French fancies: Cadolle

One of the many things France is famous for is lingerie, lots of lingerie. I’ve previously covered the reasonably-priced Etam, but today we’re going decidedly upmarket – just in time for Christmas.

One of the inventions to have made the lives of 20th and 21st century women easier is the modern bra, which replaced the stifling corset.

It was invented by a Frenchwoman, Herminie Cadolle. She went on to found Maison Cadolle, which is one of the top haute couture lingerie houses still making made-to-measure underwear.

Alice Cadolle | Shopping in 1er arrondissement, Paris

The company, which has remained small and today has 15 employees, has been passed on from mother to daughter through six generations: Herminie, Marie, Marguerite, Alice and now Poupie and Patricia (pictured below).

How it all began

Cadolle is one of the few older French entrepreneurial families headed by a woman. Herminie Cadolle (1845 – 1926) was an exceptional woman and a feminist. Early on, she moved to Paris with her husband and sister, to work as a seamstress making corsets. It was a period when it was exceptional for women to have a job.

It made her very aware of the inequalities between men and women, and she became involved in the militant cause of the Paris Commune (a radical, working- class, anti-religious and revolutionary movement in power March-May 1871, but was suppressed by the French army during the semaine sanglante – The Bloody Week).

She was fighting for the rights of workers and for equal rights for women. Being both a feminist and a woman who made corsets led to her creating the bra, because she wanted to liberate women. She literally cut a corset in two, and from then on worked to create a garment which would cover the bust only.

One of her sketches shows that the very first version was still attached to the corset, but even that was revolutionary.

She fled France for fear of reprisals for her part in the Paris Commune and settled in Argentina where she set up the first “House of Cadolle” and quickly made a fortune before returning to France. On her return, she patented her new invention which she called the corselet-gorge and exhibited it at the Exposition Universelle of 1889, for which the Eiffel Tower had been built.

First bra Herminie Cadolle 1898 Runway Magazine

The top was supported by straps, while the lower part was a corset for the waist. It was not an immediate success. She had created it to free women, but she was ahead of her time.

Tiny waists were in fashion and you could not achieve that without wearing a full corset. It was not until WWI, when women had to work in the factories, that the idea of a bra, which was more practical, became acceptable.

Our story - Cadolle

She worked tirelessly for years to improve her invention. New techniques and materials, notably rubber and the introduction of elastic, meant she could make real improvements and a garment that was easier to wear.

When it was invented there was not a name for breasts in everyday French language and gorge, which is now the throat, was used to cover the area from the base of the neck to the base of the bosom. (The French still use soutien-gorge, eschewing brassière, an ‘upper arm support’ from which comes the English ‘bra’).

In 1911, Marie Cadolle, Herminie’s daughter, decided to move premises from the Chaussée d’Antin to Rue Cambon, which quickly became the centre of haute couture, with all the big names, such as Chanel and Hermès setting up there, too.

The Fashion Houses sent clients to Cadolle which would adapt its underwear to create the underlying form for the fashion shape of the time.

In 1925, the flat-chested form was in vogue and Marguerite, who took over from Marie, created the first flattening bra, for Coco Chanel. She also made underwear for many other famous women of the time. In 1947, the tiny waist was back and my Alice invented the ‘waspie’ for Monsieur Rochas’ fashion and perfume company.

Women’s shape and the lingerie they wear are constantly changing to suit the fashion of the time. Since Patricia started working at Cadolle about 20 years ago, she has seen an increase on average of 10cm (4″) around the waist.

Lace Corset, Malia, Cadolle 3136JC - Caroline Lingerie & Loungewear

Cadolle’s role has changed since Herminie. Its main aim now is to create garments which make women feel good about their bodies and are comfortable to wear. The second aim is to make a woman feel desirable. Sensuality has become more important. This is associated with women’s sense of independence. They are proud of their bodies.

Cadolle | Lingerie de luxe et haute couture - Cadolle

Nonetheless, Cadolle has worked to keep its traditional techniques alive and make underwear in France for all shapes and sizes. As Patricia explains:

In France we have held on to our savoir-faire, so that despite economic pressures, we have continued to pass on our skills down the generations to continue to make the best, handmade underwear.

