My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

Rattle & Hum

12.23.10

Here are two new necklaces that I will not likely ever part with but which I wanted to share anyway. Above & below: (It’s a) Material Girl!

Giant early plastic baby rattle; I don’t think it’s celluloid, likely a bit later, 1950’s or thereabouts. I’m sure I had one of these. It’s filled with the most fascinating floating magenta glitter, making it impossible to stop looking at and playing with. It’s important to teach proper values to baby girls isn’t it?

Poor mousie has turned into a Death Rattle by no choice of his own. There isn’t really anything further to say.

Except maybe that this is just so wonderfully wrong.

Cheers!

In Defense of Fast Design

12.23.10

Slow Design. I’m intrigued by this concept, but not sure I can fully embrace it. I thrill at my hyperspeed life/creative process and am clear that my relative pace does not negate things like reflection and engagement and expansion, not remotely. I’m just doing all of those things simultaneously and, at times, very quickly.

If by slow design, one could mean collecting and having supplies around in one’s life for years before bringing them together into some.new.(and yes meaningful)thing, then I am at times rather slow indeed. Lifetime Collections are (and become) Art. Or if by slow one could mean that 5 decades might contribute to one’s best creative work, I comply, absolutely. But as I contemplate this ideology (perhaps not slowly enough) I wonder about a caffeine-fueled manic session of creation; scissors, beads, lace and glue flying, sewing machine (well, yes, the machine is going ridiculously slow but only b/c I suck), and the distracted little artist barely stopping to eat or go to the bathroom… nothing about Slow seems to fit my scenario. Or have I bought the party line of speedspeedspeed/fasterfasterfaster? I don’t know… I love speed and I love what speed creates, even if it is messy, naive, and crappily manifested at times (see Sex Pistols, Ramones, Pollock & others).

Clearly, I’m still playing with (engaging in and reflecting upon, possibly expanding, evolving and definitely participating in) this conversation. If I had to come up with one word to replace the Slow in Slow Design, I would suggest Intentional. Intentional Design. I’m not sure Pace is really the most worthwhile defining term. I know, I’m kind of taking the semantic road here. Maybe the Slowists mean Slow As a State of Mind, rather than a physical pace? I don’t think I want any part in that either though, I’m afraid. Perhaps in my life as an artist, it’s an issue of Existential Pressure… but that, my dears, is another caffeine-fueled post for another caffeine-fueled time!

While the processes of Slow Design could rub me the wrong way (ok, there’s a very bad joke in there somewhere), the outcomes… pluralism, democratising, people over commerciality + many others) are noble things I do not disagree with. There might be many roads though… slow, fast, meandering, racing. A manifesto on pace just strikes me as a bit strange.

What do you think? Here is some food for thought, via SlowLab:

Six Principles of Slow Design.

1. Reveal: Slow design reveals spaces and experiences in everyday life that are often missed or forgotten, including the materials and processes that can easily be overlooked in an artifacts existence or creation.

2. Expand: Slow design considers the real and potential ‘expressions’ of artifacts and environments beyond their perceived functionality, physical attributes and lifespans.

3. Reflect: Slowly-designed artifacts and environments induce contemplation and ‘reflective consumption.’

4. Engage: Slow design processes are ‘open source’ and collaborative, relying on sharing, co-operation and transparency of information so that designs may continue to evolve into the future.

5. Participate: Slow design encourages users to become active participants in the design process, embracing ideas of conviviality and exchange to foster social accountability and enhance communities.

6. Evolve: Slow design recognizes that richer experiences can emerge from the dynamic maturation of artifacts and environments over time. Looking beyond the needs and circumstances of the present day, slow design processes and outcomes become agents of positive change.

Inspiration: CDG

09.30.10

Oh these many years of longing for the wearable art of Rei Kawakubo, design genius behind the formidable Comme des Garcons.

Alas, I shall likely never be able to afford such treasures, but can, and will take inspiration.

These first images are from the discount designer website Yoox, garments currently available at astronomical sale prices.

Can you see the little ruffled holes in the above dress? Here’s a jacket where the concept is a bit clearer.

I love the amoeba-like shapes, organic openings in an otherwise highly tailored piece.

The franken-jacket-dress below is both ethereal and masculine. How does she do it with such consistency, grace, and slight humor?

