I spy with my little eye... second hand books on the Seine.

Along the bank of the Seine and around Saint Germain des Prés, you will find loads of second hand books seller. Depending on their speciality you will find older or newer items. M. and I kind of lost track of time there, looking for 1900's, 1920's, 1950's prints. 
I came back home with 1920's fashion ads that I already cherish. I am always surprised to notice that Europe is still overflown with vintage originals.

M. checking out prints.

Second hand books along the Seine...

The Segur Comtesse stories, one of my favourites children books.

Hello 1920's fashion ads!

I spy with my little eye... Women of the Middle East.

I met Heather Finnecy through a photographer friend in Dubai on a sunny lazy day. She is an American photographer herself who decided to explore the Middle East on her own (well, with her camera), and more specifically the women of the Middle East. Heather is a modern lady who reads the news and travels but she realised it was tricky to actually understand the concept of being a woman in the Middle East because of the variety of backgrounds, cultures and the fact that even if their voices are louder and louder everyday, it's not easy to get the full picture. One day she packed her bag and flew to Kuwait, than Jordan, the UAE, and Lebanon. She is fun, easy going, adventurous and more than anything else: curious. She met Kuwaitis, Jordanians, Lebanese, Americans, Filipinos, Indians... who opened their doors to her just like I did (please, excuse the tired face). Hope you will enjoy the words and pictures.
And take a little time to visit Heather's site From What I Can See it's a beautiful project that deserves to be known (and here's the link to her article on me).

I spy with my little eye... a wander through the streets of Saint Germain des Prés.

Saint Germain des Prés, the 6th arrondissement, known for it's jazz and arty history. This is where you will find the highest concentration of art galleries in Paris, it's so easy to lose a whole afternoon walking around the narrow and tiny streets, stopping by the Palette or the 2 Magots cafes for a glass of wine. 
M. and I decided to stop by a thriftshop and enjoy the famous Cafe de Flore terrasse with a glass of bubbly, which, inevitably ended up in a conversation with the gentlemen seating at the tables next to us. Gotta love Paris's spontaneity!

"So what are you drinking ladies?"

A little bit of literature through the Cafe de Flore history.

Pretty Saint Germain des Prés.

"Here we speak french."

"You're not in your room here... You need to tidy up!"

I spy with my little eye... West Side Story and Bubbles.

When I announce bubbles, usually it means champagne is involved, not this time. This time it's the streets of Paris that were literally bubbling, how poetic! I love it when incidents of the everyday life turn out beautiful. Paris was good to me on that special day, since I came across a vintage cinema showing West Side Story, didn't even know it still existed.
Walking is one of the things I miss the most in Dubai. I'm a good walker, I love wandering, exploring and discovering so as soon as I land in Europe, I put on my "blue suede shoes" and disappear for hours.

Welcome back to the 1950's!

Bubbly streets, literally!

Pretty door!

I spy with my little eye... the roofs of Paris.

One of my favourite views of Paris: on top of our building, on the maids room floor where I lived for 6 years, sweet memories.

I spy with my little eye... champagne and truffle cheese in Paris.

I landed in Paris after 2 flights and a 3h night, a little bit overwhelmed and proudly showing off my tired face. As my favourite poem by Jacques Prevert puts it: "I am as I am. I was made like that. What do you want from me.". So "just me" landed in Paris with a joyful soul and an exhausted visage, happy to catch up with my family. Little did I know that they were not the ones waiting for me, instead I found 4 of my closest friends with a huge Happy Birthday sign! I cannot start to explain the surprise. Not only did I not expect them but on top of that they didn't know each other that well so I can easily imagine the effort behind that lovely welcoming. A big thank you to all of them for the time, effort and love! 
We all came back home to drink a few bottle of champagne, eat truffle cheese and catch up!

LOVE these guys.

D., G. and L., trying to challenge my happy face.

Truffle cheese and champagne... my sister and mother know me very well!

T. and M., observing carefully the pastries my mother brought back from Algiers. She does that a lot: flying food from one part of the world to an other. We've always had a very intercultural plate.

Lil' sis', aka Thumper.

French pastries... Now I am officially in Paris!

Watching the birthday video they were all involved in. I can't say it enough: Merci!!!

I spy with my little eye... an 80's birthday in Dubai.

