Modern life goes on but not all “oldy-worldly”charm is disappearing from our lives. Charm like good wine increases over time.
We all know about the newest heights of shopping experiences to be had in Monaco at One Monte Carlo to find that priceless needle in a haystack treasure, jewel or unique timepiece. But talking of needles what about more simple shopping pleasures, those that even Princess Grace enjoyed. From one thing to another it is in rue Grimaldi that you will find Giovanni’s haberdashery.
Existing since 1896, “De fil en aiguille” is the oldest store in Monaco and the only haberdashery in the Principality. You will find spools of yarn and wool, a very large selection of buttons made of vegetable and natural materials and cotton and wool clothing with all the attentive advice and expertise of its owner.
And the price of a ticket to a good theatre play might not give you the same thrill of discovering the Ying to One Monte Carlo’s Yang.
Instead of spacious airy expanses and meticulous designer displays, squeezed into the same 40 square metres that existed in 1896, an Alice in Wonderland experience awaits. Once through the door, you have to squeeze between the narrow shelves loaded with balls of wool, ribbons, tights, socks and a potpourri of lingerie and nightwear.
A little paradise for lovers of sewing, crochet, knitting or embroidery such as Princess Grace and Josephine Baker. Follow in their footsteps and take an expert look around to find the particular bauble that you need.
It’s especially for those who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves to make or mend their wardrobe and you would be surprised how many stars like Monica Belluci have taken the initiative to preserve a favourite memento in fabric.
And like folk tales, stories abound about special finds in nooks and crannies like a puppet dressed in Monegasque garb or old newspaper cuttings featuring historic sewing machines for sale.
The celebrity visits are not limited to royal princesses or even ladies. Male aficionados in the past have included Christopher Lee. And the Beatles? Well Ringo Starr has not been reported spotted but Paul McCartney has.
Giovanni Di Salvia is the sixth owner of the store and probably would like nothing better than for his offspring to be the seventh. Though still only 65 years young one can’t imagine him looking to retire from what he obviously thrives on, discussing exchanging giving advice passing on knowledge to his loyal clients.
He started in furniture design with a showroom in Belgium and a childhood love with a Monegasque is part of the personal fairy tale that introduced him to the Principality. The former owner worked with him for ages before retiring making sure the history and knowledge were well passed on.
And now he is the one at the helm passing on his knowledge through sewing classes at the house of associations, A Casa d’i Soci bonded with his loyal clients who also provide knitting, embroidery or other courses.
So as the health situation improves think of a fun outing, a change from the expected spectacular modern shopping experience in the Principality, a little history following in the footsteps of those who know where to find the unusual.