Escale au Pérou: Vogue Paris Avril 2013

I don’t know why I continue to do this to myself. I stopped off at my trusty newsagent this morning and on a whim, decided to buy a copy of Vogue Paris as I’d seen a few of the images from the Kate Moss/Mario Testino/Sarajane Hoare editorial online, but more on that later. Needless to say, I am not happy.

In trying to be different, Vogue Paris has quite simply lost everything it was known for. Gone are the chic French styles, the exquisitely photographed ‘Bijoux’ section is less than noteworthy and that sophisticated sexiness that every woman born outside of Paris’ 75 postcode spends her life searching for is nowhere to be found. I mean, the entire issue is dedicated to Peru. Now I have nothing against Peru. In fact I’m sure it’s a lovely place but if I were as interested as Vogue Paris seems to think their readers are, I would have bought Vogue Lima (if such a  magazine exists)! Instead, I’m getting tips, from what used to be the hottest magazine in the land, on how to dress in a beeping poncho! Is this really happening!? Oui, très à la mode !

When a bonafide Kate Moss aficionado isn’t impressed, you know something is wrong. Seriously wrong.  Kate Moss and Mario Testino are usually a flawless combination. May this date be written in stone. This is the first Kate Moss editorial I’ve seen and disliked. In 22 pages, there is one image (in a Ralph Lauren ensemble) which is mediocre. The rest are just wrong. She’s styled horribly – the woman is wearing Hermès, Lanvin, Gucci – but she could have been wearing hand-me-downs from 1902. The main reason why Kate is a phenomenally successful model is her ability to captivate. However, that is not seen here. The clothes wear her and trust me, they are not pretty clothes! Her skin is too pale, the lipstick isn’t working at all and the list goes on. I do not understand this.  I am not even going to bother searching the internet for the images.

I have never been more disappointed with Vogue Paris than today, but at least my Earl Grey tea tastes good.

A Parisian Moment à Londres

I am back in London, where my heart belongs, but after such an exciting and emotional weekend, I am not yet ready to say goodbye to Paris. In homage to my former home, I’m here with a café crème and my favourite French magazines – Elle, Madame Figaro and even Vogue Paris, which still leaves a lot to be desired,  acquired during my weekend in the La Ville-Lumière.

Having lived abroad for so many years, most of the people I love are scattered around. It makes these trips bittersweet: great to see friends, hard to say goodbye. I suppose that’s one of the downsides that come with travelling around.

Autumnal Change

Despite going to bed at midnight, I woke up at 6:30 this morning.  I’m in a reflective mood – thinking about the last year and just how different my life is now.  This time last year, I was living a double life – pretending to be happy for fear that the reality would consume me.  Today, I feel like myself again, and that feels great.   This morning I decided to change up the breakfast routine with toasted seeded bread with home-made lemon curd (so easy and much nicer than shop-bought) and home-made hot chocolate (a Danish friend’s recipe) with my favourite magazine – The Economist.  I always start reading magazines from the back.  I wonder if this means anything… Any psychologists out there?

October marks an important moment in my life, a new chapter so to speak, for so many reasons. Today is my first day back at school.  It’s a part-time degree which I’ve been thinking about for the last two years.  It is a major life change and an investment mentally, financially and socially. To be honest, despite being offered a place on the course, I wasn’t going to enrol.  I don’t know why, I suppose I was afraid of change, fear that I’d be the oldest person in the class, that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or be as good as the other students after so many years out of education and the list goes on and on.  I shared all of this with a friend – Lasca – over afternoon tea at The Savoy (review to follow shortly) recently and let’s just say that she gave me the proverbial kick up the backside I needed! Enrolment done, fees paid and student ID card received.  School starts today! Excitement overload. I still have some fears but my life motto has always been “no regrets” and that’s not about to change.

Speaking of change, I’m so happy with my newly-designed website. What do you think? I wanted a change – something more professional and gorgeous – and instead of getting drastic and cutting my hair short (never a good idea when you have crazy curly hair), I have a new blog design. I had so many ideas and inspirations and was so excited to start my search for a web developer. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know all about the tears of frustration, faux-developers and those four minutes when I thought I would not only teach myself CSS, but would also design my own website. Craziness in London! Like I said, four minutes. I feel no shame in admitting that I have sat staring at my laptop, hands in my hair, wailing “I don’t understand why you’re doing this to me!”. Okay, maybe a little shame but hey, we’re not all perfect.

