Friday, 7 December 2012

Le Rock et Roll

Ever since I got to Paris I've marvelled at the culture of le brushing.

Le brushing is the French term for a professional blow-dry - one of the many (mal)appropriated English words that mock Baudelaire's tongue.  Parisian ladies seem to go for le brushing as often as others brush their teeth, yet as much I've tried to assimilate, I haven't taken up the common practice of le brushing, mainly because my hair never comes out the way I want.

Today I found out why.

Today was my regular appointment for having my roots done (shhhh... don't tell anyone) and a blow dry was naturally part of the equation.  I'd also been invited to a dinner party with some pretty impressive people from the fashion world, so I figured I'd take advantage of le brushing to do something extra funky.  I was planning to wear an edgy black dress so I told my hairdresser to do my hair "rock and roll". "Ah, bien sur! Rock and roll!" came his confident, enthusiastic reply, so I returned my attention to the latest issue of Grazia, trusting that my hair would be suitably roughed-up with some super-cool texturiser that's like Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde and Pat Benetar in a jar.

But half an hour later, after rollers, teasing and spray, I looked a little less like a rock goddess and little more like Lana Del Rey.

As I left the salon, I texted a girlfriend to tell her what had happened.  Her response?  "The French only have Johnny Halliday for rock'n'roll.  Hence the hair."

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. I think some Americans call le brushing a blowout. That makes me giggle too.
2. What's really strange is that I've never seen a women leave a salon in Paris without looking like an extra from Peggy Sue Got Married, yet Parisian style is all about the freshly-shagged look.
3. I must learn how to say that in French to my hairdresser.
4. On second thought, if that gets lost in translation, it won't just be my hair that gets fucked.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Quick Post Concerning Michelle O-hMy-bama

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Only have your brows done by a beautician you trust.
2. If she's away, walk away.  Betty Boop is not a look worth risking.
3. As it happens, it's not just me.  My 84 year old mother actually called me up from Toronto yesterday just to say "Have you seen what they did to Michelle Obama's brows?!"  (The nature vs nurture debate continues.)

Monday, 5 November 2012


Guess where we were last weekend?  I'll give you two clues:

If you guessed Sub-Saharan Africa, I'd suggest you put down the meth pipe and take another look at the canals and windmill.  Yes!  We were in Amsterdam!  How'd you guess?

We had a blast, not to mention, a blast of cold air.  It was freezing.  But I'm not complaining. The cold front and biting wind blew away the rain that was forecast, leaving us with fairly clear skies and nearly dry conditions to enjoy our favourite pastime...

...riding a bicycle built for two.  A tandem.

Let me explain.

Monsieur is an avid cyclist (and swimmer, and rock climber, etc...) while I'm an avid Princess (I shop, I do my nails, etc...).  I therefore never learned how to ride a bike, preferring to get around by waving an arm in the general direction of a taxi to the absurd practise of balancing while peddling.  This stance didn't sit well with Monsieur, who, once, while we were on holiday in Corsica, tried to teach me how to ride.  Half an hour of abject fear on a hilly, potholed, side-road sealed the deal: Cycling wasn't for me.

But Monsieur is nothing if not determined, to which end he doggedly changed tack by buying us a cheap old tandem on ebay.  Being relegated to the back with little else to do but work-off those extra wine calories in my own private spinning class was fine by me:  He could break and steer and avoid mortal peril while I got fit. What fun for a couple, I thought.  And you know what?  It WAS!

A year on from that first speculative purchase, we now own a rather swish racing tandem and more matching lycra than I care to admit.  So while recently deliberating where to go for a long-weekend, the idea of Amsterdam won hands down.  The city has been set-up for cyclists, with priority bike lanes and little bike-shaped traffic lights to let cyclists know when it's their turn to go.

