A la mode

IMG_3066Why yes, please. I’d love that with some ice cream.

That’s what happens when you live here too long. Silly little things turn into abstract bi-lingualisms that are funny to one and no one else. The ultimate inside joke.


NOTE// no photos were allowed, but I was feeling a little criminal, so a stole a few. Enjoy!

IMG_3098 A craving for frozen sugar & fat isn’t what’s put me in such a giddy mood, it’s fashion! Yesterday, I headed to the Art Deco-glorious Palais de la Porte Dorée Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, which is a really long name for a very cool museum on immigration to France. They’ve got artifacts and fish. Yes fish. Because there is an aquarium, too. We didn’t have time to visit it, but my museum date, Karen, started wondering if maybe the fish were all imported, making them immigrants of a sort, too.

We were at the musée to see their latest show, Fashion Mix; local fashion from foreign designers.

Lately, pundits are bemoaning that French ingenuity is dying, or has emigrated to London (the French are calling it the second largest city in France which is funny/tragic on so many levels…). Financial crisis, Charlie Hebdo, an extended “Sales” Season. Paris is going through a time of Existential Angst. But then the pundits site the fashion industry, naming all the foreign designers leading the great French Fashion houses; Lagerfeld at Chanel, Elbaz at Lanvin, Simons at Dior, Slimane at YSL…. the list does seem to get depressingly long very quickly. We’re doomed!

Fashion Mix sets that logic on it’s ear, celebrating the art and creativity brought to French fashion houses since fashion went retail. The show starts with a reminder that the man who first took dressmaking from the lower classes and made it high class was Charles Worth. Vurt? A Frenchman would pronounce, awkwardly. It is rather a mouthful for a Français, because Mister Worth was très, très anglais.

Mr Worth was in Paris working for drapers, but made dresses for his co-worker/wife on the side. Clients would see her gorgeous garb and ask for one of their own. Their French bosses were not impressed and didn’t think it was a very good idea when Worth suggested they go into dress making, so he found a Swedish investor, started dressing Princess Eugènie and a multi-billion dollar, Parisian industry was born.They show Elsa Schiaparelli’s request for citizenship, Cristobàl Balenciaga’s official Basque documents, passports, and papers from designers that have flooded French fashion from Europe, Asia and Africa.

The show goes on to display all the great French fashion designed by passionate Francophiles. It is the ultimate cocktail party with Comme des Garçons dancing by Ann Demeulemeester, Jean Dessès taking a spin by Mariano Fortuny. Old mixes with new, the traditionally staid with the avant garde.


Creative entries in the guest book show I wasn’t the only one inspired by the show…

After the show, we’d planned on finding a charming café nearby for some serious girl time, but the Palais was so 1930’s beautiful with mosaic floors and mural dressed walls, we didn’t want to leave. And we didn’t have to because they have a perfect little salon with an excellent tea by Thé des Ecrivains. Sat there chatting, watch the snow flutter by, dreaming of the summer when we’ll be back to appreciate their lovely terrace, over looking the entrance to the Bois de Vincennes.

The party goes on until May 31st, so if you happen to be in Paris, put on your party shoes and cha cha out to the surprising Palais at the Porte Dorée.

Chanel Fashion Week

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.03.32 PMThere is a charming French film called Fauteuils d’Orchestre, which translates to Orchestra Seats, but came out in English as Avenue Montaigne, which is where all the drama unfolds. Impish Cecile de France, perhaps the best named actress in all of filmdom star in this poetic romcom. The movie begins with Cecile’s grandmother explaining she had to live surrounded by luxury, but as she had no money, she chose to work as the dame de piScreen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.03.05 PMpi, or bathroom monitor at the sumptuous Ritz hotel. I think of Mme Pipi often in my life as a journalist, honored to work in extraordinary circumstances, with a privileged peek into another world.

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.45 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.30 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.18 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.02.05 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.49 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.35 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.25 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.15 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.01.04 PM Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 6.00.52 PMTuesday was a particularly spectacular day. Even the weather conspired to ensure absolute perfection as I headed out the door to shoot the crowds sauntering into the Grand Palais for the Chanel show. So much eye candy! As I shot, I thought of the grandmother and started to look around at my colleagues, the other photographers. A bunch of dandies if I ever saw a bunch of dandies. And I thought of my friend Joseph the Butler, a true Beau Brummel. It seems to me that many of the people who work for the rich and famous end up being the true trend setters, guiding them is what’s hot and what really shouldn’t be. The fashion paparazzi are dedicated to following la mode across the globe, developing an educated eye and indubitable style. After all it’s easy to look like a million when you have a million, but these men and women make fabulous happen with little more than their own inspirational creativity. So this season, I turned around from the stars and socialites to shoot them, the guys and gals who really have it going on.

