Friday, December 31, 2010

Fin d'Année Fashion Fantasies

Carolina Herrera (The Winner, and yes, I would/could wear it, even with the frou-frou bolero-thingie)

Carolina Herrera (The Runner-Up)

Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti (Falling back into character a bit here.)

Max Mara (Falling completely back into character. I would not wear boots and add some spectacular earrings, but I doubt this would stop traffic.)

Alberta Ferreti

Alberta Ferreti

Alberta Ferreti

This is it, it's over. (I'll spare you the cliches, but it seems to me as if 2010 passed with undue speed.)

On this last day then, I thought I would slip over into fantasy land and show you what I would wear tonight if all the stars were aligned in my favor, which is to say, IF:

1.) The invitation was not lost in the mail.

2.) I had the wherewithal to indulge in any of these red-carpet worthy numbers.

3.) I had the perfect alignment of figure requirements (alongside the stars). . .

Suffice it to say, I am taking you into dreamland where all is right with the world in all ways. Clearly I'm making an absurd number of assumptions, but I do not have to get real until January 2nd, 2011. 

Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta

Elie Saab

Louis Vuitton

For whatever reasons I don't feel the need to qualify at this moment and ruin my fin d'année, many of these frothy, frivolous fripperies would never work on me. But a girl can dream -- and imagine walking into a vast chateau, coupe in hand, to welcome in the new year. Let me add, I trust the impact of my "virtual" get-up would result in stunned, appreciative silence followed by murmurs of wonder, awe and -- dare I say (?), oh, why not! -- cameras flashing, audience (I mean other guests) ooohing and ahhhing, audibly. 

Until tomorrow, when I shall wish you an official Happy New Year, Bonne Fin d'Année

(Ed. Note: No, I didn't send out any dreadful e-mails pushing low-cost drugs. I was hacked. I am sorry, and hope no one thought I would do such a thing.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chocolat Chaud

We're off to Paris to meet a friend of my daughter's chez Angelina to partake of what will surely be my last chocolat chaud of the year, but worse than that, it will be the last one for the foreseeable future.

At least I'll be enjoying arguably the best of the best in Paris. Chez Angelina, one could eat the hot chocolate with a spoon, rather than drink it -- and then there is that huge dollop of unsweetened whipped cream that floats on top. . . Oh, the wonder. Damn the calories.

January 2nd (no, not the 1st!) I'll be revisiting Dr. Dukan -- big time.

A demain with something special.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Ultimate "Indémodable" Solution

 "Le smoking" is the single, unique, uncomplicated, perfect, never-think-twice-about-wearing,  indémodable -- ever in-style, never-out-of-style -- "uniform" for women of every age forever.

When Yves Saint Laurent sent out his first tuxedo-clad model during his 1966-1967 haute couture collection he revolutionized la mode. He said he wanted to liberate women. At the same time he expanded the possibilities of dressing for comfort, for power, for freedom. 

In my opinion, every woman should own her own version of le smoking. YSL offered the template some 45 years ago and since, he, and just about every designer on the planet, has played with the theme. No matter a woman's birthday, morphology, coloring. . . le smoking is, as fashionable French women say, a "valeur sûre," you can't go wrong. 

No one needs to own a vintage YSL, or one with any designer label for that matter. In fact, it's great fun to invent one's own Little Black Tux (LBT) for the simple reason that when the disparate parts are assembled they can be of the cuts and combinations that best suit our figures.

For example, I made one of mine by combining my workhorse large, flow-y black satin pants teamed with a fitted Dior tuxedo jacket with a wide shawl collar in grosgrain, long enough to cover my umm, derriere; worn usually over a stretch lace top -- either in white or black -- I found years ago at Banana Republic. I have a collection of cummerbunds in a variety of colors. Sometimes I wear a silk vest under the jacket; sometimes a pleated, wing-collared men's tuxedo shirt.

I have two or three other versions, one with a classic tux jacket and the satin strip down the side pants to match. I mix them up regularly. I've been know to switch off my black satin pants for red or ivory. With the red, the black lace; with the ivory, ivory or black lace, or a black and ivory satin waistcoat.

You get the idea, endless, and I haven't even discussed wearing the jacket over dresses, white, tee-shirts, with jeans -- particularly black jeans -- the pants with just about anything. 

Ines de la Fressange likes her tux with Converse high-tops, but then again she can get away with anything.