Girlish androgyny; further words fail me.

And this, a simpler, more every-day sort of thing with built-in layers…  so lovely.

I believe the following pictures are from a much older collection… 2008.

The cage dress on the right is the stuff of dreams.

Girlie, masculine, feminine, butch, frills, bondage and ballet. It’s unbearable, I tell you.

Fringe, white shoes/black tights, draping, construction and flow.

<sigh>

Dream on sisters of fashion, dream on.

Zum Zum UNITE!

06.28.10

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I am not content dear readers to only be The Girl With the Most Beads… I must also be The Girl With the Most Frocks. And, to that end, I have been thrifting for 3+ decades now… constantly scoring great vintage on what can only be described as a lifelong treasure hunt. I have also experimented with designing and making clothing, but alas I am impatient, and absolutely idiotic on a sewing machine.

In fact, many years ago (2002) I attended a Smithsonian Folk Festival called The Silk Road, which included a tent where a group of women were stitching together thriftstore garments, making the most amazing things out of trash. It was terribly hot in that tent, and Molly was a wee thing in a stroller, but we hung out for awhile, and I even went back a different day on my own to watch them sew. At that time I found out that all of the machines in use for the exhibit were on loan from a store and would be offered at half price afterwards. This is how I obtained my extremely high-end Babylock embroidery machine. Which I proceeded to timidly play with but mostly lived in dire fear of for close to 10 years.

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In order to continue with this post, I must point you to the amazing world of Selene Gibbous of Gibbous Fashions. Above are three frocks from my collection, the one in the middle is a Gibbous piece. I wore this to the RimbaudMania opening in Paris and it is truly one of my most favorite and highly treasured posessions in this world.

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Pictured from the back, yes, that is a ViewMaster film wheel attached to the Gibbous dress. Selene is a beautiful mad genius, a woman of incredible talent and unparalleled vision and if you read the crafts boards, you know that she is an inspiration to artists everywhere. My collection of Gibbous garments now numbers close to a dozen, including skirts, tops, a necktie, neck ruff, and two of her amazing hats. And although the photography on Selene’s site is some of the most gorgeously styled fashion shots I’ve ever seen… pictures simply do no justice to these works of art in real life. They are museum quality… each a lovely map of stitches and tears and tatters and fabrics and objects…  pure poetry.

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The dress at far left was my first really successful experiment at slashing up an ugly vintage dress (this one was borderline)… and then adding simple embellishments with fabric scraps and a cut up men’s shirt. This one is very girly and sugary, a bit like pink grapefruit lemonade on a hot summer day.

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The tulle peeking out from the bottom was a thrifted vintage slip, and was personally paw-shredded by my cat Iggy Pop who LOVES to chew on anything tulle. He did a great job although I had to rinse out the cat spit. Ewwwwwww….

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The garment pictured at the top of this endless post, and about which the post is titled, began life per the above… IF ONLY I’d photographed it. My neighbor, Katy K, can vouch for the fact that this was indeed a thrifted bridal/prom gown, all in white polyester, and about as ugly as they come. Purchased for $9.95, minus 25% with my “I’m Unique” discount card. On Friday afternoon the entire dress hit a vat of red (top) and brown (bottom) dye, and was laid out in my sunny backyard to dry. I am always thrilled at how different fabric takes dye, it’s entirely unpredictable and scary/fun. Parts of the dress went deep red, some of it went bright orange, and the rest turned a hideous shade of peach.

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I am so sorry I didn’t shoot process photos during my obsessive stitchy weekend, but sisters let me say: the BF pronouned our dining room a sweat shop, fabric was flying, and the machine didn’t stop going from first thing Saturday morning until late Sunday night. I barely stopped to eat or go to the bathroom… although I did make a run to the sewing store for needles because I kept breaking them. Free motion quilting is truly one of the MOST fun experiences in my life as an artist. It was hard, challenging, frustrating, and amazing. There were times when I was just in a zone with it, my arms aching from pushing the fabric, a certain disbelief at the flawed beautiful mess that was developing before my eyes.

