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Posts tagged ‘Moulin Rouge’

Paris by Night

Having last week commenced the review of my recent Paris trip with a set of photos showcasing the city by day, it is only natural that an accompanying forage into the city by night should follow. For a city widely known by the epithet “The City of Light”, Paris is surprisingly enthralling as darkness falls, not least because it is a city which never truly stops, and which is never ever dark as the city metamorphoses from the romance of its day time elegance to evenings filled with the resonance of haunting jazz and old fashioned cabaret, dazzled by the sparkling lights of the Tour Eiffel, warmed by the glow of cosy brasseries, and bearing the racy red reflection of the turning sails of the Moulin Rouge.

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Paris by night is, in fact, a particularly special time for me, as it was after dark that I was first introduced to the charms of Paris when, her hands covering my eyes, my English teacher led me up the stairs of Montmartre and uncovered them only when the magical Place du Tertre was before me. It is a moment I will forever remember, when darkness offset the glowing interiors of brasseries and gift shops, and in the Square, a string of lanterns illuminated the trees under which artists painted.

But let’s face it, there are few times when Paris is not at its beautiful best, and as the sun descends and the skies fill with red and rose-coloured hues, the stunning sunsets are like a premonition of the beautiful nights that are to come. Nights which were no less wonderful at this time of winter, when Christmas lights still twinkled in the streets and a frosty biting atmosphere lent sharp clarity to the air.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 20136and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

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On the Ninth day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me…

… nine ladies dancing

Normette’s nerves are in shreds. After days of receiving disastrous presents from her lover Normy, she can no longer cope with the worst of them – those bloody French hens. Of all the snobby hens Normette has ever come across, those three are surely the worst! For example the hen with the beret refused point blank to eat the frogs legs Normette had imported in especially for them on account of the fact that they were frozen and not prepared by a chef of at least two michelin stars. Then there’s the cabaret hen – she’s such a little hussy that she’s been half way round the nearby farms flirting with all of the cockerals and showing off her fishnet stockings and best can-can moves. And as for the fashionista hen, well she refused to even sit on Normette’s sofa, let alone a nest, justifying her reticence by the fact the cushions were not “couture” enough and demanding that Normette buy some throws instead from Gautier’s most recent home collection before she would go anywhere near. No, that’s it, Normette has had enough. The hens have to go!

12 days - 2 french hens_2Now despite her frayed nerves, Normette, like most Norms, is fundamentally an animal-loving creature and agreed with Normy that the hens should, at least, be returned to Paris where they came. And at least this way Normette would get a glimpse of the city of love. So off they went, Normette, Normy, and the three hens in tow, on Eurostar direct to Paris Gare du Nord. But once they reached Paris, the problem then was where to take the hens. They had no idea where they were from, and the only clue they really had was the fact that the cabaret hen kept on clucking on about the Moulin Rouge. So to that same infamous night club they headed, in the risqué district of Pigalle with all of the sinful pleasures it entails.

When they were one metro stop away, Normy suddenly had another of his genius thoughts – wasn’t the 9th present he owed Normette supposed to be 9 ladies dancing?! Why, the Moulin Rouge was the home of perhaps some of the most famous dancers of the lot – the can-can dancers! Full of excitement, and dragging Normette (and the hens) up the steps of the Metro, Normy tried to rush Normette straight into the Moulin Rouge to see the dancers as a 9th day treat. But once the innocent and demure Normette caught sight of the nightclub, with its pictures of scantily-clad Norms and provocative dancers, she refused point-blank to go in! Undeterred, Normy rushed into the club, leaving Normette stood angrily on the pavement of the Rue Blanche (where she attracted quite a few admiring glances from nearby sex-shop punters I might add). Suddenly, out of the Moulin Rouge ran Normy, followed by a troup of 9 can-can dancers, who immediately started putting on a show for Normette! If he couldn’t get Normette inside, he’d darn well bring the inside out!

