Grunge, pauperism, minimalism, hip hop and recoup’ (recycled salvaged looks), the styles most popular among young people today, all have one thing in common: their roots can be traced to the Japanese movement of the 1980s. With their strong, innovative shapes, high-tech fabrics and radically different fashion philosophy, Japan’s leading avant-garde designers are responsible for shaping the way an entire generation perceives modern style today.
Misshapen beads of the unexpected snow dappled the floor around Mavis Gallant’s chair in the main room of the Select. She had shed her heavy coat and umbrella, and had ordered a coffee when a casually dressed young man approached from behind and tapped her shoulder apologetically.
Every so often back in the ’30s, dark stretches of nighttime Paris would be lit by a sulfurous flash. Brassai was at work, taking pictures in which conventional beauty held little appeal. Like Toulouse-Lautrec, he was a well-born, highly trained visual artist who found inspiration in the down and dirty.
Why would the Musée Rodin have another Camille Claudel show just seven years after they hosted her retrospective? Consider what followed on the heels of that exhibition – biographies, TV programs, traveling shows of Claudel’s work in the U.S., Japan and Germany, a 1988 film by Bruno Nuytten (now on videocassette), even a book of poetry written in Claudel’s voice and reprinted five times by Louisiana State University Press. Add to that the countless articles in which the Claudel/Rodin dispute has been tossed about by critics and scholars of nearly every persuasion. Continue reading “Camille Claudel Revisited”
Two little things happened recently in Paris that peaked my American glands: 1) Haagen Dazs infiltrated my local Prisunic and 2) I “dined” for the first time at Pizza Hut on the rue de Rivoli. Seemingly innocuous events, they nonetheless lent themselves to larger cultural scrutiny and psycho-existential re-positioning. The entrepreneur in me spotted the need for a culinary guide for the French, on American Popular Eats. The purist in me wretched. The menu of details before me read with the cultural differences of our two lands. Continue reading “Screaming Ice Cream in French”
On the inside cover of a popular women’s magazine is a picture of a corked perfume bottle bearing Yves Saint Laurent’s name and a slogan, “Its name was forbidden, but women will know to ask for it.” The ad is for the controversial perfume “Champagne,” which after a lawsuit won by the wine producers of one of France’s most famous regions, was forced to change its marketing strategy as well as its label. However, by the time the smoke had cleared from the court battlegrounds, the fragrance appeared to be somewhat a winner, racking up 200 million francs in sales in just three months of existence. In an industry built around dreams, fantasies and image, nothing beats a little scandal to stir up interest and sales.
The last public appearance Raymond Carver made in Paris was on one of those mythic, all too rare sweltering spring nights. He was reading at Odile Hellier’s Village Voice bookstore, along with Richard Ford and Jonathan Rabin, with Edmund White on hand to introduce them all. Continue reading “Paris Conversation with Raymond Carver”
Unless you’ve spent the last decade meditating in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, far away from the reachings of the French and international press, you absolutely must know what’s happening in Greater Metropolitan Paris on April 12, 1992.
I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but in the year since starting this column, I’ve written on all sorts of fashion-related topics except for…what’s in style. This month I’m breaking my silence. So some of you may want to quickly turn the page before this article makes you feel too old or just plain out of it.
Paris boasts a collection of nearly 100 museums! Prestigious, world-famous institutions like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay rank high on most people’s list of museums to visit. However, for adventurous spirits, the major museums are just an introduction to the pleasures of discovering the capital’s art treasures. The unique atmosphere of well-known artists’ studios, now open to the public as museums, can’t be beat. Eccentric private and public collections highlight just about every subject imaginable. There are superb museums devoted to the history of wine, counterfeits, locks, perfumes, musical instruments and fashion – to mention just a few. The following suggestions will take you off the beaten track to some interesting homes and studios where famous artists once lived.
As a child I was introduced to St. Valentine’s Day at school like many other American kids. The entire class would run around the room placing colorful valentines and small bits of chalky heart-shaped candies (that our mothers had bought for us at Woolworths) on each other’s desk. This developed into a more serious ritual in the seventh grade after I developed a crush on a boy named Robert O’Kronley. Much to the embarrassment of this 12-year-old boy who scarcely acknowledged my existence, not to mention my teacher who watched me with disapproval, I offered a hand-inscribed card and a heart-shaped box of chocolates to Robert. Later, in high school, after receiving my first satin Hallmark card and heart-shaped box of Whitman’s chocolates, I discovered Valentine’s Day was even more fun when you played by the rules and let the boys do the offering.