As Kylie Minogue put it in 1988: I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky... lucky indeed, that all friends gathered in my little flat to celebrate my double digit birthday. They brought their dancing moves and 80's outfits, inspired by songs and movies to spin like a record. I was very touched to see how many of them showed up. 
And I learnt 2 things on that evening: 
1- ageing with great people by your side is FUN!
2- I will probably hate the day I get married. There I said it, I'm the lady who won't like her wedding day. And this is the reason why: I was frustrated not to have time to sit and catch up properly with everyone on them (which explains why some of the pictures here are c/o L.), which, I have a feeling, is exactly what happens the day you get hitched.
I got spoiled with gifts and attention and surprised by an amazing video of friends worldwide sending me their birthday wishes, thank you so much for the time and love!

Sis' and lil' bro.

 The very first bottle of champagne I opened nearly exploded (update: my ceiling survived without a scratch. Lucky girl)

L. and A., I am so very proud of having friends who will always get 100% involved. Love you ladies.

Beautiful and wise D.!

There is nothing more special than a home made cake. Thank you M. for spending 2 days in your kitchen, I fed on cake and cupcakes only the day after, I promise!

Madonna aka L. opening a bottle of champagne!

M. channeling Elton John, he is the Italian Mama I never had!

I spy with my little eye... well... Paris!

By the time you read this post I will be on a flight, on my way to Paris!

I spy with my little eye... a coffee with the lively Sian Rowland.

I met Sian right after I landed in Dubai. She is bubbly, fun, and full of energy and ideas. She is also a fashion and environment friendly lady who created with her two sisters a series of thriftshopping events called My Ex Wardrobe. The concept is simple: if you have this rather common condition called shopping, you might need to unload from time to time, and in order to sustain this addiction, you might as well sell the pieces you are not wearing anymore. Basically the Rowland sisters brought second hand events to Dubai, and the vintage lady in me obviously loved the idea! I loved MEW and I loved the lady behind it and her fabulous style. She's been in Dubai for years and knows all the good places, she's my little white rabbit: I keep on hoping to see her and she keeps running up and down Dubai, trying not to be late and making me smile!
More on My Ex Wardrobe here.

HOB: If you could live in a painting, which one would it be? 
S.R.: Most probably Dusk by Alphonse Mucha, you can almost feel the movement in all his work, each and every piece tells so much of a story to me.  His work is so beautiful, all the women are so sensual and this one in particular.  It helps that Dusk is my favorite part of the day! My Gran used to send me birthday cards of his artwork, and she said I reminded her of the subjects, so they hold a special place in my heart.

HOB: If you could live in a different era, which one would you pick and why?  
S.R.: I'm torn between different periods; on one hand I am drawn to the artist movement of the Art Nouveau period (which Mucha was very much part of), everything was so beautiful and decorative, and it was during this time that the Belle Époque was happening in France, during which the Moulin Rouge became famous.  I would have been right at home then... Alternatively if I woke up one day and I was stuck in the 1940's, I would happily make friends with Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall!

HOB: What piece of clothing reminds you of your mother/father? 
S.R.: My Dad used to be in the RAF and I love his old squadron jumpers, my sister has managed to nab a couple of them, but they always make me think of him wearing them with his awesome handlebar mustache!  I also have great memories of my Mum dressed up to go out in some pretty awesome 80s dresses! There's a picture of me at about 4 years old in one of her dresses; a puffed-sleeved, green metallic ruched number and some heels next to her in an equally shimmering cocktail dresses.  It's one of my favorite pictures, clear evidence that've loved dressing up from a young age!

HOB: What scent takes you right back to your childhood? 
S.R.: Cut grass! Before we moved to Dubai when I was 8, we lived in a lovely countryside village in the county of Lincolnshire in England.  I remember long summer bike rides to the next village to get bagfuls of penny-sweets, in the nearby woods building tree houses and dens, and loads of time spent playing outside in the back garden.  We were really lucky because we had a big garden overlooking lots of fields and myself and my sisters spent a lot of time there. Now when I smell cut grass, it takes me right back there, being in the fresh outdoors.

HOB: When do you feel on holidays? 
S.R.: When I get on the plane!! I love holidays (I don't actually know anyone who doesn't) but often find myself in a bit of a whirlwind on the lead up to them, dashing around, packing in the middle of the night and of course I always forget something.  But when I finally settle down into my seat and pull my book out, I know it doesn't really matter because from that moment, I'M On Holiday!!.  It's all an adventure from there!

HOB: What designer would you take with you on a camel ride? 
S.R.: I've only ever been on a camel ride once and can't say I'd recommend it. In fact, I wouldn't invite someone I admired to join me on one, let alone if I wanted to make a good impression on them! However, switch 'camel' for 'boat' (or 'motorbike', or 'ski-lift'), and I'd say Elie Saab. I am besotted with his creations, simply put he is above and beyond my favorite designer.