Details are vitally important in order to balance that oh-s0-subtly-sensual masculine/feminine vibe created with le smoking, to wit:

1.) Take care with your hair. Nothing too strict (or, if you like slicked-back, soften with accessories as above).

2.) If you wear nail polish, now's the time. At the very least, the look requires a perfect manicure and pale pink polish works with everything.

3.) Perfume. Well, obviously.

4.) Shoes are your call -- high and haughty or ballerines or, I suppose if you dare, tennis shoes of one sort or another. 

5.) A cummerbund, ribbon, smashing statement wide, soft gold leather belt, something jeweled -- something!

6.) If you're girly by nature, add a bow to your tresses; major jewels; a ruffled shirt; lace; rich, jewel-colored or metallic sandals. (If your toes peek out make sure they are a bright, look-at-me hue.)

7.) You know this, but it can never be repeated too many times: buy the best you can afford, either in a preconceived whole or two parts that make your whole. You only need one.

8.) Makeup must be impeccable. Take the extra time to make sure it is. It can be dramatic if you are so inclined. I can't wear red lipstick, something bizarre happens to my face, so I go for the eyes.

9.) Keep your evening bag feminine and small. It can be colorful, glitzy or black.

10.) Feel the confidence that comes from wearing le smoking, walk tall, head high, strut past all the frou-frou and smile. 

Never forget you are above and beyond la mode, you are indémodable. In le smoking, it truly is all about you, not all about the dress.

**All of les smokings are from YSL, except perhaps the one on Eva Herzigova in the center. I liked the black on black, but not exactly the same black, look and therefore included it, but can't verify the designer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Midas Touch

A touch of gold perhaps? Real, faux, fun, or frankly funky? 

Why not, n'est-ce pas?

If you don't wish to add ornamentation en or to your wardrobe (though I'll show you here how to do it for mere pennies, or centimes or other small change) don't forget, champagne is a golden liquid that guarantees a sparkly fin d'année that could be a long term investment when consumed with the right person under the right circumstances. . .

Above: A major statement golden "ribbon" cuff by Osanna Visconti that could (or definitely could not) be paired with the "Rock and Baroque" Yves Saint Laurent manicure (ingredients for same, pictured beneath).

Below:  Gold and white Greek motif ribbon; Moschino Cheap and Chic coat -- although it may be the one without the other, or neither or both, depending upon one's point-of-view -- oval minaudière from Forever 21; a man's cummerbund (every woman should own a few of these in a variety of colors); Repetto ballerines (well, what did you expect from me anyway?); lurex-y tights from Asos, I'm really on the fence about these, particularly after a certain age, but I could see them peeping out from a long skirt or large satin pants; a sweet heart minaudière from Reisson; simple gold cord to use any way you wish, as a belt, in your hair, wrapped several times around a wrist, intertwined some way or other, glue it someplace -- you decide. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Men On Love, Life, and Giving

Many of you are no doubt scurrying about and tying up -- literally and figuratively --  the last preparations for your Christmas celebrations. Here then, as promised is my last minute cadeau to all of you.

These are the most precious gifts I can imagine and I hope you feel the same way. I asked nine men I either love or really, really, really, really like to answer three questions for us.

1.) What is the best Christmas gift you ever received?

2.) What is the worst Christmas present you ever received?

***3.) If you could give the love of your life anything -- absolutely anything -- whether real or a fantasy gift, what would it be?

So you know something about the men I care about, I'll tell you what they do. I couldn't even begin to tell you why they mean the world to me. You will understand from their answers.

They are listed from one through nine in order of the length of time we have known each other.

Paul Jett, Director of Conservation & Scientific Research at the Freer/Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian, and my former brother-in-law, except we have never used the prefix, "ex" -- he is the brother I never had.

1.) The best: A dark blue bicycle I got when I was fairly young. The memory makes me think of freedom, and traveling and deep, dark blue is still my favorite color.

2.) The worst: I'm sorry if I sound like a Pollyanna (or just greedy), but I can't think of a present I didn't like. Even the bad ones were good, in a way. . .

3.) For her: This seems easy: Health and happiness.

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.

1.) The best: Early release, just before Christmas 1971, from Vietnam. From my dear Uncle Sam.

2.) The worst: Received and received throughout my childhood: white cotton handkerchiefs from a very near relative who waits for me even now, bless her heart, in the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel from which only occasionally does someone turn back, but down which everyone will someday go and not return. She waits to wipe my nose.