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The details are pretty endless, every inch of this dress provided a new sort of mapping and colorway experience. I loved looping the stitches and incorporating a few bits of crochet I had in my textile collection. The hardest part was the “tailoring,” as I’d made a couple of key mistakes involving the dress lining. These caused big headaches down the pike, and lessons learned (remove lining… you WILL sew it to the top layer, and you WILL NOT want to rip out all that quilting).

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The top of the dress came with kind of trashy/kind of cool glittered embroidery which, in the end, gave this garment a sort of India feel. I’m very proud of the pleated ruffle just under the bust which I made by hand from a curtain.

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On the elevator in the office building this morning, I was carrying the dress so I could photograph it when a woman got on and began staring in amazement. When I told her I’d made it, her first question was: Do you sell them? Alas, the answer is no. I couldn’t possibly part with such a thing, and I am really making these clothes for my own amusement and expression, for wearing out to parties, and well, just for the art of it.

Au Revoir Paris and SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.

05.24.10

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Everything must come to an end and thus concludes my Paris blog. This will serve as a simple photo essay with captions; the images I love that didn’t fit neatly into the other posts. Above, night walking in the City of Light.

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View from the bedroom window of the apartment on Montmorency. Soundtrack: A Flock of Pigeons.

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Molly was wowed by Notre Dame. Very cool at night… those gargoyles… and were there (perhaps) vampires hanging about?

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This. Is. Paris.

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Belle Epoque Carousel, beautiful and fun to ride.

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My favorite piece at the Pompidou Centre. It just made me laugh! Love the irreverence of this one.

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Can’t you see the BF on stage in that pink suit? Window shopping at Gucci.

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The window of an autograph shop. I think Man Ray would like this…

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Drizzly dusk in the courtyard of the Louvre. The I.M. Pei Pyramid is fantastic!

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Apres rain. Really, does it get any better? A freaking rainbow in Paris! This almost makes me believe in god. Or fairies. Or something.

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Kids are crazy everywhere you go…

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Lover’s locks on a chain-link fence over the Seine. On our last night we left some with our initials on them. And so we say au revoir Paris, and we’ll be back someday.

Pompidou Centre Inside & Out, Featuring Niki de Saint Phalle

05.21.10

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Let’s go back to Paris shall we? I know I’d like to. Our rented apartment for the week was situated right between the fabulous Marais District and the Beaubourg District, making the Pompidou Centre one of our key landmarks from which we’d get lost anyway. As you know, I absolutely love gigantic modern art institutions, favorites being the Hirshhorn, MOMAnyc and MOMAsf, and the Whitney. I’m now placing this amazing museum into my top 5.

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Completed in 1977 to much controversy, the Pompidou Centre is sometimes referred to as “the inside-out building” because of the incredible exo-skeletal ducts and pipes that are boldly presented on the exterior. The size of the structure is beyond breathtaking. Suffice to say it looms large, posing an incredible modern contrast to Paris’ ancient buildings.

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Even the long escalator hangs on the outside of the building; riding it to the top floor for a spectacular view of the city was our first order of business once entering (free the first Tuesday [correction: first Sunday] of the month… a bonus!). It was like a slow, strange carnival ride.

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We spent a rainy half day all cozy inside. The view from the top floor includes the Eiffel Tower, that fuzzy structure to the left in the above photo.

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David (“the BF” to you) and Molly in one of the escalator tunnels.

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Must photograph cool typography when travelling.

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An exhibit of women artists was on display that day.

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Niki de Saint Phalle–a recent obsession/inspiration of mine–was included. This French-born, American-raised society girl was an artist and fashion model, at 16 gracing the cover of Vogue magazine.

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Her work is also on view nearby in the wonderfully playful Stravinsky Fountain (above), alongside co-conspirateur and husband Jean Tinguely‘s kinetic sculpture.

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But it is de Saint Phalle’s early shooting paintings that really interest me most. Niki was known to openly reject the staid, conservative values of her family, which dictated domestic positions for wives and particular rules of conduct. However, after marrying young and giving birth to two children, she found herself living the same bourgeois lifestyle that she had attempted to reject; the internal conflict causing her to suffer a nervous breakdown. As a form of therapy, she was urged to pursue her painting. The shooting paintings were created by filling polythene bags with paint and enclosing them within layers of plaster against a blockboard backing. Spectators–including Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns at one point–were invited to shoot at these constructions, releasing the paint. The moment of action and an emphasis on chance were as important as the finished work. De Saint Phalle stopped making these works in 1963, explaining ‘I had become addicted to shooting, like one becomes addicted to a drug‘.

