Belle in Balenciaga

This weekend in Paris was the 33rd edition of Journées Européenes du patrimoine (European Heritage Days), where sites open to the public across the capital included ministries, embassies and Hôtel Matignon, the official residence of the French Prime Minister.
Being a bit of a fashionista, I opted to visit the new head offices of French group Kering, which owns brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Alexander McQueen.

 

Located at 40 rue de Sèvres in Paris’ 7th arrondissement, the new head offices of Kering and Balenciaga is the site of the former Hôpital Laennec and is classified as a ‘monument historique’.

In the chapel there was a contemporary art exhibition from the Pinault Collection, while in the Balenciaga showroom some iconic pieces from the fashion designer were on display.

 We also got to peek at the office waiting area, which was as luxurious as you might expect.

All in all, a great visit that made me want to indulge in a bit of retail therapy-lucky then, that the Le Bon Marché department store is just up the road!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Behind the scenes at Dior


Ever wondered about the craftsmanship behind designer handbags, haute couture gowns and men’s tailoring?

Well, today I got to find out thanks to a behind the scenes visit at LVMH-owned Dior in Paris as part of the group’s Journées particulières open days.

(If the Dior haute couture gown to the left looks familiar, it’s because it’s Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar’s dress).

 

 


From men’s tailoring to embroidery, haute couture to Baby Dior, the visit shone the spotlight on the materials, skills and time needed to create some of Dior’s most emblematic and eye-catching pieces.

To create the iconic Lady Dior handbag above, it takes 140 components, one full day and four people (once all the pieces are ready). A Baby Dior dress can take 30 hours to make, a haute couture gown 250, and there was even a one-of-a-kind bracelet that represented a year and a half of work.

 
The visit continued with a gallery of miniature Dior dresses, then down to the perfumes where we could smell the scents in Dior’s Collection Privée and admire a model of Dior’s La Colle Noire chateau near Grasse in France (La Colle Noire is also the name of the latest fragrance in Collection Privée).

  

And as if it wasn’t amazing enough to get a sneak peak behind the scenes of one of the world’s most coveted luxury brands, we were presented with a gift in a beribboned Dior bag on the way out.

Meeting the Queen of chicklit


Today I met the fabulous Sophie Kinsella at a book signing in Paris, and it was a bit like how I imagine meeting royalty to be.

Having rushed there from work (hence the ‘just been dragged through a bush backwards’ look), I was alarmed to be told that the queue for signed copies had closed 15 minutes earlier. After seeing my crestfallen face, someone kindly took pity on me and I was mercifully allowed on the other side of the gilded rope.

Half an hour later and I was in front of the Queen of chick lit.


I think I finally understand how One Direction fans feel when they see Harry Styles – I have been a huge fan of Sophie’s books for as long as I can remember, and meeting her in person induced a level of excitement in me that I hadn’t felt since Christmas day 1999.

In person, Sophie is as witty and warm as the characters in her books.

I love all of Sophie’s books – they are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and I’ve re-read them all more times than I care to remember. I’m a massive fan of the Shopaholic series in particular, and can’t wait to curl up with the kitty to read my signed copy of Shopaholic to the Rescue.

Barbie’s timeless appeal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may not have played with Barbie dolls for about twenty years, but I was as excited as a small child to hear of the Barbie exhibition at Paris’ Musée des arts décoratifs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The exhibition traces the history of Barbie, the manufacturing process, and how the iconic doll reflects cultural and societal shifts.

A definite must-see if you’re a fan of Barbie and fashion –  the exhibition features Barbie dressed by designers including Oscar de la Renta, and 7,000 of her tiny outfits displayed in a riot of rainbow colour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbie is on from 10 March – 18 September 2016 at

Musée des Arts décoratifs
107, rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris

Métro : Palais-Royal, Pyramides ou Tuileries

Spring time in Sceaux

 


As much as I love Paris, it’s sometimes nice to get out of the city, so that’s what we did today, on what turned out to be a suitably sunny Saturday.

We decided to head to Parc de Sceaux, which straddles the communes of Sceaux and Antony in Hauts-de-Seine and is about 20 minutes from Paris on the RER B.


Popular with runners and picnickers, Parc de Sceaux is particularly nice at this time of year because its blossoming cherry trees. Tomorrow, 17th April, is the fête de cerisiers en fleur, a Japanese festival to celebrate their flowering. Everyone packs a picnic, and can participate in a dance workshop in the afternoon, which sounds like a pretty fun way to spend a Sunday.


Q&A with author Rosa Temple

natalie's getting married coverToday I’m excited to welcome author Rosa Temple to my blog for a chat about her new release, Natalie’s Getting married, her writing routine and dealing with the dreaded writer’s block.

