Downtown Inspired

With fashion week taking over the streets of New York, London and soon Paris, I thought what better time to launch a new Kasia Dietz handbags collection. During a recent trip to New York City, I became inspired by the colors and energy of the city, namely downtown, my stomping ground. Thus, the Downtown Collection was born, representing the West Village, Soho and the East Village (also included in that is the Lower East Side, of course). As always, all Kasia Dietz handbags are limited edition and made in Paris. And perfect for travel!

The shoot took place on a late afternoon in the charming West Village. Clothes by designer and friend Yumi Kim.

By the end of the shoot I made an adorable and very fluffy friend. How well does he fit with the Soho bag?

I hope you enjoy the latest Downtown Collection! Stay tuned for more exciting design projects ahead…

freedom tower


During a recent family trip to New York, I decided it was time to visit the Freedom Tower, also called the One World Observatory. I lived in New York City during the attacks of 9/11 and remember this day vividly. The landscape of my city, much like the lives of those who experienced this tragic event, would never be the same.


The Freedom Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world. From high up on the 102nd floor I looked down upon this majestic city I call home, with stunning 360 degree views into what felt like infinity.

IMG_8056 (1) IMG_8082

My eyes filled with tears as I returned to ground level and walked around the memorial, the names of each victim etched into stone. Behind each name a unique story, a life cut short. I felt extreme gratitude for my own.


The day was overcast with moments of sun shining through the clouds. As we made our way to South Street Seaport for lunch, I held images of this monumental structure in my mind, both from above and below. A tribute to those who will forever belong to this city.


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.

night at the library

Once upon a time, in what now feels like another lifetime, I worked on Madison Avenue. Just down the street from my office sat the Library Hotel, and I would often pass it during my lunch break, wondering what lay beyond it’s scholarly doors, was there really a library? On this trip to New York, being an avid reader, I booked a room and planned to find out.

IMG_2479Stepping into the hotel feels like entering a library, books and card catalogs lining the walls.

IMG_2435_2What I soon discovered was that the concept of the Library Hotel is inspired by the Dewey Decimal system. As per this famous method of classification (developed by Melvil Dewey in the US in 1876) each of the 10 guestroom floors is dedicated to one of the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System. In turn, each of the 60 rooms are filled with books and art concerning their unique topic. With over 6,000 books, there is plenty to read!

IMG_2481 3The theme of our room was mysteries, how fitting for a mysterious night in Manhattan!

IMG_2488_2With an impressive view of the New York Public Library, I truly felt surrounded by literature.

IMG_2425Venturing outside, the city lights shone brightly, with regal Grand Central in the distance.

IMG_2476_2During the complimentary buffet breakfast we met fellow travelers from around the world.

IMG_2430_2Most enchanting of all are the views from the Writer’s Den and Poetry Garden on the 14th floor rooftop. By night it becomes Bookmarks Lounge, serving literary inspired cocktails.

IMG_2549Where better to read the New York Times or a good book, over a cup of coffee and a view.

IMG_2500_2I can’t wait to return to the Library Hotel, a literary haven in the heart of New York City. Next time the romance room?

New York from above

As much as I love New York from afar, there’s something uniquely magical about the city from above, as it appears to rise forever into the sky, and you rise with it. During these days of meetings and mingling with friends, I tried to catch a glimpse of day turning into night from as many roof decks as possible. As I discover others, I have a few that shall always remain my favorites.

The Peninsula Hotel sun terrace sits on the 21st and 22nd floors with a view of the regal St Regis.


Here I spent a humid New York day high above the bustle of the city, swimming and lounging in the sun, following a dynamic yoga class. Paradise found in midtown!


Soho House New York is not only a chic members only address, but the place to be seen. A haven for creatives, the perfect spot to meet a work friend and catch up on the goings on of the NYC ad scene.


A60 bar located on the 13th floor of 60 Thompson has stunning sunset views to compliment your cocktail. Where better to meet with a girlfriend who just flew in from LA?


I may never have my fill of looking at New York’s skyline from afar or from above. Until next time…



New York from afar

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I love New York. It’s the city I called home for many years, and still do. And it’s where I became who I am. When I return now, after living in Paris for 5 years (hard to believe!), I often find the city chaotic and cold, from the inside. It lacks the charm and class of Paris, in which you can walk the streets and lose yourself in it’s beauty. Certainly the energy and dynamism of New York makes up for anything it lacks. The skyline of NYC is unlike any in the world. And now, with the Freedom Tower standing tall, the city truly stands alone.


When I arrived to NYC I was invited on a Circle Line tour with fellow travel bloggers.


I very happily felt like a tourist and enjoyed the views as night fell upon the city that never sleeps.


It was upon this vessel that I met Kirsten, a travel photographer & Stephen, who runs walking tours.


And is was here, with lady liberty aglow, that my love for this urban jungle was felt most deeply.


Once a New Yorker, always, whether near or far.

The King and I

When I was ten, my mom took me to see the Broadway musical Annie. That was the beginning. From Phantom of the Opera in NYC to Les Miserables in London… any chance I could get, I would lose myself in a magical, musical setting. Theatre, opera and ballet quickly followed. When I learned that The King and I was on in Paris (and in English) at the Théâtre du Châtelet, I didn’t think twice. This famed production by Rodgers and Hammerstein is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, taking place in Siam in the early 1860s. A love story ensues.

king 053king 079 king 111 king 214 king 240 king 363 king 382 king 417 king 426 With powerful performances by Susan Graham and Lambert Wilson, and breathtaking set designs and costumes, not to mention the musical score and choreography, I was completely enchanted! Following a standing ovation, we left the theatre smiling and filled with melody. Encore!

five years later

As anyone who has read my blog will know, I wasn’t raised to believe in fitting in nor living by societal standards. I was raised believing that anything is possible, and that life was meant to be a design of our own creation. This was instilled by two creative, soulful parents who themselves rarely followed conventions. Above all, I was taught to live by my heart.

