It’s finally spring in New England. That means that the students at my school have swapped pants and coats for short shorts and shorter skirts, putting a lot of leg on display. Cannes de serin (kan duh sare-ahn) is slang for “canary legs”; the expression refers to twiggy little matchstick legs. The bird in the photo above is a sandpiper, rather than a canary, but its jambes do bear rather a strong resemblance to some of the adolescents in my world.
I came across a new French word recently that applies to me – calcéophilie (kal-say-o-phil-e). This is a relatively new hybrid, derived from Latin and Greek. Calceo means “shoe” in Latin and phile is “love” in Greek. So calcéophilie is love of shoes, probably one that is a little out of control. I have always loved shoes and even though I have more than fifty pairs (all dear friends), I can’t help checking out new ones when I pass a tempting display. A few weeks ago, we saw a great exhibit about shoes at the Peabody Essex museum in Salem, MA. (It has now closed or I would heartily recommend it to you.) We were there shortly after the exhibit opened for the day and it was packed, so there must be a lot of calcéophiles out there, so I have lots of company.
Trimballer (trahm-ball-ay), also spelled trimbaler, means to lug or cart about. Everywhere you go in France, someone is lugging their groceries, school books, or existential dissertation in a Longchamp Le Pliage, the origami inspired folding bag. It comes in a host of colors and sizes, in nylon or leather, and every year there are some special editions to spice things up a bit. If those options aren’t enough for you, you can also customize your own Le Pliage, down to having your name embroidered on the very preppy stripe. That should lighten the weight of any load you need to trimballe about.
I came across a new word on the Mode Personnel(le) blog that I follow. The context was how to incorporate a classic vintage bag, like the Hermès Kelly, into a normal wardrobe. The person writing for help lamented, “…j’ai vite l’air de Bernadette Chirac en goguette.” Bernadette Chirac is the rather formidable looking wife of the former French president Jacques Chirac. I had to look up en goguette (ohn go-get). It means “making merry” or “enjoying oneself.” The origin of the word dates back to the fifteenth century and referred to a gathering of people to sing and have fun together, especially around Carnaval. It’s rather hard to find any pictures of Madame Chirac doing anything but glowering! I really can’t picture her busting lose at a karaoke night. Mais on ne sais jamais (But one never knows).
How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair, by Jonathan Beckman – This is a detailed historical account of the scandal over a diamond necklace that may have been one of the causes that led to the French Revolution. Trust me. Hollywood could never make up a story like this.
L’Empereur – Remember those cute little penguins that marched across our screens and into our hearts in 2005? Well, they’re back – in France at least. Filmmaker Luc Jacquet was now able to film them underwater, thanks to technological advances in equipment. There is currently no release date set for North America, but since the last film won an Oscar, I hope it’s only a matter of time.
Seda France candles and home fragrance – I bought some Seda France candles and diffusers as gifts at Christmas and ended up keeping one each for myself. When researching this post, I learned that the company is not actually French at all, but rather based in Texas. Nonetheless, the beautiful packaging recalls the 18th century French passion for chinoiserie and toile and the scents are rich and complex. After only fifteen years in business, Seda is a newcomer compared to such venerable companies as Cire Trudon that dates to 1643, but I must say I’m impressed. They currently have a sitewide sale if you’d like to sample a new fragrance. I’m particularly partial to Japanese Quince and Currant Pourpre.
Gad Gone Wild – French stand-up comedian Gad Elmaleh is on Netflix (USA) with a live show in Montreal. He has hysterically funny sets about immigration, taxis, cultural differences between Morocco, Paris, and New York.
Posted in Décor, Literature, Media, Movies
Tagged French Revolution, Gad Elmahleh, Gad Gone Wild, How to Ruin a Queen, Jonathan Beckman, L'Empereur, Luc Jacquet, Marie Antoinette, penguin, Seda France
MM. LaFleur – At this time of the winter, looking foward to spring – and spring clothes – is a popular coping mechanism. I need absolutely nothing, but I can’t help looking at the lovely clothes on the M.M. LaFleur site. Their clothes are designed for professional women and they have the added advantage that they travel well and are machine washable. Their permanent showroom is in New York, but they also have some pop-up locations in major U.S. cities. If you can’t travel to one of their shops, you can shop online, or they will also send you a “Bento box” with four to six clothing items to check out based on the preferences in your questionnaire. The only French thing about the company is the name, based on the founder Sarah LaFleur, but the esthetic is pure French, with its emphasis on quality and simplicity. I am soooo tempted.
Matisse in the Studio – The Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be welcoming an exhibit about Henri Matisse from April 9 to July 9, 2017. Matisse placed great importance on objects that he used regularly for his paintings. This is the only US stop for this exhibit that brings together 36 paintings, 26 drawings, 11 bronzes, and many other works, representing all stages of the artist’s career. Many are from private collections and have never before been exhibited outside of France.
Peaches for Father Francis (original title Peaches for Monsieur le Curé), by Joanne Harris – If you liked the book or film Chocolat, you’ll enjoy the continuation of the story. All the same characters are here, but now Viane is trying to help the curé, Francis Reynaud, the man who tried to run her out of town in Chocolat. In that story, the town was suspicious of the River Rats, the travelers who blew into town and were treated with suspicion. Now, the “other” is represented by a group of Muslims who are new in town. Harris explores the issues of identity, tolerance, prejudice and lies with her blend of magical realism and keen understanding for the issues plaguing contemporary France. It’s pretty pertinent in the US right now, too.
Channel your inner French girl with a striped top from La Ligne. The name of the New York company means The Line, and they specialize in striped basics in their Essentials Collection as well as a some more fashion-forward pieces in the Edition Collection. This snazzy top can even be personalized with your initials on the navy band on the sleeve. If I didn’t already own about twenty striped tops, I’d be adding this one to my closet. If you are going to be in New York on February 10 and 11, 2017, they are having their first ever sample sale, with prices starting at $50. (265 Canal St. Ste. 402, Hours Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-5, cash or charge only)
My next book to giveaway is Le Livre des passages de Paris, a paperback, written in French, about one of my favorite places in Paris – the covered passages that were super chic shopping galleries, many of which are still in business. If you would like to have it, please just leave a comment to that effect. To keep shipping costs reasonable, I have to limit winners to the US only. I’ll announce the winner in the next Friday Finds. Dede Thompson, you won the prior book, Paris panoramique. Please send your shipping information to firstname.lastname@example.org.