3.) For her: A ticket to Tallahassee, Florida, so I can finally discover who she is.

Philip B. Miller, Retail Consultant (you may google him if you would like more. . .)
1.) The best: A surprise trip to Paris.

2.) The worst: Those towing baskets of dreadful goodies (candy, cookies, fruit, various other disgusting sweets. . .) and it comes every year.

3.) For her: Eternal love and care.

My-Reason-For-Living-In-France, Architect.

1.) The best: When we're all here at home for Christmas: Andrea, Will, Catherine and the dogs (and you of course).

2.) The worst: A red sweater. [Ed. Note: Given to him by me -- and it was gorgeous, from Old England -- because I thought he needed some color (!) in his wardrobe.]

3.) For her: The sensation to feel and know, every day, she is the most loved woman in the world.

Scott Minick, designer, artist, author (you may google him if you would like to know more. . .)

1.) The best: When Hayden [his son] went out, spent his own money and bought me a shave package from Smith & Wesson.

2.) The worst: Well, I could tell you about the gift I gave an old girlfriend,  a spring form cake pan, she threw it at me and said, "kitchen utensils are NOT gifts."

3.) For her: The only gift of real significance is the one Ping [his beautiful wife] and I have been giving each other for the last five years, our beach in Thailand. It has yet to be fully realized or enjoyed.

Art Joinnides, President, SoHo Publishing and Sixth & Spring Books.

1.) The best: I just received this one. Anna, our eight-month-old granddaughter, after a three-hour operation is perfect and acting as if it never happened. So, ultimately, it's all about health for the ones you love.

2.) The worst: I'm the worst person to ask any of these questions because I dislike the philosophy of "forced" gift giving. When I see something I like, I buy it for Cookie [Art's wife].

3.) For her: Use of a private jet and a month to see the Great Wall, Taj Mahal, Barrier Reef, and any other place that would make us happy together.

Vincent Ricardel, Photographer (just click).

1.) The best: An exceptionally fine crafted guitar.

2.) The worst: Fake cigars in a wrapped cigar box.

3.) For her: Little acts of kindness and unconditional love when things get tough. (A trip around the world perhaps?)

Will Fletcher, lawyer, writer and my son-in-law.

1.) The best: My first dog, a yellow terrier named Swift. I was 11 or 12-years-old and I'd been angling for a puppy for three or four years and my mother finally caved in. The dog would go on to bite me in the face (requiring stitches) and, when I walked him three times a day in the winter, I sometimes wondered why I ever wanted a dog so badly. But, at the time, he was the best Christmas gift I ever received.

2.) The worst: I've forgotten what it was called, but here's what it was: the size of a small transistor radio with vents on both sides resembling a wall unit air conditioner. At the top was a hook like that of a hanger. It was tan and ran on four large batteries and it whirred like a bar fridge. It's function? It was supposed to hang in your closet and make the wrinkles fall out of your clothes. Now I remember: it was called the Portable Dry Cleaner. 

My dad gave it to me and I think he bought it from the Sharper Image or some other similarly overpriced store whose products make vague allusions to science and first-of-its-kind technology.

3.) For her: I would take Andrea on a chocolate-themed trip around the world, hitting all the major world hubs for chocolate from start to finish. Where it comes from, how they make it, how they eat it.

James, Philosopher, Gentleman, Man of the 5os (and my newest friend).

1.) The best: Vienna sausages and the crackers. It was what I really wanted.

2.) The worst: A velvet tapestry of a dog. It was my wife's family's gift exchange and I certainly accepted it with the spirit that it was given. He said he just didn't know what to get me and was happy I liked it.

3.) For her: What I would love to give my wife would be peace of mind, no worries or pain for the rest of my life.

Now you understand how special and wonderful these men are.

I hope you have the happiest of Christmases in every way you wish. 

Je vous embrasse et Joyeux Noël,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shopping For My Wife: A Short Story


   By Will Fletcher*

        My Christmas gift-giving strategy for my wife is to find a few little presents that are either edible or humorous (or both) that swirl in a sparkly constellation around a bigger “centerpiece” gift – the one I’m counting on her to really love and for which I will score the most brownie points as a thoughtful husband with tremendous taste. Which is why I found it an amazing stroke of luck when, several weeks ago, my wife tore beyond repair one of the arm straps on her most cherished handbag. 

