Saturday, July 12, 2008


Aka La Semaine de la M-OHHHHHHH-DE

It happens around six times a year. Suddenly, the entire city appears to be invaded by tall, leggy creatures with bobbing heads and obscenely dark eyelashes. There are no taxis in sight, no rooms available at the Ritz and not an empty table to be found at the Hotel Costes. And – holy merde! – an alien with a leather skirt is attacking the Plaza Athenée! (oops, don’t worry, that was just Victoria Beckham on her way back from lunch.) Paris Fashion Week - the Fall/Winter 2008-2009 Men’s and Haute Couture collections that is – recently wrapped in the city of lights. For those working in fashion, this meant days of running (or if you’re Anna Wintour or someone of a certain status, not running but rather, driven in a private car by a chauffeur named Pierre-Jeeves) from one show to the next and from one cocktail party to another. For those NOT working in fashion (cough cough) this meant a few days of “really, really ridiculously good-looking” people-watching, a few more fun events than usual and a champagne-induced hangover leaving everyone Haut Cout-SORE.
A few highlights from le week:

Richard Avedon expo at the Jeu de Paume, opening night “Vernissage”

The expo runs July 1-Sept. 28 in Paris at the famous Jeu de Paume (think: the oath of the tennis court, 1789). It’s the first major retrospective of Avedon’s work since his death in 2004 and surveys all of the photographer’s career, including 270 photos taken between 1974 and 2004. The exhibition mixes fashion photos (think: Marilyn Monroe) political figures, artists, authors and his “American West” series. I highly recommend it to those of you able to stop by. (And, while you’re there, check out one of my fave café’s, La Ferme – they recently opened a new mini outpost there.)

Dinner at Armani Caffe… with Giorgio Armani!

Okay, so I didn’t exactly have dinner “with” Giorgio Armani per se, but he did sit just across the room from me. After all of the times I’ve dined there, finally the man himself decided to join me. I asked the waiter to send a message to Monsieur Armani to thank him for feeding me so well over the past couple of years. On the way out, he smiled and waved goodbye to me. We are totally BFF. Now, Monsieur Armani, if you’d like to offer me free meals at your Caffe, please feel free.

Elie Saab Haute Couture show

Lebanese designer Elie Saab presented his Fall/Winter 2008-2009 collection at the Grand Hotel Interncontinental on Wednesday. As usual, his designs were magnificent. Saab’s dresses are typically colorful and feminine and give nice shape (to those of us lacking!). The boutique on the Avenue Montaigne is incredible. And Saab is really expanding internationally – the designer just signed up to design a boutique hotel with Tiger Woods in Dubai. Michelle Yeoh, Lou Doillon and Rachel Zoe were among the guests at the show.

Giuseppe Zanotti party, Mini-Palais

One thing I love about Paris is that there are so many parties in national monuments and museums. There you are sipping champagne and looking up at beautiful architecture with historical significance. Though a bit hot outside (read: I’d been sweating since I woke up that morning under the scorching summer sun), it was a beautiful night and a nice, chill ambiance. The music wasn’t so great, but it was so hot, who wanted to sweat it out on the dance floor anyway? In addition to fond memories, I also walked home with a cute silver shoe-shaped Zanotti keychain.
Spotted: Rachel Zoe looking emaciated and too cool for school, Eva Mendes smoking a cigarette and looking post-rehab chic, (my neighbor) Olivier Martinez trying to avoid being photographed, Lou Doillon snacking on mini-desserts and talking about her love letters tour, a newly blond Melanie Laurent sitting pretty in the VIP section, Sebastien Tellier (who also followed me to the Avedon expo and dinner at the Hotel Amour last week – he’s totally stalking me)

Tilmann Grawe Vernissage, Galerie Adler
German designer Tilmann Grawe held a cocktail at the Galerie Adler for his new art expo “Coiffes, Cristal et Talons Aiguilles: Pour femmes terrestres et extra-terrestres en presence de la sirene Moonlight-Mermaid” (Hair-dos, crystal and high heels: for terrestrial and extra-terrestrial women in the presence of the siren Moonlight-Mermaid). The crystal head-coverings were literally “out of this world,” a mélange of funky art and feminine allure.

