Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Weekend In The Country

As you know, I have confessed to being a reluctant gardener, while at the same time finding nothing more breathtaking than a magnificent garden. 

We have -- theoretically -- created ours to be low-maintenance with a wide variety of trees and bushes of varied colors, some with bright, shiny berries, that maintain their leaves throughout the year and huge, ancient pine trees.

Then, of course there is the potager -- lots of work (by my standards) and the roses, both of which give me immeasurable pleasure. The fruit trees are pesky, moody devils -- one year on, one year off, a zap of frost and it's all over; forget to feed them, forget about it; spray the leaves that are being eaten by some creature or other; and, oh yes, the birds -- it never stops. (Rest assured we use only eco-friendly sprays on everything.)

As usual, this is a prelude to a far, far more important point I would like to make. Waaaay at the bottom of the garden we have several wild mirabelle trees (small yellow plums). Their branches are so laden with fruit they are sagging toward the earth. We have delivered baskets-full to everyone we know, before this picture was taken.

These hardy, wild trees have led me to a major conclusion: Let nature do her own thing. Our mirabelles are completely immune to all weather conditions, bugs, worms or other insects, they don't care if there isn't a drop of rain throughout the summer and the birds won't go near them. 

This is my kind of fruit. It's a shame I don't particularly like them. However, when referring to my French/English dictionary this morning to see if there was a translation for mirabelle, I noticed a second meaning, "liqueur, plum brandy." Now we're talking.

If anyone has a recipe, by all means please tell me. (I've also revealed on several occasions to being about as handy in the cuisine as I am in the jardin.)

It's gorgeous and sunny here again. I hope it's beautiful wherever you are. Have a lovely weekend. Can you believe it's the last day of July?

A demain for the line-up.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Out and About In The Country

The up-coming weekend is the busiest of the year on the roads -- in both directions -- with those returning from their July vacations and on the other side of the highway, those departing for their August R&R. As a result, I am finding fewer and fewer subjects to photograph. 

The streets are deserted, at least in the countryside where we live.  All the boutiques in the village near ours will close next week and when they re-open the soldes will be finished and the racks will be overflowing with the new fall offerings. 

Speaking of flowing -- one takes a transition wherever one can -- lots of this week's subjects liked that easy, breezy summer look.

Today while scouting my subjects, I found a fab-u-lous 50 percent off dress for my daughter chez Babette, plus a scarf which may or may not be for her. I think it's for moi

That's the great thing about scarves (and jewelry of course) size has no relevance. The last time I wore a size 38 was probably when I was eight.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dear Cherie. . .

Because You-Know-Who only pretends to listen to Cherie when she shares her pearls of wisdom, the time has come to cast a wider net. 

Today, Cherie will share her gems with you and will never know if you treat them the way You-Know-Who does or you actually apply them and thus benefit from a richer, more fulfilling life.

The latter is a promise. If you can't trust Cherie who can you trust?

As we all know, Cherie has the wherewithal to be pampered by a small army of professionals who keep her buffed, buff and beautiful. YKW, with few exceptions -- she hasn't started cutting her own hair as yet -- is on her own. That is to say, she is in charge of keeping her body in shape without a personal trainer; her hair shiny and bright without a coiffeur; all 10 of her nails polished and pretty; the skin on her body soft and scale free; and the precious epidermis on her face plumped, purified and rosy.

Here is where she parts ways with Cherie and the entire female population of France where she and Cherie live, but do not cohabit (thank heavens): YKW sees these necessary ministrations as just more chores. Cherie sees them as can't live without pleasures. Yes, one could argue, as she so often does, it's easier for Cherie because she has all of her upkeep done for and on her, but Cherie counters, "working on staying young and lovely is not a chore, it's a pleasure whether it's in your hands or those of another." 

Enough proselytizing, let's get to your problems, Cherie has a long weekend ahead of her and her driver is waiting to whizz her off to Deauville. 

Q: Mme. G:  Dear Cherie, Do you buy into that old saw about white being right (in the United States, that is) from Memorial Day until Labor Day? And that's it for the year? For your international friends, late May until the first Monday in September.

A: Dear Mme. G, Cherie really, really does not have the energy for a rant today. She has so much to do before heading off to Deauville. Let's keep it simple: No. In our world of sloppiness and laisser-aller it's a shame a few rules no longer apply to proper dressing, but on the other hand it's a pleasure to realize some have been abandoned in the name of freedom and individual creativity. White is one of those happy exceptions.

