The Antiques Diva™
top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>By mere happenstance, you’re in Holland at the best time to buy antiques in the last quarter century. Right now, Holland is offering some of the best bargains in Western Europe. Antiques have fallen out of favor with the fashion-forward low-landers and every Jan, Henk and Peter is cleaning their “zolder”, banishing anything Rococo, Baroque or beyond. As the Dutch lose interest in antiques, prices drop and savvy shoppers benefit from increased selection and lower prices. As an antique shopping maven, my mantra is the time is ripe to cash in on the age-old adage, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Of course, “trash or treasure” are subjective words. An 18th C heavily-carved Dutch walnut armoire might have sold ten years ago for 12,000 Euros. Today you can pick one up at auction for 2,000E. But you needn’t spend thousands to cash in on this recession. I’ve bought 200 year old copper pots and Art Deco lighting fixtures at Diemen’s De Eland for less than the price of dinner at IKEA. As a non-Dutch speaker, going to auction seems to be a daunting affair. But don’t let the words get in the way. De Zwaan located on Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht #474 is part vaudeville show, part cultural immersion course. Go to viewings and peruse the catalogs in advance. If serious about buying, ask that your lot be sold in English. Should your budget be a bit bigger, Sotheby’s and Christies always offer English as an option.
Mimi Banks is a professional, dynamic and fun photographer. As an American, she is a native English speaker, yet she speaks French like a true Parisian and can do the talking for you when you’re out and about on “les rues” should your French be “pas bien”. Visit Mimi Bank’s web page to find out more information. Although, if I recall, her website is a little out of date, so perhaps it’s best to email Mimi today to find out what she can do for you…. .
Of course, if you’re going to have your pictures done, why not have your hair done too?
I’m about to let you in on Paris’ best-kept secret — Private Stylist and Beautician Laurie Hoffmeyer Laid. Like Mimi, Laurie is also an American and she comes to your apartment or hotel room and will do your hair whether it be “”, a quick trim, a full-blown haircut or highlights and coloring. Knowing Laurie’s list of usual clients, she’s likely to be visiting you in your hotel room then whisk off afterwards to an appointment at the Ambassador’s residence.
While I can’t name names (for a lady never tells), I can say that when a certain former first lady is in town she always stays with her friends at the American Ambassador’s residence and, before public appearances, relies upon Laurie’s magic touch to fluff her jet-lagged hair.
Lastly, Laurie happens to be one of my favorite people in Paris. Wisconsin born and bred, Laurie offers a brand of down-home hospitality not often found amongst all the pretty people in Paris. She also happens to have a life story that would be the perfect starting point in a best-selling plot of a John le Carré novel. Back in Green Bay, Laurie met and married an Algerian hotelier and lived in North Africa for several years before taking up residence in Paris a decade ago when her husband took over a Parisian hotel. It was in Algeria when she made her niche, becoming known as “the hairstylist of the Embassies” and since then she has been charming her way into the hearts of hundreds of private clients. Her fee structure is quite comparable to a “coiffeur de quartier” and is “un vrai bon marché” given her expertise, exclusive clientele and the fact that she comes to you in the privacy of your own home or hotel. Plus, as my mom said after Laurie did her hair, “this is the best haircut I’ve ever had.”
I can’t give you Laurie’s phone number or email address, as it’s private, but if you email The Antiques Diva at I’ll be happy to connect you with Paris’ best kept secret – an American coiffeur extraordinaire!
The Antiques Diva™