Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Week Ahead or La Semaine Prochaine


Lundi: Transatlantic Parallel (with my partner, Jeanne-Aelia)

Mardi: Awards Ceremony

Mercredi:  Edith et Moi: Shopping Our Closets

Vendredi: Dear Cherie. . . Always a Surprise

Samedi: Surprise

Dimanche: Next Week's Agenda

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happiness, Perhaps It's Contagious. . .

"Let us be grateful to those who make us happy; for they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Marcel Proust

"Be happy. It's one way of being wise." Colette

This week, the spirited, adorable, Morgane from the blog, One+One=4: A French Way of Life (just look at her picture), gave me a "Happiness" Award. How amazing is that? The idea behind it is that certain blogs bring us joy. I couldn't agree more.

I am soooo flattered that she would include me in her eminent list. Now it's my turn.

As with all of these honors, they come with a small obligation. Perfectly normal.

Here is what I must do:
  • Link back to the lovely Morgane who lives in Brittany btw.
  • Tell you 10 things that make me happy.
  • Choose -- this is always the hardest part -- 10 blogs that make me happy.
  • Finally, all of us are supposed to do at least one of the things that makes us happy TODAY  (I would suggest every day and maybe more than one.)
My T0p 10:

1.) My-Reason-For-Living-In-France.

2.) My darling, darling Andrea.

3.) My dogs, now there is a lesson in pure love.

4.) France, Paris, and all the things I've learned from living here -- all the ways I've grown and changed and readjusted my views on life and love.

5.) My new son-in-law (absolutely hilarious and he seems to like me).

6.) Mostly life in general. I've been blessed in so many ways, I cannot even begin to enumerate.

7.) Accomplishing something I set out to do (without wasting too much time OR procrastinating).

8.) My handful (perhaps two hands-full) of precious friends. I swear this is not a cliche. I cannot imagine my life without them.

9.) Swimming and aqua gym classes -- for some reason I become enclosed in a bubble of pure bliss.

10.) Knowing just until this moment at least, I have no regrets.

And now 10 blogs that make me happy, smile or just plain laugh out loud

"Those who bring happiness into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." James M. Barrie

1.) Mon Avis, Mes Amis (I'm sorry Els, but I can't help it. You make me happy.)

7.) Man of the 50s (Ditto, James, but you do spread the joy.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dear Cherie. . .

Cherie is delighted to report she has had another stellar week: glam-ish dinner party (read more below); seven kilos gone, gone, gone; Major Project coming along nicely; and finally life has been pure bliss without You-Know-Who in Cherie's recently trimmed (only the split ends) hair every five seconds.

Even the non-stop rain could not dampen l'esprit because, as you would expect, Cherie has the gear to be glamorous in all situations: long, long flowing black raincoat a la those American cowboys except in silk; shiny knee-high black rain boots and a snappy rain hat in a shiny something-or-other that looks like patent leather, but of course it's not because it scrunches right up and goes into Cherie's great, big Chanel tote. For color, a blazing shocking pink umbrella.

Enough about moi, although in Cherie's opinion that's an oxymoron. 

Without further ado, let's attack your questions. . .

Q: Mme. G: Cherest Cherie, Last week you were all worked up over the Sonia Rykiel collection for H&M. Did you show us everything or did you hold something back?

A: Cherie does not hold back. However, to her great surprise and infinite pleasure Cherie did find more items, one of which is a scarf, not pictured here, which Cherie would kill to get her hands on, but it's probably too late. 

Q: Mme. S: Dear Cherie, Since you don't seem to wish to leap into spring until you see your forsythia in bloom, would you be so kind as to let us at least begin sampling a few items right-this-minute?

A: Dear Mme. S, Testy are we? Maybe you need magnesium instead of something special for spring? Cherie, however, in her boundless benevolence will answer your question. As mentioned last week, if one wishes to start slowly, a flowered scarf is the way to go and by definition all scarves are investments.

If perchance you have a light-weight jeans shirt in your closet, pull it out, but don't wear it with jeans for heaven's sake. Mix it up with a black or navy straight skirt, a wide belt, some bijoux. If you don't own one, now is the time to invest. (Or how about tucking it into your gold sequined trousers. . . as pictured here in Figaro Madame and photographed by Naomi Yang.)

