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

Friday 31st May

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

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

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

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

The Dolly Sisters in their Mazurka costumes

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

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

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

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

By now we are all sitting riveted to his words.

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

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

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

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

Programme for the Acacias Nightclub, Paris

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

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

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

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

Saturday 1st June

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

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

She is so generous in her praise of others.

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Casino de Paris (En Douce), Café de Paris, Perroquet, Palace Theatre (Toutes Les Femmes), Marguerry, Le Canari and Abbaye de Theleme.

Friday 2nd March

On route from the Riviera back to London we stop in Paris. I love springtime in Paris! The city always looks radiant, full of life and so glorious. We all settle into Mimi’s house with ease. Monty and Dolly have decamped to Claridge’s just down the road. Almost immediately we are off out, minus Mimi, who has already disappeared in a cloud of furs, diamonds and perfume with Sir Oliver.

We meet Cécile, Monty and Dolly for drinks at Fouquet’s and on Mama’s insistance we all go to see Mistinguett in the second version of En Douce at the Casino de Paris, 16 Rue de Clichy. ‘Miss’ as she is known affectionately is fast becoming a national institution, even more so since the demise of Gabys Deslys. She is a lithe dancer and is amazingly glamorous in her array of costumes designed by Gesmar and Zig. She wears some astounding hats and one is a mountainous affair composed entirely of flower petals.

Mistinguett

Mistinguett

“She might look delectable my dears.” Says Mama with some force. “But it is well known that she is obsessive and ruthless, has huge tantrums, and fights like a cat.”

“Yes, apparently Miss was not amused at the contest last week for the shapeliest legs in Paris.” Monty tells us. “She lost to one of the dancers in her show, an American called Marion Forde, who is delightful by the way. Marion won two pairs of stocking daily for a year.”

The show was magnificent and also featured the talent of Dorville, Magnard, Jane Myro, the Tiller Girls and the Polish dancer Jan Oyra who also acted as choreographer. Two spectacular scenes stood out including ‘Les Pierres Precieuses’ that featured showgirls dressed as Coral, Topaz, Pearl, Ruby, Turquiose, Sapphire and black diamond and the fancy ‘Le Palais du French Can Can.’ The finale was spectacular. It opened with a series of semi-naked girls made to represent ebony, onyx, marble and jade statues on a  revolve. When the theatre was plunged into darkness the figures lit up in the dark due to the application of an amazing luminous flesh paint that had come from New York. When the light came back up and they moved aside and a vast glass talk containing thousands of gallons of water rose up and Mistinguett and the troupe dived in!

We have booked a large table to have supper at the incomparable Café de Paris at 11 Avenue de L’Opera, underneath the Cecle Militaire. Rich and famous Parisians and foreign visitors come here not just to eat well but to be seen and amuse themselves. It is a place of the highest luxury, quality and price with one of the best wine cellars in the city.

Monty is thrilled since he has not eaten here before and says “What Delmonico’s once was to New York and America, the Café de Paris is to Paris and France. It is legendary.”

“ I am told that if you dine here regularly you must have been born with a golden spoon in your mouth, but not just any spoon, a spoon filled with caviare.” Says Papa. “And I love caviare.”

“You may be sure that nearly everyone here is interesting either on account of what he or she has done or what he or she possesses.” Says Henri.

We all laugh when Millie says “Of course this place is essentially the resort of men who think in millions or of women who have no need to think about such matters at all.”

At any rate, the most beautiful clothes, the loveliest arms and shoulders and the costliest diamonds vie with the expensive food and sparkling champagne to make the Café de Paris one of the most attractive places in the world. But it is not a big place. In fact it is quite small. When you enter, in front of you is a large table laden with a buffet of delicacies and guests are ushered into the soft velvet seats against the walls to the right or left. The very manners of the waiters are calculated to soften the asperities of life. We eat well and sample the famous cold Poularde de Café de Paris and Homard Thermidor. We send our appreciation to the notable chef and proprietor M.Mourier, who also owns the Armenonville, and Fouquet’s, before we dance on the tiny dance floor to an appropriately small group of musicians.

Mama and Papa retire, but we all dash back to the Casino de Paris to visit Le Perroquet the elaborate nightclub and cabaret de luxe which is over the foyer. Cecile has been determined to get me here and says “It opened almost two years ago and  is regarded as the smartest dancing in Paris now.” She  sniggers and adds “This is where  la Femme du Monde in jewels and wraps, like me like to be seen.”

