Restaurants »Bar Suzette

At The Chelsea Market

You just can’t resist the scent of truffles. And once you’ve caught the scent you can’t duplicate with anything else. Sorry, was that all too yuppie to say? Well, regardless it’s true.

And when an after doctor appointment stroll took me to Chelsea market, Bar Suzette drew me in with truffle mozzarella crepes and I couldn’t say no. Luckily I’m so pregnant and sore and tired and hungry all the time that I didnt have to say no. Or explain the fact that it was merely a pre lunch snack.

You normals out there can partake in this as a light meal. The stand is open earlier than many of the market restaurants too, in case you need a bite on the early side.

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Posted on June 30, 2012

Laughs »Emanuelle Alt Does Wham!

French Vogue Promo

Who would have thought that the French Vogue editor would have such a great sense of humor and devotion to doing a Wham! parody with such conviction?

Anna Wintour wouldn’t be caught dead (and is less charming for it).

I also might be partial because I love this song and was even George Michael from the same video for Halloween a few years back.

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Posted on February 7, 2012

Style Icons: Female,Style Icons: Male »Best of Paris Fashion Week

OK, so it’s taken forever to organize and write about it, but Paris was amazing, just amazing. And if I had to choose a favorite it would be Comme des Garcons off the wall white wedding. Walking art!

Vivienne Westwood presented amazing off kilter looks that magically played with human proportions. This mystery rich woman vacationing in the desert look is a personal favorite.

Yohji Yamamoto was at his very best with these feminine black and white looks. Love the unique sleeves and layering.

Like every one in this row, Ann Demeulemeester is known for doing the same but different, and like everyone mentioned as well, this season’s different was extraordinary. Her East meets West collection of floor skimming skirts, wide brimmed hats,double breasted jackets and fringe was quietly epic.

Givenchy, after a few stunning shows, was admittedly not my favorite, but this leather dimensional mini was pretty amazing.

A.F. Vandevorst’s drapey gothic mix of feminine and military could have walked off into the sunset with the Demeulemeester collection and lived happily ever after. Must figure out how to mimic this great small jacket, flowing top, skinny jeans look.

I am not a minimalist but this simple yet off kilter jacket by Nicholas Andreas Tralaris is spectacular.

Damir Doma, also following a dark feminine trail. The gold neckline of this gown is elegant and would be so awesome for holiday parties. The choker is a definite want.

What an unexpected surprise Valentino was! I almost feel bad being so in love with the collection when Valentino is no longer at the head, but with gorgeous silhouettes, wonderful embellishment and fun surprises (hints of black and neon on conservative beige!) this was one of the seasons bests.

Chanel was in a winter wonderland and finally making lots of flattering pieces. This puff sleeve pocketed eyelet dress is incredible.

Vuitton was on a similar brainwave with thier carousel of confectionery dresses. Kate Moss looks stunning in this full skirt mini – a silhouette I’d love to come to chain stores so the rest of us can try it.

Sophia Kokosalaki presented a beautiful collection. This fairy princess gown would be such a dream wedding gown.

Alexander McQueen continues to honor his legacy. This floor length beige lace gown.. wow. And it vaguely reminds  me of one of my favorite dresses.

Balenciaga hasn’t been a personal favorite for a few seasons but all that stopped with this outrageously chic and stand alone collection. The long visor hats! The interesting silhouettes and materials, it all made for a eye opening experience that was truly unlike anything else seen this season.

Beige craze continues with this gorgeous flower of a dress. So pretty, too bad the chances of finding anything like it are slim.

Junya Wantanabe’s The Birds meets the British countryside collection – so great! Loved so much, but my heart stopped when I saw this cape jacket. What I wouldn’t do…

Usually I try to find trends that us normal people can use in shows,  but frankly so much of Paris was uniquely high fashion that I’ve mostly just been in awe BUT here’s a look we can steal from. Love how Veronique Leroy uses a utilitarian color to toughen up the girlie pleated skirt and bow collar top. Also, think one color ensembles will be tres chic for spring.

Yellow looked bold and refreshing at Rykiel and this mustard canvas skirt is pretty killer. Love the idea of layering a skinny top with a tank too.

Kenzo was full of fun just look at this balloon pant, ruffle top outfit. This should not look good, and yet it does. Wonder if really full pants can be worn in real life?

There were so many Rue du Mail dresses I coveted that this was one of the hardest to choose a single image from. I especially love when they pull from romantic vintage inspiration.

