I love Old World technology.

I know this may be an odd statement coming from someone who has worked in computers his whole life, but I absolutely love old world technology.  Now… I know that this sweeping statement may lead to confusion.  Exactly, how old is old world?  Well… let me give you some examples.

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From my grandmother’s desktop gramophone.

My very first love affair with old technology started when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old and my dad took me up to my grandmother’s attic in her country house to show us her Victrola gramophone.  You see, the country house didn’t have electricity when it was first built and so it must have come in handy to provide some entertainment during the long summer evenings.  (By the way, lighting came by way of gasoline lamps.)  I was in my thirties when my aunt called to see if I wanted the old Victrola.  It’s been in my many living rooms ever since along with a collection of Enrico Caruso recordings and all kinds of oddities.  As a kid, I remember dancing to Dorothy Shay’s Feudin’ and Fightin’. Another favourite was I’ll Dance at Your Wedding, the 1948 version.

I’ve also always loved trains and boats.  The lovely art-deco inspired Normandie comes to mind as does the Orient Express.  Planes leave me cold.  As for computers, phones and tablets… their functionality is essential (!) but their designs are boring!  Maybe we shouldn’t have left the design up to the technocrats.  Whenever someone holds up an iPhone and tells me that that phone contains more technology than the Apollo mission computer, I am so unimpressed!  It doesn’t speak to me.  I’m much more impressed by a player piano!  Or, how about this?  The postal service!  It is totally beyond me that I can write a letter and HANDWRITE an address on the envelope, pop it into a red mailbox and it is hand-delivered to the right city, the right street and the right house for only about $1. Cdn.  I still don’t understand how they can do that!

I consider perfume to be old world technology.  How can you mix different chemicals and convince people that they are smelling a bouquet of gardenias.  That amazes me.  And, I find that a major attraction of old world technology is the romance and mystique and perfume has that in spades!

And so, my recent fascination with fountain pens, another example of old world technology, was bound to happen sooner or later.  I’m not much fascinated by ballpoint pens but I find fountain pens totally amazing.  Anyone else out there?

I’m suffering from the perfume enthusiast’s curse… a sinusitis.  But, as soon as I can start smelling perfumes again, I’ll be back with a review.

Have a nice week.

Cunard

So dreamy!

 

Exhibition : Balenciaga – Master of Couture (June 15th – October 14, 2018)

Balenciaga

Elise Daniels with street performers, suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, 1948. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Hello everyone!

From the McCord Museum website :

Revered by his contemporaries and future fashion designers alike, Cristóbal Balenciaga represents the pinnacle of haute couture in the 1950s and 1960s. His exquisite craftsmanship, pioneering use of fabrics and innovative cutting set the tone for the modernity of late 20th century fashion.

Discover the creations, the exceptional skill and the legacy of Balenciaga through a major fashion exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum and a North American exclusive premiere.

I don’t know what else to say other than if you’re coming to Montréal this summer, take some time to visit this exhibit.  I think pretty well any exhibit organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum is worth a detour even if you’re not a fan of his work.  And, while you are here, take some time to buy yourself a perfume that will remind you of your trip to Montréal.  We now have 2 boutiques specializing in niche perfumes and I recommend both of them for their curated collections but also because of their  friendly, knowledgeable staff.  Learn about Etiket here and the new kid on the block, Henriette L.

If you can’t come to Montréal this summer, then plan a trip in winter to see “Thierry Mugler: Creatures of Haute Couture”, the first exhibition dedicated to creator Thierry Mugler.  From the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts website :

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is pleased to announce the presentation, in February 2019, of the first exhibition on French creator Thierry Mugler. Conceived, produced and put on tour by the MMFA, this exhibition will reveal the multiple universes of this undeniably artistic figure – visionary couturier, director, photographer and perfumer – in a retrospective of his work, especially his ready-to-wear and haute couture creations.

This impressive exhibition, premiering in Montreal, will bring together more than 130 outfits, most of them never shown before, created between 1973 and 2001, as well as many unseen archive documents and photos by great artists and photographers.

I’ve been in a little under the weather recently but suddenly the future looks promising!

Be back soon.

