Joséphine or The quest for beauty

Paris with its great heritage of art and culture, offers a extraordinary selection of exhibitions. However, most of them are crowded and sometimes won’t enable the visitor to really enjoy the moment.

A very ladylike topic, displayed in a wonderful place just outside the Luxembourg Gardens, the exhibition which is dedicated to Josephine, Napoleon’s wife, is definitely an opportunity to be immersed in a world of sophistication and elegance.

Pierre-Paul Prud’hon
Portrait de l’impératrice Joséphine dans le parc de Malmaison
© Rmn-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Gérard Blot

The Musée du Luxembourg’s curators chose to design a scenery showcasing several aspects of the empress’ life and hobbies. A fashionista who emphasized the neoclassical style, Josephine had a passion for light, hight-waisted dresses. To get them done by her ‘couturier’ and famous fashion designer as we would say today, Louis Hippolyte Leroy, she sent a painter friend to Pompei to copy the frescoes. She also asked him to use the antique statues of the Louvre as an inspiration for her dresses. Crazy for jewellery, she used to wear extraordinary hair pieces –  just like the currently trendy headbands…. and she was also a great fan of the soft cashmere shawls that Napoleon had introduced to France after coming back from Egpyt.

But Josephine was far more than a fashion icon: after the death of her first husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais who was executed by guillotine and with whom she had two children, she married Napoleon. Unfortunately she was unable to have another child with the emperor… and he had eventually to divorce her for the country’s sake.

But historians confirm the facts: the empress, nevertheless all the terrible situations she had to face, was famous for her permanent charm, good humour and sweet manners. With her happy childhood in the dream island of Martinique, undoubtetly the best period of her life, she was used to seeing the most beautiful flowers and birds. Once she retired from her public life with Napoleon to her lovely Malmaison chateau, she started collecting paintings, furniture and little objects with these topics. Her gardens were exquisite and so were her salons where she like to welcome her guests. The current exhibition at the Luxembourg Museum recreates this strong feeling of sophistication and charm. We almost feel likewe are in Joséphine’s salon while discovering her belongings.

A very impressive lady, Josephine did not consider her life a tragedy but she made the best of each situation and always cultivated strong relationships with her family and friends. The exhibition pays homage to this woman of courage and bravery whose life span from the Ancient Regime over the French Revolution to a new era and society governed by a man whose ambition was enormous  and whom she deeply loved even though she had to let him go.

There are so many fascinating parts in her life that you might want to deepen your knowledge on Josephine. Luckily, the bookstore inside the museum has a great selection of books, catalogs and biographies  in several languages. And if wish to make it a very Parisian moment, the recently opened Angélina Tea salon outside the museum will certainly be the best venue to taste a delicious piece of French pastry.

Exhibition Joséphine: www.museeduluxembourg.fr
Musée du Luxembourg, until June 29th, 2014, opening hours: 10 AM – 7.30 PM.


Elena Rudenko and her vision of the real woman

To introduce the topic in one short sentence, we would say: Elena Rudenko’s collections combine tradition of beautiful tailoring with a real sense for style and fashion, embellished here and there with genuinely beautiful, Ukrainian embroideries. All of them produced by experienced seamstresses, with the highest quality of fabrics, since the designer has a lifelong passion for beautiful fabrics.

Now let’s get more specific to discover these extraordinary pieces:

Elena Rudenko’s dresses, tailored jackets, skirts and coats are designed for the style conscious woman. She definitely opts for an easy-to-wear style insofar as you just have to put on one of these pieces to look like a woman.

Remember Emperor Napoleon’s saying: “go to Paris and become a woman”? That mystery can actually be fulfilled with Elena Rudenko’s garments because they give you this instant feeling of being powerful and yet feminine. Just the right balance: no kitsch, no frills. It is all about cut, fabric and a fantastic versatility: detachable sleeves, invisible zippers are part of these tricks but the garment in itself enables its wearer to play with a large variety of accessories thanks to its stunning simplicity. Which means, you can adapt all the pieces to many circumstances and all type of situations. Wherever you are, you will be this charming lady who knows she has the power and the chic!

And once again, we are not talking about casual style. Elena Rudenkos collections are absolutely elegant and to some point, timeless, even though they fit with the current fashion trends and are presented at the Parisian Fashion Week. They are destined to be worn at the office, to a stylish dinner or just to make you feel… like a woman.

Even Napoleon would agree on that!