Nina Ricci was also lovely and romantic, this ditsy confetti floral dress is just too cute for words.

Oh Carven, you have won my heart over and over. Neon tribal? Thank you, thank you!!

Miu Miu’s heavy jacquards rule and I think we will be seeing more of the trend in upcoming collections.

So much wearable wonderfulness from Sacai! I suddenly need a floral spring jacket and a see through pleated skirt. This look is too perfect.

More amazing looks after the jump.

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Posted on November 23, 2011

Albums »Trash Yeye

by Benjamin Biolay (2007)

Benjamin Biolay certainly pulls inspiration from his fellow Frenchman Serge Gainsbourg in style (there’s smoke in these strangely sultry songs) if not in content (it seems the horniness is more low key here – but I admit I can’t speak a lick of French, so who knows.)

Trash Yeye manages to feel modern all the same even as some tracks could be long lost Serge.

Stirring but lazy, this album is actually perfect for foggy days like today.

It goes well with battered woolen trench costs, scarves, and if not cigarettes then at least an espresso and faraway intellectual gazing from cafe windows.

Biolay is a big producer, brother (to Coralie Clement), and lover (once married to Marcello Mastroianni’s daughter) in his home country but less known here.

This will be a nice introduction. I know you’ll get along famously.

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Posted on November 10, 2011

Albums,Style Icons: Female »Comme à la Radio and Brigitte Fontaine

by Brigitte Fontaine (1969)

The strange and beautiful album Comme à la Radio by Brigitte Fontaine is like a marvelous magical mash up of some of my favorite things:

Take the sultry french vocals of Francois Hardy, add the discord of Morricone‘s jazzier scores, throw in the baritone tones of Nico at her most avant-garde and toss in the bizarre moodiness of Amon Duul II and you’ve got one album I simply cant resist getting excited about.

That such an interesting talent is not more well known is both a surprise and a fact that makes me happy with the world. If someone as cool and amazing as Fontaine was unknown to me, just imagine how many more gems are out there for my discovering.

This is another find I have my Pandora app to thank for. Le Goudron, one of the albums most universally listenable and fantastic tracks came on during a Quick Mix and I was beside myself.
Fontaine herself is fascinating. Not only was she a major figure in the French underground art scene of the 70’s, she’s relevant and active today incorporating electronic sounds into her music and collaborating with such artists as Sonic Youth, Jarvis Cocker and Grace Jones.

I might just be in love.

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Posted on August 19, 2011

Movies »See The Sea

directed by François Ozon (1997)

See the Sea is the only film in a while that has left me unsettled and jumping at noises in my apartment. Once you hear the premise, and learn that I am about to vacation on an island, you’ll know why.

A mother is left alone at an island vacation home with her ten month old baby. When a young backpacking woman arrives asking to set up camp in her yard, the mother relents looking for a bit of adult companionship, blind to the stranger’s strangeness. Things get creepy fast but subtly.

Marina de Van is amazing as the wanderer. Rarely do movies offer a villain so realistic and understated and they never cast someone that looks so right too. From her tongue ring, to her vacant stare, from her unkempt clothes, to her only smile in the movie (when she talks of her abortion), she embodies the women you see on true crime documentaries perfectly.

As the mother, Sasha Hails is equally interesting. We sympathize with the loneliness she feels with only an infant as company, (believe me!) but mother of the year she is not. There were so many times I was nervous for the child’s safety, whether left alone on a beach or crying in a bath tub, which only adds to the movie’s overall suspense.

Pretty much the worst thing you can imagine, and you begin worrying and imagining it right away, happens but that the conclusion is expected doesn’t make it any less shocking or the getting there any less tense.

A true gem of understated terror.

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Posted on June 28, 2011

Movies »Bluebeard

directed by Catherine Breillat (2009)

I have been curious about the work of controversial Frenchwoman Catherine Breillat for some time and was excited to find her Bluebeard available on Netflix. (This may be one of her less controversial films with none of the uncomfortable sex scenes I anticipated – but warning for the squeamish – there is a chicken with it’s head cut off scene).

As you can see by the stills, this film is gorgeous. Any fan of cinematography or photography will be smitten. And the costumes! If you’ve ever been to the Renaissance Faire and wondered what it would look like if everyone there was as fashionable as you, then you must see this movie. The many ways floor length can look incredible in the out of doors is alone worth a viewing.

