Simple French Travel Style

Parisian summer twilight, 2006

Everyone, I am so excited! Today I depart for mon voyage des reves to France for two and a half weeks! My trip is taking me to Paris and Provence, as well as Gent (in Belgium), Metz and Lille. I’m impatient to see new and old friends, eat lots of wonderful food, and spend my time walking around and taking in the sights I love and discovering new places that I will return to in the future. This blog will be pretty quiet during that time, though you can expect another Creative Money Maker and a few other posts. When I’m able to find Wi-fi I will updates Twitter and Instagram, and I will try to post some of those shots here as well.

Those of you who travel know that preparation and anticipation is part of the journey. I spent months planning the outfits that I would take to France. I knew I would need layers, because I’m going to be in both the north and south, and the summer weather there either seems to feel like November or a canicule. I also know I will be walking a lot, so I’ve left all my four inch platforms at home. When I travel I favor clothing made out of basic fibers like cotton with solid, neutral colors over anything too fancy. In addition, I never check a bag, so all of my clothes have to be adaptable and easily washable. Here’s a sneak peek at my travel style:

Pour Paris

Paris from the Tour Eiffel, taken in 2006

J Crew tank top, American Apparel skirt, Sam Edelman sandals (this outfit is being optimistic for summer weather in Paris)

Simple, big city style is what I have in mind. Casual and elegant – a look that can go from morning to evening.

Pour Provence

Roussillon, in Vaucluse region of Provence, taken in 2008

Jennifer Glasgow blouse, American Apparel shorts, Saludos espadrilles

Warm tones, bright sun, old stone houses and the mistral were in mind when I picked out this outfit.

Pour la plage et la piscine

Pool at the Provence vacation rental, 2008

Esther Williams swimwear bathing suits, Nine West sandals

Flattering, retro-styled swimwear to while away the sunny days in style.

Pour l’avion

Departing Keflavik

I’ll be flying Iceland Air and get to pass through a place I want to return!

Mavi slim jeans, J crew shirt, Converse sneakers, and a generic linen scarf

I always freeze on the airplane. I always wonder about those who are able to wear flip-flops while flying – every appendage of mine feels like an ice cub when in the air, so I have to layer up. In addition, this time I have to change planes in Reykjavik, so I know I’ll need to be able to walk quickly, as well as wear an outfit comfortable enough to try to nap.

Pour partout

Rooftops

Photo taken with the Digital Harinezumi

Nola bag by Les Composantes, Moleskine notebook, Muji pen, Plan de Paris par arrondisement, Matt & Nat wallet, Jimmy Fairly sunglasses, Origins “Silkscreen” pressed powder, Benefit “Nice Melons” eye shadow, Dior mascara, Staniac lip stain, digital Harinezumi camera by Power Shovel, Weleda lip blam and my favorite necklace. Not shown: my Canon DSLR, an essential!

I’m bringing very few extras. I only packed two books in English because my favorite activity in France is buying the newspaper, magazines and novels. aI like to keep my makeup and accessories even more minimal than usual when I travel. I’m not packing nail polish or lipstick because I hope to acquire some of the French Essie nail polish while I’m there as well as Bourjois lip and eye makeup. Nothing fancy, just basic French things that I love.

What do you pack when you travel?

Punk Rope Games Recap

Team Henri the Depressed French Cat: Peter, Me, Marisha and Brian

For the first time since I was sixteen and used to compete in horse shows, I got up early on a Sunday morning for a sporting event. The event was the fourth annual Punk Rope Games, where teams of punk ropers competed in events like the chicken toss relay, as well as more “traditional” jump rope events, in addition to performing a fight song to show off their skills.

Gang of Genghis Khan conquer the doubles jump

I love punk rope because it combines fitness drills with serious fun, absurdity, music and team spirit. Tim and Shana, who run Punk Rope, are the most giving and energetic people who make the idea of fitness accessible to those who whose first impulse is not to be active.

The “Asian Contagion” team show off their infectious skills during their fight song. Jeremy (in the front) just got a bronze metal in a national jump rope competition!

