I spy with my little eye... a paper doll.

I met photographer Lindsay Kirkcaldy a year ago at Garderobe's bloggers collaboration, remember  this post? I was amazed to see how patient she was! After she spent the whole day taking photos, we started talking. She had a project in mind, something retro that she wanted to discuss. So after a few coffees, we met in a studio for a few photos, followed by a lot of editing. Again, I praise her patience! A few month later, she sent me the result of our collaboration, let me introduce you to HOB paper doll. I don't know if you remember but when we were children we used to have paper dolls: you would cut your dolly and her clothes and could clip the outfits on her as you wished. We're probably the last generation who played with paper before the digital era, but I have memories of afternoon spent in the south of France, playing with these and my grandmother. 
I'm so grateful for this collaboration that totally fits HOB. 
If you want to work with Lindsay, visit her website here.

I spy with my little eye... happy 1920's finger waves!

If you ever tried to tame curly/frizzy hair, you know how intense the fight can get. Now if you ever tried to master 1920's finger waves, you know how much patience and dexterity is required. So one day, out of exhaustion, I thought, why not try to stop fighting and make something out of my curly hair? First I tried to get rid of as much frizziness as possible and I have to say, Philip B's botanical Mega Curl Enhancer worked really well for me (paraben and phthalate free, I say yay!).  The creamy formula was easy to spread and felt light, no heaviness at all. I let my hair dry (for hours... still haven't found a way to achieve locks with a hair-dryer) naturally and I felt like I was out of a victorian novel when I finally looked in the mirror, hello Jane Austen! As scary as that may be, it was exactly the texture I was looking for. An elastic and 2 bobby pins later, I give you my take on the 1920's finger wave bob:

Challenging Downton Abbey.

To get the products, check Basharacare.com

I spy with my little eye... Verdi in Dubai!

I hope you can feel my joy? Most of the culture happens in Abu Dhabi so when we get any kind of production (I'll take anything!): theatre, stand-up, ballet, opera, concert... I am in! Therefore on Thursday 10th October, you will find me at the Raffles Hotel in Wafi City where I will be attending Montegrappa's gala dinner in honour of Verdi bicentennial. The Italian luxury writing instruments will be teaming up with the Emirates Opera Projects, and Mohamad Hammami and Martyn Bagnall' Al Sharq Orchestra to perform Verdi's most famous operas such as " La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto, "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" from La Traviata, "Grand march" from Aida... The last time I listened to a live opera was 2 years ago in the UK, courtesy of Glyndebourne (remember this post?), and I was totally enchanted, I cannot wait for this promising evening.
If you are feeling musical and want to join, visit http://www.montegrappa.me/verdi/

I spy with my little eye... the good wife's guide.

Just thought I would share a little piece of reading with you today. But before I do, I want to make something clear: loving the 50's aesthetics doesn't mean I would have loved to live in those years. I am very happy with my birthdate, I wouldn't change it, and would have definitively made a terrible housewife. And here's why:

The Good Wife's Guide
from Housekeeping Monthly, 13 May 1955

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives and run a dustcloth over the tables.

5. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

6. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

7. Be happy to see him.

8. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

9. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

10. Don't greet him with complains and problems.

11. Don't complain if he's latefor dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

12. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back ina  comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

13. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing, and pleasant voice.

14. Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and thruthfulness. You have no right to question him.

15. A good wife always knows her place.

I spy with my little eye... gold and cherry blossom on my hands.

Winter (and chapped hands) is coming! Not that we would ever experience anything extreme here in Dubai but between the changes of temperature, the fact that we wash them 15 times a day and the weekly manicures, hands do suffer. And mine have a special aversion for petroleum, paraben, synthetic aromas, colours and all substances that give the impression of instant relief just to dry your skin even more on the long run. Therefore I was happy to discover Figs and Rouge, a little English brand full of peps and vitamins. They do mostly lip balms and hand creams, their range isn't huge but that's what I like about them: they don't do a lot but what they do, they do well. That's my kind of brand. I'm sure they will get bigger since the products are simple, effective and the packaging is adorable. I am currently using the Cherry Blossom Hand Cream, the texture is light and non-greasy, it leaves my skin supple and soft, and I can actually grab a pen right after, without it slipping through my fingers (happy editor!). One last thing: I like my Chanel n°5 to smell like Chanel and not Chanel mixed with some synthetic strawberry perfume so this very discreet and almost inexistent perfume of cherry blossom suits me perfectly!

I spy with my little eye... the "back to school/work" season.