Cherie likes these and recommends if you see anything close to them on the markdown racks, do not hesitate. (Also, isn't it refreshing to see pure, pristine white underpinnings, even those of the most utilitarian nature?)

Pictured above: A spencer from Sessun (if Cherie could find it, she would own it); a rare, sober, stunning, in Cherie's opinion, tab-collared shirt from Marithé + François Girbaud; and an interesting turn on the classic blazer from Sandro. (You're on your own for the underwear that suits you best.)

Q: Mme. F: Dear Cherie, How is your eyelash growing project coming along? If my calculations are right you've been working on them for about a month now. Are they long and lush?

A: Dear Mme. F, Thank you for caring. The effort is beginning to pay off. Only occasionally has Cherie poked herself in the eye with the wand, but thankfully it has a foam tip which holds the magic elixir that is making the lashes sprout like weeds. (Cherie uses the cliché "weeds" since some of the new sprouts do not always grow out and up, but rather down, left, right and every which-way.)

Just think, Lipocils is an over-the-counter product. No visit to the doc and a prescription for that newfangled product touted by that young American actress. Although it does seem to work.

Q: Mme. D: My dear Cherie, Anything, new, funny, off-beat, whatever?

A: Dear Mme. D., Of course. How about these weird "derby" espadrilles for example? They are sort of funny, non? From B Sided.

Et voila, Cherie is off. She hopes you have as perfect a weekend as she surely will. Until next week. . .

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The LBDs d'Eté

For the sake of facility, let's agree that black and white are colors. Merci

Now that we have that out of the way, let's include the vast range of beiges, creams, off-whites, greiges, ecru, egg shells and on and on as a color family. Merci.

I have now established the color spectrum I see everywhere on the streets of Paris and in the country. I'm talking about dresses. They are either black, white or that myriad family of non-whites.

We all agree, I think, that white is refreshingly clean, crisp and cool whether we wear it or not. Same goes for the beige brigade in general.

Black is another story. One either loves it in the summer or avoids it altogether. Obviously it gets my vote.

Soon we'll all be obliged to talk about fall, but I like the idea of prolonging summer right up and into the last balmy days. This post then is dedicated to the Little Black Dress of Summer from the runway to those chosen by France's first lady, Carla Bruni Sarkozy.

My thinking is, the majority are seasonless and maybe, just maybe there are still some hanging around the markdown racks. You really should check.

From the top: Paul & Joe, Ralph Lauren (I'm asking myself, "Is that navy blue?" Pretty either way, but breaks the theme unfortunately.), Diane Von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Jil Sander, Max Mara, Ferragamo, Sportmax and Anne Valérie Hash.

My favorite of all Madame Sarkozy's choices is the ultra-simple perfection of the cap-sleeved dress she is wearing with her husband. I'm also wondering whether the sublime off the shoulder number isn't also navy blue. 

Hmmm, is navy blue the new black?

No, I don't think so. 

News Flash: As you are reading this, Madame Sarkozy is about to begin filming her cameo role in the Woody Allen film, "Midnight In Paris." The French looooove Woody Allen because he's an INTELLECTUAL.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here Comes A Rant. . .

The day didn't start like this. A rant was not on the agenda. Perhaps they never are. But this is a situation that simply cannot be ignored.

Why do fashion magazines provide their readers -- us -- with pages of IN and OUT items? Do they think we're fools or what? Now, my first job out of college was with Women's Wear Daily where I believe this game was invented. At the time it was rather fun and I can tell you, for many insecure women it was a clip-and-save list every season.

I like to assume we are beyond the need to be told such nonsense. French magazines assume their readers do not need to be warned off certain items and advised to replace them with the next new whatever. Yes, it is the "job" of the magazines to tell us the news. It is our job to interpret it.

My question: Isn't that good enough? Give us the news; we'll deal with it in our own individual -- operative word -- ways.

That's it, end of rant. 

Now I present you with the examples that ignited it.

1.) We're told by an American magazine that charm bracelets are IN. When were charm bracelets ever OUT? 

They are so completely personal, a collection of memories when they are created the way they were supposed to be. They become a reflection of the life of the woman who owns them.