My bandmate Marisha signed me up to participate in the games and after some brainstorming we opted for the surreal and based our look and name our favorite internet video of the moment of Henri, the depressed French cat.

This being our first games, and the fact we hardly practiced at all, meant that we manged to not score any points. I do think we nailed our 75 second “fight song” routine, which we did to that enduring 90s classic “Jump Around” by House of Pain. The downside of this is that song is now stuck in my head. And the lyrics are way worse than I remember.

Cat moves during our team “fight song” performance

Floor punch!

Concentration during the chicken toss relay

We also managed to heckle and cheer the other teams in bizarre, not quite French accents using odd expressions that proclaimed the superiority of the French culture and lifestyle (you all know I love France and I love to laugh at it too as much as I like to laugh at my own country).

Team Henri the Depressed French Cat

The teams performances and costumes made the event like a mash up between gym class and CHERYL, my favorite arty, off the hook dance party.

“Plague” from team Asian Contagion. She made her rat wig herself!

The eventual champions, Phat Positive, also put together a video to show off their skills even before the games. They have raised the bar for next year, and next year, my teammates and I will be ready.

Phat Positive performing their “fight song”

Phat Positive: 2012 Punk Rope games victors

However, my favorite part of the games was the after party, where we got to revel in the camaraderie that is Punk Rope. Of course, I had to change my clothes and put together  a relaxed, sporty outfit for the occasion.

Punk Rope Games after party outfit. T-shirt and skirt by American Apparel, ASOS “Deny” wedge sneakers. Thanks to Marisha for the photo!

What gets you up early on a Sunday morning?

The final scores. We scored a crying cat!

Thank you to Felicity Hogan for the great shots of Team Henri in action!

My Charming Darling Winter Ellips

Ellips day

I can be a rather impulsive fashion buyer. Actually, instead of impulsive, let’s say efficient. When I see something that speaks to me that I know I can integrate into my wardrobe and if the price is okay (even if it’s a little too high, but the object is worth it) I try it on and if it works, boom! Mine!

Cables!

My new Ellips boots with a thrifted skirt, American Apparel tights (layered over black Calvin Klein tights), a blouse from Uniqlo with a new cable knit sweater made by my Mom!

However, their are some wardrobe additions that I stalk for months, waiting patiently until end of season sales so that they are within my price range. This was the case with the boots in this year’s fall/winter collection from the fabulous, French shoe designer Priscille Demanche and her label Ellips. The first morning of her winter sale I pounced on the pair I had been eying all fall. Low and behold, they were already sold out in my size! Someone had bought the last pair of my first choice at 12:01 am the day of the sale. Well. That kind of persistence deserves the shoes.

Fortunately, I had a second choice, which was really more like a tie, all picked out. Voila, here they are, my darling bottines bleuette. Like my other two pairs of Ellips shoes (lovely red and grey low heels and some strappy, color blocked sandals) they are incredibly comfortable and I can wear them all day, trotting all around the city with a flash of unique color and style. What I love about these lace up ankle boots is they go with practically everything – slim jeans, skirts, dresses, you name it.

Debut de bottines Ellips! Cc @mhcestmoi

What I love about Ellips is that they are beautifully handmade in Spain from all natural leather and are clever takes on classics. As such they will always look fashion forward and will never go out of style. Definitely a piece that is worth the wait. And investment.

Hi hi bottines Ellips! Today is a great day!

As a note for US readers: If you are unable to order from the Ellips site using the shopping cart function (it may be set up only to ship to France) just email Priscille – she will arrange for payment via PayPal and get your order to you right away!

Texas is the Reason

I love Houston!

Texas has its own mythology. Its own place in the American imagination. Depending on who you ask Texas is the reason for the United State’s current political mess, or the greatest place in the US, or somewhere in between. It is a universe unto itself, a huge and diverse place, full of long drives and very pretty countryside. I was lucky enough to spend a few days there in mid-September and take in some of the cities and sites. And of course, the Tex-Mex food.