It's official. The kids are back to school, students are about to start college and we are back to work, so enjoy the last cherries and first collections of the season! I hope you will bear with me for more vintage projects, I will keep on spying with my little eye because as the wise Ferris Bueller put it: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.".

I spy with my little eye... a make-up challenge.

As you know, a few days ago I was invited by Faces for a make-up training and challenge. It was a great occasion to reconnect and meet my fellow bloggers and exercise our eye. The afternoon started with a colour training based of warm/cold shades. I have to admit it's not as easy as you would think to decide whether someone's skin tone is rather cold or warm. There are technique for that. I found the training clear and concise, but I will never understand why make-up artists and stylists persist on telling me there are blue tones in my red lipstick. Seriously, how do you see blue in plain pure red? I'm sure I'm the one missing something here, but to me red lipstick is red.
After the training, each blogger was given a model and asked to create a make-up and nail style, respecting warm/cold principles. I was very happy to work with the lovely Rana, sweet and easy-going. I loved her pale skin tone and didn't want to cast it with foundation so I went for a fresh parisian look. If you ask me, make-up and style is a question of balance: legs or cleavage, lips or eyes, 2 colours maximum... be coherent and decent. Everybody has their rules, these are mine. Therefore as I stressed on the lips and I kept it low key on the eyes. My main goal was to bring light to the face. And for the nails, I went for an inverted french manicure: light nail, slightly darker line. Simple.

I spy with my little eye... mirror, 60's mirror in my hand.

I am more of a 50's gal rather than a 60's one but I completely fell for this joyous bright green piece that fitted me perfectly. I love the feeling of thriftshopping and trying on a new vintage dress: there are so many ways it can go wrong it's hilarious. Toulouse was good to me this summer, I didn't find a lot but what I found was good. So this is my 60's look, right from my boudoir in Paris, along with garden roses! Hope all this greenery will brighten your day!

I spy with my little eye... Versailles in Dubai.

I have been back to Dubai for just a week but with all of that travelling, I still feel unsettled and am still in a discovery mood, so when planning to catch up with M., I wanted to try a new café. When I left, Maison Bagatelle wasn't open yet so it was the perfect occasion (and transition from Paris). I will admit I was a little bit worried by the grand Versailles style, I mean, it seemed pretty ambitious to recreate mouldings in a café, but it was done in an uncluttered way and the space is big enough to handle the initial ambition. I am very sensitive to brightness (can't cope with food courts), so I absolutely loved that the place was bathed in light. There are just a few splashes of colour on the black and white photos on the wall that give that pop energy you need to wake up in the morning. A big thank you for the warm and attentive welcoming that was flawless. Now about the food, the menu isn't exhaustive but the house offers salads, sandwiches, croque-Monsieurs, and a few main courses. It is a bit expensive (you're paying the setting and service), but the pastries are very good. I will definitively come back for a tea or breakfast. Versailles in Dubai, not such a bad idea after all!

Maison Bagatelle
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
Tel.: +971 4 420 34 42
For more info, click here.

I spy with my little eye... a coffee with the very parisian gallery director Celia Nkala.

How can I introduce you to Celia? She's already had 2 or 3 lives despite her young age and she is the only one who can make me drink wine before 3pm. I met her a few years ago during my fashion years in Paris. We nearly passed by each other without really meeting until that day she talked about her photography. From then we've specialised in the weirdest dates ever (remember this very special post?), and she surprises me everyday. She is fierce, chic and rock'n roll, the essence of the Parisian, you can never get bored with her. But she's also a quiet hard worker who opened her very own art gallery: Perception Park. I was very happy and honoured when she agreed to play the HOB interview game.
If you are in the 5th arrondissement in Paris, don't forget to pass by Perception Park, 20 rue Domat, it's open from 2pm till 7pm or upon request: +33 9 80 73 53 43.

HOB: If you could live in a painting, which one would it be?
C. N.: La Scène, from Leonardo de Vinci. I like its structure, it's supple and linear at the same time. I would have loved to meet the Christ, be there the first time he took communion: it would have probably turned me into one of the apostles.

HOB: If you could live in a different era, which one would you pick and why?
C.N.: The 18th french century: the Age of Enlightenment. For the aesthetics: the arts, the fashion, the style in general and for the move towards knowledge, joined with a certain form of decadence. It was the century when everything was possible and all fields were bubbling up.
But it was violent, you had to be in the tight place... More than an era, it's always a question of position. So the 21st century and my position suit me very well!