But beyond the aesthetics, this is an interesting take on the traditional Bluebeard tale. With a stylized telling of the gory fairytale juxtaposed with two gingham pinafore dressed sisters in an attic reading the tale, Breillat is clearly but subtly capturing the uniquely female experience of being a young girl: When you are dimly aware of sexuality and adulthood, with impressions of love and death, but still a child at heart. A phenomenon described in the film as having the innocence of a dove but the pride of an eagle.

On the fairytale side, two striking young girls become fatherless and the younger one is married off the the ogre of a man, Bluebeard. Not since Lord of the Rings has desperate size been as effectively used on screen. The bride is as tiny as a bird, whereas Bluebeard, in a feat of perfect casting is hulking and gently monstrous.

The other narrative features bickering sisters who, as only sisters can, fight as they cuddle and scare themselves with the bloody story. Something surreal happens in this narrative, but without spoilers, I’d argue that is may not have really happened (if you watch it, maybe we can discuss.)

Between this and recent Brixpick, The White Ribbon, I sense there is something quite remarkable and fascinating going on with the period piece movie in global cinema. If only Hollywood could get so inventive and artistic with theirs – I can’t tell you how boring it all is to see the same corset blandness season after season.

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Posted on May 27, 2011

Restaurants »La Baguette

2417 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO

About twice a year I get an tremendous craving for the fondue at La Baguette in my hometown of Colorado Springs. Having it was my one request during my recent visit and it lived up to all my fond memories. It has a different consistency than most fondues – less thick and appetizingly chunkier. I have no idea what type of cheese they use, but if I knew, I’d attempt to make it myself so I wouldn’t have to travel across the country to enjoy it (not that I don’t love visiting home!).

The cafe itself is nestled in Old Colorado City, an arty, old timey part of town that has barely changed since I left. Magic Town, a gallery featuring the pewter drunk hobo art of Michael Garman is still across the street from Simpich, the local puppetry and I have no doubt that my name is still carved into the benches at Bancroft Park by a former skateboarding boyfriend. It’s a lovely, historic part of town and worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. And of course, be sure to make La Baguette your lunch spot. And no worries, if fondue is not you cup of tea, there are sandwiches on homemade breads and amazing pastries.

Many people think that you have to live in a big city to find unique culinary experiences like this but in the middle of Colorado we grew up with both La Baguette and fellow Colorado French gem, La Creperie (which I’d like to have on my next visit home). What luck!

What local eateries do you adore from your own home town? Leave your dining tips as a comment!

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Posted on April 28, 2011

Movies »Small Change aka Pocket Change

directed by Francois Truffaut (1976)

Friends, Small Change is so utterly charming, you must take time to watch it! A loving ode to childhood, Truffaut, a frequent chronicler of youth (see 400 Blows) gives us a glimpse into the lives of young children in the town of Thiers. The script was largely improvised and the children (who are adorable, every one) are non actors, lending a documentary quality to the film.

Described perfectly by the Times as “a major work in minor keys”, Change is made up of small moments, often mundane which add up to a touching, heart warming whole but never feels cloying nor hits a false note.

In its simplicity and subtlety, the movie is profound – almost life changing even – in that it’s opened up my eyes to the way a film maker can so clearly capture the feelings of childhood. The only other film comparable would be the equally lovely Spirit of the Beehive.

With yuppies of the opinion that children are little more than nuisances that might dare to invade one’s dining space, and all the crummy stories of abuse and neglect in the news, it’s particularly gratifying to see a movie that is so pure in its vision and message  – essentially that children are wonderful and need to be loved; this is a sentiment that very few of today’s navel gazing artists seem to share.

While the film is brimming with humanity and includes one of cinema’s kindest portrayals of good teachers, it doesn’t shy away from the dangers of childhood, particularly neglect in the case of the rascally and charming Julien.

It’s worth noting that Small Change, as it is mostly known as in the US, is listed as Pocket Change on netflix, where you can enjoy this gem instantly. (Moms, there’s tons of great kid style too!)

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Posted on April 9, 2011

Style Icons: Male »Yves Klein

Artist in Blue

The phrase “Yves Klein blue” has been buzzing around lately – and not because of the Australian rock band that took the name. It’s a rich, vibrant hue that French artist Yves Klein worked almost exclusively with in his early career – and it’s been all the rage in fashion lately.

It’s a triumphant, optimistic color and perfect for stepping out in as spring is sprung. I was even recently requested to vote on the color in a nail polish contest.