Enter Jenny Beaumont. I met Jenny when I lived in Paris for all of a few minutes at one of these fun expat evenings and subsequently found her on Twitter and since then, she’s been my WordPress, Linux and well, anything geeky guru.   To this day, I don’t know how she knows all of this stuff.  What I really like about Jenny’s approach is that she is about do the technical yet explain in an idiot-proof way.  Before any work commenced, Jenny had me look at designs I like, narrow it down to two and then I sent her a list of likes, dislikes and changes.  Simple yet effective.  Probably the most important question she asked was “is this design your ultimate site?”, which allowed me to think about all the features and styles I’d incorporate into the site without any time or financial constraints.  Adding a Japanese section is something I’ve wanted to do for years but I simply didn’t know how to do it.  I spoke to so many so-called developers who told me it couldn’t be done or that would have to be done with different programmes which aren’t available on WordPress etc.  Two long conversations later, without any technical misunderstandings, Jenny began working on my little ole blog.  I think it’s fair to say that I have never exchanged so many emails with one person in such a short period of time.   Over 3-4 days, Jenny designed and developed my blog.  It would have taken me months, maybe even years.  I’m not going to lie, I’m hard to please but other than the use of Serif font, which I’ve never liked, there wasn’t anything to change. Somehow Jenny was able to understand the site that I wanted before I even knew!   I’m so crazy in love with the blog – if it were a person, I’d break British tradition and hug it!  The best part about working with Jenny is that she wanted me to be happy with the site.  It wasn’t a case of just get it done and more on to another project.  For me, working with someone who cares about what they’re doing is a rare and wonderful treat. As if the design and development weren’t enough, she emailed detailed guides on how to use the translation plug-in, image functions and notes about how to change little things so I can be in control of my own site.  The problem with the internet is that there is so much conflicting information available. Having Jenny as my trusty source is an absolute bonus.  I highly recommend Jenny so if you have a blog or website and need some help, check out her site and/or Twitter.

Sometimes change really is a good thing.

Carine Roitfeld’s New Magazine Revealed

When news that former rédactrice en chef of Vogue Paris would be coming out with her magazine broke, let’s just say there was a wee bit of rejoicing going on! Called “CR”, the magazine will debut in September and will be approximately 290 pages. Subscription alert!

Review: Vogue Paris November 2011

If ever there was a cover that screamed “Parisienne”, this is it! When I think about French beauty, I see women with flawless skin, red lipstick and seemingly little else. Arizona Muse looks natural and pretty. In my opinion, this is Emmanuelle Alt’s best cover thus far, and perfectly fitting for November’s beauty special issue.

The advertising has been slimmed down to pre-Emmanuelle era and that can only be a good thing, plus the advertisers are considerably more refined but that’s just me being a snob! I’ve said it before so apologies for the repetition but Olivier Lalanne’s extended agenda section is really cool. Appealing to those with varying interests from fashion, architecture, art and music, Vogue Paris opens itself up to the cultural types as well, which can only be good for sales and for those of use who want to know more.

Making a break from the recent trend of using images from previous issues, the Beauté section is fresh and relevant to today’s reader; focusing on the art of flawless skin, non-invasive wrinkle treatments and highlighting make-up products. Given that we live in a time where there is so much pressure to not only look good, but to look young, and so many woman sadly going down the expensive and dangerous route of cosmetic surgery, I say bravo to Théodora Aspart for this editorial. Famed beauty writer Lili Barbery-Coulon keeps the beauty baton alight with a one-page feature on luxury perfumes starting at 150€. Well, Christmas isn’t far off, is it? As I’m leaving Paris in a couple of months, I’ve been thinking often about what I’m learnt/discovered here and Emmanuelle Courrèges ‘Plantes médicinales’ is the perfect example: focusing not only on organic products, but mainly on skincare derived from plants. Pretty much everything I use from shampoo to face wash to body oils is plant-based, and I am grateful to France for that introduction. I’m helping myself and the planet. As someone who strongly believes that beauty isn’t just about what you look like, it’s about who you are, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article on meditation and the positive effects it can have. Though Isabeli Fontana, who stars in the editorial, need not worry.