That's the tandem we rented, poignantly leaning against a statue of Rembrandt near an old windmill outside of Amsterdam.  One of the great joys of riding in Holland is that it's easy to get out of the cities and see the pretty countryside.  Not that we didn't have plenty to see in town.  In just 2 and half days we went to countless cool markets, superb fashion shops, gorgeous neighbourhoods, Anne Frank's house and the Martime Museum, pictured below.  And we ate really well and relatively cheaply, which kept our fuel costs low.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Hash pipe would have been a giveaway.
2. We rented the tandem from Damstraat Rent-a-Bike.
3. Well done for spotting the reversible quality of my Max Mara coat.  Toasty alpaca on one side, wind and waterproof on the other.
4. Well done for spotting Monsieur's not-so-cool-but-kept-him-warm market buy from an army surplus stall.
5. Our best buy was the chic blazer I got from Ready to Fish, one of the coolest shops in town.
6. Our favourite"fuel"came from Blauw, an amazing Indonesian restaurant off of Amsterdam's well-beaten path.  (And a great argument for renting a bike when you're there.  Leave the central zone and Red Light District to the kids. The best restaurants, cafes and coffee shops are where the locals live.)
7. Not that I'd know anything about the coffee shops.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

50 Shades of Chanel

Check out my new shades.

Okay.  I'll admit it.  They're not really new.  And they're not really mine.

Those nifty sunglasses belong - or should I say belonged - to a certain Mademoiselle Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel.

Yes.  You read that right.  Those are Chanel's very own prescription shades, dating back to before her death in 1971.  These days they sit as she left them, on her desk in her perfectly preserved private apartment on rue Cambon in Paris. That is, until a curious Canadian like myself was invited to visit her hallowed halls.

If Chanel's apartment and atelier were open to the public, the public would form an enormous queue of pearl-dripping ladies and really camp men that stretched from the front door back to Charles de Gaulle airport. Foolheardy line-budders would be met with sharp swats from quilted handbags (from the men too) while everyone desperately awaited their turn to enter Chanel's sanctuary.  Such is the cult of Coco, that the house of Chanel has restricted entrance to the apartment to a lucky few, of which I had the luck to be one and the cheek to try on her glasses, naturellement.

Which, much to my post-visit "Let's google them!" frustration, don't seem to be either of these:

But that's neither here nor there.  What is there, in that apartment on rue Cambon, is a style of décor that's remarkably suited to many contemporary homes yet was completely avant garde in Chanel's day, mixing Oriental panels with western antiques and various flourishes which said more about her than her era.  Among her personal decorative motifs are the lion (she was a Leo, quelle surprise) and wheat, both a symbol of her country roots and a French jeu de mots denoting wealth.  In the same way that she imbued her fashion with such distinguishing codes as chains, bouclé fabrics and camellias, Chanel feathered her nest with distinct features which could only ever be her own.

Another reason for keeping Chanel's private apartment private - apart from the desire to preserve its mystique, not to mention the white carpets - is that Chanel's actual ateliers, where 400 seamstresses and cutters toil to create some of the world's most coveted garments, are on the floor above.  That includes Karl's office.

The showroom, where couture fittings and private collection viewings take place, is as it always was, on the floor below, connected by a central mirrored staircase.  Victoria Beckham recently tweeted photos of herself and Karl posing on those very stairs: it's only fitting that I should too.

And here's a final bit of trivia for Chanel-obsessed fashionistas: It's on the fifth step up from the landing that Mademoiselle would perch nervously during her fashion shows, hidden from view but able to observe her audience's reaction in the surrounding reflections.  Here's Audrey Tatou sitting on the wrong step for the sake of a cinematic camera angle: moi, on the right step, wondering where I left those glasses.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. You see how the photos of me in Chanel's shades are fuzzy?  Imagine that blur, times 10.  Now you know what it was like for me to wear them.  Coco may have had vision, but she was blind as a bat.
2. My invitation to visit the apartment came from a dear Parisian friend of mine who is without a doubt the most beautiful and elegant (not to mention intelligent, being a business school professor) women I have ever met.  Think Jeanne Moreau in La Femme Nikita, but prettier.  One day I'm going to ask her to make me over. Until then I'm happy enough for her to share her incredible connections with me.  Merci M-FP!
3. I think I found them!  Look at the photo of Coco sitting on her sofa.  Check out the coffee table.  Those are the same glasses, n'est pas?
4. So maybe she didn't leave them on her desk after all. Hmmm...
5. No, of course I didn't nick them. The prescription was too strong.
6. Is it just me or do you also hate liking Victoria Beckham these days?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