             She had been making do with a much less favored secondary bag about which she never missed the opportunity to deride the quality of its construction, the awkward length of its straps, the dullness of its color.  How pleased I was with myself for selecting a new handbag for the centerpiece gift.  Not only is it something she will really want, but all that’s required of me is to select a new bag with a ballpark similarity to the old one and I’m a bigger hit this Christmas than Frosty the Snowman.  What could be simpler?

Alas, not so simple.  The mistake I made – surprise, surprise – was in thinking like a man. When a personal item dear to man breaks or wears out after many years of use, his mission is simple: find a replacement that looks just like it.  It’s only due to limitations of foresight and closet space that we didn’t purchase five or six of the one blue sweater you see us wear every day all winter long.  Women don’t see it happen, but when the elbow on that sweater gives out, we find a corner to cry in.  We’d give anything for a ride in a time machine back to the day we purchased it for the chance to tell the clerk “give me every one of these in XL that you’ve got!” 

Very sadly for me, my wife subscribes to a philosophy which holds that life is too short to own the same handbag twice.  For her, a new handbag promised the ascendance to a higher state of being.  It must be that, even when their handbags are in fine shape, women privately note the shortcomings they want changed when the time comes for a replacement.  I learned that my wife wasn’t looking for a new bag, she was looking for the New Bag.   The New Bag that would answer not only the prayers the old one didn’t have time to get to, but the ones my wife had not yet thought to ask. 

In trying to pry from her an understandable description of the New Bag, I was frozen stiff by the impossibility of the undertaking.  Forget a moment about color, size, material and shape.  The physical manifestation of the New Bag consisted merely of details when compared to the overarching, chimerical threshold consideration: purpose.  The question was not what purpose the New Bag was intended to serve.  Not really.  The more limiting and interesting question was what purpose was there that the New Bag couldn’t serve?  Is it like a briefcase you’re looking for, sweetheart?  No, no, definitely not a briefcase, she says.  A briefcase would be just for work.  This is for more than just taking to work.  Okay, so like a purse then, I say.  No, not a purse, either.  You see, a purse is too small.  It needs to be big enough for my gym shoes for when I go to Pilates.  A purse won’t work.  But I can use it as a purse.  What about a small duffel bag then?  More formal than that, she said.  I need something I can bring to meetings or take with me in case we meet for dinner after work.  

My wife’s conception of the New Bag was so varied and flexible, so all-encompassing and dependable, that it sounded not like a handbag at all.  Rather, it seemed to answer more closely to the description of what one expected a dear, lifelong friend to be.  And I had naively considered myself generally acquainted with the universe of women’s arm-borne storage containment.  But over my wife’s ever-expanding considerations of the New Bag’s utility my humble expertise could gain no purchase. 

I tried.  I visited department stores playing the part of the harried husband in need of top-notch sales assistance and willing to shell out a few extra bucks for the effort.  But if they ever existed, the days of the store clerk who stakes his or her honor on finding the customer the perfect gift have ended.  And what’s true of the Hunt for the New Bag is what’s true of all of life’s major obstacles – one confronts them horribly unprepared, overmatched and alone. 

 Instead of being rescued, I was shown to the half acre of Macy’s floorspace that displayed every conceivable variety of handbag and left by myself.  Short of breath and my pupils dilating, it painfully occurred to me that not a single one of these handbags wouldn’t fulfill at least one of the functions that my wife envisioned.  Even the zebraskin number with the gold zippers had a discreet sleeve into which a rolled yoga mat can be snugly stowed.  Approximately three hundred of the bags arrayed before me bore a family resemblance to the examples of suitable candidates my wife has shown me on the Internet but none of them is close enough to make me pull it off the hook and declare it the New "It" Bag.  I exit Macy’s empty-handed and hopeless. 

I don’t sleep well and my work inbox stacks up.  Telephone calls go unreturned.  I’m suspicious at subway stops for my overlong stares at the handbags that droop from female shoulders.  Excuse me, miss, but is that bag of yours big enough to fit your spin class clothes and salad bowl, but still small enough to fit under your desk without kicking it all day?  Are your straps the right length and do they have the soft padding where they rest on the shoulder?  Are there enough exterior pockets for your bus pass and iPhone?  I wanted to ask but I didn’t.  I was befallen by an unknown disorder that renders men incapable of selecting the right handbag for their wives.  Every mid-December evening offered the prospect of redemption as I went from store to store, but I confronted the same problem of an overabundance of options.  I magnified the degree of difficulty into believing that if only one bag in a thousand will fit the bill then the chances are overwhelming that I was selecting from the 999 bags destined for rejection.

