Parisian Adventure on Rue Daguerre

 © 2013 Todd Mecklem

© 2013 Todd Mecklem

One Sunday a few weeks ago, my sweetie and I decided to check out the community yard sale (vide-greniers) on Rue Daguerre in the 14th arrondisement. It was a beautiful day for a stroll along the shops and stalls set up along the street. It’s not a touristy place at all, and has an authentic French feel about it. The neighborhood doesn’t have any actual yards nor garages to hold yard sales so they just set up tables out in the street, which was closed to traffic.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but this community yard sale was amazing. There were some 200 residents who had little tables set up with curiosities, antiques and junk. It was a very social event because the stalls were jammed next to each other.

Rue Daguerre vide-greniers  © 2013 Todd Mecklem

Rue Daguerre Vide-greniers © 2013 Todd Mecklem

I wandered down the street looking at the stalls and saw designer clothing, vintage jewelry, children’s toys, lots of books, used kitchen tools, odd paintings and figurines, and all kinds of other stuff. At one woman’s table, I rummaged through some old jewelry and at the bottom of pile was a plastic bag with a dusty old makeup case set. I pulled the items out of the bag and realized the objects were covered in face powder, not dust. I brushed them off a bit, and saw that the cases were covered in silk, with petit-point insets created by hand. The woman selling them said they were from the 1950s and were “typically French.” I bought the set as a fun souvenir. There’s a comb case with a comb, a lipstick holder that looks like it’s not been used, and a compact with powder and a very fuzzy feather powder puff that I’ll probably toss.

petit point

Of course I had to dig through all the boxes of scarves in case there was an Hermes silk scarf calling my name; I didn’t find one but I did find this colorful scarf by Carven. It cost a euro!

The best part of the adventure was yet to come. I sat down at a cafe for a while to people watch and Todd came back and told me he’d seen and gotten to talk to film director Agnès Varda. Wow! For those not familiar with Madame Varda, she’s a French film director whose early works are considered precursors of French New Wave cinema. Her films include the seminal Le Pointe Courte (1956) and Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962) and the more recent Beaches of Agnes and The Gleaners and I.

Meeting this iconic director was a great experience; she was gracious and charming. She was busy selling things at the sale for a non-profit she works with that empowers young women so I didn’t ask her for an autograph. Also, I didn’t want to look like the déclassé American tourist in front of her home and business.

For more information on Agnès Varda, see this short essay at the Criterion Collection and her faculty page at the European Graduate School. Her company, Ciné-Tamaris, produces and manages both her and her late husband Jacques Demy’s work.


Agnès Varda © 2013 Todd Mecklem (She’s in the middle.)

Sue Agnes

Sue exults after meeting Agnès Varda. © 2013 Todd Mecklem

This adventure down Rue Daguerre was one of the highlights of our trip. I’ll write soon about a Man Ray exhibit I saw in London and a haute couture exhibit in Paris.


Treasure Hunt in the Hollywood District

This past weekend, Todd and I wandered around a couple of the antique/vintage/junk malls in the Hollywood District before our wine and pasta run to Trader Joe’s. We stopped at Hollywood Antiques and Hollywood Reruns, two antiques/collectibles spots on SE 42nd. I’m not a big fan of “collectibles” at antique stores but it doesn’t prevent me from looking around all the little booths, some selling fun vintage wear and some selling junk.

Our first stop was Hollywood Reruns, which has more collectibles than antique or vintage wares. The big draw here are the magazines downstairs. They have a wide variety ranging from McCall’s to Mad Magazine to issues of the Saturday Evening Post from the 50s. It’s a great place to browse. The place also sells new unfinished pine furniture…which seems out of place to me but they’ve been selling it for years.

As always I went to the jewelry case first, and found a pair of shoe clips that had different backs than any of the others in my collection. Instead of hinged clips, you just fold the metal gently to attach them to your shoes. I image these were made in the 50s or 60s. The price was great – $3. I also saw a strand of pop bead plastic pink pearls but as fondly as I remember then from childhood, now they just looked cheap.

Shoe clips circa 1950s or '60s

Our next stop was Antique Alley, right next door. It’s the downstairs part of a mall that has all kinds of odd little stalls upstairs. It had more vintage and antique goods than Hollywood Reruns but some vendors just sold collectibles and replicas. It’s a fun place if you don’t mind wandering through lots of stuff to find a real gem. I saw some excellent antique marble prosthetic eyeballs, old black and white postcards, toys from when I was a kid, and lots of great jewelry, costume and fine. In one of the booths I saw a pretty little dress clip hidden in the corner. I asked a friendly salesperson to show it to me, and was surprised to see how decorated the back of the clip mechanism was. The stones are bezel set and the piece looks hand-wrought but I’m not sure.

Dress clip, likely from the 1930s

It was a fun afternoon for a wonderful sunny day. For serious collectors, I’d say skip these places and go to the place across the street, Hollywood Antique Showplace. We ran out of time but I’ve been there before -beautiful antique furniture, glassware, and jewelry. There’s very little junk there, but of course, the prices reflect this.

More Art Deco Lines

This pretty ring looks like silver with a spinel but it’s actually some kind of pot metal with a glass stone. It has no markings on the inside, and has that rough pot metal look. I really like the strong lines of the ring, and the long, rectangular stone. My guess is it’s from the 1920’s or early 1930s. The sides of the ring remind me of the Chrysler building in New York City.

Musée international de la Chaussure (Europeana)

I was looking for interesting public domain photographs and came across Europeana, a wonderful website with “paintings, music, films and books from Europe’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums.” Their website says that about 1500 European institutions have contributed to the site. My search for shoes in the 1920s led to this amazing pair of pumps made by Hellstern and Sons, a Parisian company founded in 1925. They are white kid leather embellished with black. I can’t quite figure out the translation – it could little black seed pearls or steel beads. BabelFish was no help.

This photo shows is a section of a woolen afghan knitted by my mother’s great aunt in the twenties. The yarns are red, black, and a really interesting beige and cream mixed yarn. I really like the color combination and the geometric shapes.