Website: Elena Rudenko: www.elenarudenko.com

picture: (c) Elena Rudenko, Spring/Summer 2014

Chic and technology with Piquadro Italian bags

The story starts in a very simple way:  A gentleman man in Italy who is a professional design engineer and who is desperately looking for the perfect bag. Since he knows how to do things, the gentleman Marco Palmieri just figures out how his ideal bag would be and designs it. This is the very beginning of Piquadro, one of the most interesting Italian leather houses specializing in men’s and women’s bags.

After designing this fascinating bag with all its options, the designer becomes rather successful: everybody wants to own this same piece. Not only are there lots of pockets inside and outside, but the leather is extremely light which makes it be the perfect travel companion.

In the meantime and with a strong focus on technology and fashion, the collection has been enriched and offers a very large selection of attractive suitcases, weekend bags, city bags, cases for iPads and iPhones, all made from this very light leather. The designer’s awareness of the modern customer’s expectations brings the collection to a level which is really impressive: whatever you are going to carry, from personal belongings to all sorts of business equipments and devices, you will be able to put it in a special pocket, some pockets being zipped, to make sure that whatever you put inside, it is safely guarded.

One of the recent creations, a bag pack called COLEOS, offers even more in terms of pockets and details: in case of heavy rain, there is an integrated cover which will protect the whole rucksack and everything inside… with such a revolutionary creation no wonder the bag was the 2013 Wallpaper design award winner!

For the ladies looking for a light and stylish shopping bag, the new spring summer collection will provide them with a very chic, versatile bag, which can be enlarged thanks to a zipper on both sides. With its two toned color ranges, this collection, in leather like all the others, is also a wonderful and stylish gift for Mother’s Day, considering that the bag enables you to carry whatever you need to be perfect during your long, busy day: an extra shawl, umbrella AND sunglasses, some makeup, your business equipment, books, kindle, wallet, keys and smartphone.

As for the ultimate refinement, the collection SARTORIA will satisfy the most demanding customers looking for a customized bag: after choosing among a selection of leather types and colors, linings and threads, you will have your bag handcrafted in Italy by Piquadro’s artisans who can even engrave your monogramme to underline your uniqueness.

To visualize the stylish collections, you can either come to Paris (or Italy) and pay a visit to the boutiques or have a look at the website: www.piquadro.com or

Fall/Winter 2013/14: Skirts make a major comeback

During the last years, dresses seemed to dominate woman’s fashion. this winter however, skirts are just everywhere, offering many style options, fabric types and lengths. What better than a beautiful skirt to point out a beautiful waistline, inspired by Christian Dior’s famous New Look.

as a matter of fact, the current fashion trends celebrate the figure designed by the grand after war couturier with his Corolle skirt: tiny waist and feminine hips. Useless to tell you, the new skirts offer a great versatility and can be paired with all sorts of tops: light jersey sweaters, blouses and shirts and even big knitted sweaters not to mention all types of jackets for the final touch of chic. What better can you choose to express the various fashion inspirations and be a great investment piece to be worn during daytime at work as well as for a stylish cocktail party.

Illustration: Nina Ricci, FW 2013/14

Most of these skirts which are sold in Parisian boutiques, are knee length or slightly shorter, but considering that their shapes are flared, draped or even pleated, you will feel very comfortable. Of course, as Coco Chanel already pointed out, you will have to find the right shape which fits with your body type since each woman has her own ideal skirt length and cut.

According to the chosen cut, color and fabric, you will then build the final look and use tricks to elongate your legs, elongate your silhouette and underline the best parts.

Sometimes, your skirt will become the center piece of your style: depending on its type, you will wear it with plain, simple jersey tops – printed or jacquard skirts-, whereas a tailored skirt will look fabulous with a precious complement such as an elegant satin blouse.

Tara Jarmon FW 2013/14

Regarding the corporate outfit, you will simply have to add a stylish, tailored jacket or a little tailored tweed or wool coat for the ultimate chic.

The skirts offer another advantage because they can be worn in a more casual way, paired with a big sweater and leather booties.

Kookai FW 2013/14

A few houses now use in their collections the so called eco friendly leather which is a synthetic material looking like leather and offering various advantages, including environmental protection. This fabric is very soft and looks fantastic matched with  jersey tops or other contrasting textures.

To start the new winter season with style, the new skirts are therefore the perfect items since they look fabulous with light as well as opaque tights. As for the best accessories, the skirt-top combination looks extremely chic when teamed with the new fur (or fake fur) collars wrapped around.