Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taschen Books

Who doesn't like Taschen's beautiful art books? They were having a major sale at their Beverly Drive boutique last week and I couldn't resist three volumes.
I chose a book about the divine Audrey Hepburn. It is little known that she got her big break when spotted by my favorite French writer, Colette, who was then looking for a girl to be her Gigi onscreen. I love the picture of a lithe, childlike Audrey curled up against theatrical Colette reading her own sublime prose.
I also went for the Dürer and Caravaggio monographies.

There are very few works of art that brought spontaneous tears of emotion into my eyes the first time I saw them. One was Praxiteles's Aphrodite of Cnidus, another was Mantegna's "Agony in the Garden", and the last one was Caravaggio's "Taking of Christ" - sadly and oddly not featured in the Taschen book.
Caravaggio is indeed one of my favorite painters. He is so supremely human; his depiction of the flesh, his focus on expressive hands and the eyes of his characters all reflect emotions at their utmost degree. Hallowed and voluptuous.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Only Wear Freeds - Or I Used To

Freeds have long been my favorite pointe shoes. This classic British brand has been making traditional top-notch pointes forever, or so it seems.
But for the past few years, New York's Gaynor Minden has been designing hi-tech shoes using new materials such as elastomer, with built-in padding - how is it that no one thought of doing that before??? They are now worn by the likes of Gillian Murphy from ABT and the Royal Ballet's divine Alina Cojocaru.
So while I will still be using Freeds sometimes, I bought a pair of Gaynor Mindens. I can't wait to try them in my pointe class next Sunday...

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Love Hiromi Paper

For as long as I can remember, I have loved beautiful paper - the texture, the scent. So I went absolutely crazy at Hiromi Paper, a store in the Bergamot art center in Santa Monica. The store carries huge Japanese printed sheets of paper (above), all kinds of cards and envelopes including some made of veneer, exquisite sketchbooks and notebooks such as Japanese accordion notebooks and Italian journals, as well as Indian sketchbooks whose sheets are handmade with recycled cotton rags. Their stationery, such as these pop-up cards (right), is to die for.
Learn about the Japanese traditional way of making washi paper here.

This post is dedicated to my friend Nancy, whose birthday it is today...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Photography And Painting

Up Michigan avenue in Santa Monica, in a neighborhood packed with gas stations and nondescript buildings, you will find a surprising array of art galleries, housed in cool corrugated metal panel structures.
I sat at the cool Bargamot Bergamot café with a brownie as I waited for the Richard Heller gallery to open (at a lazy 11am) and checked out the photographs of Robbie Kaye, whose intensely colored shots give life to vintage dolls or kitschy porcelain figures - even a stuffed toy in the shape of a dachshund! Eerie, poetic and beautiful.
I'm thinking of buying myself some art for my birthday in May, and might go for one of Kaye's works...

I absolutely adored the oil paintings of Amy Bennett, on display at the Richard Heller gallery, with their sleek, distant characters, reminiscent of Edward Hopper, and omnipresent shimmering water.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration - Thinking of the People of Kenya

With a Masai

With Jane, our wonderful nanny. After we left Kenya, she got married and now has a family of her own - she named one of her daughters Laura as a tribute to my mum.

With Francis, and my sister

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Inauguration - Thinking of Kenya

As Barack Obama is about to be sworn in as our new president, I can't help but think of Kenya where, as I have mentioned on this blog many times, I spent some blissful years as a kid. I feel a lot of pride about Obama's election, not only as an American but also as if I were Kenyan somehow.
As the new president made his way to Washington D.C. by train, I thought I'd share a picture of my mum, my sister and me on a train in Kenya, between Nairobi and Naivasha. And a picture of me at a school party in Nairobi - I'm sure the younger presidential daughter, adorable little Sasha, wouldn't mind wearing my fairy costume to the inauguration ball...

If you want a piece of the inauguration, check out the really cool Runway To Change collection - I love Tory Burch's Obama tote, Zac Posen's Jan 20, 2009 tee-shirt and Deréon's Hope tee. I want them all, especially the latter!!!

Also check out Shepard Fairey's new companion picture to his already iconic Obama portrait, created for the Adopt A Pet campaign. Download the image here.

More posts celebrating Kenya in the days to come - stay tuned!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Few Little Things

I love this heart-shaped paperweight my friend Melinda gave me. It keeps Marie's lovely cutouts from flying away in the Santa Ana winds that have been blowing warm and strong around Los Angeles this past week.

