Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

Le paradis des enfants

February 17, 2017

IN 1997 I read about a park in Paris donated by the Citroen foundation. Luckily I had a son and two grandsons who were exactly the ages to see such wonders. So we booked, sailed the channel and crossed the summer fields of la belle France by train.

Parc Citreon is pres le Tour Eiffel so we did both spectacular sites on our first day, only stopping for food and wine at the best restaurants we could find.

parccitreonParis is also the home to La Villette designed by Bernard Tschumi, a French architect of Swiss origin, who built it from 1984 to 1987 in partnership with Colin Fournier, on the site of the huge Parisian abattoirs (slaughterhouses) and the national wholesale meat market, as part of an urban redevelopment project. The slaughterhouses, built in 1867 on the instructions of Napoléon III, had been cleared away and relocated in 1974. Tschumi won a major design competition in 1982–83 for the park, and he sought the opinions of the deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida in the preparation of his design proposal.

Since the creation of the park, museums, concert halls, and theatres have been designed by several noted contemporary architects, including Christian de Portzamparc, Adrien Fainsilber, Philippe Chaix, Jean-Paul Morel, Gérard Chamayou,on to Mr. Tschumi.  In the middle of the week we travelled on the Metro out to the sites of the former abbattoirs. Although it was all a bit scholarly its novelty enchanted us and later inspired my part in instigating Eureka! in Halifax, UK.

villetteAs Jo, Adam and Matt were encouraged to take in Geography, History, Geometry I thought our weekend treat, Parc Asterix,  with its giant Obelix, golden goddesses and bronzed living statues  would be relaxed and low key enough to take the pressure off! It was, and yet far enough away from the theme parks of Hollywood to feel like art. There were actual horses, actors, underwater swimmers  and as a treat from the gods – Delice de Zeus –  ice cream created to make Neapolitans seem dull!asterixJo, Adam and Matt now have projects of their own designed to amuse and entertain, and although I’m not employed by the Paris Tourist Board I’m open to offers!

Paris – City of flowers and lights!

February 16, 2017

‘I want to be there, NOW!’ to quote Axel Sheridan.cafe-de-flore

It might have been fun in 1954 with Barthes but in Summer 2015 I was on my way but I had to cry off.  I will make do with a Chanel presentation in London this July and maybe I can make Paris somehow, before 2018.

‘What was it about her face?” thought Roland Barthes sitting in Café Flore, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, after seeing Audrey Hepburn in the first French screening of ‘Roman Holiday’ on April 4th, 1954. Surrounded by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, Françoise Sagan, Nathalie Sarraute, Romain Gary, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Marcel Rochas, Gunnar Larsen, Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Paco Rabanne, Guy Laroche, Tristan Tzara, Alberto Giacometti, Dali, Jacques Lacan, inspiration came thick and fast for Barthes.

Between 1954 and 1956 his stunningly provocative and most influential text, ‘Mythologies,’ observing cinema, advertising, fashion magazines, motor shows, began challenging ideas about Hollywood, striptease, steak, wrestling, wine, and film forever.

 Born in 1915, Barthes has become the ‘go-to’ guy for story angles and inspiration for 21st century art, media, advertising, fashion professionals and his reputation today rivals that of any of his Parisian contemporaries.

Of Fashion he wrote that it became an industrial synthesis between its making, and its selling. He recognised the contradiction, inherent in the industry, of Fashion being readily available for the many, without losing its ability to raise stakes or status for an individual.

Tomorrow I’ll write about Parc Citroen, Parc Asterix and the pack of peanut butter sandwiches!

Most Photographed

December 8, 2015

lucadotti

It’s official! Audrey  Hepburn is the most photographed woman of her generation, BBC 2, yesterday and on iPlayer.

So it’s no wonder Anton Storey  and I had masses of scintillating images to inspire us when we collaborated to feature her in print  in 2009.

So lovely is she in her movies we have at least two wonderful reworked pieces to publish in each part of ‘IMAGES OF PASSION Audrey Heburn and Breakfast at Givenchy’s’

Last week we published part 1 PARIS  as a tribute to her greatest fan, Roland Barthes.  He described her face as an ‘event.’

http://tinyurl.com/zjb6ors

L’homme Parisien, post-Modern witches and the dazzling eclectic

March 10, 2013

ysl-slimane-2Saint-Laurent-Paris-Fashion-WeekWe’re with ‘Vogue’ on Hedi Slimane’s  SL show for Paris Fashion Week.

Saying that he’s ‘master of the theatre,’ Jessica Bumpus saw rock chicks with immaculate styling and a rock edge aesthetic honed at Dior Homme, with Seventies billowy chiffon.  Liking oversized hats, with every look,  multiple neck bows, tuxedo jackets,  super skinny trousers with their ‘rock credentials.’ 

