To honour Bastille Day The FiFi Report is celebrating all things French!
Karl Lagerfeld once said that if you close your eyes and imagine the ideal French woman, it would be Carine Roitfeld….
“With French women you first see the woman and then you see the clothes. Imagine countries like Russia or China, even Eastern Europe. They don’t have the culture of clothes so they want to show that they can afford to buy a Dolce & Gabbana bag, they want to show labels. In France you cannot see what labels we are wearing. It is very snobby.”
“From a very early age, French women learn not to exaggerate. Yves Saint Laurent once said that the purpose of clothes is to make women more beautiful but that a coat must never attract more attention than the woman wearing it.”
“I don’t change my handbag every season. I believe in the Yves Saint Laurent woman who either has her hands in the pockets of her pantsuit or is holding her lover’s hand. She doesn’t need a bag.”
” If people ask me to describe my look I always say: quite classic with an edge. Look at my [Balenciaga] dress. It doesn’t look like I have on anything special, it’s more the way you mix the clothes and how you move, how you open your bag, how you cross your legs - just little things that make a difference. ”
“In France we drink wine and eat cheese and bread and finally we stay slim. I am skinny, and all my girls are skinny. People think I weight my girls in the office but I do not. It’s just to weigh my luggage, not to weigh my editors. Still, you know it’s easier to look great in a dress when you are skinny.”
“We take pleasure in making a wonderful lunch, with the appetizers, the main course, a bit of alcohol, dessert, and coffee. Everything is there to make you have a great lunch.”
Oh, the stripe Tee: how do I love thee?
You are nonchalant.
You have savoir faire.
You have a little je ne sais quoi.
You are so very French I want to eat a big fat croissant every time I see you.
You are the perfect trans-seasonal piece to go from summer to winter.
You are so versatile. You can be short or long sleeved, V neck and sleeveless.
You can grow into a mini dress with a hood: Thank you Bassike..
You are chic de la chic ( and so fashion) under a sharp tailored blazer (see Model Dee Hemingway from last year & still looking so right) or with a feather skirt.
You are low key with ballet flats, converse or loafers.
But you love to be seen with glamorous stomp-a-licious heels.
You adore a trench and can’t live without jeans.
You may come and go as a hot trend but you will never go out of style.
My picks from left to right from :
- The original and best: Petit Bateau Women’s organic cotton marinière $78. Above left ( Price USA will ship it to Australia) Petit-bateau.us
- Long Sleeve Block Stripe Tunic $69.95 Countryroad
- cobalt and natural stripe hooded dress $295 Bassike.com
- J Crew Marquis striped jersey top £22 Net-a-porter
- Ticking Stripe T-Shirt with elbow patches $69.95 from Trenery
I love Longchamp. I have a red Longchamp diary, black wallet and brown makeup bag. I have a cute red leather zip pouch and a baggage tag . Understated and so very chic they are typically French. The only problem? They absolutely never fall apart. They live forever. They will not die! And believe me I thrash them. So, yes, the quality is amazing especially for the price.
Now I have spied a new bag. Oh la la! Actually it’s not so much new but an updated version of the classic Le Pliage nylon carry on bag. It now comes with the all important groovy long strap that can just hang down or sit on your shoulder. It’s also expandable. So when you go to Paris you can squeeze even more shopping in before you come home. Formidable!
$278 Le Pliage nylon tote bag from the longchamp store in MLC but you can also buy online for slightly less at Norstrom .
Is there anything chicer than whipping out your Chanel lipstick from your Celine bag for a quick touch up? It makes applying lipstick in public acceptable. A little bit of luxury that make you feel instantly glamourous. The Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Hydrating Sheer Lipstick is the lipstick you must have. J’adore ! You want it in the colour called Boy. It’s the perfect no colour colour. It has just the right hint of pink so you look healthy but it’s subtle, sheer, glossy and low key. Suddenly you look like Vanesssa Paradis and have an air of insouciance. Does it stay on? Mais oui! Just don’t double kiss everyone. Then eat a croissant.
$50 Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Hydrating Sheer Lipstick #54 BOY from Major department stores and Chanel
Paris Was Ours by Penelope Rowlands
“A lively show-and-tell about the city’s legendary Latin lovers, celebrated cuisine, fashion worship, and its rarely heard from (or about) homeless citizens.” –Elle
Paris is “the world capital of memory and desire,” concludes one of the writers in this intimate and insightful collection of memoirs of the city. Living in Paris changed these writers forever.
‘In thirty-two personal essays-more than half of which are here published for the first time-the writers describe how they were seduced by Paris and then began to see things differently. They came to write, to cook, to find love, to study, to raise children, to escape, or to live the way it’s done in French movies; they came from the United States, Canada, and England; from Iran, Iraq, and Cuba; and-a few-from other parts of France. And they stayed, not as tourists, but for a long time; some are still living there. They were outsiders who became insiders, who here share their observations and revelations. Some are well-known writers: Diane Johnson, David Sedaris, Judith Thurman, Joe Queenan, and Edmund White. Others may be lesser known but are no less passionate on the subject.
Together, their reflections add up to an unusually perceptive and multifaceted portrait of a city that is entrancing, at times exasperating, but always fascinating. They remind us that Paris belongs to everyone it has touched, and to each in a different way.’
