living out loud. the voices of women.


we’ve been to INDIA but we’ve not (yet) been to OZ (or NZ, its neighbo(u)r come to that) and just because we know that William has started to sing it, yes, we Have been to the inner world of ourselves:

oh ok, go on, have a quick sing – we’ll wait (hell, we’ll even join in)

Oh I’ve been to Georgia and California
And anywhere I could run
Took the hand of a preacher man
And we made love in the sun
But I ran out of places
And friendly faces
Because I had to be free
I’ve been to paradise
But I’ve never been to me


oh, that was So much fun.

lovely shoulder-swaying on the Coast and a delicious basso profundo in Whitstable.

now, where we were.

oh yes. INDIA.

we just spent a Very interesting thirty-seven minutes listening to President Sonia Gandhi


– hopefully you can see this Transmission in your territory – if not, it’s also on the India National Congress website (so Modern and yet so ancient a culture)

isn’t that wonderful?


we’ve been thinking a lot about the Status of Women and how-far-we-have-come (or not) in this brave new world of 2014.

have you ever heard what it was like to be a Suffragette?

well, the BBC *doffs_cap* has an Entire archive here: 

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 7.15.51 PM

and what of the chic and the glorious at the other end of the Globe?binny.jpg.700.0x508.941176471_q100This, ladies, gentlemen and those somewhere on their own gender axis (welcome, *respectful_nod*, great shoes love) is BINNY LUM (and that’s Ming on her lap)!

she is new to us but a firm favo(u)rite of Yours if you grew up down under, surely?

Well the National Sound & Film Archive (of Australia) has just recently’ish released a whole set of Ms. Lum’s interviews from the Fifties onwards and we were Thrilled to find Ginette Spanier among her chosen guests!


and here’s another deeply fashionable and witty and wise woman interviewed by our new friend Binny: Edith Head!


so there you have it – there’s something so Powerful about listening to women talk about their work, their vocation, their Path through Life – isn’t there?

we shall return to Ms. Spanier at a future date – and we have already spoken about her back in *farofflooktocamera* 2011 (gosh) – because we’ve learned So much from reading both her books about how to Become An Author (and pre-sell a few copies).

one last picture:

foto207that’s Ginette signing her books.

and yes, smiling for the camera as if Caught Entirely by Pleased Surprise – is Marlene.

talking of Powerful and female.

w o w.

so that was our programme for today – and Such a plethora of glorious voices.

goodnight darlings.

sleep well.

thoughts on charm…

we Adore Monocle.

not just for its wit and wary askance look at things that deviate from its glamorous and chic world view, but also for its well-thought out arguments on how commerce and the rest could Be Better.

like Stephen Bayley’s essay on charm.

Noel had charm.

Noel Coward, performer, singer, librettist and playwright, got by primarily on charm from his birth in 1899 until his death in 1973 with what Time Magazine called, “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.”

from the lovely blog “arts ravels”

we own several collections of Noel’s work.

(this was our entry for #photoofthedaychallenge on instagram – today was #somethingold)

and Marlene said:

“Mystery is a woman’s greatest charm,”

Marlene Dietrich: Photo by Milton Greene, 1952

one cannot understand charm – or mystery, for that matter, darlings.

we hope we Have Both.

how was your day? *concerned_look_at_those_in_wintry_climes*


full of charm – or not?

glorious places: cafe mode

there’s a place in paris called cafe mode that we always visit when in la belle ville (we’re not in paris a hell of a lot, just so we don’t give you the wrong impression, but when we are, you’ll find us there at some juncture)…..scroll down to find out why….before we forget – here’s the address:

cafe mode
24 Rue François 1er
75008 Paris
01 47 20 69 53

now the more fashionable among you will suddenly lean forward with a start and say:

“rue francois 1er? vraiment? le maison du couture? du balmain et les autres?!”

why yes.

the very same, darlings.

cafe mode is, indeed, full of fashion people from the houses of couture, but only the type of atelier management who eat (this is, after all, a cafe, forgive – but you know a sample size doesn’t go over hips of any dimension whatsoever so those house models and shop girls just can’t eat at cafe mode).

we go to cafe mode because of the glorious ginette spanier.

we can see we’re going to have to explain……pick up your tea cup, take a sip, and lean in, we’re going to speak quietly as the utter fatigue of traveling/travelling has kicked in, love.

ginette spanier was the directrice of balmain (post-war up to 1960s) and had a most elegant and charming disposition (which belied the terrible experiences in occupied france she endured). ginette was a born saleswoman and a glorious host (noel coward, marlene dietrich and lena horne stayed up VERY late in her apartment on avenue marceau) and a fabulous writer – if you can get hold of her two books “it’s not all mink” (re-named later by a publisher into something awfully bland) and “now it’s sables” (isn’t she adorable?) you’ll have a great time with her tales of fashion, intrigue and behind the white panels of the couture house where house models paraded in the altogether (or wisps of satin) and ladies of a certain deep pocketbook (and age) decided on next season’s purchases for palm beach, monaco and monte carlo.



*thanks to fashion stylist and creative consultant Rebekah Roy for the picture! do read her own blog post about ginette here.

and yet there’s more….of course there is. ginette had a double-life. that was somewhat seasonal (how modern, as william would say).

september to early june, she was married to her suspiciously good-looking husband (who, in one picture, had his arm linked with noel coward, ahem) and when the summer months arrived, she was whisked off to america by her speaking agent or gave lectures around england with her good friend (and by all accounts quite possibly her lover) nancy spain.


we know! glorious, right?

so it was nancy (do read rose collis’ book, it’s excellent – although we also own a few of nancy’s own writings and will be quoting from them in later posts) who encouraged ginette to put down her memoirs and develop a second, very lucrative career.

what about cafe mode?

gosh. thanks for remembering.

well – ginette lived on avenue marceau and worked on rue francois 1er (balmain is still there) and cafe mode is at the bottom of the street and (yes, we asked, in french, no less) the cafe was there in ginette’s time.

so it feels as if she still pops in for a cafe creme, a baguette mixte and perhaps a glass of excellent cold crisp french mineral water. and loosens her corsetry after (as we did, today) in appreciation.