Thursday, April 27, 2017

A night at the opera/ A chance for seduction! #Paris

Grand Hall, Opera Garnier, Paris
I went to Paris for research and had to take in the Opera Garnier!
I start a new series, THOSE NOTORIOUS AMERICANS, October 17 with a novel starring a family of brash, bold American beauties and eligible robber barons.
Every American heiress had to have a wardrobe fit for a princess or duchess or whatever ancient title she could grab. So she went to Paris. Her papa spent tens of thousands on a complete wardrobe for her from lingerie to tea gowns to evening gowns and many many chapeaus! He also hired French or English ladies, impoverished as they were, to educate their young misses in everything from how to curtsy to how to use a fish fork.
These impressionable young ladies went to cafes, the races and soirees galore.
Detail, Grand Hall, Opera Garnier, Paris
While there, they also had their nights at the opera. The Opera Garnier, to be precise. In my first novel in the series, WILD LILY, our heroine and her entire family go to an evening at this ornate example of Belle Epoch architecture. They sit in a box. (I did.) They sip champagne in the refreshment room. (I went but did not sip.) They escaped to the balcony for an assignation or more. (I went with Mr. DeLand out onto the balcony but we were quite modest at 3 in the afternoon!)

There were explicit rules about how to arrive, when and why and what a lady might and might not do at the opera. I've incorporated all my research for you...and added a bit of risqué elements to entertain you!

Draperies at entrance to Grand Hall,
Opera Garnier
And not only in the first book do we go to the opera. But in the second book in the series as well. There I treat you to a Frenchman you won't be able to resist. Neither can my American widow who wanted only one night of pleasure...and gets much more than she bargained for!
This second in the series is not yet titled, but you can look for it early in January!

Enjoy the rest of my pictures! I adored this lavish theatre and I hope you will too!

Interior of the theatre.

Grand Circle, entrance to private boxes,
Opera Garnier, Paris

Grand staircase, Opera Garnier, Paris

Detail, Grand Staircase, Opera Garnier,

Red velvet chair, private box, Opera Garnier 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Those "Dollar Princesses" bought their hubbies! How much did Churchill's mama pay? What's it worth today?

Jenny Jerome Churchill
The courtship was whirlwind. Days, they knew each other before he proposed. Weeks only before they were married. Yes, Jenny Jerome and Lord Randolph Churchill met at a yachting party on Cowes and within days the man had proposed to the American girl whose papa, Leonard, was very, very rich.

Prior to the passage of the British Married Women's Property Act of 1882, women had no rights to their husband's property. Therefore, the Duke of Marlborough assumed that whatever dowry Jenny had would be given to her future husband. Leonard Jerome demanded any money he offer be controlled by his daughter.

Once he proposed, Randolph was met with a skeptical father. And his sire wanted a solid financial arrangement to complement the marriage. They haggled for months over the money.

After much debate, Jenny father agreed to 50,000 pounds (approximately 3 million pounds in present day value) producing 2,000 pounds income each user with half of both capital and income going to the husband and half to the wife. This equalled approximately 150,000 pounds per year for them to live on. The fact that Jenny had control of her own money was an extraordinary concept in that day and age, one to which the Duke objected heartily. His argument was that by marrying his son, she would give up her American citizenship and become a British subject. Therefore, she should live as one. Fortunately for her, her father did not agree.

As soon as the families agreed to this amount, Jenny and Randolph were married. However, this was not done at the Marlborough estate, nor any where in England but in Paris at the Hotel Charost, the British Embassy in Paris. (Those of you who read this blog regularly will recall that the Hotel Charost was once Pauline Bonaparte's house bought by the British Government for the Duke of Wellington after the defeat of Napoleon in 1814.)

So read more about these ladies, I hope you will read my own American Heiresses series!

McCall, Gail, and Wallace, Carol McD., To Marry an English Lord, 1989.
Jenkins, Roy, Churchill, A Biography. 2001.
Lady Churchill, Her sons Jack (l) and Winston (rt.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How much will you pay to marry a duke? House of Worth, Rue de la Paix #Paris

This picture of of Worth house in the Rue de la Paix in the 1870s. 
To be able to debut in European society in the 1870s up until 1910s, it was oh so important to dress the part. What better way to do it than to go to House of Worth where a girl could be measured and outfitted for a mere...oh...$50,000 for the Season!

Yes, it was vital to appear fabulous when shopping for a duke or a baron...or anyone else in between.  Jennie Jerome went to Worth. So did the Vanderbilts and the Astors. Anyone who was anyone went and acquired one of Worth's vendeuses (personal sales girls).

Frederick Worth was considered the first fashion designer but many, like Madame Pacquin, very close by in the Rue de la Paix were just as good and just as expensive.
The underpinnings of a bustle!

The drama of dressing was long and drawn out. To wear a bustle was truly a challenge, not only to walk in one but to sit and yes, shall we discuss how to manage the necessities of life in one of these contraptions? Add to that the discomfort of one of the era's corsets, and a girl could get rather tired of carrying around such extra weight.
Madame Pacquin, French designer
and competitor to Worth

Frederick Worth, Englishman and designer,
#7 Rue de la Paix

Evening gown, House of Worth

Walking costume, House of Worth
corset, late 19th century

corset, late 19th century

All this so that one might sweep up this staircase in the Opera Garner in Paris
and appear stately, rich and desirable!

My photo of #7 Rue de la Paix from a research trip last October!
Still as impressive looking as in its heyday. Not far from Opera Garnier, Tiffany's and more!