Another hot item, although Cherie herself does not plan to indulge, is the safari jacket -- waaay too many pockets. Pull that out as well. If you happen to have an old YSL, lucky you. Cherie noticed even Landsend did a version. 

Fashion tip: If you have a bust, you know what Cherie's talking about. . . Do not, repeat: do not put pockets -- especially with flaps -- on top of it.

Would you really like Cherie to talk about a mariniere again? If you bought it last year as you were told (as Cherie suggested), you're all set. Start wearing it now.

Q: Mme. M: Cherie, dear, Have you done anything exciting lately and if so, what did you wear?

A: Chere Madame M, Isn't it curious how one's questions can often coincide perfectly with Cherie's exciting life? Why, yes, after sorting through all her invitations and obligations this past week, Cherie accepted an invitation to a charming soiree. This is what everyone wore:

1.) The Hostess: A simple beige wool dress -- long sleeves, round neck, two-inches over the knee -- with opaque brown tights, Roger Vivier brown suede low heels and masses of chain necklaces of all sorts.

2.) Guest #1: Black leather above the knee YSL leather skirt, black opaque tights, black pumps and a cashmere twin-set in coral, accessoried with a massive coral necklace.

3.) Guest #2: A tw0-inches-over-the-knee black sweater dress, scooped neck, long sleeves, black tights, bottines, wide black suede belt and two long necklaces (sautoirs) she twisted together one pearls, the other in coral with a large bluish jade pendant -- very chic.

4.) Guest #3: A beige sweater dress (they're very big), again above the knees, brown opaque tights, brown, double-wrap belt, brown boots, a mass of brooches on her left shoulder and an arm-load of gold bangles.

5.) Cherie: Black straight skirt (just tickling the bottom of the knee), black opaque tights, black-on-black Chanel pumps, a creamy beige satin, pleat-front Chanel blouse, masses of pearls, plus Chanel earrings featuring a large pearl in the center surrounded by some kind of maron glacé opaque stone and a black and brown Dolce et Gabbana striped spencer.

Q: Mme. B: Cherie, just for fun, show us something you think is adorable.

A: Cherie thinks this Borsalino hat is beyond adorable. (Photo by Dusan Reljin, from French Elle.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spreading The Sunshine (Awards)

It is such an honor and most particularly so when bestowed by two absolutely charming, sparklingly chic blogs like The Entertaining House and Une Femme Curieuse.

Each gave me the Sunshine Award. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What is interesting about these two young women is that they both, I believe, share the same honorable, sophisticated, well-mannered, gentle approach to life. These sentiments and their hope and happiness pour from their sunny blogs.

The rules of the game:

1.) Thank the givers -- check.
2.) Choose 12 blogs and give back -- check (but extremely difficult)
3.) Tell the bloggers they are the new, proud owners of the Sunshine Award which they in turn must pass on to others -- check.

Four bloggers who hold a very, very special place in my heart because they were there from the beginning, kept coming back and were ever supportive, kind and generous (and one of the most exciting moments was actually meeting Une Femme, what a calorie-laden gossip-fest we had and then she tied my scarf (you know she's an expert):

Other special favorites, one visit if you don't already know them and you'll understand why:

Everyday Adventures of A Curious Gal -- touching, kind, lovely.

My Carolina Kitchen -- wonderful in every way -- and she cooks and then tells us how she did it intermingled with the places she loves. Sam is sunshine.

Materfamilias -- a delicious mix of intellect, frivolity (red shoes, but then again perhaps they aren't at all frivolous), beautiful writing, warm family tales and knitting. Everything, quoi (!)

Beaudet Art -- Jennifer's striking, feminine -- sometimes teasingly sensuous -- paintings.

The Bottom of The Ironing Basket -- because everything Simone does is unspeakably beautiful and you leave her blog feeling up-lifted by her aesthetic.

Gypsy Purple -- Romantic with a French aesthetic -- how could I resist (?) -- with just the sizzle of the gypsy's magic.

And finally, I am about to bend the rules:

At the top I mentioned bloggers who were great cheerleaders and to whom I am so grateful. Below are the two followers, neither of whom has a blog btw, who were with me from day one (along with a handful of friends and family), and have stayed all these many months, leaving comments and encouragement on an almost daily basis. 

