Wednesday, 27 April 2011
For this third issue of my personal guide of must-to-see places in Paris, I've the honor to introduce you Monsieur Henri Launay and his wonderful "dolls hospital". In reality, he does not need a presentation because several newspapers from the four corners of the world had already written articles about him, among them you can find the New York Times as well, and he is also cited in the entry "doll" of wikipedia... he is the most reputed "dolls doctor" over the world, a specialist of clear international fame. For that, it was impossible to not write an article about him and his unique boutique in Paris...
Since 45 years ago, the work of Henri Launay consists in repairing dolls and during this time over 30.000 little plastic injured passed under his expert hands. When you enter in his shop you can find him always at work with his white laboratory coat, swamped with dolls of any size and material, while a Verdi's aria is passing on the background. It is an authentic plunge in a wonder-world that, I'm sure about, has not equal in no other part of the planet. Thanks to an enormous stock of old parts, such as legs, arms, heads, eyes, torsos, which overcrowds his clinic, he is able to take care of all kind of old dolls. Nobody has taught him the savoir-faire of this art: he is a self-made specialist and he learned by himself to recognized how a doll is done, how to find the right spare part, and how to replace it. Asking him about what is his favorite tool, he answers proudly "simply my hands", underlining how in his work it is important accumulated know-how, personal experience, and patience... all qualities and capabilities that can hardly be taught.
But, the reason that pushed me to write this post about him is not only his world-wide reputation and his enormous savoir-faire. It is indeed the idea that lie beyond his activity that inspired me: the human being gives extra-material importance to things since the dawn of the world. This is not fetichism; things are a substitute of presences, thanks to things we remember people, our loved ones, and often we believe that we could transfer part of our sentiments and feelings to future generations thanks to things. The dolls, especially oldest ones, build before the consumeristic era in a time where they were an expensive toy often bought after sacrifices and hard work, could be the idealistic baton to hand on from a generation to another, from mother to daughter... and if this baton was accentually broken, don't worry because the Dr. Launay will be able to cure it assuring its changeover.
In an consumeristic era turned toward waste and disenchantment, Henri Launay in my opinion makes a revolutionary act, resisting with his little activity to a world made of disposable good, made in series, that all are all the same without any value nor charm. You can find Henri Launay in Paris, 114 avenue Parmantier, 75011, from Mon. to Fri, 10h.-12h. and 15h-17h; tel. 01.43.57.09.02.
Etichette: little treasures of Paris