Thursday, 26 August 2010

J'adore la France

This morning it was raining, so struggling to think of something to do, I decided to sit down and read through the little book in which I write all my favourite poems. Said book is a pocket-sized gold notebook, and one of my favourite possessions. Flicking through the well-loved and much thumbed pages I came to one of my favourites, a french poem called "Les Roses de Saadi" by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore:

"J'ai voulu, ce matin, te rapporter des roses;
Mais j'en avais tant pris dans mes ceintures closes
Que les nœuds trop serrés n'ont pu les contenir.

Les nœuds ont éclaté. Les roses envolées
Dans le vent, à la mer s'en sont toutes allées.
Elles ont suivi l'eau pour ne plus revenir.

La vague en a paru rouge et comme enflammée:
Ce soir ma robe encore en est tout embaumée:
Respires-en sur moi l'odorant souvenir."

My french is far from perfect so I won't attempt to translate line by line but the poem starts "This morning I wanted to bring you roses" and goes on to tell the story of how the narrator picked so many flowers that they burst the knots tying them. The flowers then get taken by the wind and into the sea, turning the waves red as though on fire. The poem ends by saying that despite the lost flowers, that evening she can smell them on her dress, a sweetly smelling reminder of the roses she had wanted to pick.

To me the french language is beautiful, and is one of the reasons I so love that country across the Channel. The poem got me thinking about what France means to me, and why it is a country I will always love...

Amelie, one of my favourite films, and my favourite character of all time...
A young woman who loves the feel of plunging her fingers into a bag of seeds, and whose life is made up of dreams...
Marion Cotillard... one of my idols
The Moulin Rouge, the namesake for my all time favourite film...

La mode...
French Vogue, a reliable style-bible...
The chic simplicity and ease of french brands such as Chloe...
A history of fashion... Dior's New Look that shook up the fashion industry and created an elegance and grace that, for me, will never be replicated...

Coco Chanel : "Fashion fades, only style remains the same"

Yves Saint Laurent and le smoking...
Cool style on the high street that we English seem to struggle to emulate (there's just something about a french woman that makes a t-shirt and trousers seem effortlessly perfect)... Comptoir des Cotonniers...

Ladurée macaroons that are just as sweet as the colours they come in...

My best friend...

And, of course, the magic of Paris...

(Jewellery by Les Nereides at accessoriesonline)

My home may always be England, but sometimes I think my heart is in France...


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Back to School Chic

September is on the horizon, and September means one thing and one thing only. Ties coming out of hiding, new pleated skirts, shiny black shoes, the smell of crisp clean paper in new books, freshly sharpened pencils, clean rubber-soled plimsolls and leather satchels... Yes, it's time to go back to school.

Luckily for me this is the first year in which, come September, I won't be trudging back up the school drive. No, it's off to university for me thank goodness. However as the rain tumbles down outside, signaling summer drawing to its inevitable end, I can't help but reminisce. Now it is with a certain nostalgia that I think back to the excitement of a new school year and the feel of a brand new school uniform (probably several sizes too big), and I find myself yearning for long socks, a pinafore and a rucksack. And, of course, a cherry red duffle coat.

Isn't it funny how things seem so much more appealing when they are gone and you are merely remembering them. Summers seem longer and hotter, skies appear bluer. And the back to school look suddenly seems covetably chic.
For the ultimate in school-girl style, choose a handmade leather satchel from the Cambridge Satchel Company, opting for a Crayola shade for added childish chic.

Leather satchels from £66, The Cambridge Satchel Company

And if you've managed to get access to Daddy's credit card... This rainbow-coloured satchel from Orla Kiely is gorgeous but certainly not pocket-money friendly...

Stem print satchel £260 Orla Kiely at Asos
Leather satchel £65 Asos
Tan leather satchel £70 Asos
Canvas satchel £28 Asos
Every diligent student needs a sturdy book bag. Go personal and have the letter of your name adorning yours.

Letter book bag £14 Urban Outfitters
Post-pox red satchel £46 Urban Outfitters
Tan leather satchel £46 Urban Outfitters
Patriotic rucksack £38 Urban Outfitters
You can't go wrong with an old school rucksack. Just make sure there's a pocket for your pencil case and lunch box...

Canvas rucksack £58 Urban Outfitters
Vintage style leather doctor's case £120 Urban Outfitters
Back to school means investing in a good sturdy coat to see you through the winter. You can always trust a duffle coat.

Hooded duffle coat £80 Topshop
And here's that cherry red coat I was talking about...

Red duffle coat £50 Miss Selfridge
Blazers used to be the bane of my life. For several years I had to wear a badly fitting navy one that would stifle in summer and leave me shivering in winter. However, now that my days of enforced blazer wearing are long since over a jacket seems oh-so tempting...

Black blazer £65 Topshop
Old school striped blazer £79 Jack Wills
And don't forget to pin these badges to your blazer...

Badges £3.95 each Bloombsbury

Pretty pleated pinafore £60 Topshop
Dress £42.90 Mango
Peter pan collar dress £45 Miss Selfridge
Get all nostalgic about gym class in this simple black drawstring dress

Dress £19.99 River Island
It's all in the pleats...

Skirt £40 Warehouse

Lace frill socks £5 Urban Outfitters
Make the team in these old school sport socks

Stripe sport socks £6 Asos
Grey knee socks £4 Asos
Knee high ribbon socks £7 Topshop
Stripe and spot ankle socks £3 Topshop

So you may not be going back to school this September, but that doesn't mean to say you can't wear the uniform.