Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sewing Machine

Old cars, typewriters, even household appliances... I love such treasures, their ingenious machinery and retro design, so I was thrilled to see this ancient sewing machine in a shop-window on London's Neal Street. Its case is also super cute.

I dream of Pininfarina automobiles and Olivetti typewriters...
And you?

Special offer: when shopping at Border's Bookstore in London, I was given a 20% off coupon for my next purchase. It's valid in the UK only, until May 31. As I won't be crossing the Channel in May, I'll mail this coupon to one of you, dear readers. Interested? Leave your name in the Comments section - do mention you'd like to enter the draw. Benjy's innocent little paw will pick one name.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Books and a top hat

I've already shared with you covers from Penguin's Great Love series here and here; this weekend I couldn't resist 3 volumes from the collection - two of which I read even before getting back to Paris: Nin's luscious Eros Unbound and exquisite stories by Katherine Mansfield.

By now, you all probably know how much I love hats; I've been wanting to buy a classic top hat for a long time. So I did! I found it in a tiny and densely stocked vintage store.

I wore it on the streets of London with jeans, a graphic black and white tee and high heels. It sheltered me from spring's whimsical showers and made me feel cool. After all, eccentricity is a classical way of life in the UK, and one that I'm happy to embrace!
Back in conservative, conventional Paris, I'm not so sure about my top hat's stylishness anymore...

Monday, April 28, 2008

London I Love You!

Today, after an exhausting two-day conference in a dreary basement, I could walk around London before taking the Eurostar... It's spring!

Tomorrow I will be sharing my small but a little crazy shopping booty!

Friday, April 25, 2008


Today I wanted to ask Benjy to answer one of his fans' questions. But poor Benjy! After he got bit by a Big Dog, the skin around his wound got infected and the poor little beast is on antibiotics. He's lost a patch of glossy hair on his neck so he is camera-shy these days...
In lieu of Benjy, I thought I'd feature these adorable creatures I spotted today outside a flower shop. I don't like seeing caged animals, but this rabbit didn't seem too unhappy, as he munched on an ear of corn and some carrots; he reminded me of the terrific hare Andrea displayed on her blog.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

La Petite Reine

When bikes first appeared in this country, the French affectionately dubbed them les petites reines, the little queens. Now their highnesses are enjoying a new spell of popularity with Paris's communal bike system, Vélib. Like many girls here, I don't hesitate to wear heels as I cycle around.

Here are a few Vélib tips:
before choosing your bike, make sure the tires are not half empty... tie your bag to the basket to avoid having it snatched away at a traffic light... before you start biking, make sure you know how to ring the bell (it's an unusual system)... when riding, remember to respect the same rules as drivers (don't ride on the sidewalks, stop at traffic lights, don't take one-way-streets) as les flics have frantically started fining Vélib-riders...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Recycle: A home for your magazines

I was going to buy plastic boxes to store my magazine collections when I literally stumbled upon wood crates outside a Monoprix, and decided to use these instead. You can get them at outdoor markets or supermarkets - if you can't see any, just ask, as they are usually happy to get rid of them. I am debating whether or not to paint them in bright colors...
The large ones accommodate two stacks of Vogues!

And if you don't keep your magazines, instead of throwing them away, why not drop them off at a local hospital, retirement home or other place where people get really lonely and bored...? Today I'll be leaving stacks of French Elle at the Hôpital Saint-Antoine.
TV Trivia: does anyone know for which hugely popular American TV series some episodes where shot at the Hôpital Saint-Antoine?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Purple and white and I Spy Pink

Let's start the week with some silky, delicate flowers: a bouquet on my kitchen table... They're poetry incarnate.

They smell exquisite, and their colors echo those of the primroses on my window sill.

Also, today I'd like to introduce a new feature, I Spy. I love spotting cool styles and in I Spy posts I'll share some such sightings. We start with this really fun bag, its shocking pink hue (hello Elsa Schiaparelli) and clean gym-bag-like lines. I'm no fan of so-called it-bags or handbags, but this one won my vote.

