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MBWITW


Simon Doonan is one of my favorite writer on fashion and style. He is so witty, so “British….Darling”. Just read his latest piece on Slate and totally agree: beautiful women are not necessary on the catwalks …

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/doonan/2013/10/most_beautiful_woman_in_the_world_it_s_not_true_beauty_if_you_work_too_hard.html

Now who is she?

I would probably say the Queen Rania of Jordan. She is beautiful, generous, stylish… has it all !

Queen Rania of Jordan

Queen Rania of Jordan

And you?

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My favorite language


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A Friend Will Be Missed


Sadly JC Suarès passed away. I have known him since the 80’s. He was always somehow in my life. Jean-Claude was faithful to his friends and friends of friends. Love was a real commitment: he had been with his wife for over 30 years. He was an inspiring and inspired creative director.

I saw him again when I was editor in chief of France-Amerique, a then weekly publication in French for the French and frenchspeaking people in the US. The new director who had bought the magazine from Le Figaro wanted to revamped the publication. Of course I thought immediately of Jean-Claude. Not a given deal: France-Amerique had a limited budget and was not as prestigious as some periodicals Suarès was coaching. Also the man was a grande gueule, a very outspoken person whose style did not fit everywhere. One thing one had to know about JC was his love for horses. It defined him. He had a few thorough bred and rode a lot. Like his friends he was addicted to freedom..

I was not sure he would be a match in the context of a specialized publication. But he was … Jean-Claude never renounced his french-speaking backround ( his mother was a Jew from Tunisia and his family spent some years in France ) and was happy to be associated to this project. The director was convinced by Jean-Claude’s personnality. In the end, in a different way, both were flattered. Jean-Claude shook our world upside down, bringing in colors, titles, photos. The weekly became a biweekly, ( later to be revamped in a monthly as it is today). The publication was flashier than its precedent version to the dislike of some subscribers. But it was finally alive and that was what really mattered.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/business/media/jean-claude-suares-daring-illustrator-of-the-timess-op-ed-page-dies-at-71.html?_r=0

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Honoring Nicole Fischelis


The first time I met Nicole Fischelis,  it was in Florence. She was Senior Vice President of Fashion Worlwide for Ferragamo and I was writing a story for Le Monde on the famous fiorentine family that continues to create fashion on the footsteps of its founder Salvatore Ferragamo. Nicole had left Sak’s Fifth Avenue where she was Senior Vice President and Women’s Fashion Director to come to Italy. She was the lively soul in this rather stuffy environnement of Palazzo Spini Feroni taken over by the Ferragamos since 1938. Not that she did not enjoy working  there, helping to revive this historical brand. Nicole who was born in a family of furriers has always known how important the history of fashion is to fashion and will quote the great Yves Saint Laurent whenever is needed. In Florence, she also appreciated being closer to France and her family. Yet,  History so present in a close surrounding can be at times suffocating. How many times a day to do you want to cross Ponte Vecchio…. To me, Nicole was somewhat of an anachronism there. Little did I know that I was right and that her future would bring her back to America where she is today Vice President of Ready-To-Wear at Macy’s and one of the most influent persons in the fashion industry in the US: On Tuesday Night, Nicole was honored by the High School of Fashion industries.

The Frenchwoman is calling New York her home. There she likes to always be on the move like the city itself, enjoying the youthful energy of Manhattan. “ I have always been curious.” Said Nicole, mentioning her first escape from Paris to London in the Seventies when Carnaby Street was still tinted with Mary Quant,  but new kids were making a name for themselves – Claude Montana, Karl Lagerfeld or Jean Charles de Castelbajac. She knew how to recognize talents then,  and still does today. This is why Nicole has been a supporter of the High school of Fashion Industries and a board member for many years now. “ She is passionate on youth and education” said Rose Marie Bravo, a fashion industry icon in her own rights,  who earlier in her introductory speech praised the shrewd analysis of Nicole Fischelis on fashion trends always pointing at “ the good, the bad and the ugly”.

Yes, Nicole likes to turn her gaze towards the future, towards these students, designers of tomorrow who,  on Tuesday night , showed their unique designs on the catwalk.

Little did I know, back in Florence,  that I was going to make a real friend, – a rarity in the world of journalism! -. Nicole has been my best indicator at New York Fashion Week that I have been covering for the last 7 years. But above all, she has been a true , generous friend who I am very honored to have kept to this day. ImageImageImage

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May 16, 2013 · 3:03 am

Learning More About France and America with Karen Le Billon, Ariane Daguin and others


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Manger Bilingue : Cultural Differences on Children Nutrition in France and North America (ENG) from Lycée Français de New York on Vimeo.

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Music for the Young


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I took the chance…. taking my 16-year old to the concert. Last Thursday at the French Institute Alliance Francaise, a world music duo, Ballaké Sissoko a Malian griot playing a kora harp-lute – and French cellist Vincent Segal were performing.

I was partly saved by Ballaké Sissoko’s name, and was informed right away that this first name and surname are regulars in soccer teams. That helped! Sure enough, we learned later from Vincent Segal, in his  broken English, that Sissoko’s son –a 17 year old as well- was on the junior team of the PSG, Paris Saint Germain  of course!. (That was effectively checked as soon as the Iphone could be connected to the Internet.) Still cello and flute did not seem like an easy combination for a teenager.

An official from the World Music Institute co-presenter of the concert introduced the two musicians as they sat on the stage. It took us a few minutes to apprehend Sissoko’s instrument – a harp with bulky round body and a long and thin neck. I regretted not having more informations on this exotic instrument from the musician himself. Wikipedia came handy: “ A kora is a harp built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck.”

