Sunday, December 21, 2014

When Chic Meets Cool

My fictional French femme, whom you met last Friday would definitely own a navy blue beret.
          Cool, as in wind chill factors. . . Many of us are in chilly climes during the holiday season and it occurred to me that my fictional French femme (FFF), the one who went to the glam party on Friday -- scroll down please -- in Paris while her friend went to her fete in L.A., needed a coat.

Admit it, you want this Gucci pea coat as much as I do and I'm not a color person. I can imagine it with all my grays, blacks (can one make black plural?) and navies.
          Paris rarely has snow during the holidays, but it's usually crisp and cold and despite the fact my FFF decided to up her game, pulling out all her designer duds from her tux trousers to her lacy top and the  family jewels from the vault, realistically she couldn't leave home without a coat and appropriate accessories. N'est-ce pas?
Her extremely large cashmere scarf, tied exactly like this one is her favorite all-purpose winter accessory.
          By definition, a French woman no matter what her means wants to get as many possibilities out of her wardrobe. In other words, her coat -- which does not need to be that wear with everything, can't live without, everyone must own trench coat -- should work day and night, casual or definitely not.

Her cashmere lined navy leather gloves are the finishing touch. They are just the right length you'll note.
          That's where this fuchsia pea coat comes into the equation. It is that shot of color we love during the gray days of winter and it adds a surprising touch of elegance and polish to everything "she" owns.

          The only accessory she probably would not have worn on Friday evening was the beret. (It wouldn't really work with her pink ruby and diamond earrings if you know what I mean.)

For all of her girlfriends, she plans on ordering -- because there is still time -- Betty Lou Phillips's glorious new book.   She'll probably be wearing her scarf even though she doesn't need to leave her computer to shop. 
           She definitely would have worn the navy cashmere scarf and navy leather gloves on Friday.

          Out doing her last second shopping she would wear the coat, scarf, gloves, beret and maybe a pair of dark wash jeans.

Friday, December 19, 2014

From L.A. to Paris, It's Time to Party

Grandmother's earrings will come out of the vault.
Grand-mère gave them to her on her  twenty-first birthday.
          My great pal Pseu, creator of the brilliant blog Une Femme d'Un 
Certain Age, and I are doing one of the things I love -- a Transatlantic
 Exchange. We have been plotting for some time and decided it's the
perfect moment to dress up for the holidays.

         We're playing stylists for fantasy femmes of a certain age --
one from Los Angeles, the other from Paris. The only ground rules were:
They have been invited to a glam party in their respective cities and they
 have decided to wear trousers. Please click here to go to the party in L.A.
She borrowed her mother's Verdura gold and diamond starburst cuff, simply because
it is the perfect accessory.
         My Parisienne decided to pull out all the stops. Normally she would
turn to her "I can never go wrong" midnight blue Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo
teamed with a white shirt or a T-shirt, or just a lacy bra, or even separate
the jacket from the pants and wear it with jeans, but she's bored with
all that for the moment. Besides, this is the big party on her calendar,
 there will be lots of major dress up competition on display and she has
 already worn the tuxedo in all its myriad possibilities several times over
the past few weeks. She yearns for something spectacular, and yet at the
same time refined, unexpected and unspeakably elegant.

         She did decide to start with a pair of her tuxedo trousers however.
"What better option than that?" she thought.

        She wants to shine, but she abhors glitz. Bling is anathema to her.
And, of course, she knows precisely how to accomplish her goal.

Holiday Parties in Paris
Please pretend the gorgeous Emilio Pucci guipure lace peplum top and skinny
 Burberry tuxedo pants are navy
blue which makes them infinitely more chic.
Add to them these fuchsia satin kitten heels from Roger Vivier
 and the painfully trendy (it was a gift, she never would have
 bought it for herself, her husband thought it was "amusing") "book" clutch
 by Olympia Le-Tan. You will note the title of the book,
 "A Christmas Story" -- what could be more appropriate.
          As you know, it's always all about the details and les femmes françaises 
are masters of the art. No detail is too small or too insignificant.
On her lips the what could be more au courant and holiday festive then the very merry berry YSL Rose Perfecto Rouge Pur Couture.
On her nails a lady-like, "finish" in the subtly pretty and classically understated French favorite, Ballerina, from Chanel.
          She had her hair cut and colored weeks ago knowing she wouldn't have time to deal with those time consuming chores during the holidays. And, chances are, she had a quick blow-dry the day before the party. The last impression she would want to give is that she was trying too hard or that she had her hair done specifically for the evening.

          As you can see, not only was styling my Parisienne a fantasy, but also an extremely extravagant one, but why worry about budgets when we're only playing dress up. Don't you agree?    

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Joy To The World

Just add children.
          If there is anything the world needs now, it is joy, peace and love.

           I thought this small expression of exuberance would make you smile. It might even make you teary. It did me. A little joie de vivre is what we all need.

          My beloved sister-in-law sent me this cadeau yesterday. Even if you've seen it, you'll want to see it over and over. Then, you'll want to share it I'm sure.

         Please click here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A La Maison

La Cuisine where Julien likes to whip up delicious pâtisseries.
         While riffling through an article in a French magazine about Christmas present ideas, I was fascinated to discover the Cubic Maison, a hip, modern dollhouse featuring French families complete with their individual back stories.

