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Paris Tip: Embrace the Rain

The weather in Paris can change at the drop of a Schiaparelli hat, so pack your camera and parapluie, Pont Alexandre III, Paris (Photo by Wendy Brack-Fritz)

By Theadora Brack

Ahoy! Calling all Instagram Aficionados: This summertime grid tip is for you. Decked out in fifty shades of pearly grey, the Pont Alexandre III is the perfect backdrop for your photo-op. Rolling across the bridge has never failed to break this siren’s heart.

Designed by architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin, Pont Alexandre III was one of the showstoppers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle—along with other new-fangled marvels like talkie movies, escalators, and mechanical sidewalks.

A picture perfect opportunity still, here the dramatic cloud cover high in the sky is your friend, so why not shake up the scene with a red trench coat or blue parapluie?

Favorite Nymph of the Seine by Georges Récipon, Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Favorite Nymph of the Seine by Georges Récipon, Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Because sometimes in Paris, a little rain must fall

No matter when you’re visiting the City of Light, the weather here can change at the drop of a Schiaparelli red-bottomed shoe-shaped hat. But showers don’t typically last long, so I recommend always packing your camera or camera phone.

Plus, completely agreeing with Gil Pender, the character Owen Wilson plays in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” movie, the city is drop dead gorgeous in the rain. It’s true.

Prior to your trip, study photos by the likes of Germain Krull, Ilse Bing, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe, along with Robert Frank, Brassaï, Robert Capa, and Man Ray, to catch that rainy day feeling. You’d think Paris never had a nice sunny day.

I often spy couples rendezvousing and proposing under the cherubs on the bridge (Photo by Theadora Brack)

I often spy couples rendezvousing and proposing under the cherubs on the bridge (Photo by Theadora Brack)

So why not let it pour?

Soon you’ll be spotting weeping chubby cherubs, tree branches rain glazed into sculptures, umbrellas left open to drip-dry in vestibules, miniature Parisian lap dogs decked out in head-to-tail rain gear, and maybe your own reflections in puddles between wet cobblestones.

“Take the picture! Take the picture!” as Audrey Hepburn might say.

Instant INSPO: Before your trip, study photos by the likes of Germain Krull, Ilse Bing, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Instant INSPO: Before your trip, study photos by the likes of Germain Krull, Ilse Bing, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

One more tip

If you need a break from the rain or wind, it’s okay to hang out (and dry out) in a warm cafe with a coffee or a grog in a seat by a window—and keep shooting for hours. Nobody’s going to kick you out. It’s Paris, France, after all.

Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues was also shot on the bridge (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues was also shot on the bridge (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Not in Paris?

Don’t fret. Instead, get thee over to your favorite streaming platform, and watch English singer-writer Adele’s 2011 epic weepie “Someone Like You” video. Shot in black and white by director Jake Nava in a swashbuckler Wim Wenders sort of way, you’ll spy a spinning Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Invalides, and Place de la Concorde.

For the love of art and history, please don't leave a lock on the bridge.  (Photo by Theadora Brack)

For the love of art and history, please don’t leave a lock on the bridge.  (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Get the look

Aye, Style Mavens! Lux also marks its spot in this earworm of a sea chantey. Adele’s black A-line trench coat with an asymmetrical zip is from Moschino’s 2010 runway collection. Once every blue moon the canvas booty pops up on eBay. Maybe one day I’ll give it the old heave-ho and make the splurge when my Bateaux Mouche comes in.

A lassie can scheme, can’t she?

As Henry Miller penned, “The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass [or trench coat!], it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” The world in a grain of sand . . . or a drop of rain?

Keep your eyes wide open. And keep on snapping.

Give me a shout-out on Instagram: @theadorabrack

Do you have a favorite bridge in Paris? If so, do spill. Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Do you have a favorite bridge in Paris? If so, do spill. Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Hooked on the Parapluies of Paris, Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Hooked on the Parapluies of Paris, Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

More umbrella and trench coat inspiration, Parapluies Sauvagnat, 1966. (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

More umbrella and trench coat inspiration, Parapluies Sauvagnat, 1966. (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

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Paris Flea Market Guide: Off to the Puces!

Throughout the year, the City of de-Light stays retro-active with weekend flea markets and pop-up bazaars (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Throughout the year, the City of de-Light stays retro-active with weekend flea markets and pop-up bazaars (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Bewitched by kitsch? Join the rave. Throughout the year, the City of Light stays retro active with weekend flea markets, along with open-air and tented pop-up bazaars. With so many venues, where to start? Here’s a Paris treasure hunt guide.

Meet the fleas: The infamous rag and bone pickers (forerunners of today’s dumpster divers) got the puces party jumping in the late 19th century. Two favorites still exist: Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves and Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (a.k.a. Clignancourt).

