Date with Dior

“I think of my work as ephemeral architecture, dedicated to the beauty of the female body.”  – Christian Dior

Did you know that prior to becoming a fashion designer Christian Dior was a gallerist with a deep love for fine art? This was only a fraction of what I learned at the most recent exhibition to open at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, honoring 70 years of the House of Dior. With a carefully curated selection of 300 haute couture dresses alongside artworks, this expo pays tribute to the master himself Christian Dior, and those who followed in his vision including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. This was without a doubt, one of the most impressive fashion experiences of my life.

Following are highlights from my recent ‘Date with Dior’, just in case you can’t make it to the show yourself.

Haute Couture / Fall/Winter 2012 / Embroidered organza evening gown / Raf Simons

Suzurka-San / Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2007 / Embroidered and painted linen coat / John Galliano

“After women, flowers are the most divine of creations.” – Christian Dior

Muguet / Haute Couture Spring-Summer 1957 / Organdy dress embroidered by Barbier

“True luxury needs good materials and good workmanship; it will never succeed unless its roots are profoundly embedded in sober influences and honest traditions.” – Christian Dior

Deep in every heart slumbers a dream and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess.” – Christian Dior

A must see when you’re next in Paris, this exhibition Christian Dior, couturier du rêve ends on January 7th, 2018.

Roman Holiday

The last time I was in Rome was the first time I was in Italy, 13 years ago. A good friend and I took a trip to visit this historic land. Little did either of us know that we would both marry Italian men years later. Foreshadowing? I had not been to Rome since, and those who read this blog know I travel to Italy quite often, so my Italian and I decided it was time to return to the roots of Italian history. Our Roman Holiday began in the charming neighborhood of Trastevere, with a view of the Tiber river. With only a few days to explore the city, and endless sights to fall back in love with, we hit the streets, guided by blue skies and our trusted Lonely Planet.

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Just steps away on the other side of the Tiber we found the sunlit and flower-filled Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, one of the most enchanting of Rome’s many squares. I immediately fell in love with the vibrant colors, illuminated by the sun, a stark contrast to the neutral tones of Paris. Kasia Dietz handbags Rome collection?

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From one majestic fountain to another, we stopped to admire them all. Just don’t drink the water they say…

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The Fountain of the Four Rivers, one of Bernini’s masterpieces, depicts Gods of the four great rivers in the four continents as  were then recognized by the Renaissance geographers, including the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe and the Río de la Plata in America.

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The Pantheon, a Greek adjective meaning “honor all Gods”, built and dedicated between A.D 118 and 125, is one of the most preserved and influential buildings in Rome. Not to mention majestic!

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Newly restored and sparkling, I was tempted to jump into the Trevi Fountain La Dolce Vita style. I resisted.

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On one of our exploratory walks, we climbed to the top of the Altar of the Fatherland, also known as National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II in honor of the first King of a unified Italy.

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The views from the top were impressive, to say the least. Rome glowed in the late afternoon sun. I swooned.

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One day was spent with friends, a Roman power couple you could say. Erica being a travel journalist and Rome expert, and Darius an archaeologist who digs on this very land. Who better to explore the Roman Forum with?

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Once the center of Roman public life, we tried to imagine the events that took place here many centuries ago.

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By chance, we gained access to sights that haven’t been made public yet. For my (and your) eyes only…

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We walked from the Roman Forum up 40 meters to Palatine Hill… Our expert guide Darius Arya leading the way.

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From there we saw the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built. An engineering & architectural marvel.

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I stood for a while admiring the Colosseum before we went inside, in complete awe. To the right of it is the apartment from film La Grande Bellezza, not a bad view…

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Enamored with sculptor Bernini, we spent an afternoon at the Villa Borghese. I’ve learned to always look down.

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Our last stop was at Saint Peter’s Basilica which will leave even an atheist marveling at this Renaissance structure, both inside and out. Already, we couldn’t wait to return. Rome had captured our hearts.

through the looking glass

As I return to the art world of Paris, with so many must-see exhibitions going on, I reflect on an expo my mom and I recently saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. China : Through the Looking Glass was the most impressive show I had seen in a while.