It was by following this unconventional script, from the urban jungle of NYC, to the scenic landscapes of the earth’s far corners, that led me to my Italian. And to Paris. Exactly 5 years ago.


Everyone has a story. Some have yet to live theirs. Today we celebrate ours.


expressive art

What is a trip to New York City without a visit to one of the many impressive museums or galleries? Since my Italian had never been to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece, and one of my favorite spaces, the Guggenheim Museum, there we spent a chilly but inspired afternoon.


Just in time to catch the last days of the Christopher Wool exhibition.


Wool, an artist from Chicago who began his career in NYC in the 1980’s, developed an art style that used language as his subject matter. A fan of his work, I found these pieces most thought provoking.

IMG_4917Rendering a word or phrase in bold, blocky stencils arrayed across a geometric grid, he preserved the specific form and order of the language, but freely stripped out punctuation, disrupted conventional spacing, and removed letters.


The resulting compositions oscillate between verbal communication & pure formalism, with their structural dissonance reflecting the state of anxiety & agitation conjured by the texts themselves.


IMG_4844Next stop for Wool, the Pompidou? I can think of a few French words and expressions…

New York minutes

This year we decided to brave the cold and ring in the early days of 2014 at home in New York City.


What good it does me to walk these streets, feel the energy, catch up with the lives of dear friends…


As cold as it was, with a blizzard on the way, we loved sharing these minutes with New York.



The Freedom Tower standing tall.

Pop Art bag goes to NYC

And art around every corner. Next stop the Guggenheim…

four years!


Today marks four years in Paris. Hard to believe how quickly time passes, does it ever slow down? Not to labor on all the sentiments, hardships, and celebrations of the last 4 years (though certainly I could), I will simply say that it’s taken this long to feel that Paris is truly my home. Whenever I return to NYC, I embrace the city and it’s chaos, but it is Paris that I long to return to. The calm and culture. And in both cities, I cherish the people. Life is much about the people we share it with, and those that are truly dear, will forever be. Regardless of where life takes us.


Fittingly, today I took part in a project all about New York in Paris, very proudly of course! More on that later. In celebration of this exciting endeavor and my Paris Anniversary I am giving away a bag! Simply leave a comment with your favorite French word or phrase (who knows, it could appear in my new Paris bag collection) and the bag you’d like to win, from any of the collections:

Winner will be selected randomly & announced August 27th! Bonne Chance!

time travel

As many times as I’ve stepped onto an airplane, crossing a continent, it never ceases to amaze me how in mere hours you can be transported through time, or so it feels. Most recently I flew from Pisa, near Monterosso where my Italian and I spent the weekend with his family and friends…


…to New York City, to visit my family and friends. From what felt like the past, to the future.


Could there be any two places on the earth more different yet equally loved? Yes, certainly there are. But these are mine. Two very distinct and disparate parts of the world I call home. One for it’s calm and beauty, and one for it’s energy and innovation. And both for their culture. Not to mention all the other parts of the world that became home even for a brief moment. Ah yes, and then there’s Paris…

city of dark

This past week my mind has been with New York, it’s neighboring regions, and the east coast, the place where I was born, raised, and lived for so many years. New York is a part of me unlike any other city. It’s people are my people, resilient, strong and united in their cause. I feel this connection now, more than ever, with the sadness and suffering left behind by superstorm Sandy. I was there in 2001 for the tragic events of 9-11, I was there for the blackout several years ago, and I am there now, if not in body than in mind. Hard to believe how suddenly life can change, by forces outside our control. Stay strong New York, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, New Jersey… the world is with you.

Here’s a list of how to help those in need of food, clothing, housing…or donate directly to Red Cross.

time away

Sometimes it’s important to disconnect and to live in the actual world. Versus the virtual. Those who are social media savvy know exactly what I mean! Feeling the need to connect myself with the living, in the form of my friends and family, I took off a few weeks and flew to New York.

First stop, my favorite place of carousing and chaos… Soho! Freedom tower in the distance.

Many of our days in New York City, with my Italian in tow, were spent in central park, beneath the sun, picnicing with friends or lost within a heavenly gray mist.

I could not wait to explore my old neighborhood, the Lower East Side, bustling with creative energy on every corner. Once a downtown girl… always.

These last few weeks were filled with memories. Precious time spent with my mom, both in the countryside where I was raised and in the city. Copious amounts of culture in the form of ballet, theatre, art, food… THIS is the New York I miss. But in the end, when I ran from one rendezvous to the next, catching up on lives from across the sea, wondering how I had managed to live for so long is this frenetic city, it dawned on me. A city is indeed a composition of it’s offerings but, most importantly, it’s people. And many of these people remain very dear to me.

Already, I look forward to the next visit. While happy to call Paris home.

The Dream Life of Suzanne Flenard

Moving to a foreign country, as challenging as it is, can afford us the privilege of redefining ourselves by asking the question ‘Who am I and what do I really want to do?’, versus following a path that might not lead to fulfillment, which to us New Yorkers, often means climbing the corporate ladder.

