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Archive for May, 2009

An Unexpected Appointment: Frédéric Malle au Flore

frederic-malle-portrait

Not all appointments are planned in advance. This is the first in a series of posts about appointments that made a surprise splash in my schedule.

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Appointment with: Frédéric Malle, founder of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
Meeting place:
Café de Flore, Paris
Date:
April 30th, 2009
Time:
8:30am
On the menu:
Coffee and Dalloyau Croissants
Purpose:
Interview for Monocle magazine

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Last month my editor at Monocle called to see if I’d be free to do a last-minute interview with fragrance maestro Frédéric Malle for a rubric in the mag called My Last Meal. The concept of the column is brilliant: each month a non-food professional is asked to describe their proverbial last meal (where they’d have it, with whom they share it and what, of course, would be on the menu).

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Louise Feuillère: Empress of the Undergarment

louise-feuillere-lingerie-artisan

A 21st century super hero of sartorial sensuality, artisan lingerie designer Louise Feuillère empowers women by building their bras, not burning them. Since she opened her adorable atelier-boutique on the aptly named “rue des Dames” in 2004, 35-yr-old Feuillère has been perking up the private lives of her privileged patrons with her couture and made-to-measure lingerie.

From superfine cotton panties with delicate lace trimming to sexy waist cinchers with velvet-covered ribbing, Feuillère’s confections are masterpieces of sensuality, technique, comfort and form.

“Lingerie sets the mood for the day,” says Feuillère, a sprightly, petite brunette with a mischievous smile and large coy eyes. “It’s the first decision you make when it comes to dressing. When you think of its impact on our daily disposition it takes on a dimension of well-being.” (Hear that ladies? Forget meditation, buy made-to-measure!!)

sexy-lingerie-handmade-waistcinch

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Bijoux Commelin’s Couture Charms

commelin-charms-various3As a kid, my dad would take me to the mall to pick out new charms for my charm necklace. Despite his best intentions, the process was excruciating. Somehow all of my preteen identity angst turned charm shopping into total trauma. Was I supposed to highlight my roller skating obsession or divulge my nerdy violin skills? Share my BFF status with my cool new friend or faithful childhood pal? Wear my initials in girlie curlicues or badass Brooklyn fonts?

Belying their diminutive size, charms have a way of saying a lot. Scaled-down renderings of our pastimes, dreams and preferences, each tiny charm brings to vivid life an intimate part of our personality. Viewed together as a collection, they can be quite revealing indeed.

So here I am, two decades later, faced with the ultimate charm challenge: navigating the holy grail of French charms without crying out for daddy.

commelin-intext2

Recognized as an “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” (Living Heritage Company), Bijoux Commelin is a 19th century family-run jewelry company that specializes in charms and translucent enamels. One of the oldest manufacturers of charms in France and the only company in Paris to perpetuate the art of handcrafted miniatures, Bijoux Commelin boasts over 2,000 miniatures in its ravishing repertoire.

(A word of advice: peruse their site to get your bearings before your visit.)

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Baby-Faced Cabinetmakers Redefine Their Craft

Avenel-christophe

It’s only my fourth post but I already have a confession to make (and no, it’s not about the cutie above).

One of the reasons why I’m doing this project is to satisfy my longstanding curiosity for people who pursue unusual professional paths. I have never been blessed (or cursed, perhaps?) with a burning career calling, but I am fascinated with those who are—especially when their shtick is super obscure.

Working as a journalist has served me well in this department. Interviewing someone is like having a giant question pass printed on your forehead. From challenging and quirky to just plain personal, you can ask your subject just about anything.

For me, the ultimate “jackpot conversation” is when I walk out of the experience with a juicy slice into someone’s life and a completely new window into the world.

That’s how I felt after my visit to Avenel L, a year-old workshop and design firm dedicated to the art of woodworking.

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