HOB: Your favourite recipe to make? 
S.R.: I'm not widely known for my culinary skills, but when I do bust out my cooking-moves I have a few recipes that are well received. Stuffed chicken breast, creamy leeks, vegetarian lasagne (this is a recent addition to my repetoir), pumpkin risotto. I'm not very good at desserts despite them being my favourite course, but I like to think I can hold my own in the mains division.  I do make a lot of soups from scratch as well; including making fresh stock, and I often experiment with different recipes.

HOB: Best piece of advice you were ever given? 
S.R.: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  My Mum used to say this to my sisters and me whenever we started bickering, and it's something that's really stuck with me.  There's a lot of negativity in the world, and if everyone can cut down on their bitchiness surely it's a start to being a better place!

HOB: What book changed your life? 
S.R.: I'm an avid reader, and have read hundreds of books in my life, so I don't think I can pinpoint a particular book, although years ago when I first read Richard Branson's "Loosing My Virginity", that certainly lite a spark inside.  I love biographies, especially of strong adventurous men, and have recently read Ranulph Fiennes's "Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know", which I just couldn't put down. It made me want to sling on my winter coat and head to the Arctic Circle! On the flip side I can't help getting stuck into a quirky novels like Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" and "Neverwhere", and cult classic "Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy".

HOB: The movie you've watched already 30 times but might watch again tonight? 
S.R.: I love movies, so its tough for me to choose just the one, but I think it has to be "Moulin Rouge". I'm not a big Nicole Kidman fan (in fact she annoys me a little) but I love Baz Lurhmann movies and this one in particular. I love the energy in all Baz's movies (except Australia, that was sh*t!), and he really does focus on the beauty of the piece he's creating.

HOB: Three favourite spots in Dubai? 
S.R.: Difficult to pick just 3 actually, as I'd love to reel off all the places here that make me happy... 
1- Dubai Offshore Sailing Club - I have been a member there since I first arrived in Dubai 23 years ago and spend a lot of time there on the weekend (especially during the winter when the weather is glorious).  
2- Spa Cordon in DIFC - it's an amazing independent day-spa that genuinely feels like your in Thailand, an incredible relaxation spot.  
3- The Agency in Madinat - I have a fairly substantial soft spot for wine (although know nowhere near enough about it!) and they combine a decent selection of bottles, a cracking fondue and a non-pretentious atmosphere!  

I spy with my little eye... the Oberoi-Dubai bound.

If you remember, a few weeks ago A. and I met the Oberoi-Dubai team through their three restaurants. We loved it so much A. decided to host her birthday at Umai their Asian restaurant. We started with drinks in the cigar lounge. Nick, the mixologist is bubbly and sweet, and knows a good martini. The problem with a good mixologist is that he will have a tendency to attract and retain attention, therefore getting our happy party to move to the restaurant appeared to be more difficult than expected, well done Nick! 
Umai was as fine and subtle as the first time we tried it, with a made-to-measure menu for A. Amazing food, great company and well... when you finish the evening singing the soundtrack of Les Miserables in a 5 stars hotel, you know they succeeded their mission to make you feel at home.  So a big thank you to the whole team for helping us make new memories.

More about the Oberoi-Dubai here.

I spy with my little eye... bouncing sushis and cheating Pictionary.

Ramadan has started and the whole city has calmed down. It's the perfect season for board games evenings! So we gathered, and picked three games: Mad Gab, an exotic Japanese bouncing sushi game and Pictionary. Now I can tell you we had a hilarious time, that's why: Mad Gab was made trickier by the variety of accents, we played the Japanese game completely wrong and ended up with sushis jumping all over the room and everybody was cheating at Pictionary! We had one of these remarkable Dubai family evenings, and I am unable to tell you who won!

"Eye pillow fizz sigh... Eye pillow fizz sigh... Apple of his eye!"

"Dew wino hue? ... Do I know you!"

The now famous bouncing sushis.

"A. what category is blue again?"

Pictionary cheating...

I spy with my little eye... early victory rolls and red lipstick.

Here is a sneak peak of my photoshoot with Mahryshka a few days ago.
The watchword of this morning: "Don't frown Flo, don't frown!" - Well let me tell you that even at 6am, Dubai sun is pretty strong. Mariyah, thank you for your patience!

I spy with my little eye... soldiers and firemen on Bastille Day.