I picked around the problem for a few days and bought my wife yet a third and fourth winter hat before I surrendered.  I confessed to her, just a day before we departed for my in-laws’ in France, that I haven’t found the New Bag and informed her about the clinically unrecognized but still very real affliction.  We agreed to meet after work for a stroll on one of Chicago’s boutique-lined streets.  And before I arrived, she sent me a text message: “I think we have a winner.”  I joined her at the store and she pointed it out to me.  It’s black.  Leather.  Much taller than it is wide.  The straps shorter than I would have considered suitable.  When she threw it over her shoulder, the beige piping on its sides tensed up and it looked for a moment like it was smiling at me, saying “here I am.”  

Had I seen anything like it in my own adventures?  Sure I had.  At least a dozen.  Would I ever have selected this as the New "It" Bag?  Of course not.  I had mythologized the New Bag into so ephemeral a thing that it couldn’t have possibly been reduced to a real object that could be seen or touched, much less purchased at 30% off (as I did!).  

Perhaps the connection between a woman and her handbag is so personal that no man can understand the chemistry that bonds her with it.  Maybe husbands acquit themselves nicely enough at the gifts they’re good at giving and that deeper into the forestry of their wives’ tastes they should not tread.  Or, the lesson could be that I should have trusted myself a little more to pick something that she would have liked and thought worthy of becoming the New Bag.  Or failing trust in myself, I should have at least trusted the safety and assurance of the gift receipt.  

But I will never again take lightly the undertaking of finding my wife a Christmas present. 

*Another cadeau from our week of giving and receiving from men. The man who wrote this short story is extremely, extremely dear to me, and, as you can see, extremely talented, so I hope you will take the time to read and enjoy it.

Tomorrow, on Christmas Eve, the men I love (Will Fletcher is among them) or really, really, really, really like, will tell you what they would give the love of their life, if they could give her anything. You will be enchanted. I was.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reflections on Noël, Part III of Men's Week

In this, the third installment of "Men on Giving and Receiving" I asked my pal Fred, the talented photographer who always captures more than what is at the other end of his lens, to wander around Paris to see what he would see.

Busy as he is, he actually took the time to reflect (see the reflections?) and snap these shots. I am very, very grateful, Fred. How extremely generous of you.

You'll see when you visit him at Easy Fashion, the way he captures the essence of his subjects, the girls, particularly les filles, the boys, the couples, the men, the women. He sees things.

Merci, merci, Fred, et Joyeux Noël.

Memories Are Made of . . .

Let's start with the easy part. If you haven't discovered The Trad and his magical way with words, the moment has come. You must. You owe it to yourself.  He is a gift.

He is always insightful in one way or another and he can be very funny, but as you will see below he can also make us feel. Sometimes it's comfortable -- easy, breezy -- at other times it is not, not at all, but that's what good writing is all about. He writes tight, clean, sharp -- by moments, painfully so -- but if at times a writer is capable of cutting to the heart, it's worth the twinge. There's always joy and hope at his place as well, and, as I said, the humor.

The Trad, in his own words. . .

Folks in retail call it a throw away.  A great item buried on a busy page in a catalog. . .or worse.

My fiancee-to-be woke me up from a nap on my sofa.  I smiled at her, reached under a pile of dirty clothes and pulled out a jewelry box with her engagement ring and gave it to her with a big smile on my face. I have regrets, and this is just another one in addition to our divorce 14 years later.

 Unless you're married or dating a woman who is insisting on a Hermès Kelly bag this year - - I think most women will love whatever you give them as long as it shows  thought.  And that's a worn cliche.  Any man worth the dirty underwear on his floor will ask,"What 
thought?"  I don't think it's thought about the gift as much as it's  about time and place. 

Anything you give to the mother of your children while you're in the middle of the explosion that is Christmas morning  will lose something.  Actually, it's will lose a lot.  Same goes for any gathering of people who haven't seen you naked.  Uncle Joe, Aunt Bullah, Grandma and Grandpa.  There's just too much going on what with people trying to come up with something nice to say, looking surprised and only wanting a cocktail. 

