Most of us miss shopping.
We could get nostalgic...
And go back 350 years. I've been reading a book that discuses the origins of western shopping culture: Joan DeJean's How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City. She uses her understanding of French word origins, Paris history and close examination of images from 17th-century France to give us insight into the invention of the sidewalk, the park bench, the city guidebook and the luxury shopping destination.
Fabric is draped attractively to show off pattern repeats
(probably silk brocades and embroideries) .
Rococo designs with a lot of scrollwork seem to be la Mode
(French for fashion.)
La Galerie du Palais by Abraham Bosse, 1636
This etching forty years earlier shows how fashion changed since the days of Vandyke collars. Once luxury shops began vending la mode clothing style began to change faster.
Fancy collars, fans and gloves were sold by male and female clerks.
Books are in the department on the left.
1688 Selling Lingerie in a Boutique
DeJean makes a point about how French boutiques
like this lingerie store were "manned" by women, an
equality other countries did not import.
Another image of a shop selling both fashion accessories (lace?) and books. The Palace Galleries in the Palace Royale (a public square) were a shopping arcade---the first mall?
The Gothic style windows are visible in the courtyard in the center here.
The French "created a new urban amusement: we call it 'going shopping.' " She quotes from a contemporary account: Paris "abounds with opulence and wealth...paradise for the rich and hell for the poor [with] an infinite number of shops full of beautiful things you were dying to buy."
I liked many things about this book. She moves easily between French and English and translates all her French phrases into idiomatic English. I've been reading French history books this year and few authors do that. They assume you read French with flair. I can read it but I continually miss the subtleties of the idioms. Word origins explain a lot about culture and she's quite good at French and English. It's a great historical guidebook to France and urban culture. After reading it you'd notice the sidewalks on the Pont Neuf that you would otherwise have taken for granted.