Doing Dior?

DSC03904From the Dior Show at Musée des Arts Décoratifs: One alcove in the floor-to-ceiling cathedral of mousselines or toiles (second wing of the exhibit) one of my favorite rooms… These are preliminary muslin versions of couture designs to test life-size patterns before cutting more expensive fabrics. Almost more beautiful than the final garment…

The good news… “Sublime” doesn’t begin to describe this show, staged with loving reverence for detail: 300 haute couture creations, from the house’s establishment in 1947 to the present, iconic photographs by Richard Avedon and others, every accessory imaginable (hats, jewelry, bags, shoes, perfume bottles), illustrations and sketches, plus a selection of paintings, furniture and art objects…DSC03905 (Salvador Dali, Buste rétrospectif d’une femme et La Chaise atmosphérique, 1933)

A tribute to high style, tradition, craftsmanship, marketing savvy, and sheer French genius.

For a quick glimpse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrGgxM9QiXI

and

http://www.dior.com/couture/fr_fr/la-maison-dior/expositions/christian-dior-couturier-du-reve

In a palette arranged by color, I fell for these miniatures in B&W DSC03906DSC03907

and this classic shape in pale blue:DSC03908

The bad news: You may not see very much of the show. Even with a “fast pass” ticket bought via internet, you will stand in line outside for at least 30 minutes, again at the cloak room if you have a backpack or large bag, then you will try to climb the stairs against a stream of fleeing attendees (you’ll understand why in a minute) only to shuffle two or three-abreast through a series of dark under-ventilated chambers linked by bottleneck passageways, straining to see the displays over heads and between shoulders. At the end of this ordeal you come to a narrow stairway down to a lower level of less crowded larger rooms, where you can catch your breath.DSC03909 Exiting this wing and crossing the lobby, you access another stairway leading up to a reading room on the left and another series of crowded rooms linked by bottle necks on your right, finally opening into the muslin cathedral mentioned above, and then a vast space called the “Dior Ballroom” where you can move around and admire exquisite gowns, historic portraits, and red carpet film footage of celebrities and royalty in Dior.DSC03903

I’m sure it cost a fortune to mount this event, so its success is great for Les arts décos and for Paris. It’s unfortunate, however, that the museum staff in charge of ticketing and crowd control have so little respect for their audience. There are actual mathematical formulas to calculate flow in small spaces and set up schedules:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_network_analysis

Why isn’t this taken into consideration? Trip advisor comments describe people fainting, disabled visitors who can’t navigate the passageways, long-distance travelers  giving up at the entrance and leaving.

TIP: Judging by the graph on the museum FB page, the best time to plan a visit is 11am on weekends. http://www.facebook.com/lesartsdecoratifs/

Potential idea: other sites like the Parc Asterix post notices at the entrance when the crowds are overwhelming: “Complet” (SRO), so you can still enter, but in full knowledge of what to expect.

http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/musees/musee-des-arts-decoratifs/actualites/expositions-en-cours/christian-dior-couturier-du-reve/

Courage! xxxxx Aliss

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Happy Birthday Buttes Chaumont Park

Paris 19th…Now:DSC03606and then, before landscaping, Eiffel’s bridge, and the cliff-top temple:DSC03607My favorite park is celebrating a big birthday–150 years… I thought I knew it by heart, but new signs commemorating remarkable trees and the park’s transformation are full of cool factoids:DSC03611Did you know this tree is called “horse chestnut” because in ancient times its fruit was used as fodder? That this former quarry was a horse cemetery in the 19th century? That draft horses from Vincennes are still used here for logging? DSC03610.JPGPlanted in 1870, this sycamore is 25m tall. Tiny picnickers and miniature bench give an idea of scale…Another specimen:DSC03609Planted in 1865, this one is 20m tall. Symbiotic parasites thicken its bark while its survival strategy creates an “elephant foot” shape at the base. In Greek mythology  plane trees symbolized regeneration and it’s dark heavy wood was used to build the Trojan horse…It’s so huge I couldn’t fit it into one shot. People left of the trunk (center) add perspective.DSC03608And on the other side of the park:DSC03613An association called Kaloumba had set up awnings, tables, chairs and traditional games from all over the world, for all ages. One item from their beautiful collection:DSC03612

Kaloumba specializes in keeping these alive as cultural, social, educational and therapeutic tools, organizing workshops to make your own games from recycled materials, to then keep or sell for worthy causes. Check out their website: http://kaloumba.com

Happy Birthday Buttes Chaumont 🙂 xxxxx Aliss

Happy Bastille Day!