Le Perroquet, above the foyer of the Casino de Paris

Le Perroquet, above the foyer of the Casino de Paris

Leon and  Albert Volterra have created a delightful palace with incredible décor executed by Paul Poiret featuring walls painted with brightly coloured parrots hence the name of the place and fabulous hanging lanterns. Two negro Jazz bands – Louis Mitchell’s Jazz Kings and the Brune orchestra – play and Cecile tells me there is usually an excellent cabaret show that  comprises international dancers.

“Louis Mitchell is a tour de force.” Says Monty. “He was famous before the war of course in New York and he even played at the Piccadilly hotel, London in the summer of 1914. He has been the resident band at the Casino since 1918 but there are rumours that he is going to open his own rendezvous.”

“Oh look is that Pearl White?” Says Millie pointing discretely.

“Oh yes so it is.” Monty replies. “I have just done a story on her.”

“Do you mean the serial queen, Perils of Pauline and all that?” I ask.

“Yes indeed. She spent part of last year in Paris and starred in the show La Revue des Etoiles at the Casino de Paris but only for a few weeks before the theatre was burnt down. She is now back in Paris after a trip back to America. It is rumoured that she is going into a convent, the purpose of which is not entirely devotional, but to contemplate studying the language and to acquire a cultural etiquette and polish. You see the gossip is that she is engaged to the recently divorced Duke of Valombrosa, one of the wealthiest and most blue-blooded Italians who is a banker in Paris.”

We stay very late and by 2am it became so unbearably crowded it was difficult to dance and we decided to call it a night. Each lady receives a beautifully dressed poupee (doll) as a souvenir which is a charming touch as we leave.

Saturday 3rd March

After a leisurely day we go to see Toutes Les Femmes at the Palace Theatre at 8 Rue Faubourg. The theatre had been the Eden but was renovated and expanded by Oscar Dufrenne and Henri Varna and is now sumptuously appointed. This was their first show and it was making a big noise in Paris and was as spectacular and impressive as the Casino de Paris show. It stars Harry Pilcer who dances with Marcelle Rahna and Wyn Richmond, Mlle Polaire, Peggy Vere (who is married to the cabaret proprietor Oscar Mouvet) and Nina Myral.

Programme for Toutes Les Femmes at the Palace Theatre, Paris

Programme for Toutes Les Femmes at the Palace Theatre, Paris

The costumes by Guy Arnoux, Aumond, Zinoview, Jose Zamora and Vilpelle are stunning and the scenes include L’Eventail Magique (the magic fan) with a magnificent display of showgirls with fans,  a Mexican scene, a Roof Garden in New York, the exquisite  Murano Collection and the quirky ‘A Fine Meal’ where two diners – Pilcer and Richmond- are fed by showgirls dressed in creations by Paul Poiret as oysters, crayfish, salad with truffles, Foie Gras, La Bombe glacee, fruits, coffee and Benedictine.

“It is interesting that since Cannes, Wyn Richmond is being described as the second Gaby Deslys. Her dresess by Jeanne Lanvin were delightful. I think Cecile, Dolly and I should go shopping.” Says Millie.

For dinner we decide to visit the nearby Marguery Restaurant at 34 Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle, sited beside the Theatre du Gymnase in one of the busiest parts of the boulevards where the Boulevard du Temple joins the Boulevard Poissoniere. Rich and elegant with a wealth of ornamentation, sculpture, ironwork and mosaics and a glass terrace flowered like a conservatory, Marguery is divine. The cuisine is perfect and the wine good.  Of course, the world-wide fame of the sole Marguery, which is the most famous way for serving this fish, attests to the prestige of this ancient place. Henri tells us that the real gourmets have never deserted this excellent house and they are frequenting it even more.  All good comment for my restaurant column.

Like the Casino de Paris, the Palace Theatre also hosts an elegant night club called Le Canari, which, since the finale of Toutes Les Femmes featured the establishment, we are persuaded to visit and have a pleasant time dancing to the Continental Six.

Advert for Canari night-spot

Advert for Canari night-spot

However, we are all keen to get to the Abbaye de Theleme in Montmartre. The  Trix Sisters have established themselves as ‘the Blues Room’ with a cabaret featuring them singing and a numerous other guests particularly dancers. They are as wonderful as they were in London in Jack Hylton’s Cabaret Follies and the dancing of Flora Lea and Simonne Mirat  was also good. We remember Flora Lea from the Cabaret Follies as well.
Interestingly, the entire place is full of Americans.

“My oh my Monty. What is going on?” I ask in jest.