I would like to give the Sunshine Award to: Carole and Marsi who have become great friends, albeit virtual for the moment although I hope one day we shall meet in real time. (Both are knitters btw.)

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You know how much you both mean to me.

Et voila. xoxo

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Edith & Moi, Playing In Our Closets

Are we having fun or what?

As you know Edith and I shopped the soldes until the dust-riddled bits we were pulling out of the bottom of the bins were downright embarrassing. We did some real time shopping, but mostly we played virtual dress-up by window browsing and magazine dreaming, choosing ensembles and accessories we could definitely envision in our lives if we sold our houses. (In Edith's case she has four, which gives her a slight edge.)

But she's French and Frenchwomen love a bargain and in lieu of a markdown or a discount strategy, they like nothing better than tricking-up what they find in their closets.

That's the approach I suggested we take for the next month or so. The rules: not a cent spent, not one centime leaves our designer bags. Everything we'll be wearing in these posts we possess, many of the things we forgot we owned. In my case after the recent reorganization of my closet according to color: black, black, black, black, charcoal and finally navy this was no easy task. Many individuals who are perhaps unfortunate enough not to have as much black as I do, do not realize how many different hues, tints and tones of black that exist. Just try mixing black on black sometime; you'll see what I mean. 

But I digress, suffice it to say I have more black jackets -- all different mind you -- than I realized and even with the light on I couldn't see what I was doing. After rigging up a sort of spot thingie I did some culling and came out with the shawl-collared Christian Dior (pre-Galliano obviously) tuxedo jacket I turn to when in doubt. It's coupled with a stretchy lace top from Banana Republic (I also have one in ivory), my black gab skirt, black satin heels, my gorgeous -- given to me by My-Reason-For-Living-In-France -- Chanel brooch and pearls, pearls, pearls.

My casual outfit is an Equipment silk shirt, a heavy knit cardigan I've had forever, my black pants, an old red suede belt and tassel-tie Chanel moccasins. 

Oooops, almost forgot to remind you: For our exercise I will always wear the same skirt and trousers. Edith will do her own thing.

She pulled out a Valentino LBD with a huge flower all of a piece with the dress in the same silk crepe that appears to be growing out of the material. It is sublime. To punk it up she added lacy tights and her bottines.

Going casual she teamed "an ancient" YSL jacket, belted (very important), with black jeans, tucked into her boots and her black cashmere turtleneck.

Note: Everywhere now, into spring and perhaps beyond: when in doubt add a belt.

(As always, the drawings are by Edith.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Transatlantic Parallel

It's Lundi, and you know what that means. 

It's time for the Transatlantic Parallel with my partner Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart creator of the stylishly sophisticated blog, Through the French Eye of Design. Every Monday we venture into those treacherous waters separating New York from Paris with its undercurrents of ingrained customs and curiosities we've both learned to navigate over many years of swimming along or barely treading water. We've each been in sink or swim situations -- no money talk, lots of lively un-PC conversations, heated political banter and so on. 

We must never forget on which side of the ocean we find ourselves before taking a deep breath and plunging in.

For those familiar with our weekly discourse, stop reading now (just this paragraph, and pick-up the flow below): Jeanne-Aelia and her American husband live outside New York City, my Reason-For-Living-In-France and I reside in the countryside near Paris. Et voila. Each week she and I decide on topics to be discussed and debated for your delectation. As I've mentioned, we post simultaneously and thus never have a clue as to how the other will address the subjects at hand.

Today's Line-up Includes:

1.) Flirting (You know how much I love this subject.)

2.) The How's, Why's and Wherefore's of Tu and Vous 

3.) All Dressed-Up With Someplace to Go. (Charity Soirées.)

To Flirt or Not to Flirt? That Is Not the Question.

Remember, I'm on the fun side of the Atlantic. Flirting is a national pass time, an art, an obligation.  

If one cannot flirt at a dinner, a cocktail party, in cafes, on the street -- anyplace really -- then what's that thing called joie de vivre? It's like champagne without the bubbles, a Ladurée macaroon without the filling, a woman without perfume. . .  OK, I'll stop.

Granted it can be innocent with no ulterior motives.  Or, it can be based upon hope: Maybe this will lead to something wonderful. Either way it's fun. Either way it's a game. Either way, no offense taken. Either way, no one plays it better than the French.

