All images by Nicholas Calcott for Paris By Appointment Only™
Leading Role: The ageless, timeless Jacques Fivel (above), a man of many hats, including vintage fashion dealer, sculptor and gong therapist.
Supporting Cast: His wife, the amazing tattoo artist Philippine Schaefer (above), their two young kids, a couple of cats, and whoever else shows up.
Setting: Jacques Fivel’s vast, ground floor atelier in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, a remote neighborhood in the Northeast corner of the city.
Décor: A cabinet of curiosities, Fivel’s place is packed to the rafters with gorgeous handcrafted aural sculptures, random artifacts, ancient hunting tools, Balinese totems, and racks and racks of fabulous frocks.
At high noon the first Wednesday of each month a series of sirens rings throughout Paris to test the city’s emergency warning system. Startling at first, the practice grounds you in the present—at that very moment you know exactly where and when you are. The sound is also a haunting blast from the past (it’s impossible not to think of curfews and distress alarms when you hear it). For those in the know, the signal has another sense entirely: it’s a stirring reminder to attend Jacques Fivel’s monthly fashion happening, Le Jour de la Sirène (The day of the siren), later on that evening.
Much like the bell for which it’s named, Fivel’s party has a bygone, La Dolce Vita feel to it. Full of fascinating eccentrics, surreal conversations, flamboyant costumes and breathtaking décor, it feels like a fin de siècle film thick with decadence, elegance and intrigue. With the exception of few added flourishes, the cinematic show unfolds much in this manner: