Perhaps the starkness of the rooms should be held partially accountable for the added chill felt in my apartment last February. My mother and I had almost turned packing into a game: every week, I was left with fewer things and more void. By the end, my bed and my Jean Gillon Jangada armchair were two islands in a sea of bare floating floorboards. Just a few more days and I’d be in Paris, because, at thirty-three, I had hit reset: ended a marriage, obtained a French visa, terminated all my long-term contracts in Montreal, and was moving in with my new boyfriend who lived on another continent.
Back at the apartment, my sartorial inclinations were lulled by a daily uniform of denim, white tees and fleece. I had two Goodee hoodies on rotation. They were warm, they were exceptionally soft, they were everything my current situation was not—comfortable. The feeling of security they provided me during those last few days in my bitter hometown is something I’ve only come to realize with hindsight.
We furnish our homes with what brings us joy, inspiration, security, comfort and with what reflects who we are. Our clothes are not only an extension of ourselves, but of that universe we created. During a very uncertain time, when home didn’t feel like home, I gravitated towards the Goodee hoodies, because they did. They provided a fleecy barrier—a most unthreatening of armours—sheltering me from The Unknown. I suppose that’s the thing with The Unknown, all it takes is a change of perspective and it can go from threat to opportunity or forced-impromptu-COVID19-holiday in a heartbeat, but I digress.
I have been in Paris for eight months now, starting over, and as difficult as the leap was, I never once regretted it. If anything, the experience made me think a lot about the relationship between discomfort and personal growth. Since 2020 provided no shortage of discomfort, I wanted to reach out to others in my new found community and see how they’ve dealt with difficult situations, what helped them push through and what was on the other side.
We furnish our homes with what brings us joy, inspiration, security, comfort and with what reflects who we are. Our clothes are not only an extension of ourselves, but of that universe we created.
As for me, home finally feels like home, mostly because of the connections I have made here. I realize how much a solid support system of individuals contributes to comfort, something I have always known, but that is heightened now through having to start from scratch. So many of the people I meet, I can connect with and relate to almost immediately. Maybe that’s because I have become more candid over the years, but it seems as though everyone else has as well. During my short time in Paris, Laure and David are among the many I’ve met that have been exceedingly generous with their time and kindness. The sort of people that restore your faith in building new relationships later in life.
Laure Messiah grew up in Paris. She lived in New York for five years and has now been back for two. As beautiful and fulfilling as those five years were, she missed her city. With a long list of interests, Laure finds ways in which she can cultivate them all. Aside from her role as wholesale manager for Parisian fashion collective, Études, she is also working towards establishing her own studio and artist residency where people could share craft skills, her own chosen craft being ceramics. One day perhaps, her passion for food and her motherland of Madagascar will manifest itself in the form of a Malagasy restaurant—a project she dreams of sharing with her mother.
What is comfort to you?
Being in good health!
Can you tell us about an uncomfortable situation you’ve experienced and how you handled it?
Yes. Very recently the co-ownership board for the building in which I live refused my proposal for the conversion of a garage into an apartment. The situation escalated into a heated debate—raised voices and all. I was totally overwhelmed and lost my cool. I left in the middle of the meeting without saying another word. I had a very difficult time calming myself down afterwards, even though I’m well versed in meditation and yoga. That should have helped!
Do moments of discomfort allow you to better appreciate moments of comfort?
For sure. When these moments of discomfort are far away and we finally come to that realisation, that’s when we feel really good. One could not exist without the other!
David Las Viegas
David Las Viegas has been living in Paris since June 2014. Before that, he had a studio in the suburbs—a little town called Bussy Saint Georges, ten minutes from the Parisian Disneyland. He has lived in Belgium, Canada, the United-States and Republic of the Congo. Moving around a lot from a young age and having to start over, time and time again, making new friends, a new life, is what conditioned him into being more outgoing. In his youth, becoming a professional footballer was a long-time dream, and although that didn’t end up being on the cards for David, the sport is still very much an important part of his life. These days, his focus involves more travelling, especially discovering special places. Between trips, he splits his time between working at Vélib’, the bicycle sharing service, and Cyclones Magazine, a street-culture magazine he founded a few years ago.
What is comfort to you?
Comfort, for me, means being comfortable in a piece of clothing. Not too hot or too cold, and definitely being able to move freely. I feel comfortable when I’m not physically burdened by too many things.
How do you perceive discomfort - is it something you would rather avoid or do you view it as a stepping stone?
You necessarily have to pass through discomfort in order to truly understand what it means to be comfortable. For me, discomfort is a stepping stone.
Would you say a balance between comfort and discomfort is ideal?
If I look at this like a balance between comfort and style, I’ll always prioritise style, because it’s only when we feel right in our own skin—and by extension in our own clothes—that we really have style.