At Porte de Vanves, you’ll find everything from key chains, perfume bottles, bolts of fabric, fancy fans, and heartthrob Elvis, too—oh, sigh! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

At Porte de Vanves, you’ll find everything from key chains, perfume bottles, bolts of fabric, fancy fans, and heartthrob Elvis, too—oh, sigh! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

1. Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves
Métro: Porte de Vanves

If you’ve only got time to visit one Parisian flea market, this is the one. With its bustling vibe, it’s impossible not to feel happy-go-lucky here. There’s even a piano player! Pirouetting straight to the point: the treasures are eclectic and affordable, and the dealers are friendly and fun. (more…)

Paris: To Notre-Dame with Love

Paying tribute to Notre-Dame (Photo by Theadora Brack, River Boat Ride, March 2019)

Paying tribute to Notre-Dame (Photo by Theadora Brack, River Boat Ride, March 2019)

By Theadora Brack

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s 18th century Grand Organ was rescued—with all of its 8,000 pipes still intact, we think. “None of the pipes have appeared to collapsed,” organ builder Bertrand Cattiaux told The New York Times. “We can just cross our fingers and wait.”

The bell towers were also saved. I’m still waiting for an update on my bells.
Did you know they have names?

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ and bell towers were saved (Photo by Theadora Brack, March 2019)

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ and bell towers were saved (Photo by Theadora Brack, March 2019)

Meet the bells

As part of the Notre-Dame’s 850th birthday fête back in 2013, nine new bells were introduced: Jean-Marie, Maurice, Benoit-Joseph, Steven, Marcel, Dennis, Anne-Geneviève, and Gabriel, along with six-ton Marie. Using medieval casting techniques, eight of them were broken free from their molds at the Cornille Havard Bell Foundry in Normandy.

Cast as a diva from the start, grand bell Marie was cast in the Netherlands. (more…)

France: Two Tales of Tenacity

Celebrating two heroes: Louise Weiss and Marie Marvingt ((Photo by T. Brack), Girl Power Graffiti by @_kvich, Montmartre)

Celebrating two heroes: Louise Weiss and Marie Marvingt ((Photo by T. Brack), Girl Power Graffiti by @_kvich, Montmartre)

Let’s pedal push it up to Montmartre—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Let’s pedal push it up to Montmartre—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

By Theadora Brack

This week, I’d like to introduce you to one of my heroes: suffragette and writer Louise Weiss.

So grab your bicycle and helmet, and let’s get to pedal pushing up the Montmartre slopes to Abbesses—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground. It’s time to pay homage.

Traffic is heavy, but don’t fret yet. The autumn sun is still on our side of the rue.

As we round the butte, we spot the spot, close by Vincent Van Gogh’s former digs (at 54 rue Lepic). At the school just around the corner is where publicity maven Louise instigated one of her famously stormy powder puff battles.

Let’s prop our bikes up against the lamppost, and try to imagine the scene.

A story I tell often

Louise had organized a “straw vote on the woman’s suffrage issue outside of schools and city halls where men were voting for men, in solemn masculinity. As ballot boxes, hatboxes were being appropriately used,” according to a 1935 newspaper report.

“But the police would not allow these unofficial ballot boxes. Thirty-six of them had been organized all over Abbesses, and one by one they were put out of action. Weiss refused to surrender. With a table, hatbox, and surrounded by a joyous crowd, she continued to urge electors to vote for votes for women.”

Thanks to the efforts of Louise and countless other activists like her, French women eventually got the vote in 1945, Hippodrome de Longchamp, Bois de Boulogne (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Thanks to the efforts of Louise and countless other activists like her, French women eventually got the vote in 1945, Hippodrome de Longchamp, Bois de Boulogne (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Because haters are going to be haters

Of course, it didn’t take long for the policemen to reappear. After seizing the hatbox, “the face powder went into action.” Armed with beaucoup boxes of rose-scented talcum, the women waited for a cue from Louise.

She was the first to blow, and then the others followed suit. Clouds of talcum settled on the officers’ uniforms. Arrests were made but so were headlines and legends, too.

By the end of the day, 16,000 votes had been cast in favor of women’s right to vote. Times were changing. See, men cast half the “hatbox” ballots.

Thanks to the efforts of Louise and countless other activists like her, French women eventually got the vote in 1945.

She Persisted: Daredevil Marie Marvingt was a balloonist, mountaineer, sharpshooter, skater, skier, fencer, writer, and aviator. (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

She Persisted: Daredevil Marie Marvingt was a balloonist, mountaineer, sharpshooter, skater, skier, fencer, writer, and aviator. (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

One more tale of tenacity

By the 1890s, thanks to the introduction of the Starley Rover Safety Bicycle and its pneumatic tires, “all Paris was a-wheel,” and the women were not only zipping around in public but also unblushingly flaunting menswear or “something alarmingly like it.”