Suzanne Flenard is one such savvy ex-New York gal I met along the expat way. She and her partner Jeremy decided to take a ‘break’ from the grind of life in NYC, having both lived there for over 15 years. Six months of a break has now turned into 3 years and they have never looked back. Paris very quickly became home. Might I add that home to them looks much like a boutique hotel in the Marais, très chic!

As a seasoned professional in the world of interiors, working with furniture companies such as Design Within Reach (one of my personal favorites), Suzanne always had the desire to create something of her own. It was over lunch one day with a mutual friend that we brainstormed ideas for her vision. Over the course of several months, Suzanne set her designing mind into motion. While her foodie partner was busy exploring the gourmet markets of Paris, Suzanne spent many an afternoon carousing Montmartre and the Sentier in search of just the right fabrics (an exercise I know well), not to mention the virtual world… I introduced her to my trusted manufacturer… she impressively designed her own website… et voilà! Square Modern came to life.

What exactly is Square Modern and why is it so unique and eco-friendly? In the words of Suzanne…

Square modern is a limited edition collection of pillows/cushions using reclaimed designer fabric remnants. The idea came about as an interest to introduce the European Community to “Mid-Century Modern” textile designs, in addition to other beautiful modern classics, popular in the United States. These designer fabrics are selected from some of the most exclusive textile manufacturers that exist today: Maharam, Kvadrat, Knoll and Kravet. Square Modern uses primarily reclaimed fabric remnants, often found in limited supply. Therefore, the collection is produced in limited quantity and will continuously change as interesting textiles become available. All cushions are produced in Paris.

I am very proud and excited for Suzanne, living her dream in Paris, a life she could not have foreseen in New York. I for one, possessing a passion for interior design, particularly mid-century modern, already have my eye on a few coussins…

Square Modern is based in Paris and available internationally. Join on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest limited edition pillows!

95 years young

Since I was a little girl I always appreciated (and often preferred) the company of elders. If given the choice whether to play with kids my own age or accompany my mom to a friend’s, I usually chose the latter. Perhaps I knew early on how much more you can learn from those older and wiser.

During my colorful New York chapter there was one particular uniquely wise and eccentric woman I often encountered, also perhaps the oldest fashionista to grace the New York nightlife. I first met Zelda Kaplan during my film debut. Aren’t we all entitled to 15 minutes of fame? Along with many other young women we starred in a film directed by Elise Bennett, Beyond the Ladies Room Door. Incidentally, the screening took place close to home at the Hamptons Film Festival. It was a bonding experience, spending time getting to know so many woman, filming for days in a bathroom… Zelda being the wise sage we all sought advice from. A role well suited her.

I write this now in tribute to Zelda Kaplan who passed away last Wednesday, very fittingly in the front row of a fashion show, 95 years young, and filled with life. An example of how aging does not mean living any less vibrantly. Zelda always made a statement in remaining an individual. After all, she designed all her own clothes, very beautiful fabrics might I add, and lived by her own rules. And her advice was always worth listening to. “One must be interested in the world, not in one’s self.” Rest in peace, Zelda.


Paris, My Sweet

“Fantasies do come true. Despite my moments of uncertainty and pangs of loneliness, I was loving life in Paris. I was so smitten with the Gallic city’s grand, plane-tree-lined boulevards and ever-so-slightly crooked side streets, its countless café terraces and the ritual of lingering on them with a single café crème or coupe de champagne.” – Amy Thomas in Paris, My Sweet

photo by Lindsey Tramuta

Amy Thomas. A writer, ad girl and francophile from New York City with a highly refined palate (and appetite) for sweets. A woman after my own heart! As fate would have it, our paths were meant to cross in Paris, where she auspiciously found herself writing ad copy for prestigious client Louis Vuitton. Pas mal! Upon meeting Amy, I immediately sensed an authenticity in her character, natural warmth, and a passion for life. Yes, we would have been friends in New York. Getting to know Amy through our shared experience of Paris, only proved that my instincts were correct. On one of these occasions, during her Croissant Smackdown (a tasting of Paris’ best buttery delicacies), Amy mentioned that she was just awarded a book deal on a project she had been working on. Sweet! I couldn’t wait to read her memoir, as only a true New Yorker in Paris could tell it.

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) is here! In bookstores, on and in my personal prized book collection. February 1st Amy Thomas became a published author, not only in the New York Times, but in the world. How proud I am of mon amie!

Needless to say, I inhaled the book, much like I would a box of macarons. Pierre Hermé or Laduree. It felt as though Amy were telling me her story in person, over a chocolat chaud. From nesting in her ‘tree house’ near rue Montorgueil to her many adventures sampling the best of Paris’ pâtisseries, via vélib’ bien sûr, to her endless attempts at finding her way into the core of a fascinating (and often challenging) city and the mind of its people. The tales are both sweet and savory, and worthy of being told, in a language and manner uniquely Amy. A lot of English, a bit of French, and all heart.

Though her experiences of Paris and New York, and often finding herself torn between the two (something I well understand) Amy has proven that you need not choose pleasure or success, beauty or energy, the macaron or the cupcake. You can indeed have it all, or at least taste it all, on either side of the Atlantic. Now then, where to find the best cupcake in Paris and macaron in New York? I believe the answer lies somewhere between chapters two and five…

If you are a fellow sweet freak, or simply adore Paris (who doesn’t?), you too will savor the pages of Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate).

You can also follow Amy via facebook, twitter and on her blogs God, I Love Paris and Sweet Freak.