I See Chloé

Or rather, I saw Chloé.  Yesterday.

That's me waiting for the Chloé S2013RTW fashion show to get started in the sweltering heat of a semi-open-roofed venue in Tuileries Garden.  Thankfully, I've had enough experience to know to wear a twinset with a sleeveless base:  Fashion show venues - even ones without uncensored sunshine - tend to be saunas. By the end of the show, all that was left of the lady in the black coat behind me was a puddle clutching an iphone.

Why I'd decided to turn up relatively on time is anyone's guess.  The embossed invitation said 4 but it wasn't until around 4:30 that the first look appeared on the runway; standard practice in the teasy "keep 'em waiting, keep 'em guessing" world of fashion, dahling.  Not that my 35 minute wait was wasted.  Attending a fashion show (which in itself is rarely more than 5 minutes long) is as much about seeing and being seen as it is about seeing what the designer has (or would like to have) in store(s) next season.

Among the sights to be seen were Garance Doré, famed blogger and top-knot wearer:

...this model/starlet, also sporting a top-knot:

...and this harried looking fashionista, topped, of course, with a hairy top-knot.

The guy right behind her apparently noticed a small bird nesting in there, and, judging by his expression, it was having a poop.  As for the swathes of people behind them, the seated ones are thinking thank gawd I'm seated, while the ones standing near the rafters are thinking bastards.  A few of them are also congratulating themselves for spotting Anna Wintour (unfortunately, the guy in front of me stood up just as I was taking my Hey, That's Anna Wintour! shot) and those sitting around me were wondering who the heck was sitting below us and why were they so big in Japan?

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. I know, it's an awful photo of me but it's the only one I got from the show.  And I swear... that's the camera angle...  My arms aren't really built for builder's work.
2. The hairdo-du-jour; the top-knot. The model/starlet carries it off well.  As for others I've seen, I'm not sure if 'fashion your own fez' or the 'junior school art teacher' look are really as flattering as their wearers seem to believe.
3. Okay, okay - whoever was sitting below us was probably being snapped by members of the Chinese press.  (The Alphaville reference was a moment of weakness.)
4. Oh, yes: The fashion show!  Chloé!  I thought the shoes were great.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Miss Me?

It's been forever since my last post, which is just daft. There's so much to write about and so much stupid sh*t that stylists do to poke fun of!  I promise to get back into posting gear next week, once I've got some personal and professional non-blogworthy stuff sorted.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this little taste of what I've been up to in the glamorous run-up to Paris fashion week.  Last night I attended a fabulous star-studded party at The Mandarin Oriental, whose guests included  few people that anyone outside of France would know but plenty of heavy-weight A-List people (the French call their celebrities people, bless) like Omar Sy.

5 points if you can spot the Canadian in the corner; 10 if you can come up with a très drôle line to match.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Of which to poke fun.  I hear you, pedants.
2. You'd think that People magazine would do well in this market, wouldn't you.
3. Despite the Italian name, Grazia does. That's where this photo is featured (and to whom I should give credit). Check out all of their party coverage here.
4. Have you seen that brilliant French film about a rich quadriplegic who gets a kid from da 'hood to take care of him? The Untouchables? THAT'S Omar Sy!  Who, come to think of it, is known outside of France after all.
5. Do people say da 'hood anymore or have I just dated myself as a child of the 80s in a bid not to say big black guy?
6. I've missed you too.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Stupid Sh*t Stylists Do in New York

New York, New York!  It's a hell of a town.  Especially if you're a model during Fashion Week.  What else could these girls possibly be thinking as they win their wage on the Big Apple's catwalks?   "Mom would be so proud!" or "Gosh, I sure hope my boyfriend's in the audience." or "I wonder if the designer will let me keep this."?