 I met the Golf Foxtrot at the Algonquin a week before Christmas.  We went up to our room and ordered a bottle of champagne and a plate of cheese. Triple cream.   A manchego.  Some grapes and green apple slices.  Simple.  The city outside our window couldn't be seen.  Our view was a brick wall. And it didn't matter.  The cardboard tube I gave was not wrapped. It didn't matter.  She opened it and rolled the poster out on the bed.  It wasn't expensive and it didn't matter.  She looked at me and I couldn't tell what she was thinking.  That mattered.  She told me it was beautiful and that she saw a part of me in it.  And she still does to this day.                   

I don't think the poster had much to do with her feelings that day.  I'm sure the time, the place and the occasion were everything.  And it's in that spirit that I've found a poster I hope she'll give me for Christmas.  

I guess I just like French things. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Men Aren't Complicated, James Explains

In this month of non-stop cadeaux, I decided to reprint one of my favorite posts from one of my favorite people, James, Man of the 50s.

Erudite, witty, wise and a true gentleman, James sets us straight on that most delicate of subjects: What Do Men Really Want?

(Since he has lived in France, he also has that je-ne-sais-quoi we all so dearly love even though we don't know exactly what it means.)

And finally, James graciously agreed to share with us 10 of the best gifts he has ever received.

I think you'll agree this post will be one of the best gifts we will be receiving this season and it is a natural debut to this Christmas week of all men, all the time.

Thank you again, my dear, dear James.

      By: James, A Man of the 50s
Every year when my daughters asked what I wanted for Christmas, I would smile and say, " I only want you to be good girls." Of course after they grew a little they were no longer amused and stopped asking. 

Most men are going to appreciate whatever you give them, we're not quite the pigs you may think. If he doesn't by God he should! However if the point of the exercise is to also bring some joy into his life here are a few comments from a man who has seen many, many Christmases:

One statement no man likes to hear when receiving a gift is, "I thought you might like to try something different." No we wouldn't. Men are, for the most part, champions of the status quo. Dinner at six, if it's steak where's the potato and why is the beer in a blue bottle for Pete's sake?

So there is no harm in giving him more of what you know he likes. In my case it was bow ties and argyle socks, I could never get enough. Does he hum when he wears corduroy pants? He can't have every color. In other words you know your man, what does he like? Now, you need not to over think this. 

If he cried at the end of " Love Story" were those the same tears he shed when Purdue upset Ohio State? If so he may not really want a collection of Keats, but may enjoy Robert Service. Is he a Scotch drinker? Don't buy a bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon, look for an unsual single malt. Does he live for electronics?( OK he's a geek, but he's your little geek!) Sure you think he's got the latest of everything. No he doesn't. 

Check out his favorite toy and see if there is a new one. A lot of cell phone providers are offering amazing deals on netbooks; look into that. I personally think gift cards look like you got them while waiting in line at the grocery store( no, no I know you've never done that), but is there a local place where he loves to eat? Most non-chain restaurants give you a nice card that means you went there to get it and knew he would love it. If he takes you when he goes, bonus! 

One of the many things that amazes me about women is their creativity. So take my silly ramblings and "surprise" him with something you know he'll like.

This year at the Thanksgiving table, my grandson asked his mother what she wanted for Christmas. She smiled, ruffled his hair and said, "I just want you to be a good boy."

Now, for my all-time favorite gifts:

1.) A Lab puppy

2.) A Berkley graphite fly rod

3.) A John Wayne calendar

4.) An Abercrombie and Fitch wool shirt (before it became a mall store)

5). A pair of Santa socks

6.) A dozen cans of Vienna sausages and a box of Ritz crackers

7.) A JoS. A. Banks greatcoat

8.) An alligator belt with monogrammed gold buckle

9.) A Winchester mod 1897 shotgun

10.) A bottle of Famous Grouse Scotch

 I read James' post to My Reason for Living in France whereupon he said: "Exactly, and 'yes' I really never want anything other than navy blue cashmere V-neck sweaters." He then added: "I like James; it's too bad he doesn't live in France."

(Ed. Note: You will note the enthusiastic responses from last year. Unfortunately I do not know how to remove them from the reprint of James' post. Please feel free -- anyone -- to come to my rescue and please, feel free to share the love with James again this year. Merci par avance.)

***Ed. Note #2: If you click here you will be whisked away to Skye Peale's blog, Privilege where, Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart, from the blog, Through the French Eye of Design, and I have collaborated on a post for our extraordinary friend.***
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