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.

Art + Fashion

What could be better than shopping in the midst of an art exhibition? Art and fashion, two of my favorites. Today I discovered both at Le Bon Marché, Paris’s first (and most exclusive) department store founded in 1838.

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota‘s in-store exhibition titled “Where are we going?” begins on the ground floor where the artist has spun 300,000 yards of white thread throughout a designated space. It’s both calming and perplexing as you wander through this white abyss. I was so mesmerized, I almost forgot that I had come to shop. All 10 window displays too are filled with the artist’s web, some with ancient maps.

The celestial element of this exhibition by Chiharu Shiota is visually poetic. The symbolism stayed with me long after I had left the store. It comprises 150 white boats carried on a wave and invites us to be amazed but also to question. The artist establishes an analogy between human life and travel: people set off for an unknown destination, crossing an ocean of experiences, emotions, encounters and memories. Chiharu Shiota evokes a fresh start, while keeping the itineraries open: “Life is a voyage with no destination”.

For those in Paris, this exhibition that was meant to close on February 18th, will continue until April 2nd.

 

date with Paul Klee

Those who read my blog know that other than travel, art is my greatest inspiration in designing my bags, and simply, in living. Those who know me well, know that Paul Klee is one of my most revered artists. When I found out that he, I mean his work, was coming to the Pompidou for a retrospective, I was elated. I freed my calendar for an opening night date with the master. The last time we “met” was almost 6 years ago at his last exhibition. This time 230 of Klee’s pieces are on display, as his work is examined through the prism of irony. According to Klee’s son Felix, “He always had a great taste for satire, for irony, for everything that isn’t quite serious.”

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This show will be going on for quite some time, until August 1st to be exact. But for those unable to make it, here are a number of works that I carefully selected to share with you, many from his museum in Bern. Each one provoking unique thought, causing me to stop and stare. And often to smile. Enjoy the show!

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St. Germain near Tunis. 1914

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Green x Above Left. 1915

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Chosen Boy. 1918

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Adam and Little Eve. 1921

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Fire at Full Moon. 1933

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Snake Paths. 1934

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Intention. 1938

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High Spirits. 1939

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Following the exhibition I stood for a while and admired the view. Knowing Klee would have approved.

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.

Hôtel de Ville

Often I walk past Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ City Hall since 1357, and always I wonder what the interior looks like. This neo-renaissance building houses the local administration, and since 1977, the Mayor of Paris. Rebuilt after the original burnt down during the Paris Commune in 1871, it sits close to the Seine, bordering the famed Marais and attracting all who pass by its regal structure. Very often an art exhibition takes place within or outside its walls.

IMG_2045Every September, Les Journées du Patrimoine or Heritage Days, envelop Paris. For these 2 days it’s possible to visit monuments & sites usually not accessible to the public, for free, if you don’t mind standing in line, sometimes for hours.

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bridge of love

I’m certainly an advocate of expressing love in it’s many forms, both privately and publicly, but when it starts to weigh heavily (in this case literally) even I, a diehard romantic become disenchanted. This is the case with Paris’ much loved bridge, also a symbol of love.

IMG_9632In 2008, tourists from around the world began attaching ‘love locks’ to the Pont de Arts. By engraving their initials & throwing the key into the Seine, their love was forever locked.

IMG_9635In February 2014, well over 700,000 locks were estimated to be attached to the bridge.

IMG_9646There was much concern about the possible damage caused by the weight of the locks. In June of 2014, that fear was justified when part of the parapet on the bridge collapsed.

IMG_9647In August 2014, the Paris Mayor’s Office began to encourage “selfiies” in place of love locks, with their campaign “Love Without Locks”. “Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. Set them free by declaring your love with #lovewithoutlocks.” Even a No Love Locks campaign was started by two concerned women who call Paris home.

IMG_9674Over 50% of the panels on the Pont des Arts had to be boarded over with plywood.

IMG_9677On September 18, 2014, much to tourists dismay, the City Hall of Paris replaced three panels with glass as they searched for a suitable replacement which could hold no locks.

IMG_9661Starting on June 2015, the locks were removed, with Health and Safety officials stating “the romantic gestures cause long term Heritage degradation and danger to visitors”.

IMG_9689As of 2015, over a million locks weighing around 45 tons were attached to the bridge.

IMG_9699These days, Pont des Arts has become less about locks and more about art. Artists Jace, El Seed, Brusk & Pantonio have been commission to decorate the bridge with their work.

IMG_9713As I walked the length of the bridge and around it, I admired the graffiti artwork and the stories being told, knowing that this will in time be replaced by padlock-proof glass panels.

IMG_9702 Love continues to reign in padlock form as tourists attach their locks to the sturdier sides.

IMG_9716 I couldn’t help but think that true love should be set free, rather than locked. Yes, I know it’s only symbolic. But there are many less damaging ways to express our sentiments.

IMG_9726What are your thoughts about love and locks and this new look of Pont des Arts?

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