haussman buildings paris

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 188: Emily in Paris + Cultural Difference.

My Latest Snag: Gucci Tights.

One of my favorite ways to add interest to my winter wardrobe last season was by layering a pair of black Gucci logo tights under the dresses I’d worn the season prior. These tights are now very difficult to get a hold of, but SSENSE still has a few pairs in the ivory colorway, which I just snagged to pair with some of my favorite LBDs and skirts this fall and winter. I usually like to pair them with a conservative-looking dress like this to balance out their volume.

P.S. If you like the idea of a patterned tight but aren’t into the logos, these bow print ones are darling!

You’re Sooooo Popular: A Festive Dress.

The most popular items on le blog this week:

+Gorgeous festive dress in amazing colors.

+My favorite waffle tee for layering underneath sweatshirts/sweaters.

+Adorable bunny slippers for a little one.

+High-rise, wide-leg white denim.

+My current favorite long-sleeved running tee — in great colors this season. I like that the back of the top hangs a little lower to cover the rear.

+Three-pack of cableknit tights for a little lady in the best colors.

+A great eye primer that I honestly use more often as the only thing on my eyelid. Evens things out and looks natural!

+You need this headband (on super sale). Pair with basically anything in your closet (ivory, denim, brown, black, maroon, olive) for the perfect fall accessory.

+Cute tie-waist cords. I like how they’re styled on the site with chic sneaks (love these in the tie-dye print, on sale for $130!).

+Adorable Liberty London hair clips for a little girl.

+$23 puffer for a baby.

Weekend Musings: Emily in Paris, Storm King Art Center, and the Architecture of Cultural Difference.

I sat down to write about the Netflix show “Emily in Paris” (not for you, mom and dad) and the outrage it has incited among Parisians — some of it, frankly, sniffy and some of it rightful, as caricatures and oversimplifications abound in the show. In fact, were it not for Emily’s bright consciousness around gender politics, parts of the show might feel as though they could have been penned in the 1990s. But what I instead found myself wanting to write about is the way architecture can often reflect, or reify, or construct culture (and our manifold interpretations of it). And not for any particular scene or situation in the show — just, the whole of it. For example, the classic Haussman-style buildings (example seen in photo at top) spotted in the show, with their sandstone facades, continuous balconies, enormous windows, and mansard roofs have always felt distinctly French to me: their emphasis on immaculate style and decoration, their invitation for spectatorship (lived out through broad windows and balconies from which to watch pedestrians below), their intimidating height and breadth. They are beautiful to look at, but they always make me feel as though I’m being looked down upon: their windows like discerning eyes, their slanted roofs somehow like a frown. This, of course, is all personal projection. (Can you tell I felt like an outsider among the French?) Or is it? I recall a French professor (in Lyon) lecturing as though it were fact that “the French are obsessed with shutters and doors, hedges, and inward-facing courtyards,” and that these architectural and stylistic details were a direct reflection of the French’s proclivity toward privacy. “In America, everything hangs out,” he said, dismissively. “Tout en plein air.” (“Everything out in the open.”) I never forgot the point he was making — or the attitude with which he delivered it.

I chased an adjacent nest of thoughts the other day while visiting Storm King Art Center, an outdoor art gallery in the Hudson Valley whose very design leaves you thinking about the lines between the manmade and the natural, and some of those lines read very distinct (large red structures jutting out of the earth) and others blurrier (the exquisite maintenance of the grounds, mowed and groomed with precision, as though by a dextrous barber, the set of copper relief artworks molded onto unassuming trees and rocks, meant to be “discovered” (with no curatorial signage to aid!) by visitors traipsing through the wooded area on the northside of the campus). In any case, I left wondering about the way in which these creations can both reflect and diverge (sometimes at the same time) from what is “natural” or “true.” Nowhere was this clearer than in Maya Lin’s wavefields on the grounds (note: Lin designed the controversial Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in D.C.), which are more less a series of undulating hills. Lin made the pattern, but the materials she used were earth and grass and nothing more. I had read about the installation a few years ago, and the sole thing I remember from that reading was that some of the design borrowed from the Native American practice of burying their dead above ground versus beneath it, and the conversation led to some introspection about the way we enshrine our cultural and spiritual beliefs in the structures we build.

No profound end point here, just some field notes that might jangle with something on your mind today. Comments, as always, encouraged!

P.S. I did very much like “Emily in Paris.” It is cheesy and the clothes are garish (I don’t care if Patricia Field did them — the berets! ahhh) but the plot is fun and some of the writing is exceptionally clever.

Post-Scripts: The Ganni Dress.

+This fun Ganni dress is on sale for under $100!

+Love my community of Magpie moms.

+If you are expecting, you must buy this classic cableknit sweater! On super sale at the moment!

+I am absolutely swooning over this jacquard dress! Great for a COVID bride or a holiday gathering.

+I am all about the cashmere tee. So incredibly chic with your favorite jeans and smart loafers.