One rebel stirred by the bike boom was Marie Marvingt. In 1908, she attempted to register for the Tour de France bicycle race. “Impossible!” the officials told her. After all, she was a lady. But Marie persisted, defiantly cycling each stage of the race incognito and becoming the première femme to complete the grueling two-week competition.

Marie at the joystick: Heroes don’t always wear capes. Sometimes they rock the world with powder boxes, bikes, and helicopters, instead (Newspaper Clipping,1955)

Marie at the joystick: Heroes don’t always wear capes. Sometimes they rock the world with powder boxes, bikes, and helicopters, instead (Newspaper Clipping,1955)

Ahead of the curve

Marie was  a balloonist, mountain climber, sharpshooter, skater, skier, fencer, writer, and aviator. During the Premier Guerre Mondial (World War I), she worked as a Red Cross surgical nurse in field hospitals at the front. She also fought in the trenches disguised as a man, and flew in combat rescue missions.

Never applying the breaks: after learning how to fly a new-fangled-at-the-time Djinn jet helicopter in 1955, our daredevil later told reporters, “I’m eighty. So what?”

Congratulations to the 122 women elected last week to serve in the 116th United States Congress, bumping the percentage of women representatives in Washington D.C. from 20 to 23 percent.

We can do it. As Marie Marvingt liked to say, “It’s so delicious to fly like a bird!”

We Can Do It: Rosie the Riveter by artist J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation , 1942 (Pay homage at The National Museum of American History, Washington D.C.)

We Can Do It: Rosie the Riveter by artist J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation , 1942 (Pay homage at The National Museum of American History, Washington D.C.)

A Regal Run: Loping Through The Luxembourg

Let's re-charge the soul and soles with writer George Sand at the Jardin du Luxembourg (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s re-charge the soul and soles with writer George Sand at the Jardin du Luxembourg (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Fall Inspo: Why not rock the vote and head-to-toe grey with a splash of mustard? (Elle, 1951, T. Brack's collection)

Fall Inspo: Why not rock the vote and head-to-toe grey with a splash of mustard? (Elle, 1951, T. Brack’s collection)

By Theadora Brack

This week, for just one moment, let’s take a brief break from the news cycle and go for a jog in the park.

Personally, I can’t think of a finer way to re-charge and experience the City of Light’s past and present than kicking down the old cobblestone rues.

As writer George Sand once wrote, “Don’t jibe at the very wise advice that sentences you to one hour’s walk a day. You imagine the work of the mind takes place only in the brain; but you’re much mistaken. It takes place in the legs as well.”

I completely agree.

So grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg. Created with a Florentine twist by Queen Marie de Médici and gardening theorist Jacques Boyceau during the 17th century, it opened to the public in 1778.

Here, I’m not only able to run, but also mingle with the statues of French queens, saints, big cats, and writers. I’m hardly a martyr, or a monarch or a literary giant (yet!), but up my black Lycra sleeve I do have a few tips for a picture-perfect storybook run.

Let’s go!

Let's grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg

Let’s grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg

(more…)

Statue of Liberty: Where is the Love?

La Statue de la Liberté, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Let’s once again doff our “bachi” to my favorite Franco-American collaboration, the gigantesque statue of Lady Liberty on Bedloe’s Island in the New York harbor. Still looking fierce in her spiky nimbus (that’s right, mythically speaking, it’s not a crown) and matching floor length chiton in all its copper green tonalities.

This week, I’d also like to share four copies of my new favorite book about our iconic idol: Her Right Foot. Created by writer Dave Eggers and artist Shawn Harris in 2017, this illustrated Junior Library Guild selection revels in the history of the 151-foot-tall international shining star, from her four-foot nose down to her fast-grooving toes.

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

(more…)

Paris: Favorite Bench in the City

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Everybody’s got a favorite bench in the world. I’ve got mine, too. So this week, let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre. Here the unstoppable showstopper Dame Nature dresses to the nines—winter, spring, summer, and fall, and definitely at l’heure bleue. Slaying picture perfect moments as she works her 24-karat magic on the ancient buildings. Mine eye has seen the glory.