I've often found Frenchmen to be their most alluring and seductive at table. Seat a well brought up gentleman between a great beauty and a femme d'un age tres certain, he will flirt left and right. I can assure you the woman of 80 takes on the blush of youth while the lovely young thing laps it up as her due. They sparkle under the attention and when you get right down to it, the kindness of the man in the middle.

As my Reason-For-Living-In-France often says: "There isn't a woman in the world who doesn't possess some kind of beauty." He is absolutely sincere.

Flirting has no expiration date in France. Men and women of all ages are still in the game and most are grand masters of the gentle sport. 

As many of you know, my in situ social studies have lead me to a simple realization: Frenchmen like women.

Tu, Vous oh-la-la C'est Compliqué

It's not complicated for Jeanne-Aelia certainly. I'm sure she'll have plenty to say on the subject chez elle.

You all know the basics: vous is the formal address for "you" and tu is the informal, and always, I regret to say, accompanied with verbs which agree with the pronoun. Let me translate: that means if one wishes to speak French correctly, you are not only required to learn tenses -- don't get me started -- but also the tutoyer and the vouvoyer verbs. (Two separate sets of verbs for "you" and "you." It's nuts.)

Those of you whose mother tongue is English, just thank your lucky stars. We may have some tricky grammar and a few curious words: bow, bow, bow for example (think about it), but overall we've got it easy.

J.A. will probably explore and explain the intricacies behind the rules and regulations for "you." Unfortunately I cannot because on this subject I remain an outsider. I tutoie all my close friends, children and animals and vouvoie everyone else. We have many friends with whom we use the familiar you form whose children use the formal you with them. Apparently Charles de Gaulle and his wife, Yvonne, always addressed one another using vous. It is traditionally, and particularly in aristocratic families, an expression of respect (and sometimes social distance).

As for the correct association of the verbs, I use whichever one I happen to recall at the moment whether it agrees or not. That's the beauty of being an étrangere, you can somehow seem charming even when you're stupid.

Making The Rounds

 Glamourous, glitzy, gala charity events exist on both sides of the Atlantic. I've been to many here and there.

From this point on I think I shall tip-toe through the remainder of the conversation. . . 

Apart from the worthy cause around which an evening is built, the soirée also provides multiple benefits for the individuals who buy tickets and companies which buy tables (and yes, I know, individuals also "buy" tables and invite friends) as donations. 

The women go shopping whether they are regular targets of photographers or not, and the men shake out their tuxes. Rarely are these events white tie. 

(I knew a woman, often photographed for the party pages who would buy her designer dresses -- she needed plenty because of her busy calendar -- wear them and return them the day after the event with some excuse or other about why they didn't work out. She was famous for this. On the final occasion she tried to pull off her ruse, the saleswoman was waiting with a clipping of her in the dress the previous evening.)

I've been on both sides of these fetes, attendee or journalist (WWD and W) and know how important they are to those attending. Apart from the tax deductions in the United States, they are also choice opportunities for traditional networking and glad-handing, but even more important they are occasions for one to perhaps climb higher on that steep, steep obstacle riddled social ladder. Charity events are a buy-in. We've all seen the rapid rise and fall of what old society -- on both sides of the sea -- refer to as the nouveau riche.

On this I may be totally wrong since it's not always facile when in another culture to pick up every nuance of a situation, but I don't believe there is that same quest for another rung up in France as there is in the United States. 

Please correct me if I'm wrong, chere Jeanne-Aelia.

I'm sure however there are far fewer gala benefits in France. It would be virtually impossible for one to have three or more charity events in one week as can be the case in New York or other major cities in the States.

(Pictured above: Le Bal Marie-Antoinette for the Friends of Versailles gathered in the salon d'Hercule in the castle. Below: The New York Metropolitan Museum of Arts' Costume Institute

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Week Ahead or La Semaine Prochaine


Lundi: Transatlantic Parallel with my partner, Jeanne-Aelia of the beautiful blog, Through the French Eye of Design. (Our weekly cross-cultural exchange.)

Mercredi: Edith et moi playing in our closets, creating ensembles from within. Not one cent was spent.**

Vendredi: Dear Cherie. . .  (Who knows with her.)

