The Joy of Becoming “Forever Chic”

August 4, 2014  |  featured, inspiration  |  No Comments

Recently I found Forever Chic, Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance by Tish Jett at my local library, and I decided to give it a try. Although the target audience is women above forty or even fifty – les femmes d’un certain âge – women of all ages will find some valuable advice that applies to their lives, like wearing sunscreen on your décolleté. I got stressed out when I read this because I haven’t been diligent about applying sunscreen on my precious décolleté, and I am glad that somebody reminded me to do so. And no less that 20 SPF, s’il vous plaît!

The book is divided into small chapters, each developing its own theme – like skin, hair, make-up, exercise, food, even accessories and clothing. Tish Jette carefully investigated each subject by gathering the opinions of many experts, jet set beauty consultants, and close friends. She is a journalist who has lived in France for 25 years, and she blogs about fashion and beauty under the title “Une femme d’un certain âge.”

If I had to choose one quote from the book to describe its essence, it would be this: “ “Every woman has her own personality. Why then, would she want to look like someone else?” Antoniotti mused. “Frenchwomen are the original versions of themselves.” ” The book really focuses on what it means to be a French woman comfortable in her own skin, how she presents and lives her uniqueness in care, beauty and style. Yes, Frenchwomen take time to pamper themselves, to dress well, and they strive to be the most natural best they can be. This is what they are known and revered for. And it all comes down to self-respect and love. Do you put some make-up on as soon as you get up? To celebrate yourself, bien sûr!

I noticed that the French women interviewed in the book haven’t caught up yet with the natural products craze we have here in the States, at least in California. American women consult dermatologists for botox shots and Restylane® fillers, but not face creams. In France it seems that dermatologists rule over skin products, and the products they recommend are big brands. Nevertheless, you have the right to make choices about what you put on your face, and you are free to bring beauty and style to your life in your own way.

I learned how to make my own scrub – gommage – by mixing almond oil and fine sea salt or sugar. I love that this is so natural and you can make it yourself. It can be applied to your face, hands, and your whole body. After gommage, we are advised to use sunscreens to avoid brown spots and aging. I had never before heard of liquid nitrogen, cryotherapy, for removing dark spots, but I guess this is the inexpensive version of the laser. According to the book, it works wonders.

Next time I am in France, I will schedule beauté des pieds. The cost is around 30 euros. The author says that it is a much more satisfying and lasting experience than a pedicure and that the French do it beautifully.

The trick about applying eyeliner is: “The comma should be applied before the eye is lined so it does not become a thick extension, but rather a light lift.” This is interesting indeed, and it works.  And I was surprised to read that dark circles under the eyes were prized during the 19th century, are considerate natural even today by make-up experts, and having them means that you lead an interesting life… So, Mesdames, don’t cover them up!

Instead of telling you all the secrets contained in the book, order your own copy and read it with amusement. I am hoping that by following the advice, you could achieve the highest score possible of becoming “Forever Chic” – in your own eyes, as Frenchwomen do!

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Restoration Hardware reimagines French style

Restoration Hardware reimagines French style

May 26, 2014  |  featured, inspiration  |  No Comments

Beautiful objects inspired by French style have been appearing in the Restoration Hardware collection for the last couple of years. But this year’s collection marks a reinvention, even a reimagination, by curators from around the world. Looking at the HR’s catalogues, I can’t help but wonder if French style is back in vogue, a comeback led with bravado and imagination by the company.

The catalogues are full of inspirational stories of objects and styles, of craftsmen and designers fond of antiques and notable objects. Blending old styles with a touch of modernity, the company’s curators have created timeless pieces for our admiration, use, and comfort.

If you haven’t been to a Restoration Hardware showroom lately, it is worth the trip. There is an abundance of French furniture pieces from different centuries – from armoires to chairs, French lighting, curious objects like a 19th century Horse fragment, a 20th century Glass Cloches, 19th century cartographic maps of Paris, and antique hand-pressed French botanicals. Even HR’s blank journals are inspired by 18th century “couverture muette,” or mute book of the French Revolution. And this is just a tease of the myriad of pieces found in the catalogues (which, by the way, I heard weighted 16 lbs. combined).

The picture below represents circa 1900 brass brasserie table with elegant and simple lines.  I love this table. It reminds me of Paris, of my favorite cafés, of my favorite writer Proust, and of my favorite time in the cultural history of France. This is a must-have for a Francophile.

French Brasserie table

This beautiful mid-century library is called the French library. It’s made of metal and comes in three different finishes.

French Library

If you love big maps and if you have a great wall to showcase them, you can choose from a 1739 Plan de Paris decoupage map, circa 1756 Elevation of the Louvre, or a 1672 Plan de Paris Panel Map. I think the maps are just marvelous and beautifully reproduced. In the baby showroom, I even saw a wall display – a sweet baby dress made from a Parisian map.

