Artist Sonia Delaunay is one of the inspirations behind my handbags. Arriving to Paris in 1905, Sonia believed “modernity could be expressed through the primacy of color in art and the dynamic interplay of its dissonances and harmonies”. Due in large part to her beliefs and the quality of her work, Delaunay is responsible for bringing art into daily life.
I was overjoyed to spend an afternoon with my muse at her Musée d’Art Moderne retrospective in Paris, what was once her home. ( I often visit her paintings at Pompidou’s permanent collection.) Over 400 works were on display, including paintings, wall decorations, gouaches, prints, fashion items and textiles. A designer’s paradise!
Bringing together the fine and applied arts, Sonia Delaunay desired to liberate color, without restricting it to surface. Her art was brought into life, and into fashion.
Art and life became one. “It was my life and I worked the whole time, but I wasn’t working – I was living – and that is the difference.”
Delaunay’s textiles varied greatly from the naturalistic designs popular in the early 1920s. Her fabrics incorporated geometric shapes, often with strong, bold colors.
I often look at paintings and see them as fabric. That is after all, how I came up with my wearable art designs. For me, there is no better example of this than the work of Delaunay.
“For me there is no gap between my painting and my so-called ‘decorative’ work. I never considered the ‘minor arts’ to be artistically frustrating; on the contrary, it was an extension of my art.”
Sonia’s vision was uniquely vibrant. For her “color is the skin of the world”.
Sonia Delaunay retrospective ends February 22
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!
Frank 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!
From the top you can perfectly view Paris’ business district of La Défense in the distance.
I was enchanted by the mirrors and moat on the ground floor.
Outside, the cascading waterfall creates a feeling of serenity amidst the concrete.
My 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.
THIS was a sight to behold!
I liked Diana the moment I met her. She possesses strength in her manner, her eyes sparkle with optimism, and her deep voice exudes confidence. We first met at the women’s group we belong to, and soon after we shared thoughts about leaving New York and starting life in Paris, as well as the trials and thrills of running a business. I have yet to join Diana on a Paris workout (but I certainly will) and am a big fan of her book, filled with wise advice on how to live a more healthy, balanced, and yes, sexy life. Her story (and her book) is certain to inspire!
December 20, 2013 was a day of YES. I said yes to the marriage proposal and my new fiancé accepted the contract for a new job in Paris. Two months later, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle on a rainy morning, hardly believing what we had just done.
Rewind a few months and if you told us we would be living in Paris now, we would have laughed (even though my now-husband is French.) We had a beautiful life in New Jersey and New York City. My husband had a solid job and absolutely adored the USA (and still does), but he was looking for a greater challenge. I had most of my business connections, my best friends, and family, but wasn’t ready to “settle” in the suburbs of New Jersey. Actually, our eyes were focused on California. My time living in San Diego was wonderful and we both knew the California lifestyle would fit us perfectly. But then, in what felt like a blink of an eye, my husband was recruited rapidly by a company he used to work for in Paris. Questions arose: Could we live in Paris? Is this good for my business? Is now the right time? Would we love our lives there?
I was scared. Even though I had dreams of living abroad during my lifetime and felt a strong pull towards Paris, I truly never planned any kind of move. I figured marrying a Frenchman would fulfill my French dream, as we would be traveling there at least once a year to visit his family in Normandy.
We ultimately decided that it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass on. My business is online, so I could easily continue my work as an Author and Healthy Lifestyle Coach. Helping women live the balanced, centered, and sexy lives they deserve worldwide didn’t limit me to a particular timezone. I had big plans for my business, and I could easily continue in Paris.
I was actually reading my own book to get through my nerves about moving abroad. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly excited, but all of the what ifs creeped into my brain, especially knowing that I had to re-learn French. I had moved across the country before (NYC to San Diego, San Diego to Washington D.C., then back to NYC) but I never had to learn a new language to live in those cities. But, in true Diana fashion, I pushed forward because I knew I was going to make it. I had no other choice. This is what I help women deal with on a daily basis: following their intuitions, pushing through the what ifs, and creating lives they love.
I’ve been called the fastest expat transition in Paris. On my second day here, I went to a women’s networking group meeting, the Paris Women of Success. Freshly jet lagged, the group gave me a round of applause for putting myself out there when I hadn’t even been living in my new city for 24 hours.