Surprises: Awards and Accolades to be bestowed with milles remerciements for those who gave them to me to give to others.

**Just back from our Sunday collaborations and I think/hope you'll be pleased.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dear Cherie. . . The End of Youth (The Series. . .)

Cherie is in fine fettle (for a second she thought it was "fine fiddle," but never mind). 

The cold is gone, the sore throat has disappeared, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, You-Know-Who is heaven knows where. . .  It's a perfect day. 

Did that hedline make you nervous? Was there a flutter of panic? Surely you know Cherie better than that, among her many life plans is to never see the end of youth. 

Today is simply the end of our continuing series on the subject before we start another continuing series on the subject in a couple of months.

Let's get to work shall we?

Q: Tout le Monde: Dear, dear Cherie before you move on to spring clothes or spas or regimes or whatever else you plan on discussing next week, could you please, please give us as many tips as you can squeeze into one post before we stop reading because we have a life, to help us "appear" dewy and divine for the duration?

A: Mes Amis: Of course. Cherie's raison d'etre, her mission statement if you will, is to now and forever keep us en forme. Yes, you read that correctly: forever. Otherwise, what's the point? It's merely a waste of time and expensive products if you let down your guard. It's an on-going crusade and we're in this together.

Paint your toenails. Do not wait for the snow to melt. Bright, shiny toenails are too much fun not to have year round. The second Cherie's fuchsia toes hit the carpet in the morning, she smiles. Do you see the double bonus here? Cherie is instantly in a good mood and smiling lifts her face. It's a two-fer.

One reaches an age where support -- anywhere one can get it -- is paramount to a rich, fulfilling life. Let's take a moment then to talk about bras. They are the foundation on which all else is built, slight exaggeration, but nevertheless an elegant woman must have the proper foundations for all occasions, which may/probably/unfortunately include a mechanism that lifts and holds. This does not preclude pretty. Chantal Thomass is exceedingly proud of her balconnet (literally spilling over the railing) push-up bra, designed to be kind to that sometimes pesky area between collarbone and cleavage. 

And how one wears her foundations in the privacy of her own home is not within Cherie's purview.

Unless you have a signature lip color that no matter what comes and goes in the frivolous world of fashion, this hue says you, French makeup artists recommend a quirky trick to find your perfect everyday lipstick. G0 to a well-lighted mirror and bite your lips (if they bleed you were over zealous). Now quickly look at their color. That's it, apparently, the color lipstick we should be wearing. One can go one color up, as in slightly darker if one is bold. 

Cherie did this recently because she wouldn't want you to think she doesn't test everything before she puts it out here. The first reaction to the biting was white lips which was quite disconcerting, they then blossomed into a slightly darker than natural color. If you're on an economy kick, just keep biting your lips and forget about lipstick.

Now is the moment. If you have those annoying "freckles" (Cherie feels the use of euphemisms is a vital part of every woman's beauty regime) on your face, hands, chest, wherever, it's the time to have them zapped. This laser procedure cannot be done in the summer and once it's accomplished you better never forget your 1000 SPF product every time you see a ray of sunshine, because those little devils are just waiting to come back so you can hand over hundreds more of your hard earned cash to your dermatologist. 

If you've never experienced this grooming event, Cherie feels obliged to tell you it feels like someone snaps each spot with a big, fat rubber band which makes you want to give the person operating the laser a big, fat lip.

Depressed? Psychiatrist, Frederic Chapelle recommends knitting. Another two-fer: a scarf and a smile.

Cherie probably doesn't have to say this, but of course she will: Regarding our lipstick conversation, you know bitten lips do not spring back pearlized or sporting reflective glitter bits. Of course.

Foundation covering the entire face, neck, earlobes and all other areas in the general vicinity equals + five years.

You know that area where the eyebrow arches? Stroke a pale beige, champagne or in the evening a beige-y tone with the slightest touch of iridescence, not sparkle. That simple gesture opens the eyes and equals - five years.

Why not? Try an anti-age hair masque, for example: Prime Plenish de Shu Uemura Art of Hair, Lifetex Resist de Wella, Kheil's Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Reparative Hair Pak or Lenor Greyl Masque Quintessence.

What do puffy tired eyes say? Exactly. The portable Patchs Lissants et Defatigants au Bleuet for
eyes by Kloranes are heaven sent. Even better, when you put them in the refrigerator.

