Samantha David is a freelance journalist and writes for various publications including BBC Online, the Sunday Times, the FT, Living France, everything France, and France Magazine

Samantha David, writer

Le Dernier Mot - articles by Samantha David


DERNIER MOT - Fancy Dress Parties 


      The most unexpected thing we've acquired since moving to France is a collection of fancy dress clothes.  Pirates, princesses, bunny rabbits and spacemen, we've got them all stashed away in a large hamper in the attic.

      It started when the kids were little and wanted to dress up for Halloween; and then at primary school they had to have jolly outfits for Carnival in February, and this couldn't be a paper hat from a Christmas cracker and a brightly-coloured t-shirt.  It had to be the full McCoy; Batman, Cinderella, Snow White, and/or Bright-Eyes complete with light wands, crossbows and hobby horses.

      Visits to Emmaüs and long sessions with my grandmother's sewing machine resulted in some generic princess and highwayman outfits of which I was justifiably proud and the next year we did even better - turning the JMs out in stylish Disney costumes which we faithfully enlarged year after year until finally they left primary school and thus were no longer expected to dress up.

      At which point Alphonse the Maire decided that July 14th wasn't special enough in Moisson and declared it a fancy dress celebration.  Everyone would have to be either as an aristo or a revolutionary. 

      "Adults included!" he announced at the Easter apéros.  "My mother is already making the costumes, so no excuses!"

      We duly went to inspect the outfits on offer and at first I rather fancied the aristo outfit with the corset and the big hoops.

      "I'm not wearing a blooming wig!" protested the SP.  "You could go as sans culottes!" chortled the JMs.  "With no trousers on!"

      "Oh very funny," I snorted.  "I'm not walking round the village half naked just to amuse a pack of warped juveniles!"

      "Stirring the natives up with excessive displays of flesh?  I should think not!" said the SP.  In the end, we all just went as peasants.  Long skirts and aprons for us girls, raggedy trousers and collarless shirts for the boys.

      And now we've got the sewing machine out once again because last September when we went to a historical market in Ganges we found that everyone was dressed up in 1900 costumes; bowler hats, spats, bustles, cartwheel hats and frivolous parasols - and this year, *Ganges 1900 is going to be a three day event. 

      The whole town will be closed to traffic, all the modern facades and shop signs covered over with olden days replicas, the street furniture disguised or hidden behind bales of hay, and the tarmac covered over with straw.  There will be period organ grinders, match sellers, bakery boys on bicycles, firemen putting out fires with a hand pumps, carriage rides, circus acts, singers, a wedding re-enactment, old fashioned carousels and the original post office will re-open to sell special postcards and stamps.  Of course in the evenings there will be outdoor feasting, music and dancing.

      The JMs have already grabbed the comfortable stuff and are going as street urchins and stable lads.  (Any excuse to get dirty and hang around the horses.)  The SP is on the hunt for a bowler hat so he can be a bank manager, and I am thinking of turning Alice's apron into a nurse's outfit by adding a large red cross.

      As for Bella, she says she doesn't mind what she wears.  She says the bichon frisé is a classic French breed and as such she is perfectly used to dressing up.  She says she's had her eye on the designer doggie jackets worn by Parisian lapdogs.

      I can't believe it - not content with having a family dressing up hamper, we are now acquiring a collection of dressing up clothes for dogs.

      Are we going native?  Or just plain nutty?









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