Tea with Brigitte Macron.

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This gate to the Palais de l’Élysée’s spacious garden was of no great interest to my when I was last in Paris early this year, in late March, I think, by then, François Hollande was still residing there and I never cared much for him, I only really cared for Giscard d’Estaing who was in charge of France when I was a child, but now, a few months later, somebody else lives there, at 55, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, now it’s the garden of Monsieur and Madame Emmanuel Macron and my feelings have totally changed, now I want to trespass, forcing the guards to let me in, invite myself in to have tea in the shade with Brigitte while chit-chatting and advising her on what to wear, I think there is still Platz nach oben, as one would put it in German, some room left for improvement, idioms never translate well but you know what I mean, she’s not Melania Trump, is she? Melania Trump is so well dressed, some outfits are real stunners, let’s be honest, she’s a stunner herself, and her red Dior suit, worn in Paris on Christian Dior’s birthday (or was it the day of his passing?) was just as brilliantly chosen as her pale blue Ralph Lauren ensemble on inauguration day or the black lace by Dolce & Gabbana she was wearing when meeting the Pope in the Vatican. But then again, Melania’s still Melania, however well dressed she might be, the woman is married to Trump, the petulant seventh-grader inhibiting the White House, I despise them both with every fibre of my being, so no, I better not tell Brigitte Macron what to wear, I’d rather ask her what I should wear, she definitely makes perfect choices as far as men and their style are concerned.

Elle, Gabrielle.

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Over the years, I bought a great many books on Coco Chanel. Not only because I’m into fashion, her achievements in fashion are more than just outstanding, she was the designer of the century, there was no competition to question that, Balenciaga surely was an artist, carefully designed perfection-to-wear, he was born to give Mona von Bismarck her raison d’être, and Dior gave the world the New Look, a look so very old now, so very démodé, visited today by millions in a museum in Paris, next to the Mona Lisa, a woman whose mysterious smile has turned into a grimace when it had become that liveless cliché it is today, a smile so rarely if ever smiled back at, merely admired, like moth balled haute couture on mannequins, but Chanel’s iconic inventions live on, they are out, on the streets, they breathe and move, they were born free, copied, reinterpreted, updated, backdated, timeless, but all of that, all these hats, buttons, pearls, fake and real, all these two-tone shoes, suits and little black dresses, all that comfy beige tweed and that refined soft lace, these numbers 5, 19 and 22, olfactory revolutions, all of it bears the same genes. Style galore. We owe it to the little black-haired girl from humble beginnings whose genius outlived it all: the Belle Époque, the wars, the Roaring Twenties, the rise and fall of countries, people and fashions, she met and loved Dukes and Grand Dukes, Englishmen and Russians, she encountered Picasso, Stravinsky, Cocteau, Reverdy, Diaghilev, basically le tout Paris of the last century. Two books by Isabelle Fiemeyer, published by Flammarion in English and French, introduce us to some of the traces such a life left behind, we are allowed a glimpse, however long, of private belongings, on letters and jewels, on golden artifacts and worn clothes – these intimate details are treasures not to be missed.

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Summertime and the shopping is easy.

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The living is easy in summer, so sings Ella Fitzgerald so very inspirational, and although no fish are jumping in Berlin, nor is any cotton high, but my daddy’s (almost) rich and my ma is definitely good looking, so I am in the good mood I’m supposed to be in. And what do (almost) rich father’s sons do on such a day in Berlin? They go shopping on Kurfürstendamm. There is no better time to shop in summer than in the morning, when the temperatures are still low, when the morning dew has just disappeared, leaving the air soft, when hopes are still high (just like that Southern cotton) that this day may turn out just fantastic. Kurfürstendamm is just a short walk from my place in Charlottenburg, and so I strolled through streets that Christopher Isherwood might have taken too when he lived here in the 1920s, enjoying the architecture, watching people on their way to the office and goods being delivered, and decided to have a long coffee first, as I was very well aware that no fancy store opens before 10 a.m. I was the only one who took a seat at Reinhard’s at Berlin’s Hotel Kempinski, the one that Romy Schneider was staying in when she visited the town, I still wonder why, why would you miss all the delights of this time of day in the city, the plays of light and shadow, enchanting patterns on the facades, the volatile splendour of reflections on Saint Laurent’s logo, it will be long gone in afternoon, carpe diem, folks, I want to call out – but the only guy who seems to enjoy this place at this hour was the postman at Chanel. Oh well. They have no clients, but at least they’ve got mail.

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Voguing through Paris.

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After the war, when fashion was given the New Look by Christian Dior, the world was given Robert Doisneau as a society and fashion photographer when Michel de Brunhoff, the editor in chief of Vogue Paris, had the brilliant idea to hire him. I had not known about this collaboration and would never have seen the splendid photographs that illustrate post war Parisian high society life, I would only have known of his famous shot of the kissing couple in front of Paris’ Hôtel de Ville, I had the poster in my kitchen for crying out loud, if Flammarion hadn’t published this wonderful book. It shows it all: aristocratic weddings, parties, receptions, men in tails, women in ball gowns, the rich and famous, elegant home stories, restaurants filled with celebrities, Hélène Rochas, Jacques Fath, Jean Cocteau, Orson Welles and Elsa Maxwell, all in black and white and not once do you miss a single colour. Robert Doisneau captures it all in shades of grey. Don’t you dare buy it and let it gather dust on your coffee table, open it, let your eyes travel and take the most wonderful journey back in time.

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The dark ages.

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2005 was a remarkable year. It was the year that for the first and only time in my life I found sunglasses that suited me. I’m not exaggerating here. I tried on thousands of sunglasses, and either my head was too small or my face was too big or I simply looked like a plain moron with them. The Ray-Ban wayfarer was the worst. Do you know what this does to a teenager in the 1980s? I was missing my entire youth, but I saw a lot of bright days. Sun damaged eyes were less compromising, believe you me. Years of agony.
But then, just before I was about to be eternally blinded by my vanity, Dior Homme showed up with not one but two frames that for some reason made me look good, almost cool. At the time, Hedi Slimane was still in charge of the men’s collection at Dior and although I don’t know if he cared to care about any of the brand’s framework, I’ve been wanting to cherish his name every summer since 2005. He gave me back my eyesight. I can walk again!

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What to wear in bed.

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I’m very good at sleeping. I can sleep for 12 hours straight. Or even more. But apart from my bed linen I don’t place much value on the way I Iook in bed. A t-shirt and boxers, that’s it. Sometimes the colours don’t even match. I blame my mother for that.

You see, in 1980, I was 12 at the time, my parents and I travelled to the United States to visit friends in New York and San Francisco, and as it was quite a hot summer we spent a lot of time in all kinds of air conditioned places, department stores being on top of that list. Saks on 5th Avenue has many floors but I remember only one, the one with a man’s nightgown by Christian Dior. Out of day and time, yet on display for me. It was hanging there on its hanger, white with thin grey stripes and looked like it belonged to a young English gentleman, Edwardian on top of that. I was deeply attracted to young Edwardian Englishmen at the time as I had just discovered Saki’s stories. I was pretty sure Bertie van Than and Reginald would wear exactly this nightshirt. And its being by Christian Dior was the icing on the cake. But iced or not, I didn’t get that cake. For some odd reasons, I couldn’t convince my mother that I needed this nightshirt. I never recovered from that denial. I am traumatized. This explains my complete désintéressement as far as looking good in bed is concerned. We look best naked anyway. My cat is proof of that.