Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Postcards from Paris

the architecture of Paris is breathtaking

Whew!  The last four weeks have been a whirlwind, between my kids and a lot of traveling, I've hardly been able to catch my breath!  I'm finally on terra firma and eager to share a lot of photos and news from my travels.  It's so much information, it will take two blog posts, so here is the first and I will follow later this week with more!  I hope you enjoy it.

Momentos from my trip to Paris

At the end of May, I went on a wonderful trip to Paris, as part of a cultural experience hosted by the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet.  The trip was hosted by my friend Olivia Flatto who is chairman of AFPOB.  The Paris Opera Ballet (Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris) is the oldest national ballet company in the world, and many European and international ballet companies can trace their origins to it. It has always been an integral part of the Paris Opera, which was founded in 1669 as the Academy of Opera (Académie d'Opéra) although theatrical dance did not become an important component of the Paris Opera until 1673, after it was renamed the Académie Royale de Musique (Royal Academy of Music) and placed under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Lully *check out the Wikipedia page for Paris Opera Ballet or for more info.

After more than 30 years working of my tail off, it is so nice to attend an event (or multiple events in this case) and just observe, indulge and enjoy as a spectator.  It was a wonderful experience.

Like many people, I love Paris, but as someone who has worked in PR, fashion, beauty, the arts and luxury goods for most of my life, French culture has been a truly important part of my career and life.  Before I ever stepped foot in Paris, I studied French in high school and college and always wanted it to be a part of my life.  My French language skills, while better than nothing, are sorely lacking but whenever I visit, I miss the opportunity to converse freely and it is one of my resolutions to take lessons again and conquer it once and for all.

David McCullough's homage to American and French history and friendship

Over the last few months I have been reading a book by David McCullough called, The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris.  I say, the past couple of months because I am one of those people that tends to read three or four books at the same time. This book, chronicles the enormous impact France had on American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects and inventors who traveled to and lived in Paris between 1830 and 1900.  Their goal was to visit, study and live in Paris and return home to share their experiences.  It is a large, expansive book that is not something necessarily to devour in a couple of sittings but to pick up, absorb and return to.  Dance and opera enthralled the Americans living in Paris at that time, and more than 150 years later, there is still nothing quite like seeing a ballet performed on stage there.  

Gorgeous costumes and a beautiful ballet

How interesting those pioneering Americans living abroad during the 1800s would have thought it was (trust me it took a lot more than one a day flight to get there then), to see the two countries collaborate today.  This fall, the multi-talented Benjamin Millepied, who has both American and French roots, will become the new Director of Dance at the Paris Opera Ballet.  Benjamin, was born in France, but trained both in Lyon and at the prestigious School of the American Ballet (my former client).  He has had a remarkable career as a principal dancer for New York City Ballet, is an acclaimed director and choreographerm both on stage and in film, and is now embarking on a new chapter in Paris.  

Benjamin Millepied and Brigette Lefevre

One of the most fascinating aspects of the McCullough book is just how little has changed culturally between America and France since that time. Americans still live to work and the French work to live.  But somewhere between the two conflicting lifestyles, is a strong bond that has always existed between the two countries, and we continue to have so much to learn and appreciate from each other.  AFPOB's mission is to foster and celebrate artistic collaboration between the French and American communities and speaks to this risk history of friendship and respect.

The window box of the Hotel Bristol
May 21st was the official start to the trip, so I took the day flight the day before to London and a connecting to flight to Paris, which I highly recommend, because the jet lag is much less severe.  For someone like me, who is not a good flyer, I will take this over a red eye every time.  I checked into the Bristol which is a lovely hotel on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, ordered some room service and settled in for the night.  What a luxury to travel alone with no responsibilities.

The next morning I had plans to meet a dear old friend for lunch so I had a nice morning walk window shopping, and then went to meet her at her office. My friend Dovie Mamikunian, is a chic, energetic and lovely PR powerhouse, that has been been living and working in Paris for more than 25 years.  She runs a successful firm called DM Media that works with a wide range of fashion, beauty and luxury clients. Dovie and I met more than 17 years ago when I used to travel to Paris frequently as the PR director for IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances), an international perfumery.  We had so much fun in those days drinking champagne, socializing with editors, and enjoying life.  I have always identified with Dovie, because like me, she is from California, hails from a very large family, transplanted herself to a new city (for her Paris, for myself NYC) and built her business from scratch.  She has great personal strength and I admire her for her accomplishments, both personally and professionally.  She now has more than 25 employees, a rock star list of clients, a happy marriage and a beautiful daughter.  It is such a gift to see old friends, especially those that we have grown up with professionally, and to toast in their success.  

After lunch, (Dovie booked me an Uber cab, Uber is now in Paris and couldn't be more convenient, especially in a city that is notorious for never having an available cab, a travel must!) I hurried back to my hotel to get ready for the evening's festivities, a night at the ballet.  The night was going to be so special that I decided before my trip to get my make up done.  Something I almost never do but wanted to treat myself for the big night.  My friend, writer Tina Isaac who has also lived in Paris for years, had a couple of recommendations for me and I chose a woman named Sanni Sorma, Sanni is originally from Finland, spent 10 years in London working as a make up artist before landing in Paris and working there.  She was really lovely and gave me a wonderful look which included fake eyelashes.  I have only used fake eye lashes twice and there is a reason why they are now so popular. They really make you feel glam. I brought two choices for attire and ended up with a beautiful lace top from Diane von Furstenberg and a long gold skirt from Ralph Lauren.  You can see Sanni's work at  

cocktails before the ballet
The night included:a gala in honor of departing Director of Dance Brigitte Lefevre featuring Benjamin Millepied’s new creation for the Paris Opera Ballet “Daphnis et Chloé”; as well as George Balanchine’s “Le Palais de Cristal”, originally created for the Paris Opera Ballet.  The ballet was followed by a magical black tie dinner given for the very first time on the stage of the Opera Bastille.  Dinner on the stage after was nothing short of spectacular.  Gorgeous decor and lovely dinner partners at our table.  I loved every minute of it.  

Paris is awash in flowers this time of year, beautiful

Madame Lisa Lori, j'adore

gorgeous flowers on the tables

Juan Pablo Molyneaux and Olivia Flatto



Our table
Dina De Luca Chartouni, Olivia Flatto et moi

Well, that's it for now, much more to follow but what a lucky girl I am to be part of such a special evening.  My mother always took me to the ballet growing up, like a lot of little girls I studied ballet for several years until I chose to focus more on sports, but it will always, always have a special place in my heart. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your feedback!