The Orange Show

The Orange Show, Houston, TX

When I first got to Houston I felt overwhelmed by the highways, humidity and strangely quiet downtown. I hid in a Starbucks and tapped away on my computer. Thankfully, the next day some native Houstonians helped me get hip to the more alternative and arty side of Houston. One of the huge highlights is the Orange Show, a folk art environment created by a postal worker named Jeff McKissack that was began in 1956 and completed in 1979. I loved the Orange Show’s immersive space and the passionate group of people behind the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art that are working to preserve it and other “folk” or “self-taught” art environments and traditions in Houston.

Ladies Only

Ladies only in this part of the Orange Show

Purity

Purity of the orange is celebrated at the Orange Show

I also soaked up some more “traditional” art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston where I soaked up a room sized mural of mountains and flowers that looked like a traditional Chinese ink painting, but was made out of gunpowder by Cai Guo Qiang. I also discovered the self-portrait by Suzanne Valadon and spent several minutes in front of it contemplating her sheer determination to paint and make a life for herself as a woman artist.  In their gift shop I picked up two Frenchie books – My Little Paris (en anglais because I am a cheater) and Ines de la Fressange’s guide to Parisian style.  I visited the Menil Collection, including their hotly contested Bzyantine fresco chapel which is being returned to Cyprus next year, and some smaller art spaces like the awesome Spacetaker artists resource center and gallery.

I love this self-portrait of Suzanne Valadon

I love the sheer determination shown in this self-portrait by Suzanne Valadon at the MFA Houston

A little bit of Paris (France) in Texas!

In the MFA Houston gift shop I found a treasure trove of books about Paris!

Artist commissioned cross walk

The sidewalks outside of the MFA Houston are painted in collaboration with a local artist

I also fortunately got away from the corporate style restaurants downtown and found one of my favorite things about Texas: spacious coffee shops with nice breakfast menus and outdoor seating. These places are so inviting, like you just want to hang out all day eating and sipping fair trade coffee. I enjoyed both Brasil and Empire Cafe (which are quite close to one another and the Menil Collection) as well as the super El Real, which has great Tex-Mex and is in an old movie theater!

El Real Neon

Neon at El Real!

Old Western at El Real

Westerns at El Real

After Houston I took a quick, few hour stop in San Antonio, and then rolled on to Austin. After some frenetic days of work on the road I took a little bit of time to unwind with my friend Jennifer. We took a drive about an hour outside of Austin to Krause Springs. Located in the rolling hill country it almost feels like a folk art environment as well, with rock pools, wind chimes and a spring fed lagoon. While Krause Springs felt like an oasis, Texas is going through one of its worst droughts on record and we drove through the remnants of a fire on the way there, charred trees with ashy leaves making the landscape look otherworldly.

Enjoying the spring fed pool

Krause Springs, in Spicewood, Texas

I couldn’t skip eating Tex-Mex in Austin either, of course, and Austin is home to even more fantastic cafes with outdoor seating and of course, coffee shops that serve the delicious (and huge!) breakfast tacos.

IMG_4866

Tex-Mex, Austin style!

But of course, after all that Tex-Mex I took a little break and Jennifer, her friend Jennifer and I had a lovely girlie dinner at a perfectly French brasserie called Justine’s with lovely food and delicious cocktails (also check out the “amazing” section of their website).

Justine's Brasserie

Cheers!

Toast to Texas friends at Justine's

The Saturday Night Crowd at Justine's

The Saturday night scene at Justine's

Austin photo shoot

Photo shoot outside of Arthouse TX

I also managed a visit to the Austin Film Society, Arthouse Texas and Domy Books, where we saw a wonderful opening, I connected with an old zinester friend, and purchased a book called I ♥ Macarons. Indeed, it seems like I found a lot of France and a lot of art and a few friends in Texas, even though I didn’t visit Paris (Texas).