Ten months have flown by already. I have expanded my online business to an in-person element in Paris doing workouts in the parks and have big plans for an Unleash Your Sexy Experience launch in 2015, online and in-person. Plus, many of the women of Paris (francaise et expatriee!) have been using my book “Unleashed” as their lifestyle bibles. I have made new friends from all over the world. I know my way around the city and actually can get certain places without the Maps app on my phone (big success for me). I have travelled so much of France and was able to take weekend trips to London and Rome. I have a wonderful life in Paris.
My husband works 12-hour days (sometimes more) so I’ve been on my own for most of this. We enjoy weekends together, though he jokes that he knows Paris through my Instagram feed. He’s been incredibly supportive and happy with my transition and luckily shares the same experiences from when he moved to the USA. I took French courses for the first nine weeks I was in Paris and practice with my local boulanger and new family when I see them. I’m proud of myself that I feel comfortable enough with the language to have conversations and get what I want! It’s not always easy living in Paris. I’ve had my fair share of rudeness and bureaucracy. Even being married didn’t make the visa and immigration process facile. But I made a very important decision when I arrived: I always have a choice, and I choose happiness.
What have you overcome because you chose happiness? Or what can you overcome now to find happiness? Leave a comment and like the Unleash Your Sexy Facebook Page to be entered to win a copy of Diana’s best-selling book “Unleashed: Live the Balanced, Centered, and Sexy Life You Deserve.” And follow Diana on Twitter & Instagram!
One of my favorite French words is chouette which literally means owl, or when used to describe someone or something, means it’s great or cool, as in c’est chouette. A few weeks ago while walking around my neighborhood, I noticed Les Chouettes, what appeared to be a new eatery. Upon entering I was completely taken with the decor and design of this new restaurant which opened on October 4th. Love at first sight!
The restaurant was in fact named for an antique owl that the French owner found at a flea market. Inspired by art and a New York vision, the owner hired Spanish architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán to design the three level interior, what used to house a jewelry factory.
As I climbed the spiral staircase to the second floor I discovered a bar serving artisanal beer and ale, as well as a vast selection of liquor. They even make their own juices.
The third floor revealed a cozy library in which to sip your wine while reading Rimbaud.
This is the perfect place to escape to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a evening apéro.
And how is the food? I have yet to try it, but with an inventive French chef and seasonal ingredients, and a menu that changes every two weeks, how can you go wrong?
This is certain to become a favorite haunt in Paris. Welcome to the neighborhood!
Les Chouettes : 32 Rue de Picardie, 75003 (01 44 61 73 21)
In an attempt to make even a small difference in the world, one that is often fraught with conflict, I designed the United Collection, representing people coming together in freedom, harmony, balance and unity. Twenty percent of all proceeds from sales of the United bags will go towards the global humanitarian organization, International Red Cross. With my mission in place, this was certainly a fun project to work on. Photographer Hélène Loire and I spent a beautiful late afternoon photographing the collection, beginning with that which we are all entitled to, freedom.
freedom (n): The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.
harmony (n): A pleasing combination of elements in a whole.
balance (v): To bring into or maintain in a state of equilibrium.
united (n): The state of being united or joined as a whole.
More images from the United Collection on Kasia Dietz handbags website.
In addition to donating 20% of United bag sales to International Red Cross, I’m giving away a bag to one of my readers (chosen at random Dec 1st) as an early holiday gift. Just leave a comment below stating which United bag is your favorite, and be sure to join my designing life on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Meanwhile, let’s all try to maintain a sense of freedom, harmony, balance and unity.
I first visited Picasso in Paris ten years ago, stopping to admire the 17th-century mansion known as the Hôtel Salé, on one of my many walks around the Marais. I remember thinking what a shame that so much of his personal work was in storage, as there was scant wall space to display the artwork. Little did I know I would end up living just a stone’s throw from this artist’s legacy, but with only the garden open for viewing. As anyone who is a fan of Picasso’s work knows, the Musée Picasso has been closed for the last 5 years (3 years longer than expected), undergoing extensive renovations.
