Guest Post by Morgane Duquesnoy with Christopher Back
You know the kind of days, when you just want to say "who cares?" to your mirror. Well, I first met Eva Samama on just one of those days and I thought she might be an alien. I was feeling less than myself and she flew in like a blur, much like the butterfly on her ring. She was so bubbly and smiling! But alas, this exquisite brunette is not an alien, she is the owner of one my favorite vintage shops.
Just as Eva’s flashy red lips contrast with her romantic lace dresses, the dark exterior of her small boutique contrasts with the warm lights and the scent of candles inside. Equally warm and open, she really wants to get to know you. What’s more, she loves the vintage pieces she sells so much that you can be assured that she won't let it go if it doesn't fit you perfectly!
Today, she opens her heart and closet for us at her boutique «Le dressing d’Eva».
Have you always wanted to work in fashion?
Well... I have always been very attracted to beauty. To be honest, I was not really good at school. I did not want to study so much. But I have been very lucky to have met some extremely kind people who helped shape my path. I began as a receptionist, and thanks to someone I met, I worked in software. It was very interesting but too far from what I really am. There was such a lack of fantasy! So I decided to return to university to study Art History. During my studies, I met an expert on historical lace who encouraged me to leverage my unique sense of style to become a personal shopper, my first foray into the business of Fashion.
When did you stop being a personal shopper?
(Laughs) When I was pregnant with twins! My husband thought I should slow down my hectic pace and he gave me the boutique. A former cabinetmaker’s workshop; which is fitting as this is also my husband’s profession. The retiring cabinet maker liked the idea of a vintage boutique and we shared a common bond. We both appreciate quality.
What is this book on your desk?
Gosh, I love it! It is a book on Maripol, a French-born stylist who helped create Madonna and Grace Jone’s signature looks in the early 1980’s. Her looks inspired a generation of young girls to wear crucifixes and dress, well – Like a Virgin… I love her work and highly recommend the book!
What is the meaning of vintage for you?
Most importantly, it is timeless. The idea is not to follow current fashion but to select only the best quality pieces that will never be out-of-date. Fashion is forever looking back to find inspiration in the past and it is fascinating to see how designers are inspired by pieces from the 20’s or even the 80’s. Secondly, when you buy a vintage dress, you get a glimpse into the History of fashion and many pieces have a personal story. It’s also a very eco-friendly practice, so important nowadays and this is such a pleasant way to do it!
What kind of clients come to you?
I am very lucky; I have always had extremely interesting clients. I say interesting because they are a bit off-beat and free thinking yet always very human, very sensitive. They are not here just to buy, but we share a passion for beauty and often become friendly. That is how I became the stylist for Nancy, the gorgeous singer of the French rock group 19&4. I always knew they were going to be famous, because they are really talented! Plus, I have always been a big fan of rock and roll!
What leads people to buy vintage over new?
Well, quality is a nice argument! The cuts are so much better than with basic brands. And for the same price, you can wear Yves Saint Laurent! I don't think many brands are of the quality of Yves Saint Laurent. He was a genius who understood how to make women look and feel beautiful.
Another important aspect is ecology. Vintage has an aspect of recycling which is indispensable for the environment. We also stock clothes made by contemporary designers who use organic, natural materials and everything is made in France!
What advice would you give someone who wants to start buying vintage?
Don't be lazy! Don't hesitate to go to flea markets and expect to spend some time looking. It can be a bit of a treasure hunt to find quality. Also, don't make a total look ever! It would be a catastrophe; (laughs) a small touch is so much better! Try a little summer dress to look like a 50's pin-up girl or if you’re not so daring, you can begin with accessories, a pretty bag or nice shoes...
I see that you sell fur coats, what is your opinion about it?
Yes, I stock them but I would never buy new fur because I don’t want to encourage the industry. Somehow it seems different if it has been already worn. However, I do respect people who would never wear it, and I also have several imitation fur pieces, like this kitsch leopard print jacket!
What is the one special piece you dream of finding?
There are so many! Right now, I am thinking of a wonderful 7O's Pucci dress, an Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo and a crocodile Birkin bag.
Have you sold any pieces that you wish you'd kept for yourself?
All of them! (Laughs) This is the main difference between collecting and selling. What's more, my taste is more refined now and I realize that when I was getting started, I sold some pieces that were truly "collector" pieces I should have kept. That's why now there are some I just keep for me, like my Pierre Cardin belt!
What can a busy Mom like yourself do to look chic every day?
Gosh that's so important! For me being chic every day is a question of respect to myself, to my husband, to my children, to everyone. It is like basic hygiene and it makes your day so much nicer! That is why when I am tired, I make a greater effort! Then when people tell me "I like your dress" or "what a nice lipstick" and I just forget I was tired!
So, what piece of advice should I give… Well, it’s very important to feel at ease in your clothes. I also think a nice lipstick is a great way to wake your complexion up. But my favorite time saver is the speed dry nail-polish, just 30 seconds and you’re ready! I can’t imagine getting a one hour manicure I already only take about 15 minutes every morning to get ready. Of course that’s easier if you think about the clothes you are going to wear before you go to sleep.
Le Dressing d’Eva
18 rue Jules Vallès Paris 75011 – 01.44.93.70.81
Opening Hours : 2-7pm Tuesday - Saturday and by appointment.
Morgane Duquesnoy - When not writing about lifestyle and fashion for numerous publications or having fun modeling for Pierre Cardin, Morgane leads shopping walks to discover her favorite boutiques and help you discover your own Style - à la Parisienne! More...