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The series of badges above, listing next week in the Debutantes section on So Charmed as well as in the Etsy shop, took close to 2 months to design and complete. Many many things were tried before I settled on the above materials and construction. Each image of de Saint Phalle–from tiara-sporting princess, to cover girl, to shooter, and finally looking eccetric and mature–is surrounded by lush velvet pleating. Shotgun bullet charms dangle from each pin.

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Bang bang modern art, dears.

The Girl with the Most Beads

05.20.10

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I have had a growing collection of vintage mardi gras beads for many years now and recently my interest in these has peaked again.

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The most collectable of the old “throws” as they are called are the vintage glass strings, made in the Czech Republic and later Japan, in the 1920’s-30’s. These beads fetch a nice price on the collector’s market. Becoming equally collectable though are the plastic beads made in Hong Kong in the 1960’s. The lot pictured in this post was scored for a ridiculously low price on ebay (under $10) and probably contains 200+ finished necklaces. Upon first glance to the average eye, it is easy to think of these as plastic trash, ready for the recycle bin.

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Closer inspection and some careful sifting and combining however reveals absolutely gorgeous beads in colors no longer seen in jewelry and with a vast variety of shapes and textures.

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Some of the colorways are highly sophisticated, others are playful, even garish, including true neons.

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What I dearly love about these beads is that they all look like candy… even more so than their valued glass cousins. And as you know, edibility is one of my favorite aethestics when it comes to beads.

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Working with the beads is challenging because they are lovely and perfect in their own right, highly wearable as far as I’m concerned. Above is one of my initial attempts to recontextualize a strand, combining them with a most fantastical tin carousel charm and other bits from the vast collection. I’m working on a series of these which will be available in the CircusDolls collection at So Charmed within a week or so.

Indeed, I believe with this most recent score, I have earned the title of this post, don’t you think? Here’s the Hole video as a soundtrack… xoxoxo

Paris: Things I Bought + Bonus! Jesse James

05.18.10

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Were you thinking it was all about art, literature, espresso, and monuments? Nooooooooo, mes amis. There was shopping. Yes, there was. Today’s post is just the stuff I happen to be wearing here at the office… and there’s a definite color way happening. The shoes above were purchased at Gaspard Yurkievich, deeply discounted as they were (gasp) last season’s stock. I must admit to having not heard of this designer (I know, can you believe it? Whatever!), but apparently he is rather the word, and the price of his clothing & shoes reflects that. Suffice to say, these were a serious score and I LOVE them. They glow. And look great with dark tights. And are even (gasp again) comfortable.

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You might be under the impression that I never buy jewelry, and while I don’t often, occasionally I fall in love with something. Such was the case with this dear necklace, which is made of unglazed ceramic or porcelain or something. It’s bone white and just lovely, a lamb under a cloud. I love everything about it, the double dangling design, the simultaneous detail and anonymity, the weird material and the (at least in my mind) pro-vegetarian statement. Lambs under clouds, as they should be, not on plates. We stumbled (literally, severely jet-lagged) into this super cool shop our first day wandering our ‘hood, the Marais District. It was full of amazing designed goods: wearables (including some Vivienne Westwood jewelry!), household stuff, and miscellany. Later in the week, we tried in vain to find the shop again and are awaiting the (third gasp) Visa bill to find out the name of it.

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You absolutely MUST buy and wear scarves in Paris. The one above is my favorite, a tattered fringed silk in poppy red, scored for 5 euros in a vintage store in the Marais that we visited several times b/c it was open for late night shopping and was full to the brim with trashy crazy super cheap used clothing. The Marais had tons of vintage stores, some chic, some, like this one, more thrift (as I prefer).

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This vintage doctor bag purse was purchased at Gavilane, the store we (and others apparently… NOTE at the link above the hat in the window that looks remarkably like MY Paris hat!!) have dubbed The Goth Store, which had very cool but expensive jewelry and a lovely line of clothing. They also had a trunk full of these old handbags on sale for 15 euros. We met and befriended the jewelry designer, Mssr. Gavilane himself, exchanging cards and receiving a further discount to 10 euros. Who said Paris was expensive?? BTW, Gavilane is next door to Biblioteque Nationale where the Rimbaud Exhibit hangs.

