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Paris: Unboxing Victorine’s Fashion Haul

Let's Rendezvous with Victorine at Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris (The Railway, Édouard Manet, 1873, National Gallery of Art)

Let’s Rendezvous with Victorine at Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris (The Railway, Édouard Manet, 1873, National Gallery of Art)

By Victorine-Louise Meurent

Hello guys! I’m Victorine-Louise Meurent: Artist. Model. Musician. Singer. Tutor. Paris Lifestyle Blogger. Welcome back to my back-to-the-future sartorial site, dear fellow time trekkers.

This week, I’d like to share my recent clothing haul from Zara at the Passage du Havre, kitty corner from the Gare Saint-Lazare. Actually, there are now four Zara shops in the Opéra ’hood, ideal for shop-hopping. Some call it crazy luck. I call it heaven. Seriously, this is how this busy “V to the L-O” gets it done during the big summer sales.

Built in 1845, the Passage du Havre was given a supreme makeover during the 1990s (Photo by T. Brack)

Built in 1845, the Passage du Havre was given a supreme makeover during the 1990s (Photo by T. Brack)

So what’s piping hot this season?

The blouse. No retro-infused style of sleeve got left behind, from the angular pagoda to the puffy bishop, choirboy, and leg-o’-mutton. Truth unfolds: This 19th century foxhound-toting fashionista felt quite nostalgically at home.

Of course, we have beaucoup designers and fashion houses worldwide to thank for re-igniting our love affair with the puff and the frill. A big merci goes out to Dior, Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Balenciaga, Isabel Marant, Lanvin,  Kenzo, Balmain, Sonia Rykiel, Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Jeremy Scott—just to name a few.

With buoyant heart on sleeve: It was difficult to stop at one top. So don’t lose your head.

What's New Pussycat? Cutting to the chase: Tops with ribbons and bows galore (Photo by T. Brack)

What’s New Pussycat? Cutting to the chase: Tops with ribbons and bows galore (Photo by T. Brack)

Or throw caution to the sin

Got passion for fashion? Cuckoo for a steal? I hear you. Nothing gives me more pleasure than finding flattering garb at a discount price. So let’s launch our unboxing with two favorite fashion Holy Grail items: Black lace-up ankle boots, styled with one fitted frock coat. Never a thumping bore, add a fan and parapluie, and you’ll be good to go—rain or shine.

Suited and Booted to the Nines: Fitted coat, parapluie, and a choker (Photo by T. Brack)

Suited and Booted to the Nines: Fitted coat, parapluie, and a choker (Photo by T. Brack)

Like sequins in the sky, the deep and wide décolletage is also shining brightly this summer, according to fashion plates in the know. Totes, I say! Especially with a black choker flirtatiously slashing the neckline. Triple threat: A look not just reserved for stage actresses! No, monsieur! So get with the program, guys. The revel is always in the details.

Frankly, the collier had me at “Bonjour.”

Not since the 1830s have sleeves chill-axed such an air of  breezy outrageousness (Photo by T. Brack)

Not since the 1830s have sleeves chill-axed such an air of  breezy outrageousness (Photo by T. Brack)

Anchors Aweigh

 Okay, let’s get to it! First find!

Flaunting a crisp seaside Deauville vibe, the blue-striped blouse’s sleeve details woo like sirens. Decked out in an upside down crayfish-like pouf with gathered puffs in all the right places. Not since the flirty thirties (1830s, that is), have airy sleeves flaunted such an air of cray-cray outrageousness. Plus, the mile-long wraparound straps nip at the waistline.

Tip: If you’ve missed the sales, fret not. I peered into my magic ball, and it appears that  seafaring stripes and floral patterns are here to stay, along with chokers, corsets, and overblown sleeves too. At least through the Winter 2018 season. So there’s still time to pump up your own bandwagon. Giddy up!

Encore! The massive wings of desire popped up again during the 1890s (Photo by T. Brack)

Encore! The massive wings of desire popped up again during the 1890s (Photo by T. Brack)

Feeling Myself

Shall we squeak more about the size of this season’s sleeves? Indulge me, SVP. Why, they’re bigger, longer, and sassier. Again, we haven’t seen such massive wings of desire in decades. Not since the days of the New Romantics, most likely. Inspired then by medieval myths and fairytale bliss, today the otherworldly bubble is still double trouble. I haven’t been able to live without this “Juliet” pouf, styled up with all the trimmings: a bell-shaped skirt and ballet slippers.