Cathy Horyn, banned from the shows, was tentative in her report, for the New York Times.  Viewed from streamed images,  her words lack the tones of a disappointed critic.  I think she really liked it, but isn’t saying! You wouldn’t either, if you weren’t invited, would you?

Business of Fashion loves the idea that Slimane has gone for “commercially lucrative” pieces but hopes the label won’t be too distracted away from its original YSL roots towards a sort of ‘All Saints Laurent!’

Reminding us of Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial 1971 Nazi-inspired show, seen as “a tour de force of bad taste” at the time, BoF thought Slimane’s collection might be a deliberate attempt by the ‘complicated designer to provoke negative reactions’.

For BoF, Suleman Anaya also asks the question about where YSL might be heading under Slimane’s baton. Is it another top luxury brand removing itself from the kind of high-concept fashion that receives ‘lavish editorial praise but performs middlingly in stores?’  Or is it going for ‘money in the bank for retailers.’

Isn’t this what everyone hopes will happen to all Fashion?  Slimane’s tactics can’t be  bad if YSL is also seen as a lifestyle brand for musicians and those who want to hang out with them.   To me Anaya is totally on the button as he winds up with the assertion “It’s tough, but it’s luxury, down to those heavily embellished (and surely expensive) leather boots.”

How is Slimane doing it?  It’s probably the seven years with Dior, designing menswear, which gives him the gift to capture traces from the extraordinary creative and vulnerable masters who preceded him.  It’s also  his schooling in Art History and  Tailoring.  His visit to the offices of Le Monde,  when he thought he wanted to be  a journalist is telling.   For  the creative spirit,I think, it’s all about wanting to communicate thoughts and feelings. It’s what makes Fashion’s heart beat.

 

Mary Quant’s late husband, the debonair lothario, Alexander Plunket Green, supporting his wife’s exceptional talent, told me that sharp, tailored, clothes, rather than peasant looks, are what’s needed to underpin optimism during an economic downturn. 

Slimane, as  a French  Fashion national/natural, is doing it all.  Re-interpreting Yves from beyond ‘peasant,’ through Punk, away from ‘grunge’ through to a democratised high street, to thrill Beats, Hippies, New Wave and Digital Natives.  Keeping us all wanting to join the parade. So why is the Fashion jury still out on Slimane?  The renaming to ‘Saint Laurent’ seems neat and his eclecticism,  dazzling.

 

As  an original Fashion victim, I want to look as much like the post-Modern witches on  Slimane’s Paris Week catwalk, as the cyber princesses in their fluorescent trenches at Christopher Bailey’s  S/S 2013 London show!

http://www.businessoffashion.com/2012/10/a-wake-up-call-for-ysls-pr-team.html

Love on the Orient Express

February 18, 2012
Behind Coco Chanel’s gift for elegant, timeless, design was a personal life of abandonment and insecurity. Her mythology is plundered, for promotional purposes, keeping ‘Chanel’ in the forefront of international Fashion marketing.  Her origins are shrouded in mystery. She hid her history. She was an orphan who decided to live in a castle, becoming an archetype of her own creation.

House of  Chanel is owned by Gerard and Alain Wertheimer, grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who founded the company, with Chanel, in 1924, two years after he, and his brother Paul, had helped bring Chanel No.5 to the marketplace.

The English millionaire Edward ‘Boy’ Capel gave Chanel the money to start her own millinery business in Paris in 1910.  He died in a road accident in 1919. Chanel did not marry but founded the world’s most successful Fashion house and the Chanel connection goes beyond No.5. When the fragrance ad aired, Anne Fontaine’s Coco avant Chanel movie, starring Tautou as the young Coco, appeared in French cinemas, in 2010.

Opening with a dark-eyed girl on a cart, covered in a thick, bronze, tweedy blanket with a hand-knitted doll, we see the landscape from her point of view and the fabric textures in close-up. It was going to be about needlework?  Mais, non.  Distinguished, on the DVD cover, as a story of a woman whose love affairs defied convention, it really is rather more about sewing. It has all the hallmarks of French cinema and not just because of the subtitles. Sweeping views of the expansive, so Impressionist, countryside; clever, adventurous camera angles, drawing us in, to feel how the young Chanel is both exploited and exploiting.

Audrey Tatou’s deft involvement with the process of making clothes and observing humanity is at the heart of the film’s alchemy. It mixes class drama with professional aspiration to create a modern day transformation. Cinderella invents her own ballgowns and buys the Fashion house where they are made and shown.

