Paris: Up, Up and Away with the Angels

Up, Up and Away in Paris! View of the Eiffel Tower from the rooftop at Printemps (Photos by Theadora Brack)

Up, Up and Away in Paris! View of the Eiffel Tower from the rooftop at Printemps (Photos by Theadora Brack)

Feeling Groovy among the plants (Elle 1956, T. Brack's archives)

Feeling Groovy among the plants (Elle 1956, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

“Yoo-hoo!” as my Aunt Doris liked to say. Trekking to Paris during the months of December or January? Mad about shopping sprees? This post is for you. ’Tis the season to be jolie, so grab your tasseled handbags and batons. Let’s go conduct some retail business.

Here are a few dates to keep in mind while planning your jaunt to the City of Light. The “Soldes d’hiver 2015” (big winter sales) will launch on Wednesday, January 7, and continue through Tuesday, February 10. Prices start to drop and keep on dropping, so it’s a judgment call as to whether to start early and get the best selection, or go later on and get the best deals. To be perfectly honest, I do both!

That’s not all, Folks: The grand magasins typically launch their “Vitrines de Noël” (holiday window displays) during the month of November. It’s always quite a show. Heads-up: Stay tuned for the report with beaucoup photographs. I always snap the night away.

Lumière! Moteur! Action!

In the meantime, let’s trip the flashback fantastique into another recent window-shopping dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of the mind. That’s right. In celebration of the promised return of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” television program in 2016, let’s get a little surreal with a “damn fine cup of coffee” and a little roll along Boulevard Haussmann, shall we? Hang on to your hats. (more…)

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Weird Paris: Saints and Sinners

Whilst traipsing through the Jardin des Tuileries, watch-out for “Le Petit Homme Rouge” ("Spring" by sculptor François Barois, Photographs by Theadora Brack)

Whilst traipsing through the Jardin des Tuileries, watch-out for “Le Petit Homme Rouge” (“Pomona” by François Barois, Photographs by Theadora Brack)

Now, let’s go raise some spirits! (La Nuit, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Calling all saints and sinners: Snuggle tight because it is time to crack open my slim, spellbound volume of spirited adventures in Paris for another retelling. For tricks, I’ve added a few new tales and photographs. I’ve also got the flashlights, pillows, and blankets, along with the marshmallows and bubbly for toasting. Here are eleven of my favorite spooky grounds.

Now, let’s go raise some spirits!

1. The Unknown Celebrity of the Seine

Among the artsy clutter that once adorned nearly every artist’s lair was a plaster face with a mysterious smile. These were cast from a famous death mask called “L’inconnue de la Seine,” made from an unknown 16-year-old who washed up on the banks of the river in the 1880s with an eerily pleasant expression on her corpse.

Copies quickly became popular fixtures in artists’ studios and salons as well as the inspiration for numerous literary works. Camus called her the “drowned Mona Lisa,” and Nabokov celebrated her in his poetry.

In the 1960s, the nameless girl’s visage was resurrected once again as the face of “Resusci Anne,” the rubber CPR training dummy. Because of this, hers is sometimes called “the most-kissed face of all time.” Consider tossing a flower in the water for her as you stroll along the Seine. (more…)

Paris + Running = Bliss

À vos marques, prêts, partez ! The Start of La Parisienne at the Eiffel Tower (Photograph by Roger Manley)

À vos marques, prêts, partez ! The Start of La Parisienne at the Eiffel Tower (Photograph by Roger Manley)

Swanky Ensembles by Jacques Esterel for the French athletes at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Swanky Ensembles by Jacques Esterel for the French athletes at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Jet setting to Paris? Cuckoo for running? Well then, why not just go with the flow, pack the shoes, and compete in one of the city’s grande classiques?

Here’s the squeal: Racing in France is thrilling. The excitement is palpable, even before the gun sounds. Every race is different and half the fun is getting into the groove of the course du jour. Plus, I can’t think of a finer way to hobnob with Paris’s past and present, than by charging cheek by jowl with the compression-clad, while dashing past the bright sights of the city. Gushing all Proustian: It does the trick every time.

