Monday, July 25, 2011

"Summer session " 3 week final project - finished photo shoots...

The students had essentially 3 days to put these shots together. In groups of anywhere from 3-5, they had a day to assign roles, a day to plan and scout locations and a day to shoot. It was the final project for the three week students - today we begin our final two weeks with the students that will be here for a total of 5 weeks.

So, my fair readers, I present you the Final Photo Shoot results from the 3 week Fashion & Design class of summer 2011:

photo by: Rebecca, Laura, Kaitlin & Carmen

photo by: Grace, Camille & Natasha

photo by: Caroline, Emily, Michelle & Cecilia

photo by: Emma, Julia, Dylan & Camille

photo by: Noah, Hannah, Sarah & Emma

photo by: Leah, Caroline, & Margaret

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Classe no. 9... Madame Grès...La Couture à L'Oeuvre

... I had already planned on seeing this exhibit but also on the advice on 2 woman that I highly respect, I quickly scheduled an excursion for a few of my fashion students who were able to fit it in at the last minute. In June, I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend and fashion co-conspirator - Elinor Berg (mom of my close friend Seth) - who said that after 10 days in Paris, the Madame Grès exhibit was positively the best thing she had seen there. Then, last week, I was lucky enough to coordinate a tea time with the lovely and erudite, Diane Pernet, the preeminent fashion blogger of Paris. If you don't already read A Shaded View on Fashion, you better start now. Anyway, she started off the conversation with her thoughts on seeing the Madame Grès exhibit and the beauty of the presentation of the couture displayed beside the sculpture of the Musée Bourdelle.

And they both were right. I went with Aaron, Jacob and 3 very wise students who chose to see this exhibit over a trip to Montmartre. Tucked away on a side street near the Tour Montparnasse sits the museum of the work of Antoine Bourdelle. While the Musée de Costume won't be ready with its renovations until 2012, they staged the Grès exhibit in this seductive spot. You enter into the main gallery, filled with huge works of sculpture and there sits, enclosed in a glass case, a perfectly seamless example of the work of Alix. Her pleats and folds echo the draping of the cut stone. And a few feet away, is an example of her toile - unfinished, pins exposed to the world to show her careful workmanship of exactedness - the edges raw, the pins placed carefully and the spaces of the pleats measured.

A marvelous, inspirational show of couture... room upon room of the work of Madame Grès: one lone beautiful dress form was set up, dramatically lit in Bourdelle's small apartment, others were set in glass cases in his atelier. There were sketches, fabric swatches and colored illustrations of her years of work. 80 modèles were displayed either on forms or lying flat. She preferred to not have to cut fabric and had her cloth special ordered in extraordinarily widths so she could drape and pleat without interruption. That was just one of many things that I learned that day:

I want this to be my atelier...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Class No.8...séance de photo de la mode & YSL, last week was Fashion History. We ended up with a quiz - one class did well, the other class - not so much. We also had the opportunity to visit the Foundation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent. The was a small but very strong show based on his revolutionary 1960's boutique "Rive Gauche." The premis was to bring couture to the streets of Paris. To produce clothes that weren't limited to the wealthiest of women - although they were still fairly expensive (!) The exhibit was loosely set up like his original Rive Gauche boutique, with racks of clothing, a colorful red palette and hanging Noguchi lamps. Even the life-sized painting of Yves that appeared in the original shop, greeted you as you entered the 2 small rooms. There was a charming video interview with e couturier and I was pleasantly surprised that the students walked away with a lasting impression. On camera, when asked about the future of fashion, YSL responded: "I don't think about the future, I design in the present."

Despite the nasty, pouring rain, all of my students made it there and the excursion seemed to be a success.

As for this week - once again we are plagued by less than perfect weather. I, for one, adore the cool and drizzly afternoons but they don't lend themselves to much besides classroom work. On Monday, we discussed fashion photography and different approaches. I, then, arbitrarily divided them into teams of 3-5 where they would choose the photographer (some students are also taking photography), the model, the stylist and creative director. On Tuesday, we went over historic aspects of clothing design that affect contemporary design. They had a few more minutes to plan their shoot locations - one constraint was that it had to be within a short distance of the classroom. One class had some success yesterday and the other class will shoot today. The results ...soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On the back streets of Montmartre...