Not a chance.

In their minds' eyes, they're prodding their bookers with pitch forks and cursing that hell of a fashion capital, thanks to the stupid sh*t that stylists do in New York.

The big trend for 2013: Self-Garotting
Creatures of the Wind     SRTW2013
If you were wearing this dress, you'd consider it too.
Creatures of the Wind     SRTW2013
The one in the middle is seconds away from screaming "GET IT OFF ME!" - it's that itchy.
Libertine     SRTW2013
Did someone call for a welder?
Michael Kors     SRTW2013
Meet Lina, our new lab assistant.
Michael Kors     SRTW2013
Mom always said to keep your poise no matter what.  No WAY did she imagine this.
Thom Brown     SRTW2013
No shit, I look pale.  I just pee-ed myself, dumb-ass.
Thom Brown     SRTW2013
Thank gawd they gave me the lampshade ensemble. Thank gawd.
Thom Brown     SRTW2013
Help me out here, fellow Trekkies:  Is this Romulan or Bajoran?
Threeasfour     SRTW2013
Or Star Shrek?
Threeasfour     SRTW2013
Owwww.  This headgear's so tight its flattened my chest.
VPL     SRTW2013
The "I'm a high flying business woman." walk is perfect for this killer Wall Street ensemble.   Perfect.
VPL     SRTW2013

When drug therapy goes wrong.
A Detacher     SRTW2013
When hormone treatment goes wrong.
A Detacher     SRTW2013
When the fuss they made about the blind hair and make-up guy went wrong, these two were sent out in their underwear.
A Detacher     SRTW2013
Not what she expected when the make-up artist said the look would be "dewy".
Alexander Wang     SRTW2013
On the bright side, maybe I could use this to start a portfolio as a male model.
Alexander Wang     SRTW2013
Style File Followers Take Note:
1. I love the New York fashion ethos of wearable, flattering and unfussy style.  I like to think that these exceptions prove that rule.
2. At least I hope so. From what I've seen so far, the New York shows were a bit disappointing...
3. If you look closely at the pee stain on that Thom Brown dress, it appears to be a map of Africa.
4. Check out the purple and orange suede T-straps on the bearded lady.  Do you see how poorly they're made? Can someone please tell me what's good about this outfit? I can't work it out. At all.
5. Yet someone must be funding Creatures of the Wind and A Detacher.  (I needed to breathe into a paper bag when I realised that.)
6. All photos flagrantly 'borrowed' from

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fashion's Fright Out

Last night was Fashion's Night Out, a Conde Nast (ie. Vogue) initiated event which takes place in the world's fashion capitals to promote fashion (ie. consumerism) in the run up to the Fashion Week season.

So, being the fashion lover and former fashion journalist and stylist that I am, I set off to rue Saint Honore to see Paris' chic-est boutiques woo their fashionista followers.

That's me and Monsieur with nearly nobody behind us, which must be the miracle shot of the night because
the scene was nothing short of a mob.

Thousands of fashion enthusiasts crowded the street, checking each other out as they ducked in and out of boutiques to nab a glass of free bubbly. "Come in and get tipsy and buy buy buy!" is the unspoken mantra of the evening.

Shops that aren't even open got in on the action.  Chloe's new Paris flagship - currently a building site which causes traffic snarls on the rue that are the bane of the neighbourhood - staged a cheerleading event to rah! rah! rah! its forthcoming ouverture... sometime in 2013.

My apologies for the quality of those shots. You already know that my BlackBerry takes a crap picture, and with a moving troupe of dancers, this was the best I could do.