+Have you ever experienced “flow”?

+I had been looking for the perfect piggy bank for Hill and I am totally swooning over this sweet bunny in blue or this polished elephant! Too sweet. Either would make a precious and unexpected baby gift.

+I have bought many a cool memento from John Derian, so I was thrilled by his latest collaboration with Target. I had to buy these creepy appetizer plates — mini will flip and they are so fun for Halloween.

+Adore this plaid puff sleeved top ($25!), which reminds me of a Veronica Beard blouse!

+Chic Gap dress — looks like it could be SEA or Ulla.

+Cheery fall gingham dress.

+The holidays are coming!

+I am constantly struggling to keep on top of mini’s prolific artistry — she is always painting, drawing, creating cards, etc. I am pretty good at restricting the number of masterpieces we keep for the long haul, but there are always a few piles around our apartment because I cannot bring myself to immediately chuck her art as soon as it’s complete (especially under her watchful eye — she has more than once fished her own work out of the garbage). I just ordered this tray to keep on top of her dresser as a purgatory.

+I just bought my Lego-loving godson one of these Advent calendars. I know it’s not religious but the concept was just too cute. I think he’ll get a kick out of it.

+Fall home finds.

31 Comments

  1. For kiddos art – we LOVE Artkive! They send you a box to fill with your kiddos artwork, you send it back, and receive a beautiful art book filled with their pictures! Granted, I have to edit the box every few weeks and chuck some of the pieces that aren’t quite book-worthy (usually on trash day). But it’s helped us manage the art influx, as well as framing some of Rho’s good pieces for our kitchen gallery wall.

  2. Ahh, so much to comment on here. I can see where you’re coming from re: your perception of Haussmannian architecture, although I tend to look at it much more fondly (and perhaps more shallowly?) given that it reminds me of my year abroad in Paris. I haven’t watched EIP — I found myself turned way off by the backlash, and generally don’t turn to fluff when it comes to television … but maybe I should reconsider! Your comments section has so many intriguing & varied perspectives.

    I adore, adore Storm King (and Maya Lin in particular, for many reasons, not just Wavefield) and would love to go again! It seems perfect for a distanced excursion.

    Finally — have you heard of ARTKIVE? It’s a service that allows you to mail off a selection of artwork and have it turned into a keepsake book. Seems like a great idea for children’s art — I can say from experience that sometimes it’s tough to even find space for the “keepers” if you have a prolific artist!

    xx

    1. So clever! Thanks for sharing that! Yes, Emory is in a particularly productive phase and she will often present me with 10 or 20 drawings in a day…! Looking into this option.

      Storm King was the perfect COVID activity since it’s such an enormous property, it’s outside, and they are operating with timed tickets only. It was such a wonderful way to experience both art and nature at the same time. So strongly recommend to anyone in the area, though procuring tickets is a bit of a hassle.

      xx

    2. Amazing! I would add another one to the list that I’ve heard is still open for outdoor-only access this year — The Glass House in New Canaan, CT. The real draw is the interior of the house, which is closed due to COVID, but the grounds are BEAUTIFUL and it’s one of my favorite day trips from NYC. xx

    3. Oh COOL! I hadn’t heard of that but just spent some time clicking through the website and checking out the different structures/sculptures on the grounds. Fascinating, especially the ghost house!

      xx

  3. Thank you for posting that maternity sweater! Just entering my second trimester and at a loss of what to wear during winter. I love the cheery red!

  4. Ugh, I just couldn’t get into Emily! I wish her character had higher stakes: what if the writers let her fail instead of being this magical social media maven (with comically boring instagram posts)?; what would Paris be like if every man she met didn’t magically fall in love with her?; what would happen if Emily learned the consequences of choosing a man over a good and loyal friend like Camille? (Perhaps in seasons two)

    Okay, EIP thoughts aside, wavefields is my favorite exhibit at Storm King. My friend got engaged in front of it and the pictures are stunning. I didn’t realize it was inspired by Native American burial grounds, but I appreciate the idea of the dead still being able to bear witness in some way to the living’s joy. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Veronica — So astute, as always. I appreciated your take on Emily. I wonder if all of the “ease” of Emily’s life makes space for the central conflict between Emily and her boss and the frictions across all vectors between them (i.e., age, romantic interest, citizenship, embrace of technology vs not, sense of “seriousness and maturity” vs frivolity)? As if the screenwriters are trying to point enormous arrows at that conflict by erasing all others? Not sure. I had a higher tolerance for the show’s facile plot for some reason and now I’m wondering why (some of the writing is quite good? the need for distraction?) but I can completely appreciate your critique.

      xx

    2. Jen–good point! I hadn’t thought of that. And I obviously watched every episode, so they clearly did something right, ha.