New York in Paris

As I’m getting to know Paris more intimately and discovering it’s characteristic neighborhoods, each a small village in its own right, I think of how we come to identify with our hood (as the New Yorker would say it) or arrondissement to the Parisiens. The city is made up of 20 arrondissements, as decided by Napoleon III in 1860. Where you are on the map is evident when you glance up at the street signs and find a number ranging from 1 to 20. (Still easy to get lost, trust me!)

Much like in New York where one of the first questions asked ‘Where do you live?’ can create an instant bond, Paris too forms identities via neighborhoods. When I came across this map created by artist Vahran Muratyan of Paris versus New York, I couldn’t help but to think of how well these two cities compliment one another. From someone who shares my sentiments, “When I’m in Paris, I miss New York, and when I’m in New York, I miss Paris. It’s really impossible to choose.”

Even though I lived in the Lower East Side, via Paris I managed to find my way to the West Village bordering SOHO, my two favorite neighborhoods. Yes, I can attest to the accuracy of this map!

Fellow New Yorkers in Paris (and those still to arrive) where do you call home? In NYC and in Paris.

soul of New York

Anyone who knows me, is well aware that New York City resides deeply within my heart. Much like a first love that will forever be revered. Several months ago, via my blogging journey, I met a fellow New Yorker with a similar sentiment towards the city that doesn’t sleep. Phil Vasquez is a writer and filmmaker from Canada, inspired by classic and foreign films and American and French popular music songbooks, everything from Cole Porter to Charles Aznavour. He has resided for many years in NYC and soon… Paris. I quickly discovered that Phil possesses a unique sensitivity and depth that was revealed in his short film, Song of Relations, a beautiful tribute to the soul of old New York City.

Nested in nests of water bays. Superb, rich.
Hemm’d thick all round with sail ships and steam ships.
An island, 16 miles long, solid founded.
Numberless crowded streets. High growths of iron. Slender, strong, light.
Splendidly uprising toward clear skies.
The countless masts. The white shore steamers. The lighters. The ferry-boats.
The downtown streets. The houses of business of the ship merchants and money brokers.
The river streets.
City of hurried and sparkling waters, city of spires and masts.
City nested in bays. My city.
– Walt Whitman

I look forward to following Phil’s journey from New York to Paris, a city he and his wife plan to call home, where he will absorb the culture and no doubt make authentic French films with an American independent production style. And where his unique vision will continue.

To view his film and learn more about this writer & filmmaker in the making:

Also be sure to join Phil Vasquez on facebook and connect on twitter.


travel meets fashion

I love to travel as much as I love designing. Thus, I decided to design a custom travel bag, revealing the three cities closest to my heart. A seemingly easy task, at least for the first two. Paris, since this is now my home and ever since that first visit so many years ago, love at first encounter. New York since it’s where I spent some of the most memorable (and formative) years of my life.

As for the third, that was a challenge. There are many cities I became enamored with, mostly during my journey around the world. Buenos Aires, Hanoi, Ubud (more a town than a city), Sydney, Mumbai, Kyoto, Luang Prabang, Krakow, London, Mexico City… the list goes on. But where was it that stood out in my mind unlike any other? Tokyo. Perhaps because I was there with dear friends on both my first visit and my second. Or perhaps it was due to the freshest sushi I’ve even eaten at 7am after a night of darts and karaoke… or simply, the unique energy and electricity in the air.

Whatever it was, Tokyo won a place on my bag. Along with Paris and New York.

What are your top three?

To make this equally exciting for all fashion savvy travelers out there, I’m giving away one custom hand-painted reversible travel bag to a lucky traveler and fan. With your initials printed on the inside pocket. To enter, leave a comment stating your three favorite cities and join my facebook fan page where I will announce the winner on December 15th. Bonne chance and many a bon voyage!

To order a custom bag or join a bag painting workshop and create your own:

New York, New York

New York City. My first love. The one who taught me most about myself. And the one who I will always hold dear. These Paris days, as months turn into years, I look back on my New York chapter with great nostalgia. As a designer and forever a New Yorker, following the success of my Paris Collection, it feels only natural to create a New York Collection to express my affinity. As Paris is becoming a part of me, so too will New York remain. And now (drumroll)… the grand unveiling!

Upside down or rightside up, it’s NY NY!

Forever a downtown girl.

With a high regard for Brooklyn.

Home in the Lower East Side. Available with UES, UWS, Soho…

On the inside a NYC girl. The bag reversed.

All New York bags hand-painted {with love} in Paris. Available soon on my website. If you MUST have one now, contact me at! And let me know your favorite below…

Paris vs New York

Paris and New York. Two cities that could not be more diverse yet equally loved by many. Each a contrast as well as a compliment to the other. Having to choose one that reigns supreme would be impossible. A life between the two, at least to me, is ideal.

I am certainly not alone in this love for both cities. Friend and fellow New Yorker with one foot in Paris Amy Thomas (aka Sweet Freak), recently wrote about an expo of rising star Vahram Muratyan who illustrates with playful sophistication the contrasts between Paris and New York at an exhibition at the trendy Colette. (exhibition ends September 24th)

As a fan of Vahram’s work, seeing it displayed throughout the boutique was a visual treat.

These two are my favorites from the series. Jean-Luc Godard vs Woody Allen, how clever!

Or perhaps these… How about a macaron with an americano?