“The exchange rate I guess Fynes. But it is also a well known fact that Paris has become a wet suburb of a dry New York. One has to ask: what would happen to Paris and Montmartre in particular, if it were not for the foreigners who patronise it nightly?”

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The Criterion, the Winter Garden Theatre and the Queen’s Hall Roof.

Tuesday 19th September

 I meet my oldest school friend Aubrey for an early dinner at the wonderfully elegant Criterion Restaurant on Piccadilly Circus. It has long been a favourite of my family and is actually a large collection of restaurants all in one building. We sit in the East Room on the first floor, which has been famous for half a century. It still keeps its decoration of white and gold, panels painted with Watteau subjects and the dainty harmony of rose and grey in carpets, furniture and curtains. The music from the orchestra perched in a gilded cage above the big entrance hall comes to us softened by distance. We are near enough the large picture windows to see the rush and swirl of Piccadilly Circus below. I eat and drink modestly, after all a long night awaits me, but I take advantage of my favourite dessert Croûte Caume; an admirable dish with banana, pineapple and apricot in kirsch. We swap stories about our respective summer holidays. Aubrey has just returned from a long trip around Europe and I have to say is looking rather radiant.

The Exterior of the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly, London.

The Exterior of the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly, London.

I like it here” he says.

“Did you know that it was opened by two Englishmen who were famous caterers in Melbourne in the days of the gold fever?” I reply.

“Oh really”Aubrey says completely disinterested as he sips a glass of sherry. “I am so sorry I missed you at Deauville…. by the time I arrived Alphonso King of Spain was causing such excitement. Not least because he was seen every night in the company of your new friends the Dolly Sisters in the Casino with Fausto, the son of the Marquis de Viana. Equally, the gossip at the Potiniére was rife, with sightings of both of them leaving the rooms of those naughty girls at the Hotel Royal each afternoon.”

“Well they are still delectably adorable” I reply tartly “despite the gossip.”

Aubrey changes the subject again by talking about the Aegean crisis and the conflict between Greece and Turkey over Thrace but then asks abruptly “Where are you going tonight?”

 “Oh I am meeting Monty and his friend Dolly Tree and we are going to the opening night of The Cabaret Girl.” I reply, relieved that I do not have to hear all his insufferable details about politics; sometimes he can be a real flat tyre. You see he has some sort of strange job at the Foreign Office and loves to discuss current affairs ad nauseam. “Dolly has designed the costumes for some of the main scenes. It is supposed to be an amazing production and Dorothy Dickson is incredible…”

 Monty and Dolly meet us at our table and I make introductions. She is wearing a delightful creation; a white frock with a velvet top and a skirt of silk fringes over silver lame and three rows of lovely pearls. ‘Elegant simplicity’ which is I gather, one of her hallmarks.

 Aubrey is instantly flirtatious “Why, hello my dear. You look simply divine. Such a fascinating gown.”

 She is use to such attention and deals with Aubrey with great aplomb. “Why thank you Aubrey, That is your name isn’t it? Well, if you like it you can have it! It might just fit you dear.”

We leave and get in a cab to the Winter Garden Theatre in Drury Lane where we are ushered in on the VIP list to a cosy box replete with champagne on ice. The show was magnificent. The plot was in the familiar musical comedy vein of rich boy must marry a suitable bride to acquire his inheritance but falls in love with a showgirl instead.

The last act formed a representation of the ‘Midnight Follies’ at the Hotel Metropole with costumes designed by Dolly. There was an Hawaiian chorus who accompanied Dorothy Dickson when she sang ‘Ka-lu-a’ and Heather Thatcher appeared in a sumptuous Oriental tableau. This was followed by a series of mannequins dressed in a range of bewilderingly eccentric outfits.

Dorothy Dickson in The Cabaret Girl

Dorothy Dickson in The Cabaret Girl

 “They are amazing Dolly, you must be so proud” I whisper to her with a peck on the cheek.

 “Although the plot is rather predictable I think this is going to be a big hit’ Monty says afterward. ‘The book is witty, the music quite above the commonplace, the cast exceptional and last but not least your dresses are divine. I will write a glowing review of course.”

We toodle back to the Criterion for an hour of dancing in the Italian Roof Garden. This is one of the prettiest places to dance and dine. Vine-decked loggias surround the room with a blue ceiling, a silver moon and stars that give the illusion of being in a roof garden. It is a picturesque setting made to look like an Italian landscape. Aubrey is there with a crowd and we have a delightful time. Just as we are about leave Eva walks in. Aubrey rushed up to her and kisses her on both cheeks.

