Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Paradise & Au Bon Marche

The Paradise, the British television costume drama series, adapted from Emile Zola's novel Au Bonheur des Dames has finally arrived in Australia. And it's wonderful. Set in an upmarket department store in the 1870's in England's north, rather than in Paris, Mr Moray, like Zola's Mouret, aim's to overwhelm the senses of his female customers, forcing them to spend big.  While Moray is slightly sleazy, and possible dangerous, he is also charming and clever, and a great salesman. 

The Paradise department store, source
The first episode saw young naive  Scottish girl Denise Lovett (Joanna Vanderham), arrives in the town to work in her uncle in his draper's shop - but as it is located opposite the Paradise, it is not doing well enough to employ her.  Instead she applies for a job as a salesgirl at The Paradise, which she gets,  and comes under the watchful, critical eye of Miss Audrey, the head  of ladies fashion. I won't say any more about the plot, in case you haven't seen it, but the details such as the shop girls 'living in' and their uniforms given an idea of life at the time.

Denise enters The Paradise for the first time, source 
Zola apparently based his department store of the novel on Paris's Le Bon Marché ("the good deal" in French), began in 1867 by Aristide Boucicautit. Although not the world's first department store, it had the first specially designed building for a store in Paris, by architect Louis Auguste Boileau. 

Bon March store c. 1867 source

Louis Auguste's son, Louis Charles Boileau,expanded the store in the 1870s, consulting the firm of Gustave Eiffel for parts of its structure.

Le Bon Marché c. 1887 source
Au Bon Marche catalogue , 1913 source
Pablo Picasso used a display card from the Lingerie department at Bon Marché as the centrepiece of collage in 1913.  He also used some striped wallpaper,  advertising for la Samaritaine store clipped from Le Journal dated January 25th. 1913, and added drawing and paint, with a wine glass on the right and a carafe on the left.

Au Bon Marche, Pablo Picasso, 1913 ,source:

In the 1920s, Louis Auguste's grandson, and architect, Louis-Hippolyte Boileau,completed another extension to the store.
Au Bon Marche shopfront, 1920s source

For more vintage 1913 shop images, please see tumblr

Deb xxx.

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