When it comes to style, there's nothing I like more than peppering an outfit with a punk touch - that is why Chloé nicknames me Punkie. So I love this barbed wire eco-plastic skin jewelery piece, worn on my arm with a very simple tee.

Elmo went for a ride last Wednesday at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. I wonder what he chose for his lunch... I left with flowers, whole grain bread, tangerines and crunchy Asian pears.

When I walk past the RockenWagner Bakery, I cannot resist their 5-grain scone...

Monday, January 12, 2009

AUREA Turns 1 Year Old! (2)

In case you missed AUREA's most successful posts over the past year, here's a makeup session...

Someone's Been Sleeping In My Bed...

A Loire Valley Wedding

Best wishes to my dear, dear friends!

More pictures and details about the wedding here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

AUREA Turns 1 Year Old!

Though I started using this url in 2006, when attending a theater festival, it wasn't until January 11, 2008, that I created AUREA. For the past year, I have been thrilled by the comments and emails I have been receiving from Internet surfers and have become friends with extraordinary fellow bloggers.
To celebrate AUREA's birthday, I thought I'd re-publish some of my very first posts. In the days to come, I will also re-publish those of my posts that attracted most comments...

January 13, 2008: First Flower PostWhen asked how she would apportion the household money, Nancy Mitford replied that she would spend it all on flowers, saving a mere pound for "everything else". Without taking it to such extremes, I have decided that from now on, I would always have flowers around my Paris apartment. These are white hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis); their scent is exquisite.

Jan. 14, 08: First Fashion PostI love my 'petit bonnet' (little wool hat)... It's actually cashmere, and I purchased it at the super cool Ateliers de la Maille, rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the Marais, where they sell nothing but very cool, sleek knits. And now they're having a big sale, too.

Jan. 15, 08: First Yummy Post

They're beautiful and so tasty... Today I'm making the Japanese dessert Anko (very easy).
Anko lovers can also head for Yamazaki (chaussée de la Muette, in the 16th arrondissement), a Japanese & French pastry shop in Paris.

Jan. 16, 08: First Bookworm PostAs my living room turns more into a book-clogged library every day, I wonder whether I should leave the volumes' dust covers on. There's something about the naked spines of hardcovers that I find elegant and timeless. Where do you stand on this issue?
Read the rest of the post here...

Jan 17, 08: Introducing Benjy
A savvy Parisian with a taste for cheese and cashmere, an accomplished soccer player and a philosopher too (7 pounds of wisdom in the shape of a dachshund), Benjy will occasionally share his musings with us.
You can leave questions for him c/o his amanuensis (Mary-Laure) and, his schedule permitting, he will answer via this blog. His many areas of expertise include etiquette (how's a dog to behave on the train, the subway, the restaurant...), fashion (what to wear in Paris in the winter), relationships (just go ahead and sniff everyone is his motto) and especially pretty girls (he can't get enough of Mary-Laure's lovely girlfriends!), as well as animals' rights (fur-wearers beware).

A billion Thanx to all of you, and especially to Joanna, Marie, Jo and Pia, who were the first one to leave me comments and support my blogging efforts.
And happy birthdays to my friends Ana (yesterday) and Mariame (today)!

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Birds

Blame it on good old Hitchcock - ever since I watched his fabulous thriller The Birds, I have never felt comfortable around those winged creatures. Seriously, does anyone know of birds spontaneously attacking humans, ever?

Click here to read a fascinating article about a unique bird hospital in India.

Sunday, this blog turns 1 year old, so stay tuned for a special multipost birthday celebration...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Of Cats And Dogs

Colette is my favorite French author, and Benjy can't stop reading over and over again her short Dialogues de Bêtes, whose title was smartly translated Barks And Purrs in English. I recently bought the English language edition of the book as a present, and was also delighted by its lovely illustrations.
In Dialogues de Bêtes, animal lover and poignant explorer of the heart Colette transcribes the conversations between Toby Chien, an artless, spontaneous Boston terrier, and Kiki La Doucette, a sarcastic and wisecracking cat, as they go about their pet business and argue about their masters (the "two-paws") or other philosophical issues.

And since we're on the subject of cats and dogs, I thought I'd introduce two creatures I met recently: a happy Jack Russell terrier Benjy and I met on the beach, as well as GoGo Boots, Los Angeles's prettiest kitten.
Can't get enough about animals? Check out the Los Angeles Times's Unleashed blog for fun and/or informative posts.