Production process

Cadolle - Cadolle

There are three important parts to a bra: the cup, the back and the straps. The back has to be sufficiently well made so it will stay in place and support the breasts and the straps, too, have to give support. All three need to be well designed and well made for the bra to do its job and be comfortable all day long.

Bespoke - Cadolle

As well as it’s ready-to-wear range, Cadolle offers a bespoke made-to-measure service where after studying your morphology and understanding what effect you want to achieve, the House makes a blank model for fitting. Only then will it look at materials and discuss colour. Cadolle makes its own dyes, so if you want green it can offer 10 different shades. Then there will be a final fitting before the bra is ready for collection. The process takes around a month and costs around €700, much more expensive than a €50 bra from Etam.

A good bra in the shops would cost about €250; Cadolle’s off-the-peg ones start at €200 and a top-brand luxury name would be on average €250-€300.

Yes, it is expensive but it is an investment. It will last forever and it will make you feel good. When you don’t wear a good bra you are uncomfortable the whole day. With a good bra your clothes will look good on you.

All images courtesy of Cadolle

Silent Sunday #126

It’s Sunday and today’s photo is from ma belle France.

The Musette: Pan-seared Provençal style scallops

Looking for an easy and flavourful seafood dish? Look no further than these pan -seared scallops with cherry tomatoes, black olives and capers. – sauce Provençal. Delicious on their own but insanely good over angel-hair pasta or rice. This dish takes less than 30 minutes to whip up – always a bonus in my book – but tastes and looks like it’s from a fancy French restaurant!

The sauce doesn’t just go with scallops, it’s delicious with lamb, chicken, salmon, tofu, cauliflower……..endless possibilities!

Ingredients (serves 6)

Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 fat garlic glove, finely minced
  • 350g (1 pint) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 tbsp seedless black olives, halved
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 80ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
  • handful fresh herbs, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Scallops:

  • 18 hand-dived large scallops in shell, cleaned and coral removed
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • freshly ground sea salt 

Method

1. Firstly, make the sauce in a large frying (skillet) pan over medium heat, add the butter and cook, tilting the pan frequently, until butter has lightly browned. It should smell nutty and have amber bits on the bottom of the pan.

Beurre noisette. Comment le faire facilement ? Voici la méthode !

2. Add the olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes, sauté for a minute before adding . the garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, for another minute, or until garlic is fragrant.

3. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft and squishy, but still hold their shape, about 8 minutes.

4. Stir in the olives and capers and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the white wine, stir, and allow the mixture to come to a gentle simmer.

5. Stir in the herbs, lemon juice and seasoning, and cook for 2 minutes. Keep warm while you cook the scallops.

6. See my earlier recipe for how to prepare the scallops. Rinse them with cold water and pat very dry with a few sheets of paper towels. You want to make sure you get as much moisture out of them as possible. Set aside on a paper towel.

7. Add the butter and oil to a large frying (skillet) pan over a high heat. While the pan heats up, lightly salt the scallops.

Pan Seared Scallops Recipe in Wine Sauce - She Loves Biscotti

8. Once the pan begins to lightly smoke, gently add the scallops clockwise into the pan, making sure they are not touching. Sear them for about 90 seconds, then gently flip and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until both sides are golden brown. DO NOT TOUCH or move touch them at all while they’re searing. Remove from the heat.

9. Top with sauce, and serve preferably over pasta or rice.

Looking for an easy and flavorful seafood dish? Look no further than these Pan Seared Scallops with Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers! Delicious on their own but insanely good over pasta or a bed of asparagus!

Sheree’s Handy Hints

This sauce is delicious with pretty much anything! It can be made ahead of time but, if you do, only add the herbs and lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes just before serving.

One from the vaults: Postcard from Paris

In years past it wasn’t uncommon for us to visit back-to back dental exhibitions in Paris and New York. This post heads way back to 2011.

I have spent the past three days pounding the pavements of Paris, the world’s most visited city. Like all great cities, you see far more if you religiously navigate its various quarters on foot. Although I always have a small map, just in case, it’s hard to get lost as the wide boulevards give you glimpses of major landmarks at every turn, plus the Seine, which neatly bisects the city, is a great navigational tool.

