Archive for December, 2010


Melanie, whose early fashion imprinting came from her “society” mother, was given to the chic of Paris even before arriving. With her lithe figure, transparent blue eyes and yellow-blond hair, she was a knock-out without knowing it, a natural for “cafe society” even if she rarely went there. 

 Even in front of her inquisitors during exams at the Sorbonne, Melanie managed to remain stylish — and classy.  “Inside the Sorbonne, the first thing Melanie remembered was her shoes. She pulled a pair of navy blue heels from her bag, traded them for her boots, and straightened her wool suit.”

                                                  But if Melanie wasn’t aware of her looks, others were. About to meet Prof. Alain St.-Georges near the Cafe de la Paix, she recalled:” He looked up, surprised. ‘Eh bien, Mademoiselle Hart…” And he pulled down his glasses for a moment like he was inspecting me. I felt dumb. Then he said, “But I told the waiter to watch for a beautiful young woman with blonde hair and a — what do you say na-vee-bleu coat. Very nice. Very correct.’ And he stood and kissed my hand saying, ‘Please. Sit down.'”   (more…)


Read Full Post »

What They Wore, Evelyn

From the corner of the Salon de The, on the elegant Rue de Rivoli, Evelyn studied the elegant French ladies. She knew from their shoes, handmade high-heeled works of art in calfskin...

  from the way the expensively cut wool, silk, suede hung on them…she knew from the way the perfume wafted in the air when any of them passed. She knew, but could not yet explain, the difference between the dime-store fragrance her mother wore on holidays and the real French perfume.



     But beyond the abstractions of studying fashionable ladies, Evelyn had an urgent problem. She needed to find — and afford — a gown suitable to wear to a ball at Versailles, the very place where Jackie Kennedy had triumphed.  She began a serious search, perusing the grandes maisons of haute couture.

              After checking out many different styles, she fell in love.

      The ivory dress with beadwork along the bodice had slid halfway to the floor next to the plastic dress cover with Givenchy emblazoned across the top. Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite designer…Evelyn’s heart rate had quickened even as her feet slowed when she saw it in the window, and she had longed right then to feel its cool, elegant satin…

     Once she’d figured out hot to get the money she needed…she knew in her heart the dress was made for her…”I had lost my heart. It was love at first sight.


Read Full Post »

Jackie Kennedy arrives in Paris, May 1961

The fashion icon above all was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who had arrived in Paris the year before the demoiselles.

For Evelyn, in particular, she was a heroine. Her picture hung above Evelyn’s bed where others might have had a cross, or an image of the Virgin Mary.

The Kennedys with President Charles de Gaulle
The Kennedys with President Charles de Gaulle at the Elysee Palace, 1961

Sitting at tea in a ritzy salon, Evelyn had a realization: If Jackie Kennedy had been sitting in her place, all the French women of style would look to her, the American, to copy.”

Read Full Post »


A Place of Light on the Corner, with a Hint of Mountain Behind

  In my pursuit of great venues for reading and signing books, I found another, last week, in Golden, Colorado. Clear Creek Books is the kind of place you’d have to be as heartless as the Tin Man not to fall for — and that right below the mountain where the big M for the Colorado School of Mines signifies its home. (more…)

Read Full Post »