Who Loves It Wears It
Leaving behind the whiteness of a continental winter’s day we step into La Mâle d’Effeenne which is like entering a man cave but only if the man is Aladdin. Black is the new black. All that glitters really is gold. We’re greeted like long lost brothers by owners François Mahé (French) and Nico Francioni (Italian). They chime, “It’s been a year, has it not? We remember you well! You’re famous! Excuse the clutter – we’ve just had a large seasonal delivery.”
Their shop defies definition. Literally: there’s something in the name. “La” of course is feminine. “Mâle” clearly isn’t. This shop is for everyone so when it comes to clothes or scents, you decide. “Mâle” is a nod to Jean-Paul Gaultier’s famous scent. It also references “malle”, the French word for luggage. Gosh multiple entendres or what? And what hidden depths does “Effeenne” possess? It’s the guys’ initials spelt phonetically: “F” and “N”. So there you go. Putting the concept into conceptual.
La Mâle d’Effeenne is on Rue St Paul in the middle of Village St Paul in the middle of Le Marais in the middle of Paris. The dominating architectural presence is the Church of St Paul. There has been an ecclesiastical presence in this location for 16 centuries. In 1360 the village gained royal status when Charles V installed his Hôtel St Paul. Today, the chiaroscuro of the church nave is strongly pencilled by wintry shadow. A ciborium or baldachin of ghostly semi transparent scarlet veil is suspended over an Advent arrangement.
Lunch is in an hour at L’Ambroisie, a heartbeat away from Rue St Paul. Back at the store, François says, “Well done on getting a table at the restaurant. It’s very in demand. Let us know how it is!” We depart La Mâle d’Effeenne laden with exquisitely wrapped sprays d’ambiance by Secret d’Apothicaire (“It smells good enough to wear!” exclaims Nico) and embossed carte postales of Formi Dabel artwork. No wonder Nancy Mitford writes in her 1960s novel Don’t Tell Alfred, “At no season does Paris look more beautiful than early in December.” White will be the new black.