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Paris Nostalgie

I always sneered at those with Robert Doisneau posters, the "Baîser de l'Hôtel de Ville" is a bit obvious for me. But after seeing the exhibition of Dorothy Bohm photography at (the sublime) Musee Carnavalet I was caught up in a mélancholie for a Paris I never even knew. Except for in books and literature and of course, the films of the Nouvelle Vague.

Dorothy Bohm was a Jewish Lithuanian photographer who escaped Nazism by fleeing to Paris and travelled extensively throughout Europe and has left a memorable body of work.

See the Paris we all dreamed of - Saint Germain when it was a quartier of intellectual riff-raff and Parisian Teddy Boys. Characters from Les Halles when it was a real market rather than the biggest architectural error ever perpetrated on one the world's most beautiful cities. Snotty nosed kids in the alleys and staircases of Montmartre. The chunky Concierge leaning on her broom in the doorway of a palatial apartment in the 16eme. The main similarity seemed to be that there were a lot of tramps and street people in those days too.

Under the knife - almost

It's finally happened. I went under the knife. Well, it was only a little knife and it was kind of non-invasive. I think I have just found the best facialist in the world.

Dr Jean-Luc Richard is a Médecine Dermato-Esthétique and his mission is to make every woman feel more beautiful. Je suis d'accord.

He's in his late 50's and from the minute I step into the office I know I am with a man who loves women. Okay, he is an aging playboy but a totally charming and non-sleazy one. I immediately warm to him as he is interrogating me about my skin. "It's okay, but I'm afriad I eat too much chocolate" I whimper. "Chocolate?" he bellows, "Why that's good! - Chocolate is delicious!" I relax. And we have a great time talking about his favourite night spots in Paris, he likes "Castel", how did I guess?

The facial incorporates some instruments which look pretty scary, I think one might have been a syringe but I turned away when I saw it (it wasn't botox injections godammit - I promise). It's a deep cleansing routine but seems more like some form or surgery than a facial, complete with rubber gloves and he even wears a green gown. Tears run down my face, this is intense in places. I wonder if "il faut souffrir pour la beaute" was the correct translation but he was "doing" round my mouth area and I couldn't speak to ask. At the end he comes back and paints on a mask of what he calls his "dry-ice treatment". It is freezing cold and sizzles on my face, apparently freezing out dead skin cells. Finally he slathered some kind of grease all over my face.

I had to step out onto the avenue Montaigne with a very red and blotchy face. I scared an assistant in Dior so it was time to head home. No, not the Metro, just jump in a cab when you look like this.

A day later and I have to say I haven't looked this good since........well, you know the glow you get when you find a new beau and spend the whole weekend in bed together? It's even better than that. And I am telling you, it was as if he had also lifted off some wrinkles away with the dead skin cells. Amazing. I have to go back in a month and I can't wait. Apart from the fact it costs 150 euros.

Docteur Jean-Luc Richard
12, avenue Montaigne
75008, Paris
01 47 20 79 00

Bourgeois Bohemians


The most enthusiastic supporters of art in Ivry-sur-Seine are PHUONG Freres at 90-92 rue Victor Hugo. These guys are so who you need to see to build your frames, stretch your canvas or encadré your aristic bits and bobs. They have a wall of clocks they ask each artist they like to design and they are immensely proud of the collection. Monday through Saturday 9-7pm 01 46 70 58 06

After stopping by we moved on to "Portes Ouvertes". Matt Rose's show was fun at La Scène Quai Est. and it was sure was a pretty complex but where were all the other open doors?

Here and more-so later all I saw was luxury loft-style living. It shows you what can happen when middle class people buy up tracts of industrial land and buildings in depressed areas. I guess they did it by creating an Association - no doubt with the proviso they are helping to enrich the local community through art........

It looks to me that they've turned them into "gated communities". Everything had shut down by 6pm - we had a map and walked miles but ended up stumbling into one after another super plush row of lofts and "ateliers". Final straw - some little kid who screeched "C'est privé ici". We could hear only the clinking of champagne flutes and the swish of Armani and cashmere - not much trace of an artistic blood, sweat, paint and tears.

In Artpropos there was at least the evidence of an artist's workspace and they had set up a little band in the communal area. Getting peckish we ate a couple of biscuits on offer for the visitng art fiends but a lady rushed in, put them back in a tin and slammed down the lid.

Way of the Shaman via Montmartre

We wanted to see the "Way of the Shaman", an exhibition by Franco-American artist Barbara Navarro but had missed the opening. Grace Teshima was kind enough to open up her apartment specially for us - it's become the latest must-see exhibition space in rue des Abbesses, a stone's throw from Le Sancerre cafe. Grace shows a different artist on the 1st of each month and the evening of the full moon. Events will soon be invitation only as news of her infamous bar has spread and it's getting crowded. The next is "Portraits of Enlightenment", artist Kelli Bickman, and opens on 1st October at 6pm, also the Nuite Blanche.