The colorful creations were not Klein’s only artistic achievements though. As a performance artist and provocateur he made people queue up for an empty room, dragged naked painted ladies around on canvases, and exchanged empty spaces for gold.

I am excited to have learned recently more about this enigmatic artist whose death was as unusual as his methods of creating art. Having appeared in Mondo Cane (another new-ish discovery for me), a precursor to shock value movies like Faces of Death, he suffered a heart attack during the premiere.

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Posted on March 17, 2011

Movies »Coup de Torchon

directed by Bertrand Tavernier (1981)

If nihilists believed in heroes then Lucien, the small town sheriff in Coup de Torchon could be the man for them. He comes by way of Jim Thompson, darkest noirest extraordinaire and his novel, Pop. 1280. That book is set in 1917 Texas but the movie is cleverly moved to 1930s West French Africa, Senegal.

I haven’t read the book to compare it to (though it’s definitely making my list), but I think director Bertrand Tavernier has captured the weird, almost surreal darkness of Thompson’s work most effectively on film. (P.S. – other notable adaptations: Serie Noir, After Dark My Sweet).

To say Lucien is disrespected is an understatement. He’s called ass licker and turd more than by name, he is kicked by other policemen, pushed around by the local pimps, mocked by his own wife – and for good reason. As a policemen he never arrests anyone and ignores crime as much as possible, even when own mistress is being abused publicly.

He seems to initially be a gentle and simple sort who detests violence and has more respect for natives than most. Which is why you are almost on his side when he begins to take action against the “trash” of the city by committing righteous murder.

But, as the film progresses and his motives become less about justice than his selfishness, any semblance of morality is blown. Played with just right amount of pathos and underlying insanity by Philippe Noiret, the sheriff, if I had to imagine him cast today, could be pulled off by a bitter little Patton Oswald and his unassuming baby face.

Scrounging around in the mud of human depravity with him are his scheming wife played by the always amazing Stephane Audran, her “brother”/secret lover – a half witted brute (I’d cast John C Rielly in my remake), his mistress, Rose, a piece of amoral work with a naive lust for violence and chaos played by the also always amazing Isabelle Huppert.

The cast is astounding, turning almost cartoonish physical comedy into something dimensional. Not that it’s cartoonish due to sloppy film making, quite the opposite, Tavernier manages the tough balance of darkest comedy only to reveal something very sinister.

The totally bizarre alternate ending, featuring dancing man apes, is worth a look on the Criterion Collection release. The only way this low profile masterpiece could have better is if it had stayed in.

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Posted on February 12, 2011

Albums »Histoire de Melody Nelson

by Serge Gainsborg (1971)

If Serge’s most renowned album, Histoire de Melody Nelson sounds like a sensual movie soundtrack – that’s because it kind of is. Not for anything released in theaters, but an indulgent, psychedelic music video piece, starring Serge and his lady Jane as a chain smoking, well dressed, slimy older man and the young gyrating, grinning nymphet he falls for after hitting her on her bike with his car, at least as far as I can interpret without speaking French.

That’s one great consistency with Gainsbourg, even if you have no idea what’s being said, you always know it will be sleazy and beautiful – a hard balance for most people, but the man’s way of living.

And beautiful this album is – thanks to the deep spoken word, the hushed giggles, and the lush orchestration of Jean-Claude Vannier, a character I am going to have to learn more about since within a two minute internet search I discovered that he was born during a bomb scare and composed music for YSL shows in the 70’s.

If there’s any complaint about this highly influential album it’s that it seems to go by in a glorious breathtaking instant.

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Posted on January 27, 2011

Web Sites »French Book Covers

A Lovely Collection

While I can’t read any of the information on the lovely French Book Covers website, the gallery of images ranging from sci-fi to noir, classic literature to smut is intriguing to browse through. I’ve added a few favorites here, but any lover of design should take a look at the extensive (and growing) site. I only wish there were more.

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Posted on October 10, 2010

TV Shows »Signe Chanel

Aired on Sundance

The fashion world is often viewed as a most glamorous one and there is certainly no shortage of glamour in the behind the scenes documentary, Signe Chanel: the Chanel head quarters in Paris house bright, incredible work spaces, the clothes themselves are almost inexplicably gorgeous (a wedding dress that will in particular make you gasp), and the mastermind himself Karl Lagerfeld is bejewelled and sunglassed at the height of impeccable style. However, it’s the true labor, care and dedicated hard work that goes into this collection (a memorably exquisite Fall 2004 collection) that film maker Loic Prigent, who also made the Day Before series I previously recommended, is most intrigued by. The seamstresses are every bit as important as Karl at the house of Chanel and to watch them interpret his free form, beautiful sketches into three dimensional pieces of couturier art is absolutely fascinating.