Souper Fin cocktail/tasting at l’Eclaireur

“These are a few of my favorite things…” Someone (namely Philippe Di Méo) had the brilliant idea to mix two of my favorite things together – fashion and food (okay, okay three of my favorite things, I forgot to mention it’s all erotic art). Designers paired up with chefs to create an innovative expo mixing “l’art de vivre, l’art de la table, l’art culinaire and l’art érotique” (life, tabe, culinary and erotic art). Baccarat teamed up with Dom Ruinart champagne for a “happiness cork”; Christofle teamed up with Dolloyau for a whip/dessert spoon, with Fauchon chef Christophe Adam for a lip-shaped mirror and a strawberry and chocolate-flavored lipstick and with Angelina for a chocolate-flavored paintbrush; Goyard joined forces with Sebastien Gaudard, dubbed the “Sweet Playboy” in the press book, of Délicabar fame (see previous blog posts for more on my current obsession with his delectable Bon Marche-based fare) for a “hot vanity” collection of sauces for the body; L’orfeverie d’Anjou and Jean-Claude Charlet made a necklace filled with aphrodisiac herbs; Raynaud teamed up with Thierry Marx for a “delicious calyx,” with Claire Smith for an ice cream and vodka baton, and with Lionel Beccat for a “temptation fruit,” an apple of love “banned from men”; Domeau & Peres teamed up with Thierry Burlot for a game and joy table; and Sabine Pigalle made “films-recettes” (recipe movies) bringing together the artistic creations. The opening expo featured tasting of delicious sweets, including bright pink éclairs from Fauchon, calissons d’Aix with “Céline” spelled out over them plus mini chocolate Céline shoes, passion fruit candies, mini macarons, and a number of strange sweet and savory delicacies passing by on trays. It was as if partygoers died and had arrived in sugary heaven. Who knew I had such a passion for erotic food art? The expo is at l’Eclaireur for about one month and Philippe Di Méo plans to bring his erotic food art exhibit across the globe with stops in major cities.

Celeb spottings of the week: Miou-Miou wearing a wacky shirt and funky shades shopping on the Avenue Montaigne… Lenny Kravitz arriving at the Hotel Costes for a late dinner…Vincent Lindon having a café at Flore (okay so that happens pretty much every day these days)… Arielle Dombasle lunching at the Hotel Montalembert…the Barefoot Contessa, aka Ina Garten, and her Dartmouth-grad husband grocery shopping at the Bon Marche épicerie… David Hasselhoff shopping on the rue des Francs-Bourgeois in le Marais on Sunday…Vincent Perez coming over to say hi to me as he left Armani Caffe on Wednesday…

Resto du jour: La Pizzetta

It’s official. I can finally spend the rest of my life in Paris – they have a good pizza place! Pizzetta, located on the restaurant-heavy Avenue Trudaine in the 9th arrondissement, serves delicious, thin-crust pizzas that rival your favorite pies in NY and Italy. No wonder because the owners and chefs are actually Italian (which is more than many Italian restaurants in Paris can say if you can believe it). You’ll feel like you’re a part of the family when the owner (name?) welcomes you with a “ciao! Buena sera” – though I recommend reserving a table in advance otherwise it will be “ciao, come back in 2 hours when we finally have a table free.” You can choose to have your pizza cooked on regular, whole wheat or saffron-infused crust with fresh ingredients including prosciutto, scarmorza (an Italian smoked cheese), white truffles or even this season a “lobster and leek” combo that I have yet to try but has “Rebecca Leffler” written all over it. My current favorite is the saffron crust topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, zucchini flowers, arugula and fresh parmesan. It’s divine. And enormous, so I have yet to sample their desserts, but I’ve seen the panna cotta and tiramisu walk by on occasion and they don’t look bad. If you’re not a pizza person (then I already don’t like you – no, I kid.) (sort of.), then you can also sample the calzones, pastas (raviolis stuffed with goat cheese with a pine nut and fig sauce or saffron gnocchi with a seafood sauce), appetizers (beef carpaccio or bufala mozzarella and veggie napoleon) or main dishes (swordfish or veal Milanese). Tutte bene at this great spot in the heart of a fun neighborhood with a young crowd, laid-back ambiance (a bit too laid back, the pizzas can take awhile to emerge from time to time but all is forgiven once the slices touch your lips, I promise) and affordable prices.