Rue de la Mode

I V Y paris artist, Brazilian painter and stylist Ander Niemeyer, is showing his work tonight at an event in rue des Gardes, 75018. Known as Rue de la Mode, rue des Gardes is home to young fashion designers under the “Créateurs Goutte-d’Or” banner. 13 fledgling companies were selected to take part in this creative enterprise. Each designer was granted a space ranging in size from 28 to 172 square meters, for a tiny annual rent of 61E per square meter.

The Mairie was trying to boost this section of 18th better known as the best place to go to buy yourself a passport, something to get high or a stolen laptop, (rue des Islettes if you fancy a walk on the wild side). I should know, I used to live here.

The rue des Gardes is a ray of hope in what has become an increasingly demanding industry in these difficult times. It's hard for young designers to afford to set up an atelier and employing production staff is prohibitive.

Prize for the best named shop in this street goes to Flux — a.k.a. Fuckin’ Fashion System.

Frank Prefers Blondes

Frank, (that's Frawwnk  to you) has his own parlour dedicated to the art of being blonde at 12, rue Pré aux Clercs, 75007.  What a wonderful place - perhaps reminicent of Marylin's dresing room? White with mirrors and that Miami shade of minty green with a mosaic floor.  And.....peace. White gauzy drapes shade the windows and no one can see us in the slightly vulnerable state which I associate with staring at myself in the mirror, hair in foil and wearing an unflattering smock. 

What's more, I feel at home here.  For a start,I have never had a coiffeur describe my haircut as "un peu Jean Cocteau".  "What really?" I said turning my head in mock admiration for the (newly romanticised) wispy bits in my growing out mop.  I'd like to think he was being erudite rather than trying to flatter me. 

Frank obviously takes hair seriously, in an altogether French fashion - there was even a row of philospohy and criticism books on the politics of "Blonde".  Who says we're dumb?  All in all a welcome antithesis to "Where are you going on your holidays this year?" as the most challenging conversational gambit. Only in France.

And how apt in the quartier of Sartre and De Beauvoir.  Wishing to pay my respects I duck into the Cafe de Flore and spend the next 5 hours on the terrace sipping hot Mariage Freres The sur le Nil. After dropping 195 euros in the hairdresser maybe I should have chosen somewhere a bit cheaper. What the hell.  If I have to choose any place to have meetings I'll take a tip from the brainiest couple in history and make it here, au Flore.  The drinks have really gone up in price since they huddled next to the radiators on the first floor.

Lux. I V Y boardroom

Thank god it still seems to be Summer in the afternoons. I hook up with Anthony Antonellis, artist and web guru extraodinaire and we have a 2 hour power chat to get the I V Y website up to scratch. Luckily he is a proactive person and knows how to turn my ideas into reality. If I couldn't depend on him I'd never get this site off the ground. It does remind me how one must not rush things, let them take shape in their own time. Petit à petit. I wanted to establish an Artist's network here in Paris after seeing the disparate parts of the scene not talking to each other and so many cool people without any way to hook up. I thought we'd have to have an events/arts space when I first conceived of I V Y paris but thank God it's now existing in a more manageable and affordable format. I don't need to rent an expensive central Paris gallery to do this, (that was last year's most crazy venture). Sometimes it's fun to be frugal.

Eau de toilettes.......

It may be good for your thigh muscles but for God's sake, when are they going to understand that Drop Toilets have got to be phased out. These damn things have to rate as one of the top ten worst things about being here in France. For obvious reasons. Even those gals with an Olympic standard aim can't keep their Stephanie Kelians completely dry. I couldn't believe it when I saw this one in Petit Fer au Cheval, a pretty, trendy, Marais bar. They shelled out on the sleek stainless steel interior but boy, what a nasty surprise. Think about it. This is a nice drop toilet. This is the king of drop toilets. They aren't all like this.

And while I'm on the subject, let's stop these god damn guys peeing in the streets. Some of those charming, ancient, passages in the Latin Quarter are rather too pungent for my liking. I've even seen drunkards in Place Saint Michel hit passers-by in the legs. I kid you not. These brazen devils need no wall to piss up against, they just relase their flies and let rip. Beware.

I V Y paris meet 'n' greet

I V Y 's meet up group goes from strength to strength and it was great fun to be hosted by Sono at her beautiful apartment in rue de Pont Neuf. Much better (and cheaper) than a bar, people let their hair down, everybody relaxed and got to know each other; it's the best yet. People actually got quite pissed too, must be the Rentree spirit. There was a great view of Saint Eustache from the balcony for the smokers.

Superman Cosmic Green

Superman (men?) was also roaming the Parc courtesy of Massimo Furlan, he even wandered into "Parénide, il y en a d'autres" by Marco Berrettini where large group of young parents with small kids were painfully sitting through the performance. The group looked bemused as Berrettini and two female dancers ground their bodies against trees in a woody glade and threw sado-masochistic manouveres on a picnic mat, Marco decked out in gardening gear. Later he danced his way through the glade chased by said girl with leaf blowing machine.

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