February 9, 2016 Eddie Shanahan

EMPTY CHAIRS

Paris attacks

 

It took a while to develop an easy familiarity with Paris, with its neighbourhoods and the short cuts that create a sense of comfort, even belonging.

In time my interest and work in fashion took me took around the city to the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, the Palais de Tokyo, l’ Ecole Des Beaux Arts, the Sorbonne, the Hotel de Ville and to the heart of the Marais where style secrets were easily discovered in the intriguing shops along its skinny streets.

In October of 2014 I took a photo of empty chairs in the Eglise Reformee de l’ Oratoire Du Louvre. This was an emptiness full of expectation. We awaited the arrival of international media and buyers for Sharon Wauchob’s Spring Summer 2015 collection fashion show. At show time a thousand strobes flashed in motorised tribute.

 ”There is something desolate here, a sense of Paris lost…one wicked night….how it was once so different.

The music of David Bowie boomed. All manner of beautiful fabrics sashayed in layered harmony and intrigue. These were electrifying moments. This was Paris.

Now just eighteen months later there is a different kind of emptiness in the city. Following the terror attacks of the winter of 2015 it has surrendered its joie ve vivre and maybe its very soul.

There is something desolate here, a sense of Paris lost!

Empty now, the riverboats shimmy on their warped trajectories along the Seine. The Carre du Louvre rests under a pall of silence, you can count the tourists, there are no queues.

On ‘Republique’ the iconic statue is draped with tattered tributes to fallen citizens. Their only crime was ‘being there’ one wicked night. Fading flowers accent the sense of loss, the passing of a better time.

Across the river there is little commerce in the streets off the Quai Malaquais. The bookstores are quiet, the galleries deserted. At Les Deux Magots a few patrons are scattered through the tables, some waiters stand idly by the door. How it was once so different.

The last time I saw Paris was not February 2016, it was in was on a sunny morning in 2015 when flowers bloomed along high balconies, the Louvre stood majestically as if bathed in gold, from the Pont des Arts the Ile de la Cite looked like some earthly paradise, a plethora of scooters, cabs and cars roared in familiar chorus along the Seine, there were people everywhere from everywhere and accented voices mingled with the hiss of coffee machines in the Café Des Beaux Arts.

I hope to see Paris again….sometime soon !

About the Author

Eddie Shanahan Retail and fashion consultant based in Dublin, Ireland