Paris is smiling

This was written a year ago in French, it was the day to try to put it in English…

Every year, a magical day happens in Paris. After a grey and cold winter the sun finally comes out, parkas are opened, wooly hats are taken off : it’s time to come back to life. Parisians don’t run home as they used to, their ears plugged and their scarves up ; they will rather stop for a drink with colleagues or friends, generally on a café terrace in order to enjoy the last ray of light and the new beginning. And for the first time in months, everyone has a smile on their face, waiters included. The wine sparkles with sunshine, the wooden tables and the moods are heated. This day of rebirth is the first of many to come, and is therefore well-celebrated. Even the tourists going around Paris are invited to the party, for they for once find Parisians surprinsingly nice to them. They give up their crazy race between museums and monuments to take part in this exceptional happening : Paris is smiling.

paris-france

Friday, November13th, 2015 : Paris is crying, in the dark, tainted with blood, sweat and fear.
Saturday, November 14th : Paris is in a grey coma : no more cars to be heard, all the stores are closed ; the terraces and public parks are deserted, the rare and stupefied people who dare to walk the streets do so to give their blood or to light a candle, while thinking about those, unknown ot not, who are gone.
Sunday, November 15th : the sun is back, so is life. The children are out at play, parks and tourist buses are full.

Monday, November 16th : Paris awakens in a state of war.
At noon, a minute of silence strikes the brave: the ones who painfully went back to work and the ones who haven’t stopped for three days : the doctors still operating, the police still chasing after those who hit the heart of our freedom.
Paris receives love and support from all around the world, for the nostalgia for this first-day-of-spring terrace is not only ours to feel : in all threatened countries, Paris still embodied an open window of innocence, nicely blowing up hair, short skirts and long ideas. In Israel, in Turkey, in Lebanon, Paris-lovers mourn the moment of freedom they still sought for in a country not so far away. They had always hoped the City of Lights would never stop twinkling, and that a fearless lifestyle would be as engraved in Paris fashion as the nonchalant hairdoes or the die-hard smoking habit.

In countries where attacks hit daily, where fear has been tying knots in stomachs for years ; where life is only livable because one has agreed with the possibility of an unpredictable and brutal ending … People there set us up with the example to follow, as they gathered in bars or cafés to talk about what happened in their beloved city of Paris. They listened to artists, French or local, singing out their sadness ; they danced the night away, until they had forgotten about the constant threat still hanging over their heads. And finally they kissed goodbye, comforted to move on.

peace-paris

Now it’s our turn to act.

We now share their reality. Winter is coming, and with it the icy fear that this horror could happen again, tomorrow, the day after, in a month or a year. And that everyone of us could walk out the door for the last time.
Despite the cold and the dark, we need to get back. We can’t give to the attackers what they were looking for. We need to learn vigilance as well as the first-aid techniques, but we also need to find our quickest way back to the heated terrace, the loud concert speaker, or to the old velvet chairs sprinkled with popcorn in a crowded movie theater.
And finally, we will look at a sunset after a beautiful day, with the certainty that it is not the last one, nor the last wine glass, we’ll share.

All these moments we stand by each other, smiling like the first day of spring. That smile should still be our pride.

T.V Series – GOTHAM

Last night was a gloomy one, definitely a time to Netflix and chill… So in order to escape a freaky reality, why not travel to the darkest city in comics : Gotham ?

GOTHAM T.V series - Fox
GOTHAM T.V series – Fox

This new Fox series is currently running its third season, and as its title entails, is set in Batman’s legendary city … before Batman’s rise.
The main challenge was to make Gotham interesting with its most famous citizen being only a somewhat 12 year-old Bruce Wayne. Fortunately, it totally works.
By linking the young Bruce Wayne’s destiny to the adventures of the main character, detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), the plot actually makes sense. Although the first season is kind of slow to set the mood, the beautiful editing, setting, costumes… in addition to the quality of the cast, take you pretty fast to season 2.

