Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dining Al Fresco

Are picnics passé, a romantic relic of days long gone, recalled nostalgically in films like "Coco Avant Chanel" for example? Is it all barbecues and beer and backyard get-togethers with burgers and hot dogs and whatever else can be thrown on the super sexy hi-tech grill and then flipped onto paper plates?

Well I think it's a shame. A little romance goes a long way in this life, and let's be honest when is the last time anyone you know fell in love at a cookout?  


A tete-a-tete under a tree takes some planning and may I suggest, a bottle of Champagne (served in real glasses); a well-thought out menu; linen napkins; silverware and some pretty accessories like these red and green apple containers; flowered thermoses and flower plates spread upon a huge blanket covered during the repas with a large tablecloth. Yes, the plates are plastic, but I think we can rationalize here and call them whimsical, not to mention washable and most important: They're not paper.

(And maybe some bug repellent should be tossed into the mix --  just in case. Insects could be a deal breaker.) Oh, yes, the guitars make "Rocksicals" -- you decide the liquid you wish to freeze in the receptacle. Think of how much fun you're going to have. 

If picnics aren't your thing, I'm convinced these quirky little delights would make sweet hostess gifts.

I'll Be Back Shortly. . .

with your cadeau du weekend.

I'm in the process of replacing the cuke that croaked in the potager and directing the placement of other plants in the garden. I told you I wasn't a serious gardener. . .  But I certainly do appreciate a beautiful garden. Eh, oui.

Friday, May 29, 2009

If The Devil's In The Details. . .

How about these from the house of Chopard special "Red Carpet" collection for the 62nd annual Festival de Cannes: 
  • 62 unique pieces.
  • 10,000 carats of precious stones.
  • 15,000 hours of work.
  • 63,000 precious stones.
  • 400 parures.
  • 32 jewelers working six months to produce the collection.
Among the women who wore the splendid pieces were: Mariah Carey, Hilary Swank, Marion Cotillard (remember, she won the 2008 best actress Oscar for her truer than true portrayal of Edith Piaf ?), Eva Herzigova and pictured above Isabelle Huppert (that big blue stone finishing off the pavé diamond collar around her neck is a 164 carat Ceylon sapphire); Laura Marante and once again the exquisite Michelle Yeoh.

While we're on the subject of details, L'Oreal did all the makeup for the Festival. You have no idea the quantity of products it takes to make one look natural in a photograph. Don't you just love Michelle's false eyelashes? 

Isn't it refreshing to see these faces made-up, but not touched-up? (Compare Huppert's pictures here to the worked over shot on the May 11th post. Not a wrinkle or a freckle in sight. Shocking, non?)

I'll Be Right Back. . .

Have to run to Versailles to pick up a door handle so my post will be a little late today. But it's almost ready to run or roll, or whatever posts do.

Merci par avance.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

News And Views: A Round-Up

Another one: Lots to say, but in fragments. I want to pass on every trifle I trip over; every tidbit of trivia that comes my way.

Is it just me or do women really identify with a turtle whose chronological age is 60, but looks 30? Thanks to what exactly? (She even has a name: Maxine.) Is it that jar of Youth Surge on her back? And is 6o the new 30, if that's the message I'm all for it. 

And I'm sure it works.

Another observation: As I was flicking through my American "Vogue" the other day I noticed an ad for cigarettes (!) I thought that was verboten. It showed a woman sitting on a bar stool, cool as can be holding a slim Davidoff cigarette and smiling boldly into the camera. 

Despite the armies of protectionists, American English words inevitably slip into the French vernacular, one of my favorites is "buzz" juicy celeb gossip is referred to as "Le Buzz". Cute, non

Don't mean to nag or anything -- ever notice that phrase is always the preface for a diatribe (?) -- but if you haven't already bought your marinière, you know your striped sailor T-shirt, you must not hesitate a moment longer. The sooner you own it the longer you'll be in, in, in. What else do we live for after all? Try piling on lots of chains and pearls or your new creoles (nag, nag). I've got mine and am wearing the two-inch gold ones right this minute.

