‘Before the Internet’

by Chikashi

We were just in Paris for a long overdue visit to the Emile Hermès Museum. Before heading to Faubourg, we called on a few places for some regular provisions, and at Fauchon a very young member of staff asked if I wouldn’t mind answering a few marketing survey questions.

The survey was about a label they introduced for products from third party brands. The survey and the label programme itself have a whiff of vacuousness. Once we were done with the questions about the programme itself, we came to the more general questions. She asked me how I came to first know about Fauchon. ‘Through the press or the Internet?’ she asked. I said, ‘It was before the Internet.’

She looked stunned and repeated my reply with an embarrassed giggle. I chose the fourth option, ‘word of mouth’. She is obviously too young to remember an era without the Internet.

The conversation reminded me that people talked to each other more before the advent of the Internet and social media (like blogs…), and that there used to be a more acute sense of discovery when seeking or being informed of and finding a maker or a shop tucked away in an unexpected area (neither Fauchon nor Place de la Madeleine can be characterised as a secret, however) supplying to an informed few. She wouldn’t remember that either.

On the other hand, because opportunities for cabbalistic finds are much more seldom these days, I suppose that it feels more special to have found them when one does find them. I think Emile Hermès would agree.