Today is Bastille day! Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite kiddos! I'm always amazed when I hear foreign people singing along the first words of the Marseillaise: "Allons enfants de la patrie". My guess is that they have no idea what comes next, so I thought I would translate the first verse for you. But before I do so, I want to make two things straight: 
1- this is the most violent anthem I've ever heard, it's dated from the French revolution, 18th century, 
2- despite it's violence, it's my national anthem and I love it.
So here it goes:
"Let's go children of the nation, the day of glory has arrived! Against us stands tyranny, the bloody standard is raised! Do you hear in our fields, the baying of these ferocious soldiers? They come into our arms, to slit the throats of our sons, our wives! To arms, Citizens! Form your battalions! Let's march, let's march! So that the impure blood should water the furrows of our fields!". Yes, that's what we teach our children. As romantic as Paris sounds to the world, you don't mess with us!
And so after the military march and anthem, we usually take over every fire station in Paris and dance till dawn with pilots, sailors and soldiers from all army corps! That's how we do national day: violent anthem and dancing, see, some things don't change!

I spy with my little eye... an interview with vintage Lynda Kirby.

I met Lynda at one of her monthly vintage teas. I had no idea when I pushed the front door of that Jumeirah villa I would meet a kindred spirit (remember this post?). Through her Audrey's Cat space, she took me right back to the 1920's: vintage outfit, a table full of China, home made victoria sponge cakes and scones, and a salon showcasing the best vintage collection I found in Dubai so far. Lynda has been traveling and collecting items from the 1920's to the 1950's all over the world for 15 years and has just decided to start selling some of it. The pieces are amazing, in great condition, the prices are right and Lynda can tell the story of each item. Obviously, I had to interview her!
Have a look at her Facebook page here.

HOB - If you could live in a painting, which one would it be? 

L.K.: I suppose a Monet , as I love flowers and it would be so peaceful to sit, relax and watch the water, smell the fresh air and dream.

HOB- If you could live in a different era, which one would you pick and why?   
L.K.: I would choose the 1950's because the men and ladies always dressed up for every occasion.  Hats were seen as an everyday fashion accessory.  Dresses were very feline and stylish and it was the pinnacle of the curvy Hollywood starlets.  Bling was in and Elvis was alive. 

HOB- What piece of clothing reminds you of your mother/father? 
L.K.: My mother was a fashionista of the 1960's. I loved her lime green hot pants. 

HOB- What scent takes you right back to your childhood?  
L.K.: Lavender and violets were my grandmothers favourites.  I remember the long hot summers staying with her, baking, knitting, crochet, and lots of time spent in their beautiful garden.  Her house was always adorned with sweet peas fresh from the garden.

HOB- When do you feel on holidays? 
L.K.: When I am shopping on my trips abroad.  I know I can relax then. 

HOB- What designer would you take with you on a camel ride?  
L.K.: I would not get on a camel again . I fell off whilst racing on one when I was 20 in Tunisia.

HOB- Your favourite recipe to make? 
L.K.: My grandma's secret fruit cake. 

HOB- Best piece of advice you were ever given?  
L.K.: My grandma always told me: "Make sure you wake up with a smile and be happy". To always treat people like you expect to be treated yourself.  I find if you smile at someone they usually smile back !

HOB- What book changed your life?  
L.K.: Elizabeth Taylors " love affair with jewellery". After reading this I got inspired to follow my dream and to create Audreys Cat, where I could love, wear, but pass on my jewellery , so they could go on new journeys with new owners.

HOB- The movie you've watched already 30 times but might watch again tonight?  
L.K.: "The notebook", I love the fashion, the fun and the romance. 

HOB- Three favourite spots in Dubai?  
L.K.: 1- Blommingdales when they have a sale. 
2- The Sensia Spa at Emirates golf club, for the Eve Lom facial. 
3- Audreys Cat room, where I can relax look at my jewellery books and give my cat 'Frank " a cuddle.

I spy with my little eye... a red and black Photoshoot.

This morning I faced the challenge of managing make-up at 5am before meeting Mariyah and Ushi for a photoshoot. Early streetstyle in Dubai! Here is a little behind the scenes before the actual photos. 

Happy shiny (waking up) bloggers!

Mariyah shooting...

When photographers get photographed...

Bags and cameras. Seemed to get along.

Doesn't she look gorgeous?

I was wearing victory rolls, red lipstick, Miu Miu sunglasses, vintage outfit, Christian Lacroix belt and red Louboutins.

Red Loubis with red snickers.

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