‘It’s going to come down any minute,” I forewarned, as we entered Montreal’s Atwater Market a few weeks ago, and, indeed, by the time we emerged with the baguette and cheese, it was a full-blown deluge that would last the rest of the day.
We popped open our umbrella, strode bone-dry to the car and drove off, pitying the poor sods trapped in the streets trying to close back up their flimsy brollies blown inside-out, or attempting to open one of those cheap fold-up numbers that nine times out of 10 has a rib break upon first usage, whereupon any dignity one might have had left immediately gets washed into the gutter.
It’s not necessary to suffer this kind of humiliation, you know – or, if you don’t know, listen up, because replenish-the-umbrella-stand season is upon us and, as I’ve at long last discovered, there are umbrellas on the market that enable us to face life’s sopping storms with our heads held high.
The sporty German-designed “Suprella Pro” is one. It opens inside out, which removes the awkwardness of getting in and out of cars, and also puts the wet side inward when folded up, keeping the rain off your clothes.
You can then stand the umbrella on its base, like an artificial Christmas tree, so it can dry without falling over. Millennials, in particular, may also appreciate its cuff-like handle, which allows you to hook the umbrella around your wrist in an upright position and never stop texting as you dodge the drops. (Talk about advances in technology.)
If you’re heading off in a downpour to the opera with your beloved, something with a bit more sophistication is in order.
The American-made “Davek Duet,” designed for two, has an extralarge canopy, is gale-force sturdy and still folds up into a neat little sleeve that you, you classy babe, can tuck discreetly away or hang from its leather wrist strap from your tuxedo-sleeved arm.
Believe me, it’s not every day you can feel glamorous and well-protected while holding a fold-up umbrella, so I’d say every stand by the front door needs at least one of these. (Caveat: They’re not cheap. That said, they do come with a lifetime guarantee.)
Then there’s Fulton, the family-owned British umbrella company that holds a royal warrant from the Queen. Its 1960s-designed “birdcage” model, clear with a band of colour around the bottom, is iconic (the Queen always has the bands on hers colour-co-ordinated with her outfits).
The brilliant shape of this strong fibreglass frame makes it extra difficult for wind to get under and blow it inside out, and, because the hood is see-through, you’re unlikely to bump into people on busy city sidewalks while you’re under it.
Every year, Fulton collaborates with select designers to put a spin on this famous model, which is fun. I’m so delighted by the Lulu Guinness birdcage release (it looks like an actual birdcage – with a bird in it), that I can hardly wait till the heavens open next.
Suprella Pro: $67, suprellapro.com;
Davek Duet: $199, ca.davekny.com;
Fulton birdcage umbrella: $35 ($48 for the Lulu Guinness design), thebay.com.
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