In the first and second installments of this riveting series, Cherie pointed out the importance of smiling, it's an instant facelift, and posture, it's an immediate slimming/ youth fix, surely you're anxiously anticipating the third freebie offering eternal youth: It's sleep and plenty of it. 


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh Happy Day, Let the Sunshine (Awards) Pour In !

The delightful, deliriously delicious and ever chic chronicler on all things right and proper in this world, JMW from A Place to Dwell , bestowed the Sunshine Award upon me. Merci, merci, merci. If you don't know her blog, which you probably do, it's a must.

As with all such honors, they are to be passed on to those we admire and who bring rays of sunshine into our lives every time we visit their blogs. The rules stipulate that we must choose 12 of our favorites. As always this is sooooo difficult, but here goes. . .

1.) Mon Avis, Mes Amis -- It's not just the tears streaming down the cheeks humor Els brings to each post; it's the writing. The writing. I cannot even begin to describe how beautifully creative and hugely talented she is. I cannot imagine the blog world without her.

2.) Privilege -- Tongue-in-cheek humor; humor straight-up, tips and tales, just wonderful. She takes us by the hand and walks us through her fun-filled WASP world of wisdom and wit.

3.) 60 Going on 16 -- It was serendipity. I found her on the 14th of February. She loves dogs, she is sunny and bright and boy can she write. (She sent me a picture of her sleek pal, Louis. He has a red collar and she walks the moors with him.)

4.) Home -- Every visit, every "conversation" with Jackie, she sweeps me away into a world of her creation where all is lovely, lively and dreamlike. She's also very, very amusing. 

5.) Bonjour Romance -- Let's see, ma chere Mimi, you have won so many awards I don't quite know how to say something fresh and new about why I love visiting you, knowing you. Is it all the romance and gaiety that pours from your blog. Yes, that must be it.

6.) Man of the 50s -- Yes, dear James, I know, I know, I'm just one more member of your ever-growing fan club, but it would be impossible not to include you here. One could rename your blog: Joy To The World: And How to Recognize Happiness When It's Right In Front of You. (I'm still angling for a seat on the board of directors.)

7.) The Daily Connoisseur -- Jennifer, your spot on writing, your joie de vivre, your optimism -- it all pours out through your blog. (Oh yes, and your parfait take on all things French, having experienced the culture in real time and all the better in the 16th arrondissement.)

8.) Not Waving But Ironing -- Just the title tells you, you're going to be entertained. Do not miss her "about" explanation, lol like every one of her posts. Oh yes, and the woman can write.

9.) A Thousand Clapping Hands -- Catherine is divine. What can I say? She is creative, serene, stunning and carries us with her into a lovely universe of her romantic invention.

10.) Easy Fashion -- If you haven't met Fred, click now. He contributed a Christmas post here and commented for the French Guide-to-Romance last week. Gaze at those photographs of his -- you'll see he captures much more than the surface. Plus, he's tres, tres drole -- sometimes saying naughty things I don't print on my blog. But he's French after all.

11.) Social Climbers -- Beth, you could hate her if she didn't have such a super sense of humor, well that's the name of her blog which tells you a little something about her (it's also the title of her book, whatever). She's the girl who's the head of the snooty, snotty, sharp, snarky clique to which one aspires to join so you too can be one of the popular girls. 

12.) A Refocused Life -- True story: When I first found Rita's blog -- and I don't remember how it happened -- I saw her face and decided there and then: I really, really, really like this woman. I also thought, isn't she beautiful? I also thought, she's re-inventing her life, how fabulous. And, everyday she gives us a peek into her refocused life, but I suspect the joy and pleasure she brings us in her blog was always all about Rita.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mercredi Pot-Pourri (!)

Eh, oui. We all know what that means: Mercredi Pot-Pourri, something went wrong in the best laid plans department.

Some of you charming readers have said you like days filled with this and that and whatever, well today is your day. We're going all over the place.

Oh yes, a petite explanation: Normally when things move along as hoped, this is the day Edith and I consult and concoct creations from our closets. It didn't happen this week, although it will next Wednesday. Scheduling conflicts and all that. . .