As Papa Hem once preached: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus, you remember them as they actually are.”

That goes double for traveling by foot. In fact, I am training for a few upcoming races. So tighten your laces. Here are a few of my favorite races in France. Bygone it, Atalanta—Ready! Set! Bolt! (more…)

Paris Blues: Cinquante Nuances de Bleu

Babs Sprague, Fashion Show at my hometown Friendship International Airport dedication, Baltimore (BWI), 1950, Photo by Edward Nolan, Baltimore Sun (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Babs Sprague, Fashion Show at my hometown Friendship International Airport dedication, Baltimore (BWI), 1950, Photo by Edward Nolan, Baltimore Sun (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

The Calais-Mediterranée Express (a.k.a., “Le Train Bleu”)

The Calais-Mediterranée Express (a.k.a., “Le Train Bleu”)

By Theadora Brack

It’s summertime and the boasting is Skid-Dat-De-Dat easy, breezy. That’s right. This week, I’ve got good news to share, along with a classic French cocktail recipe—perfect for your outdoor shindigs and shenanigans. It’s another win-grin-sin, I do declare.

Here’s the squeal: France Today magazine has made me their Paris columnist, and I’m head over heels about it. Based in the U.K., this gorgeous rag has been around since 1985. Making no bones about it: I am over-the-super-lune thrilled to be part of their team!

So, in celebration of the nouveau gig and Woody Allen’s brand-spanking-new “Magic in the Moonlight” flick, let’s flock on down to the Côte d’Azure. (more…)

Paris: Embracing Lady Liberty

Bartholdi's "Big Daughter" (a.k.a., Statue of Liberty), New York, New York Image: T. Brack's archives

Bartholdi’s “Big Daughter” (a.k.a., Statue of Liberty), New York, New York Image: T. Brack’s archives

DIOR’S “NEW LOOK” AND LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Île des Cygnes, BY COMBAT PHOTOGRAPHER ROBERT CAPA, PARIS, 1948

DIOR’S “NEW LOOK” AND LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Île des Cygnes, BY COMBAT PHOTOGRAPHER ROBERT CAPA, PARIS, 1948

By Theadora Brack

Start spreading the news because we’re leaving today! In celebration of the recent July 14th Bastille Day in France, let’s pay homage to my favorite Franco-American collaboration, the gigantesque statue of Lady Liberty on Bedloe’s Island in the New York Harbor.

Up my sleeve, I’ve got a few new tidbits and photographs, along with one taken by our own special photographer friend, Maurice Sapiro. While playing the trumpet with the 279th Army Band in Europe in 1956, Maurice documented the streets of France. Inspired by the Lumière Autochrome color film process, his shots snap, crackle and pop! (more…)

Paris: Secrets to Scoring Big at the Summer Sales

Parisian Garb + Big Summertime Sales = Bliss Breakfast at Tiffany's with Holly by Fifi Flowers

Parisian Garb + Big Summertime Sales = Bliss Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Holly by Fifi Flowers

Parisian Perfume, Fifi Flowers

Parisian Perfume, Fifi Flowers

By Theadora Brack

It’s that most wonderful time of the year for shoppers in Paris. This year, “Les Soldes d’Eté” launch on Wednesday June 25. So in celebration, I’m not only updating my big summer sales tip sheet, but I’m also shining a bright spotlight on one of my favorite artists, Fifi Flowers.

Inspired by artists like Henri Matisse and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Fifi paints the City of Light in bright hues, bold strokes, and intricate curlicues. Possessing retro whimsy, her signature brand of wit and charm captures Paris’s shapely Art Nouveau street furniture, sleek black iron balustrades and manicured flowerbeds, along with cocktails, poodles, and scooter bikes—all girly, glamorous, and gussied-up to the nines in nifty, fifty shades of pink.

As Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening!” Mais oui! (more…)

A Paris Beauty Secret: An Afternoon’s Delight

Getting in Tip Top Shape on Planet Bling Photographs by Theadora Brack (Vintage Images: T. Brack's archives)

Getting in Tip Top Shape on Planet Bling Photographs by Theadora Brack (Vintage Images: T. Brack’s archives)

Distractions abound! La Vie en Rose! (Elle Magazine, 1951)

By Theadora Brack

Keeping on our tipsy toes, we’ve been spring cleaning here on Planet Bling like there’s no tomorrow. Next week we’ll be back on track with a fresh batch of tales about the City of Light. Fancy a swing by the Opéra Garnier? Step-by-step, I’m with you. For kicks, I’ll reveal a slew of newly-acquired tidbits about the historical palace, along with Sun King’s Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris and Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Black Swans, this pas de deux is for you! (more…)

Paris Match: Let’s Go to the Movies

Amélie at Cinema Studio 28 (Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, 2001) Image: MovieStillsDB

Amélie at Cinema Studio 28 (Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, 2001) Image: MovieStillsDB

Ernest Lubitsch's So This is Paris, 1926 Image: MoviePosterDB

Ernest Lubitsch’s So This is Paris, 1926 Image: MoviePosterDB

By Theadora Brack

As promised, this week we’re going to shimmy back up to the hill of Montmartre, and pay homage to my favorite movie house in Paris, Cinema Studio 28. Don’t forget to pack your fancy duds, too, because we’ll also trek it back in time again with photographer Maurice Sapiro. Winding it back to the summer of 1956: While playing the trumpet with the 279th Army Band in France, Maurice documented the streets of Paris, deftly improvising with light and architectural texture like a jazz musician. Inspired by the Lumière Autochrome color film process, Maurice’s shots still snap, crackle and pop, much like the City of Light herself. In the words of John Milton, “Come and trip it as you go, on the light fantastic toe!” Step right up. Here’s your ticket! (more…)

Paris Teaser: Lights! Camera! Action!

Cats on a Sentimental Journey at the Arc de Triomphe (Postcard: T. Brack's archives)

Cats on a Sentimental Journey at the Arc de Triomphe (Postcard: T. Brack’s archives)

Backstage at the Moulin Rouge by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

Backstage at the Moulin Rouge by Maurice Sapiro, Paris, 1956

By Theadora Brack

Today we’re going to swap our Belle Époque frothy petticoats for some pencil skirts and starched Peter Pan collars. Maybe put a few Chubby Checker 45s on the Hi-Fi, too. That’s right, twisting time is near, so grab the vintage cocktails and the gingham-lined picnic basket. Dear Mad Men fanatics, this tease is for you. Here’s the squeal: Next week, we’re going to take a joy ride back up the hill of Montmartre, and visit my pet movie house, Studio 28 Cinema, the only theater in the historic ’hood.

And that’s not all, Folks!

I’ll also introduce you to one of my favorite photographers in the world. Flashback to August, 1956: While playing the trumpet with the 279th Army Band in France, Maurice Sapiro hit the cobblestoned streets of Paris running, with camera in hand. Inspired by the Lumière Autochrome color film process, he documented the Paris cityscape with fervor, ardor and zeal, capturing her dramatic skies, sunsets and glittering lights like no other. It was a game changer. (more…)

Paris: Kicking it at the Moulin Rouge

Epic Weepie: Moulin des amours, Tu tournes tes ailes (Moulin Rouge, Tino Rossi, 1951) Images: T. Brack’s archives

Life Magazine, 1946 (Donna Atwood and Bobby Specht)

By Theadora Brack

Embracing ice skates, glitter, and sequins, this week, let’s glide on up to the  Moulin Rouge, sitting pretty in the hills of Montmartre. That’s right. Get ready for some more time travel as smooth and exciting as a vintage Johnny Weir solid gold triple axel. He is still my hero. However, did you catch Yevgeny Plushenko shining like a diamond as he skated to the “Tango de Roxanne” from Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack (2001)? His quad toe / triple toe possessed mass appeal in my book. Love will lift us up where we belong! Indeed!

You will be missed, Monsieur.

Now, let’s grab soda pops at the nearby Monoprix, and commandeer a bench with a view of the centuries-old Moulin Rouge. Spirits are high and I’ve got a tale to spin. Lean in because it’s show-time. (more…)

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