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Annie - San Francisco, CA

I don't live-blog from the tents.

poeticandchic [at] gmail

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Image by Julie Michelle.

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Thursday
Dec012011

Oh Hi Matchbook Mag!

I'm THRILLED to announce to everyone that I have a feature story in this month's Matchbook Magazine which went live this mornng! My piece entitled "Frocks on Film" talks about my favorite party dresses from the movies. By some sort of wonderful poeticism, the cover feature is on Janie Bryant - the incredible costume designer behind Mad Men. There are also beautiful articles on the unsinkable Molly Brown, Dick Avedon, and the Assoulines, as well as truly inspired gift wrap ideas, gift suggestions, and festive tidbits throughout. Every page is a beauty, and I'm so tickled pink to be a part of it! Wow!

Visit Matchbook Magazine online!

Special thanks to the wonderful Katie Armour for letting me ply her with Blue Bottle coffee & toast and letting me convince her that this story contribution would work! Huge gratitude.

Of course, this whole article leads to a big announcement about the upcoming San Francisco Fashion Film Festival which I'm working on with Adelle from FashionistaLab and Kim from J'Adore Couture. More details are coming on Monday, but in the meantime, you can check us out at fashfilmfest.org!

Thursday
Dec012011

Postcard: Two Views of Rue Soufflot & Pantheon

This week's postcards offer two different views of one of my favorite intersections in all of Paris - Rue Soufflot at Boulevard St. Michel. This is right at the edge of the 6th and 5th Arrondisements, with the 6th behind you as you face the Latin Quarter in the 5th. If you were standing at this spot, the Jardins de Luxembourg would be behind you, with the Medici Fountain and all it's gorgeous lime walkways and chestnut trees.

I love this spot because it's a wonderful, colorful neighborhood that mixes families and students, parks and museums. The Sorbonne is just down the street, and the honored French of bygones past are held within the massive dome of the Pantheon. It's all very formal and informal at once. There's cafes, shops, tabacs, ice cream vendors with carts, and the best Sandwhich Grec (that's French for gyro) just up the way...

The first postcard is probably from just after World War I, judging by the clothes and the types of transportation. There's a bus, but there's also a few horse-drawn carts here and there... Meanwhile, the second one comes in much closer and shows a great reflection in the fountain of the roundabout. I'm assuming this shot is from the 1930s because of the cars. It also has a scalloped edge, and is from the famous postcard producer Guy.

As for Soufflot? He was the architect who built the Pantheon. Jacques-Germain Soufflot was the Controller of the King's Buildings in the final years of the Ancien Régime; he was also a representative figure in the artistic avant-garde of the Enlightenment. Several great national institutions wer designed by him (like the Louvre...) but the Pantheon is his greatest achievement.

Thursday
Nov242011

I'm Thankful

I've slept in a bit, watched the Rockettes fan-kick across Herald Square, and now I'm about to get down to  the business of Thanksgiving. It's always good to express your gratitude for what comes to you, so that you renew the cycle of gifts; the more we are grateful, the more comes back to us. It's a good theory and I think it works. 

This year, I have a lot of gratitude. Especially for my family and friends who keep me grounded and sane. My group of blogger friends has grown so much this year, and I'm so inspired by everyone I've become acquainted with this year. Your talents and ideas are so motivating - you push me to do more and better every day! I'm also eternally grateful for the many work opportunities that have come my way this past year. Projects have been exciting, invigorating and challenging, and I'm excited for even more to come! All of this is part of a bigger dose of gratitude for being out of the corporate world for almost 3 years, and still being happy and thriving on my own.

I'm thankful for ideas, good reads, Instagram, gluten-free, Turner Classic Movies, iPhones, my red Buddha, magazines, organic, running shoes, fog, panoramas, gyrotonic classes, Muppets, dogs, statement necklaces, brisk breezes, long walks, neighborhoods, dinner parties, creativity, love, and opportunity.