IMG_8994 (Edited)

Over the years, I’ve spent a significant amount of time here and have visited most of the galleries, museums and buildings of significant historical interest. Of course, if the weather’s bad, I’ll happily revisit one of these. But, if it’s not, I just enjoy wandering around gazing at the impressive architecture and pressing my nose to the windows of all the food shops.

My favourites are the patisseries and chocolatiers. But lest you fear for my waistline, I only window shop. If I do enter, it’s only to get a closer look. I don’t buy anything, not even for my beloved because this is the food of gods. Wondrous pastries, delicate cakes and delicious dark, crisp chocolate with subtle aromas. While a couple of squares of chocolate will do no harm, it’s hard to resist the rest. So, I enter, inhale and exit.

Ispahan (rose, framboise & letchi) - Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé Paris | Pierre Hermé Paris

Of course, I had to pay homage at Pierre Hermé’s temple of delicious comestibles. IMHO he’s perfected the art of the macaroon, as ubiquitous in France as the cup cake is in America. Pierre’s melt in the mouth with an intense burst of flavour which lingers on the palate.  Okay, I’ll come clean, I just had to have one, or two.

On the hunt for Paris' best butchers. Here are some of our favorites.

My window gazing extends to butchers, bakers, delicatessens and cheese shops, plus I love visiting the street markets. Where else would you find stalls dedicated to just one product such as the humble potato. The stall owner who patiently explained to me about which spuds were best for which dish had over 20 different varieties. Another was dedicated to Pinky and Perky. Again the stall owner, who had raised and slaughtered the pigs, was happy to spend time answering my questions about his sausages, charcuterie, porchetta, pate and other porky products. We even exchanged a couple of recipes as I imparted my special rub for what my sister calls “the best roast pork ever”.

The ABCs of Vintage Shopping in Paris | Bonjour Paris

No visit to Paris would be complete without a rummage around the many antiques shops and art galleries. Typically, I found some things I would have liked to purchase but it would have been wholly impractical given our next destination is New York.

Maybe it’s the time of year, but Paris is overrun with Asians, and not just Japanese. No doubt the stores and French economy are duly grateful as the ones I’ve seen have been heavily laden with shopping bags from their favourite stores: LVMH, Gucci, Hermes and so on.  The love affair is reciprocated as Paris has an astounding number of great Asian restaurants, particularly Japanese.

With my beloved working, and being entertained by clients in the evening, I’ve been left pretty much to my own devices, a wholly desirable state of affaires. Meaning I can do what I want, when I want. I am however taking him out for a relaxing dinner a deux this evening at a little gem of a place I have found on my meanderings: just the one Michelin star.

The weather’s been a bit cold, damp and foggy. In fact you can’t see the top of the Eiffel Tower.  The Xmas decorations are up and there’s a festive buzz in the air. Only a month or so to go until the big day. Of course, the decorations are restrained but classy and stylish as befits the capital of fashion. We’re off to New York tomorrow morning where the decorations will be larger than life, really full on and totally appropriate for the Big Apple.

Thursday doors #179

Here are a few doors from our most recent trip to Paris.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Last on the card: November 2022

The rules for Brian’s Last on the Card prompt are pretty simple:

1. Post the last photo on your SD card and/or last photo on your phone for the end of the month.
2. No editing – who cares if it is out of focus, not framed as you would like or the subject matter didn’t co-operate.
3. You don’t have to give any explanations, just the photo will do
4. Create a Pingback to this post or link in the comments
5. Tag “The Last Photo”

A Solitary Existence

I was recently blissfully alone while my beloved was on a cycling holiday in Gran Canaria. I could’ve gone with him but chose not to. The allure of eight whole days on my own was just too much to pass up despite the photos he sent me daily.

This isn’t my beloved’s first trip on his lonesome this year but the others were just amuse-gueules (nibbles) to this main course.

With him home underfoot, all the time, there are various chores that are simply not possible to undertake. Yes, surprisingly, I’ve been getting stuff sorted at home. It’s been wonderful not having to prepare meals three-times a day, and that’s from someone who loves cooking though I did prepare him a wonderful welcome home meal.

Just before he left, we took possession of the locked garage of the couple we allow to share our double parking spot. They don’t use their enclosed garage because it’s difficult to manoeuvre their car in and out. This has now become our bike room, also known as my beloved’s man cave. This meant I could turn the bike room in our flat back into the laundry room – hurrah!