If you haven't already seen the pictures of 52-years-old-in-April, French actress, singer, (nude dancer last year at the Crazy Horse) and wife of the very intellectual philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, Arielle Dombasle, on Jean-Paul Gaultier's haute couture runway, here you go. . . I wouldn't want you to miss out on this treat.

Look at these Sonia Rykiel numbers that cost nothing, in a special collection for H&M. I'd get in line if it weren't for all those horizontal stripes. Actually the sweaters are definitely doable, quite smart in fact, and those mico-minis (?) they could easily morph into tube tops. . .

If you like your bijoux to be conversation worthy ice-breakers and you don't have the wherewithal or the family jewels to dazzle with something huge and real, you could always turn to "Miss Bibi" who can be relied upon to draw curious stares, if not necessarily awe and avarice. Note pasta earrings and robinet (faucet) brooch -- not your everyday embellishments, n'est-ce pas? 

She also makes a petit homme sitting on a ring. You'll never guess what he's wearing -- a marinière.

And speaking of marinières -- for the 100th time -- isn't this cardigan from Sandro adorable? It gives you soooo many more options while staying on the major sailor t-shirt fashion message. What more could a girl want?

Everywhere I look over here we are being told to ease into spring with a mini flower printed something or other. My cupboards are bare. I'm not a petite flower kind of femme. However, and in my fashion book there is always a however, i.e. a compromise: I vote for a scarf. Now that, I have. If you're more girly, either pull something out of your closet or get a lead on the season and buy a blouse, maybe something in a Liberty print? 

And finally, so way off subject that I couldn't even imagine a transition, I've been longing to mention this for months and have never quite found a place to do so. 

It's about names, the names parents give their children in France. I've chosen at random from the birth, weddings and engagement pages of Le Figaro newspaper. This definitely expands possibilities for those searching for unusual monikers for their little bundles of joy. Philistine that I am, half the time I don't know whether someone has given birth to a girl or a boy.

Automne (pretty, I think)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spreading L'Amour et Les Remerciements

Lily Lemontree, I could go into rhapsodies over her and her blog: her aesthetic, her crusade for good manners, letter writing, thank you notes and all the gentle gestures that make our lives richer and more beautiful. She knows all about kindness, thoughtfulness and the joy they can bring.  That is why I am particularly honored she chose to give me these awards.

Dearest Lily, thank you, thank you, thank you and merci aussi

These are the rules of the game: the recipient must divulge 10 aspects of her/his life and/or personality; the giver should mention the person who bestowed the award (please re-read above) the receiver then passes, in this case two awards -- very generous, dear Lily -- on to 15 blogs she loves and finally we must notify the new "winners."

Sometimes I fear I have nothing more to tell you or that you may nod off, but here goes. . .

1.) I absolutely hate it when someone tells me what I think. (Can't they just wait a second for me to tell them myself.) I'm not asking for agreement, just patience -- and please don't assume I'm that predictable.

2.) I could eat cherries until I fall over in a stupor.

3.) I'm an only child.

4.) My mother was 45 when I was born and originally I was diagnosed as a tumor. When the "tumor" started kicking the doctor reassessed his first opinion and predicted I would be born at the end of February. I was born on April 25th.

5.) Roger Vadim invited me to dinner followed by dancing at Regine's in Paris. 

6.) At one point things weren't going according to plan when we first moved to France -- on a personal level that is; they were going swimmingly professionally -- a great friend offered me two airline tickets back to New York and a very glamorous job in retailing.

7.) I had seven years of piano lessons and cannot play one note today.

8.) Over the years I've been stopped on the street, in restaurants, the post office, you name it by complete strangers who think I look like someone else. When I deny their assumption, they either argue that I don't know who I am or say, "well surely people tell you you look like her all the time don't they?"

9.) When I was 10 I had my portrait painted, twice: once for my parents, the second time for an uncle. The artist stuffed me with chocolates so I wouldn't squirm and when she finished the commissions she announced she would never paint another child as long as she lived.

10.) I'm not allergic to anything. At least I don't think I am.

And now. . . My nominees for blogs I cannot live without: If you don't already know them, do visit you'll be glad you did. I would like to add there are more on my favorites' list. I have not forgotten you and I have something coming up soon.

Et Voila. . .

Monday, February 15, 2010

Transatlantic Parallel

Welcome to the one month anniversary of Transatlantic Parallel with my divine partner, Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart creator of the stunning blog Through the French Eye of Design.