Stage Struck: Today the otherworldly bubble is still double double trouble (Photo by T. Brack)

Stage Struck: Today the otherworldly bubble is still double double trouble (Photo by T. Brack)

O, Romeo! This cobalt gem is the super star of my été collection. It’s like “Victorine” in a blouse, I swear! With my hand on the cover of the summertime issue of Journal des Dames et des Modes magazine, even my red tresses are super über pumped.

Isn't it Roam-antic? Donning this go-Everywhere Blouse, I float like a queen (Photo by T. Brack)

Isn’t it Roam-antic? Donning this go-Everywhere Blouse, I float like a queen (Photo by T. Brack)

Strings Attached

My milliner mother taught me to appreciate the embellished detail. “Shine on!” she’d say. More bangles and spangles, please! And let me tell you, this pea green confection does not disappoint, from top to bottom. Look at the cords, my Lord. Donning this, I float on my little cat feet. So pretty, feminine, and refined, but yet quintessentially modern.

Shape Shifters: Adjust the tightness of the fabric with the cords #Sizeupordown (Photo by T. Brack)

Shape Shifters: Adjust the tightness of the fabric with the cords #Sizeupordown (Photo by T. Brack)

How to wear this go-everywhere blouse?

Tip: The sleeves are held in place by cords sewn to the sleeves. Adjust the tightness of the fabric with the strings. Fitted or loosey-goosey? It’s up to your mood du jour. If this wide flattened silhouette every goes out of style, I will just sigh.

For modeling gig, I'll wear Marie-like puffs, gathered cuffs, and a frilly neckline (Photo by T. Brack)

For modeling gig, I’ll wear Marie-like puffs, gathered cuffs, and a frilly neckline (Photo by T. Brack)

Look of the Day

As you may know, I’m preparing for an upcoming modeling gig with my good friend, painter Édouard Manet. For the session, I’ve picked out this baby blue top with the gathered “Marie” puffs, ruffled cuffs, and a peek-a-boo frilly neckline. Most likely, I’ll style it up again with my trusty frock coat, boots, and the pup.

Sneaky Peak: By the way, Manet plans to take the painting “live” at the Paris Salon later on this year. I’ll post updates on Instagram. So stay tuned.

Times are a-changing: The choker is a look not just reserved for stage actresses (Photo by T. Brack)

Times are a-changing: The choker is a look not just reserved for stage actresses (Photo by T. Brack)

Flower Power

Next item! You guessed it! Another floral number, styling and profiling with its sleek and edgy black choker! Wristlet bow ties also tempt, I’d say.

Closet Staple: The Kimono-inspired wrap is another timeless piece (Photo by T. Brack)

Closet Staple: The Kimono-inspired wrap is another timeless piece (Photo by T. Brack)

Because one floral is never, ever enough

The Kimono-inspired wrap could very well work at one of the bals on the hill. When I saw this blouse, I fainted like a stage diva. Jamming both tops, my posse will be most jelly.

With its flounces, flapping in the summertime breeze, I was the Belle of the park (Photo by T. Brack)

With its flounces, flapping in the summertime breeze, I was the Belle of the park (Photo by T. Brack)

Frisky Summer Breeze

Final chemise with shimmy! Guaranteed to turn heads like the windmills in Abbesses. Plus, it made me a flamenco dancer. I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve worn the blue cotton wrap top beaucoup times since the shopping spree. And how could I not? With its lightweight layers of pagoda-shaped flounces, flapping in the breeze, I was the Belle of the park.

Oh, the thrill of the garden path. Peacocking never gets old, not in my book!

Donning pagoda-shaped wings on fire, I will either fly or sigh trying (Photo by T. Brack)

Donning pagoda-shaped wings on fire, I will either fly or sigh trying (Photo by T. Brack)

Okay! Farewell for now! I hope I’ve inspired you to find a treasure or two of your own. Splurge, I urge. Just do it. Because life grooves right on by, pretty darn fast! Bisous!

(BTW: This post was not sponsored by Zara, Fancy Feast or Bugs the cat.)