IMG_3315What is it exactly? As stated by the MET, This exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery. Perhaps better if I explain visually what I saw through the looking glass…

IMG_3292Following are a few favorites, both the traditional costumes and their modern counterparts.

IMG_3281Semiformal Robe for Qianlong Emperor, 1736-95 + Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5

IMG_3282Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5 + Woman’s Semiformal Robe, 19th Century

IMG_3286Formal Robe for Guangxu Emperor 1875-1908

IMG_3289The three floors of the exhibition, including artifacts & films, transported us to another era.

IMG_3293Portobello Wallpaper / Alexander McQueen 2006-7

IMG_3299With more than 140 pieces of haute couture, including this gown by Guo Pei (2010) and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art, there was much to be inspired by. We left with eyes filled with visions hard to recount. Best to experience the richness of Chinese history for yourself, before it ends on August 16th.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Paris is a city steeped in history, with rarely a modern structure in sight. This is why the Fondation Louis Vuitton is such an important and monumental museum and cultural center for Paris. It not only houses art, but in my opinion it personifies art. It opened in late October in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne, and soon after that I was lucky enough to experience it. My last trip into the mind and work of Frank Gehry was at Guggenheim Bilbao and more recently NYC’s Guggenheim. This one was perhaps the most impressive of them all!

IMG_0504Frank Gehry’s vision was realized thanks to the generous funding of LVMH, at a cost of no less than $135 million. Within this 43 meter high private foundation of glass, concrete, timber and steel, you can find the art collection of Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s art-collecting owner and France’s wealthiest man. “You don’t put a price tag on a dream,” says Arnault. Eleven galleries provide 3,850 sq meters (41,441 square feet) of exhibition space. Pas mal!

IMG_0522From the top you can perfectly view Paris’ business district of La Défense in the distance.

IMG_0567I was enchanted by the mirrors and moat on the ground floor.

IMG_0581 IMG_0592Outside, the cascading waterfall creates a feeling of serenity amidst the concrete.

IMG_8670My Italian and I were so fascinated with the reflective structure and the way in which the light changed throughout the afternoon, that we stayed until nightfall.

IMG_8714THIS was a sight to behold!

Naples top 5

Everyone loves Italy, the food, the people, the easy going feeling… But when it comes to Naples, what I consider ‘real Italy‘, those who haven’t yet ventured to this city in the south are often fearful of it. It is really so dangerous I wondered? Will I get mugged upon landing and should I even bring a camera? Shortly after moving to Paris my Italian and I took a trip to Naples and Capri, a perfect contrast of dark and light. At once, I became enamored with the chaos and vitality of Naples, or was it the food? My Italian promised that we would return. Finally, almost 4 years later, we did.

IMG_8409This time we were joined by our friends Suzanne and Jeremy, armed with a list of Napolitan specialties both sweet and savory. We headed directly to our hotel in the Spanish Quarter, an area braved by few, hidden within narrow streets. And there began our adventure, and my Naples top 5.

IMG_8741#1: GET LOST. The city is composed of a maze of streets, and getting lost is par for the course.

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#2: WALK TO THE TOP. Along the coast we passed the Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle) and headed up to the Certosa di San Martino (Carthusian Monastery), perched atop the Vomero hill. There we discovered a museum with a vast collection opf Spanish and Bourbon era artifacts, as well as some of the finest Nativity scenes in the world.

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The views from there was breathtaking, highlighted by majestic Mount Vesuvius.

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#3: LEARN HISTORY. On our first trip to Naples we spent an afternoon at Pompeii. On this trip, we decided to explore the lesser known and smaller, but equally important, Ercolano (Herculaneum).

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Part two of our history lesson was spent at the National Archaeological Museum, the most important in all of Italy.

IMG_8699#4: EAT! This perhaps being the most important of the 5, being in the city where pizza originated. And where to find the pizza to top them all? At Da Michele. Trust me.

10003942_10154027585470254_1636954526295859952_nSome of my favorite local spots in the Spanish Quarter being Antica Capri and Hosteria Toledo.

IMG_8417And then there is the coffee and sweets… La Sfogliatella Mary being the best for local specialties.