**If you’d like to win one of five ebook copies of Natalie’s Getting Married, Rosa is having  a Rafflecopter giveaway **

 

1) can you tell us a bit about your book, Natalie’s Getting Married?

It’s a romantic comedy about Natalie Spencer whose mind was so focussed on her career that when she started university she didn’t know what hit her when she fell head over heels for the handsome, Jackson Humphries. Natalie falls in love more than once and has to deal with the ups and downs, the heart-warming and the heartache that goes with falling in (and out of) love. As the title suggests she will go as far as making it down the aisle but she might not have done so with the right man.

 

2) What inspired you to write this story?

Strangely enough the idea just popped out of nowhere. I wanted to create a realistic and likeable character who was far from perfect. If she was your best friend you’d love her but you’d also get really mad with her too. I think I’d gone through a phase of reading books where I wasn’t convinced by the heroine in the story. Natalie was created from a desire to experiment with a girl whose life wasn’t all champagne and flowers. I also wanted to write something that covers a few years of the heroine’s life, not just a snapshot in time, so the reader actually grows up with her. As well as it being realistic I wanted there to be laughter as well as tears.

 

3) Do you write full time? What is a typical day like for you?

I do write full time. As well as my own stories I’m a ghost writer and editor. I have to say, though, that I don’t have a typical day. Sometimes I write first thing in the morning, stop to do some yoga, shower, have breakfast and then check my emails. I write in the afternoon then I have to get dinner ready and if I’ve got energy left, I write in the evening too. Oh and I do manage to squeeze in some housework every now and again (boo).

I have taken on fewer ghost writing/editing jobs lately so I can concentrate on my own work. If I’m ghost writing I do a minimum of 2000 words a day. The rest is spent on my own material.

 

4) How do you deal with writer’s block/boredom?

This is a hard one. Because writing pays my bills, I can’t afford to drift too far from the laptop. I guess the problem comes when ideas for my own books and stories are not as free flowing as the ones I’m paid to do. Nowadays I don’t beat myself up if it happens. Writer’s block used to get me down and I’d sit and devour every sweet snack there was in my cupboard and tell myself I have failed as a writer!

Now, I just tell myself, breathe, take a step back and don’t even think about the story and why you can’t go any further. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I get the momentum back and I’m away. I have to say, though that I’ve got so many story ideas, I’m finding hard to stop writing.

 

5) Can you tell us a little about how you came to become an author?

In a nutshell, I always loved to write stories, I just never had the nerve to show them to people until I became a ghost writer. I figured that if people paid me to write, I must be some good. I also got so bored with some of the story outlines I was given as a ghost writer that I wanted to get creative and publish what came out of my imagination from a blank canvas.

 

6) What are the best and worst things about being a writer?

Best thing – the utter freedom of inventing people, places, scenes and conversations that you’d love to see come to life and making it happen. The worst thing is probably the number of books published in my genre. There are so many and I really want to share my work with as many people as I can but I wonder how anyone will ever find my books among the millions😦

 

7) What can readers expect from you next?

I’m already working on a Christmas novel and a new novel for next Spring/Summer. In between I’d love to offer some free reads in the way of short stories. If readers want them I’ll try to write them!

 

Natalies Getting Married Cover
Natalie’s Getting Married
By author – Rosa Temple

Blurb:

Career minded, Natalie Spencer, had never been in love. She could never understand what all the fuss was about. But when she met Jackson Humphries during Fresher’s Week at university, that all changed.
Utterly infatuated, Natalie quickly discovers the meaning of love and, before she knows it, she’s heading up the aisle – for the first time, that is.
This is a tale about four wedding dresses, a runaway groom and a girl who got so carried away, she couldn’t see true love staring her right in the face.

Buy the Book:

Amazon UK : http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01AC6XY72

Amazon US : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AC6XY72

Win the Book:

Rosa is giving away 5 e-copies of Natalie’s Getting Married.
Open to anyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

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Rosa Temple

Rosa Temple began writing romantic comedies and chick lit because of her passion for what she calls the ‘early chick lit films’, like: Sabrina, Barefoot In the Park and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She honed her skills as a ghost writer, gaining experience writing romantic novellas, both sweet and on the slightly steamy side. In her notebooks, she constantly jotted down story ideas of her own and she eventually completed her first novella Sleeping With Your Best Friend and now, the full length novel, Natalie’s Getting Married.

Rosa Temple is a Londoner and is married with two sons. She is a reluctant keep fit fanatic and doer of housework and insists that writing keeps her away from such strenuous tasks. She spends her days creating characters and story lines while drinking herbal tea and eating chocolate biscuits.

To find out more about Rosa and to catch up on all her musings please join her here on Rosa Temple Writes…

 

Q&A with author Lindsey Paley

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Today I’m excited to welcome author Lindsey Paley to my blog for a Q&A, where she talks about her writing process, gives advice to aspiring authors and discusses the best and worst things about being a novelist.

