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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 my outfit of the day 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.
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.
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.
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!
One more for the road
Paint your palette blue and grey: A floral print, inspired by Van Gogh’s sunflower series. Launched in 1887 during his stay in Paris. At the time Van Gogh was living with his brother Theo in a third floor flat at 54 rue Lepic. Trekking to Paris? Do pay homage if time permits, especially on a summer’s day. Pack a hankie. A plaque marks the spot.
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.)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)