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#5: SHOP. Naples is famous for it’s tailors, thus making it an ideal shopping destination for the stylish man, more so than for women. My Italian bought a new wardrobe, I bought lingerie.

IMG_8764It was a memorable three days in a city that leaves an impression, and keeps you coming back.

curating inspiration

As anyone in Paris is well aware, given the amount of fashion forward (and fashion faux pas) walking the streets of Paris these days, it’s Fashion Week. Rather than attending crowded shows to catch a glimpse of new trends that are often only seen on the catwalk, I chose a more inspired path. Friday night was the opening of the Dries Van Noten exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I was lucky enough to join Anne of Ritournelle Blog, along with the who’s who of fashion, including Dries himself! This is the Belgian fashion icon’s first solo exhibition, aptly titled Inspirations. Not merely a fashion exhibition, but a look into the mind of a designer through art, imagination and creativity.

IMG_7217The starting point of a collection can be either very literal or abstract, a painting, a certain colour, a thought, a gesture, a smell, a flower, anything really. What matters to me is the journey from that first flash of inspiration to the final destination, the individual garments, the collection.

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I was impressed and inspired by this in-depth look into the mind of an artist. Here’s what Suzy Menkes of the International New York Times had to say, along with a video tour with Dries himself. This exhibition, which took 2 years to mount, will be on display until August 31st. Well worth a visit for anyone with creative sensibilities and a love for fashion, art & travel. Worth even a trip to Paris!

escape to Japan

Who says Florida only offers palm trees, sandy beaches and shopping malls? On our recent trip to visit my mom, we discovered a little piece of paradise, Japanese style. And we LOVE Japan!

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George S. Morikami arrived to the United States from Japan in 1906, to work as a pineapple farmer. He was one of the last surviving members of the Yamato Colony that settled west of Delray Beach at the turn of the century. It is thanks to Mr. Morikami, for his donation of 140 acres of land to the state of Florida, that the memory of him and his people lives on. Visiting the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens gracefully transports you to another world.

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Upon these grounds you feel free.

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With rock gardens in which to ponder life’s mysteries.

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And a museum in which to transport yourself to Japan.

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Or perhaps best to sit and contemplate.

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Surrounded by bonsai trees.

IMG_5055 And a Buddha.

for the ladies

What makes a perfect ladies night? How about champagne, macarons, nude men and good friends? That’s exactly the ladies night I just had the pleasure of indulging in. Following a Girls Guide to Paris soirée to launch their new magazine, I met girlfriends at the Musee d’Orsay. That’s where we found the nude men. Did I neglect to mention they were sculpted?

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Rarely in history has the male nude, the basis of Academic art training, been displayed the way the beauty of the nude woman has, and still is. The Musee d’Orsay decided to change this by curating the exhibition, Masculine / Masculine. Their aim is to take an “interpretive, playful, sociological and philosophical approach to exploring all aspects and meanings of the male nude in art.”

IMG_1981And how pleased are we women? And quite a fair share of men too.

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What most impressed me was the variety of artworks in view.

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From Rodin to Bacon, Warhol, Pierre et Gilles, Cocteau, Flandrin and many more masters.

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There was certainly a fair share of ogling by eager onlookers, but well worth braving the crowds.

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And worth snapping a few photos, even though it was forbidden. Shhhh!

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If you are in Paris, grab your girlfriends (or go solo) and head to the Orsay!

Exhibition ends January 2nd.

lights. camera. action.

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Yesterday my Italian and I spent a hot summer day surrounded by lights and optical illusions at the Grand Palais. Light and motion in 20th Century art. What a unique and dynamic expo, aptly named Dynamo. Needless to say, we left illuminated! Following are some of those enlightened moments…

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For those in Paris, hurry, last day is July 22nd!

Pop in the Pompidou

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Recently I attended the opening of the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at the Pompidou. How could I resist a major American artist from the Pop Art era? Though little did I know the breadth of his artistic skill until I walked through the galleries exhibiting his over 100 works. Many pieces were not allowed to be photographed, but I did my best to curate my own mini Lichtenstein exhibit for those who aren’t able to make it, or to entice those who can, to go. Capturing both his sculptures and his paintings, well beyond the world of Pop. Well worth the visit into the mind and life of an artist.

