Eyes wide open.

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Paris is full of marvels. Numerous big and fatty ones like the Arc de Triomphe and croissants, and smaller ones, like the elephant who is welcoming customers at Paul’s on Boulevard Haussmann, a bakery where you get those fatty croissants (and more importantly, although equally fat, Paul’s highly recommendable pains au chocolat, I just can’t get enough of them, so yummy), but you have to open your eyes, I know what I’m talking about, as I’ve been plenty of times to this shop without ever noticing its beautiful entrance, so I decided to keep my eyes open and discovered even more stunning attractions off Baedeker. A dachshund at Hermès, totally distracting me from all these fine leather goods, not for sale of course, otherwise he’d be sold out, I’m sure, an endearing sloth at Deyrolle, I’ve had a thing for taxidermy ever since I saw Hitchcock’s “The Man who knew too much”, but this guy was really adorable despite his being dead, I might be the only one who discovered a stunning detail in one of Cy Twombly’s paintings at the Centre Pompidou, maybe I was the only one who lingered long enough in front of it, and although I always wanted to steal a painting like Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole once did in Paris, I had to give up that sudden urge as all of my favourite Cy Twomblys are way too expansive to do it just as elegantly, meaning “to do it at all”, I stood in front of Marcel Proust’s old dwelling, (another dead guy, why are they all dead?), and was amazed that he lived almost next door to my favourite Starbucks where I had a Soy Caffè Latte Venti (I’m sorry, I know it’s not what you are expected to have in Paris, but try ordering soy milk with your café au lait) and in the end of this open eye excursion I was almost thrown out after entering an intriguing building on Boulevard Haussmann where I saw the most beautiful elevator I’ve ever seen. Totally worth it.

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Nuit blanche.

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In 2002, my friend Julia and I went to Berlin, we strolled around, went to museums, to all those architectural gems on Museumsinsel, had lots of fun, met a colleague of Julia’s when we had tea at the Adlon, the city’s most distinguished hotel at the time, he was staying there during a film production for a TV commercial, the client apparently being very generous, imagine his surprise when he saw us there, comforted by all this utter luxury, having tea and cake, served with dozens of splendid silver tea and hot water pots, silver milkers and a multitude of silver etageres for petits fours, sugar diversities and other stuff, with a strange vacuous expression on our faces after walking and talking for hours, we must have seemed liked bored habitués on their honeymoon, with nothing particular to do on an afternoon, and so we told him about some sort of necessary sudden marriage, leaving him so covered with confusion that he bumped into one of the Adlon waiters. Later in the day, our spirits high again, we sat for hours at the Literaturhaus Café on Fasanenstrasse, dining and drinking, until not only were we sat on the streets after closing hours but our last train to Hamburg had left, too. We were stranded. Stranded in Berlin. We walked up and down Kurfürstendamm, and all of the side streets, void of people at this time of night, discussing every single item of the displayed clothing, jewellery and shoes in extenso, with an air of hoboes, some tramps into style, desperate with no place to go, at least until the first train to Hamburg would take us back. In the middle of the night, Jil Sander’s windows offered some light at least, her flagship store was bright as hell, and Milan Vukmirovic, the designer in charge at the time, obviously had a thing for lovers that summer collection of 2002, the lettering came on t-shirts and in even larger lettering in the flagship store’s window. Julia put me just next to it and took a shot with her camera, quite appropriately so, as I was wearing my beloved ice blue Jil Sander jacket, I wore it to death, and I still miss it, I couldn’t even throw it away when it was no longer wearable, damaged by being way too often in the washing machine’s wool wash cycle, I hate dry cleaning just as much as Paul Smith, but its ice blue colour was prone to smudging, it’s been buried for years in my parents’ attic, in some suitcase, anyway, at the time it was still new and it suited me well enough to make me feel like just the sort of lover Milan Vukmirovic had in mind when designing the collection. At least that’s what I firmly believed. Julia never contradicted me. And women, as we all know, know it all.