Because the day had made its promises, I left the crowd to visit the opening of the Hokusai exhibition next door. Which was so fun, it deserves a post of its own. And next week I’ll tell you about meeting the Prince….

Stepping on out…

SInce I was training for the 20km as I ran around from Palais to Musée during Paris Fashion Week, my feet got a tad sore and I developed something of an obsession for footwear… seeing all those torture chamber heels made my feet feel much better, and maybe gave me a bit of shoe envy. There are some gorgeous pieces out there this season.

I love the stappy lace up heels I saw in different variations. There were flowers galore and I think that next season everyone is going to be talking about lucite, because see-thru is definitely back. Saw it on these shoes, but also handbags and even a few dresses (yikes!).


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Ze ‘at

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I know! It’s not nice to make fun of their accents, but I live with a Frenchman and French teenagers and I can not remember the last time we’ve made it through dinner without someone asking me to say “route” just so they can laugh their heads off when my accent makes it sound like “rut”. Which means “in heat” as in horny animals. Hysterical, n’est-ce pas? Seriously, you’d think it was a preschool over here.

Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 7.02.13 PMNow back to the work at hand. Seems I’ve been obsessed with fashion lately. Fashion week, then the Alaïa show and now I’m talking accessories. Hats. Well, one hat in particular. Every so often you start looking and you’ll notice a trend in Paris. You’ll see a girl go by with a purse that really catches your eye, then another and another and before you know it, you’ve found yourself a trend.

I found the latest trend on Vogue Fashion Night Out. I had given an invitation to Em and she had invited one of her best friends to join her. The friend showed up wearing THE hat. It was the first time I’d seen it and it was adorable on her. I rarely ask people where they purchase such unique gems, because I figure they don’t want everyone going out and copying them. But for this hat, I had to know. The answer; a thrift shop in NYC.

Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 7.18.03 PMBlack felt, droopy and oh-so circa 1970’s I love this hat. We headed out the door for fashion night and what did I see? More girls wearing THE hat. Coming out of Prada, heading in to roger Vivier. Ever where I looked was the hat. Even my partner in fashion, EllaCoquine, made a comment about THE hat.

I don’t want one. I want three, one for the Fashionista and my daughters. But its just so young and fun and gorgeous.

And the show goes on…

Alaïa Exhibition

Fashion week may be over, but it seems like I just can’t enough. Yesterday Mr French and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon waiting in line at the Palais Galliera to see the first exhibition since the City of Paris’ Fashion museum closed its doors for renovation in 2009.

The city continued showing fashion at other venues, and I am still kicking myself for having missed the Balenciaga show, so I was not about to miss the first show back at the old digs. Especially when I heard that it would be all about Azzedine Alaïa.

AlaïaBorn in Algeria, Alaïa came to Paris to study sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He got a part time job sewing up dresses for women and before he knew it, he had found his passion. He credits much of his success with the fact that he never went to design school, but rather learned his metier by dressing women. As he says, “Women, women define fashion, I make clothes.”

And his clothes define a woman’s fantasy, of being held tightly, yet totally free. They are sexy, seductive and most importantly, flattering. Of course, all the dresses on display were cut to fit a size 0 model, but his prête à porter line is designed to highlight the roundness of the female form, and looks breathtaking on women who are too large for the catwalk.

Its a small show, with only 5 rooms in the Palais, featuring dresses that are easy to recognize as they had been worn by such stars as Grace Jones, Tina Turner and Rihanna. There is the black and white hound’s tooth dress that was designed in collaboration with France’s historic discount store Tati and at least 4 garments I wish I could have packed up into a suitcase to take home.

Its not very clear, but there is a 6th room at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, directly across the street. The continuation is in the salle Matisse, where some of the most astounding pieces of the collection seem to sway under the dancers painted by Matisse.

The crowd was just as fun as the show. A man who looked like my Turkish tailor bent forward to study the stitches, a boy with white running shoes and an athletic sweatshirt was busy sketching the designs in his notepad. A black hatted woman in a silk Prada coat, despite the threat of rain, another with gorgeous laser cut, patten leather jazz shoes.

Everyone lingered over the collection, savouring the details that put these garments on the fine line somewhere between fashion and art.




Yay! Firday@Flore is back… well kind of, because these photos were not taken at Flore, they’re all about Paris Fashion Week. But its street fashion and it is all about what is in now, THIS fall!!!

First on the dock, plaid! Perhaps inspired by the amazing success of the Kale project, it is time to let out your inner farmer, folks!!!