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“I want my painting to look as if it has been programmed. I want to hide the record of my hand.”

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“The subjects aren’t what holds my interest.”

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“Brushtrokes are almost a symbol of art.”

IMG_6124 IMG_6127“I’ve always wanted to make up someone as a cartoon.”

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Exhibition runs now until November 4th.

afternoon with Rodin

Every first Sunday of the month, Paris art aficionados receive a gift from the city. Many museums and cultural institutions in and around Paris are open, free of charge. Though I believe art should be free and museums should admit their patrons by donation only. On such a recent Sunday, the sun was shining over bright blue skies, and there was no way not to enjoy it, in the company of art. We chose one of my favorites, the ‘progenitor of modern sculpture’, Auguste Rodin.

Musée Rodin reveals one of the most spectacular gardens in Paris, home of The Thinker.

Sculptures amidst trees, strewn in the late afternoon sunshine.

The Gates of Hell, one of Rodin’s most notable sculptures.

I sat by the lake and thought of the life Rodin must have led, and what inspired him to create.

Perhaps withing this regal structure I will find the answers.

meet Paul Klee

Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible -Paul Klee 

If there were an artist I would have loved to sit down to dinner with a good bottle of French wine, (there are so many, but having to choose only one) it would be Paul Klee. Not simply because he was a talented musician, writer AND painter, nor for the fact that his unique style of painting included the art movements of expressionismcubism, and surrealism, but because certain of his paintings evoke in me a feeling so rare and magical that I would love to know the workings of his mind. To know how these painting came to life. I have learned this somewhat, by reading the passionate and provocative prose of his diaries, and whenever possible I search for his work in museums around the world, including two of my favorites, the Tate Modern in London and the MOMA in NYC.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Mr. Klee in Paris. He work was featured at the Musée de l’Orangerie, what is now one of my favorite museums in Paris (in addition to the Musée dOrsay, loved by all for it’s renowned Impressionist collection). The exhibition was very soon ending (today in fact!). I had been meaning to go for ages, and finally made a date with the master.

I brought my Italian, curious whether he would fall in love the way I did upon my first Klee encounter, so many years ago. Does not taste in art make a relationship even stronger? Well, not really, but if it’s a passion then surely it should be shared. We were both impressed with the collection of 26 works by Ernst Beyeler, one of the founders of Art Basel. I enjoyed the show but missed some of my favorite pieces that hang in Klee’s country of birth, Switzerland. 

That reminds me. One of the most memorable nights spent during my travels was in Bern. I arrived in the late afternoon, and as luck would have it, on my one night in the city, the Paul Klee Museum was open until 9pm. Needless to say, I spent over 3 hours in what felt like the most intimate encounter with a man and his work.

Klee once so wisely said, Art should be like a holiday: something to give a man the opportunity to see things differently and to change his point of view.

It is Paul Klee that speaks to me again now, in this time of wandering, that we must never cease to search, and always to dream.

Childhood was a dream, some day all would be accomplished. The period of learning, a time for searching into everything, into the smallest, into the most hidden, into the good and the bad. Then a light is lit somewhere, and a single direction is followed (that stage I now enter, let us call it the time of wandering).

One of my favorites: Chat et Oiseau (1928) 


my life with Picasso

Picasso once said “I am the greatest collector of Picassos in the world.” This much revered collection of over 3,000 works ranging from sketches to finished masterpieces is exhibited upon walls located only meters away in the Musée Picasso. What is most impressive about this collection is the number of works Picasso painted after his seventieth birthday. This imposing display is complemented by Picasso’s own personal art collection of artists including Cézanne, Degas, Rousseau, Seurat, de Chirico and Matisse. On a recent morning I learned that many of Paris’ museums were closed due to workers strikes. (Ah yes, the French love to strike!) Immediately my desire to view the works of one of my most admired artists grew, as I had not been to this hôtel particulier in several years. As luck would have it, there was no strike at the museum, rather, it was closed for renovations until 2013. Surely by then I will become a weekly visitor.