Tuesday
Nov222011

Postcard: Dover, NH 1958

Sent in 1958 from "The Folks" to Mrs. Arnold Jacobsen in Gardner, Mass - no zip code. My favorite part of this postcard is that instead of a location or description, the only cpation given says "Creator's Handiwork".

The end.

Friday
Nov182011

Bon Weekend!

I'm not going to lie, pumpkin pie is one of my most favorite things about this time of year. Truth be told, I'll eat it just about any time of year but now is when it's everywhere, so it's easier to pass off my adoration as just a seasonal indulgence.  It's delish, and anyone who tells you differently is deficient in their knowledge of good things overall. So, as I approach deadline on a few projects this weekend, I'm happy to know I have a slice waiting for me!

Image from Smitten Kitchen.

Wednesday
Nov162011

Postcard: Shichi-Go-San, 1977

"Shichi-Go-San at Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto - On November 15th, HEIAN JINGU shrine is thronged with many children in their best clothes. Girls at the age of three and seven and boys at the age of five celebrate SHICHI-GO-SAN (Seven, Five and Three) praying to a tutelary god for their good health and growth."

Sunday
Nov132011

Meet Lily Pons

Back when I worked for Louis Vuitton, I often heard the story about the famous French opera star, Lily Pons. While the name was unfamiliar to me, apparently Lily Pons was one of the biggest stars in France between the World Wars, singing in operas throughout Europe and the World. Pons was also an excellent Vuitton customer during her heyday, and one of her most famous creations was her custom shoe trunk.

Coming in at just 5 feet tall, Pons had incredibly tiny, slender feet. Therefore, in a trunk that would usually hold 30 pairs of standard-sized shoes, the expert craftsmen at Vuitton were easily able to fit 36 pairs of Lily Pons' shoes.

While the Louis Vuitton book by Paul-Gerard Pasols from 2005 omitted this legend of the Vuitton lexicon, the latest tome, Louis Vuitton: 100 Legendary Trunks, remedies this with a few spreads devoted to Pons and her trunk. I came back to it this week after finally seeing Lily Pons in one of her few Hollywood films that played on Turner Classic Movies this week.

That Girl from Paris was one of only three star vehicles given to Pons in the 1930s, when she was at her peak of talent, beauty, and style. (Pons was frequently interviewed by fashion and ladies' magazines to provide her take on Parisian chic, home decor, clothing, and beauty regimens. In fact, it is said that Pons was so media-savvy that she even served as the celebrity face for a number of consumer products, including Knox Gelatine, Libby tomato juice, and Lockheed Aircraft.) It isn't an amazing film, but it is rather funny. Pons plays an opera star (surprise surprise), who stows away on a ship to New York City in order to get away from her controlling impresario. Even though she's the one in trouble, she's plucky, charming, and even maintains her diva status in order to come out ahead.

Original French poster for "Adieu Paris, Bonjour New York" or That Girl from Paris. From Intemporel-Paris.

The leading man is the handsome Gene Raymond, who plays Windy McLean - the head of a hot jazz quartet which also features the dancing talents of one Clair Williams, played by Lucille Ball. Clair and Windy had a thing until that girl from Paris came along...but I'm sure you saw that coming.

Lucille Ball, Gene Raymond (left) and Lily Pons (far right), flank Jack Oakie, Herman Bing, & Mischa Auer in That Girl from Paris, RKO Pictures, 1936.

At any rate, I was so happy to finally get to see Pons in action. Her vocal talent (Pons was one of the finest coloratura sopranos of her era) was a great mix against the jazz theme, but it did feel a bit like Irene Dunne singing those oddly-placed big arias in Roberta. But I was entertained.