 

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Paris: Hotfooting to the Moulin Rouge

Celebrating World Theater Day, let’s hoof it on over to the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre (GIF Image: Theadora Brack)

Celebrating World Theater Day, let’s hoof it on over to the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre (Image: Theadora Brack)

By Theadora “Twinkle Toes” Brack

Embracing restorative #summertimegoals, let’s revel in some retro merrymaking, shall we? For the occasion, we’ll hoof on over to the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre. Up my sleeve, I’ve got some new postcards, illustrations, and scrapbook clippings, along with a swell cinema-related tale about the venerable dance hall.

But first, let’s also salute the recent World Theatre Day! Created in 1961, writer Jean Cocteau wrote the International Theatre Institute’s first message: “Nations, thanks to these World Theatre Days, will at last become aware of each other’s treasures, and will work together in the high enterprise of peace.”

I completely agree. It’s what the world still needs.

Now, let’s do an old school prance back in time. Step by step, I’m with you.

Meet the plucky Betty Compson (Found Scrapbook clippings, 1920s, Theadora Brack’s collection)

Meet the plucky Betty Compson (Found Scrapbook clippings, 1920s, Theadora Brack’s collection)

On the Bright Side

Winding it back to 1923, the name of the movie is “Woman to Woman.”

Staged in the City of Light, the lead actor’s name was Betty. But she wasn’t Mayor Jimmy Walker’s petite amie. See, that was another “Betty” with a similar rising star and last name.

“Jolly, effervescent, and practical,” was this jazz baby’s reputation. And her heroine characters possessed street smarts and a heart of gold. An early advocate for equal pay, she even created her own production company.

Betty Compson also had a proven drawing power. Plus, she was a press corps favorite.

“That girl has guts!” wrote Liberty Magazine.

An early advocate for equal pay, Betty created her own production company (Black Patent Leather Handbag, 1960s, Theadora Brack’s collection— Moulin Rouge by Antoine Blanchard)

An early advocate for equal pay, Betty created her own production company (Black Patent Leather Handbag, 1960s, Theadora Brack’s collection— Moulin Rouge by Antoine Blanchard)

Worth it

Graham Cutts directed. Michael Balcon and Victor Saville were the producers. Well aware of Betty’s previous box office hit parade, they got her on the horn.

“I am worth it!” the plucky “home girl” from Beaver, Utah told the production team during the telephone tête-à-tête.

They agreed. Betty was offered a “freak” salary of 1000 pounds per week. Along with a two-picture deal and solo star billing. Nobody put Betty in a corner.

The silent moving picture was launched in August 1923. Critics adored the starlet’s performance, writing, “Oh, Mother of Pearl! Aglow when she appears! The incomparable Betty has outdone herself!”

Lights! Camera! Action! Alfred J. Hitchcock directing during the 1920s (Image: Guardian)

Lights! Camera! Action! Alfred J. Hitchcock directing during the 1920s (Image: Guardian)

Master of Suspense

Now, the Assistant Director was an unknown. At the time, that is. One Alfred J. Hitchcock. Just 23 years old. And this was one of his first real film breaks.

He also agreed to co-write the screenplay, based on Michael Morton’s stage play. A love affair between a soldier and a Moulin Rouge dancer!

Hitch would design the sets, too. To prepare, the future “Master of Suspense” made several scouting trips to Paris.

Hitchcock made several scouting trips to the Moulin Rouge (Postcard, 1920s, T. Brack’s collection)

Hitchcock made several scouting trips to the Moulin Rouge (Postcard, 1920s, T. Brack’s collection)

In the Name of Love

Each time he went, it was first to mass at L’Église de la Madeleine. Then off to the Moulin Rouge! Which had just re-opened, after its 1914 fire.

But the dance scenes were shot on a sound stage in Joinville, a distant suburb. For the big chorus number, dancers were brought in from the Casino de Paris.

“An exact replica is what I was after!” said the assistant director.

Hitchcock dressed his stage in windmills and chats noir (Hitchcock’s set, 1923, Moviestillsdb, Moulin Rouge by Montmartre resident Charles Laborde, Gazette Bon Ton Magazine, 1924, T. Brack’s collection)

Hitchcock dressed his stage in windmills and chats noirHitchcock’s set, 1923, Moviestillsdb, Moulin Rouge by Montmartre resident Charles Laborde, Gazette Bon Ton Magazine, 1924, T. Brack’s collection)


Hello, Dolly

And authentic is what he got—to a T. Following suit with the Moulin Rouge’s décor, Hitchcock dressed his stage in windmills and chats noire with the newly built Sacré Coeur in view.