HOB: What piece of clothing reminds you of your mother?
C.N.: My parents are completely impervious to fashion. They didn't wear anything memorable. I sharpened my eye and built my style without any family reference. I started by creating textiles, then I worked in fashion, with the idea that all of that was nothing too serious. This specific idea comes from my parents.

HOB: What scent takes you right back to your childhood?
C.N.: The smells of garages, cellars, basements, that is to say, the smell of petrol, humidity, enclosed spaces. It reminds me of my grand-father's garage where I have a feeling I spent a lot of time playing as a child, his wine cellar where I used to hide. The birthday parties and first teenage parties: back then we used to do that in our parents garages.

HOB: When do you feel on holiday?
C.N.: When I finished everything I had to do.

HOB: What designer would you take with you on a camel ride?
C.N.: None. It's incompatible. I would go on my own, wearing nothing.

HOB: Your favourite recipe to make?
C.N.: I'm sorry, I hate cooking.

HOB: Best piece of advice you were ever given?
C.N.: People always give a lot of advice, but they also say a lot of stupid things.

HOB: What book changed your life?
C.N.: "The power of intention" by Dr. Wayne W. Dyder.
It's a book that explain how one can realise whatever they want by connecting with universal intelligence. Or more precisely how to use intention as a personal potential. It is badly written but very effective.

HOB: The movie you've watched already 30 times but might watch again tonight?
C.N.: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". Or any western with Clint Eastwood: the only kind of movie that guarantees me a good night of sleep.

HOB: Your three favourite spots in Paris.
C.N.: 1. The Seine bank, around the Ile de la Cite and the Ile Saint Louis, just by my gallery. With a huge take away margarita from Mexic&Co, rue Dante.
2. The restaurant Richelieu, in the Louvre museum. A spot that isn't easy to access because you need to get your museum pass first, then walk all the way through the French sculpture gallery, but it's empty most of the time with huge windows that open on the square courtyard.
3. Minéral do Brasil. A gemstones and minerals shop rue Miromesnil. It's a shop without any window with a very peculiar ambiance. People usually come there for alternative medicine or feng-shui... I'm interested in all of that but I mostly go there for the beauty of the stones, I've been collecting them for years.

I spy with my little eye... Mrs Bovary.

Happy Autumn pitchouns! Wall tapestry, second shot! I'm happy to introduce you to the other original fabric wall covering in the family Paris flat (and secondarily to my other new hat). The first tapestry had a spring vibe while this one feels more like autumn, therefore I felt it was more suited for the winter wool hat and the  metal 1930's clutch I bought this summer, along with an ordinary trench-coat. This outfit reminded me of 19th century Mrs. Bovary, society woman, pretty and melancholic.
The very last picture is kind of a behind-the-scenes: it's not all glam, it's also hats falling on your face and big laughters.

Autumn is coming (sorry, t'was too easy).

Read my lips.

And my personal favourite...

I spy with my little eye... the cutest cottage in Normandie.

If you've been following, you know I had a double digit birthday this year. This birthday has turned into an international celebration thanks to my amazing friends and family who gathered from Dubai to Paris, Vienna, Algiers... I don't know how to thank them for all the surprises and love I received. Two weeks ago they decided to surprise me. Their plan was to reiterate the surprise week-end they organised for me 12 years ago in Normandie. Unfortunately for them, I was quite stubborn (and panicked: please note that the last time M. went for a drive on her own, she came back 4h later than planned and drove 600km on her own in the mountains, out of reach: I had reasons to worry when she said "Pack your bag") so I kind of made it difficult for them to drag me all the way to Normandie... I'm sorry picthouns! But we finally got there, and it was the perfect get-away. Nothing changed within 12 years, we are the same silly ones, and this cottage hasn't changed a bit: the same pictures, the same little lamps, the same beds in the attic where we  used to sleep until late morning. A big Merci for organising (and surviving) this! The birthday cake was perfect for breakfast!

I spy with my little eye... the mechanics of undergarments.

"The mechanics of undergarments" is an exhibition at the Arts Decoratifs Museum that sheds light on the evolution of the underwear through the centuries. Have you ever wondered how the crinolines, the paniers, the poufs or the bustles worked? Well this exhibition exposes the tricks of these artifices that were once, part of the everyday outfit. From the well-known corset to the technical crayfish tail, I realised how everything was well thought and had a purpose. In the Middle Age, according to popular belief, babies bodies were soft and without any bearing (quite ironic since swaddling them at birth probably didn't help them carry their head and use their bones and muscles, so basically they were making them soft to make them straight and strong later), which is why they were expected to wear tight structuring clothes. An other popular belief was that straight minds lived in straight bodies, which is why young women were given special attention: to shape their bodies but also protect their virtue. That's for the spiritual part. But there obviously is a sexual aspect in all of the decorum. The undergarments stress parts of the bodies that inevitably carry a sensual dimension (the shoulder or knees were never emphasised like the breasts, the bum or the scrotum... obviously). 
The exhibition tells a history of fashion, bodies, and concept of beauty. I would absolutely recommend it. Click here for more information (exhibition runs until the 24th November 2013).

