Bal des Courtisans

The Ball des Courtesans was formed to provide annual period costume events, reliving history in an ambiance of cultural & social fun on the French Riviera.  Come join us!

poster La Belle Epoque CSM

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Shoes – Historical High Heels

American Duchess

American Duchess

In looking for a pair of 17th century style shoes, I came across the website “All About Shoes” which details historical facts about shoes through various eras.

“Throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, heels were an indicator of wealth and status for both men and women. In France, the wearing of heels even became a regulated expression of political privilege. In the 17th century court of King Louis XIV (reign 1643-1715), only those granted access to his court were allowed to wear red coloured heels.”  (I wonder if this is where Louboutin got the idea for his red-soled shoes!)

“Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, King Louis XV (reign 1715-1774) also left his mark on high heel history. Although men began abandoning high heels by the 1730s, heels remained important in women’s fashion. During the reign of Louis XV, fashionable heels for women were curved through the waist and splayed at the base to increase stability. The French favoured a delicate interpretation of this style, while the English preferred heels that were a bit stouter.

This combination of graceful shape and sturdy construction was revived and revamped in the 1860s. Although christened the “Louis heel,” the later heel featured a much more dramatic curve where the heel met the shoe.

Increasing criticism of frivolous extravagance heralded the end of the aristocratic age. With revolution in the air, the upper classes throughout Europe and North America began to embrace the more modest aesthetic of the rising middle class.

Men had abandoned high heels by the middle of the 18th century and, throughout the last decades of the century, women’s heels became increasing lower. Sturdy heels were replaced by more delicate and thin heels and, by the 1790s, heels usually rose no higher than a few centimetres. 

After the French Revolution, heels quickly went out of style. By the early 1800s, flats were the fashion. High heels would not be seen again in Western fashion for another fifty years.”  

Official Website HERE 

SITE EN FRANCAIS

Fashion & Food – Sarao Restaurant

While waiting on the Promenade des Anglais for a friend to have a quick lunch at Sarao, I pondered about how the French Riviera has a stereotypical image: chic and fashionable people strolling along the seafront, others drinking champagne on yachts, and sunbathers frolicking in the sand (or rocks). I people watched, as one does while waiting but not exactly as the fashion police (RIP Joan Rivers), and noticed a variety of fashion statements.

September is a great time to visit Nice, both temperature-wise and noise pollution level-wise. Even so, trying to chat was difficult with the reduced level of traffic whizzing by the restaurant terrace. The apero & tapas menu was only for the evening, but I did try the “aperol spritz” – a refreshing mixture of Prosecco and Perrier – reported by the server to be very popular in Italy. Buon Appetito!

What’s your fashion style?

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Fashion:

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Restaurant:

How to be Parisian? Move to Paris

Reblog: Written by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian:

Real French women don’t resemble the stereotype peddled by endless guides to looking chic, having lovers, eating baguettes and staying thin

Parisian woman near the Eiffel Tower
Your GCSE French teacher probably didn’t look like this … Photograph: Alija/Getty Images

I’ve noticed that yet another book has come out telling us that we should all be more like Parisian women. To save me reading this book, can you tell me how to be more Parisian?

Pas de problème, mon petit chou-fleur! After French Women Don’t Get Fat, French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, French Children Don’t Throw Food, Like a French Woman and French Women Are Just Better Than You So Shut Up About the War Already Because They’re Thinner and Sexier and We All Know What’s Really Important So Nyahhh!, yet another crucial addition to this delightful genre arrives called How To Be Parisian Wherever You are.

I’m afraid I haven’t read the whole thing due to a severe allergy to books that are predicated on national stereotypes so tired they would make the producers of ’Allo ’Allo! balk, but I did read an extract (hard-working journalist, me), and I can tell you, this book looks pretty spectacular. It was written, we are told, by “four stunning and accomplished French women … [who are] talented bohemian iconoclasts”. Coo! Stunning andiconoclastic? That is so Frrrrench, n’est-ce pas? So let’s see how this “iconoclastic” book shatters some French stereotypes. Well, we are told that French women “take their scooter to buy a baguette”. Take their scooter to buy a baguette? I’m sorry, is this a book about how to be French or a GCSE Tricolore text book? What next, “Monsieur Dupont habite à la Rochelle et il aime aller a la piscine”? Anyway, carry on. What else do we clueless non-Frenchies have to do to be more like French women, please?

“Smoke like a chimney on the way to the countryside to get some fresh air.”

“Don’t feel guilty [about infidelity].”

“Cheat on your lover with your boyfriend.”

Wow, this book really blows the lid on French stereotypes, doesn’t it? Totally doesn’t rehash them at all. Mon Dieu! Ooh la la! Nicole Papa! Du vin, du pain, du Boursin!