Nina Ricca is doing a re-edition of Jackie Kennedy's famous sunglasses. They're big -- in both senses of the word.

I just threw in the red ones by Mosley Tribes because I think they're snappy and happy. Imagine how you could get the bleu, blanc, rouge/red, white and blue thing going with your T-shirt. . .

A demain.

(Marinière picture by Naomi Yang for "Figaro Madame")

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Games People Play

Soon after we are allowed to sit at a proper dining table and participate in adult conversation we are sternly warned that politesse dictates one must avoid three taboo topics : Sex, Religion and Politics.

In France, the moment guests are a table and the crisp, damask napkins settle onto their laps someone has launched into one or the other (or both) of their favorite dinner table discourses: Sex and politics. 

I've found no one delves into religion, unless it's an obscure historical footnote used to underscore another point. In France there's not much to say really.

When I first arrived in this country I was shocked at the dinner table flirting, innuendo and naughty play on words the French adore. Heated arguments about politics often left my stomach churning and my head aching. Now I find nothing more fun than lively, stimulating, thought-provoking, raucous (but ultimately always polite) dining debates.

Since food is so important one learns quickly spicey conversation can be a perfect compliment to fine cuisine and excellent wine.

Other favored topics include: wine, restaurants, food in general, books, films and Parisian gossip (which usually gets us right back to sex and politics). This heady cocktail never fails to make for sparkling evenings.

Once again this is where a woman of a certain age is in her element -- posing questions, listening with rapt admiration, tossing out witty bons mots, flagrantly flirty and charming all in her wake. She is so brilliant at this exercise she is mesmerizing. She has no age, she is beautiful, she is riveting, she is irresistible. I give you my word I am not exaggerating. I watch, I learn.

Who could imagine, certainly not I, that some feel a certain laisser-aller has set into what has long been considered one of the fine French arts?  Apparently dinner party banter is stalling and in some cases screeching into abrupt silence around banal remarks and dead end references. (We haven't been invited to any of these unfortunate events and tant mieux -- so much the better.)

But once again, where one individual sees a problem, another perceives an opportunity. Et voila a product is born: the Lanceur de Discussion, a conversation launcher or better yet, a topic prompter.

It consists of 110 cards with saucy, impertinent, "let's get this dinner discourse rolling" questions. For example: Do you look inside other people's medicine cabinets; Where is the most embarrassing place you've ever woken up; If you could only use three words for the rest of your life, what would they be? And so on. . .

I'm seeing this catalyst in an entirely different context: A DIY parlor game. 

My how-to guide: Buy a pile of index cards, blue is always nice, whip out your Montblanc stylo plume and begin writing scores of indecent questions to liven up your soirées. How about these for example: What one thing would you change about your life; If you could run away from your world where would you go -- who would you take with you; What would you like to change about yourself, your partner; What's your worst character flaw; If you could have an affair with anyone in the world who would it be (?) [my best American friend here says her choice would be "Mr. Clean" or as he's called over here, "Monsieur Propre" and mine would be Mr. Picard who, if he even exists, runs a chain of frozen food stores that can transform anyone -- even moi -- into a three star chef]. 

From my point-of-view it's much better than charades because you don't have to stand up and make a fool out of yourself. You can be seated, holding a glass when you make a fool out of yourself.

Let your imagination run wild, ask everything you've ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask. Can you imagine how much fun this could be?

If you want the original it's 20 Euros at DOM Christian Koban. The real deal is a twofer -- a topic launcher and a French lesson.

Do you think I need to write up a business plan tout de suite? I'm thinking maybe it's not a bad idea.  I'll talk to my son-in-law, the lawyer, about copyrights. . .

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cannes: It's A Wrap

That's it, the tapis rouge is rolled up and stored waiting to be unfurled the same time, same place next year. The dresses are re-packed into their owners' Vuitton trunks or returned to the design houses that lent them to the stars for the kind of free international publicity brands can only dream about. The jewels are stowed safely in the vaults and the body guards who watched over them while they were being flashed for the cameras are probably signing up for unemployment.

