Posts tagged ‘style ‘

La Grande Rue

High Street Armadale and Prahran in Melbourne have many stores claiming French qualities. la_grande_rue

 These shops sell food, home decor, antiques, clothing, art and more. It is a trendy area that aims for wealthy customers. The “French” stores are intermingled easily amongst Italian, Korean, modern, eclectic and others. If you have spare cash you can certainly find something unique here.euro_patisserie

I had a coffee and a shepherd’s pie at the Euro Patisserie and later a slice of lemon tart and a hot chocolate at a place simply called French Patisserie. None of the people serving in these cafes were French and I felt no “Frenchness” in the experience.

The stores I visited were Durance en Provence, Parterre, L’imperiale Fine French Antiques, and Gaudion Furniture. Durance en Provence offered clothing, soaps, perfume, shoes, and more from France. Parterre sells modern furniture and household items suitable for the modern minimalist style. L’imperiale Fine French Antiques is perfect if you would like to decorate your home in the style of the Versailles Palace and if you have the bank account of the famous Louis’s.

gaudionsOf all the places I visited the place that made me smile happily was Gaudion Furniture. Expensive and exclusive French style furniture was artfully arranged in the old building. I followed old wooden stairs down and back into the shop, then outside, across a small courtyard and up another staircase to a rear room. Back in the main building I went upstairs to other rooms. Lamps adorned with crystals sat on large wooden sideboards. Large framed mirrors reflected and multiplied the treasures. Wooden tables filled the space and fabric covered cushions offered comfort and warmth.

A sign on the door stated that photography was not welcome. It is a pity because it could be good advertising for them. They must be afraid someone will steal “their” ideas. Too late for that I think because French style is being spruiked everywhere.

tiger_cafe_prahranI finished my Saturday morning excursion at Greville Street Prahran. This street is known for its ultra trendy alternative style. It has been frequented over the decades by poor art students and it used to be the place to buy cheap second hand clothing, furniture and knick-knacks. Now it has been claimed by the people trying to cash in on the trendy culture. The op shops have gone and the cafes are stylish and were full of people looking for that little bit of something different away from the brightly-lit shopping centres and fast food outlets. We all crave that unique experience I guess.


Add a comment June 20, 2009

Entre nous

Entre Nous: A Woman’s guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier was published in 2003. This book examines the “French woman” in an attempt to define that elusive ‘je ne sais quoi’. Debra Ollivier is a Californian writer who married a Frenchman and lived in France for a decade. She has written articles for Salon, Harpers, Playboy, Le Monde and others.

w_paris_p0115Ollivier says “Edith Wharton reminds us that “the four words that preponderate in French speech and literature are: glory, love, voluptuousness, and pleasure.” Add to that list self-possession, discretion, authenticity and sensualitity, and you’re well on your way to finding your inner French girl.


I found this book mildly interesting, however Two Lipsticks and a Lover” by Helena Frith Powell I enjoyed reading more. Ollivier does offer some great resources for further reading, watching, researching and I have listed them below in no particular order:


French Women

Jeanne D’Arc

Jeanne Moreau

Simone de Beauvoir


Josephine Baker

Audrey Tatou

Marguerite Duras

Marie Antoinette

Anais Nin

Madame de Pompadour

Madame Clicquot

Catherine de Medicis

Edith Piaf

Pauline de Rothschild

Madame Catherine de Rambouillet


Josephine Bonaparte

Coco Chanel

Rosa Bonheur



French ways and their meaning by Edith Wharton

The second sex by Simone de Beauvoir

L’Invitee by Simone de Beauvoir

The hungry heart by Josephine Baker

The sea wall by Marguerite Duras

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Le divorce by Diane Johnson

Marie Antoinette: the journey by Antonia Fraser

The delta of Venus by Anais Nin

Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford

Passion simple by Annie Ernaux

The art of eating by M.F.K. Fisher

The food lover’s guide to Paris by Patricia Wells

Mastering the art of French cooking by Julia child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

Cheri by Colette

Break of day by Colette

Gigi by Colette

Earthly paradise by Robert Phelps

Chanel: her style and her life by Janet Wallach

Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

Catherine de Medicis by Balzac

The Flaneur: a stroll through the paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White

The power of style by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins

Elle décor: the grand book of French style by Francois Baudot and Jean Demachy

The castle of pictures and other stories: a grandmother’s tales by George Sand

Bonjour Tristress by Francoise Sagan



La double vie de Veronique

Les amants

Jules and Jim

Trop belle pour toi

8 femmes

La femme Nikita

Contes des quatre saisons

Entre nous

Un dimanche a la campagne

Bounjour Tristresse

Henry and June

Le bonheur

Milou en Mai

Babette’s feast



La vie en Rose

M saison preferee



Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

Un home et une femme


Looks like I have a little more reading and researching to do yet…


Add a comment December 16, 2008

Understanding French chic

What is it about French women that make them so stylish? How can other women attain that certain something? Is it inherited beauty? Attitude? The ability to choose the right fashion? In her book Two lipsticks and a lover, Helena Frith Powell studies and tries to pinpoint just how French women achieve that feminine charm. two_lipsticks_and_a_lover_powell


Helena Frith Powell is an English woman who moved to France with her young family. She was immediately struck by the way French women behaved and dressed and this book, published in 2005, is the result of her studies. This book is informative and funny and well worth reading if you also wish to enlist some Frenchness into your life.


These are some of the observations she made:

  • French women never drink to excess.
  • French women only wear running shoes when they are exercising and never anywhere else.
  • French women don’t believe in exercising. They don’t like to sweat. But they do a lot of walking, running around, cycling, etc. as part of their daily activities.
  • French style means to make an effort at all times and not to skimp on the details.
  • French women always wear good quality well-fitted matching underwear. “If your underwear isn’t right, nothing else works.” ~ Chantal Thomass
  • French women control their eating and meal portion sizes and never snack.
  • French women look after their skin by twice daily facials at home with good quality skin care products. “To erase the passage of time is a mistake. The most beautiful thing in a face is expressions. It’s better to have a few wrinkles than a face with no emotions.” ~ Elisabeth Bourgine
  • French women believe they are beautiful and this attitude is apparent in their expression, movement and posture.
  • French women try to retain their mystery when it comes to sex and are never blatant.
  • French women read well and widely as intelligence is seen as a mark of beauty. “The French are persuaded that the enjoyment of beauty and the exercise of critical intelligence are two of the best things worth living for.” ~ Edith Wharton


Helena says, “French women don’t believe in sweating so they don’t exercise. But they do a lot of running around. Just walking around one of the French department stores is the equivalent of a three-mile hike. And then there’s the effort of taking your clothes off and putting them on again to try others on. Exhausting. I reckon it’s possible to burn at least 200 calories an hour, as well as £200.”


On the strength of this I purchased some new matching well-fitted underwear, and some good skin care products, and did not renew my gym membership. I have been either walking or cycling to work. I am wearing dresses more often and I am amazed at the improvement in the service I receive when shopping just because I am a little better dressed.

1 comment November 20, 2008






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