A mishmash of stuff - "sabots", Abercrombie & Fitch and the Jacquard loom

"Sabots" (wooden shoes). I always try to use my own photos, but since I wasn't allowed to take pictures
 at the exhibition yesterday, I was glad to find a photo of sabots at this website

What to do, what to do? I'm feeling under a bit of pressure because Stephane wants to make a trip to St-Ouen flea market in Paris this morning and I still don't have a post. I've been finding all sorts of ways to procrastinate because I couldn't decide between writing about sabots and my stroll along the Champs Elysees. So, today's post is going to be a mishmash of the stuff that's been swirling around in my brain, kind of like the residue that accumulates at the bottom of a wine bottle.

During a guided tour of the current exhibition, "Open Air Cafes to Barricades (1814-1914)" at the Carnavalet Museum yesterday, I saw a pair of sabots, the wooden shoes worn by the working class Parisians and thought that this would be the perfect time to tell you about the origin of the word "sabotage".

This is not the Jacquard weaving machine but an earlier version that supplied jobs for 10 people.
 Vaucanson's loom for weaving faconnes is at the Musee des Arts et Metiers.

As new technologies, such as the automated weaving machine invented by Joseph Jacquard, replaced workers at an alarming rate during the Industrial Revolution, employers were pleased to increase the efficiency of their factories and the quality of their products. The workers, on the other hand, viewed the new automated machines as a threat to their jobs. Already living and working in wretched conditions, the weavers decided to take matters into their own hands and threw their sabots into the newly invented Jacquard machines and brought them to a grinding halt. Sabotage.

I'm not quite sure where Abercombie & Fitch manufacture their expensive line of casual wear, but judging from the long line of people waiting to get into their store at 23 Avenue des Champs Elysees on Thursday, let's hope that their machines are busy producing enough jeans and sweaters to satisfy the demands of these eager shoppers.

Now it's time to get ready to go to the flea market to look for an antique mirror to hang over our fireplace. If I don't hurry, Stephane may throw his sabots at my laptop in an act of sabotage.

Can you believe the long line of people waiting to get into Abercrombie & Fitch on the Avenue des Champs Elysees?


  1. I am notoriously impatient with lines, and cannot believe ANYONE would wait in line for A&F clothing, but it's very common to see Europeans on Michigan Avenue with such bags, filled to the gills. Is it a new store?

    I hope you find a great mirror. I love going out to the flea markets, and eating from the stalls. You'll have fun. And a new report.

    And thank for the word origin lesson, good to know.

  2. I couldn't believe it either. At first, I thought that A&F must have just opened but then I remembered reading Anne's post about how A&F had male models calling from the rooftop and 101 shirtless men strolling down the Champs Elysees when they opened in May. Sadly, it's another thing that I missed!

    After wandering around St-Ouen for a couple of hours, we found a mirror this afternoon! I probably won't post about it, but I may write a post about the jazz manouche cafe where we had lunch. In any case, it's better that I went shopping with Stephane instead of letting him go on his own because I'm never sure what he'll come home with. This way I could keep him on task. ;-)

    I'm glad that you liked reading about the origin of sabotage. I always like that kind of info but am never sure if it's of interest to other people.

  3. I walk by that A&F often and I always wonder why the line! So odd. I wonder the same thing about the line outside of Louis V. just down the street.

  4. One of my colleagues and I decided that we would visit A&F some day (since it opened in August) but we both refused to ever wait in line to get in. A couple of weeks ago at lunch hour, I finally found no line, so in I went. I knew in advance that I had no interest in what was being sold, but I wanted to see the transformation of the building. When I first moved to Paris, it was the Marcel Dassault cinema "La Paris." Movies were a hobby of this arms merchant and he produced a number of turkeys that corresponded to his moral values, but this place was really exceptional with its magnificent seats and crystal chandeliers.

    As soon as the old man died, so did the cinema, and the next incarnation was as the Paris headquarters of Thai Airways. The Champs Elysées front was recreated similar to how it is now, since that was the office section. In the back garden, there was a magnificent Thai pagoda that served as the ticket office. It was the most breathtaking ticket office that I have ever seen.

    And Thai Airways got rid of all of that stuff when the airlines went to electronic ticketing.

    So what has A&F done with it. There is still the long garden walk to the back -- the pagoda is gone, and the store entrance is through the back of the main building. You enter into total darkness and loud music, with a shirtless greeter at the entrance. Inside, you can't see anything, since it is all black on all 5 levels. The Abercromboys and the Abercrombettes are everywhere -- these last ones are wearing pleated schoolgirl tartan skirts up to pubic levels.

    Don't wait in line, but definitely take a look if you get a chance. It is the strangest commercial experience that I have seen since the Biba department store in London in the 1970's.


  5. And I'm never really on the Champs Elysees when I'm in Paris--I'd never shop there, that's for sure.

  6. Kate, Had I known that there's usually a line in front of Louis Vuitton, I would have gone in the store the other day when there wasn't one. Looks like I missed my opportunity.

    K2, Thanks for explaining the background of the A&F building. Of the three reincarnations of the building, I think that I would have liked to see it when it was a cinema It must have been luxurious. I saw people being escorted towards through the big gate but had no idea that there's a garden back there. I'll have to go take a look when (if) there isn't a line.

    My son worked part time at Ruehl, the now defunct upscale A&F, brand. He would come home from work and say that he had a headache because the music was so loud. He also complained about the dim lighting, which seems to be standard for their stores. One of his main duties was to be a "greeter" and stand at the front door. In reality, he was supposed to keep an eye out for shop lifters so that he could alert the security officers. The number of shoplifters and the strategies they used to avoid detection was an eye-opener for him.

    I was thinking about you when I was on Champs Elysees the other day because I remember that you had posted a comment somewhere (perhaps on Any Port) about an inexpensive place to eat just off of the C E. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember any of the details.

    Joseph, I'm rarely on the C E as it holds little attraction for me. I may, however, have to go there more often once the new Marks and Spencers opens because they have the best thermal tops, etc for women. Banana Republic is also opening a store on the C E in the near future.


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