Detail of the Art Show at Domy Books

Detail of an exhibition at Domy Books, Austin

Video for Corita’s Song “Remember That You Will Die”

When I asked my dear friend Leila Bourgougnoux if she would be interested in making a video for my band Corita I didn’t honestly believe she would say yes. Making a video is a lot of work, after all, and it’s not like Corita can pay our artist friends the big bucks. But she did say yes and I sent her a bunch of songs to choose from. She chose our shoegazy take on metal and Buddhist philosophy “Remember That You Will Die” and, after getting kicked out of filming in a Parisian laundromat, shot this beautiful Super 8 footage in the south of France. When the other members of Corita and I saw the results we were absolutely thrilled by how perfectly she interpreted our song. I hope you will be too.

The Rubin Museum of Art also wrote about the video and their song on their Education blog. It was my work on the Rubin exhibition of the same name that inspired the song, so this is a nice full circle!

Summertime Coup d’Coeur (et craquage pour les soldes)

I know what you might be thinking: when did this blog start to be so much about trees, art, and philosophy? Where’s the fashion, where’s New York City? Maybe you are not actually thinking that because you also know that being a blogger who touches on fashion is a fairly new penchant for me. So here is a little entry to satiate your (er, my?) fashion cravings before I head back to the woods of Maine and New Hampshire and the mountains and plains of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. At least blog wise, that is. I’m firmly rooted in Brooklyn for another month, thankfully, as I love the soft sadness and changing weather of late summer in the city.

Top: J Crew, Skirt: American Apparel, Shoes: Ellips

This summer I resisted participating that oh-so-French twice yearly tradition: les soldes. That’s when all the clothes from last season go on sale and you can watch that beautiful object that you’ve had your eye on get deliciously marked down until you can almost afford it. This was the case with Ellips, the chausseurs de createur from which I got a beautiful grey, black and red pair of heels from in the winter. How I wanted their multicolored summer sandals! How I could not afford them! Finally les soldes rolled around. I took a deep breath and grabbed my credit card. But no! The pair I really wanted, the lovely Alice, was out of stock in my size, which is one danger of waiting until the sales.

I hemmed and hawed and finally decided on a second choice, which was the sassy Anais, who I like to imagine was named for one of my favorite writers, Anais Nin. Something I love about ordering from Ellips is emailing Priscille, la creatrice herself, en francais (though I am sure she speaks English perfectly) to place my order. She is so nice and helpful and her shoes are beautiful, comfortable and high quality, in addition to being handmade in Spain with all natural leather. I could hardly contain my excitement when they arrived. I gave them a special bike transport home and then took them to work the next day (in my bag, no biking or riding on the subway in these beauties!). Apparently, they were the star of our weekly meeting. I already have my eye on a pair of boots (or two) from the new collection. The Bonnie or the Bluette? Either way, I better start saving!

Special shoe transport

Jouez vous au tennis? Non, pas de tout.

I hate to say it, but I’ve never liked tennis. My mother and grandmother are ardent tennis fans and tried to teach me how to play it when I was little. I got mad because I couldn’t just hit the ball as hard as I wanted. At that point I was too young to understand that many sports are about controlled strength. Sensing my disinterest in the sport my mother tried to appeal to logic. “It’s a good skill to have,” she explained weakly. I think what she meant was that it was a good way to network with the wives of rich business people you or your husband may be trying to impress. This made me even less interested and brought out my disgust of WASP culture in general. Even as a small child I knew I wanted nothing to do with the dominant, upper-middle class New England elite. Not for me. So needless to say, I have not picked up a racket since the age of 9. However, this year I got sucked in to the excitement and drama of the French Open, or le tournoi de Roland Garros pour les francais. Will I watch Wimbledon and the US Open? Maybe, but what also got me interested was all of les filles whose blogs I love and their Roland Garros inspired style. Stephanie, of the Byglam blog, put together some really nice ensembles inspired by the tournament, and like I have done before, I bit her style a little bit in coming up with this summery, sporty get up. Also, just in case, I found this list of tennis terms in French to study for next year.

Ready for the courts

Keep your eye on the ball

Shirt: Built by Wendy, Skirt found at Housing Works, Bensimon sneakers, Nola Springtime bag by Les Composantes
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