Baby Dress - wall display

The baby collection is exquisite and courtly. If you have a baby or a young child, HR makes you dream of Versailles and tufted luxury. Your child can sit in the Versailles chair, the Antoinette bench, or the mini ondine salon bench (below). You can choose to decorate your child’s bed with a canopy, add a French script tapestry to the wall, cover the walls with French botanicals, and add elegant scones or extravagant ornamentation. Who can feel more a king or a queen surrounded by such elegance!

French tapestry

The French script grand canvas wall tapestry.

HR’s inspiration and philosophy resounds in this sentence by John Barrymore: “A man is not old enough until regrets take the place of dreams.” Thanks to HR, we can continue dreaming in French style.

Website and showrooms: Restoration Hardware













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Be Love, Be Inspiration

April 14, 2014  |  inspiration  |  No Comments

deYoungIt has been a busy month here in Sausalito, California. Nevertheless, I did find time for the Georgia’s O’Keeffe exhibit at the de Young Museum. It is not to be missed—both for the explosion of color and to witness the beauty captured in silence and contemplation. It’s exquisite to see so much earthy beauty in one small space. As O’Keeffe put it: “ I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.” What O’Keeffe describes is called inspiration and comes from the part of the brain that doesn’t deal with cognitive abilities. It is also from that part of the brain (the right side or even deeper inside) that we always find love for ourselves and give birth to truly innovative ideas.

We long quietly for inspiration, for love, for beauty to counter our stressful lives and the assault by media, social media, cell phones, cars, pollution… The challenge we face is to bridge these two worlds, to find time to take care of our precious selves when the world around tells us otherwise.

1) Finding time to see the work of a painter I admire is an act of love and respect for myself. I had such a great time meeting my friend Elsa, a Spanish translator, and having lunch at the de Young cafe. We examined every painting, every stroke of color, and we dreamt about a life of inspiration. “If people were trees, I might like them better,” read one of O’Keeffe’s quotations on a big wall. I know what she meant. If only we could learn to imitate the silent vibrancy of trees, their solidity, our lives would be inspirational.

GGP2) That means… do not put off that meditation practice of yours. The more we find time to silence the left side of our brain, the better off we will be. No chatter means more inspiration. No Facebook time means more time to witness the simple beauty around us. In meditation, we surrender to life as it happens in the present moment. In the present moment, we can become the tree and exude vitality, health, and strength of character. And we retrain the brain to relax and to be happy, thus, giving the chance for the genius inside us to emerge.

3) Tell your body every morning—“I love you dearly, you are my most precious gift. I am not judging you anymore. I love you unconditionally. Every part of you is awesome and unique.” Don’t you wish that you did that since you were little? Wouldn’t that be an incredible message to send to every cell of your body? I watched the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know,” and in that movie the main character lives with past pains and disappointments and hates her body. But one day, after seeing images of blessed water, a stranger tells her: “If thoughts can do this to water, imagine what thoughts can do to us.” And everything changes for her, from that point on.

4) And yes, do not postpone the massage or facial or acupuncture treatment you love. The body needs proof of love, pampering, care, love, love, and love. The body is your temple, treat it as such.

Spring5) Nature, such an important part of life. Hike as much as you can. We are supposed to be closer to nature, in nature, in harmony with nature. We feel so good after a hike. “Why?” you ask. Because nature recharges our batteries. The invisible forces in the living trees and mother earth give us energy, life, inspiration. O’Keeffe said that she painted her flowers big, so people can see them. You’ve walked in nature countless times without noticing anything around you—your mind recounting stories you’ve already heard. But imagine walking and noticing… the trees, the small flowers, the tiny bugs, the different birds, the wind singing, the creek churning. Nature is the most alive place on earth. Be like it. Imitate it! Admire it! Be one with it.

6) Do something creative! Anything but social media, TV or phone. Being creative means finding that place inside yourself that has a new language, sees the world with new colors, envisions new possibilities. Whatever that may be for you! Sewing a dress, painting, creating a collage, writing, making a movie, taking pictures. Be outside the box and love that new box that you’ve created. Admire every effort you put into it, love every step you take. Don’t look for an outcome, enjoy the creative moment.

7) Book a safari and go to Namibia. Yes, that’s outrageously expensive, I know. But wow, I went to a talk by the WWF and I can tell you that country is leading the conservation efforts in Africa. They are doing such a great job managing wildlife that wildlife is now worth more alive for them than dead. Why not celebrate that! Celebrate the fact that humans can live in peace with wildlife. That is love and that is inspiration!

8) Finally, dance. Find time to dance and express yourself. Find time to be exuberant, to feel your emotions, to discover the movement and rhythm that exist in your body. Dance the poetry of life and become a new loving and inspired human being.





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