It convinced me that Fashion designers put their souls into their output. It condensed the Fashion system into 106 minutes of doubly moving image text.  In spectacular form it sets the scene for an integrated cross-marketing campaign, where the Ad sells the film and the film sells the product.

When we thrill to the Chanel No 5 current television commercial we relive Coco Chanel’s life as a young adventurer. As Audrey Tatou moves through the corridors of the Orient Express in lithe gold satin, hoping to find her lover’s arms, Coco’s doomed love affair with Boy Capel is re-evoked.  As the actress rushes towards the beach and views passengers on a luxury ocean-going liner, ‘la mer,’ and the French, and Coco’s, infatuation with the sea becomes part of Chanel’s signature themes, associated with the voyage and the clothes worn for the journey.

Of course Coco Avant Chanel is a woman’s film. Directed by Anne Fontaine, and costumed by Catherine Leterrier, it has links with the Feminist tract, ‘The Subversive Stitch.’ Yet it speaks of elegance, observation, fame, the significance of Fashion and the power of dress to alter the way we see ourselves and are seen by others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykBjfHOC-m8

Fashion loves Controversy

October 26, 2011

Fashion loves controversy.  When the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ came out, in 2003, Lauren Weisberger was regarded as a disloyal spy, who had ratted on her employers.  The New York Times called the The Devil Wears Prada ‘trivially self-regarding’ and ex-colleagues of the fledgling writer, at Vogue, asked themselves the question, ‘Why should we publicise this thing?”

After script-writer, Aline Brosh Mckenna, had worked her magic, on the film version, (2006) and Meryl Streep had given a finely balanced performance as the brilliant Fashion editor, Miranda Priestly, then, perhaps, the interloping intern, Weisberger, was, partly, forgiven.

I did not expect my book to cause any such ripples.  How wrong I was. Christian Dior’s Wikipedia  page is currently running a line, quoting ‘Fashion Media Promotion, the new black magic’, saying that the designer was not the only Parisienne making clothes, for Nazi officers and collaborators, during the German occupation in WW2.  That anyway they were doing it to keep the French Fashion industry afloat.

Fans of ‘Gone with the Wind’ hate the idea that costume designer Frances Tempest thinks the clothes were not democratically designed and that a ‘particularly repellent Salmon pink’ was featured.

A curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art loathes my tongue-in-cheek description of Malcolm McLaren, as a Dior-scholar, and the irritating computer misspelling of Karen Dunst’s name makes one of her fans furious.

These petty squabbles and angst are a stroll in the park compared to the Vivienne Westwood  museum fiasco, filmed on British Style Genius.  We may all be too polite, and subtle, to raise it, but I’m still holding my breath!

Shocking confessions of a bibliophile

October 15, 2011

She surrounds herself with the talented ‘whose job is to translate her themes, concepts and especially her taste into clothes that bear the Prada name’.

My mother was wearing a full-skirted dress, patterned with tiny, white, dancing sailors when she told me about Elsa Schiaparelli, the Surrealist artist, who designed and sold Fashion.

On ‘Woman’s Hour,’ some time later, I heard that Schiaparelli’s,  Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition, 2003, catalogue was on sale.  I asked for it, as a Christmas present.  Large format, in  her signature  Shocking Pink, written by Dilys E. Blum, it became an influences on how I would write about Fashion, soon to be featured in ‘Vivienne Westwood and Anglomania at the Met.’

Now, as I set off on a crazy schedule of book signings, things have come full circle. That little gem of on-line journalism, Hint Magazine, tells of exciting plans to make New York Metropolitan Museum’s next  show,  live up  to the the sensation of  Alexander McQueen’s ‘Savage Beauty’.

News is that Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada will be  dual subjects of next year’s exhibition.  Both Italian divas are favourites of mine; probably because of Prada’s politics and my early introduction to Elsa, and her defining pink begonias.

The show will mix Schiaparelli’s surreal oeuvre from the late twenties to early fifties with Prada’s work from the late eighties to today. The high-tech angle is that Amazon, will set up an imagined conversation, with topics ranging from art to politics.  It will take on views from ‘FASHION MEDIA PROMOTION  the new black magic,’ that  Schiaparelli ‘offered a unique take on fashion, favoring wit over traditional glamour.’   Is it zeitgeist or have I a follower in  Andrew Bolton, from the Met?

Below: the inventive genius Schiaparelli put on a spectacle, only loosely related to shopping, when she brought her aristocratic vision to Paris in 1927.

I will try to throw light on these questions at WATERSTONE’S signings: Manchester, Deansgate, Thursday 27th, October, 7pmLondon, Covent Garden, Monday 7th, November, 6pm. London, Oxford Street Plaza, Wednesday 9th November, 12noon to 2pm. Sheffield, Orchard Square, Thursday 17th November, 5pm.