On the Ninth day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me, 9 dancers dancing (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

On the Ninth day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me, 9 dancers dancing (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

So there they were, 9 ladies of the night, dancing frivolously especially for Normette. Lifting their frilly dresses and showing off their provocatively placed garters, it couldn’t be denied that the dancers were enticing – even Normette couldn’t keep her eyes off them! In fact in those dancers, Normette began to gain a sense of solidarity, a promise of fun, of freedom, of frivolous joy day after day. And that is why, as the show ended and the dancers began to file back into the famous red-windmilled club, Normette found herself drawn in too, caught up in the excitement, the frills, the feathers, and so fast in fact that before he knew it Normy (and the hens) were left out in the cold, the doors of the Moulin Rouge slammed in his face, and Normette, perhaps, lost to him forever.

Can Normy attract Normette back, on the 10th day of Christmas??

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On the Third day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me…

…three French hens

Now that’s more like it. A little bit of class, newly arrived straight from across the channel via eurostar. These three french hens are the height of chic. There’s the typically-French hen, sporting “le pullover” in iconic stripy blue and white, a string of onions and of course a little black beret; then fashionista-hen, draped with Coco Chanel’s characteristic long beads of pearls and a quilted chanel bag, along with louboutin shoes and a waft of Chanel No.5; and finally cabaret-hen, straight out of the Moulin Rouge herself, with a fetching outfit of fishnet and can-can frills, topped with an exuberant feathered head-dress (as if she needed more feathers).

Oh yes, these hens ought to perfectly reflect Normette’s stylish bearing, although she must remember that French hens aren’t just any old hens. Oh no. They require regular trips to the Harrods pet pampering salon, a cosy cashmere nest in which to lay their Fabergé eggs and a diet full of French delicacies such as oysters, baguette, moules-frites and, ewww, frogs legs… hmmm, good luck with sourcing those Normette.

On the third day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me...3 French Hens (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

On the third day of Christmas, my Normy gave to me…3 French Hens (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

What will Normy give her on day four?

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It’s all in the Sole: Christian Louboutin celebrates 25 years at London’s Design Museum

Glossy red lips, emblematic red telephone boxes, and the sumptuous vivid spiraling red of a voluptuous red rose. There is something about red which strikes a devilishly powerful impact. In fact scientists declare that red is the colour most instantaneously attractive to the human eye: and it’s true. Look around a room, survey the rainbow of colours and shades all around you, and the first colour you notice will always be red. No wonder then that throughout the ages, it’s the scarlet woman, the red lights of shady backstreets and the unctuous red-painted lips of Hollywood prima donnas that have become so indubitably emblematic of seduction, attraction and the height of munificent glamour.

No wonder then that when one, previously unknown French Cameroonian son of an ébéniste (ivory wood carver) turned shoe-maker decided to place a seamlessly lacquered vivid red sole on the bottom of his women’s shoes, he became an instant hit. When you see a woman in high polished black stilettos sauntering down the street, and as her shoes lift with each step, you see a hint of glossy red, you know that the woman has taste – instantly glamourous, emblematic of sexy chic and seductive sophistication, that red sole can only mean one thing, and have only one maker – it’s a work of art, and it’s made by Christian Louboutin.

Fetish shoes

Yes, Louboutin, iconic French designer and the man who made red soles his signature, is now celebrating an illustrious 20 years of shoe design, during which time he seized the shoe, and in particular the daringly high stiletto, and lifted it into a new ascendancy of design significance, when, through darlingly innovative designs, and unhindered imaginative genius, he made the shoe the star of the show, as well as the means to make a woman’s legs, and figure, beautiful.  Such is the theatricality of his designs, that it comes as no surprise that in celebrating 20 years of iconic shoe design, London’s Design Museum on the South Bank has put on the show of all shows, like a retreat into the cabaret of 1900s Paris at the Moulin Rouge, as a vast illuminated stage, a playground carrousel, and a garden of delights play host to shoes and only shoes, singled out and exhibited in all their fantastically original glory.