If you're not familiar with our on-going virtual conversation about our experiences living on opposite sides of the Atlantic -- she married to an American and moi to a Frenchman -- let me explain:  Each week we discuss and dissect the local mores, dwelling on those with which we have come to terms in our own (ladylike) ways: resignation, reconciliation or rebellion. 

As you may know, we agree upon the subjects for debate through a series of undercover e-mails and then go to work on the cultural curiosities we like, dislike, or seriously dislike. (Sometimes you'll note we flip allegiances and prefer the traditions of our new lands as opposed to what we left behind.) 

We see each other's posts the same moment you do. 

This week's topics:

1.) Air Kissing (Just you wait. . .)

2.) Paper plates, napkins and all the rest. (You can probably imagine.)

3.) Restaurants versus dining chez les amis.


Call it "air kissing," call it anything you like -- deep breath, I'm about to take a stand -- I love it. Yes I do. Remember I'm talking about performing the ritual in France. In France it is not an affectation, it is a greeting.

I'm not wildly crazy over all the bear-hugging, back-patting and sometimes lip-smacking, smack on the lips that goes on in the States. I sort of like the bear-hugging, back-patting among men and on the contrary, I'm not wild about air-kissing man-to-man in France. 

Since I can only speak from my experience, Jeanne-Aelia can correct me on the etiquette involved, most Frenchmen I know give a lovely, quick, discreet little kiss on each cheek. 
Some women do, most do not, but often cheeks touch, bodies never do.

That's all I know. Nobody kisses anyone on the mouth unless there's something more going on than, "hello, how are you?" That would translate as, "hello, see you later."

If you wish to incorporate the tradition into your life, go for the right cheek first, then the left. I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself in a mid-air collision. 

Above you see Carla Bruni-Sakozy and Letizia of Spain setting up for their air-kiss. The other kiss is a bise en plein-air. Significant difference as you can see.

The Paper Trial

Paper plates and other paper and plastic items used for dining purposes: I see no point in being coy. I hate them. I do not care how sturdy they are, how well designed they are, how "pretty" they may be; I still hate them. 

 They're fine for children's birthday parties. I am unaware of adults who break plates and the vast, vast majority of households have dishwashers. Why would anyone go to all the trouble of preparing a delicious meal -- or barbecue -- and reduce the pleasure with paper plates.

Even at our fete de village where a couple of hundred people gather to dine under huge tents, we eat off of real, plain white plates. We also have honest-to-goodness forks, knives and spoons. The only deviance is the wine in plastic goblets. Shocking to be sure, but so is the wine. No one cares and glasses break easily. 

(I'm rationalizing because there are fireworks at the fete and I'm willing to drink swill if it's accompanied by un feu d'artifice.) As you can imagine, ordinarily I am 100 percent against plastic glasses and cardboard cups. Oh yes, the coffee at the fete? It's served in china cups.

As long as I'm on the subject, I might as well keep moving along. I don't like paper napkins either. Yes, luxe ones for a messy outside barbecue dinner. Why not? But everyday, at home? Never. 

And my final waffle: even though I have lots of linen cocktail napkins, I really, really do like smart and sometimes whimsical paper ones, depending upon the occasion.

Et voila. Let the wrath roll in . . .

Dining In or Dining Out

Here J-A and I have had divergent experiences. As far as I can remember, I have never been invited to dine in a restaurant at the invitation of friends in the context where that invitation would be extended instead of a dinner in their home. Perhaps for a special occasion, something spontaneous, but not a telephone call saying: "Would you join us for dinner at Le Perigord on March 3rd." Do you see what I mean?

Whereas on several occasions we have had that experience in Paris. Old friends have invited us to dine with them and two other couples at a restaurant, on a "mark your calendar" basis. One evening we had cocktails at their apartment; at 8:30 our host and hostess stood-up, announced it was time to move on to the restaurant and we all walked around the corner in the rain to what was a delicious dinner and a pleasant evening. (One of the guests, which I found outrageous, ordered a pricey wine, not waiting for our host to ask the waiter for a new bottle of his choosing.) 

Until la semaine prochaine. . .

Over to you ma chere partenaire, Jeanne-Aelia.
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