Living on Memory Lane.

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There are a few pics I keep posting and re-posting on Instagram: a certain photo of Coco Chanel, taken in the 1930s at La Pausa by Roger Schall, Mademoiselle wearing trousers and a ravishing custom-fit little nothing of a cashmere sweater, very près du corps, some paintings, Vermeer, Franz Kline and a certain Picasso, with Marie-Thérèse Walter on it, you surely know it, it’s very popular, my Royal Copenhagen china, and then there’s a photo of my mother, taken by my father in 1977, in the little front garden of our townhouse in Luxembourg, at a place I dearly loved, we spent nothing but happy times there, my mother’s wearing Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche on it, you can see the prêt-à-porter after-effects of his iconic Russian haute couture collection from 1976, on the other side of the street is the house of my friends Laurence and Françoise, you can’t see it, but I know it’s there, just opposite, on the right you would see an apartment building, a big brutal concrete cube, with another cube inside as an entrance hall, this one in posh marble, that’s where Anne and Bob lived, Bob had his room painted in dark blue, with white furniture as a contrast, I loved that, and we had the same shirt, checked, in different sizes though as he was way younger than I, two or three years, when you’re nine years old that matters a lot, my best friend Daniel lived on the same street, too, but a bit off, more to the side of avenue du X septembre, we lived closer to avenue Guillaume. Our house doesn’t exist anymore, after we moved out it was torn down, together with most of our direct neighbours’ houses, to make room for some résidence, some of those apartment buildings named after Napoleon or whoever they thought appropriate, so sad, it was so lovely, the balcony on the first floor was all covered with wine, the grapes were edible but tiny and very sour, loved them anyway, the wallpaper in the hall and all up the staircase to the second floor was black, with huge white roses, not totally white, some of the petals were pale pink, the leaves and stalks were celadon green, a very Marie-Antoinette-ish colour combination, the tiles on the floor were beautiful, a typical Belle Époque pattern, the house was built in the 1910s, the banisters were somewhat gothic, some dark wood, can’t quite recall it, at least not exactly, nobody ever took a photo of the stairs, not of these details, but I somehow captured them in my mind, I must haven taken thousands of mental pictures, it’s all there in my mind, all of it, although I couldn’t quite make a sketch of it. As you might have guessed by now, this photo does not only show my beautifully dressed mother, it represents the happiest years of my childhood, it triggers all kind of happy memories, and I will post it over and over again when I feel like it. I hope you won’t mind.

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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The hot days of winter.

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Winter is a tricky season. Outside it’s cold, inside it’s not. It’s a perfect dilemma. You’re never dressed appropiately if you don’t care to carry a suitcase with you at all times of the day which I don’t. I frightfully remember one evening, a frosty winter’s night in Frankfurt. I was visiting my oldest and best friend Miriam and I was taken out to dinner at a Greek restaurant, her neighbours, the consulate general of Australia and her husband joined us, and I had the best dorado of my entire life there, which actually means a lot as I was brought up by a fish enthusiast. I can’t recall what we had for starters but that was when I started to feel hot. Very hot. I was wearing a woolen turtle neck sweater with the thickest turtle neck possible. Yves Saint Laurent, ordered at Mr Porter at the time when Stefano Pilati was still in charge. I might have looked cool in it, but I didn’t feel cool. Just hot. And not in the good way. The wine wasn’t cooling me down either, although I was starting to be thankful that white wine is served cold. I was considering ordering ice cubes with it but Miriam wouldn’t have approved of that. Surely she wanted to come back to that place. The easiest thing would have been to just take it off, but I couldn’t as I was wearing a totally torn t-shirt underneath. Old as dirt. It was hopeless. At dessert I almost fainted, little drops of perspiration dropped from my nose which at least was in top shape, as I had used Moritz’s Clinique For Men Face Scrub in the shower. This was actually the place where this night ended – in the shower. Washing off the woolen fuzz of my fluffy forest greened throat.

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Bad influence.

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Mr Porter and I meet mostly at night. Actually, I cannot recall having met him in broad daylight. Not ever. He seems very nice. Very reliable. And he’s got such nice mates. Ms Sander and Mr Balmain for instance. Perfectly suitable company for a gentleman. But truth be told, he’s not a good friend at all. On the contrary. He steals my money, really, he does it each time we meet, he just grabs it out of my pockets, right after putting me off guard with some smooth fashion talk, taking advantage of my vanity, it’s an easy task actually, he just has to wait until my defences are down, he’s waiting for me when I come home after working long hours, he’s right there, in his little stylish app on my home screen, and the very moment my frustrations set in, caused by deadlines, cranky clients and even crankier creative directors, when the alcohol starts to work, these soothing 13.5 vol. of a good Château Whatever, when I’m ready to be distracted, ready to think a pair of trousers might change it all, that’s when he strikes, that’s the moment when he’s hitting me and my bank account, leaving me with nothing but another pair of trousers. But there’s no way of getting rid of him. I wonder if you know him, too. I cannot be his only victim, can I?

Boys’ night out.

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They look quite tired, hung over, just like their owner. But a night out that doesn’t wear you out isn’t worth mentioning, is it? Gin and tonics, loosened collars, opened shirts, one button at a time, seducing moves, glances, sultry, sleek and suicidal, another turn on some dance floor, suddenly in the daylight, another one for the road, another toast to nuits blanches, another breakfast taken in the afternoon, another headache, strangely cured by a smile the day after, that, and some more orange juice, it takes a lot of fluids to get it all out of your system, all that yummy poison, and, sometimes, sadly, the heart palpitations go as well, turning that high into a low again. But even when love isn’t there to stay, these shoes are. Bless you, Yves Saint Laurent.

Rue Albert 1er, the beginning.

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My mother made me her fashion consultant when I was eight. When I wasn’t in school or out with my best friend Daniel, I would spend most of my time with her in Luxembourg’s boutiques. There was Maison Moderne on Grand’ Rue, owned by Mr Cohen, a charming, bearded guy, very slim and refined, always with a pipe in his mouth. The fifth floor of his department store was all mine, I picked out my cotton velvet jeans by Michel Bachoz there, I had them in various colours: in bordeaux, brown, navy and cognac. The third floor was my mother’s domaine. And I was completely fine with what Mr Cohen would pick out for my mother, like in 1977 this ensemble by Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, which showed the prêt-à-porter after effects of Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Russian haute couture collection from 1976. My father, very much in love with my mother, took a photo of her wearing it, in the little front garden of our town house on Rue Albert 1er. Happy Times.