And this is the only picture I took of the freaks that came out last night in the name of fashion:

The reason I stopped at that one, apart from the wave of nausea, is this:  As I walked through the crowd of over-styled fashion-slaves in their unattractive attire, I saw an equal number of poorly groomed girlies and retro-nerd-boys snapping pictures as if they were paparazzi, while proudly wielded the words "I am a FASHION BLOG-GUER."  It seems that half of Paris, or at least half of the mob on rue Saint Honore last night, has a fashion blog. Dispensing plenty of sartorial wisdom, I'm sure.

At which point I decided that perhaps I didn't want to be on-trend after all.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Don't get me wrong. I love fashion. But I love style and good taste more.
2. You could argue that good taste is in the eye of the beholder.  But not the beholder of that Paradise bag.
3. Free champagne tastes pretty good too.  But only if it's well chilled.
4. Of all the top global luxury fashion brands with boutiques on rue Saint Honore, the most crowded last night were Zara, Maje and Sandro.  'Nuff said.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. Kinda.

Before anyone else asks, no, I did not engage in a game of naked billiards with Prince Harry on my recent trip to Vegas.  Nor did I see Celine Dion (as if), Cirque du Soliel (eh) or gamble my life savings away (I already did that on a failed business venture, thank you).

I did, however, do one really tacky, touristy thing of which I'm so deeply ashamed, that I've decided to share it with you in the hope that the truth may set me free.

That's the entrance to CSI: The Experience, in the bowels of the MGM Grand hotel.

(You can see why this weighs so heavily on my conscience, can't you.)

It's not that I'm a huge CSI fan, per se.  I don't even watch much TV, but when I do, if I'm flicking through the channels and I come across a CSI (doesn't matter which one; Miami, Vegas and Wherever are all the same to me) I stop.  And watch.  Like a bug drawn to its well-lit doom, I'm spellbound by the blue glow of those CSI labs and the ever-present flashlight in the red-headed chick's hand.

So when I found out that Vegas' long-running and extremely popular Star Trek exhibit had closed and been replaced by CSI: The Experience, I brushed aside my bitter disappointment and headed off to experience, er, CSI.

As you may have guessed, the object of CSI: The Experience is to put participants through the paces of a real forensic investigation, challenging our observational skills and deductive reasoning to solve a mocked-up crime.  Starting with an elaborately staged crime-scene and led through a series of labs, we were instructed to gather evidence and submit it for scientific scrutiny, through which a list of suspects would be whittled down to a single guilty culprit.

Sounds pretty cool, right?


As neat as it was to examine trace elements, blood pathology and toxicology reports, the whole potentially brain-teasing process had been disappointingly dumbed down so as not to intimidate the common class of Las Vegas tourist, who I'm guessing has the average IQ of a squid.

Case in point: The people who were 'investigating' the same crime-scene as me (mercifully, we were free to do this separately) seemed to be a family of over-fed and under-achieving Nebraskans (or some other such state where the correlation between inbreeding and Romney-support is patently obvious). While I whizzed through the labs and worked out whodunit in less time than it took to buy my entrance ticket, I observed my cohorts struggling with the touch-screen interfaces used to view evidence, and I saw lips moving - s l o w l y - as multisyllabic information was being read. When I got stuck behind a couple who must have been left-over from a previous group and were still agonising over one of the interactive displays, I could have killed.

Which would have been a real CSI experience.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Dontcha just love the way they named it CSI: The Experience, with the built-in dramatic pause?
2. I might be ashamed of my CSI weakness but I remain a proud Trekkie.  Engage!
3. My apologies if I've offended anyone by implying that inbreeding takes place in Nebraska or other states. It's not your fault your parents were cousins.
4. Oh - and those would be the same states that would refuse an abortion in cases of incest.  Gotcha.
5. My apologies if I've offended any squid.
6. And another case in point: Look at what happens when you stop inbreeding. Harry turned out pretty hot.