The party's over. But not before we have our last hurrah and a final look at some of the world's most famous women of a certain age decked out in the good, the bad, the blah and the downright unattractive frocks they chose for the 62nd annual Festival de Cannes.  

We have a mix as you can see of red carpet snaps and the AMFAR gala. From the top: Sharon Stone looking younger than springtime; Robin Wright Penn (smiling[!] is it because he called off the divorce smack in the middle of the festival[?]); Michelle Yeoh, I told you she would look breath-taking today; Elizabeth Hurley; Laura Morante; Isabelle Huppert on the last day of her presidency, in a sparkling, light-catching Chanel stunner; Donatella-what-can-one-say-Versace (isn't she theoretically surrounded by mirrors in her metier?); Annie Lennox, what possessed her to add those gloves (?); Sabine-can't-you-find-a-decent-hairdresser-in-all-of-Paris-Azéma on the arm of André Dussolier; Fanny Ardant in a full-length of yesterday's outfit, just because; Sandrine Bonnaire; Monica Bellucci and Sopie Marceau, still joined at the hip to promote their new film (I don't know about that jumpsuit, something off-kilter about the proportions); Michelle; Rosanna Arquette with an unfortunate hand placement and Jean-Marc Barr; Emmanuelle Devos, who co-stars in "Coco Avant Chanel" playing an actress and a woman of easy virtue (if you go to the May 1st post she's in full costume standing to Coco's left, our right as we look at the picture); Azema in a different dress and the same hair, Dussolier and Emmanuelle Devos.

                          LA FIN

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cannes,Cannes: Can't Get Enough

I had the whole thing worked out: Today was to be the final chapter "The End" of our exposé on how ab-fab we of a certain age can be. 

But it's just too much, there is too much to show and tell. Tomorrow will be en fin, La Fin.  I wouldn't want to deprive you of the gorgeous gowns from the AMFAR benefit where guest of honor Bill Clinton auctioned off his saxophone for 130,000 Euros; Sharon Stone showed us more leg; Annie Lennox wore weird, black opera-length gloves with a pale blue dress; Donatella Versace, what can I say (?) showed-up; and many more titillating, scintillating moments you won't want to miss.

Charlotte Gainsbourg, though born in 1971, is included because she won the best actress Palm for her star turn opposite Willem Dafoe in Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist." Therefore I assumed you would like to see her. Charlotte, as you may know is the daughter of the late Serge -- who was anti a lot of things -- and Jane Birkin, both of whom she thanked, along with her partner Yvan Attal (with whom she has two children) during her acceptance speech. One last note now that I've given you enough material to do a thesis on Ms. Gainsbourg, the film was booed and condemned by many at the Festival and by some critics. The director and all actors involved were ecstatic by the reaction. It is from what little I've seen shocking and "cru" (raw) as some of the observers said, both psychologically and sexually. Is it a disturbing masterpiece? I have no idea.

Now back to us, because it is all about us, from the top: Carine Roitfeld, editor of French "Vogue"; Robin, Isabelle (and Asia Argento, who doesn't count because she's too young, but I couldn't crop her out of the picture); Robin; Sandrine Bonnaire who was once with William Hurt with whom she had a daughter, Jeanne (I wouldn't want you to think any tidbit of trivia passes unobserved and unremarked upon out here in the field); Isabelle Adjani (ahem. . .); Anne Parillaud; Michelle Yeoh looking a tad tuckered out, but you'll see tomorrow she got a good night's sleep and once again looks radiant so not to worry; Sandrine again and Fanny Ardant whom I love, love, love. I think she has the most seductive, sonorous voice I've ever heard. And of course she's beautiful. (If I could make one teeny remark, I'm not sure I'm loving her reddish hair. But if she's happy, I'm happy.)

Fanny was honored at the 62nd Festival de Cannes. And well she should have been.
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