Paris – City of flowers and lights!

‘I want to be there, NOW!’ to quote Axel

It might have been fun in 1954 with Barthes but in Summer 2015 I was on my way but I had to cry off.  I will make do with a Chanel presentation in London this July and maybe I can make Paris somehow, before 2018.

‘What was it about her face?” thought Roland Barthes sitting in Café Flore, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, after seeing Audrey Hepburn in the first French screening of ‘Roman Holiday’ on April 4th, 1954. Surrounded by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, Françoise Sagan, Nathalie Sarraute, Romain Gary, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Marcel Rochas, Gunnar Larsen, Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Paco Rabanne, Guy Laroche, Tristan Tzara, Alberto Giacometti, Dali, Jacques Lacan, inspiration came thick and fast for Barthes.

Between 1954 and 1956 his stunningly provocative and most influential text, ‘Mythologies,’ observing cinema, advertising, fashion magazines, motor shows, began challenging ideas about Hollywood, striptease, steak, wrestling, wine, and film forever.

 Born in 1915, Barthes has become the ‘go-to’ guy for story angles and inspiration for 21st century art, media, advertising, fashion professionals and his reputation today rivals that of any of his Parisian contemporaries.

Of Fashion he wrote that it became an industrial synthesis between its making, and its selling. He recognised the contradiction, inherent in the industry, of Fashion being readily available for the many, without losing its ability to raise stakes or status for an individual.

Tomorrow I’ll write about Parc Citroen, Parc Asterix and the pack of peanut butter sandwiches!

The Saint Wears Black

THERE’S really only one stylish religious icon. It’s the image of Pope Joan wearing a tiara.  She appears on my blog with Amy’s hysterical outburst in ‘Big Bang Theory’ when Sheldon buys her the diamante encrusted headpiece as an apology gift.

Really this opening paragraph is just a way to get back in to my meanderings and connecting with today. St Valentine’s images are all too garish to collect and so I’m posting Fashion.

Sarah Pacini, the 20 year old high end, chicest street styles puts clothes you and I have in our wardrobes together twice a year and makes them look new. Here’s one for today which is inspiring me to layer up and walk.


For ex convent girls there’s nothing as inspiring and intimidating than black, especially if spiked with white near the face. Sarah Pacini’s looks are much more friendly and relaxed. When the nuns layered up it was with thick pleated serge and heavy rosary beads.  Since ‘Roman Holiday’ when Audrey became everyone’s favourite gamine we are suckers for the sacred and everyday clashing together on our streets.

Saints should wear black. Then Rock chicks and Goth sweets can be doubly confused and no-0ne needs to do the embarrassing goody-goody Adele act, trying to disguise our passion for well-natured tarts and kindly villains.

So this brings me to my favourite, totally delightful destination, haunted by Hollywood stars,  gardens overflowing with exotic scented flowers, the sea pannning out from cliff tops over a never-ending sparkle of reflected sunlight, at 26 degrees on the breeze.  Yes we’re back to Normandy as this Oscar de la Renta number recalls the gardens Christian and his mother tended in Granville.


Stars in Dior, from screen to the streets

TWO other men, easily as  interesting as William the Conquerer, came from La Manche, Normandy.

One, the sensational Christian Dior whose New Look,  (1947) promoted by the American journalist Carmel Snow,  began a democratization of style which fascinates Vivienne Westwood to this day.  The other, is Roland Barthes, the mid 20th C writer, transforming the way we think about popular products, like Hollywood, cars, margarine, wrestling, strippers and especially Fashion…

I knew Granville was Dior’s birthplace and that his home is a museum, but didn’t  know that this summer, 2012, celebrates the many Dior connections with the movies.  On show, inside the house, La Rhumbe, seen above left, in pink, are Dior creations from 1947 to now.  From the Robert Altman film Pret a Porter, to Jude Law in  Dior Homme, from Fahrenheit; Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, Natasja Kinski, Ava Gardner, Zizi Jean-Maire to Rachel McAdams, in Woody Allen’s, Midnight in Paris, all are costumed by the House of Dior.

Dior did not go back to Granville, once he was forced, by the 1929 Wall Street crash, and subsequent worldwide depression, to seek his fortune in Paris.  I did go back.  How could we not re-visit the  gardens, perfumed with a cornucopia of blossoms, overlooking a spectacular coast?  Then to discover that high on another hill, over the town, there were stories of Collette’s relationship, with the master couturier,  in a museum space devoted to  collections of Richard Ancreon, another of CD’s amis. Malcolm McLaren really got it right when he said Dior knew everyone.

It would be fun to think that Dior  and Barthes met one day in, say, a cafe on the Boulevard Saint-Michel, when they were both around to sample the joys, and  talk of the pleasures, in that most especially aesthetic of  cities.

Above right is the illustration Anton Storey created for FASHION MEDIA PROMOTION  the new black magic to encapsulate the ideas he and I have about Barthes.