$9 Publisher: Algonquin Books; Original edition (February 8, 2011) Amazon.com
Cooking for Claudine: How I Cooked my Way into the Heart of a Formidable French Family BY John Baxter
‘A witty cultural and culinary education, Cooking for Claudine is the charming and improbable tale of how a man who was raised on white bread - and didn’t speak a word of French - unexpectedly ended up with the sacred duty of preparing the annual Christmas dinner for a venerable Parisian family.
For John Baxter, acclaimed film critic and food lover, this surprising challenge came about when he was struck down by a coup de foudre; he fell in love with a French woman and impulsively moved to Paris to marry her. As a test of his love, his sceptical in-laws charged him with cooking the next Christmas banquet - for eighteen people in their ancestral country home.
Baxter’s memoir of his yearlong quest takes readers along on his misadventures and delicious triumphs as he visits the farthest corners of France in search of the country’s best recipes and ingredients. But in and around the planning, brooding, shopping, tweaking, cooking and serving he manages to weave not only personal memories and observations of Christmas on three continents but also something rarer, a glimpse behind the firmly closed doors of French family life. Cooking for Claudine is a warm-hearted tale of good food and festive love - Parisian style. How can you resist?’
$22 Australian Pub: May 2011 Allenandunwin.com
Coco Chanel said “La mode passe, le style reste”. So this week in honour of Bastille Day and all things French I went in search of the classic pieces in every wardrobe. Pieces that are not only tres Francais but the must haves everyone should own. I searched high and low for hours online searching in all different prices for what I wanted. Sometimes what I find in the shops is never on their website. Oh la la! Then I found what I was looking for on French Vogue.com . Why look any further? There is no one with more authority on French style than French Vogue.
Voila! The top ten French Vogue wardrobe essentials to inspire you. Sure, some of these pieces are expensive but Zut Alors: can’t we all dream?
The best jeans from Currentelliott.com
The best white tank from Shopadam.com
The best ballet flats from Repetto.com
The best white shirt (above top) from Cosstores.com
The best Trench from Burberry.com
The best classic black pants from Gucci.com
The best cashmere knit from eric-bompard.com
The best blazer from Alexandermcqueen.com
The best black pumps from Christianlouboutin.com
The best little black dress Lanvin.com
TIP: Use this a guide to find something that suits your budget. But if you are a time poor dag who never gets to the shops: never fear FiFi is here! Over the next few weeks I will hunt down less expensive versions so getting your own French wardrobe will be as easy as un, deux, trois!
Apple Tarte Tatin .….adulterated from Gourmettraveller ( There are some great cooking tips here )
I die. Je vais mourir . This is so tres, tres bon!
Tip: You can cook and bake in the same one dish: All you do is make the caramel, toss the chopped apple on top and then layer the pastry over it. So facile et tres vite! J’adore!
You need for 4 fashionista and 3 hungry teenage boys or 25 models :
80 gm caster sugar
40 to 60 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and quartered
I large sheet puff pastry.
- Climb into Burberry feather puffa coat.
- Heat yourself to 190C.
- Preheat the oven to 190C.
- Pour a big fat red wine and Mon Dieu, Merci, that it’s Friday.
- Chop and core the apples into quarters. Yes , they will look like the picture above so don’t make the pieces smaller. You might need 3 apples.
- Chop up the butter so it’s will melt easily.
- Get out a square of frozen puff pastry and let it sit so it’s a little defrosted but not a lot. Gets too floppy. Like George Clooney with a hangover.
- Find a baking dish: a 20cm-diameter cast-iron or heavy-based stainless-steel frying pan that can go in the oven are the best. TIP: don’t use a tart base with a removable bottom as the caramel will ooze out. You just need a classic cake tin. Classics never go out of style.
- Now you are going to make the caramel.
- just simply scatter the sugar over the base of the cake tin.
- Cook the sugar over high heat until sugar begins to dissolve and caramelise around the edges (1-2 minutes), then swirl pan occasionally until sugar is caramelised like a Prada bag. (1-2 minutes). HINT: Be quick to grab it off the heat so you don’t burn it.
- Add the chopped up butter and swirl to combine: again you’ve go to be quick! Like 20-30 seconds. Watch you don’t splatter your white Burberry cashmere scarf.
- Turn off the heat quick smart and then arrange apples over the divine caramel so the flat side is down in the goo.
- Cover with the piece of puff pastry and quickly tuck the edges down into the side of pan. This is going to hold it in when you turn it upside down to serve.
- Make sure you score the centre of the pastry for steam to escape. Like a fashionista when you the right shoe has sold out. Steaming.
- Throw in the oven and bake until pastry is dark golden and puffed as Puff Diddy. (20-25 minutes).
- When the pastry is gorgeous and golden you can pull the tart out of the oven and let it stand for 2 minutes.
- Then you are going to tip it upside down and serve it like a real tart so it has the fruit on the top.
- So place a plate on top and shake to loosen tart. (A loose tart: whatever will your father think?)
- Then quick, quick! Vite, Vite ! Carefully, protecting yourself from the hot caramel, turn it upside down and plop the tart onto the plate.
- Cut into pieces and serve hot drizzled with thick cream.