Madomma remix flyer
courtesy of WEA
Skin is in
by Georgina Oliver
TV shows like "Sex and the City," and Madonna whose megabucks "Drowned World Tour" kicks off at Paris' Bercy stadium June 26 have paved the way for a new wave of sexually-empowered "stiletto feminists," who make a point of flaunting their charms to assert their rights. So, high heels and revealing clothing are de rigueur, on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet, nothing quite prepares the unsuspecting tourist, visiting Paris "for the very first time," for the deluge of déshabillé publicity, advertising everything from lingerie, perfume and fast cars, to anti-cellulite gels or low-fat yogurt: On the metro. In magazines. In supermarkets. Even at neighborhood pharmacies...
In fact, these startling images are light-years away from the Material Girl's idea of "striking the pose." Like Juliette Greco's all-time hit "Déshabillez-vous... mais pas trop vite" ("Get undressed... but not too quickly"), many of them reflect a "different" attitude to the undressing process. Whatever would Simone de Beauvoir think of all this brazenly placarded "sexploitation"?
To be, or not...
Don't be bashful. The rapport between sex and this city is like everything else at least as intellectual as sensual. Who's to blame? How about the literature teacher? This year as every year, on June 12, in lycées all over the country, aspiring high school graduates will sit for the "bac français," cogitating over time-honored nuances such as "l'être et le paraître." To be, or to appear to be. That is the question.
It was question time for Isabelle Alonso, at a journalists gathering at the CAPE (Centre d'Accueil de la Presse Etrangère), the foreign press center, instituted at the Maison de la Radio last summer, to coincide with France's EU presidency.
Constantly in the news, Alonso presides over "Chiennes de garde," a Paris-based association that "bitches" against sexism not only in the workplace, but also in French public life. For instance, a certain Gallic "laissez-faire" vis-à-vis the use of misogynist curse words in the political arena... A pun on "bitch" and "watchdog," the group's name has itself been a source of controversy. However, the Chiennes... have received widespread support "somewhat more unexpectedly," from men who account for 15% of its active members. A key issue? The proliferation of so-called "porno chic" billboards and display ads, they denounce as: "The Islamic veil in reverse. Enforced exhibitionism."
Both local and international media have probed the whys and wherefores of this outré marketing strategy. "A nous Paris!," the Métro's free weekly newspaper, ran a cover story about the "Eros" syndrome, with a picture of a baffled passenger walking past ultra-suggestive advertisements announcing the opening of Etam's new outlet at 73 rue de Rivoli.
In another vein, DS a monthly women's magazine that mixes style and current affairs published a round-up titled "Corpus critique," focusing on five "body-conscious" visual artists. Represented by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin (30 rue Louise Weiss, tel: 01 42 16 79 79), former fashion designer Nicole Tran Ba Vang now produces conceptual collections of intriguing, flesh "lookalike" attire, such as fake "tan mark" tops, meant to be worn over tanned skin.
Skin is in. So are sun protection and bodycare: Piz Buin's legendary produits solaires are back on the market here, while beauty and fitness centers cum concept stores are springing up all over the capital. The coolest? Bleu comme bleu (2 rue de Castiglione, 1er, tel: 01 58 62 54 54) whose unisex skin treatments include "self-tanning" sessions combining massage with applications of "Saint-Tropez," a ground-breaking cream perfected in America.
Soon to launch a salon in New York's spruced-up Chelsea area, Nickel is for men. In addition to its original locale (48 rue des Francs Bourgeois, 3e, tel: 01 42 77 41 10), it has its own department at the Printemps de L'Homme.
Meanwhile, the Guerlain institute has inaugurated a squeaky-clean branch at the Hôtel de Crillon (tel: 01 40 07 90 44, 9:30am to 7pm). Among its "High Perfection" skincare options: Shiatsu "Zen acupression."
More Than Skin Deep?
"Effacer le passé" ("To erase the past") is the slogan of one of Siemens' striking "Be Inspired" posters, featuring a young girl wearing a bright blue facial mask. In the mobile telecommunications age, the art world flirts openly with the global market, actively seeking corporate sponsorhip... The "Rodin en 1900" show, at the Musée du Luxembourg (19 rue de Vaugirard, 6e, tel: 01 42 34 25 95) through July 15, is backed by Tokyo Shimbun. And, the Barbara lingerie brand has loaned a warehouse in Arcueil (on RER B) to Brankica Zilovic, a 27-year-old Yugoslav-born painter into body/apparel/canvas combos. (To June 15, 18 rue Roger-Simon Barboux, tel: 01 49 69 50 50)
Body Art is in. As is honest to goodness sculpture, cast or carved. Till June 23, the Henry Bussière gallery (21bis rue Michel le Comte, 3e, tel: 01 42 74 64 90) presents Eugène Dodeigne, a 78-years-young stonemason's son from the north of France whose monumental human figures herald a brand-new Stone Age.
Not to be missed on the Left Bank: the Hôtel de la Monnaie's tribute to another major sculptor, Pablo Gargallo (1881-1934), whose "Kiki de Montparnasse" vision is totally wrinkle-free. (To June 10, 11 Quai Conti, 6e, tel: 01 40 46 55 33)
What could be more intimate than a novelist or poet's first draft? Sponsored by the Fnac at the Bibliothèque nationale de France's François-Mitterrand site,"Brouilon d'écrivains" spotlights just that those antz-sized scribblings and doodles that embody a great author's inspiration. From early parchments to Balzac, Victor Hugo and Flaubert, onward to contemporary writers... This expo is the intello's ultimate voyeuristic thrill. (Until June 24, Hall Est, Quai François-Mauriac, tel: 01 53 79 59 59)
A New Yorker at the Cinémathèque
"An American in Paris" à la Gene Kelly? "Whatever you do, don't use that headline," says the Cinemathèque's new now officially installed Director General, "I've read it so many times, I feel I should be paying rights...". Reached in Cannes on his mobile, this ex-New Yorker took charge of the San Francisco film fest in 1988. A Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, he's familiar with the French movie crowd, as he came here on a sabbatical in the mid-'60s. So, this Palais de Chaillot assignment represents something of a homecoming.
Speaking of cinema archives, Serge Bromberg is a broadcaster with a mission. In association with fellow motion picture buff Eric Lange, he started a vintage film restoration company named Lobster, back in 1985. Kept busy by two television slots "Cellulo," a program about cartoons, on La Cinquième, and another rendezvous called "Slapstick" on Arte he nonetheless finds time to organize regular public presentations of his latest silent movie discoveries. The next "Retour de Flamme" event is a free open air screening at the Tuileries. (June 23, 10:30pm, Concorde/Orangerie entrance, info: 01 43 38 69 69)