. ‘That’s a nice tan’ I whisper to Millie.

Despite the congestion the evening is pleasurable and the cabaret with the dancing of old favourites Robert Sielle and Annette Mills is quite delightful.

La Potinaire Cafe, Deauville

We swiftly settle into the gentle rhythm of life – breakfast, the beach, lunch at the Potiniére café, horse racing, beach walks, cocktails, dinner at Ciro’s or the Casino, followed by dancing and sometimes a little flutter.

Thursday 9th August

The tennis star Suzanne Lenglen with her mother and a party are the talk of the day on the beach. Lenglen is becoming bronzed like so many others. I am intrigued by this sunbathing fad and following a discrete tip from Millie head off for a walk following another chap who she tells me is a journalist writing about the subject.

The mystery of how beautiful creatures manage to get sunburnt all over as lavish décolleté gowns at night reveal, was solved when we stumbled upon a secluded spot about half a mile from the usual bathing place. We discovered a dozen charmers tanning themselves in full glory. Since we stumbled upon them by accident there were screams of surprise and a great scurry to button up shoulder straps on the bathing sits and don bath robes as we gawp in disbelief.

One of the ‘girls’ recognises me ‘honestly Fynes fancy sneaking up on a girl like that.’ Peggy Marsh scolds me.

‘Ah Peggy my dear’ I say with a smile ‘I didn’t recognize you…’

That night in the Casino, we nip into the gaming rooms and watch George Carpentier, the handsome French boxer, lose a large sum at chemin de fer. Despite his losses he dances very well in turn with Peggy Marsh and ex-Ziegfeld beauty Muriel Miles. Lorenzo and I catch both of them afterward.

Sunday 12th August

The Terrace at the Casino, Deauville

It is my birthday and I have a more sedate celebration than last year. A simple family dinner at Ciro’s, followed by an evening of even more dancing at the casino. Peggy tells me she is to make her debut shortly in the cabaret with a certain Marshall Hall and they are practising routines. She says that he is one of the most versatile of American dancers and creator of the role of Prince Guidon in Le Coq D’Or at the Metropolitan Opera six years ago.

Monday 20th August

We are out in force for the new cabaret entertainment in the Casino that features the exotic acrobatic dancing of the American Nina Payne and the new team of Peggy Marsh and Marshall Hall. They are all sensational.

Frank J. Gould, his new wife and Edith Kelly Gould his former wife were all present at the same baccarat table in the gaming rooms creating a bit of a sensation. They did not look at each other, and Edith Gould enjoyed winning a small fortune back from the new Mrs Gould.

Papa says ‘One has ceased to be impressed by wins or losses of a mere few hundred thousand Francs. When Sir Alfred Butt was counting out a win of over a million Francs, the other day it was considered a pleasant little haul, but nothing impressive.’

As for the dresses and jewelry – the displays in the Casino ballroom are becoming more intense every day like the frenzy of gambling. One woman walked past our table and put all the chandeliers to shame by the brilliance of her earrings – four great stones gleamed from each ear and reached to her shoulders. Many people gasped. Millie was amazed but said ‘if you think they are the biggest diamonds in existence, observe the three even larger ones hanging from her necklace!’

‘Look at that woman with the belt of real diamonds on her brocaded dress’ says Mama ‘Soon the usual glitterering bracelets and ropes of pearls will appear quite insignificant.’

Aunt Mimi adds ‘Well I still do not like those barebacked dresses. And I know you wear them Millie, but allowing one to contemplate the vertebrae of the wearer is for me most disturbing.’

Sunday 26th August

A view of the Normandy Hotel, Deauville with the Casino on the right

We wake up early since today is the Grand Prix racing but the weather is vile and has become dreary and wet. We amble down for breakfast but enthusiasm to go out in the rain is slight and many people have not even got up.

‘Goodness’ says Henri (Millie’s husband) as we eat our bacon and eggs ‘it is ghastly and like being in Scotland for heaven’s sake.’

As the rain subsides a little, we persevere and along with thousands of others, trail to the race course carrying umbrellas for a rather dull Grand Semaine with a French horse, Sao Pauloa, a comparative outsider, winning.

In late afternoon we are sat taking cocktails in a slightly wet La Potinaire Café. There has been huge excitement regarding the arrival of Rudolph Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova for a flying visit and everyone is talking about them.

‘It is their belated honeymoon you know…’ says Millie ‘they have already seen the sights in London and Paris.’

‘I am told they arrived in three cars’ says Mama ‘The first for the luggage, the second for secretaries and the last for the Valentino’s and guests. They are staying in a villa rather than a hotel that is wise for privacy: they would be swamped in a hotel.’

That night the Valentino’s arrive in the Casino, take drinks, dinner, visit the baccarat rooms and watch the cabaret but are rather aloof and do not mingle much. Needless to say they cause a huge flutter. But gossip spreads like wild fire as usual. Mama comes back from conversations with her nearby groups of friends and tells us ‘they are in ill humour and not happy with the weather or their accommodation. They are also disappointed with the Casino, upset with the food and rather disdainful of all of us. Mrs Valentino apparently has her nose stuck in the air and was heard to ask ‘where is the fashionable crowd?’ I can see no smart women and no smart men’ What a cheek.’

‘Mind you’ retorts Millie ‘you were only saying the other day that Deauville has lost its attractiveness and had become less exclusive. So she might just have a point.’

Friday 30th August

The season is winding down and many people are leaving. We are having fun dancing in the Casino again but were all rather shocked to learn that Harry Pilcer narrowly escaped death in an automobile accident while racing the Dolly Sisters from Paris to Deauville. The Dollies and Pilcer had completed their respective performances in Paris and left at midnight in two cars with a bet of 2000 francs for whoever got to the Casino first. In heavy mist, Harry Pilcer tried to pass the Dollies who were being driven by the Vicomte de Rochefoucauld. His car jumped the road and struck a tree. The Dollies stopped and rescued Pilcer and his chauffeur both of whom were unconscious and bought them to Deauville. With Pilcer being cared for, they made a dash into the ballroom and Lorenzo and I managed to get a dance from each of them despite their ordeal.

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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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Folies Bergere, Boeuf Sur Le Toit

Tuesday 6th March 1923

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuits de Bois scene in the Folies Bergere show

Nuits de Bois scene in the Folies Bergere show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Thursday 21st September

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 22nd September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill

Fay Harcourt and Harry Cahill

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

The Duncan SIsters

The Duncan Sisters

Saturday 23rd September

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

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

The programme for the Folies Bergere

The programme for the Folies Bergere

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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