Dolly Tree, a Folies Bergère designer, created the costumes. Her confections were gossamer-fine and shiny, too. It was Paris, after all. By the 1920s, prancing in the buff was the norm in most clubs. But this film was for English and American audiences.

“No French breast could be exposed on the screen!” said producer Saville.

Dolly Tree, a Folies Bergère designer, created the costumes (Photograph: Theadora Brack)

Dolly Tree, a Folies Bergère designer, created the revealing costumes (Photograph: Theadora Brack)

Just One Night

Seamstresses outfitted the costumes with hidden brassieres on the spot. With full support systems in place, the finale was shot in a single night so the dancers could get back to Paris in time for Sunday’s matinee.

Even with muted titillation, the film still swayed. A crowd pleaser so popular, the production team brought the “love saga” back to the screen again as a talkie in 1929. With Betty, of course.

In the words of Betty herself, “Sing it like you mean it! The music gives you the heart and the courage to conquer!”

Keep on Singing. Keep on dancing. Keep on exploring the globe.

 

The silent love saga returned to the screen as a talkie in 1929 (Poster, 1923, Moviepostersdb, Betty, Found scrapbook clippings, 1920s, Theadora Brack’s collection)

The silent love saga returned to the screen as a talkie in 1929 (Poster, 1923, Moviepostersdb, Betty, Found scrapbook clippings, 1920s, Theadora Brack’s collection)

The Moulin Rouge still shines (Moulin Rouge, 1960s, Postcard, Theadora Brack’s collection)

The Moulin Rouge still shines (Moulin Rouge, 1960s, Postcard, Theadora Brack’s collection)

Keep on dancing. Keep on exploring the globe. (Betty Compson, Found Scrapbook Clipping, 1920s, Theadora Brack's collection)

Keep on dancing. Keep on exploring the globe. (Betty Compson, Found Scrapbook Clipping, 1920s, Theadora Brack’s collection)

 

Paris Roars: Latest Fashion Rage

Latest Paris Fashion Trend: Cats wear custom-made hats, Abbesses-Montmartre (Photo by T. Brack)

Latest Paris Fashion Trend: Cats wear custom-made hats, Abbesses-Montmartre (Photo by T. Brack)

This just in, from the streets of Paris.

Cats have ousted dogs in the affections of French women.

Whereas, in the past it was considered fashionable for your typical Parisienne to promenade the boulevards with a little dog sporting a neat, tight-fitting coat, today this same Parisienne is often out with her cat of priceless value.

But cats do not wear coats. They wear specifically-fitted and made hats.

Below the Sacré Coeur, up at Montmartre, there lives a hatter. In his shop window, he has an exhibition of the tiniest hats ever seen in France. (more…)

Paris: Let’s Drop in on Galeries Lafayette

View of the Opera and the Eiffel Tower from Galeries Lafayette's rooftop (Photo by Wendy Brack-Fritz)

View of the Opera and the Eiffel Tower from Galeries Lafayette’s rooftop (Photo by Wendy Brack-Fritz)

By Theadora Brack

Paris is no longer Paris? Au contraire! The City of Light is still a special place, a very human place, and a place for the whole world to cherish. And as this world turns, I think yes, the city changes a little—but then again, it always has. After all, that’s what made it what it is today.

So in celebration of international friendships and robust innovation, let’s ride the escalators up to the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette. Located on Boulevard Haussmann, here my inner-lion never, ever fails to roar after a soda pop and some tête-à-tête action with WWI pilot, Jules Védrines.

Grab your goggles and tweed knickerbockers, and follow me. I’ve got a story to tell. (more…)

Paris: Meet the Pusses at the Puces

Lend me your whiskers and pointy ears! (Photo by T. Brack)

Lend me your whiskers and pointy ears! (Photo by T. Brack)

Flying sky high on a lark (Elle magazine, 1954, T. Brack’s collection)

Flying sky high on a lark (Elle magazine, 1954, T. Brack’s collection)

By Theadora Brack

Lend me your whiskers and pointy ears.

Flying sky high on a lark, I knock. Grab a perch because I’ve got a feathered tale to tell. A great ball of yarn to re-wind, so to squeak! Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie at the age of nine on the family television set, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques. There. Full fur confession.

