Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chartier...mon Chartier...

In 1983, I got off a plane in Paris, at Orly airport, to be exact...about to embark on studying for my Master's Degree in French Literature. I had been to Paris before and had lived and studied in the south of France, but now I was to live in Paris. My very Parisian friend, Marianne, met me at the airport. Jet-lagged and hungry, she whisked me off in her Deux CV to a restaurant with an entrance on a courtyard, huge heavy deep red velour curtains and double high ceilings. She ordered for us: rognons a la moutarde...I ate without a question...kidneys in mustard sauce. This was my first introduction to my beloved restaurant "Chartier".

It's a Bouillion, a working man's restaurant - well over a hundred years old. The serveurs wear traditional French "rondins" in black & white and act rushed and impatient - but they'll crack a smile as they scribble your bill on your piece of white paper serving as your table cover. The ceilings dangle beautiful round pendant lights and the walls are lined with mirrors. There are sections of tiny drawers serving as dividers in the huge room, where "regulars" many years ago, could store their "couverts" - their napkins and utensils. The food is cheap and "correcte", as they say...nothing fancy. I  never miss a chance to go there when I am in Paris. It's my husband's favorite place to eat, not a culinary experience but filled with history, soul and a stories that resonate throughout. Inevitably, whatever the size of your group, you will be seated sharing a table with others. I have oh so many anecdotes about conversations had with strangers over various dinners. And speaking of dinner, there will most likely be a line. Wait behind others in the courtyard and hold up the number of fingers so the maitre'd can shuttle you in quickly and seat you in the tiny wooden chairs and hand you a paper menu with its memorable red ink printed fresh every day.

Travelers to Paris always ask for my favorite places to go, there are so many and don't get me wrong: I adore the gastronomic delights of my second home...but, don't miss must not miss it...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Coco...before, during, and always Chanel...

Joyeux Anniversaire, Mademoiselle!
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel turns 127 today. Her legacy - sometimes bastardized, sometimes admired, but always revered - lives on. The historians try to understand her, the fashionistas keep her hip, the design students list her as a major influence and the socialites continue to give their $$ in support of the empire continued by Kaiser Karl.

"Fashion fades, only style remains the same."

She had books written about her - j'adore CHANEL Solitaire by Claude Delay...which was also a film starring Marie-France Pisier made in the early 1980's. There's also CHANEL and her world by Edmonde Charles-Roux. I have the first publishing done in the 1970's with only black and white photos. It's since been re-released in color...there's also another biography by Axel Madsen and so on. The past 10 years brought out a flurry of films: Coco Chanel starring Shirley McLaine, Coco before Chanel with Audrey Tatou and most recently Chanel & Stravinsky: The Secret Story with Coco portrayed by Anna Mouglalis. But even with all of these creative efforts, I would have still loved to have seen Coco - the Broadway musical in 1969, starring Katherine Hepburn. They say that Mademoiselle Chanel herself refused to see the production due to Kate's ad-libbed vulgarities that she sprinkled throughout the show.

"Elegance is refusal."

Coco Chanel was an iconoclast, a groundbreaker, a modern woman ahead of her time... she gave us so many things: she put women in pants, gave us sportswear, revolutionized the quintessential little black dress and created a fragrance empire...Merci, Coco and Happy Birthday!

"Don't spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Silk with sequins...

I am SO not a silk with sequins kind of gal...but this gorgeous Dries VanNoten-like fabric that I found in Paris (at the same place as the cotton twill in my previous post) was too good to pass up. A complimentary combination of rust with black - there is a stream of black sequins embroidered along each selvage edge. The result: our trapeze top that is banded by black silk chiffon coming around from the back and tied in front. We could only make two and one is now on its way to Utah with a new client. Merci to Roseanne, our lovely customer, who agreed to a spur-of-the-moment Blackmail Couture modeling gig:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paris dress...

I love this fabric...100% cotton twill, but alas there is no more. Just 3 metres bought in Paris on my last trip and only one dress could be made. Thanks Elis, for modeling...
Paris dress
SOLD...and on its way to a wedding in Nantucket...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Merci, Madame Darla...

So, it was a tough one.. that is to say, the photo shoot with my children, Creed & Zelda, in 100 degree heat, on the side of the road. There was a miniature church, a gaggle of geese, a crippled goat and 2 unwilling twins. Our beloved photographer had brought props - an amazing feathered Chief's Indian headdress that she had painfully constructed and that Creed adamantly refused to wear. She brought a wooden ring that Zelda promptly stepped on and cracked. The disco ball somehow survived as did the children; the adults - not so much! No matter how much supposedly psychological preparation had been done preparing the twins for the shoot, they both melted down almost immediately. As soon as la petite Zelda descended from the car: "I want to go back in!" Creed, on the other hand, in a vintage velvet mariachi jacket and shredded pants, flatly refused to stop moving and was distracted and as non-compliant as a buzzing mosquito. Thus, here as the amazing portraits that Darla Teagarden was able to capture before, during and after the crazy, brief morning:

Creed & Zelda
the only time together when they weren't running

the Prairie Mystic


... all photos by Darla Teagarden

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Darla, oh Darla, how I love Darla...

For those of you who don't know the work of Darla Teagarden, you are in for a real treat. I am lucky enough to know her personally and have been a fan of her work for ages. Her photographs are a fairy tale - often macabre, more often delightful, that take one to another time and create a wonderful story. She makes me think of the gay, French artists who came about in the '70's, Pierre et Gilles, but on a more delicate and less homoerotic scale.

all photos by Darla Teagarden

For a while now, Darla has said that she wanted to do a portrait of the twins and I am thrilled at what she'll come up, I have been preparing the almost 5-year old, Credence & Zelda, for their photo shoot. They are indeed ready for their closeup, Miss Teagarden...
much more on this later...