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This was NOT purchased in Paris, but started in my studio before the trip and finished up last weekend. I love how it turned out! Why is the Jesse James brooch included in this post? a) I like odd numbers of things and only have 4 Paris objects with me b) the colors were just too perfect and c) shameless self promotion. Available soon in the Pirates collection.

😉 A very super special thanks to the BF for supporting our endless shopping tho mind you, the dude can hold his own in such matters.

Quite Possibly the Most Wonderful Bookstore in the Entire World

05.18.10

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The BF is a serious student of the early 20th century lesbian art & literary salon society of the Left Bank area of Paris and has read many books about the likes of Natalie Barney, Kiki deMontparnasse, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes and founder of the best bookstore in the world, Sylvia Beach. Shakespeare & Company–the colorful history of which reads like a history of modern 20th century art & literature–opened in 1919 and was located at 8 rue Dupuytren. In May 1921, Beach moved the store to a larger location at 12 rue de l’Odeon, where it remained until 1941. The shop was often visited by artists of the “Lost Generation,” such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray and James Joyce among many others. Closed in December 1941, due to the occupation of France by the Axis powers during World War II, it was allegedly ordered shut because Beach denied a German officer the last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. The store at rue de l’Odéon never re-opened.

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In 1951, another English-language bookstore was opened in Paris’s Left Bank by an American, George Whitman, under the name of Le Mistral. Much like the original Shakespeare and Company, the store served as a focal point for literary culture in Bohemian, Left Bank Paris. Upon Sylvia Beach’s death, the store’s name was changed to Shakespeare and Company.

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Jeremy Mercer, of the Guardian writes eloquently: “George Whitman has been running what he calls “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore” for 50 years. His store has long been a literary hub, attracting the likes of Henry Miller, Richard Wright and William S.Burroughs. More importantly, George has been inviting people to live in his shop from its very first days. There are now 13 beds [sic] among the books, and he says that more than 40,000 people have slept there at one time or another. All he asks is that you make your bed in the morning, help out in the shop, and read a book a day. After living here for five months, I was inspired to write my own book about the place.”

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The shop is every bit as magical as it sounds. The tiny rooms (nooks and crannies, really) are crammed from floor to ceiling with an incredible selection of books and although the store is small, I had the distinct feeling that I could spend a lifetime there in blissful discovery of worlds unknown to me. History and greatness seem to seep from the very walls as one notices book after book to add to one’s must-read list. My favorite nook is pictured above, a dusty blue old velvet chair that calls me to curl up forever… reading and dreaming.

Sweet!

05.14.10

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One of my favorite adventures in Paris was lunch at the very famous Laduree, a bakery-turned-pastry-shop-and-tea-salon started in 1862 by Louis Ernest Laduree. Famous for their classic French macaroons (above), we delighted more in an unbelievable cup of hot cocoa (below), as well as a truly fabulous lunch with pastries and espresso for dessert.

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The interior of Laduree is amazing… frilly and gilded and very Marie Antoinette!

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Everything is beautifully designed, including the menu (above), a perfect-bound gorgeously printed book that describes every single pastry (dozens upon dozens) in loving detail.

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If you prefer visuals, you only need to stroll over to the pastry case and TRY to choose which one you’d like to have brought to you.

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Of course we couldn’t bring home pastries, but pictured above are all the petite souvenirs from lunch. It was all I could do not to nick one of those danged menus. :)

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We did buy little gift boxes of the dear macaroons to bring home, but after reading that they hold up best over a 3-day period, we gobbled them all up ourselves and have only the lovely boxes to show for it. (Sorry).

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What’s really funny to me is the uncanny relationship of my Etsy shop LaPatisserie to all things LaDuree. And I’m here to tell you that I had NEVER heard of the famous bakery when I conceptualized my online “French” pastry/jewelry shop, complete with alter-ego owner, Mme. Eclore. If you can figure out the secret to Mme. E’s name, email me… the first person who does will be the recipient of a free ‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’ (Let Them Eat Cake) ring! Bon apetit!

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