Set in Paris, the cartoon flick was a life changer. Not only did I yearn to be the rhinestone-laden, Parisian glamour puss (a.k.a., “Duchess”), but I also fancied running away with her swashbuckling, orange tabby beau, the flamboyant prince of the boulevard, “Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley—O’Malley, the alley cat.”

Oh, c’est très jolie, monsieur Thomas!” I’d purr again and again at my reflection in the mirror, channeling my inner-Duchess.

And now, I see cats. I see cats in Paris. All the time! Where? Where? They’re everywhere! Heck, once, during a winter tempest, I rescued a teeny, tiny tortoiseshell cat found trembling on the wet cobblestones outside the Grand Hotel de Clermont, just a fur ball’s throw from where Édith Piaf made one of her legendary busking debuts in Pigalle. Kitty was coming home with me. (more…)

Paris: Calling All Instagram Buffs

L'acteur grec by Baron Charles-Arthur Bourgeois, 1868, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

L’acteur grec by Baron Charles-Arthur Bourgeois, 1868, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Allo! C'est Moi! (Elle Magazine, 1955, T. Brack's archives)

Allo! C’est Moi! (Elle Magazine, 1955, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Juggling social media platforms like a smooth operator (if I squint), I’ve recently added Instagram to my grapevine repertoire.

That’s right. During the month of November, I created a short stack of photographs of Paris—a baker’s dozen, to be exact! Pirouetting straight to the point: I am hooked. So stay tuned for more images.

In the meantime, if you are a fellow Instagram fan or fanatic, please leave a link to your Instagram portfolio below.

Always keeping my peepers peeled for inspiration, I’d love to pay a visit.

As Henry Miller once penned, “The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

I completely agree.

In advance, thanks for sharing your own indescribably magnificent world, too—through your art!

So carpe the diem, folks! Keep on snapping! (more…)

Paris: A Saintly Tour de Force

A Saintly Tour de Force: Let’s go rustle up some spirits in another dimension (Image: T. Brack's archives)

A Saintly Tour de Force: Let’s go rustle up some spirits in another dimension (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

(Elle Magazine, 1952, T. Brack's collection)

(Elle Magazine, 1952, T. Brack’s collection)

By Theadora Brack

Paging all saints and old souls: Snuggle tight because it is time to crack open my pleather-bound volume of spirited adventures in Paris for another retelling. ’Tis the season! For tricks, I’ve added new photographs and one divine tale, too. I’ve also got the wine and a tongue-twisting tarte aux pommes—all à la Julia Child ode.

Now, let’s go raise some spirits.

1. Saint Vincent de Paul

Whenever my mood needs a boost, I make a beeline to the Chapel of the Lazarists, tucked behind the Bon Marché department store on rue de Sèvres. It does the trick each and every time. Never looking more beautiful, here Saint Vincent de Paul hovers over the altar. Sprightly, lightly tiptoe up the tight flight of stairs in the back of the sanctuary for a closer view of the reposed gent and patron saint of horses.

Keeping it real

Ordained as a priest in 1600, Saint Vincent not only championed the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy, but he also encouraged them to work together on charity missions financed by public subscriptions (much like today’s Kickstarter funding schemes). Fully embracing crowdsourcing on the streets, the ahead-of-the-curve saint fundraised for prisons, orphanages, and hospitals. Nobody got left behind. (more…)

Paris Beauty Tips: The Fresh Air Edition

Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned Air Bath, Aristide Maillol's l’Air, Tuileries (Photograph by T. Brack)

Never underestimate the power of an Air Bath, Aristide Maillol’s l’Air, Tuileries (Photograph by T. Brack)

I’m not the only believer in the benefits of a bain d'air (Elle, 1951, T. Brack's archives)

I’m not the only believer in the benefits of a bain d’air (Elle, 1951, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Never, ever underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned “air bath”— whether it’s in the middle of the day or all alone in the moonlight.

As my fit-as-a-fiddle grandmother Emmae used to sing, “After an air bath, this little Brack birdie is back on track. Hear me soar!”

I couldn’t agree more. And I’m not the only big time believer in the benefits of a bain d’air.

Because bathers are gonna bathe

Apparently, francophile Benjamin Franklin also possessed a mad penchant for launching each day all au natural. Nestled naked in a chair by an open window sat the bigwig polymath—winter, spring, summer, and fall.