One of the houses.
          The houses and the accoutrements that fill them are designed by Djeco, a 60-year-old French  company dedicated to making creative, well-constructed, educational toys. I would love to play with one of the houses and invent stories for the families who live within them. Wouldn't you?

La famille de Thomas et Marion.
         Thomas and Marion are the children of Julien and Sophie. We are told in the mini histoire that accompanies their "lives" that though Julien works very hard, he also loves to cook and makes delicious pastries. Meanwhile, Sophie is passionate about flea markets and decorating. From those few details, children independently or with the assistance of their parents are on their own. They are supposed to continue the family's story, inventing situations and interests to make the characters come alive.
La famille de Milo et Lila.
La famille de Gaspard et Romy.
         Same thing for the other two families in the collection:  Milo and Lila and their parents and Gaspard and Romy and their parents.

         An interesting detail, all the parents are holding hands. I've noticed when I'm in Paris that couples of every age -- from those in their 80s to those in their teens -- are almost always strolling hand-in-hand.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Flight Attendants Speak Out


         Well, OK, they responded to my silly questions. Nine hours is a long stretch of time -- Paris/Chicago -- so I wandered around the plane asking the attendants what they brought home to the United States from Paris.

        It was unanimous. Every one, without exception, on every trip, brings home salted butter. Now, I thought salted butter wouldn't pass by the dogs. (There was a really cute, very busy beagle working at O'Hare upon my arrival.) I also thought it was considered in the broad classification of "farm products." You know, those lines on the card we must fill out about hanging out on farms and/or trying to smuggle products from said dangerous locations into the USA, the squares where we always check "No"?

        They all said French butter did not fall into that category. I didn't press the issue because I know that crew members do not fall into the category of regular passengers going through customs.

         Next time, I think I'll test my theory. I'll try to transport butter with sea salt crystals into this country. If I don't make it through the first line of defense -- the dogs -- some lucky customs officer will have a delightful treat. I trust there won't be a fine involved. I'll investigate and interrogate the flight crew on my way back to France.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

If Money Were No Object. . .

May the season bring you enduring joy, peace and contentment. 
         Our very appropriate challenge in this month of holiday stress, obligations, joys and generosity might seem simple and yet on re-examination, it's quite complex I think: Conjure up a gift of great extravagance -- one's definition of "extravagant" is the detail that is open to extensive interpretation -- whimsey, fantasy and creativity.

         So, my très, très chers amis, once again welcome to our international By Invitation Only group's vast and varied approach to the fine art of giving.    

          I don't mean to cheat on our assignment, but I am turning the tables on the theme. I want to tell you about the best Christmas gift I have ever received and, staying on message, money was no object. Money was no object because there was no money involved in this extraordinarily loving and generous offering.

          Serious scientific studies have proven that it is not "things" that make us deeply happy, but rather experiences. Now, as we all know, experiences do not necessarily come without expense -- great or small. I would imagine that at times something material is the catalyst for rich experiences, how about a pied-à-terre in Paris for example?

          Let me tell you about my cadeau. I received it this year. I'm living it right this moment. As you may know, I'm in Chicago and will be here for Noël.  This will be the first time I have been in the United States for the holidays in more than 25 years. The obvious aspect of my gift is the experience of being with Andrea, Will and Ella sharing all the family rituals of the season.

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but consider the heart.
         I am deeply thankful for this, but it is not precisely the present for which I am most grateful.  The true, immeasurably precious gift came from My-Reason-For-Living-In-France.  He insisted I spend Christmas in Chicago. It was his idea, his gift.

         My plan was to return home in time for the fete, but he wouldn't hear of it.  "You know how I feel about specific dates," he told me. "Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. . . they are just days, you know they only mean something to me if they mean something to you. We'll celebrate our Christmas when you return and best of all Drea and Ella will be with you. It will be wonderful."

         This is a man who does not know the meaning of "guilt" as in he is incapable of making anyone experience that dreadful emotion. I argued long and hard about leaving him. He refused to listen. "It will be marvelous for you to be with everyone; you love Christmas. You'll call me. I'll talk with everyone. It makes me happy to know you're happy. Stop arguing with me."

        I did.

        Please click here where you will be directed to my dear BIO friends.      

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Paris, Chicago Direct

I'm off to Chicago.
          In 30 minutes I leave home for the airport to fly off to Chicago for the holidays.

          Yesterday was filled with non-stop last second "chores" which included a semi-permanent manicure in O.P.I. Passion; a fruitless search for my RoC products;  then I picked up the refill of my custom-made talc powder from Christine and finally my brilliant hairstylist, Estelle, added bangs to my coif.

The semi-permanent polishes must be protected in an opaque bottle my manicurist told me. She really, really wanted to give me red, red nails, but I didn't feel psychologically ready for the plunge. I've got the red covered on my toes.
         Estelle gave me some tough love yesterday, noting that my cut wasn't "modern or 'young' enough; it needs some feathery movement." She was so right. I look like I've had a combo Botox, filler treatment. Magic.

My "Letitia Zen" bath powder created by my great pal, and pharmacist, Christine.
        As I mentioned when Christine first proposed making my bath powder, which she aptly named Letitia Zen, it features lavender, mandarine, orange and vetiver oils. It's truly divine. The recipe is supposed to be calming and restful. Even if it works as a placebo I love it. My bathroom smells delicious and that in itself is a lovely bonus.      
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