Miss Vogue’s ‘De brut en blanc’ is pretty. Very American and really pretty. Photographed in the US by Claudia Knoepfel and Stefan Indlekofer, the model’s hair takes us back the Farrah Fawcett era and boy do we love it! She looks casually beautiful though why she’s wearing the same cowgirl boots throughout is beyond me.

For the Christian Louboutin fans among you, Francis Dorléans give an in-depth account of the man himself. Personally, I’m not a fan of his shoes. Yes they look sexy as hell but I’m still mad about the money I spent on two pairs, which I can only wear for 40 minutes max. His shoes are so uncomfortable. Yes, I want a refund!!

As with the Agenda section, the last few months has seen an increase in the more cultural sections – cinéma and livres (books) – much to this reader’s delight. I’m not going to lie, my French reading hasn’t quite made it from glossy mags to hardcore literature, but the suggestions are varied and often include material published in various languages.

It takes a lot of work to ruin a Chanel suit but Emmanuelle has done just that in the opening image of ‘Haute Couture’, a bold and energetic editorial photographed by Inez & Vinoodh. We heart Sergio Rossi, really we do, but those boots with that suit. I think not. As the editorial goes, the images become brassier though I wouldn’t complain if the embroidered Valentino gown ended up in my wardrobe. I’m curious about what others think because it seems as though Emmanuelle went through the couture collections and chose the ugliest designs she could find. That said, I like the striking, tribal-like image of the Dior dress.

To say that I’m not a fan of Terry Richardson is an understatement. I was rather surprised by his collaboration with stylist Marie Chaix, in which we see Vogue Paris regular Natasha Poly roaming around Harlem. The contrast between the rough backdrop and Natasha’s poised self makes turning each page a complete delight. Natasha decked out in Donna Karen whilst using a telephone box or “phone booth” as my cousins across the Atlantic call it is my favourite. What do you think?

In keeping with the beauty theme, Arizona Muse, Alessandra Ambrosio, Natasha Poly, Isabeli Fontana, Karolina Kurkova and Hanaa Ben Abdesslem take on a different make-up styles, each from a renowned brand, as we question which appeals most to us in ‘Cover Girls’. Very well done indeed.

‘Plus que parfaites’ focuses on what we do to achieve the “perfect” face and body as well as New York based specialist should you wish to have some work done. As I’ve said before, I’m totally against having cosmetic surgery myself but if I wasn’t, the bruised face in the accompanying image would change my views.

Unlike previous Vogue Paris issues under the new editorial team, November’s issue finishes just as strongly as it started with Kate Winslet and a very good interesting interview with Versace’s Donatella. Given this month’s focus on beauty, I find it fitting that Donatella should make an appearance. No offence intended but the woman has clearly had so much surgery it’s hard to even imagine what looked like 20 years ago. When her brother tragically died, everybody thought she would fail. She proved them wrong and now with a (hideous) collection for H&M, the brand continues to rise. It’s so saddening that she has done this to herself. Of course, when you’re surrounded by spring chickens (do non-British people use this term as well?) with flawless faces and perfect figures, it must be hard to age, but it can be done. If ever there is a reason not to have cosmetic surgery, this is it. The perfect antidote to this tragic case can be found in the form of literary icon Joan Didion, and what a contrast! Turn the page and there she is: head cupped in her hands, pushing her beautiful face to the forefront, wrinkles et al. What a photograph! What a message!

Lara Stone romps around Central Paris looking her normal flawless self and yes, I am jealous!! The magazine ends with a fun 10-page ‘reportage’ of Vogue Fashion Night. If you weren’t there, you need to see this!

With the exception of “Never Mind” – Emmanuelle Alt’s editorial featuring Natasha Poly and Sasha Pivovora, which I’m not even going to feature because it is mind-numbingly boring, this is the strongest issue yet and if it continues next month, I will consider renewing my subscription. Not only is the issue full of pretty, fun and cultural things, it also appeals to those of us who like to use our brains. Like many Vogue Paris regular readers, I was pleasantly surprised to see Arizona on the cover – a welcome change. I’m bored of Natasha, Isabeli and Sasha and hope that Vogue Paris will start to vary the models they use to keep us interested, and to shake things up a wee bit. Slightly off topic but I’ve noticed that Vogue Paris has stopped putting their models in those ugly, long claw-type nails. Hallelujah!!