I Spy A Pink Bag - Monday afternoon, rue des Archives (Le Marais, Paris)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Great Old Ladies

On the street, I love spying on Little Old Ladies - their dainty steps, their classic elegance. I also love Great Old Ladies, the ones who despite their age, are still fresh in the way they create art, like Louise Bourgeois who is currently feted at the Centre Pompidou, like Vivienne Westwood, Joan Didion, or the regal Vanessa Redgrave, who is beautifully profiled in the April issue of the British Vogue.
Who's your favorite Great Old Lady?

UPDATE: Hours after I posted about Great Old Ladies, I learnt the death at age 100 of Germaine Tillion, WW2 Résistance fighter, concentration camp survivor and great anthropologist; read more in the Comments section.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Longing for spring, dressing for winter

It's still very much winter in Paris and, eager as I am to wear them, I can't go out with these sandals, which were designed by shoe artiste Pierre Hardy for The Gap... Shoe blogger Miss Glitzy and I had fun checking out the collection together on the Champs-Elysées; it includes chunky wedges and lots of perfect flat sandals.

It's so cold here that every day I wear my scarf and gloves from Manos de Uruguay, a great brand I talked about in a recent post. Their beautiful knits are handmade by a network of women around Uruguay; each piece is unique - every item's tag includes the name of the person who made it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Des jeunes gens mödernes

Last week, on her terrific style blog, Chloé mentioned the exhibition Des Jeunes Gens Mödernes at fashion designer agnès b.'s gallery, rue Quincampoix. The show celebrates the songs, spirit and aesthetics of the French music scene in 1978-83, a time of experimentation and hyper-creativity. Some bands had really cool names, like Edith Nylon or Electric Callas - Chloé recommends the latter's So Chic. Many musicians seemed influenced by Germany and by a kind of imaginary USSR (see the cool poster for the Centre Pompidou's 1979 show on Paris/Moscow). I'm no fan of French pop/rock at all, and agree with the statement I saw on a T-shirt today, Le rock français c'est comme la cuisine anglaise (French rock is like English cuisine)... But I liked the exhibition because it reflected a zeitgeist with a raw energy and post-punk attitude - ah, I'm a punk at heart, as you may know. To sample the music, go to the show's MySpace page.

I hope some of you checked out Uruguayan rock, with NoTeVaGustar, which I mentioned yesterday. My favorite track on the featured album is El Oficial....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back in Paris - Some News

As I was about to board the Eurostar at London's St Pancras, I spotted this fun illustration by the extraordinary Quentin Blake on a wall outside the station... I love the joy it conveys. I've always been a huge Roald Dahl fan, and I suspect Blake's drawings had something to do with this adoration...
In Paris I was reunited at last with Benjy, aka The Oracle. While I was away, he was bitten on the neck by a large dog on the street... But fret not! Benjy is in good shape and can't wait to resume his guest-blogging. Don't hesitate to leave him questions about Paris, fashion, lifestyle or anything else in the Comments section.

If you're interested in France and food (who wouldn't be?), you might want to know that I've started writing for CalorieLab. See for instance my piece about Smart Choices At French Bakeries and today's article on a French Bill seeking to criminalize encouraging anorexia nervosa.
I miss Uruguay, its beautiful horses and views, so I was happy to stay in touch via this blog's Comments, with Natalia, one of the Maldonado Liceo students whose picture I snapped last week; she's kindly answered my questions about what she and her friends are into, especially when it comes to music. Give Uruguayan rock a go with NoTeVaGustar...

I was delighted to receive this award from 36 Shea's Jill. With her lovely family and fine eye for beauty, not to mention her talent as a seamstress and designer, Jill's enchanting; I also feel I have a special bond with her because she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I spent two years in the late 1990's. Thank you so much, Jill!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flowers in London

Though it occasionally rained and hailed this weekend in London, spring had taken over the gardens, and squirrels were running around... I've always loved tulips - and all bulb flowers. When my sister was born, my grandma brought me to the florist's to buy a bouquet for my mum; I chose red tulips.

