Books

Books About French Fashion Houses

Coffee table books about French fashion houses

I’ve seen Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022) twice thus far, but I foresee that number increasing over the holiday season when I have time off from work. Ada Harris becomes familiar with the Christian Dior label quite literally when she sees it in the gown of one of her clients. (She cleans houses for a living.) When Ada travels to Paris to buy a Dior gown, the fashion house reveals itself to her in unexpected ways. “Dior, it’s not just a gown. It’s all the elegance…” she says during one of her fittings.

One should not shop at French fashion houses for clout. An engaged shopper understands the values, aesthetics, and history of historic maisons. For me, learning almost always starts with a book. Here are nine for the coffee table.

Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Hermès

Lanvin, Christian Dior, Givenchy

Chanel 2, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent

In Pursuit of Rare Books

I celebrated the conclusion of my most recent research paper by watching The Booksellers (2020), a documentary featuring sellers of rare books primarily based in New York. Ironically, the seller who has the least airtime is most memorable. Elizabeth (Lizzy) Young appears on screen in a crisp, white button-up. The owner of a rare bookshop in Newport, RI, Lizzy, like myself, is interested in the history and culture of food and drink. Her business’s logo comprises a sketch of a whisk and a cocktail glass above an opened book. Cooking, cocktails, & culture, her slogan reads. A woman doesn’t need much more than that in life.

Works Sighted

Chicote, Pedro. El Bar Americano en España (1927).
M. F. K Fisher. With Bold Knife And Fork (1969).
Julia Child. The French Chef Cookbook (1968).

Kara Newman. Nightcap; More than 40 Cocktails to Close Out Any Evening (2018).
Jessie Sheehan. The Vintage Baker; More Than 50 Recipes from Butterscotch Pecan Curls to Sour Cream Jumbles (2018).
Henry McNulty. Drinking In Vogue (1979).

Neil I. Rosenthal. Reflections of a Wine Merchant; On a lifetime in the vineyards and cellars of France and Italy (2009).
M. F. K Fisher. Map of Another Town; A Memoir of Provence (1964).
Jancis Robinson. How to Taste; A Guide to Enjoying Wine (2008).

The World of Chronicle Books

Books to read in the summer

It was my ongoing quest to read for pleasure that led me to the world of Chronicle Books. The publishing house has a wicked sense of wit, a quality evident in its unique titles. My first purchase: The Little Pleasures of Paris in 2018 as sustenance for my French soul. My second: Provence and the Cote d’Azur in 2020 for a friend on the brink of a solo trip to France. City Walks: London was a gift from former coworkers in 2013 to commemorate my move to London. These days, I’m savoring the remnants of summer with content that nourishes my artistic soul, and my recent visit to Chronicle Books’ online store presented new creative avenues. The company’s thought-provoking titles are ever-present in my perusal of museum shops, bookstores, and Amazon. They’re never out of sight, and consequently, never out of mind.

Works Sighted

Crêpes // Connect Every Day // Wine Tasting Notes

Wake Up Your Imagination // Hygge & West Home // 642 Things to Draw: London

France: Inspiration du jour // Forever Paris // Love Parisienne

Audible’s Premium Plus Membership

Audiobooks on Audible

I recently reactivated my Audible membership after a very long hiatus. Even though I wasn’t a newcomer to the platform, I was able to take advantage of the 30-day free trial. I started with The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss and haven’t looked back. When my trial period came to an end at the beginning of July, I graduated to the most basic premium plus membership. Under this plan, I paid $14.95 for one audiobook credit per month. It became evident rather quickly that one wasn’t enough.

I’ve been listening to books on my walks, a pastime made even more appealing with my recently-purchased Apple watch. I decided to upgrade to the 24-credit premium plus membership, the highest tier. It’s $229.50 per year, which averages out to $9.56 per audiobook. Audible offers a selection of books in its plus catalog for free to members of every tier, but the books on my wish list don’t appear there. So far, I’ve read four more books after my initial one: The Magic of Thinking Big, Atomic Habits, Bella Figura, and How to Make $100,000 Per Year in Passive Income and Travel the World. Here are some audiobooks on my wish list.

Works Sighted

Flâneuse // L’art de la Simplicité // The Seine

Older, but Better, but Older // Mastering the Art of French Eating // Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life

Boss Up! // Home Sweet Maison // Lessons from Madame Chic

Books for the Coffee Table

Coffee table books

All this talk of international travel opening up again is filling me with wanderlust. I don’t know when I’ll be taking to the sky, but coffee table books will have to tide me over until then. For some much needed rest and relaxation, my soul will be retreating into these books. I expect they’ll make me feel like I’m on holiday.

Works Sighted

Charleston: A Good Life // Holiday: The Best Travel Magazine that Ever Was

Slim Aarons: Women // Peonies: Beautiful Varieties for Home & Garden // Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles, and the Vibrancy of Rajasthan // St. Tropez Soleil

British Designers at Home // The Atlas of Beauty: Women of the World in 500 Portraits // Debutantes: When Glamour was Born // Paris. Portrait of a City

The Notebook

A selection of notebooks from Appointed, Designworks Ink, Moleskine, Apica, Fieldnotes, and Smythson. Writing accessories.

A notebook is a place for me to deposit all of my thoughts. Naturally, I have a few dedicated to various topics. Every post on this blog has started out as an idea in the notebook I’ve reserved for this purpose. There’s also one for recipes. Another one holds bits of writing pertaining to my current literary project. I was introduced to the art of free writing in January 2017, and I’ve had one for that ever since. I’ve had countless notebooks for class notes. I’ve journaled, sketched, doodled, and practiced calligraphy—all in a humble notebook. The book that I’ve started most recently is dedicated to my virtual exploration of France.

I’m studying films that are set in Paris this semester. The France notebook has been christened with my observations on Le ballon rouge (1965) and Le voyage du ballon rouge (2007). I find taking notes to be very therapeutic when I’m not under pressure to prepare for a test. I’ve worked long enough at my formal education, and I won’t be taking any tests in the immediate future. Now I write for fun.

DesignWorks Ink is my go-to brand of the moment. I just ordered this stunning blue notebook—three of them to be exact. If you’ve been inspired to pick up your pen/pencil but don’t know where to begin, here are 20 subjects from the school of life to inspire your writing:

  • the good old days
  • friendships, present and past
  • foods I’m trying for the first time
  • places I’ve been in my mind
  • heroes and heroines 
  • mistakes that have taught me well 
  • the events of my life
  • worldwide wines
  • my strengths
  • dreams I had at night
  • daydreams
  • my ancestors 
  • startups I have in mind
  • blueprints for my dream house 
  • things I want to learn
  • the history of (insert name of country)
  • inspiring quotes
  • the clothes I like and why
  • things I’ll never understand 
  • lessons from my grandparents

Works Sighted

Appointed notebook (hunter green); Designworks Ink notebook (pacific forest); Moleskine notebook (sapphire blue); Apica premium CD B5 notebook (blue); Designworks Ink notebook (denim blue)

Apica CD-15 B5 notebook (navy); Stow pencil case; Uni-Ball black pen (0.8mm); Muji aluminum pen case; Apica CD-15 B5 notebook (sky blue); Designworks Ink Notebook (Neptune blue); Appointed notebook (lavender gray)

Moleskine notebook (earth brown); Fieldnotes (lined); Apica CD-5 A7 notebooks (pastel); Smythson notebook (Nile blue); Fieldnotes (blank); Muji pen case; Uni-Ball black pen (0.5mm); Smythson pencil case (Nile blue); Moleskine cahier journal