My favourite French friend, who introduces herself as Lilly to non-French people to save them from trying to pronounce Aurélie, visited recently. She arrived in a blue and white-striped long-sleeved top — her current favourite. She brought a box of chocolates from Alençon in Normandy, where she grew up. She would have brought Camembert cheese, but I always rib her about it tasting the same as Brie. She goes all Normandy-proud every time I give her the bait. She knows I’m fishing for her to bite, but she can’t resist.
Anyway, this blog entry isn’t about Normandy. It’s about Frenchness. Or fashion. Or patriotism. Or maybe all three of those things. Because Lilly’s pride of all things from Normandy is what most of us typically feel about our home towns and countries. Is this why her white towel also has blue stripes? Like her top? Is it patriotism? She protested when I asked her, saying blue and white stripes are in fashion.
And Lilly might be right. We went shopping in Annecy. At H&M, I counted 27 varieties of blue and white-striped tops in the women’s section alone. Ten would be a lot, but almost triple that figure is surely overkill! Other clothes shops stocked similar tops, but on a much smaller scale.Is this merely a fashionable trend this year, or do the French truly wear blue and white stripes as naturally as they say ‘oh la la‘?
I think it’s a patriotic statement, but maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?