Many of you loved the book cover pictured in a post last month - that of Turgenev's First Love, part of Penguin's Great Love collection. So I thought I'd show you another tome I bought from that same series, Giovanni's Room; I haven't read anything by James Baldwin yet, so I'm very excited...
Click on any title from Great Love to read a fascinating interview with David Pearson, Penguin Press Designer, who explains his design methods for creating the covers of this collection. He's a genuine artist.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

American prints at the British Museum

Still jet-lagged, and shivering after leaving Uruguay's radiant sun, I went to London for a seminar this weekend. After spending two days in a conference room, down in a lightless, airless basement, I barely had time to rush to the nearby British Museum to soak up some art before hopping back to Paris via the Eurostar.
A major event at the British Museum, an exhibition of 20th century American prints had crowds packing the rooms of the usually empty Prints And Drawings department. The art is breathtaking. Here's a small sample, including a detail from George Bellows's iconic boxing scene, a beautiful Colored Girl, and Hopper's Night on the El train.

And here's a little quiz game... Can anyone guess what famous American artist, as a very young man, drew this bucolic scene with a faceless little girl sitting atop the hay? Enter your submissions in the Comments section...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Adios, Uruguay!

On Wednesday afternoon I left Uruguay... It's a 1h30 ride from Punta del Este to Montevideo, then a 45mn-flight to Buenos Aires, where there's a 7-hr wait, then a 13-hr flight to Madrid, 2 hrs in Madrid and at last a 2-hr flight to Paris... I'm actually posting from Buenos Aires's Airport!
Before we all leave Uruguay, here are a few more pictures: the sign Calle de los caballos (Horse street), on a beautiful, fragrant Eucalyptus tree, Montevideo seen from Pluna's tiny plane and finally, a Mafalda cartoon.
Mafalda, the terrifically funny and opinionated Argentine little girl created by Quino decades ago, still appears daily on the front page of the newspaper El Pais. Here's what she says:
Let's have a look at this new story book....
"In a far away country there lived an ogre who ate little children"...
There it goes again! They're always eating us!
Until when are we going to be the chickens of literature?
I hope you enjoyed our trip to Uruguay.... If you want to visit this gorgeous country, whose people are welcoming and warm, make sure to send me an email and I'll give you some tips and addresses!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

At the Jagüel and around Maldonado...

Caballos! Horses are really part of the Uruguayan life. In the countryside, you'll often run into people who go around on horseback, and old-style gauchos, with their typical hat and their guitar, can still be seen, leading cattle with a hyper-active dog in tow... The saddle is usually made of leather, of course, with a plush thick layer of local sheep's wool...
I have always loved horses and ever since I was a little girl, I've gone horseback riding in the Jagüel park, in Punta del Este. These past few days, I have been riding black Lucifer, a gentle beast despite his name, and white Paysandú, in fragrant Eucalyptus woods... Bliss!

I went for a walk in the town of Maldonado this morning... In front of the public Liceo (high school), a group of girl friends allowed me to take their picture before they went to class. Today April 8 is the 18th birthday of Natalia, of the beautiful smile, at the center of the picture - Feliz cumpleaños, Natalia!
Unlike children, Liceo students are not required to wear a túnica. I saw plenty of super slim jeans and Converse sneakers, a style cherished by teenagers the world over these days, and was saddened to see many girls and boys smoking...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

On the road in Uruguay

On the road from Punta del Este to Atlantida... I love Uruguay's green landscapes, where horses and cows roam free. Open spaces! Blue skies! Crisp air! You may see lovely children coming out of public school in their typical white túnicas with a black bow, a sight that always makes me go "Aaaaaaaw!"...
Tomorrow we will "Aaaaaaaw!" some more with four-legged creatures. And it's not what you think!

I was psyched to receive this award from 2 bloggers I adore. Sweet Marie, who has an eye for exquisite design, and the whimsical, delightful illustrator Etsi. Thank you so much!
I'd like to pass on this award to
1. newcomer Chloe, a sassy writer and my personal style icon
2. All The Best, whose designer profiles and interviews are such a treat!
3. Laura's Kitchen Notebook, for its super yummy tales from Paris and all over the world
4. Au coeur d'Artycho, where you'll see the most exquisite creations ever and so much more...
5.Pia, because she's Pia, and no award list can be complete without her.
Award-winners, here's what you should do:
1. nominate 5 blogs which haven't had this award before
2. each of the blogs must have a purpose
3.the nominated blogs must make a link back to this page
4. the logo from the award must be put on their blog and it must link back to this blog!