The first book of Lindsey’s I read was The Wish List Addiction, which I absolutely loved – particularly the lovely descriptions of Northumberland, where I grew up. It was definitely one of those moments when you think, is there anything better than discovering a great author who has written more than one book?

 

 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to be an author?

First of all thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’ve always doodled stories but started writing a little more seriously about twenty years ago. That first full-length manuscript – written in laborious longhand – is still resting in a shoe box on the top of my wardrobe. I decided to start submitting my work – a very scary decision – three years ago and The Wish List Addiction became my very first published novel. It holds a special place in my heart. Since then I’ve written ten other novels including the Camille Carter series starting with Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes. The first two books in the series are set in the stunning Lake District and the second two are set in the Caribbean. Camille lives in Paris so I’ll have to set the next two there in the City of Light!


Do you write full time – what is your writing routine?
Yes, I do write full time.

I work best in the mornings so that is when I try to get a few words done. I sit at the kitchen table overlooking the garden in the winter months and in the summer I gravitate to the tiny peppermint-and-cream summerhouse (think garden shed) to scribble in my notebook. I wish I could write my novels straight onto the computer but I can’t. I have to write everything in long hand still and transcript in the afternoons – although I try to kid myself and call that the first edit.

The kettle is always boiling as I’m addicted to Earl Grey tea which improves with a chocolate hobnob! My new year’s resolution is to cut down on biscuits which I’ve successfully achieved by replacing them with cupcakes!

I try to stay away from Facebook or Twitter until later in the afternoons but it doesn’t always work out that way!

 

Where do you get the inspiration from for your books?
From everywhere is the easy answer. Like lots of writers I love lingering over a pot of tea in the local café and eavesdropping on conversations. People are fascinating. One sentence may spark an idea which then rolls away into a fully blown story. For one of my novels, I was inspired by a herb garden at a local National Trust property. Also I love baking so you’ll probably find recipes for a variety of cakes and biscuits and puddings creeping into the storylines. Millie, for instance, in the Camille Carter series is a chef.

 

What are the best and worst things about being an author?
The absolute best thing is when a reader gets in touch to say how much they enjoyed a particular story. It’s a lovely feeling that all the hard work, early mornings and late nights spent typing at the keyboard have not been in vain and at least someone has spent a few hours enjoying your book.

The worst has to be those rejections letters that most authors have received at some point in their careers from literary agents and publishers. One of my friends has made a poster from all the emails saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ and has framed it and hung it on her bathroom wall. Good for her.

book cover ASPP 001

What are your tips for any aspiring writers out there?
The best advice I had from successfully published authors at my local RNA group was never to give up – to just keep writing and to try and write something every day even if it’s a ‘one word journal’ that sums up your day in, well in one word.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Autumn Skies and Pumpkin Pies, book 4 in the Camilla Carter series?
I loved writing this story. It’s set in St Lucia and I have to admit I probably overdid the research. I read everything I could about the island, the Caribbean food, the weather, the markets. The story takes place in a villa perched high on the hilltop which is home to the Tropical Breeze Cookery School. I hope I’ve managed to evoke a feeling of warmth, of swaying palm trees of golden sandy beaches, of delicious cocktails….ah, I wish I was there now swinging in a hammock plotting my next story in the Camille Carter series!! The next – Book 5 – is Daffodils and Drizzle Cake which, as the title suggests, takes Millie back to the Lake District

 

What can your readers expect from you next?
Book 6 in the Camille Carter series is in the research stage. The story revolves around a wedding so I’m loving the in-depth research of bridal gowns, five-tiered wedding cakes, personalized confetti (with pictures of the bride and groom printed on!!) and sequined shoes.

 

Photo of me-jan16About Lindsey
Lindsey Paley grew up in Yorkshire. She relocated to the North East of England where she lives with her husband and young son and as many books as she can cram into the four corners of her spare bedroom.

She began her writing career over twenty years ago but that first novel – ‘Baringer Manor’ – remains in a cardboard box on top of the wardrobe. Her favourite writing place is a peppermint and white summerhouse (shed) also stuffed with books she can’t throw away.

An avid baker, with a willing family and neighbours as tasters, when she is not scrutinising her fellow human beings for ideas for her next novel, she is to be found sprinkling edible glitter on cupcakes and drinking Earl Grey tea.

Lindsey has written ten novels and one companion book for The Wish List Addiction. The first book of her Camille Carter series – Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes set in the stunning English Lake District – was an AmazonUK #1 bestseller in the cosy mystery category. Book 5 is Daffodils and Drizzle Cake and is out at the beginning of April 2016.

CONTACT LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/lindseypaleybook

https://www.twitter.com/lindseypaley1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lindsey+paley