...a shop window of color as I was winding my way to the fabric markets.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

lundi, Class No. 2...Qu'est-ce qu'on a vu dans la rue? this time, I didn't forget my one million photocopies at the copy shop.
Started the class with our ongoing challenge: Qu'est-ce qu'on as vu dans la rue?
It's our ongoing assignment of style watching - What did we see in the street? in the shops? in the métro?on the bus? Style is everywhere - with each day, the students become more observant and open to all kinds of discussion.
Still doing a quick survey of Parisian Fashion History...moved on from Rose Bertin & les sans-culottes to the 1800's and the invention of the sewing machine, Charles Frederic Worth and his Maison de Couture to Paul Poiret.

What were the major contributions of Paul Poiret to fashion history? Did you know that Poiret was fired from the Maison de Worth by the couturier's sons? Did you know that they both married shop girls and used as their muses and models?

Enough of class, I left the classroom and decided to walk from just beyond the Pantheon down rue Saint Jacques to the Seine. There I crossed the river and walked before Notre Dame. At one point, I was doing my Parisian/big city walk: head down, determined, weaving in and out of tourists who were either lost or taking their time. I can do it perfectly - obviously without even giving it a second thought. And then as I crossed back across the Seine, where rue Saint Jacques actually sides up next to the Tour, I saw the sky - a beautiful blue with puffy white clouds. I stopped and cursed myself. Fucking cancer made me do crazy things and now it was going to make me slow down. It's so beautiful here - I take it all in like a big drink of waterr. I promise to walk more slowly with my head in the clouds instead of buried in my footsteps...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Class No. 1...

...took place on Friday. Of course, I am very prepared: syllabus - check, lessons plans for the first 3 week session - check, contact with the excursion director - check, adresse of the Sorbonne building where I'll be teaching - check....

Laurent suggests that I take the 86 bus - Oh, it will drop you right in front - ha! Not only did it take me 35 minutes to even find the street, I didn't have the classroom number. But alas, I arrived in plenty of time, started to arrange my desk and suddenly realize that I had left the 60 photocopies of the introductory survey and history of Rose Bertin at the photocopy shop all the way back in the 11eme. Merde.

So, winging it, it was. First class had 10 fairly interested ( notice I didn't say interesting) high school students. One cute little gay boy. The rest: girls from the US, Madrid and Puerto Rico. The 2nd class had 14 with not a single guy and several thoroughly disaffected girls from NYC and LA. Apparently both classes will be filled with 15 each, starting tomorrow.

So, first days topics: intro to course, expectations, final project, and then dove into the topic of style. Where do these kids come from? What infuences their style? Do they know who and why they fired John Galliano?

Then historically, we started with Louis XIV, went quickly to Louis XVI, related Marie Antoinette & Rose Bertin (charting her rise from shop girl to Queen's couturière) to the movie made by Sophia Coppola and moved on to first les sans-culottes - relating fashion or clothing styles to politics and society - and then on to
Les Incroyables. Did they know that John Galliano's graduate show from Central Saint Martins was based on Les Incroyables? Breathe...

Devoir: purchase their style cahier where each day they will record "Qu'est-ce qu'on a vu dans la rue?"...their trendspotting revue.
A demain...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

L'entrée des Fournisseurs...

...certainly isn't an inexpensive "mercerie" but it certainly is one of the prettier ones in a lovely shaded courtyard in the Marais. I love to buy silk velvet ribbon here in all colors, strange buttons and lace trim from various parts of France.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Paris...on est là!

For those of you that follow my recently sparsely updated blog, I will quickly bring you up to date. I am currently in Paris for the summer with my twins and my assistant Gillian as I prepare to start teaching a course in "Fashion & Design". I applied for this job during the spring and surprisingly enough, I was hired. I am really looking forward to teaching these high school students from various countries that come to this program of French immersion and have the opportunity to take enrichment courses in several different domains including Global Politics, Drawing, Architecture and Fashion among others. The students live in a large dormitory/hotel in the 15eme while they'll be taking their courses at the Sorbonne. It's so nice to say that I'll finally be teaching at the Sorbonne after all my years of academics here.

Classes start on Friday and I'll have students for 3 weeks and 5 weeks. I've handed in my syllabus and meet with the director on Tuesday to go over lesson plans. I have several excursions for the students, including museum exhibits, a visit to an atelier and picking through the fabric markets.

So, I have decided to use this blog to document my summer of teaching in Paris and fashion discoveries and experiences. Of course I have 2 other blogs (doesn't everyone?)
Daily life and other dalliances will be chronicled in:
And bien sûr, the writing of the book, La Petite Zelda goes to Paris in