I cleared all of his bike related stuff out and was shocked at how much was in there! My beloved is a bit like a big cat marking out his territory, he loves leaving his things everywhere apart from my bathroom  – yes, we have separate bathrooms –  and my dressing room.

Dressing room makes it sound rather grand, it’s more of a walk-in cupboard but the space is well-thought out and you’d be amazed at how much is stored in there. This week I have had my annual wardrobe culling. I’ve been very thorough and I’m sure the Ukrainian refugees (intended recipients) will be grateful.

I’m generally an investment dresser so there are things in my wardrobe that are probably definitely older than many of my readers, particularly scarves, jackets, shoes and coats. This enables me to “shop in my closet” when they come back into fashion.  A case in point are square toed shoes which have been brought to the front of the base of my built-in wardrobe where they reside in see-through boxes,  stored with shoe trees. This is where I put stuff that needs to be hung full-length such as dresses, coats, long skirts and trousers. Jackets, tops and jeans are in the dressing room.

Lest it sound as though I hog all of the storage, I should point out that my beloved has a larger dressing room, two very large wardrobes and a built-in closet!

In addition, stuff we wear infrequently, such as ski wear, is stored in our basement storage. What can I say? When you get to our respective ages, you tend to have a lot of stuff. His will be culled over the Christmas period. He’s far more of a hoarder than me and likes to hang onto things just in case…….

After a whole week of cleaning and tidying I was feeling very virtuous, smug even. The bike-room laundry aside my beloved didn’t even notice what I’d been up to. This is largely because everything is now hidden again behind closed doors maintaining the flat’s neat and tidy appearance.

Friends who recently paid us a visit remarked on how clean and tidy everything was and asked for the name and number of my cleaner. I confessed that sadly she didn’t have any more hours available but, if she did, I’d let them know. The reason I know this? I do all the cleaning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday #146

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.

Yet another Postcard from Alassio

We’ve just spent a few days in one of our happy places but we’ve visited so often in recent years that I’ve run out of things to write about Alassio, and its neighbours. And I must’ve taken photos of pretty much every door in the place!

We only ever go for a few days and generally out of the high season for a quick re-boot. We were last here at the end of April for my beloved’s birthday. I get lunch out – if I’m lucky – while he gets a few days away! There’s just something, or a combination of somethings, about the place which we find really relaxing. This time the weather was unexpectedly glorious and we spent time lazing on the beach, along with biking and hiking.

We typically wouldn’t go away at the same time as half-term but I hadn’t appreciated that when I’d made the booking months ago. You know me, I like to plan well in advance. If I don’t my beloved’s diary gets way too busy. So the hotel was busy with its usual melange of French, German and Swiss guests.

I’ll be honest, that lazing on the beach aside, our trips to Alassio always follow a similar format. We sup Aperol Spritzs at our favourite bars and eat in our preferred restaurants. We take long walks, and even bike rides, to wear off the inevitable calories. We laze in the Spa. So, nothing really too exciting.

I have a long association with the area. My first trip was as an eight-year-old on a family summer holiday notable for me trying to (unsuccessfully) push my younger sister Lynn out to sea in our red and white inflatable kayak. I didn’t return until 2009 on a cycling trip with the cycling club which I covered in this post. 

We took my parents back there on their last visit together in October 2010 and Dad was delighted that the hotel we’d stayed at in neighbouring Laigueglia was still there. He was much interested in the renovation of the hotel where we now regularly stay in Alassio and we promised to take him there when it finally re-opened. A promise we were sadly unable to keep.

Subsequent stays in Alassio, because it was a mid-way point for my beloved to meet with one of his Italian clients, were at a variety of lovely family-run hotels in the town. We also stayed there or in neighbouring Laigueglia for several cycling events such as the Giro d’Italia and the Trofeo Laigueglia.

I’ve blogged regularly about our stays in Alassio since 2017, so you’re probably sick to the back teeth with the place! However, I can’t help but extol its charms and I know we’ll be visiting regularly until we no longer can.

This time I didn’t take a single photo – amazing! The ones in this post are all from previous trips. Of course, now that I’ve got my new iPhone14, I’m raring to go back, probably for just a day trip, to try it out.