Admittedly, I am not Parisian. However, half my family is, I lived in Paris for a while after university “studying very hard” (dossing about with my cousins) and my parents still live there, so I have some experience of the place. But the funny thing is, in all my life of being related to Parisians, visiting Parisians and eating baguettes with Parisians on their scooters, I have never once come across a single woman who fits the stereotype peddled by these books. These idiotic guides present an image that is about as representative of Parisians as Four Weddings and a Funeral is of the average Brit. Are there skinny, scary women in Paris who have lots of lovers and always look fabulous? Yes, probably, and I’m guessing they all live in the same tiny square mile off the Boulevard Saint-Germain. But I have never come across any of them, and I used to cover Paris fashion week. It is perhaps the greatest trick France has ever pulled, constantly telling the world how innately chic its people are, while actually not being especially different from any other country. After all, there are rich, skinny, scary women in all major cities. But it is only Paris where we’re led to believe that this tiny demographic is representative of the entire populace.

Seriously, who buys these books? Have they never seen a French person? Do they just forget that their French GCSE teacher didn’t look and dress like Catherine Deneuve? Or are they so filled with self-loathing that they’re willing to cling on to whatever ridiculous lie is peddled by the publishing industry as long as it comes with a promise of self-improvement? Je ne sais pas, c’est très bizarre (see? This “being French” lark is un morceau de gâteau.) We all know that national stereotypes exist, but whoever would have thought that an entire publishing genre could be built upon them? But I appreciate that the publishing industry is struggling, so to help them on their way, here are some other titles that might be worth pursuing:

1. How to Get the Best Sunlounger Round the Hotel Pool Like a German.

2. How to Say ‘I’m WAWKIN’ here, I’m WAWKIN’!’ Like a New Yorker.

3. How to Throw a Shrimp on the Barbie like an Australian.

I’m going to stop now because each of these ideas is gold and I can’t just give them away, you know. The point is, there is nothing inherently chic about Parisians – they just happen to speak French, which is a very chic-sounding language, and they live in a stonkingly beautiful city (which they only saved by being cheese-eating surrender monkeys to the Nazis – I wonder if any of these “How to be Parisian” guides give any tips about how to acquiesce most stylishly to invading fascists? Yeah. I went there.) But as there seems to be some sort of appetite for this nonsense, here – EXCLUSIVELY!!!! – is my guide to being Parisian:

Move to Paris.

Speak French.

The End.

Au revoir, mes petits! Je vous embrasse, ooh la la!

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

During her brief career as a singer, Gabrielle Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.” Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for ‘kept woman,” according to an article in The Atlantic.

She opened her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920’s, she launched her first perfume and introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress and revolutionized fashion. In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name. Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.

In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say good-bye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.

The origin of her legendary symbol “intertwining C’s” HERE

A charming short film (13 minutes) in celebration of Coco Chanel, the iconic & legendary, French fashionista:

Source: biography.com

A 1680 -1780 Costume “Bal des Favorites”

Le Bal:

Held in the Hotel de France (l’ancien hôtel de Jean Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Saint Pouange et de Villacerf) in their “Galerie des Glaces” reception room, the period costume ball began with each person/couple’s entrance into the ballroom being announced by an “aboyeur,” then walking under an archway of swords into the room.

The music playing was period music by Lully for the evening’s festivities, accompanied by a dance instructor giving verbal instructions on how to do the various period dances, including the farandole. We even did the line dance “Madison” (equivalent to the Electric Slide) to period music, but with more graceful foot movements, of course.  There were period dance demonstrations and a sword fight presentation to entertain the 100 or so attendees (age range was 20’s to 70’s).

It truly felt like a Cinderella moment, as I was transported back in time and history – via dress, manners, dance, and etiquette – I didn’t want the evening to ever end.  Starting at midnight, the music changed to modern (Prince, Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke), and it was fun, but somewhat strange, to dance in costume to rock/techno beats – and of course, Cinderella had to eventually leave the ball.

The following day, about 28 of the attendees (all in costume) visited the Conciergerie, then walked by the Louvre pyramid on our way to have lunch. Walking through Paris in costume was also a wonderful experience, as passersby and drivers looked and commented. This time, I felt like a star being ‘chased’ by paparazzi, as 15-20 photo takers at a time clicked away when we posed as a group every 5 minutes. Everywhere we went, people had a big smile as we approached, some commenting and/or asking questions, and of course, also posing with us for photos.

(3 dance videos & 1 sword fight video)

(Costume photo gallery to follow in a separate post)

“LBD – La Petite Robe Noire”

I was recently shopping and passed a pharmacy window featuring a Guerlain perfume, for which “J’adore” (a Dior perfume) the TV

Guerlain1commercial!  Everything about this product appeals to me – the branding, marketing, visual packaging, etc.  Having visited a parfumerie, as well, I am only too aware of what goes into creating what goes inside of the bottle.

Guerlain2But, like a book’s cover or film trailer, it’s the visual aspect of a perfume that draws someone, enticing them to open the cover and smell.  So, is it the marketing or the visuality of a product that initially piques our interest?  What do you think?