This was exactly the inspiration I needed as I’m in the midst of designing a hand-printed New York handbag collection to complement my recent Paris collection. Once a New Yorker in Paris, always.

in remembrance

Today, like so many around the world, I pay tribute to New York City. To the 2,976 lives lost and those forever changed by loss. Ten years have passed since that fateful day. One which will never be forgotten. Like so many others, I looked up towards an ash filled sky, in disbelief, over a city filled with promise, hope and freedom. In that instant all had changed. Today I remember, along with the French, at a real time commemoration at Place du Trocadéro.

As the touching tribute concluded, gray skies turned to blue and the sun shone. In honor.

lights of broadway

Tonight I experienced the lights of Broadway. High up in the sky over the Eiffel Tower. Fireworks synchronized to famous show tunes such as ‘Memory’, ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’, and of course ‘New York, New York’. I am not a huge Broadway fan, but within these spectacular 30 minutes, I felt nostalgic. And utterly in awe. Amidst the 1 million spectators, I had a New York moment, in Paris.



places and people

Recently I spent one week in New York City and the unavoidable question arose, NYC or Paris? Two cities replete with culture, activity and energy, in unique and varying degrees. And both cities now considered my home. I was fortunate enough to discuss life between NYC and Paris over dinner with friend, francophile and New Yorker Amy Thomas. She well articulated this dilemma that many a New Yorker who moves to Paris experiences via HiP Paris Blog in New York or Paris: Une Bonne Question. A question far more complex than ‘bagels versus baguettes’.

Did we arrive to the conclusion that you can live a simultaneous love affair with both cities? Yes.

What became quickly apparent as I caroused the streets of this city that never sleeps (clearly evident in my 6am jetlag induced walks in the East Village), was that is it not the city but the people that create the feeling of home. It was not the trendy new restaurants, art exhibitions and fashion boutiques that I was eager to indulge in. It was the people that had composed my life for so many years. The unique faces that became friends had made my life in New York feel like home. And the backdrop of a vibrant city with endless possibilities, only enhanced the moments we shared.

As the days passed I filled them with as many warm faces as possible. Catching up with friends for even just a New York minute, playing with their babies, attending the wedding of the dear friend I moved to NYC with so many years ago… and celebrating friendship with a well needed girls night.

I began to look at NYC the place as a former love that I will forever cherish. It was NYC the people that held my heart. And shared it with Paris.

home sweet nyc

I have returned to New York City, a visiting local. After a long and eventful year living another life. How does it feel to walk these familiar, chaotic, energy exuding streets? To be surrounded on all sides by foreign faces and stimulation? To speak in a language of English mixed with smiles?

It feels like home. (I have long ago determined that you can have more than one.)

destiny defined

destiny [ˈdɛstɪnɪ] n

1. the future destined for a person or thing; fate; fortune; lot
2. the predetermined or inevitable course of events
3. (Philosophy) the ultimate power or agency that predetermines the course of events

My destiny (and I happen to believe all of the above) was defined exactly two years ago. On Prince street in a city of millions. In the form of an Italian man with smiling eyes.

For this reason, amongst others, New York City will remain in my heart forever.

Do you believe in destiny?

The Fairytale

HiP Paris asked me to write a post in honor of Valentine’s Day. How fitting! Considering that it was LOVE that brought me to the ‘City of Love’. Much like a dream (or fairytale) come true.

The Fairytale

The dream of every girl, particularly on Valentine’s Day, is to be swept away by a Prince Charming, into a setting of eternal sunsets and romantic interludes. Does such a fairytale really exist? No, not exactly. But for everyone there does exist a unique love story. It’s simply a matter of time. And meeting the right Prince.

Needless to say, I never stopped believing in fairytales.

I met my ‘Prince’ one late March afternoon in New York City, very fittingly on the corner of Prince Street. It was a chance encounter, provoked by the puppets of destiny. Me, a hopeful romantic who had just returned from a year long journey around the world. He, a passionate Italian living in Paris. The ‘city that never sleeps’ our stage. Now this was the setting for a fairytale.

Five months later I moved to Paris.  To live my story.

It is now eighteen months of a life founded on love, in a city that sets the precedent for romance. Has it always been easy? Not at all. But is has always been a great adventure. Within this time we have experienced many an amorous interlude, in settings including Italy, Corsica and Greece, but it is the place we call home, Paris, that proves the most enchanting. I might add that the summer sunsets do seem to last an eternity. To continue what can certainly be called a fairytale, we are soon getting married. A happy ending that is merely the beginning.

I often reflect upon my life and how thankful I am. To have met him. And to never have stopped to dream.

Many more inspiring stories on life and love in Paris on the HiP Paris Blog.

sharing the {blog} love

It is almost one year since I began a life of love in Paris, and Love in the City of Lights was born. What a journey it has been! Little did I know what I would learn and who I would encounter along the way, and all the friends I would make in between.

Through the experience of sharing my life with fellow expats and even a few hopeful romantics, I have come to know Paris, its culture and its people more intimately. I still struggle to understand (and accept) the many French cultural nuances, but I feel much more at home and much less an outsider. For these fellow bloggers (and many others not mentioned), and my dear readers, I am very grateful. I share this love with fellow bloggers, francophiles around the world, and Paris expats.

One of my first virtual friendships was with Andi of Misadventures with Andi, who blogs about many of my favorite subjects including travel, culture, love and of course Paris, always keeping the conversation varied and interesting. I hope to meet in person on her next trip to Paris! 