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In the weeks to come; keep your eyes out for that special shade of… (no, not 50 shades, and it is NOT grey, I promise!), the must have accessory du moment and shoes, ladies, lots o’ shoes!!!

Paris Fashion Week SS 14

SS 14 is fashion speak for Spring/Summer 2014, and this being fall 2013, its that time of year again… Fashion Week. I’ve got Le Gastro, which is a charming local way of saying a tummy bug, so it wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to drag myself out into the glorious Paris sunshine and start shooting, but I had worked so hard getting the fashion show invites and I really do love seeing all those creative types out there doing their thing, I simply could not stay put. So while all the other girls were out there sporting their ‘it’ bags, I was sporting the bags under my eyes and taking as many clichés as I could get away with. Here is what I saw yesterday;Screen shot 2013-09-25 at 1.42.19 PM Screen shot 2013-09-25 at 1.42.03 PM Screen shot 2013-09-25 at 1.41.40 PM Screen shot 2013-09-25 at 1.40.32 PM Screen shot 2013-09-25 at 1.40.12 PM

Throw away the key


If fashion is a crime, I’ve got me a partner in the depraved practice and that would be my friend  Miss Madame Ella Coquine. Ella and I have been hitting up fashion events together ever since we first met. Along with Paris, great food and the written word, it is one of our “things”. So last night we headed out together for Vogue’s Fashion Night Out.

Fashion bloggers hard at work

Fashion bloggers hard at work

If you haven’t been following this for the past year and if you don’t live in a large city, you may not know that VFNO is an international event hosted by Vogue magazine, which sponsors open house parties in designer boutiques for fashionistas in cities like London, NYC, Tokyo and Paris. Last year the party was open to pretty much everyone, all you needed as an invite and you could walk through the door of pretty much any boutique. This year they were being somewhat more exclusive and you could often only come in if the store had invited you. Fortunately, we’d been invited to a couple of places.

Ella and I weren’t too torn up about the exclusivity. Our favorite destination on VFNO is Roger Vivier. I love that Inès will be in the house, Ella loves the live music. Inès, of course, being Inès de la Fressange, the queen of Parisienne chic and my inspiration for Inès sez…

A little bling on the musician and the camera man!!!

A little bling on the musician and the camera man!!!

This year we walked in the door with our author friend, Juliette Sobanet, her friend Kate and the Paris-based Brazilian actress Thaïs Sobreira . At the top of the stairs the two of froze. There, less than a metre away stood Inès talking quietly with Ella’s favorite local musician (so sorry, can not remember his name and she does not have a search function on her blog). The two of them, the two of us. Wow. Not that either of them know that either of us exists, but we were both quite pleased. Their conversation ended and something inexplicable came over me. I grabbed Ella’s hand and introduced her to her musician man, telling him that his promoter loves her blog and is constantly sending her free tickets to his concerts because he loves her reviews of their work. I didn’t think of the position this was putting her in, I just did it, grabbing her phone to sneak a few photos as they spoke.

Screen shot 2013-09-18 at 3.34.37 PMA few minutes later Ella got her revenge by getting Inès attention and asking for a photo. Ella got such great shots, it looks like Inès and I are old friends! We were even and I really could not have been more thrilled. I chatted with Inès, folks. She still doesn’t know who I am, but she is just as lovely as I had always imagined.

It was an exciting start to a fantastic evening that involved plenty of Ruinart, some great music, an astonishing amount of fashion eye candy and lots of giggles.

Under where? Under there!

I’ve got a thing for underwear. Especially when it is French and silky This is not a very well kept secret, so it was not at all surprising when my phone started ringing off the hook (my kids would NOT understand that expression, it probably belongs in a literary archive and not in this post) with calls from friends telling me about the La Mécanique des Dessous exhibit at the Union des Arts Décoratifs.

The title doesn’t sound half as sexy as the term lingèrie and that is because ever since around the 14th century underwear has been first and foremost all about foundations and support. Fans Shakespeare and Commedia dell’Arte are some of the few visitors to the show who will not be surprised to learn that once upon a time men wore reinforced structures called codpieces, to exaggerate their, hmmm…. manly prowess. For many,  seeing one hammered into a suit of armor is a highlight of this collection.

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 5.32.41 PMProof positive that I’m not the only one who has reverence for foundations; the French take their undergarments very seriously and this exhibit is a celebration of the architectural creativity that has gone into making the perfect silhouette. I loved seeing the mechanical device that was used to lift those ridiculously wide skirts that Marie Antoinette and her friends would wear. I had always imagined them side stepping through doors, but the metal frames, called paniers, that held the skirts out could be lifted up with a string, allowing the skirt to fall flat ans the wearer to enter a room.