James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)
James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)

Then as the season 2 starts there is an actual risk of addiction : by choosing to strengthen the main plot over the little intrigues, the show goes up a level.
The comeback of Ben McKenzie, discovered in 2003 as Ryan Atwood in The O.C, is a great success, for Jim Gordon’s personality is made of the same psychological mix that made McKenzie’s interpretation of Ryan noted twenty years ago : cool and straight on the surface,while hiding a dark and violent side underneath that thick skin of his. Sexy and cool.
Not to mention the great villains, one of Gotham’s specialties ; the best of them is clearly Oswald Cobblepot/ Penguin played by Robin Lord Taylor. The depth Taylor brings to his character sets him up far from the usual comics clichés on villains, and puts him up on a superbly thin rope between likeable and hateful.

Oswald Cobblepot/ Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor)
Oswald Cobblepot/ Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor)

Last but not least : the female characters have a true place in this show, which is unusual for a comics’inspired series. Morena Baccarin makes a nice comeback from Homeland as Dr Lee Thompkins, Gordon’s girlfriend, and the rising star Camren Bicondova definitely steals the screen every time Zelina Kyle/Catwoman jumps in. (see here the Who? focus)

Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Camren Bicondova)
Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Camren Bicondova)

Try to watch slowly, season 3 is still on the go…

Gotham T.V series (Fox)
Gotham T.V series (Fox)

Gotham (Fox), season 1, 2, 3 (ongoing)
On Fox & Netflix

Camren Bicondova – Cat’s eyes

Camren Bicondova - Tumblr
Camren Bicondova

Nationality : American

Age : 17 (May, 22, 1989)

Star sign : Gemini

Height : 5′ 2″ (1,57 m)

Current occupation : actress

Fun fact : she is a professional dancer

Trademarks : thick curls, killer green-eyes and swift moves.

Instagram : @camrenbicondova

 

About last night : noticed as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in the T.V series GOTHAM (Fox)

GOTHAM: Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Justin Stephens/FOX
GOTHAM: Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Justin Stephens/FOX

L’Insensé Korea

Last night was about unveiling the latest issue of the yearly magazine L’Insensé. The launch party took place in Paris at the Cernuschi Museum, known for its private Asian collections. Overseen by buddhas and dragons, this new issue’s success is surely under good protection.

Dragon perfume vaporizer, Japan, 19th century, Cernuschi Museum
Dragon perfume vaporizer, Japan, 19th century, Cernuschi Museum

Last night was also the occasion to celebrate the magazine’s 25th anniversary. Since its inception by Vanessa Van Zuylen and Elizabeth Nora in 1991, L’Insensé tooks its readers around the world, each issue being dedicated to one country or region (Japan, Spain Russia… and last year South America) with the talent to foresee the new artistic energies that would soon boil out of these countries.

At the turn of the millenium, the two founders also sensed the growing place of images, and dedicated L’Insensé to photography. A bold but smart move in retrospect, and a perfect fit to the big format of the magazine. Since images speak all languages, this switch contributed to build an international readership. Since then, L’Insensé (which paradoxically means “foolish” in French (:-) has become a collection item, regrouping the work of some emerging photographers that later became public figures of the art world.
Now every November is an expectation of what country will come next. This 2016 issue is dealing with Korea, or South Korea to be precise, although some photographers clearly make a reference to North Korea in their works.

L'Insensé Korea cover by Kim Jungman
L’Insensé Korea cover by Kim Jungman

The journey is as fascinating and energetic as the country depicted through a variety of subjects : not so traditional schoolgirls, brand addiction(s), the place of children in society, and the Korean obsession with a kind of color-saturated modernity that places the country at some kind of « avant-garde », accurately captured by its artists.

Ina Jang, Such a White Face, 2013
Ina Jang, Such a White Face, 2013

If you don’t plan on travelling to Korea in the near future, this your imaginary plane ticket to a 360° exhibition, that can be explored again and again on your coffee table.

L’Insensé N°14, Korea, 22€
Available online
http://linsense.fr/

The Ritz Bar

Last night was about discovering the new bar at the most American of the Paris hotels : the Ritz. Not talking here about the Hemingway, internationally renowned for his barman, Colin Field and his legendary cocktails. Instead, make it left at the rue Cambon entrance to the Ritz Bar : one of the only spots that got through a radical makeover during the 4-year-renovation of the hotel. The dark space which used to be a mixed venue (bar, club, private receptions) is now transformed into a full-time bar, including flattering lightening (even the Ritz knows its Instagram) and a roaring 20’s decoration in reference to the golden age of the hotel. Bigger than its neighbor, and therefore less intimidating, the Ritz Bar hosts a mixed crowd at the cozy tables or on the high bar chairs : hotel guests who are enjoying a night cap before going back up, a couple of fashion-crowded tables discussing late business, and clubbers on the go. All of them seemed pleased by their Cinderella moment (it was 12.30am), and the special ambiance that went with it. No loud conversations or drunk customers here, everything was delicate and hushed.

