Now that I’m settled in France, I’m beginning to understand why I love it here. I’m a hopeless romantic.
It didn’t happen by accident that I live in a tower apartment. I’m a princess. Or at least, I always wanted to be one. If I had long hair, I’d wish to be Rapunzel, pining away in my tower prison, waiting for my prince to climb the garden wall. Seriously, that will never happen. But living in the small town of Uzés, across from the Duke’s palace, it is pretty close to having my own castle. Better yet, if I walk only a few steps down the cobblestone street, I enter into a pure fantasy land where I am transported to the early 1800s — the age of Romanticism — French fashion bobo style.
French Fashion Bobo Style: L’Atelier des Ours
A little shop at the end of the road where I live is named “L’Atelier des Ours.” You can’t miss the place because of the teddy bear outdoor decorations and because crowds of tourists usually stand around the entrance taking photos.
When I first stepped inside the fairytale-like shop, I immediately felt I’d entered another world. First of all, there was literally “sand beneath your feet.” The floor of the entire first level of the shop was covered in several inches of pure white sand.
Second, the cozy store is filled with a vast collection of clothing, folk art, and fond reminders of years ago — even centuries passed. Decorations and clothing items from an earlier age are arranged in elegant, small vignettes wherever you look.
Being a shopaholic, I’ve visited many stores attempting a “return to the past” theme. Never before have I experienced anything like this.
The “feeling” is achieved masterfully at L’Atelier des Ours, no doubt, because of the clever, topical store decorations and the artful selection of clothing and accessories — couture straight out of early 1800 France.
French Fashion BoBo Style: How do you describe the look?
A style in the south of France is best described as “provençal.” As I travel around other towns near Uzés, the provençal dress style is scarcely visible.
It is alive and well in Uzès.
When I discovered how much I admired the look, I tried to discern why some avant-garde, provençal clothing at other shops around Uzes differed from the distinctive style at L’Atelier des Ours.
That’s when I discovered “BoBo”.
Here’s an example of the clothing at one shop in Uzès that sells popular French “provençal” clothing.
Here’s an example of the style of clothing at L’Atelier des Ours
What is ” BoBo”?
Brooks describes “BoBos” as the cultural result of the “information age.” Quoting from his own book review in the NY Times, Brooks says about BoBos: “These are highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success. The members of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemians. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are Bobos.”
According to Brooks, BoBos are identified by having “rebel attitudes and social-climbing attitudes all scrambled together.”
So what does Bobo have to do with fashion?
Bobo fashionistas are everywhere. You may describe the style as “bohemian,” but it’s not. It’s a higher grade of the 1960s “hippy” generation. Kate and Ashley Olsen probably would say they are BoBo. They’d probably enjoy shopping at L’Atelier des Ours. However, I would describe the true BoBo “look” as much more sophisticated than the Olsen twins.
I like to think about BoBo as a re-popularized look in Paris at the beginning of this century. It is a true throwback to the early 19th century, with a uniqueness that makes it new. It’s a look that is flirty, yet puritan; dark, yet light; feminine, yet tight-laced; rich, yet peasant; fun; yet reserved; elegant, yet simple.
Such is the fashion you find at L’Atelier des Ours, and I understand that wealthy Parisian women flock to the store and to its store online.
Expensive? Well, yes!
You can imitate “BoBo” by layering and stacking on clothes you find at the thrift store or in the back of your closet. If you want to go for the “real” BoBo, it will cost you big time. For a special occasion, it’s tempting to splurge.
It’s tempting! And here’s why …
I hope you have enjoyed visiting L’Atelier des Ours — translated, Teddy Bear Workshop. Be sure to stop and visit the store. It’s definitely a “must-see.”