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 5.32.50 PMOther highlights include seeing the metal frames that were used to support Queen Elizabeth style ruffs, modern day models that showed haw many of the under garments worked, a series of film clips featuring lingèrie scenes, vintage underwear ads, and an area for trying on corsets and crinolines. That is a lot of highlights for a relatively small show and I was not the only one who loved it. Attended with my friend Karen, who had brought along an article by fashion editor, Suzy Menkes that had been published earlier in the week. Not only had she loved it, but she had learned a bit herself.

Finally, a word about the Union. It is the other museum in the Louvre Palace. Very few people even know there IS another museum in the Louvre, but there is and it is the national Decorative Arts museum, featuring furniture, jewelery and design from across the ages. It would be hard to find a more central location and unlike the Louvre Museum, it is open Tuesday, which is kind of a bonus.

ps photos were not allowed, so these ones are dark and elusive, teasing you like lingèrie should!

Le Smoking

Just before the holidays Mr French came home from a business trip, a page of Le Figaro grasped tightly in his hand. I offered him only the briefest of kisses, mostly because he smelled of canned air, but also because I was mad with curiosity. What had he seen in print? Was it the latest dream hotel? Had my blog been “discovered” and I was at last famous (lol)?

Coming back to reality, the article was infinitely more interesting than I had imagined; an entire page dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Deneuve and Le Smoking, aka the tuxedo jacket. Mr French recently survived a petit ordeal with me and Le Smoking so he was aware that it is something of an obsession of mine…

The article reminds the reader of how Monsieur Saint Laurent revolutionized the fashion world when he introduced Le Smoking for women in 1966. It features a photo by Helmut Newton of YSL with Madame Deneuve when they posed for a cover of ELLE magazine to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of YSL Haute Couture.

I had been so obsessed with the insanely sexy, subtly elegant jacket that over the last decade that I would secretly pop into the YSL boutique once or twice a year just to try it on. Which was a bit nutty, because I do not have that kind of budget. But the staff never seemed to mind and would agree with me as I’d appreciate the master tailoring, the luxurious wool, the perfect fit. When I was down, or tired, the vision of me in the shop mirror wearing The Jacket would boost my spirits, give me confidence.

And then we were invited to a party in Venice and I thought that at last, I had an excuse for Le Smoking, so I headed to the Place Saint Sulpice to see what was available. Turns out that while I’d been out living my life, YSL had hired a new creative director, Hedi Slimane who had changed the label’s name and the cut of the tuxedo jacket! It was no longer fitted at the waist, the shoulder pads had disappeared and the fabric was just not the same. It looked schlubby on me. I was flabbergasted, distraught and slightly dismayed.

Several weeks later I was in their men’s shop running an errand. As I waited for the clerk to prepare a package, I started complaining to the manager. I was unhappy about the name change, I was upset about Le Smoking. Saint Laurent employees are extremely proud of their brand and Monsieur le manager was no exception. He kindly took the time to explain that Hedi Slimane had not committed a sacrilegious act by offing the Yves from Yves Saint Laurent. Au contraire, he was paying hommage to the legendary designer by using the original name and logo designed for the Haute Couture house before it gained international acclaim.

I was enjoying the conversation. I started asking about Le Smoking. Did monsieur know of anyone specializing in the resale of vintage YSL? Non, madame. Was there any chance an older model could be found abandoned in some stockroom in Paris? Je suis désolé Madame. Perhaps their China store would have it? Maybe the foreign addresses get the older stock?

Oh, does Madame travel? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, she does. Which is when the manager told me about a Saint Laurent outlet in the UK and another in Italy. Oh, and by the way, he had shipped off the very last of anything with a YSL label their way just last week. Hopeful excitement bubbled up through me, as a goofy grin spread across my face.

The next day I called the Italy store. Not only did they have the jacket in my size, but  the price had just been marked down an additional 40% off the 40% of the 40% discount, so I could afford it. It was time to ‘fess up to Mr French before hitting the SEND button. “You’re nuts,” he stated in utter dismay. “You can’t be sure it will fit and you have no idea what it looks like on you.” Which is when I had to come clean about those quirky little visits of mine. Fortunately, he is La Fashionista’s dad, so he has had enough fashion adventures that he didn’t suggest a psychiatric review. At least not immediately.

Then, like magic, several days later Le Smoking arrived chez moi and it is perfect.

As a side note, Le Smoking is very in this fall, but there is no reason it should be signed YSL. I’ve seen some gorgeous ones at every price point, from Zara to Zadig & Voltaire. Looks great worn with jeans and a white tank top!

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