Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ah, April in Paris

For those of you who actually look at my blog, I'm sure you're sick of the dog. I had a week off from class for Spring Break and traveled to the South of France with a couple friends. We took the train to Aix-en-Provence and then rode a bus to Nice. From Nice we took day trips to Cannes, Monte Carlo, and Cap d'Ail. When I got back to Paris my good friend from W&L visited with her mother, so I've been busy. I never want to spend anytime indoors either. The weather has stayed warm more than three consecutive days, Parisians have finally shed their winter coats, and tourists are now everywhere. I'm looking forward to my Mom and Aunt visiting this week. Here are some new pictures to look at until I have time to write more. Happy Easter!
Wisteria in Aix-en-Provence
My favorite beach in Cap d'Ail
Monte Carlo

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bobo > Hipster

I've been hearing term "bobo" a lot lately in Paris. A journalist named David Brooks coined the phrase over 10 years ago in his book Bobos in Paradise. The word can be used to characterize people with bourgeois and bohemian attitudes. I like it to describe Parisians with effortless style mixing high end and casual pieces.

Bourgeois: middle class, dominated or characterized by materialistic pursuits or concerns

Bohemian: a person (often an artist or writer) who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules

Last week I walked from my Left Bank house with my host parents across the Seine to a gallery in the Marais. Two of my host father's photographs and a few from his personal collection were part of a female nude exhibition. The gallery displayed several other photographers' works including one from Japan that my host father assisted years ago. The Japanese photographer is called a Master. They served wine, champagne and tiny sandwiches inside, but the crowd spilled onto the street to smoke and socialize. There was a good mix of older couples, singles, and fashionistas. Since my French speaking abilities have flatlined, I have the opportunity to observe everything in situations such as these. 

Three people particularly grabbed my attention. 
1. One young woman wore thick rimmed black glasses, an old t-shirt, skinny jeans, and studded boots.   She carried a huge dark green Balenciaga bag. Parisians pull this look off better than the NYC hipster in my opinion.

2. The Japanese designer. I watched him walk around inside the gallery wearing his dark sunglasses at night. He wore skinny jeans and boots, but instead of a handbag he held an animal skin in his arms as if it were a baby. My host mother went right up to him and stroked the fur. (She had met him once before.) The designer simply said it was his pet cat and introduced it to Nancy. Not normal. He also wore an alligator skin underneath his jacket and carried a silver Gucci logo print bike helmet.

3. Older man wearing fishing attire and an Alaskan embroidered baseball hat. I couldn't help but ask this man if he was American because of his attire. He turned out to be French, but spoke English. The first thing he said was, "Do you know of Sarah Palin?" Before I could respond he said, "She better not become the next US President!" I think I eased his concern. The quirky man also told me that he photographed bikers around Mt. Rushmore. As we were leaving I saw him pedal away from the gallery down rue George V. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Lennon Wall

Fun photoshoot at the graffiti wall devoted to John Lennon.

Czech It Out

View from the Eiffel Tower on Petrin Hill
The last two weeks have been so busy, hence the lack of posts. I wrote one paper, made two oral presentations, and survived four midterm exams. So my weekend trip to Prague came at exactly the right time. I traveled with Emily Thursday night from CDG direct to Prague. I didn't know much about the city, but a sorority sister of mine at W&L who spent a summer in the Czech Republic sent me a great list of things to do. We made it to the hotel easily with one of many crazy cab drivers. The weather on Friday was miserably cold and rainy, but we schlepped through the Prague Castle, the St. Vitus Cathedral, and a museum. There were dozens of tour groups. Everyone seemed edgy, running into each other with umbrellas, and trying to take pictures simultaneously. Or maybe that was just me. Despite the conditions, it was incredible to see a structure that dates back to the 9th century. Emily asked me if I'd ever heard of a place called Medieval Times. According to the MT website: "Step back in time with epic battles, jousting tournaments, royal feasts, knights and romance at any of our nine North American castles." Afternoons at Medieval Times used to be a Wright Family favorite. I had never heard of such a thing. I guess it hasn't hit Houston yet. 

After seeing the castle, we crossed the river on the Charles Bridge and ate lunch at an Italian restaurant called La Finestra. By the late afternoon it stopped raining so we explored Old Town Square and shopped. I absentmindedly left my umbrella inside one of the stores. When we went back for it before dinner they offered us Moet & Chandon champagne. That naturally led to cocktail hour inside Dior making friends with the staff. We asked our new friend for her favorite thing to do in Prague. She responded point blank, "Sleep with my boyfriend, but I can't really recommend that to you." She was a sweet, funny, and effective salesperson.  

We ate dinner at Celeste on the 7th floor of the "Dancing House" (Nationale-Nederlanden). It's a building known for its unusual architecture. Our meal and the view from the terrace above the restaurant was great. I had fish as my main course and we split a chocolate and blood orange dessert. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Act Casual

I must admit - sun, fashion, and celebrity sightings simultaneously made my Tuesday afternoon unbeatable. I left my house for school just like I do every morning, but today was different. I stepped outside and felt warm wearing only a light coat. Those of you reading from other places cannot understand how thrilling it is to see grey skies suddenly disappear. The sun transformed the city today. Couples, kids, and old ladies with their dogs crowded the streets. I saw people lay back in green lawn chairs, noses pointed skyward in the Luxembourg Gardens and around the Tuileries fountains.

After class I met up with Grace and Emily for lunch at our favorite healthy eatery in the 3rd arrondissement called Bob's Kitchen, aka "BK." It's a small restaurant and usually crowded at 1pm so we were sitting three in a row on bar stools. All of the sudden Grace started whispering and motioning about a man literally standing behind us. It was Joe Zee, Creative Director for Elle. Zee and I ate the same meal - veggie stew. I know I sound silly, but it was exciting to see an American insider during Paris Fashion Week. He wore a grey v-neck sweater and a crackberry. Magazine and shades on table. Grace and Emily insisted it would be a faux pas to say anything, so I obliged.

Post lunch we stormed through the metro to get to the Tuileries where Valentino show started at 2:30. We found the white carpet leading into the white tent. Photographers, beautiful people, and wannabes like me scattered everywhere. By the time we got near the entrance, most people had already entered the tent. But it wasn't too long until the show ended so we were able to see everyone parade out. We stood right on the edge of the white carpet, close enough to brush shoulders. All of the sudden Emily casually says, "It's Kanye." Just like that. There's Kanye West with a pair of huge bodyguards on either side of him walking right past me. It was nuts. We kept watching in awe of the models and everyone's outfits. Then, I saw a flash of wild red hair and immediately recognized it from the documentary, "The September Issue." It was former model and creative director for Vogue, Grace Coddington. NBD. 

Just when I was getting ready to leave for my late afternoon class, Emily spotted Scott, the blogger/photographer known as "The Sartorialist." I have a link to his blog here. I would have never recognized him myself. We dropped the rules and approached him when he walked past us. Yes, it was a bit awkward saying, "Hi, Are you the Sartorialist?!" But, he shook our hands and was actually very friendly. He said today's show was better than recent Valentino shows. It was a brief exchange, but still cool. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, but a few people from my program may have some good shots.