On the topic of life in Paris, so many I love! Beth Arnold I have come to know and admire for her sophisticated and unprecedented Letter From Paris. Lindsey, of Lost in Cheeseland shares many an anecdote on life as an expat, often with humor and always with candor. For the latest in goings on in the City of Lights, Kim inspires with I Heart Paris. Many secrets and cultural happenings are revealed by Heather in Secrets of Paris. The stories and visual poetry by Nichole of little brown pen, living between Paris and NJ, always cause me to feel lucky to live surrounded by so much beauty. Though many don’t realize it until living here, Paris is indeed imperfect and Sion brings this to light in Paris (Im)perfect. Marjorie, who is neither French nor has ever lived in France, writes my inner French girl, describing the French art of living. That undeniable je ne sais quoi that is so inherently French!

Of the mommy club which I am not yet a part, but have several expat friends who are, Barbara writes a very real and witty blog about the experience of living and raising children in a foreign country in International Mama. As a super Mama and freelance writer, she also writes The Expat Freelancer to help expat writers find their voice and use it. Another saavy American mama with many a story to tell to aspiring expat mothers is La Mom.

On the topic of food, everyone knows (or should know) David Lebovitz for his appetizing site about all things food related and author of The Sweet Life. I met David at a sexy book signing and hope to cross paths again over crepes at Breizh Cafe. For those with a sweet tooth, Cat, otherwise known as Little Miss Cupcake, creates the most delectable cupcakes! About where and what to eat (as the amount of dining options can be daunting) a wonderful new site recently launched, aptly titled Paris By Mouth. Food porn anyone? Through a good friend I met Cynthia, a writer and adventurous foodie from LA who writes about exactly that in Adventure Eating. All that eating but where to drink? Forest keeps a detailed account of the tastiest cocktails and happiest happy hours in 52 Martinis

On the topic of travel, one of my favorites, there’s a blog I simply love which bridges the gap between France and Italy, both of which I now consider my homes. Robin, a travel consultant and writer with great travel taste, captures the essence of two of the most beautiful countries in My Melange. I am also a fervent follower of the travels of  Granturismo, Lara and Terence, as they travel for 12 months in 24 destinations. Instant nostalgia for my 2007 travels, 13 months in 32 destinations.

New York City will always remain home to me (considering I now have 3, and counting). To keep myself connected to this dynamic city I begin my mornings with a café creme and a cup of Jo, much loved blog by fashionista and new mommy, Joanna Goddard. There are many more NYC blogs I read, including the inspiring and design saavy my turtleneck by Catherine Mangosing of Brooklyn.

I’m looking forward to discovering many more blogs, meeting many more bloggers and fellow expats, and continued adventures and musings on life and love in Paris in year two!

…you can’t take the city out of the girl

I have finally returned from the grand adventure that I call New York City. Even more grand since living in Paris, as I look into this world that once belonged to me and recall the beautiful chaos that equally challenges and captivates the soul. Now, after countless hours spent with family and friends, reveling in the role of a tourist yet feeling very much like a local, I can take a moment to reflect.

Upon landing at JFK I felt an unexpected surge of patriotism (as this is rather uncommon for me) and felt somewhat high as we drove past the ever enchanting skyline towards my humble abode in the Lower East Side. The air was filled with nostalgia. To share this once chosen path there with the man who so drastically altered it. My smile was even greater. I felt completely at home. 

Our first few days were spent walking, observing and eating. Simple pleasures I never took for granted. All of downtown NYC became our playground, as the welcoming sun followed our impromptu path. 

With merely a taste of the city’s splendors we bid NYC a momentary farewell and flew to Florida to spend Easter with family, namely my mom. Into a world of picture perfect communities, Sunday afternoon polo games and late evening tennis matches. (This chapter surely merits it’s own post, aptly titled ‘Under the Palms’, to be continued…)

Once again in NYC we took to exploring the city, taking the time to inhale the grandness of our surroundings. We walked along the old railroad tracks now a a trendy vantage point called the Highline, admiring the impressive architecture and the views of the streets below.

An afternoon was spent in Central Park, a haven for anyone living in the midst of this urban jungle.

Aside from random encounters with old friends who reminded me of the many years (and seemingly many lives) I lived in NYC, I was feeling much like a tourist. So why not walk the Brooklyn Bridge? Followed by a sunset stroll on the promenade in Brooklyn Heights and a dinner in Williamsburg.

It felt rather surreal. Being back in the scene that had set the stage for my life. What I missed the most, aside from the unique energy, is the diversity in it’s many forms. The people give the city it’s soul. As quoted in the film New York, I Love You, ‘everyone comes from somewhere else’, thus NYC is composed of a unique mélange of cultures. Regardless of where you come from, you belong. Diversity too, is ever present in the city’s architectural landscape. I was completely taken with LA-based designer Thom Mayne as I caught sight of his newly built Copper Union in the East Village.

My ‘quartier’ of the Lower East Side, is one of the oldest and mostly recently gentrified neighborhoods of NYC. The streets speak of history and taste of a variety of international cuisines. Filled with so much character, not to mention characters, it creates a world of it’s own, as do so many of New York City’s neighborhoods.