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L'Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L’Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

(more…)

New York City: Fifth Avenue Stroll

A PICK-ME-UP: LET’S CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIP AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY WITH MY FAVORITE LIONS: FORTITUDE AND PATIENCE, SCULPTED BY EDWARD CLARK POTTER AND THE PICCIRILLI BROTHERS, 1911 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

A PICK-ME-UP: LET’S CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIP AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY WITH MY FAVORITE LIONS: FORTITUDE AND PATIENCE, SCULPTED BY EDWARD CLARK POTTER AND THE PICCIRILLI BROTHERS, 1911 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

By Theadora “Golightly “ Brack

Celebrating Galentine’s Day, I’ve got a wonderful idea! Let’s do things we’ve never done before, starting with Champagne before breakfast. It’s in the icebox, darling! Pop open the bottle while I make a list of sights to see along Fifth Avenue. Never a thumping bore, we’ll shop hop ’til we drop. Grab your sunnies!

Don’t you just love it?

Love what? Macy’s at Herald Square, that’s what. Commandeer a few chairs, while I trap the pretzels and French fries. I’ll tell you one thing: I’m mad about this place.

After we’ve admired the vitrines, we’ll gaze up at the nearby Empire State Building, the closest thing to heaven in this city. It’s still true. However, before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed Affair to Remember! Besides, Cary Grant left the building years ago.

HURTLING INTO THE BEAUTY SPOTLIGHT: IT’S RAINING BEADED BAGS ON FIFTH AVENUE, SO DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNNIES, BUCKETS, AND WHEELBARROWS, TOO (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

HURTLING INTO THE BEAUTY SPOTLIGHT: IT’S RAINING BEADED BAGS ON FIFTH AVENUE, SO DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNNIES, BUCKETS, AND WHEELBARROWS, TOO (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

DO GAZE UP AT THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING! BUT BEFORE CROSSING, LOOK BOTH WAYS OR ELSE YOU, TOO, MAY HAVE A STAR-CROSSED AFFAIR TO REMEMBER! (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

DO GAZE UP AT THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING! BUT BEFORE CROSSING, LOOK BOTH WAYS OR ELSE YOU, TOO, MAY HAVE A STAR-CROSSED AFFAIR TO REMEMBER! (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

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Made in France: The Toronto Edition

Let's prance! However, don't forget to gaze up at the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum (Photograph by Theadora Brack)

Let’s prance! However, don’t forget to gaze up at the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum (Photograph by Theadora Brack)

Pack your binoculars! September Issue featuring Christian Dior at Holt Renfrew, 1951 (Vogue, Theadora Brack's Collection)

Pack your binoculars! September Issue featuring Christian Dior at Holt Renfrew, 1951 (Vogue, Theadora Brack’s Collection)

By Princess Theadora

Bonjour! Bonne Année!

Rocking a New Me for the New Year—this week, I’m taking you to the 70th anniversary Christian Dior exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. That’s right, we’re going slink along the icy Mink Mile (faux, please) in the breath-taking Queen City. So grab my pearl-studded mitten. Grab your girdle, too!

Curated by Dr. Alexandra Palmer, the show shines a bright spotlight on 38 wasp-waisted wonders, advertisements, sketches, and photographs, along with endless catwalk clips from Paris and Toronto fashion shows. After a few spins around the rebelliously boned and flared showstoppers, I could hardly breathe from excitement.

“Give me your A, H, and Y-shaped silhouettes, Monsieur Dior! Tulip, too! Bring it!” I squeaked, suddenly feeling the polyester seams in my own nipped-waist blazer by Zara working overtime.

The mind reels! Whilst imagining the logistics of the tight maneuvering, rib-popping squeeze into one of the vintage Christian Dior numbers, then and there I pledged to self never, ever to feast on another half-dozen cookies, or at least not in one sitting. But luckily for all the bakers in world, my one-hour resolution was just a passing fancy. #Gottobeme (more…)

Paris: Exploring Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Donning faux fur, let’s channel our inner-La Salle and explore Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (Photo by T. Brack)

First Stop: Marrons grilles! My Treat! (Votre Amie Marie France, January 1948, Magazine, T. Brack’s archives)

First Stop: Marrons grilles! My Treat! (Votre Amie Marie France, January 1948, Magazine, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora “La Salle” Brack

Ernest Hemingway once said, “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.”

But that goes double for traveling by foot, especially at my favorite sacred stomping ground, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont—the hilliest, and perhaps most weirdly “scenic” park in Paris.

This week, I’d like to take you along for the excursion, so grab my hand. Let’s take a restorative, explorative stroll, shall we? Donning head-to-toe faux fur, get ready to channel your inner-surrealist.

It’s time to rumble!

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Designed in 1867 by Emperor Napoleon III, engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, and horticulturist Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, this floral showstopper with its mountain-village vibe opened with razzle-dazzle during the launch of the Paris Universal Exposition.

This park has everything: As we make our way along its narrow winding paths, prepare to be bug-eyed at sights ranging from caverns complete with waterfalls and faux stalactites, to a lake fashioned from a former gypsum quarry surrounding a craggy island topped with a neo-Roman temple, reached by a suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel himself. (more…)

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