On Friday morning, October 24th, one day shy of Picasso’s birthday and the official opening, I was invited inside the newly renovated museum, now three times the size and much more impressive.
I walked around the five floors in awe of the renewed space which now boasts over 400 of Picasso’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, as well as works from his personal collection.
Musée Picasso plans to host one major exhibit each year. Next year, in collaboration with New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, it will be a show revolving around Picasso’s sculpture. Until then, I plan to spend many a Paris morning with Picasso.
Samantha Verant is a woman after her own heart, one that she left at a train station in Paris in 1989. His name was Jean-Luc. They met randomly at a Paris bistro during her European adventures, and the seeds of love were planted. Like most travel romances, after their 24 hour affair, they continued to journey solo. But not without Jean-Luc writing Samantha seven heartfelt love letters, filled with passion and depth. Years went by and Samantha found herself living an unfulfilled, passionless life, dreaming of this handsome Frenchman from the past. What happens when Samantha uncovers these letters 20 years later and searches for her long lost love, Jean-Luc? In a word: magic. But not without hardship. Samantha’s memoir Seven Love Letters from Paris
is proof of the power of love and how overcoming fear can help dreams come true.
Even though I haven’t yet met Samantha, (but plan to soon as I’m certain she and I and our passion driven husbands will get along splendidly), I feel like I know her. We became friends via our blogs, and when I heard about her romantic tale, I couldn’t wait for her to share it with the world. Once the book was published just days ago, I could not put it down, as Samantha recounts her love story with her amorous rocket scientist, from the very first meeting. Fiction could not have told a better tale! How happy I am for this couple in love, who were certainly destined for one another. In Samantha’s words, as in my own, “L’amour! Encore l’amour! Toujours l’amour!”
SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS: A MEMOIR:
Twenty years, seven letters, and one long-lost love of a lifetime
Watch the book trailer:
Thank you Samantha, for living and documenting your love story with such a generous heart!
Connect with Samantha via: Web, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter
It’s true that to be truly happy we must appreciate not only who we are and what we have but also where we are. This means to make the most of wherever we call home. There are several places close to my heart, but these last 5 years, it’s Paris that I am lucky to call my home. With all it’s flaws and imperfections (those who have lived here know what I’m talking about), but much like a person, no place is perfect. There are certainly days in which I miss the chaos of New York City, or the calm of Westhampton Beach, but there is certainly no place as beautiful as Paris. And I have seen a lot.
A few days ago, I took a walk along the Seine.
It is here that I often find myself on early evenings.
I had a rendezvous with my Italian, but kept walking and walking…
Captivated by the light on this late summer evening.
And this is when it occurred to me exactly how lucky I am.
One reason I love when my mom comes to Paris to visit is that I get to spoil her. I spend months in preparation, planning all sorts of events, exhibitions, eating experiences, etc. This year I thought I’d surprise her with a mother/daughter high tea. Where better than at the Four Seasons George V?
Upon entering this ethereal setting, we were taken with Jeff Leatham’s stunning floral compositions.
My mom and I were in our element, both of us favoring sweet over savory.
We began our indulgent afternoon with one of Lucien Gautier’s fruitful masterpieces.
Is there anything better than French pastries with champagne to compliment?
How happy I was to spend such a memorable afternoon with my mom, and in such sweet splendor!
Even before I moved to Paris I was always drawn to the rive droite, the right bank. That to me, is home. Everyone has a side, don’t they? When Habitat Parisien proposed that I experience life on the left bank (and in one of their gorgeous apartments with a stunning view) I didn’t think twice. Maybe this would turn me into a rive gauche girl?
My apartment was situated in Saint Germain, close to Pont Neuf. I climbed up to the terrace just as the sun was setting… What a view! Sacre Coeur in the distance, beneath a sky unlike any other.
I quickly made myself at home on rue Dauphine and contemplated never leaving this perfect perch.
Is there anything more magical than the Paris sky at twilight?
The next few days I spent evenings on my terrace, watching the sky change it’s hues, rosé in hand.
So how was life on the left bank? It certainly gave me a new appreciation of Paris as I explored a lesser known neighborhood and often felt much like a tourist. My affinity for the rive gauche grew, but deep down I’m still a rive droite girl.