Robert Altman has Paris fashion in an uproar. Feeling used, abused and terribly misrepresented, industry professionals are screaming “foul play” over the film “Prêt-à-Porter.” “We are portrayed as a class of sex-crazed, dishonest, bubble brained idiots,” designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac told Paris Match.
Doris Lessing likens memory to a shut door – the one that Alice desperately seeks to open though she is too small reach the doorknob. The access she has to her own past is unsure, arbitrary, selective. She describes as “creepy” the phenomenon that, “what I was told and what I remember were not the same.” She seemed to debate with herself, in the presence of a rapt audience at the British Council, the very nature of autobiography.
Spouse trailing is the curse of the expatriate wife, but Catherine Gilson turned it into a blessing by transforming her volunteer experience in Paris into The Culture Club, her own tour group. She is a textbook example of how women square the sometimes vicious circle of moving, setting up a household and trying to establish themselves before moving on again – the subject of a career-development seminar last month organized by WICE and the American University of Paris.
John Calder and Paris mix like Scottish malt whiskey and mountain spring water. Since the 1950s Calder, a veritable landmark to literary publishing, has focused on Paris as his literary plaque tournante. In fact, there is probably no single literary bookman still in the business that has done more to bring French authors into the English language. If it hadn’t been for Calder few anglophones in Europe would have been able to read the ground-breaking writers of the French nouveau roman. And his stable of writers is wildly impressive; he’s published over 4000 titles in forty years including the works of some 20 Nobel Prize winners, a fact he cringes at from modesty when it’s repeated in public. Artaud, Ionescu, Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grille, Nathalie Saurraute, Claude Simon, Robert Pinget, many of the Surrealists…the list goes on. Continue reading “Conversation with Publisher John Calder”
“If someday you have a few months to spare, come to Barbary…you will feel the precious and exceptional influence of the sun, which gives everything a piercing life.” Just over 160 years ago, Eugène Delacroix left a wan Paris winter for a six-month adventure in North Africa. While few of us can jump up and follow his footsteps, following his brush strokes is an excellent alternative. Delacroix in Morocco – a gathering of his painted mementos – is on exhibit until January 15 at the Institut du Monde Arabe.
“Turn Paris into a pile of ruins. Defend it to the last man,” were Hilter’s orders to the German Commander of Greater Paris in mid-August 1944. Adolf Hitler was smelling imminent defeat, and he intended taking the city of Paris and its people down with him. Continue reading “The Liberation of Paris Revisited”
As one of the earliest professional portrait photographers (and to this day one of the best), Felix Tournachon, known as Nadar, endowed his generation with perpetual faces, enabling us to look into the eyes of history. History currently looks back from the walls of the Musée d’Orsay, where nearly 100 Nadar portraits make up a picture gallery of the Second Empire.
“The true artists are those who take their epoch at exactly the point to which it has been carried by the preceding ages. To retreat is to do nothing, is to work without result, is to have neither understood nor profited from the lessons of the past.”
As May slips into June, the beaches and apple orchards of Normandy will play host to a kinder, gentler invasion than the Big One five decades ago that landed it a rock-solid place in the pages of world history. This time around, the tourists are coming, and the Normans are prepared for them: over 600 events are planned to commemorate the liberation of a war-ravaged Europe, which struck the shore like lightning on the morning of June 6, 1944.
Jim Morrison ate his last meal at Le Beautreillis, a little restaurant near the Place de la Bastille in Paris. What killed him remains murky but the authorities ruled out dinner, so cult followers have flocked to the place ever since. A shrine it may be, but the restaurant serves up more than warmed-over memories. The blini are terrific. And so is the host, a genial Croatian named Verian. He bought the place two years ago, serves honest Slav food, and says he doesn’t much care about the legend of “Jeem.” But his black leather pants tell a different story. So do the the luvmobile up the street and the heaps of Morrison memorabilia threatening to avalanche the restaurant’s side room. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. . .
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.