The Ritz Bar
The Ritz Bar

The good surprise did not end there : the Head Barman is actually a woman, Aurélie Pezet, 26, who was trained by Colin Field himself. She certainly inherited his freedom of creation, for the menu is made of her signature cocktails, and constantly evolves according to the seasons.
Last night was a chance to experience « Le Grand Jardin », inspired by the Ritz’s new winter garden : a composition where gin (I suspect Monkey 47, Aurélie Pezet’s favorite) is enlightened by fresh and green vapors, with an intriguing powdered smell that triggered memories of Coco Chanel’s fragrances (she was a permanent guest at the hotel for years).Delightful and poetic.
Also remarkable : the « Yoi Shiin », a foamy composition around apple and its green flavors. An alchemy of sharp and soft contained in an unusual small glass.

Cocktails in unusual glasses
Cocktails in unusual glasses

And finally, the cherry on the cocktail, the signature of the Hemingway bar, and of the Ritz in general : the human touch. From the constant but discreet caring of the waiters to the informal chat with Aurélie Pezet herself, everything made this night totally « ritzy » : luxurious, fashionable and elegant.
As for the check it was less expansive than expected, according to the fact that you are in a palace at the center of Paris (and that you only had to drink one cocktail to feel great). The Ritz does not like to advertise its prices… Let’s say it is in line with the bars in the neighborhood, but much more worth the price : the venue, the drinks and the people make the moment exquisitely timeless.
For all who want to enjoy a privileged experience in Paris, the Ritz Bar is the place for a night to remember.

The Ritz Bar, from 11am to 2am
15, place Vendôme, 75001 Paris

http://www.ritzparis.com/en

Exhibition – Pierre Bergé’s Library – Hôtel Drouot, Paris

Last night was about the smell of old books mixed with champaign bubbles : the preview of of the second part of Pierre Bergé’s library, set for auction on November, 8th and 9th. In addition to his business and fashion sense (he was notably Yves Saint Laurent’s partner in life and business), Pierre Bergé is also renowned for his passion for the arts (he notably ran the Opéra de Paris Bastille from 1988 to 1994).

Pierre Bergé - Photo by Eric Jansen
Pierre Bergé – Photo by Eric Jansen

It is a known fact that Pierre Bergé is an art collector, but one of his hidden treasures remains his library, that he started offering last year. The second part, currently exhibited at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, includes works from the end of the 18th century (the Marquis de Sade and his libertine illustrated books) to the the European Romantic movement and the dawn of the 20th century. Many original editions and some amazing manuscripts from all countries are featured here : Russia ( Pushkin, Gogol, Tosltoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev), the U.S ( Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe), the U.K ( Oscar Wilde, Walpole, Byron, Shelley, Swinburne, Wordsworth), Germany ( Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Hölderlin).
A small heaven for literature lovers.

Marquis de Sade, Histoire secrète d'Isabelle de Bavière, reine de France, 1813
Marquis de Sade, Histoire secrète d’Isabelle de Bavière, reine de France, 1813

But of course the crown jewel is to be found with the French, and especially Gustave Flaubert, Pierre Bergé’s favorite author, to whom a whole section is dedicated.
The sight of an autograph manuscript is a pure moment of emotion. You can see all the hard work the author had to put into it, the hundreds of versions he struggled with before coming out with a masterpiece (too bad many use only keyboards nowadays, or maybe there is less effort into it, who will know ?).
The strength of this exhibition is to provide enough evidence (more than 200 pieces) for a time travel, during which you can feel the touch of some of the greatest writers of all time. No wonder some of the manuscripts are priced at more than 100 000€, for they are proper works of art.

