Numbers on a watch are easily deciphered, there are only twelve, their design, however, well, not so much. I am most particular about design when it comes to numerals, there are only a few I can tolerate, Roman ones are the worst, only the ones on Cartier’s Tank are really nice, but ever so ugly on a Rolex, I am so very grateful for Arabic numbers, God save Arabia, the Romans are mad anyway, so says Obelix and he is to be trusted, anyway, I do remember very well the day when Max Bill set my mind at ease. His 4, well, this one is almost agony, so let me rephrase that: his four is one of the most beautiful fours I have ever seen, the whole design is so Bauhaus-like, somewhat “midcentury Art Déco”-ish, yet so timeless, plain and simple, yet highly individual, sans chi-chi but with much understatement, and so, some many years ago, when in Cologne to pick up my father at his office, by the way, that famous cathedral, the Kölner Dom, doesn’t cease to amaze me, breathtaking architecture, anyway, that day, I didn’t hesitate at all but had my mother buy me (I’m spoiled rotten, I know) this watch at once.
We’ve enjoyed two days of late summer, this early autumn in Berlin. Everybody was frolicking through town, through parks and streets, trying to forget about those grey, rainy days ahead of us, soaking up the sunshine before its deficiency sets in and makes us miserable and eat tons of cookies, double chocolate chipped, I am pretty sure without all this extra chocolate intake during the holidays, peaking on Christmas Eve, we’d all be among the suicides in the morgues, no way we could survive this period of leafless trees, grey skies and endless colds without it, anyway, as much as I wanted to join my compassionates, I for one stayed at home, soaking up the impact these last sunny days had on my interior decoration, everything looked so splendid, the sun was bringing out everything at its very best, I just had to. And now I have to go out, I do need some fresh air.
Coco Chanel was cool, Jean Patou not so much, he looked like a dandy, some kind of Parisian Fred Astaire, smartly dressed but without any insolence, ever so uptight, to me, he lacked a great deal of casualness, actually Patou himself lacked the very casualness his dresses had, for some reason, the women he dressed looked way smarter than he. And they looked gorgeous. Emmanuelle Polle wrote a terrific book to show us all what made Jean Patou eternally famous: the elegant gowns, the sportswear, imagine, sportswear with an haute couture approach, Nike only dresses women on the brink of exhaustion, ever so prone to dehydration, if any of the women in Patou’s sportswear ever were dehydrated it was just from champagne, believe you me, or the juice called parfum, he offered plenty of stylish perfumes, Joy was the costliest fragrance of its time, well, you had to attack Chanel and Guerlain somehow, his world was leisure and luxury, and with this book, published by Flammarion, we are allowed a glimpse into this world, let’s take those stairs, they are every bit as stylish as Chanel’s famous staircase.
One day, I bought this thing. Raf Simons for Jil Sander. I loved it. I was the only one though. Aha, my mother said. It looks like you were wearing a tie, a colleague said. Adding, but why would you wear a tie? Nobody said, well, that’s a smart vest. Nobody. I wore it anyway. No, it’s still no tie, I said. People never learn from their mistakes. Anyway, here’s the thing: For one summer, I stopped eating carbs altogether. You’re familiar with the concept, I guess. I had lost so much weight that this vest, once quite près du corps, just hung on me, just like Monica Geller’s high school outfits did on her, the wind would play with it, a shapeless mass of cotton, the non-existent tie always staying in place of course, mocking me, the Duchess of Windsor was wrong, you can never be too rich, alright, but you definitely can be too thin, I suddenly looked like I shopped for clothes in gift shops, at the tie museum gift shop maybe, I never wore it again. The moral of the story? Don’t ever lose weight.
For family dinners, I’m always in charge of dessert. Today, it’s going to be raspberries with cream. It’s easily prepared, I open the fridge for the cream and the freezer for the raspberries, and I’m done. And then, all while sipping Chardonnay, I witness the rest of the meal being prepared, artichokes are being cooked, a vinaigrette is being composed, lots of French mustard and Italian olive oil form a beautiful entente cordiale, parsley from the garden is being “haché-menu”-ed, ever so fresh chanterelles are being cut, not from the garden but from the grocer, the table is being set, by whom actually, my father, I suppose, gee, that Chardonnay is really drinkable, and all of a sudden, I’m the last one missing at the table, I better join them, hey, they’re are having red wine, okay, fine with me, bon appétit.
The eye has to travel, so said Diana Vreeland once, and Gleb Derujinsky followed that instruction of hers quite literally. His fashion photography for Harper’s Bazaar did not take place in a studio, with perfect lighting, and a bar-tabac or a diner nearby that comfort zone, but outside in the world, in the streets, in the urban and not so urban jungle, his eyes travelled everywhere, and as much as we might know some of the locations, let’s face it, we’ve all strolled along the Seine and took shots on or under its bridges, some of Derujinsky’s destinations I have yet to discover myself, like the wine cellars of Maxim’s, I haven’t even ordered a steak au poivre there yet, nor have I been to the Nara Deer Park in Japan with its thousand-year-old trees. This photographer demanded a passport from his models and broke boundaries all over the world, he took them to nature, you’re born free, he seems to say, so act on it. Sometimes you can’t tell whether you’re looking at some exotic scenery in an old issue of National Geographic or at Lanvin-Castillo’s ideas for the next summer. With “Capturing Fashion”, Flammarion and Derujinsky’s daughter Andrea make our eyes travel over and over again, I just hope they won’t suffer from jet lag any time soon.
This morning, I went to see my doctor. And again, I did not dare to take pictures of the art on display in his consultation room, it’s just amazing, you see, he’s been a collector of Scandinavian art for some twenty years and he’s surrounded by the most stunning pieces of Swedish, Finnish and Danish expressionism and art nouveau, oils mostly, it’s like visiting an art gallery in Stockholm, Copenhagen or Helsinki or anywhere, actually, I’m always flashed, strangely enough, my blood pressure never shows my excitement, but then again, I’ve always suffered from low blood pressure, let’s not suffer from too high expectations, too. Afterwards, I did some walking, a pre-work constitutional so to speak, Charlottenburg is such a nice residential area with beautiful old buildings, and Kurfürstendamm, Berlin’s “Prachtmeile”, is nearby, and while heading for my very much needed first coffee of the day, I passed some splendid stores, too, Hermès, Bottega Veneta and such. Dior’s Berlin flagship store is still under construction, but it looks so nice that I thought I must show it to you – and the rest on the road to coffee.