The sign on the door says “Poussez,” French for “push.”
It’s a harbinger of what is about to be an unusual experience, one that brings a taste of both France and downtown Manhattan to Greenwich.
Inside The Perfect Provenance, books on Bruce Springsteen happily coexist with those on Dale Chihuly, whose dynamic glass sculptures are on display at the New York Botanical Garden. A set of exquisite neoclassical Fornasetti coasters grabs the eye and holds it in a section on home design. Upstairs, a creamy blue hobo bag by Perrin Paris charms while the label’s clutches, which contain a space for your hand to hold them, make you chuckle at the ingenuity. And a pair of peep-toe, lace-up, bottle-green pumps by Vanessa Bruno whisper, “Let’s dance away together.”
Did we mention the food at The Perfect Provenance? Café 47’s menu — under the direction of chef Arik Bensimon, formerly of the now-defunct Le Farm in Westport — is small but choice. The lobster roll — dressed with seamlessly flavorful ingredients — is braced by avocado slices, two well-done strips of bacon and a toasted bun, a fitting New England treat. We wash it down with one of the imaginatively named iced teas, then enjoy the delicate apple tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as a recording of Edith Piaf singing “Je Ne Regrette Rien” plays. (Oh, Edith, that could be the foodie’s national anthem.)
It’s as if you took ABC Carpet & Home and placed it into a suburban Victorian.
The Perfect Provenance’s founder, Lisa Lori, laughs at that. “It’s a nice comparison,” she says.
We meet later on the phone, but in a sense we already know her, because we know her tastes. It’s a reminder that part of who you are is what you wear, how you dress your home and what you put on your table. In Lori’s case, it’s a reflection of a woman who worked in marketing luxury goods for a quarter of a century, including at her own public relations firm. With three boys, she didn’t want to continue to commute from Greenwich to Manhattan. Looking about, Lori saw that there weren’t a lot of boutiques left in town. She figured there would be a clientele for the products she likes — if only she would offer them.
Now a year old, The Perfect Provenance has a Français feel. “When you work in luxury goods, a great deal is French,” Lori says. As is the word “provenance,” from provenir, meaning “to come forth.” “Provenance means to find the origins of something,” she says.
For Lori and her “special, curated” collection, those origins could be anywhere from California to Asia to the Mediterranean. “These products are from places that have artisans and craftsmen. It’s anti-mass production. I believe when people know how something is made, they’ll understand the price.”
The inventory and menu change every eight to 11 weeks. The theme of early fall revolves around wine country.
“I want you to carry away a vacation feel,” she says. “It’s all about creating an experience and a sense of community. People buy things and when they look at them, they remember where they were and who they were with when they bought it.
“When you buy something,” she adds, “you always treasure it.”
That may be especially true at The Perfect Provenance.
For more, visit theperfectprovenance.com.