Pierrette Mireault (1929-2018)

My mother passed away on Saturday, April 21st.  My sister, her family and I were with her during the last days.  It was a difficult time but there was so many beautiful moments of hugs and kisses.

By her own account, my mother was a nervous little girl forcing her to skip an entire year of grade school and live with her grandmother in a village away from the bustle of Montréal.  Later, she suffered from anxiety which she battled most of her adult life.  It couldn’t have been easy.  Here is an early photo of her and her sister, Cécile.  My mother is on the left with her very fashionable marcel curls!

 

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Pierrette and Cécile

Perhaps the earliest memory I have of my mother was a summer’s day walk to Woolworth’s.  My mother wanted to buy herself a 45 rpm record.  I thought to myself, “they have records for adults?”  We only had children’s records at home.  When my mother played the 45 on our portable record player, I was disappointed.  Edith Piaf sang, “Padam, Padam, Padam…”  I didn’t know what the word “padam” meant!  I never thought about it much until a few weeks later when I tried the flipside.  The first words were terrifying, “Le ciel bleu sur nous peut s’effondrer, et la terre peut bien s’écrouler.”  Woah!  I thought, I’ll stick to Bibbidi bobbidi boo from Walt Disney’s Cinderella.  Of course, later in life, after having loved and lost, I understood the meaning of the words of L’Hymne à l’amour and today, it is my absolutely favourite French song and it always reminds me of my mother.

My mother was very much ahead of her time.  Although she probably wouldn’t have called herself a feminist, she had very little regard for male authority.  When a school principal threatened to give me the strap because I had forgotten to do homework, she threatened to call the police (click here for details).  She instinctively knew that the state had no business disciplining her children.  That was her job.  As for the men in red cloaks who lived at the Vatican, they weren’t about to tell her how to conduct her personal life.  She was Christian and she believed in God but the rules from Rome?  I don’t think so.  Closer to home, she would even tease my father about his work as an administrator at CN hinting that more time was spent at the office water cooler than at desks actually working!  He would just laugh it off.  If nothing else, she could ALWAYS make him laugh.

As for competing with men, she would have thought…. why compete with men when I can manipulate them?  It’s much for fun!  When I think of my mother, I think of hair, lipstick, cleavage, legs, high heels and perfume!

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My mother’s official engagement photo.

My mother’s choice in perfume reads like a hit parade of 20th century perfumery.  When the above photo was taken in the early 50s, she would have been wearing Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron, the 1934 version when it was a classy, soapy-clean floral… perfect for a doctor’s daughter.  Later in the early 60s, she wore Crêpe de Chine by Millot (1925), the first perfume I remember her wearing.  Then, L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci (1948) when it was still great followed by Fidji by Guy Laroche (1966), when IT was still great.  I can also remember Calandre by Paco Rabanne (1969).  So, as you see, my mother was constantly updating her perfume to suit the taste of the day.  Later in life, she wore Muguet des Bois by Coty (a drugstore marvel) and my sister kept her well stocked with Happy by Clinique (1998) eau de toilette and handcream, which she loved.

When my father and I had a falling out, my mother extended the olive branch.  She coyly disguised an invitation for supper to myself and my first boyfriend, Clément, challenging us to ride our bikes from our downtown apartment to my parents’ house in Saint-Laurent, perhaps an hour’s ride.  “If you can get here on your bikes, I will provide the steaks.”  My dad cooked them on the grill in our backyard.  The reconciliation with my father started on that day.

There is so much more I could write, it would take a novel but suffice it to say that she raised 4 children and when the kids were grown up she volunteered 2 days a week for over 20 years at a local hospital, no doubt with lots of perfume trailing her down the corridors back when wearing perfume wasn’t a felony!

In her last days, she refused to eat.  My sister and I knew the end was near… without food how can we sustain life?  I thought of Frida Kahlo’s last painting of the luscious, juicy watermelons (1954).  She painted the fruit cut open exposing the red and pink flesh and the seeds, suggesting more watermelons to come.  Eight days before she died, Frida signed the painting with red paint and added the words “Viva la Vida”.

Long live life.

Watermelons

 

 

 

 

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