DSC03623Firehouse in the Marais, soundcheck going on in the courtyard… Same thing happening all over France, flags and banners, firefighters setting up the annual Fireman’s Ball in honor of Bastille Day. In the olden days, it was about accordion music, live combos, tango, fox trots and slow dancing on cobblestones, checkered tablecloths, cheap champagne and flat beer in real glasses, women in skirts and dresses, men with their shirt sleeves rolled up, red faces from Renoir paintings… Now it’s huge PA systems, blaring pop and hip hop, fat cables duct taped on the cobblestones, cheap wine in plastic cups, bottled beer, clouds of marijuana smoke, a sea of faces of all colors, streetwear, tattoos and piercings… Fun of a different hue… Happy Bastille Day! xxxxx Aliss

Rockin’ the Cuisine Scene: Canal St M

In a tangle of streets fanning out along the Canal Saint Martin, Paris X, hidden gems await…THE spot of the moment, worth locating on unglamorous rue Vicq d’Azir near Metro Colonel Fabien, Fraîche, highly rated for top quality ingredients, creativity and fine service:  http://www.fraicheparis.fr (See website for prices)

DSC03602Above left: Seabream ceviche in sweet and sour marinade with taragon and piquillo peppers, sculpted radish, cucumber, herbs, and crisp. Right: Patience du moment hors’ d oeuvre, bowl of prawns in piquant herb salsa, spicy avocado dip, Asian cabbage, toasted bread from Liberté artisanal bakery and pâtisserie: http://libertepatisserieboulangerie.comDSC03601Catch of the day sea bass with artichokes in poivrade sauce, sea asparagus, aged mimolette accents and several other delicious secret ingredients.DSC03600Lemony madeleines to enjoy while we pay the bill (couldn’t resist mine)… And of course house-selected chilled rosé….DSC03604 (1)Gender-equal kitchen with a female and a male chef: Tiffany Depardieu (Top Chef Season 2) and Michel Boivin. An attentive maitre ‘d watches over your table. Family and couple-friendly.DSC03603 Venturing down the hill to your left, more possibilities for summer evenings:DSC03619Above, Le verre taquin, a highly-rated beer and wine bar: http://www.facebook.com/leverretaquinDSC03620La Baraque A tea room and coffee shop: http://www.facebook.com/La-Baraque-A-828761103855850/ praised online for delicious brunches and karaoke…DSC03621And La Fontaine de Belleville for tasty and reasonable café food: http://lefooding.com/en/restaurants/restaurant-la-fontaine-de-belleville-paris

Nourishment for thought (in French): an article about 40 female chefs rockin’ the cuisine scene in Paris, lots of addresses to try:

http://www.telerama.fr/sortir/les-40-femmes-qui-agitent-la-gastronomie-parisienne,154973.php

And courtesy of my favorite travel writer and style curator, Sylvia Sabes http://m.facebook.com/LoveOnlyNParis/ ten eateries open during the annual Parisian summer closings:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/sortir-paris/2017/07/05/30004-20170705ARTFIG00021-dix-tables-ouvertes-en-juillet-et-en-aout-a-paris.php

Enjoy! xxxxx Aliss

Looking up…(update 15/6/17)

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Art on the canal… Many NLP (neurolinguistic programming) courses teach that when a person looks up to their left they’re making pictures and when they look up to their right they’re remembering pictures… This is controversial but MRI scans seem to show that imagining activates the neo-cortex (frontal lobe and most recently evolved area of the brain). According to these studies, visualizing a best-case scenario activates all parts of the brain (frontal-visual, mammalian-emotional, and reptilian-survival) in synergy, and there seems to be a loop effect–looking up stimulates positive image-making… so why not try it and “see”? To be continued xxxxx Aliss

Stayin’ Alive

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This July Paris is opening it’s first “Live Water” swimming area on the canal in my neighborhood, the result of decades of work by city governments and local activists who’ve brought the river water that feeds the canal back to life. Particularly relevant as summer returns and I’m coming back to life myself after terror episodes and two exhausting presidential elections…also  inspiring and galvanizing, as Trump withdraws the US from the Paris Climate Accords. Many of us are dedicated to keeping the planet alive and imagining a better future. He can’t stop us! xxxxx Aliss

Cakes and Cathedrals

Dear blog friends, Haven’t been able to post this week, hosting visitors, long conversations with long lost friends, sharing my favorite places. More thoughts taking shape about the soul of France, how cathedrals and cakes are holographic alphas and omegas of the traditional French experience, the first, centuries in the making, centuries standing solid, the second, sensual and ephemeral, but with the same love for graceful architecture, story-telling in images… More to come, love xxxxx Aliss

(Bakery Benoist, 29 avenue Secretan, Paris 75019, tel: 01 42 40 23 86, and rose window in Chartres Cathedral)