 “Fynes dear boy. Let me introduce you to the delightful Evangaline Lampton” he says with a beaming smile ‘we met in Paris last week and had a spiffing time on La Tournee des Grands Ducs.”

 “Oh we already know each other Aubrey dear. We met in Deauville and Fynes took me for dinner last night, didn’t you?” she says sweetly and kisses me on both cheeks.

Aubrey is bright red and looks as if he is about to explode. I am smiling to myself. I certainly do not tell Aubrey everything and it looks like neither does Eva.

 “We had better get going” says Monty coming to the rescue. “Otherwise we will miss the show.”

We are going to The Queens Hall Roof, where the cast of the Cabaret Girl will be celebrating their first night. Both Aubrey and Eva decide to come with us and we all hop in a cab and race up to Langham Place at the top of Regent Street. The Queens Hall is the premier music venue in London and very grand indeed with a blue-green colour scheme, an arched ceiling with a painting of the Paris Opera House, by Carpegat, with attenuated cupids clad in sallow pantaloons and seating for 2,400. At the top of the building was a smaller cigar shaped hall with windows in the ceiling where a cabaret show had been staged since April.

Programme for Cabaret Follies at the Queen's Hall Roof

Programme for Cabaret Follies at the Queen's Hall Roof

 “This reminds me a little of Ziegfeld’s Roof Garden in New York.” Monty says as we all take our seats and order some supper and champagne. Dolly introduces us to many of the cast of The Cabaret Girl who sit at adjacent tables. Monty knows Miss Dickson of course because he has interviewed her several times both in New York and London. “She is a jewel” he says and then adds “she started off as a society dancer with her husband Carl Hyson in Chicago and they became big stars in cabaret and then on the New York stage.”

 Just in time, we catch the midnight edition of the new show called The Cabaret Follies. It has been produced by Jack Hylton, one of our new and most original jazz band-leaders and the actor Jack Buchanan and is a striking production. There is a beauty chorus of 16 gorgeous girls who appear in 8 numbers, including one where they support Flora Lea, a one time Ziegfeld girl when she sings Evergreen Eve. All the girls and Flora are decked out as a confection of foliage. The glamorous American sisters Josephine and Helen Trix, wearing Molyneux gowns, which give the effect of old red lacquer, were sensational with their amusing antics and singing fabulous songs. Henry de Bray and May Vivian were equally wonderful principals and the elaborate costumes of Oriental splendour for the finale ‘Song of India’ were magnificent.

The Trix Sisters

The Trix Sisters

A scene from The Cabaret Follies

A scene from The Cabaret Follies

Don’t worry I didn’t design the costumes this time. My friend Guy de Gerald did. Alas, I was far too busy on other projects.” Dolly tells us as we all gawp at the end.

 Within seconds the band starts playing and everyone starts to dance. Aubrey grabs my arm “Fynes, you are a cad. Why didn’t you tell me about Eva? I bet she is one of those women your mother has lined up for you isn’t she?”

 “I never thought about any of it being that important.” I reply innocently with a smile.

 After returning from the bathroom, Eva wanders up to me, also clearly intent on having a quiet word. “Fynes, I do like you and I love our nights out together” she says sweetly fluttering her eyelashes and caressing my arm “but, please remember that I like going out a lot. And, well, I really like Aubrey, and Biffy, and Clarence, and Peregrine, and Bottom, and Smarty….and,  I am not quite ready to settle down yet and choose. You understand darling don’t you?”

 “Peregrine Wilberforce-Watson too?” I say aghast “He’s even more boring that Aubrey!”

 Aubrey gets up and smooches with Eva while I dance with Dolly.

 “I had forgotten just what a great hoofer you had become Fynes” she says “I think you ought to dance with Dorothy you know. I think she may well like your style.”

 I ask Miss Dickson to dance and soon I am spinning her around the dance floor as Aubrey looks on in amazement as he treads on Eva’s toes.

 “Hey mister” she says in her wonderful American accent. “You are a swell dancer. I might just need you in the show! Where did you learn to be so good…”

 “Ah that is my secret” I say mysteriously. I always find it is best not to reveal everything.

“Do you like London?” I ask.

 “Oh yes very much so. I have been here for just over a year and we are having a ball. But I am so glad that cabaret has come to London. When I arrived I was disappointed that there were few supper clubs and cabaret shows that one could go to late at night. Now they are springing up all over the place. London is truly becoming brighter.”

 “London is truly brighter with you here my dear” I say. And, I mean it. She is so sweet and so pretty and boy oh boy what a dancer.

 

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