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Paris Tips: Soaring with Dalida in Montmartre

Let's meet at Place du Tertre in Montmartre, and then pay homage to pop star Dalida (Photo by T. Brack)

Let’s meet at Place du Tertre in Montmartre, and then pay homage to pop star Dalida (Photo by T. Brack)

(If you are an Instagram devotee, please leave a link below.)

By Theadora “Dancing Queen” Brack

Whenever my mood is in need of a reboot or an overhaul, I hoof it on over to Dalida. Because energy flows where obsession goes, my tête-à-tête with the high-spirited pop idol extraordinaire does the trick each and every time—especially during the fall season. With the trees boasting 24-karat autumnal hues, the blues completely vanish.

This week, I’ll take you along with me on this restorative glide. ’Tis the season!

Dalida and the trees boasting 24-karat magic in the Cimetière de Montmartre, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

Dalida and the trees boasting 24-karat magic in the Cimetière de Montmartre, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

Dear fashion plates in tow

Indeed, it’s a sublime time to engage in some outdoorsy cocooning. So don your Baker Boy caps, teddy bear coats, and checkered woolly sock booties. Whilst belting out the diva’s first two international solid gold hits, “Bambino” and “Gondolier,” we’ll scale Montmartre’s beaucoup steps, and pay homage à la mode with glee.

Missing Queen D? Send a letter to her mailbox in the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by T. Brack)

Missing Queen D? Send a letter to her mailbox in the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by T. Brack)

Dalida

On May 3, 1987, Yolanda Gigliotti, better known as Dalida, took a handful of pills, put on her sunglasses and “left our world for another,” as one fan website afterwards put it. Ever since, the house at the end of rue d’Orchampt has never felt quite the same. However, a shadowy figure is sometimes said to appear at the window, as if to greet her fans—and she certainly still has them by the millions.

Fans often leave flowers, figurines, and plaques at the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by T. Brack)

Fans often leave flowers, figurines, and plaques at the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by T. Brack)

Follow me

In addition to the house, the late diva’s life-size sculpture is in the Cimetière de Montmartre, while her bronze bust is at the junction of rues Girardon and Abreuvoir.

Take heed: Even in the pouring rain, it’s sometimes difficult to share an Instagram moment with the chanteuse at both monumentsSo while you wait for your one-on-one shot, press a reality pause, linger on the steps, and watch the lively scene. Often, devoted fans break out in impromptu sing-alongs in almost perfect harmony. My ears have heard the glory.

Dalida in the dappled sunlight at the junction of rues Girardon and Abreuvoir, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

Dalida in the dappled sunlight at the junction of rues Girardon and Abreuvoir, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

Get the look

Monsieur Alain Aslan nailed it, I’d say! Commissioned by the ’hood of Montmartre in 1997, the sculptor and pinup artist styled the starlet in a tight bright diaphanous confection with spaghetti straps. Nipped in at the waist, the maxi-dress was most likely inspired by one of Dalida’s very own closet staples, created by designers Pierre Balmain or Loris Azzaro, according to my sleuthing at the Palaïs Galliera fashion museum.

The gown was most likely inspired by one of Dalida’s very own closet staples, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

The gown was most likely inspired by one of Dalida’s very own closet staples, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

Behind the seams

Garbed also in a long, glossy 1970s scarf, Dalida not only courts my undivided attention but inspires me, too. See, it was this very silhouette that helped her make the leap from the queen of the classic ballads to the reine of the disco. Girl gone Baroque, she still shimmers like a star. Try not doing the hustle like everybody’s business while watching her first crossover hit of glittery passion, “Gigi in Paradisco.” I’d wager you can’t not do it.

Soaring with Dalida in Montmartre with Sacré Coeur in view, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

Soaring with Dalida in Montmartre with Sacré Coeur in view, sculpture by pinup artist Alain Aslan (Photo by T. Brack)

And speaking of reinvention

If you are an Instagram fanatic, please leave a link below. Always keeping my peepers peeled for misty-filtered inspiration, I’d love to visit. Pinky ring promise!

Here’s where to find more of my Paris pics: @theadorabrack

Keep on snapping. Keep on singing songs from long ago. And as Dalida once schooled Gigi, at the disco in heaven, “It’s now or never!

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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)

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)

(more…)

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. (more…)

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…)

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