Thursday, May 26, 2016

French Women Love Fans

French Women Secret #9
                                                                                              (photo by Richard Avedon)

Last week, I was so thrilled to attend a presentation on the history of decorative hand fans at the Kinderhook Memorial Library.  Fan expert , Dr. Abbey Block Cash showed us a small selection of her many beautiful fans.  She actually has thousands of fans and explained that she's been collecting them for many years--beginning when when she was three years old, and her mother bought her a little twenty-five cent paper fan.  (Mothers, take note--when you give your daughter a gift, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, it can lead to a life-long passion!)



After the talk, all the ladies where invited to browse the library and look at the beautiful fans.  And since they are quite old (beginning in the 1700's) and therefore quite fragile, there was no touching allowed!

This pink fan is from 1910, made from silk gauze with heavy gold threading, and carved amber sticks.  It's Art Nouveau and it's French!  Ooh La La!

I fell in love with this black silk spangled fan from the 1920's.  It's also French, but I think it spoke to be on a deep level because it reminds me of my French grandmother who was a dancer in Vaudeville.  


My grandmere never made it to the Ziegfield Folies, but she certainly had the talent and the beauty!

Don't you agree--she's spectacular?!  

This brings me back to my first thought about mothers and daughters, and grandmothers and granddaughters.  Little gifts--a paper fan or a story about the "olden days" can make quite an impression.  We inspire our children every day--by little things and big things.  I guess I am so very aware of this now that I am a new grandmother, and it's my turn to create memories!

I wonder if you ever think about these things, mes amis.  And if you have a decorative hand fan that you love?  Do you bring it out during the warm weather?  I hope so!  I think we should create a new movement and return to the beauty and elegance of hand fans!  (Oh, and just think--they're also very environmentally savvy!)  No a/c required!

Please tell me about your your hand fans!  I'd love to see photos too!

Merci beaucoup!


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

French Women Adore Fresh Flowers

French Women's Secret #8
French Women Love Beautiful Flowers.
It's true, French Women always make sure they have a vase of pretty flowers on their table.  French Women know that this simple gesture truly brightens up the day!

My French teacher Madame M. filled her outdoor deck with clay pots of pretty flowers--bright red geraniums, luscious pink hibiscus and classic white roses.  During the winter, Madame M. would pick up a bouquet from the local  supermarket.  The colorful flowers arranged in a vase on the table would always make our lessons so cheerful!

I am a big fan of wild flowers, especially Black Eyed Susans and Sweet Peas.  This is because my mother loved them and now that it is almost Mother's Day, I am thinking about her a lot!  

Today I read a beautiful post from the blog Hostess of the Humble Bungalow.  Leslie writes a lot about the flowers in her garden and how these are connected to her life and family and how they can offer solace in times of sadness.

It's so true!  Flowers carry history and memory.

For example, I can't look at a Lilly of the Valley without remembering May 1st, 2015, when I was in Paris for the Ooh La La! Paris Tour and everyone was carrying around a little bouquet to celebrate Le Fete du Muget.  
 What a wonderful time and now, what a lovely memory!  Just yesterday, I  asked my husband to help plant lots of Lily of the Valley around La Belle Farm.  This way, I will have my own Parisian Garden and keep my memories going!

Do certain flowers remind you of a particular person or event?  Do associate one type of flower with your mother or sister or dear friend?  I wonder what flowers bring you back to a time long ago?  I'd love to hear your story, mes amies! 

And Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

French Women develop their unique talents.

French Women's Secret #7:

 
French women believe in life-long learning. 
They might take community classes in dance or photography or watercolors.

Or, a French woman might join a choral group or a gardening club.  
Then again, a French woman might take up the French horn!  

It's never too late to challenge yourself to do something new and unexpected and just a little bit thrilling.

I began concertina lessons a few years ago.  I haven't played a musical instrument since I studied the violin in elementary school.  Everyone was surprised that I was now playing my little concertina and that was half the fun.  It didn't matter that I wasn't very good; it was the delight of doing something a little challenging and very new.

Have you developed a new talent, mes amies?  And has it changed your life in small or big ways?  I'd love to hear about it!

Merci beaucoup!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

French Women Love Beautiful Fabric

French Secret #6
French Women Appreciate Good Fabric.
French Women know that while they may pay more for clothes made from natural fabrics, such as wool and cotton and silk--they also know that their outfits will last longer.  Oh, and they'll drape beautifully.

Do you save up to buy clothes from good material?  What's your favorite?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

French Women Love Color!

French Women Secret #5:

French Women love color.  It's true.  

When you visit Paris, you will find a lot of basic black, but you'll also find lots of French women who play with colors and create ensembles made with signature color themes.  

Or you might find a woman wearing all black, with an unexpected pop of red or blue or green or yellow.  French women know the power of color to make a statement about who they are and who they want to be.


I met this fabulous femme d'un certain age on rue Buci last spring.  I love her bright yellow coat!  She told me it was her favorite color.  It made me think of sunshine on a cloudy day!


My signature color is blue, but I'm also a big fan of red and green. 
Do you have a color that says who you are?  I'd love to hear about it!

Photo by Avedon.

Friday, April 8, 2016

French Women Secret: Mystery

French Women Secret #4:

French Women are mysterious.
French women have a gift for mystery.  This is what makes them eternally intriguing and fascinating.
Here's the wonderful news about mystery--it's available to every women--whether you're from Canada or Cancun, America or Africa.  
Just think about it today, how can you be just a little more mysterious?  It doesn't take much.  It's about the unspoken thought.  The whisper.  The skirt that's flows when you walk down a cobblestone street.  It's all very charming and very simple.

How do you bring a little mystery into your life, mon amie?  I'd love to know!

Photo by Jamie Cat Callan, "Mysterious Woman in Toulouse, France"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

French Women Look to the Past

French Women Secret #3

French Women Look to the Past 
for style inspiration today.
 French women know that inspiration comes from all sorts of places--nature, novels, film and of course, the past.  Be like a French woman, and find old family photos.  Ask yourself, what styles have you inherited from your own family history?  Who inspired you as a young girl?  What images have stayed in your heart for a long, long time.  

Enjoy your own style search!
Oh, and please tell me about your favorite style icon.  Where do you gain inspiration, mes amies?