“You know the cold bath has long been in vogue here as a tonic; but the shock of the cold water has always appeared to me, generally speaking, as too violent: and I have found it much more agreeable to my constitution, to bathe in another element, I mean cold air,” Franklin wrote to a Parisian friend in 1768.

“With this view I rise early almost every morning, and sit in my chamber, without any clothes whatever, half an hour or an hour, according to the season, either reading or writing. This practice is not in the least painful, but on the contrary, agreeable!”

A royal treatment

Royal S. Copeland, M.D. would have certainly put his stamp of approval on Franklin’s daily pet ritual. In fact, he did.

In 1933, the Commissioner of Health of New York City shared a few D.I.Y. tips in his column: “Include air baths in the health campaign! Keep it up year ’round! Air baths improve the texture and tone of the skin . . . The baths should be taken in a moderately cool, well-ventilated room. For the first bath, only half the body should be exposed. As the body becomes accustomed to the cool air, more clothes can be discarded!” (more…)

Paris: Hobnobbing with Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty (a.k.a., “Bartholdi’s Big Daughter”), New York, New York Image: T. Brack’s archives, 1950s

The Statue of Liberty (a.k.a., “Bartholdi’s Big Daughter”), New York, New York Image: T. Brack’s archives, 1950s

Dorothy Mackaill, Motion Picture Classic, 1929

Dorothy Mackaill, Motion Picture Classic, 1929

By Theadora Brack

In celebration of Bastille Day 2016 in France, 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.

I’ve got new retro-rocking images, along with one tale of spunky heroism. So without further ballyhoo, let’s play forward with some homage to friendship, shall we? Grab a seat and a Perfect Manhattan in a coupe cocktail glass. Here’s the squeal.

The year is 1913.

Setting the scene: Witness if you will, two young women hustling up the spiral staircase to the Statue of Liberty’s crown. Nothing is going to break their stride. Not even their hip hugging hobble skirts! In fact, Margaret Donovan and Gladys Revere not only beat their fellow steamer passengers to the crown, but also commandeer the best vitrine in the room. Balancing on tipsy toes, they gaze out at the Big Apple, transfixed! The view from the grande dame’s starburst tiara is like nothing they’ve ever seen.

Suddenly, Margaret gets a wild hair, and attempts to wiggle through the teensy window and clamber down to the itsy-bitsy ledge just above Lady Liberty’s hairline. Then the unthinkable happened.

Sea legs, don’t fail me now (more…)

Paris: A Pompom Romp Through Old Parigi

It was a cloudy day, and the clocks were striking thirteen, Rue des Saints-Pères (Photo by T. Brack)

It was a cloudy day, and the clocks were striking thirteen (Rue des Saints-Pères, Photo by T. Brack)

Marie France magazine, July 1951 (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Marie France magazine, July 1951 (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Snapping to le point, I’ve been on the hunt for the fantastical, slip sliding all the way, up and down the wet rues of Paris. Suited with waterproof shoes, a parapluie, and sponge-like senses, I’ve been striving to capture the heady, surreal sensation of experiencing the rustling, bustling Parisian cityscape as if for the very first time.

I focused. I opened my eyes more. Seeking what Jean Cocteau called, “true realism,” I squinted and daydreamed, too. With cat-like whiskers and reflexes, I followed the poet’s recipe to a T—adding more than a heaping dash of transcendence in order to discover “surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.”

I walked new rues, rode unfamiliar bus routes, often to the end of the line, while peering through my sea foam-tinted pince-nez spectacles.

I baked 33 batches of les Chouquettes from scratch. I rescued a toy cat from a fountain. I stepped, stepped to a dope Renaissance beat. I biked. I boxed. I saw tigers and clouds in my coffee-flavored “Dieu du Ciel Pénombre” beer, after bumping into Henri Rousseau’s spirit deep in the Jardin des Plantes at the end of a rain shower.

But still, still inside me, swirling deep, was a single burning question: Is it really possible to attach too many pompoms to one’s handbag? Always one to revel in the revival of a century-old craze, I think not. And let me tell you, the proof is in the puffing. I’ve spied the little darlings everywhere in the city—dangling from everything from scarves and necklaces to Gladiator sandals.

So yes! I’ve got much to share. Stay tuned for more limonade-flavored summertime Paris stories.

Clipping from Henry Miller yet again: “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”

I completely agree. Now, let’s roll the tape! (more…)

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