A kiss on the hand may be quite continental / But diamonds are a girl’s best friend! When she sang this song in a Hollywood film studio in 1953, Marilyn Monroe ensured a place in history for the adventures of Lorelei Lee, the impossibly blonde and ambitious heroine of the ironic saga Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. These short sketches, written by Anita Loos and published in Harper’s Bazaar from 1925 onwards, were surprisingly successful and were made into a Broadway musical and several films.
Shortly afterwards, the Société internationale des intérêts commerciaux (the State railway company) approached Devambez to ensure that Paris would be the city most coveted by the world’s “blondes”.
And Blondes Prefer Paris is one of the supreme examples of Jacques Deval’s comic talent. The famous playwright produced a complete guide to Parisian high society, listing essential addresses on pages meticulously illustrated in Art Deco style.
All this is seen through the eyes of Annabel Flowers, a young American anxious to ‘consume’ all that Paris can offer her.
This included the perfume Soir de Paris, Perugia shoes, the Elizabeth Arden boutique at 2, rue de la Paix, the men’s fashion store Madelios and its ladies’ equivalent Medith, and Madame de Sévigné’s chocolate masterpieces.
Trunks and travel sets by Mappin & Webb were a must when travelling in a legendary Hispano-Suiza motor car to the fashionable resorts of the time: Bagnoles-de-l’Orne, Mont Saint-Michel, Deauville, Dinard and Dieppe, Cannes with its famous Hôtel Miramar on the boulevard de la Croisette. Not fogetting Devambez, of course, the artist whose notepaper and rubber stamps ‘cannot fall short of their purpose’.
Jacques Deval, And Blondes Prefer Paris [four letters, twenty two post cards, two night letters and one cable from his sweet, sweet Annabel Flowers to her darling, darling George Sabran], Devambez, Paris, ca. 1930