August 13, 2011

Beautiful Paris, France as it looked in the 1920s

Day 225 of Vintage 365


Paris is a like a song you cannot shake from your head. It is a stunning woman dressed one moment in the most extravagant fineries, the next a mere wisp of a satin slip. It tastes familiar, yet is a flavour unlike any other. Ones of the largest cities in Europe, and indisputably one of the most beguiling locations on earth, Paris begs to be worshiped, admired, and most definitely visited.

I, however, have not yet had the pleasure of strolling the streets, riverbanks and parks of this grand city yet. One day, I like to believe, I will, but alas, what I know of Paris comes from books and movies, traveler's tales and great works of art.

Paris is on my mind at the moment because a very good friend of mine, Georgianna, recently spent some time on the other side of the Atlantic, taking staggeringly beautiful photographs of the city of lights, and other equally enchanting French locations (some of which are available in her marvelous etsy shop: Georgianna Lane Fine Art Photography).

I know better than to idealize any location I haven't been to be - I've been burned, badly, by wandering down that road before - and yet, how can you not become intoxicated with Paris? It is a much a coquette as the endless see of fashionistas it churns out. Opinionated, set in its ways and yet also so very new, ever changing, always ready to welcome another soul, put up another cafe, uncork one more bottle of wine before the sunrises.

A fashion capital for centuries, Paris produced out some of the most sublime and influential designers of the twentieth century. From Balmain to Dior, Chanel to Fath, this French epicentre of couture and style has influenced the way everyone from royals to peasants have dressed, and undoubtedly the work of such cornerstones of the fashion world have touched nearly ever vintageist out there to some degree (especially, if like me, you go weak in the knees for New Look of the late 40s and early 50s).

Today's video clip is not centered around sartorial style, however, instead it is a visual on-the-street account of Paris in the 1920s, a mere handful of years before it was ruthlessly ravaged by the brutal hands of the second world war.



There is an almost surreal idealism to these shots of busy streets with their prim and proper vendors, glimpses of timeless monuments, an elderly man painting peacefully in a stunningly gorgeous park, quick peaks through the looking glass of time back at a Paris that no longer exists, yet shares more in common with its present day version than it has differences.

If one needed even the slightest modicum of convincing as to why Paris is enchanting, important, worth striving to visit (or return to), this charmingly sublime 1920s clip is most definitely bound to to the trick - and leave you yearning to follow in my friend's lead and make your way to Paris tout de suite!


  1. Dear, dear Jessica, You knew I would so love this post! These images of Paris in the 20s are fascinating and a pure delight – charming vignettes of a past lifestyle. But, as you so correctly mention, the essence of that charm still permeates modern Paris, as no other city.

    But your opening words about Paris are what most captivated me this morning, among the most beautiful descriptions of the city I've ever read. And yes, the song of Paris is playing in my head every day now.

    Sending lots of love! Au revoir! – g

  2. I, too, love all things Parisian and French...especially vintage...thanks so much for the post...beautiful. :)

  3. Hi Jessica,

    Again another beautiful video, a step back into another time. Thanks so much, I enjoyed watching the other videos that came up too.

    Have a wonderful day,


  4. I'm so, so happy that you shared this video with us. How sad to think that the city would be in peril so soon after this video was shot. I found it funny that so many of the subjects being filmed seemed just as fascinated by the camera as the cameraperson was by them! Nowadays no Paris native would looks twice at yet another tourist with a video camera.

  5. Hi Jessica,

    I do so love your Paris posts, I do not know what the spell is the Paris imparts but it certainly hit me when I visited last year. Your videos, images & words certainly just flick that wand again & again.

  6. loved this post but let's give credit where credit is due...the Nazi's ravaged Paris, indeed most of Europe.