Once last thing: they recreated some of the undergarments so the public could experience the sensations, see the last photo of this post... Yours truly in a corset and crinoline. My new favourite outfit to go get the bread!

Amazing work. Not so practical to pass the doors though.

Presenting a masterwork of rigidity: the vertugadin.

The corsets. Oppressive but miracle workers on a feminine silhouette.

The mechanics of the crinoline.

Yours truly, experimenting the crinoline and corset. Quite heavy, no wonder the women were so elegant: every movement is slowed down by the weight and volume of the attire.

I spy with my little eye... the Joker's smile.

When I see a smile, I usually remember it, and this one was unforgettable! Entering "Thanx God I'm a VIP" I didn't really know what to expect: I was told it was a nice vintage shop but "maybe a bit chic and expensive". So I decided to go and check for myself. 
I am to admit it is one of the nicest and best organised vintage shop I have seen! It is spacious, it doesn't smell like a thriftshop, and the clothes are arranged in a lovely rainbow. Now when it comes to the selection, it is very qualitative: nice pieces, some designer names popping here and there (Balmain, Cacharel, Dior...), and all in perfect condition. I was a little bit disappointed by the lack of accessories, especially when I was explained that "some of the hats are not for sale", that, to me, is frustrating. But the prices were very reasonable and the team was welcoming and almost as smiley as their mannequins. I will definitively keep an eye on them (and their parties!).

The Joker's smile.

Pristine shop, perfect for a polo or cricket outfit.

Rainbow racks.

Today, I'll dress up as a ray of sunshine!

Thanx God I'm a VIP
12 rue de Lancry
75010 Paris
Tel: +33 1 42 03 02 09
Monday to Sunday, from 2pm to 8pm
Sunday, from 2pm to 7pm

I spy with my little eye... postcards from London.

Oh London, London. I missed your energy! For some reason, this city always had a special place in my heart. I love its vibrant creativity; sometimes it's a little bit too much for my parisian self (think I'll never get used to how short the skirts are) but I love the way it pushes and disturbs all my prejudices. I respect and appreciate the English politeness and discreet sense of hospitality. When I pass by London, Borough market and Brick lane are two musts, along with martinis and lazy mornings. A big merci to my lil' cousin who hosted me with so much simplicity and was the perfect companion to wander the streets of this vibrant city.

When Fortnum and Mason goes Versailles style.

London eye. Buckle up your seatbelts.

I probably never mentionned it but I have a thing for bagpipes. Seriously. I know, it's weird.

When London talks...

United umbrellas of London.

I spy with my little eye... details that are not just details.

A few weeks ago I went to an exhibition with S. about Jacques Demy's work (remember "the umbrellas of Cherbourg", "The young girls of Rochefort"?). I'm not going to tell you all about it, it would be boring more than anything, but there is something I liked and I wanted to share with you: the way they curated it. I liked the fact that they highlighted the details in the movies. See the pictures below, there is a "mise en abime" of the snapshots: they digged out the wallpapers used in the scenes. I like that attention to details.

And because I like the world of Jacques Demy, I wanted to share his vision of cinema:

"Why I make movies?

Because I like it,
Because it's dynamic,
Because it's lively,
Because it cries,
Because it laughs,
Because in the cinema, 
You're in the dark,
Where it's warm,
Between a gentleman who's flirting,
And a Lady who doesn't want to,
In front of a jerk who's talking too loud,
Behind a genious with messy hair,
Who's preventing you from reading the subtitles,
Because it dances,
Because it sings,
So I'm high,
Because it's beautiful,
Because filming is like a woman,
Like a man,
It can hurt you,
It can skin you,
It's sometimes ugly,
But most of the time it's nice,
Because it zooms,
Because it travels,
Because it silence, camera, action,
Because we're dreaming,
Twenty-four images a second,
And therefore, it throws in the night,
At eighty-six thousands and four hundreds pictures an hour,
And the high speed trains are so jealous,
Because it's white,
Because it's black and so many other things,
Because I love it,
Because it's the only thing I'm good at."

Jacques Demy
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