I was sad to leave when the time came, having not properly caught up with dear friends and simply not having the time to reflect. As is said in life, be careful what you ask for! Little did I know a volcano was brewing in far away Iceland and I would in fact be spending much more time with friends and the inner workings of my mind than I had anticipated. All alone, as my accomplice had already flown back, but far from lonely. Perhaps this was the time I needed to confirm that my life was elsewhere. As much as NYC will always be my home, my heart is in Paris.

return to NYC

Today I am returning to visit the place I have called home for so many years. The place where I learned the many lessons that life needed to teach me. The place where I became much of who I am. New York City. A city possessing great energy, movement and life. How will it feel to land on American soil, the soil of freedom and expression and possibility? After 7 months of being planted in Paris. I am looking forward to the feeling, whatever it may be. Elation, nostalgia, perhaps even displacement. Culture shock? Most of all I am looking forward to the cherished faces I call my friends. And the food! Somehow I don’t think I will be dining at the many French bistros I used to frequent. And I may spend my entire days looking up, not at the sky but at the grandness of it all. All the while smiling with the eyes of a tourist and the soul of a local.

one year later

It is almost one year since I met him. ‘Him’ being the reason I am living in Paris. So much of life is about timing. The rest is up to us. In the words of my mother, indeed the wisest woman I know, ‘everyone is given a moment in life that can alter its course forever, and it’s what you do in that moment that makes all the difference.’ Either the head or the heart must dictate. I chose the heart.

This is my story in short, to inspire those searching for love amidst the chaos and distraction of a city like NYC, or anywhere in the world for that matter. I met with love on the street, on a late evening in early Spring, in NYC’s Soho neighborhood. In one fortuitous moment two smiles were exchanged. Followed by a drink, followed by dinner (which will remain one of the most defining moments of my life), followed by simple knowing. Perhaps it all began with knowing.

Reflecting on my life, have I ever been one to follow the assigned path? To do what is expected of me? Yes, in regards to my academic and professional life. I climbed the proverbial ladder, so to speak, living 12 years of a highly responsible, moderately corporate, decreasingly satisfying life in NYC. Until I disembarked at a rather advantageous height and abandoned the ladder altogether (here begins my story of traveling the world, an experience that undoubtedly contributed to the status of my current life, to be delved into in later musings…) Back to the path, the vast vista that lies ahead in which all the secrets of our lives are revealed. When it came to love, I simply NEVER followed a path. Born a hopeless romantic who at around the age of 15 decided it wiser to live a life as ‘hopeful’, my heart ALWAYS dictates. For this, I thank my parents.

Every day amidst these foreign tastes and yet undecipherable sounds, I feel fortunate. Whenever appropriate I share my story with like-hearted women, those who for years have reputed love to be something only to read about in romance novels or to watch upon the big screen. (One too many heartbreaks can dissuade even the most diehard of romantics.) In our current state of ‘Generation X’ affairs, the mind often takes precedence over the heart. A career sets the path while love only provides temporary rest stops. I agree that we must follow our own path towards fulfillment, and whatever we consider to be success, but at what cost? Is not love the foundation upon which fulfillment and success is built? Beginning with the love of self.

I believe that you get what you ask for in life, what you truly desire. Often this is not so evident as it’s hidden deeply in our subconscious. But in a moment, or sometimes an entire lifetime of reflection, the answer becomes clear. Sometimes it’s as simple as smiling at a stranger.

Life in Paris : Top 10

It is nearly 6 months that I am living a life of love (and miscellaneous other sentiments, depending on the day), in the most romantic city in the world, Paris! Not to mention with the most passionate of men, an Italian. (No offense to all others nationalities of the world, most of which I think very highly of, but I must be partial). 

As any ex-pat who has lived in Paris knows very well, living in a uniquely French culture is no easy task. These days the French are even asking themselves ‘What does it mean to be French?’ Hence, is there even a place for the culturally curious like myself? Being raised by a Polish mother and an American father (a Francophile I might add), I always understood and accepted culture to be a mysterious and stimulating mélange. Having grown up mostly in the USA, a country composed of immigrants, this is what I was taught is acceptable, also considering I never chose to fit in, in the first place. In hindsight, the ‘American Dream’ was never mine. (Hmmm, does a white picket fence exist in the South of France?)

Rather than begin the debate ‘Can an ex-pat ever be considered French’, or a long list of what I miss about my life in NYC (so many simple pleasures filled my 12 years…), versus the many difficulties I face in France, I will focus on what I LOVE about Paris. In an attempt to increase my awareness about this city and to miss home a little less.

My top 10, in no particular order (except for the first one):

1. Paris is for lovers and I am in Love! In NYC too, surely love can be found, but much more difficult to nurture in such a fast-paced city with so much of everything.

2. Eating is an art. Dinner is a daily ritual, an experience to savour, whether dining at home on a Monday night, at a local bistro with friends, or at a highly-rated Brasserie. 

3. The pace of life is S L O W. These days, I rarely walk with the speed of a New Yorker. As soon as the flowers begin to blossom I will take the time to smell them. ALL of them.

4. Living history. Each corner of Paris feels like stepping into the pages of a history book. Simply taking a walk, anywhere, is enchanting.

5. Simple pleasures. You can exist on a decadent (if not so balanced) diet of the finest in bread, cheese, wine and chocolate, at least for the first month. I could go on about the cheese…

6. Art fills the air. The unique and often beautiful graffiti art and murals are a pleasure to admire. Even a shopping trip to Galeries Lafayette proves a cultural experience, with a gallery exhibiting select artists and window displays to match. And the MANY revered galleries lining the left and right banks…

7. The sky. Particularly mesmerizing at dusk. (I can’t recall, was there even a sky in NYC?)

8. Time to be. Mostly due to the highly coveted 35 hour work week. The French value their free time, something I (nor anyone I know) seemed to ever have enough of in NYC. To pursue hobbies, to travel, simply to be. 