One of the most interesting characters revealed in the show is Madame Pouzieux , an elderly farmer who also creates the signature Chanel braids on her remote farm on a loom she invented herself over forty years ago. A local shoe maker with his made to order cobble shop and a beading house where women tirelessly bead one garment for days and nights with little rest are also given rare center stage in an industry obsessed with the rich, famous and showy. The humble awe he treats these tailors, seamstresses, shoe makers, beaders and braiders makes for a most intimate and slightly heart stopping look at fashion. It’s certainly one of the most interesting things I have seen on TV recently and a must for fashion fanatics – though just as recommended to those that turn their nose at fashion as art (isn’t it curious that those people often have no problem appreciating other art forms?).

Shot simply and beautifully on video, this feels intimate and you become involved in the arduous process of making a collection. It aired on Sundance during NY fashion week but is unfortunately not listed to be airing again soon but you can watch via youtube or on DVD from Amazon UK if you have a region 2 player. It’d worth seeking out this joyous ode to haute couture.

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Posted on October 5, 2010

Movies »Irma Vep

directed by Olivier Assayas (1996)

Whether his work is always completely successful or not, Olivier Assayas is one of the most interesting film makers working today and his projects are engaging and memorable for their unique point of view and vitality. Irma Vep is probably his simplest work and one of my favorites.

In it, Hong Kong action star and dazzling charmer, Maggie Cheung is a stranger in Paris. Playing herself, she is cast in a French remake of the silent film classic Les Vampires. The film shines as an ode to movie making, but in a realistic way. Assayas is one of the few film makers who has a genuine interest in portraying creative working life as it really is. One could be forgiven for at first thinking this was a documentary, it balances a kinetic ballet of realism that reminds us of the best scenes from Altman movies, sans a major plot.

In fact, Irma Vep is rather aimless and subtle with not too much “happening” (in cinematic terms) but it’s never, ever boring – rather inspiring and exhilarating. From the off kilter and manically lovely costume designer, Zoe (played by Nathalie Richardson), to the fading, possibly insane and passionate director, Rene (played by Jean-Pierre Leaud, possibly channeling his one time director, Truffaut, whom he now resembles), you feel like you are watching the interactions of characters that are fully alive and real.

It’s visually striking and makes one sentimental about the transient, temporary and vibrant world of collaborative creative projects (especially if you’ve ever worked on a movie before). Irma Vep was released on Criterion Collection and is currently available on Netflix instant.

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Posted on September 5, 2010

Songs »En Glissant

by Yvette Horner

The haunting En Glissant by Yvette Horner came to my attention via family on facebook and is one of the songs shot for the Scopitone, which friend Marcus explained to us over on RC a ways back. Horner, virtually unknown in America was a French accordion star.

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Posted on August 22, 2010

Restaurants »Le Gamin

108 Franklin St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

We used to love Le Gamin in Soho, it was perfectly situated between our jobs and when we could, we’d meet there for delicious ratatouille crepes in a Parisienne setting. It was very sad when it closed so when it reopened just around the corner it was a delightful day. Our first visit was iffy – the crepe was a bit dry and not the perfected dish I had come to enjoy in their old location. I’ve been back several times since though, and have become enamored of the new location for new reasons.

The cold soups (carrot and celery, potatoes and leeks) have been the best summer treat and paired with their baguette and homemade jam – smack! Bon Apetit! Their dinner specials have also proven to be well worth the few extra dollars – a lobster fettuccine and a garlicky chicken pasta a few weeks back were noteworthy. Recently, Jim devoured a dish of fried meatballs which were very good. The quiche is always excellent with a puffy pastry crust that is deliriously buttery. Wash it all down with their fresh squeezed lemonade.

Aside from the excellent food, Le Gamin, in a very short amount of time has made itself feel right at home, feeling as though it’s been a local favorite for years and years. It’s comfortably chic in a effortless way with fresh picked flowers, mixed farmhouse tables and an airy simple atmosphere.

We’re so happy to have it as our neighbor!

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Posted on August 1, 2010