Gustave Flaubert, Par les champs et les grèves, 1847 -autograph manuscript
Gustave Flaubert, Par les champs et les grèves, 1847 -autograph manuscript

The lucky buyers will acquire a piece of eternity, while us, simple viewers, are allowed to dream for a moment. And that is already a good thing.

A nod to my two favorites

Honoré de Balzac, Scènes de la vie de province vol 1, Eugénie Grandet, 1834 – First edition

scenes-de-la-vie-de-province-1834

Alfred de Musset – La Confession d’un enfant du siècle (1836) – Signed limited edition

musset-la-confession-dun-enfant-du-siecle-1836-number-308

Pierre Bergé’s Library
Pierre Bergé & Associés in association with Sotheby’s
Exhibition until November, 7th 2016 at the Hôtel Drouot, 9, rue Drouot, 75009 Paris
Auction November, 8th and 9th

DVD/VOD – The Neon Demon by Nicolas Winding Refn

Last night was about watching The Neon Demon, a movie that rose quite a controversy at the Cannes Film Festival in May. I was very curious to finally see it, for I missed it in the theaters this summer.

As a prime-hour Drive fan, I was not disappointed. This movie is edgier (though dealing with a popular subject : models), and has a slower pace that allows the director’s aesthetics to flourish, plus it gives time to the actors to build strong characters. Big up to Elle Fanning, who sometimes looked like an avatar of the millenial supermodel Cara Delevingne, who since became an actress … Odd coincidence since Fanning is playing an aspiring model who lands to the bionic fashion scene in L.A. And as the opening scene suggests, her trip will go red…

The Neon Demon
The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon is about the terror of beauty and its perception in the digital age. It is, in Winding Refn’s own words, a « You Tube movie » cut with sharp edges and impeccable filming. The scenario is minimalist but universal : « Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. »

the-neon-demon-de-nicolas-winding-refn-competitionm337919

The dialogs don’t need to be long : everything gets into your eye as sharply as the evil Snow Queen’s ice spike : the looks (worn and given), the moves, the settings (L.A beautifully filmed from top to bottom), the light.
It is not an horror movie, nor a comedy ; it is definitely a « neo » trip into cinema : both as a reference to Keanu Reeves’s impeccable part, though secondary, and to the new ways Nicolas Winding Refn is tracing through the 7th art. He may be criticized, but at least he is bringing in fresh blood (in every sense of the word…).
The music also has its importance, notably with electro beats in the opening scenes and a nice Sia feature for the end credits.
The Neon Demon made me think of Alfred Hitchkok movies : the Master also loved changing the rules of cinema by putting women forward and making them face their fears, their inside ugliness, though they looked so beautiful …

All in all, your eyes must see this, but make sure your stomach is solid before watching.

Funny key fact : Nicolas Winding Refn is colorblind, hence the importance of saturated colors.
Not to miss : the ex-model Abbey Lee with her swimming-pool eyes and ice-cold character. Impressive performance for a newcomer.

Abbey Lee as Sarah in The Neon Demon
Abbey Lee as Sarah in The Neon Demon

Intro

Welcome ! To begin with…

ABOUT LAST NIGHT :

  • Unusual people
  • Surprising places
  • Objects of affection
  • Whimsical stories

The night is dark and full of wonders

Daria Werbowy by Cass Bird, T Magazine, 2011
Daria Werbowy by Cass Bird, T Magazine, 2011

 

NOT ABOUT LAST NIGHT :

  • Selfies : I won’t show my face (nor my butt) as much as possible. I believe others’ (faces and butts) are more interesting.(see below)
  • OOTD : I love fashion, especially worn by someone else. That way you can comment it all you want, and I won’t get flattered or sad.
  • My daily routine : I believe our lifes tend to be similar during daylight : wake up, do what you have to do, think about what you would like to do when you’ll be done with your shit. And then the sun goes down and the actual story begins, your routine must fall in ruins. That’s why there will be no regular posts.
Daria Werbowy by Cass Bird for Maiyet, 2013
Daria Werbowy by Cass Bird for Maiyet, 2013

 

ABOUT LAST NIGHT’S OWNER :

French writer who is sometimes tired of French-writing,

Paris-based, but keeps on moving,

In love, but keeps on practicing,

Not old, but keeps on aging,

Sharp at night, but dull in the morning.