Ah, tourist season brings out the snarly in Vivienne's personality. She and I agree that the sheer tee shirt, when worn in multiples, can be a cute way to layer up colors and give a little pizzazz to otherwise pedestrian tee shirt looks. But those very thin, lightweight shirts are NOT meant to be worn alone, nor are they meant to be skin tight. Unless you're VERY fit, this kind of look gives away much more information than is necessary or desirable. If I wanted to see the contours of your navel, I'd go hunt you down on the beach. On the street, please keep the hills and valleys of your torso better concealed. And if I can see your tattoo(s) through the shirt.... words fail me. ... View the Post
The Vivienne Files - Page 181 of 183 - Capsule wardrobes inspired by art and nature
It is impossible to walk through Paris and not see the (approximately 200) dark green book "boxes" along the Seine. In addition to selling the usual posters, postcards and refrigerator magnets, one can find amazing old books and magazines. Unfortunately, unless you can read French, there's not necessarily a lot which might be of interest.
Except... I've started buying magazines which were released the month that I was born. They're a fascinating little snapshot of history, and it gives me a good reason to support a Parisian cultural institution. They're easy to carry back in my suitcase, and they only cost, on average, around 10 Euros.
In the next few days, I'll post some more information about my most ... View the Post
Paris is large, and has streets which (1) are only a block long, (2) change names repeated over the length of the street, and (3) have very similar names and are easily confused. Thus, it's not at all uncommon to see someone in Paris dig one of these nifty little books out of the bottom of a handbag or briefcase. There's simply no way for even a native Parisian to know where every street in the city is!
Just five inches tall, less than an inch thick, and covered in waterproof plastic, the PPA (say pay pay aaaah) includes every street within the Periphique (the ring road) around Paris, as well as maps of the subway and the suburban train system, and nifty listings of parks, hospitals and other items of interest. They can be ... View the Post
One of my very favorite bloggers, the beautiful Caramel Cupcake (http://cupcakecaramel.blogspot.com/) has been analyzing her style books, and it prompted me to pull some of mine off of the shelf and look them over again. And first would HAVE to be Working Wardrobe, which came out the same year I graduated from college. (yes, that would be 30 years ago...)
For someone coming out of college with a wardrobe utterly unsuited to the business world, and a job in government waiting for me, the idea of building one of these capsule wardrobes was intoxicating. I still find these illustrations by Christine Turner to be sort of rivetingly elegant.
Forgive the blurry edges of the scans - I was unwilling to squash the book flat in ... View the Post
There are indeed at least 10 Starbucks in Paris now, according to Google Maps. And I can bear witness that they are busy and popular. One opened recent about a block from the hotel where Vivienne works, and it's raised a whole new series of grievances among the hotel staff.
(1) For the first time that anybody can remember, beverages being spilled in the lobby of the hotel are a daily occurrence. Spilling large cold beverages onto the check-in desk has turned out to be a particularly spectacular headache, damaging paperwork and imperiling computers and other electronics. But don't discount the drama inherent in tossing most of a quart of coffee (skim, with hazelnut syrup, please) across a large expanse of ... View the Post
the following is a direct quote from the original Je Ne Sais Quoi discussion group postings I made regarding my friend Vivienne:
Someone asked me what Vivienne thinks of my wardrobe - to put it mildly she thinks I'm crazy! Admittedly, she has never actually been in my apartment and seen the beautiful arrangement (by color) of my bounty, and I HAVE seen her apartment (but not her closet) but she assures me that she has about 4 linear feet of hanging space. (Well okay, slightly more than a meter) But she thinks that I'm a genius packer - the last 2 trips I've made to Paris on business, she has come over to my hotel with me and hung out while I unpacked, pressed and otherwise got my act together. She ... View the Post
If you've got a yen to purchase a unique piece of jewelry, it could be worth your while to go to Santa Fe. I've never been to any city except Paris where there were more one of a kind items available. And Santa Fe is not limited to just sterling and turquoise - craftspersons there work with all metals and stones.
My personal coup de coeur was the above - a heat-treated stainless steel band (pitch black with an indescribable luster), and a pearl. The most interesting thing about this jewelry is that it's interchangeable; the pin that holds the pearl in place is spring-loaded (think toilet paper holder) and can be removed and a different stone put in place of the pearl. I also have a mother of pearl and onyx yin and ... View the Post
Way back in the early years of image consulting, circa 1981 or so, I had my colors "done". I was working in a large department store as a department manager, and it was felt that management staff should all be exposed to the services of our personal shopper and consultant group, in order to help their business. To nobody's surprise (except maybe my mother), I am a Winter:
This was reassuring, as I was already building a wardrobe of gray suits, white blouses, and brightly colored scarf accents. (does anybody else remember Dress for Success?) One of the coolest lingering pieces of advice, which I'm going to discuss at more length some day, was the advice to buy tee shirts, sweaters etc. in colors matching your ... View the Post
Every time I go to Paris, I force whomever is traveling with me to go to Musee de L'Orangerie, near the Louvre. This is the home of the oval rooms which house the Monet water lily series, but also where I get to visit some of my favorite paintings, those of Marie Laurencin.
I could give you a biography of Laurencin, but you can Google all those things. Suffice to say that she was divorced long before it was acceptable to do so, the lover of the poet Guillaume Appolinaire, and a friend to just about every cool and influential artist and performer in Paris from World War I through World War II. So in additional to being talented and innovative, she lived the life of a pioneer of art and feminism.
I'm in love with the world ... View the Post
One of the things I love about the internet is the serendipitous nature of finding interesting new ideas and information. Recently, I stumbled across the blog http://the-burning-house.com/.
The premise of Burning House is to photograph what you would grab to save from your home if it were on fire. Now a big disclaimer here - I don't for a New York minute believe that the things photographed are what most respondents would REALLY grab in a pitched emergency. But taken in a larger sense, I look at the choices the participants have made as more a "what would you grab if you had 10 or 20 minutes, and a carry-on bag?" i.e. what do you own that means the most to you? The responses are fascinating, and really beautifully ... View the Post
This scarf knot has been receiving a lot of attention in the blog world recently; I saw a NINE step instruction diagram/hieroglyphic on how to tie it! Rest assured, it's not at all complicated - it's really just a clove-hitch knot, which any self-respecting boy scout could tie blindfolded. So in the interest of beautifying the scarf world, I'm going to tell you how to tie this knot, in five steps, in less than one minute, without a mirror.
1. Arrange the scarf with the two ends hanging down in the front - the left side reaching to about your waist, and the right end (now fondly called the long end) to your right.
2. Cross the long end under the short end across your chest. You are now finished with ... View the Post
Tourist season in Paris is in full swing, and Vivienne is seeing some truly unattractive looks walking into the lobby of her hotel. Top of her list of vetoes for today is any garment with writing across the... backside.
As she points out, if you have a really unattractive tush, the LAST thing you want to do is call attention to that fact. And if you have earned (or been blessed with) buns of steel, the LAST thing you want to do is detract from your... assets.
On a related rant, Vivienne questions if anybody in the English-speaking world knows what couture means. And she's right - the word couture used to describe a ready-to-wear brand is an oxymoron, as well as an insult to the craftsmanship and artistry ... View the Post