  5. Just started Emily in Paris last night, after hearing much of the backlash (like that Vogue article) ahead of deciding to take the plunge. I think it helped me approach it as slightly cringey and irreverent, with less “THIS IS DARREN STAR AND PATRICIA FIELD AND IT WILL BE A PARISIAN SEX AND THE CITY ICONIC SHOW” pressure that the series seemed to elicit before widespread viewership. It feels like some nice visual cotton candy at the end of the night – fairly mindless, but with enough plot to keep me from simultaneously scrolling on my phone the entire time.

    1. You nailed it. She fills a definite “need” for so many of us in quarantine fatigue / exhaustion from the news cycle / etc. I was frankly caught off guard by the backlash! xx

  6. I find your articles fascinating and your writing some of the best in individual blogs online. This time your take on the inferences of architecture is worth thinking about. And your optimistic outlook always catching, leaving me feeling better about the current world.

  7. Your seeing the buildings of Paris as faces reminds me of Henry James–he is always describing windows as eyes and playing with ideas of interiorities and how we become enmeshed in them.

    1. Oh I love this and hadn’t made the connection to James. Would be fascinating to re-read some of his work with an eye toward the representation of space. So often, reading with that lens reveals a lot about the author’s configuration of the psychologies of his/her characters. (I’m thinking specifically of the use of space in Gothic novels, which were full of hidden/trap doors, attics, basements, cavernous castles, etc. A lot to unpack!)

      xx

  8. I had a funny architectural experience my first time in Paris, a few years ago. The year prior, I had gone on a road trip to New Orleans, and for my first couple days in Paris, every balcony reminded me of NOLA. 🙂 Of course, that felt like it was “wrong” — NOLA was based on France not the other way around, but it was funny how architecture triggered memories of a very different trip. Re: burials, I visited crypts in Portugal and I remember learning that up until a certain year it was illegal to bury the dead underground (hence the crypts), but then a certain year came and the law became literally opposite and you HAD to bury the dead underground. Really made me consider how much we think is “normal” or “THE way to do things” that’s really just shaped by the norms of the time we are living in.

    1. Such interesting experiences, and both really illustrate some of the thoughts I’ve been sifting through around the way architecture is so often personal or cultural (or both) projection.

      xx

  9. I loved Emily In Paris, even though I agree it was cheesy. But it’s that low-drama, fluff we all need right now (Ha! Do you sense a theme with me these days?). Interesting about French architecture…and perhaps what I love about America. It’s that “everything out in the open” idea that makes things more…”real” and less stuffy in my opinion. But I do appreciate old architecture.

    I feel you on the kids’ artwork. I distinctly remember when my MIL dropped off boxes and boxes of my husband’s childhood artwork (OMG and snippets from his first haircut and even a stray baby tooth). I found myself wishing my mom had kept more of my things, but my husband put most in the trash. I think it’s a balance. I make a “yearbook” for each one of my kids (and my gosh it takes so much time with four now). I snap photos of their artwork, milestones, etc. and toss it. Then at the end of each school year print a book with Shutterfly and my kids go crazy over it! They would much rather page through their books than a crumbling glitter art project. Win-win.

    1. Love giving the picture book to your child each year! Such a sweet idea. Thank you for sharing that idea. I may do it for my grandchildren (if I ever have any!!!!)

    2. 100% agree. “Emily in Paris” was just what I needed last week when we had to keep Emory home from school for a full week because she came down with a cold that she then passed along to the rest of us, consecutively, each of us catching it 1-2 days after the previous, and so we all had to rush out to get COVID tests and we couldn’t send her in until we were all 100% in the clear. I needed that distraction in the evenings!! And the screenwriting was sharp and often surprising — some of the off-handed retorts were so clever!

      I love this idea of the book too — I’m now resolved to do this. Emory would LOVE this.

      xx

  10. Kid artwork: mail them to friends and family and transfer the decision to your recipient. I ask my daughter to select a piece to mail to a cousin, grandparent, etc. Children love sending mail, people love receiving it, and it clears your own space.

  11. Make a new folder on your phone called Mini’s Art and take pictures of it all. She can browse her artwork while she is waiting or you’re attempting to keep her occupied. You can also “recreate” any of it from digital to print at anytime!
    Love!

    1. Love this!! Someone else earlier said they have a dedicated Instagram account for all of her children’s artwork so friends/family can see, too.

      xx

  12. Interesting- I’ve heard something similar said about NYC: that it’s one of the few cities where an inward (park-facing) view is more desirable and expensive than an outward-facing (water) view.

    1. Hi Anna – I can totally see that! Less noise, less foot traffic, more privacy! Interesting also in the sense that — and one of the other Magpie readers here used these exact words — to live here, you have to learn to keep “your head up, eyes down.” That is, keep to yourself and stay out of the way. xx

  13. Haha, love the idea of artwork purgatory! I feel your pain…I am always having to sneak some drawing or other into the basement trash, even as it breaks my heart a little.

    1. Haha – now I’m imagining a fleet of us moms sneaking around our houses with filched artwork hidden behind our backs.

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