Everybody has a lingerie story… here’s mine… Kate
Paris. The lingerie capital of the world. Where a whisper of lace, a shadow of mystery, and the caress of silk make dreams float.
I certainly thought I was dreaming when I landed in Paris on a sunny day in September twenty years ago. Armed with a Larousse dictionary, five hundred dollars, and a passion for everything French, I handed my passport to the customs official and smiled when he said, “Bienvenue à Paris,” confident that everything would work out for the best – even though I didn’t speak the language, or have my luggage. The airline apologized for losing it, gave me a check for the replacement costs and wished me a Bonne Journée.
A quick trip to Monoprix, the French mecca for basics let me stock up on toiletries, jeans and a t-shirt, but I needed a new bra. The bra I was wearing was on the verge of disintegrating. Although ashamed to admit it, I was one of those women who buy a new bra when the washing machine finally rips the one I’m wearing to shreds. A bra is a basic necessity. Functional. Nothing more.
At least that’s what I thought until I walked into a small lingerie boutique called Madame Annabelle, and asked in my basic French for a soutien-gorge blanc, a white bra, please.
“Avec ou sans dentelle ?” said Madame Annabelle. I quickly flipped through my Larousse. Dentelle = Lace. I had no idea if I was a lace person. It was like being asked if I believed in God. Madame Annabelle pulled out a bra with tiny pleats and ushered me into a minuscule changing room where she deftly adjusted the back hooks and tightened the straps, running her fingers over the bra like she was tuning a violin.
“It’s beautiful,” I murmured, turning sideways to admire my new shape. Madame Annabelle stood quietly and watched. Not in a voyeuristic way, but like a mother deer watching her fawn learn to stand for the first time. The silence gave me time to feel and appreciate a sensation that I had never felt before; an awakening, like stumbling upon a field of wildflowers. A day brimming with promise.
I still have that pleated bra – even though it has been retired from service. When I open my drawer in the morning I see the pearly white folds and pause for a moment to remember that I have a choice: I can have an ordinary day or an extraordinary one.
I smile to myself as I make my lingerie selection, eager to slip into the dream of my story.
Slip into the dream of your own story with Paris Lingerie Tours.
Paris Lingerie Tours is the ultimate luxury and an unusual alternative to regular tourist attractions. Discover the lingerie temples of Paris, feel the difference between a corbeille or balconnet bra, and learn why French women wear garter belts as well as a few other seduction secrets.
Kate Kemp-Griffin has been living in Paris and working in the lingerie industry since 1990. She is the Associate Editor, France for The Lingerie Journal, and a contributing writer for My French Life and Girls’ Guide To Paris. She is also the co-founder of Pink Bra Bazaar, the lingerie industry’s charity dedicated to promoting breast health education and supporting women diagnosed with breast cancer.