The Dita Von Teese hologram

The exhibition exudes the playfulness of Louboutin. At its centre is a wonderfully raunchy Hologram video of the deliciously sexy Dita Von Teese, herself spectacularly bedazzled in a pair of sparkling diamond-encrusted Louboutin’s, demonstrating just how seductive a woman in these shoes can become. Meanwhile at the back of the show is a den of iniquity, a naughty display of fetish shoes designed to push a woman to the maximum of pain and pleasure and panda to every man (or woman’s) every sexual desire when shoes are their ultimate proclivity. I loved the little garden, when crazy platformed shoes were displayed like fantasy creatures in Alice’s wonderland, and the recreated studio of Louboutin himself, where a vast array of objects, instruments and other paraphernalia provide daily inspirations for his ingenious creations.

But amongst all of this showmanship, let us not forget that the stars of the show are the shoes – and there were so many beautiful designs it’s hard to choose from amongst them. But being something of a magpie, I was instantly attracted to all those which sparkled, while the delicate sophistication of shoes and boots covered in lace held a particular attraction. But amongst all of these design gems, from hugely built-up platform boots, with corset-style laces crisscrossing up to the thigh, to sleek yellow open-toed stilettos bursting with tropical flowers, perhaps one of my favourites was the most understated of all, the simple, sleep shiny black stiletto, albeit with that trademark red sole and a frighteningly high 5 inch heel.

The shoes amazed, the red soles seduced, and the diamonds and studs aplenty dazzled, yet when I left the exhibition, I still came out wondering why and how Louboutin had hit upon the red sole that has become his signature. How did he stumble upon it? What was his inspiration? All of this goes unexplained in the history of Louboutin’s 20 year retrospective, and at £125 a pop, I wasn’t about to put my hands in my pocket and pay for the vast (and admittedly very beautiful) exhibition catalogue to find out. Besides, I was too busy trying to escape from the unnecessarily copious groups of “girly” women, giggling all over the place and drooling over shoes they could barely ever afford, enjoying themselves far too much and occasionally yelping as though on a hen night. This is art darlings, take your window-shopping to Aldo.

So why is Louboutin worthy of my praise? I am after all a man. I’ve never worn a stiletto, let alone owned one, and, unless I undergo some kind of hither unanticipated breakdown in my life, never intend to. Well the answer is simple – it’s because Louboutin has suspended his shoes into a design ascendancy which goes way beyond dress choice. These shoes are art, pure and simple, and best seen encircled by a spot light, up on a little stage or under a glass cloche where they belong, preferably sans foot, sans sweat and definitely sans ground surface to scratch that perfect lacquered red sole.

Christian Louboutin is on at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London until 9 July.

Sunday Supplement: Le Paris Formidable

Ahhh as this blog goes to print, I am breathing the air of Paris, the most beautiful city in the world. Paris has no substitute for me. It is the ultimate jewel in the crown of global cultural offerings, every corner of the city exudes architectural magnificence, the Haussmann boulevards are so perfectly laid out that down each road your eyes feast upon one stunning postcard view after another, as the Tour Eiffel, the Arc de Triomphe, the river, the Opera Garnier all come into view. On the streets, the air is crisp and wintery but across the breeze the scent of a magnificent city in perpetual motion fills even the most unwitting visitor with a sense of anticipation. Even the antiquated metro has its own scent of the art nouveau. I adore Paris, from the inherently atmospheric tip of the Butte in Montmartre, to the boutique lined cobbled streets of the Marais. It is a constant inspiration, and I need to visit at least once a year to have my ultimate fill of this stunning city.

Le Paris Formidable (2000, acrylic on canvas) © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown

So it’s only suitable then that in this week’s Sunday Supplement, I focus upon the painting which started it all for me when I was 16 – Le Paris Formidable.

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