|Recognize that smile?|
Confessions of a Shopping Junkie
Today, gentle reader, forgive me while I indulge myself in a free-style account of how I brought in the New Year, and the central role that friendship, fashion and food played in it.
But before I do anything, I must prepare my morning-after-purification elixir, which consists of the juice of one lemon, mixed with piping hot water, a teaspoonful of honey, and a dash (or two, depending upon my state) of cayenne pepper. This comforting drink is equally delicious and detoxifying when infused with fresh ginger. Once consumed, it will be followed by a full pot of green tea, then fruit, fruit, fruit. My body is screaming for fruit and green vegetables after a week of culinary indulgence, which in the French tradition includes champagne, oodles of oysters with a crisp white wine, foie gras served with sweet Sauternes, capon with chestnut stuffing and a full-bodied Burgundy, the traditional "bûche de Noël", a cream cake shaped like a log, served with still more champagne. Rich enough fare as it is, now add to the mix a (beloved) mother-in-law who suddenly becomes hard of hearing should you even attempt to refuse seconds, or thirds, or fourths. Indi...gestion.
|Chapon Farci (Capon with Stuffing)|
Last-Minute Wardrobe Wizardry
As this is a fashion blog, I shall spare no detail of the elaborate preparations that went into the event. Of course, I initially planned on being perfectly reasonable, on staying in and working, but the unconfessed desire create a new look overran my good intentions when I stepped out for coffee and bumped into my friend Véronique at the cash machine. Twas destiny, for, with only eight hours to go until the New Year’s Eve party, I still had no shoes to match the dress I planned to wear. And it just so happens that Véronique is in shoe biz.
Back-Story : The Dress
The dress, made of buttery soft, pearl-colored, plunged lambskin had been acquired while visiting my friend Ann McGovern, who lives in a heavenly flat in the via Spirito Santo in Florence. Not only did Ann spot the dress (of which there was only one) amidst a jumble of wildly divergent styles in an unassuming corner shop, she then proceeded to negociate a mind-boggling discount, the playful twinkle in her Irish blue eyes rendering Signora the shopkeeper powerless to do anything but acquiesce. All I had to do was chortle at my luck, whip out the Master Card, then take Ann to a celebratory lunch where we ate pasta drizzled with olive oil, and covered with shaved white truffle so fresh my tongue still tingles with delight at the memory.
|White Truffle Pasta|
I digress, but not really, for this blog is about friendship, fashion and food !
Back to the Shoes…
|Jean-Michel Cazabat - Zelia - Winter Collection 2013|
Véronique Ledrappier owns a show-room two blocks from my flat, and an on-line boutique, Les Souliers.com, which specializes in designer shoes from Louboutin, Balenciaga, Michel Vivien, Martin Magiela and more, at discount prices. When I told her of my shoe predicament, she kindly offered to open up the boutique, especially for me ! (Anyone who knows of my shoe fetish understands that Véro now holds a very special place in my heart!) We of course, found the perfect pair from designer Jean-Michel Cazabat.
On a roll…
Some of you may recognize this as the point at which a woman loses all semblance of self-control. « With such beautiful shoes and dress, » she reasons, « Wouldn’t it be a shame not to perfect the look ? ».
The fire had been ignited, and no guilty conscious could stop me any longer ! I really did need stockings, after all, and, gosh, wouldn't a wide, black belt add a nice touch? And I really could use a trendy, matte red lipstick and false eyelashes ! How could I forget? The false eyelash obsession had been floating around my subconscious for weeks. I had vowed to bring in the new year with falsies, and so I would !
In Paris, there is only one place where all of thes items can be found in a beautiful and stress-free environment: the Bon Marché ! So hop, skip and a jump in the metro to my favorite store in the whole world (besides the Maverick, of course), with dress and shoes in tow.
Le Bon Marché
Just a few words about the Bon Marché. On the Right Bank of Paris, you have two famous department stores, the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Although they are historical landmarks, filled with more beautiful things than one could possibly imagine, the crowded sidewalks that must be fought through just to get in the door repel me. It is even worse once inside. People, people everywhere ! A loud, incessant hum weighs on the ears, while one’s shoulders are pummeled and slammed by the relentless crowd. If I wanted a stampede, I'd head for the stockyards, not a luxury department store!
|Mecca a.k.a. Le Bon Marché|
|Le Bon Marché|
Over the twenty years I have lived in Paris, I have developed an aversion to such crowds and strong anti-anxiety protective mechanisms. I do everything I can to extricate myself from the sardine pack of people, even if it means heading out at dawn to avoid rush hour or foregoing matching shoes. Stress and shopping simply do not mix. This is why I gladly cross from my Right Bank neighborhood over to the Left Bank, and the magical world of Le Bon Marché, a haven of peaceful conspicuous consumption, which offers everything one could ever want from a luxury department store without the hassle, the body heat or the tourist mobs.
|Le Bourget - Eva Plumetis|
First stop, the hosiery department, where I present my dress and shoes, and am immediately led to the deacon of hosiery, who promptly locates the most perfect stockings imaginable ! Flesh-colored stockings from Le Bourget with sexy and playful satin-stitched dots. (They were a hit.)
The belt's a cinch, no pun intended, and the accessory part of my journey now complete.
|Karl Lagerfeld for Shu Uemura|
The final indulgence, a little trip to the cosmetics department to visit my faithful compagnons, Shu Uemura and François Nars.
A good foundation is hard to find, and I have been a loyal customer of Shu Uemura for many years, because his Face Architect foundation provides just the right amount of coverage, especially when combined with Silver Base Control. Another brilliant Shu Uemura product is Tsuya Skin, a mousse UV under base that sets your make-up, brightens the skin, and provides protection from the sun. Shu Uemura is also the king of fanstastical falsies, featuring everything from glitter and sequins, to feathers and fur. After much hesitation, I go for extra long, but basic black lashes.
|Shu Uemura False Eyelashes|
In the United States, false eyelashes of excellent quality can be found at almost any good drug store, such as Duane Read, Walgreens or CVS for a few dollars. In Paris, I have yet to find such bargains.
I’ll have two Orgasms, Please.
|Orgasm Blush - Nars|