Cafés de Paris

My new favorite site for historic photographs is Paris En Images, an astounding treasure trove of material from the city of Paris’ archives. I am smitten with Paris and am plotting ways to live there for a couple of years once my sweetie and I retire. In the meantime, I live vicariously by reading about Americans who’ve lived there. A friend of mine loaned me David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, which I haven’t started yet but which looks more intriguing than the other books on my shelf at the moment.

The photos below struck my fancy; I think they represent a good cross section of cafe life in early 20th century Paris. And now, off to start my book. Au revoir!

© Gaston Paris / Roger-Viollet. Woman in a café. 1937-1938.

© Jacques Boyer / Roger-Violle. Buveur d’absinthe/Absinthe drinker. Paris, 1911.

© Maurice Branger / Roger-Viollet. Terrasse de café. Paris, vers 1925.

© Albert Harlingue / Roger-Viollet. Café. Paris, vers 1930.


Art Deco Illustrator George Barbier

My sweetie works at a public library and sometimes checks out new books he thinks I’d like. His most recent choice was a wonderful book of illustrations, Fashion, Illustration and Graphic Designs: Georges Barbier, Master of Art Deco. The book was written by Hiroshi Unno, a Japanese author, and is a bilingual English/Japanese edition. The library’s copy is soft-bound with good quality paper, pretty borders around the pages, and beautiful renditions of Barbier’s illustrations.

The author provides essays on background information about George Barbier, his coloration process and the pochoir (stencil) process he used to create his illustrations. The bulk of the book consists of stunning plates from fashion magazines, theatrical costume sketches, and book illustrations. Barbier is well known for his fashion illustrations in high end French magazines such as the Gazette du Bon Ton and Journal des Dames et des Modes, both published in the early 20th century.

My knowledge of Barbier was pretty limited but I was immediately drawn to his wonderful fashion illustrations and graphic design works. Below are some images from various collections in museums.

Image from Smithsonian Institute Libraries.

Image from Smithsonian Institute Libraries.

Image from Pratt Libraries Fashion Plate Collection.

Image from New York Public Library.

Image from New York Public Library.

Image from Pratt Libraries Fashion Plate Collection.


Unno, Hiroshi. GEORGE BARBIER: Master of Art Deco. Fashion, Illustration, and Graphic Design. 256 pages, including 200 color plates. 4to, wraps. Tokyo, Pie International, 2012.

New York Times article by Roderick Conway Morris about George Barbier.

Pochoir Prints in the Cooper- Hewitt National Design Library.

Books, Wonderful Books

It’s been a long time since I devoted a whole post to books. What kind of librarian am I? Oh, a law librarian whose workaday book reading isn’t too exciting – statutes, regulations, and caselaw. But I do love books, particularly non-fiction. My cookbook collection gets most of my attention but I also like to buy books on travel, language, photography, and fashion. For novels, I use my local library.

Today my sweetie and I went to a book sale in our neighborhood. I was very restrained and only came home with one book, Méthode Boscher ou La journée des tout petits. It’s a French elementary school book that takes a child through the steps of learning letters and their sounds, and then syllables, and finally words. The illustrations are wonderful, with animals, fruits, and everyday objects scattered across the page. I’m sure this little treasure will help me in my neverending quest to actually learn French.

Continuing my fascination with all things French, I used a birthday gift to buy Jean Leymarie’s Chanel, the 2011 edition. It’s a biography of Mademoiselle Chanel, but so much more. The author explores the historical context of the fashion industry in Chanel’s time, and includes photographs and illustrations of not only her work, but relevant art and design. I’m enjoying reading about fashion history as much as the biography of this iconic designer.

My last new book is Penelope Rowland’s A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life In Fashion, Art, and Letters, also a birthday gift. Carmel Snow was the editor of Harper’s Bazaar from 1934 through 1958 and was influential in the careers of Lauren Bacall and Diana Vreeland, among many others. I know very little about Ms. Snow, so I’m looking forward to reading more.

And coming up this week – fashions for Spring 2012. Art shoes, white clothes, and fancy dresses.

What inspired this blog?

I really like the idea of creating and maintaining a blog but I couldn’t quite decide what to write about, or why. Who would my audience be? Why would they stop by and read what I had to say? Did I want it to be work related? Was there a way to blend together my favorite hobbies – food, wine, books, and travel?

I recently read Robin Goldstein’s book, The Wine Trials, and have been inspired to taste a wider variety of wines than my usual three buck chuck from Trader Joes. I decided to buy and taste new wines, and write my thoughts about each bottle. Lots of my friends enjoy inexpensive wine, so they’d be a good starting audience for a blog.

I don’t know how long I can actually blog about wine. I can only drink (and afford) so many bottles or boxes in month, so in other posts, I’ll write about other things. As I envision the blog now, I hope to write about books that inspire me to eat, drink, travel, or read.

Inspiration: The Wine Trials