9. The Seine. Whether it be a late summer night, wrapped in warm air overlooking the Notre Dame, or a brisk walk across the Pont Neuf in the chill of winter, in the reflection of the Seine I cannot help but to smile and feel grateful.

10. The people I love most in the world will all come to visit. This is Paris after all!

The list is much longer and there remain many more Parisian delights to discover. (Please feel free to add your own.)

What is that famous saying, ‘you can take the girl out of the city…’. I will always be a New Yorker at heart, and I will never quite attain the status of a Parisian. But surely I will enjoy the experience of living in this culturally resplendent city and adding to the richness of my own unique culture.

an ode to love


On rare occasion I am left to my own devices in ‘the city of lights’. Not nearly as much fun to run wild amidst these serene, cobbled streets as in the cacophonous, never-ending avenues of ‘the city that never sleeps’. Or perhaps I have lost that desire to run, and I was never in fact so wild. On such nights when my love is far away, in the company of a glass (or two) of wine and a good camembert, I reflect on the single life I left behind. The endless girls’ nights which left me feeling somewhat pensive but mostly empowered, the numerous dates that left me longing for another girls’ night, and the many unique experiences that never left me. It is these many years of living alone, struggling to find purpose in a single existence without allowing work to dominate (the challenge of most single women in NYC), understanding that there comes a time for everything, that I moved so gracefully from single into double. Simply, I was ready. And in patience and faith, love, in the form of this dear creature with whom I now share my life, had come to ‘rescue’ me, as he playfully calls our chance encounter. Perhaps we rescued each other, just in time to confirm that true love still does exist. (Even I being a hopeful romantic was beginning to have doubts). And now, I can sit in a place I call home, in the quiet of my own breath and feel completely at peace. Happy to be alone for a brief moment, just long enough to appreciate the sensation of love and long for it’s return.

from NYC…

Each day prior to my departure is deeply savored, filled with faces and sights that have for so many years composed my life. NYC provided the grounds for me to become. It is the ideal city in which to discover yourself, if you can in fact find enough discipline and awareness not to become someone else. It is difficult to imagine that the streets and the scenes are soon going to change, the Empire State Building which I had woken up to for so long will soon turn into the Eiffel Tower.

to fall in love

Life never felt the same. I had been so accustomed to being alone with my thoughts, the greatest constant being the eternal inconstancy of my creative mind. I now had someone with whom to share these many musings, in the form of long fluid emails, frequent poetic texts and unexpected melodic phone calls. I took my time, as is easy to do being continents apart. One of my most revered forms of communication is the written word (these days the long form is e-mail, the short being a text). There is much to learn in the formality of one’s writing, in the words used and the mood they create. I had to give him a break, English not being his native tongue. I was deeply moved by his literary competence, not to mention the emotional intelligence of his writing. Every day I looked forward to his words, and expressed more of my own. Thus, the anticipation grew.

He returned in six weeks for ten days. On day three, we fell in love. There is much to say and many words to describe the events that led to falling in love, but this I will keep for myself, as each of us should have the pleasure to discover this feeling in our own unique story. Very simply, you know. And forever you savour this sensation.

the hopeful optimist

Like most seasoned women in NYC, having lived many stories strewn with incidental tales of love, I still needed to be convinced. This was undeniably a request by my latent realist who had apparently awoken. Our time had ended. The memories of him lingered sweetly on my mind, from the last farewell merely days and blocks away from our first hello. He had promised to return, soon, to continue our story. My confident and curious eyes found in him the same sincerity I had initially welcomed.

I was often told to act passively and allow the man to prove himself. Needless to say I am not one to follow the rules, but I did distance myself, as far away as an ocean, all the while the ‘hopeful optimist’. Is there any other way to be?

dinner of destiny

From the first drink that night in March we spoke with a unique fluidity about traveling experiences and the beautiful mysteries of life. Simply, it felt easy. I felt well and warm with this Italian man. He was at once engaging, funny, kind and adoring. But the characteristic that appealed most to me was that he was genuine. This I knew from his eyes.

Two days later we met for dinner. We were both filled with an eager anticipation and a feeling of knowing. It is often not about what is said but what is felt.

the meeting

For each of us there exist many loves, but only one ‘true love’. Or so my experience has taught me.

As soon as I met him I knew. There was something in his smile, or was it his welcoming eyes. Perhaps it was the warmth that emanated from his entire being. I felt immediately at peace in his presence.

The meeting of our souls took place on the corner of Prince and Crosby streets in New York City. I was enroute to yoga, or perhaps I was subconsciously seeking another form of internal peace. Little did I know what had in the chance moment captured my gaze, soon to be my heart. It was in that moment that I met with my great love. The one for whom you search your entire life (those of us who in fact believe there exists an ideal love). I did just so, living in NYC for 12 years and traveling the world for 13 months…but our paths were not yet meant to cross, until that fortuitous day in mid-March.

As the story goes, our eyes spoke followed by a short exchange of smiles mingled with words. I quickly learned that he was Italian, in search of shoes (and a woman to walk in them with?), and he lived in Paris. His days in NYC were limited as he was soon returning home. We arranged a rendezvous as time was of the essence.

One would think to run into a handsome Italian man living in Paris would lead to a beautiful love story. (Those non-romantic, jaded skeptics would sense danger and run in the opposite direction). Well in fact, it does. Falling in love however, takes time. In this romantic tale, 6 weeks to be exact.