For the sake of decorating this post I've included ready to go charm bracelets, i.e. the jeweler or the designer has done them for you. For example above, Tiffany and YSL, but from my point of view that's cheating it's just fashion, not passion. It is true that one could turn to Tiffany for the bracelet and then choose your own charms wherever you wish.

The one from Monica Rich Kosann at the top is different, it is decorated with collectibles that mean something to the owner. (One day I'll show you mine.)

2.) Patent-leather platform heels are OUT this fall. I regret to say this is untrue as you can see with the examples from the collections of Gianfranco Ferré, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Yves Saint Laurent. (Pictured from the top, YSL, YSL, Gaultier, Gaultier and Ferré.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Going Verticale

It's been weeks since I've talked about the ubiquitous mariniere, which according to my sources, is not only everywhere on the streets of France but also throughout the world. And I realize I made a promise to not talk about them ever again. So I'm not. 

This is a lead in to an alternative: vertical stripes! Yes, for all of those who thought the sailor T-shirt was sort of appealing, but hesitated because of the optical illusion created by the direction of its stripes, now is the time to think vertical.

Indeed, vertical is the New Way to go (I made this up, but I believe it) and if you're lucky you might be able to go right into a man's closet in your house and swipe one without having to get dressed and go shopping. 

They look fresh, crisp and they are not the white shirt you are almost as sick of having me rave on about as the above mentioned tee. The blue and white stripes don't have the possibilities of the white shirt, but they look so snappy in the summer. At the top from the Raf Collection and below, the Gap.

It's your call whether you want to find one cut for a woman's body or go the boyfriend route. 

See what I stumbled across, the perfect finish to your vertical stripes -- horizontal stripes on your espadrilles to echo the theme. Just add jeans or white linen trousers and you are ready to go. (And why not bermudas if you have what it takes to wear them? You know what I'm talking about, and it's not age.)

Is this exciting or what? I've got you all dressed and ready to go. Just add creoles.

The espadrilles are from Maurice et Moi.

Ed. Note: Let's not puh-leese even think about the notion of horizontal stripes making a foot appear wider. OK.  Merci par avance.

Oh yes, another thing: Do not, repeat, do not even consider adding red to your blues and whites. The national holidays are over and you should have gotten over that bleu, blanc, rouge/red, white and blue urge long, long ago. Enough said.  We don't do cute.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

My intention is to always entertain, inform, enlighten (ahem), all the while having a notion of what elements I intend to employ to this end.

However, it's summertime.  The birds are singing, the fruit is ripening, the tomatoes are heavy on the vine, the swimming pool is minutes away. . .  Excuses, excuses. All of this is my way of explaining my lack of discipline on the planning front.

So, as for the week ahead, it will be similar to last week -- A Big Surprise!  And, need I add, it will be equally a surprise for me. But won't we have fun?

Please note color chosen above, it subliminally represents bronzage or a golden tan, if you will.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Weekend In The Country

Is France the only country that bales its hay in this way? Surely not, but I had never seen these charming spools before moving here. 

This is the way almost all the fields around our house look now. One glorious champ was newly mown and the spools of hay were scattered from one end to the other. We passed it on our way to an appointment in Paris the other day and I thought, I'll photograph it on the way back. 

By the time we passed on our return, almost all had been hauled away or piled up in an unphotogenic mass.  I'm on the look out for more. The farmers have not finished their work.

I hope your weekend is full of sunshine, family and fun.

A demain for the weekly round-up.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Out and About In The Country

My first thought was, you might be disappointed with the paucity of pictures herewith. My second thought revealed another aspect of these photographs I didn't realize at the time.

More than any other of my weekly collections showing women sauntering or running down the streets of Paris or the village near our house, these three show such distinctly different personal styles that it makes them, to my eye at least, immensely interesting.

I see these women quite often, and the pictures truly do reflect their personalities. One is always in flowy, dresses and tops; the other more "strict" and close to the body, very often poured into her jeans; and the third, an artist, dresses with a child-like whimsy.

Their vestment choices vary only with the fabrics as the seasons change, not with the shapes. Oh yes, and the shoes -- rarely a toe in sight after October.

The blue nail polish is on the toes of a young woman who just passes under the 40-year-old cut- off bar set by the creative director of makeup at Guerlain (see Tuesday's post -- July 20th) who suggests that after that age one should eschew blues, greens and other colorful flights of fancy in favor of a rich ruby.
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