If Vincent Segal has been trained as a classical cellist, Sissoko has worked with Blues musicians like Taj Mahal and of course West African kora players.

They started playing music, chamber music as announced but with multiple influences, Arabic, African, western… in other words, world music. It was very peaceful and serene and very beautiful. And yes, my teenager was transported as I was as was the public in this packed auditorium at the Florence Gould Hall. It was different, “elevatingly” different, and good for the soul.

I discovered that my son had grown up to become this inspired young man open to a world music experience, and I discovered Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal. It was a full evening.

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Cyrille Aimée: Voice as an Instrument


IMG_0134Another great jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimée was performing in New York today at Birdland. She is French, born in Fontainebleau from French father Dominican mother. She sings Charles Trenet with a jazzy twist.

 

 

She will be performing in Paris at the Sunset Jazz club on March 23rd and 24th

 

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Vocal Jazz at the Apollo Theater


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Apollo

(Dee Dee Bridgewater last night at the Apollo Theater)

Cecile McLorin Salvant, a name to remember! A French American born and raised in Miami, Florida of a French mother and a Haitian father. What a voice! She performed last night at  the Apollo Theater in Apollo Club Harlem, an original production celebrating the theater’s own history.

No need to present the Apollo, this mythical theater created in 1934 in West Harlem where the best jazz musicians and singers of all times performed including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday. Well,  last night it was no less than DeeDee Bridgewater who starred in the production. Sharing the stage with her was amazing Cecile. Both singing I don’t mean a thing gave an impressive show of vocal jazz. In the Apollo’s tradition of the Amateur Night contests started in 1934, in the show hosted by Maurice Hines,  different dancers, singers, tap dancers performed one after the other.

Another great moment was Storyboard P performing his HipHop dance called Mutant.

A perfect  New York night  ending with a drink at Red Rooster.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

http://cecilemclorinsalvant.com/

Storyboard P.

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February 24, 2013 · 3:03 pm

Zinnias: the Life of Clementine Hunter


I really enjoyed the latest creation of stage director Robert Wilson: Zinnias, the Life of Clementine Hunter at Montclair State University. It was a nice surprise, colorful and greatly musical and quite different from Robert Wilson’s other works.

It was a « childish » play in some ways reflecting the close and confined world of Clementine Hunter. Clementine was born in 1887 and raised on the Melrose cotton plantation in Louisiana owned by French immigrant Claude Thomas Metier and Congo born Marie Therese Coincoin. She first worked in the fields before being hired as a maid in the main house. All of this would be of no interest if it was not for the artistic life that when on in the plantation, the residencies of painters in the Yucca house that allowed Clementine to gather end of paint tubes and old brushes, and finally start painting. Thanks to the protection and friendship she developed with Francois Bignon, the contremaitre, she painted more and more and finally her works was exhibited in a museum in New Orleans where she was not allowed to go in this times of segregation expect when the museum was closed on Sunday.

Thierry Mugler style  costums cut in primary colors, simple gestures performed with élégance and restraint, beautiful live music from the South….. Bob Wilson succeeded in making the life of Clementine Hunter what it was, a small miracle. But so was it for the famous American director who has elected domicile in Long Island at the Watermill Imagecenter. He met Clementine when he was 11 and his parents took him on a visit to the plantation. He loved the paintings and asked his parents to buy him one for 25 cents. He went back as a teenager and bought more and stayed in contact with the woman. She died at 101, and this play is a tribute, full of love and respect.

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Mayor Koch


I remember Mayor Koch in 1983.  I interviewed him for Le Matin Magazine, a weekly supplement to A French daily and leftist newspaper Le Matin de Paris, where my editor was Jean Dominique Bauby, Jean Do.(Yes the guy from the The Butterfly and the Diving Bell!).

The magazine is long gone, the Butterfly has escaped behind close lids and Mayor Koch is dead.

I remember the man larger than life, impressive, and, like many New Yorkers, I have a special thought for him today.

I was a young journalist and interviewing Koch was not a piece of cake. I had prepared my questions thoroughly and tried to shut my ears to various comments from fellow journalists: « Mayor Koch is the worst interviewee ». « All he does is talk and does not answer questions. » Bla, bla bla..

As I arrived at the Mayor’s office, I relied on Gallic charm to operate.  (Well if the man was not homosexual as rumor said…). After all he was a Francophile. He had fought the Second World War in France, landed in Normandy with the allies on D-Day. Usually those who did so and were lucky enough to come back, had a sweet spot for France they had liberated.

But my questions that day were different and tricky. In that issue dedicated to New York, published in March 1983, I wrote the first magazine story on AIDS published in the French press, reporting on Homosexuals in Greenwich Village.(entitled “Rien ne va plus à Christopher Street”(All is wrong on Christopher Street). The interview with the Mayor was focused on this touchy subject. What was Mayor Koch doing to help Gays infected by the virus who unlike their counterparts in San Francisco received little help from the city. With a special question from Bauby: Was Mayor Koch gay himself?

It all started on a wrong foot with Mayor Koch asking questions. He had been elected in 1981 and so had Francois Mitterrand in France. The first move of the new French President had been to appoint communist ministers. Ed Koch was democrat, but America’s left was far from socialism. « How was it to have a very socialist government? How was it to have communist in the forefront? ». I could hardly place a line. I remember Mayor Koch talking nonstop and explaining persuasively what he was doing for the community touched by the deadly disease and how he had defended them against the others. Behind his informal talk, it was all double speak  or better said in France la langue de bois (literally to have a tongue in wood).He was a genius in communication and PR.

Was it that same year or the year after? The youngest elected mayor of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, came to New York to meet with Koch and learn a few useful tips about political communication!

Incredibly enough I found a cover of the issue on the Net

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