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Posts Tagged ‘Hands-on’

Catherine Hervé Lifts the Veil on Handmade Lace

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Appointment with: Catherine Hervé, Meilleur Ouvrier de France in duchess lace
When: 2pm, February 17th, 2009
Where: Her weekly lacemaking class at a community center in Paris’ 15th arrondissement.
On the Agenda: Learn the secrets to handmade lace from France’s preeminent expert.
Glossary: Métier (cushion), gatlap (cloth with cut-out center), fuseaux (bobbins), fil (thread), grillé (grill-like pattern), toilé (cross-cross pattern)

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This might come as a shock, but before I discovered the haute handiwork of lace designer Catherine Hervé at a fair devoted to French artisans, the subject of handmade lace had never once flittered through my mind. (Crazy, I know!) Was it like crocheting? Did it require looms? Were there patterns? Easels? For the life of my, I just couldn’t picture how it was done, who was doing it, where they did it and why.

There was only one person I knew could solve this puzzle: the Queen of Lace herself.

In 2004, Hervé became the third person since 1924 to win the Meuilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) title for duchess lace, giving her instant street cred as France’s leading practitioner of this painstaking craft.

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After winning the MOF, Hervé traded in her job as a legal assistant to devote herself full-time to lace. By blending traditional techniques with non-conventional materials (colored threads, rayon, leather, wool, silk) she hopes to give the endangered medium a fresh, modern patina. In addition to creating her own original designs (which include three-dimensional lace sculptures, lace jewels, lace canvases, and lace appliqués for apparel) Hervé teaches the art of this mysterious medium each week to a growing number of devotees. From fashion designers and chatty grannies to summer tourists and this guy from Chartes who likes frog motifs, lace holds a seductive spell over a rather eclectic cast—one that I plan to temporarily join to witness the virtuoso at work.

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Cocktail Appreciation Course at the Ritz

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Anyone who’s every tried to find a proper American martini (no, not the sweet vermouth!!) in Paris knows that while the city lays claim to many indulgent pleasures, the cocktail is not one of them. Luckily, Colin Field, the master mixologist who transformed the historic Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Hotel from dusty relic to vibrant laboratory of libations, is doing his part to change all that.

While Field’s cocktail philosophy is complex and his affect over-the-top, he’s cocktails are anything but. A minimalist at heart, Field privileges purity, simplicity and elegance above all, going so far as to create his own essences, such as wild strawberry vodka elixirs and homemade coconut liquor, to capture aromas without the distraction of sweet.

colin-mag-20 Author of the best-selling book The Cocktails of the Ritz and winner of multiple awards, multilingual Field  shares the secrets to his craft with a handful of participants several times a month during a special cocktail appreciation course at the Bar Hemingway.

During this stand-out two hour class (which invariably runs over to accommodate Field’s flamboyant storytelling), hear all about the bar’s famed beginnings as Ernest Hemingway’s den of debauchery, sit on Coco Chanel’s favorite seat, learn how to properly shake a mixer, silently pop a champagne cork, refine your taste buds, and conceive of luscious cocktails to impress the kids at home.

Cost: 100 Euros/person

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