It was a grey winter’s day and I had reached that dividein the Haut Marais district of Paris where chic gives way to slightly mustyvintage – or so I thought. I was marching due north when, like a scene from anold black-and-white movie with colour accents, bold hues punctured my field ofvision. Hanging like fairy lights in the window of a shop called Muskhane, Ispied golf-ball-sized felted wool orbs (fourth picture, from €7) in a sunny spectrum from lemon yellow to a deep crimson I later learn isnamed Birman Lacquer.
These soft spheres lured me in, but the real draw to befound inside was the Nepali cashmere, piled high and well displayed, hangingalong the shop’s walls. My greedy hands did not know what to fondle first: thesweet sleep mask (third picture, €47), leg warmers (€99), fingerless gloves (third picture, from €57) or one of the many scarves invarious lengths and weaves (third picture, from €169). My fingers ran along each and every baby-softsurface while the French shop assistant remained remarkably calm – perhaps,like this enchanting fabric, she too had spent time in the meditativeHimalayas.
She offered me the backstory (while fascinating, still achallenge for my fledgling French): Muskhane means “smile” in Nepalese, areference to the French company’s fair-trade practices with indigenousHimalayan artisans; the felted wool is an Asian tradition dating back sevencenturies and the cashmere is made from the downy soft fleece between the neckand navel of capra hisca goats capable of surviving at -40°C.
I moved deeper into the festive space, picking up pillows (from €59) and resting my face upon each one. I considered investing in one of an alluringarray of felted wool necklaces (€10) before gravitating towards the clothing. Icoveted the sexy cashmere boxer shorts (from €89) – while regretting all those baguettesthat meant I couldn’t really squeeze myself into them. I settled on abronze tank-top dress (€89) that will carry me from the Moroccan desert toMaldivian sunsets, black cashmere leggings (€245), for the multiple flightsbetween those two locales, and my favourite find, the Cosy Neck Tube (€49), whichdoubles as a turtleneck or headdress. Mine is what the company calls PureOrange, one of only seven shades (plus black) in its tightly edited rainbowof colours. I, meanwhile, am over the moon with my discovery.