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…)

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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…)

Sweet and Lowdown: Swinging by the Paris Clignancourt Flea Market

Stardust Memories: View of Paris from the Centre Pompidou (where André Breton's  Clignancourt flea market treasures are on display) Photos by T. Brack

Stardust Memories: View of Paris from the Centre Pompidou (where André Breton’s Clignancourt flea market treasures are on display) Photos by T. Brack

BRACK Great Flea 333

Django Reinhardt Mural at La Chope des Puces

By Theadora Brack

Chim chim-in-ey! Chim, chim, chérie! Get your glad rags and wiggle on, jazz babies and pêcheurs de lune! With the discerning eyeball of a dandy and the goddess Fortuna statue neatly tucked in our pocket, let’s swing by the Clignancourt Flea Market (Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen) for some old-fashioned, toe-tapping, bodice-ripping window-shopping, shall we? Get to picking!

Flashback: In the 19th century, the infamous “rag and bone men” (forerunners of today’s “dumpster divers”) kicked-off the big flea frenzy. Trekking to Paris? Get thee there. Clignancourt’s eclectic palace-worthy collection continues to charm. In fact, the bustling centuries-old market had a cameo in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” Confession: Yes, the movie was a tad hokey pokey in places, but I fell gladly for it. Fantasizing about time travel always makes my heart swell. Larger than life, Yves Heck as Cole Porter was simply divine. Paris, you DO do something to me. (more…)

Rome Tips: Embracing Things of Beauty

Let there be light: After Via del Corso became one of the first gas-lit streets in 1854, it became a shopper’s paradise

An eye-catching creation by the Sorelle Fontana (Micol, Giovanna, and Zoe) Back in the day, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn were happy clients

By Theadora Brack

Dear friends, Romans, and fellow window-shoppers, I am back behind the old chariot wheel. Delayed and waylaid by la grippe or Roman Fever (Daisy Miller, the Colosseum was lovely at midnight!), but fret not—I am now good to go. So lend me your pointy cat ears and dark glasses! Blame it on the festive holidays, but I’ve suddenly got a strong hankering for some ritzy, glitzy window-shopping in Rome along the straight-as-an-arrow Via del Corso (my new favorite shopping ’hood). Let it glow, let it glow, let it glow. Giddy-up!

Here’s the scoop: Named for the Berber  riderless horse races that took place here during the Roman Carnevale, the historic thoroughfare connects the northern spectacular entrance gate, Porta del Popolo to the center hub, the Piazza Venezia (at the base of the Capitoline Hill). After a few spectators were killed during the 1800s, King Victor Emmanuel II put his hoof down and banned the games. Heads-up: The hustling, bustling shopping area is still a prime promenading, people-watching hot spot, so look both ways before dashing. Distractions abound! (more…)

Theadora’s Vacances Romaines: A Teaser

Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi with view of the Sant’ Agnese in Agone, Piazza Navona Photographs by T. Brack

Fontana di Trevi (a.k.a., Trevi Fountain) Marcello, Come here! Hurry!

Fontana di Trevi,  Marcello, Come here! Hurry! (Where did he go for that milk? Goodness!)

By Theadora Brack

Calling all Pixies and Saints: Grab three coins, see, because I’ve got the fountain. Our Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment, I do say with relish. During the festive month of Dicembre, let’s celebrate La Dolce Vita behind the great walls of the Eternal City, shall we?

By all means, in preparation, let’s clip more and more and MORE from Billy Wyler’s “Roman Holiday” trailer (1953). Repeat after me: There’s a new holiday on your calendar, so let your hair down not promises, and prepare for the greatest gay and giddy spree a girl ever had lived, loved, or filmed in Rome.

Stop. Wait. Was that Gregory Peck, Marcello Vincenzo Domenico Mastroianni, or Cleopatra’s main squeeze Mark Antony (we’re talking B.C. not J.Lo!). Never a mess, I am hooked. Love in the ruins. I am lost in time travel.

Pinching from the always “radiant as a royal moonlight” Audrey Hepburn’s character, Princess Ann, in the award-winning “Roman Holiday” flick, “Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.”

I will, too. Let’s roll the teaser! Lights! Camera! Action! (more…)

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