Soon, the heart and matriarch of Blanc Boutique, Nancy Mayer, will be off again for another Parisian buying trip. Hard work, but someone has to do it, as they say! However, it is many miles, hours and legwork (and even injuries as you will read, no kidding!) that go into finding just the right things to fill those racks at Blanc and bring Paris home to us all in the Bay Area. We caught up with her recently to get the inside scoop.
Editor: Hi, Nancy! So I hear that you are getting ready to jet off for another buying trip to Paris in October to do the buying for Spring '18. Is it still just as exciting each time for you as your first buying trip was years ago?
Nancy: Yes, I am still just as excited as my first trip, less nervous and more trusting in the outcome, but I do get more tired now, so I have to take more time at night at my apartment going over orders with a plate of cheese, bottle of wine or champagne from a wonderful small French winemaker. It is like going home for me each time I go to Paris. I love the way the Parisians live and take time to enjoy life, and I say "when in Paris..." The smells and sites excite me and I am so lucky to return there each year!
Editor: What is your favorite arrondissement in Paris and why?
Nancy: I love to stay in a little apartment on the Rues des Francs Bourgeois in the Marais. It is in a very old building yet remodeled in a simple modern style with windows that open to the street. I can hear the church bells and watch the Parisians walking by. I love Saturday and Sunday mornings early before the shoppers come out and I can look out my window and watch the fathers and sons walk to temple. It is an old neighborhood where people still live and go about their daily business. It is a mix of boutiques and shops, the Picasso Museum, and great small restaurants like Le Taxi Jaune on rue Chapon.
Editor: Do you go with a predetermined group of things you are focused on finding or do you let it happen organically and let those designers and pieces find you?
Nancy: I always go with the appointments made to buy the lines I need and always find new lines on each trip. The new surprises are the really exciting part and keep me fresh and enthused! I also go to see my friends, the designers, I have been carrying since I first went to buy for the store. Yet I always hear about new designers and go to seek them out. I trust their vision, so buying is really fun and easy for me! They know what colors, fabrics and looks are popular for the season and it is fun to pick what I like from all of the offerings. I never like to leave a rock unturned, and even if I hear about a new designer and it is ten minutes before the taxi arrives to take me to the airport, I have to run to their showroom and have a look. That is literally how I found the Japanese designer Divka who made one of our shop’s favorite, stunning coats. I ran into his showroom and wrote up an order in 15 minutes just before the taxi was coming to our apartment to take us to the airport!
Editor: Is there any one thing or things you are specifically focused on finding and bringing back this time?
Nancy: I am a textile lover and lover of the mix of classic and asymmetrical, elegant and interesting, sophisticated and daring, a mix of menswear dressing and women's dressing, beautiful fabrics and fine tailoring yet casual and wearable. Those are the elements I look for each season.
Editor: I've heard that initially you use a very tactile method to selecting the clothing, almost using your hands to glide across the racks to find the fabrics you love the feel of, versus visual. Is that true?
Nancy: I definitely am a tactile buyer. I try to never buy from pictures. I need to feel the textures and buy by touching each piece. I like to decide quickly by instinct by always touching the fabrics and seeing how they look on the model and trying on what I can.
Editor: Do you have a favorite designer of the moment or a certain new line you have brought into the shop recently that you are exceptionally excited about? I know it's like asking who your favorite child is, right?
Nancy: Delle Cose is a designer that I love and I missed last time because I fell down and had to stay resting and on ice! But I iced with my leg up on a chair in a cafe sipping pastis and eating pomme frites. I fell because I was so excited to walk by the Commes des Garcons store and was looking up instead of down. I love seeing new things from Antonio and his Delle Cose line of bags. I will definitely be buying the Italia Postal bags in fun colors for spring!!!
Editor: Last question. What is your favorite restaurant in Paris, and will you be there sipping your favorite glass of wine before you have even unpacked your suitcase? Are you the fastidious, organized traveler or do you like to fly by the seat of your pants? I suppose that is really three questions in one isn't it?
Nancy: Le Taxi Jaune on rue Chapon in the Marais. I will be there sipping wine. The owner, who is a great chef, has opened a fabulous wine store just across the street. It is a popular local restaurant and I go there as often as I can for a lunch between appointments. I definitely am a mix of fastidious and fly by the seat of my pants!
Editor: Thank you, Nancy! We look forward to seeing what goodies you bring back from Paris for us all!