Another resto du jour: Le Dali

Philippe Starck has done it again. The maestro of design has lent his talents – and those of his daughter Ara – to Paris’ timelessly elegant Hotel Meurice. Diners can now enjoy delicious cuisine courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno under Ara Starck’s 145 square-meter, 250-kilo giant canvas which is sprawled across the ceiling of the lobby of Le Meurice. Named for the surrealist painter himself, bien sur (Dali stayed at the hotel from 1950-1980), the restaurant features an eclectic mix of both traditional and modern French fare. Every dish has a creative title, and half of the menu is “sans” or “without” (for example “without…” “taboo,” “moderation” or “hunger”) and the other half “100%” (for example “100%...” “fresh,” “vegetal” or “cocotte”). My tarte tatin appetizer made with tomatoes, onions and topped with a fresh herb salad was divine, as was the tomato gaspacho appetizer served with a “mustard ice cream.” The risotto with chicken, mushrooms and a satay sauce was a hit as was the quail served with bulgur and dried fruits. There’s also a hamburger and club sandwich on the menu for less adventurous diners, or simple fish and meat dishes served with vegetables. The “100& Elegance” dessert, a macaron filled with cream and raspberries, was absolutely delicious as was the fresh melon soup served in a martini glass with a light cream and fresh basil. It’s a very special experience – all the luxuriousness of fine dining in a fancy hotel without the typical high price of fine dining in a fancy hotel.
French idiom du jour: Jeter l’éponge. Literally, it means “to throw the sponge.” Figuratively, it means “to give up.”

Quote du jour:
“F—k ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”

-from the big screen version of MAMMA MIA! (The best film I’ve seen in awhile. I highly recommend it. I’ve been singing the soundtrack for the past week. The cast is fabulous – Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan – the songs are catchy and it’s pure entertainment from beginning to end. You’ll want to dance and sing in the aisles!)

Interview du jour: BARBET SCHROEDER

He’s spent a lot of time with terrorists, a talking gorilla, Columbian drug lords and a Ugandan dictator, enjoys filming sadomasochistic sex and continues to shock the world with his unpredictable movies. By the time he was 22 years old, Barbet Schroeder had already founded his own production company (Les Films du Losange) that went on to produce some of the greatest films of the French New Wave. His wide-ranging filmography covers everything from auteur French movies to mainstream, commercial Hollywood fare, from brilliant documentaries about controversial subjects (his most recent one explored terrorism over the last 50 years through the eyes of the lawyer who defended some of the history’s most dangerous criminals to give you an idea) to commercial, crowd-pleasing thrillers. Schroeder has worked with Godard, Rivette, Rohmer and Wenders, stayed behind the camera to film Meryl Streep, Bulle Ogier, Faye Dunaway and Bridget Fonda then jumped in front of it on several occasions, including as the President of France in “Mars Attacks!” He was born in Iran to a German mother and Swiss father, then lived in Columbia, France and America. More recently, the nomadic filmmaker traveled to Japan to film the big screen adaptation of Edogawa Rampo’s Japanese novel “INJU,” starring Benoit Magimel as a detective novelist who travels to Japan to promote his new book, and plunges into a world of mystery, revenge and lots of kinky sex when he finds himself face to face with Japan’s most renowned detective novelist. I sat down with the darkly funny filmmaker in Eric Rohmer’s former office at Les Films du Losange to talk about sadomachism, and the secrets behind his filmmaking he never revealed to anyone until he met me …
A few excerpts from l’interview which I’ve translated from French to English (which you can read in the September issue of French Playboy) :
“My passport is Swiss. My nationality is German, but I don’t speak my mother tongue. My culture is French. And my heart is Colombian. “
“I think that the cinema is an adult art. Contrary to music or poetry, the cinema is not an art for adolescents. It’s an art of maturity because it’s an art of reality.”
“French cinema is the only cinema in the world not in crisis. “
“This jealousy, this misunderstanding on the part of the main character who finds himself involved in a love affair with a woman of his own age and who discovers that, in secret, she’s having an affair with an older man, and this drives him crazy because he doesn’t understand the nature of this relationship. This is the theme that we see in “More” and in “Maitresse” also. It’s the first time that I’m saying this. I’ve never given clues to my movies to anyone because I don’t want people to start to follow my auteur clues and try to play auteur themselves. But here, I’ve fallen into the trap of your questions and have given away the clue to what you can see in many of my films.”