Going back to the history of the shoe trunk, I found the following particularly interesting:

"In her private life she was a delightful person with a reputation for having very sure taste in matters of elegance. Hats, jewels, furs, clothes, accessories, makeup: her whole wardrobe was closely examined in women's magazines as well as movie magazines. Lily Pons was a star on a grand footing. Yet nature had endowed her with some of the tiniest feet in Paris. In 1949 Gaston-Louis Vuitton recalled: "Lily Pons ordered a desk trunk for shoes in 1925..." It has thirty-six drawers, padded and lebeled just like the original model for thirty pairs. There were also two compartments for silk stockings... Each drawer was like a regular shoebox, with trees and silky bags intended to safely carry pumps with straps, mules, plain pumps, flat shoes, or sandals... Every fashion and luxury magazine from Vogue to Harper's Bazaar, from Fémina to Town & Country, feature the shoe trunk as the absolute symbol of Parisian chic and the requisite travel accessory of every Parisian woman."

Pages from Louis Vuitton: 100 Legendary Trunks. The bottom features an advertisement from Vogue in 1923, saying "Even when traveling, Parisian women like to stay chic."

And Lily Pons? Although she continued to tour the world, she became a naturalized American citizen in 1940. She drew over 300,000 fans to Chicago's Grant Park for a performance in 1939, and during World War II she toured with the USO to entertain troops. She continued to guest-star at New York's Metropolitan Opera until 1960. In 1962, she gave her final opera performance in Ft. Worth, Texas in her quintessential role: Lucia from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Her co-star? A 21-year old Pacido Domingo. She continued to sing until 1973, and died in Dallas, Texas in 1976.

Thursday
Nov102011

Prep Work...

...or yet another reason why I'm an art/design geek...

There's a few new exhibits coming to our Fine Arts Museums early next year, and I'm doing my best to prepare myself so at least I'll sound like I know what I'm talking about when the time comes. First, I know everyone is excited about the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit, because really, people just want to see the Madonna costumes. Second, there's the exhibit about the Victorian Aesthetic Movement that should be the intellectual counterpoint to Gaultier's extravagance.

In an effort to ramp up, I'm trying to refresh my brain on all of the art and design I learned so long ago, especailly regarding the Aesthetic Movement. It's a complicated mélée of intellect, painting, design, socialism, free love, and poetry in one. Even Gilbert & Sullivan wrote an operetta about it all, called Patience, or Bunthorne's Bride. Plus, since it covers about 40 years of art history there's no Cliffs Notes...and there shouldn't be.

Wednesday
Nov092011

Postcard: Houses of Parliament

Sent to me when I was studying in Paris in March 1997, this postcard is from my friend Bridget, who was studying in London at the time. Although we had been in school together in San Francisco, Bridget moved back to Australia with her family when we were in 3rd or 4th grade. We always kept in touch (and still do), so both of us were excited that we'd be in Europe at the same time that year. We probably hadn't seen each other in about 6 or 7 years at that point.

Since it was before cell phones were common among college students, and email was sort of a chore (finding an internet cafe, etc), most of us still kept in touch via postcards or letters. This one from Bridgey is full of addresses, phone numbers - different places to try in order to connect and make plans. She even closed her message with "lots of love to you from your long lost friend..."

Of course, while it seems so easy to just "get on a train and go to London" from Paris, it's actually somewhat pricey, and it was hard to connect, even with the new Eurostar & Chunnel. In the end, we finally got together later in June for a few days, during which time I lost my camera, cut off almost all of my hair, and somehow made it back to Paris for my flight back to the states.

Wednesday
Nov092011

What I Wore: Sparkle Plenty

Sequin Pullover: J.Crew
Denim Shirt: Banana Republic
Jeans: Gap Forever Skinny
Shoes: Banana Republic
Necklace: Kate Spade
Bracelets: Louis Vuitton, J.Crew & Banana Republic

It's getting to be that time of year when the sparkles come out to play...I've already got a head start with what's already in my closet (never could pass up a bit of beading), but this little J.Crew pullover is a lot of fun! I decided to go with the khaki colored version because unlike the midnight blue or black (both very covetable), I thought this one would work more for daytime. And it does! It's the perfect dose of glamour for an otherwise boring work day...