Sunday, 26 August 2012


Toulon is not known as a fashion centre. A navy town in decline, stretched between sea and mountain, the old town has lost its colourful reputation as "Chicago", a sailors' paradise. A corrupt administation keen on dodgy real-estate deals emptied the centre of its traditional inhabitants and the creation of a shopping mall killed the small shops that made it a destination: the "tropezienne" sandal maker or Régine, the made-to-measure swimsuit seanstress closed shop.  All that remained untouched was the fabulous daily fruit and vegetable market and the "chichi fregi",  a churros like delicacy that beats its Spanish equivalent hands down.

For a few years, the authorities with a new administration have tried to reverse Toulon's decline and started renovating the narrow streets to attract a new breed of cafes and shops.One such new comers is Abyss, Veronique Rouge's clothes shop, located  on the "petit cours Lafayette", the market street.

In her mid forties, Veronique Rouge has been designing clothes for 20 years, first in Montpellier, then in Paris and now in Toulon. She designs her clothes in the studio located above the shop, the models are made in Nîme.

She uses end-of-line couture fabric: silk, cotton, linen and her prints come from Japan in very limited series. Her multi-talented assistant Anne, designs jewellery and appears as model on Abyss' mini-catalogue.

The clothes are based on draping which creates a timeless look and fit a variety of sizes and body shapes. Most buyers are women over 40 who enjoy the sharp look, the luxurious fabrics and colours at vey keen prices. You have to try the clothes on to reveal their full potential.

13bis rue Paul Lendrin
83000 Toulon

Friday, 17 August 2012

The bathing suit ordeal - help is at hand

Age doesn't improve the ritual unpleasantness of bying a swimsuit. I never enjoyed staring at myself in neon lighting and going through the damage limitation exercice. The experience would normally take place in a department store, in the name of choice. Picking up promising models on the sales rack to accomodate budget constraints would produce a great fit in an unacceptable colour whilst the ideal flattering hues would only come in minute or ginormous sizes. Sales assistants would be either invisible and unhelpful or so keen to make a sale as to praise the lime green slahed-at-the waist bulge-enhancing horror that you tried as the price was so good. I have found an alternative: Jocelyne, the most charmingly old-fashioned lingerie store known this side of the Mediterranean.

Located in the old town, the shop is a time capsule of days gone by when Toulon was a vibrant and louche navy port and "Toulonaise" women looked after their curves with gusto. Selling lingerie from Aubade, Bolero, Lou, Lejaby, Chantelle, Triumph, Jocelyne also stocks a selection of swimwear from Rasurel, Roidal, Freya and various others.

Jocelyne who runs the epinonous shop, is a hands-on sales person. She will size you up, produce suitable styles in the correct cup version, adjust your breasts, pull and push elastics to ensure the right fit. She has run the store for 25 years, taking over from the previous owner of 50 years. With only 2 owners in 75 years, this is a specialist shop if there ever was one, dedicated to serving a discerning clientele with friendly but direct advice. The lady who was told her real size was a 44H, not a 36D was kindly told to sit down before learning the truth.

She knows her stuff and if her taste can be frillier than mine, I recognize her expertise. Her motto is to make women feel good about themselves. "The right swimsuit will find you" she says. With her help, it did!
Jocelyne Lingerie
Lingerie, Corseterie,
Swimwear, Tights, Stockings,
Specialist in large sizes
15 rue Paul Lendrin, Toulon 83100
Tel: +33494923743