Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Joy – And The 2012 Phenomenon

At the risk of sounding like a gospel choir from Harlem (which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing), I thought I'd do an addendum post on joyous and inspirational things.

Further to the last post on Happiness, here are a few cheeky ideas and images to keep you cheerful for the rest of the week. Cos God knows we all need a little inspiration.

Be happy. Don't forget the world is supposed to end on December 21 with the 2012 Phenomenon. (I only realised the Mayan connection with the numbers the other week – 122112; clearly I'm not a mathematician.) So if you haven't done everything you've wanted to do in life, you now have slightly less than 3 months to do it!

Better get cracking people.

Here are some suggestions for a memorable last three months.

We love a bit of DIY in our house. I'll make anything – ottomans, curtains, chaise longues. Our house is dangling by a thread, but that doesn't matter. There is nothing as pleasurable as getting your hands dirty, in my DIY opinion. Now we just need to make ourselves a bomb shelter, if the 2012 Phenomenon is to be believed... (NB Hermès handbag project found here.)

‘Doris Duke’s Shangri La’ has just opened at New York's Museum of Arts and Design, and it's certain to be an eye opener. The New York Times did an article on it, entitled 'Treasures of an Heiress From a Personal Paradise', found here. It's one of dozens of great exhibitions showing in London, Manhattan, Paris and Sydney this year. 'Eugène Atget: Old Paris' is another, now showing at the Art  Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. Lose yourself in the beauty of old Paris with more than 200 rare and original prints from the founder of documentary photography. I fell in love with photography at the age of 10 when I picked up a book on Mr Atget. Few have matched him since.

We tried doing one in New York but I got distracted by the shop windows. (I think that's called Sartorial ADD?) You will no doubt do a much better job. Here's a beautiful example, one of my  favourites, called Kiki and Coco in Paris, here. 

Or, even better, start collating a library of classic DVDs.

...So we can save them from oblivion. 
(Plus they'll give us something interesting to read when we're all together in the bomb shelter for the next few years. See 2012 Phenomenon reference, above.)

Whenever we visit my parents (my mother is recovering well,  by the way; thanks for your beautiful messages), we marvel at the map on their powder room wall. It's a map of the world criss-crossed with the hundreds of trips they've done. 
If you haven't been out of your comfort zone lately, do consider it. We're contemplating Siem Reap for a week in January (if the world is still here). Even my home-loving Virgo hubster is happy to go. Colonial architecture, the French Quarter and the famous Angkor ruins... How much more exotic can you get? {Images by Tim Walker}

I'm the worst culprit for not taking casual photos. Sometimes I can't bear to pick up a camera to take  happy snaps after doing a day of professional shoots. But I read recently that photo albums make you happy. Imagine being 79 and looking back on your happy snaps? I think it would stop me from falling into my G&T.

See above. 
Look – even Lillian Bassman is acquising to a portrait. Love that camera Lil.

Sometimes reading about others makes us feel less inadequate. Just look at Zelda Fitzgerald, poor love. I've been reading Edith Wharton's. Such an inspiration. 

Have you seen the cute twitters from The Honest Toddler yet?  {Just go to:} Some of them are very funny.  "If I lost at the Emmys I'd still go up and collect my trophy. Fastest one gets it." Someone give him a book deal.

I dislike people who take great delight in putting down other people. What's that all about?  I'm thrilled when someone achieves their dream, or even strives for it, and has a little quiet moment of happiness at how far they've come. The Tall Poppy Syndrome needs to be abolished, in my opinion. This year, I've been quietly applauding Justine Picardie. She had a horrendous life there for a while, then wrote her way to happiness with a bestseller about Chanel. Then she met  – and married – the love of her life in Scotland. (An Astor no less.) And, if all THAT wasn't joyous enough, she's just been given the editorship of UK Harper's Bazaar, which she's just started this month.  I'm so thrilled for her. Truly. It could not have happened to a nicer person. {} Oh – And did I mention her dress was a couture Chanel? It was courtesy of Karl himself for writing such a superb biography. 

Before the wedding, the fitting in Paris...
So, as some of you will have guessed, my wedding dress was by Chanel -- and it was perfect. I have never loved a dress as much as this one: for its simplicity, as well as its complexity. It had to be cream silk, rather than white – I'm not a virgin bride – and sufficiently sophisticated for a grownup occasion, while also appropriate to a country wedding. Above all, it represented so much of the circuitous journey that has taken me from sadness to joy; navigated by Mademoiselle Chanel herself, a woman who understood how clothes can bestow dignity to those who have felt broken, while also giving a lightness of touch to the most emotional of episodes.         

Apparently white is returning as a trend. Please God, no. We've just started embracing the joys of blues, greens, tangerines and reds. Look at this street's efforts! How stylish. The sight of these early on a Monday morning as I drove to work would certainly make me happy.

Look, one person's even taken the designer rubbish thing to extremes. I wonder if it smells like leather too?


  1. Some great suggestions here Janelle. I've ticked off a few of those in the last few weeks: I've seen the 'Eugène Atget: Old Paris' (gorgeous); I've taken photos of loved ones; I've watched a classic movie (All About Eve) and I've laughed (mainly at myself). Good stuff.

  2. Dear Janelle
    How funny, I do love the LV garbage bag! It's a hoot! Your post this time is filled with such a mix of delights. Where do you find it all!

    Specially like seeing Scott and Zelda's passport with their little girl Scottie. I've often wondered what became of her - she must have had such a difficult childhood with her poor talented mother institutionalised and her poor brilliant father with his drinking problems and his struggles to deal with his wife's illness. Interesting to see his height, only 5'8 1/2", short for a man by Australian standards.
    I'm also struggling with a biography of Edith Wharton, the one by Hermione Lee. It's very interesting, scholarly and covers her relationships with quite a few people I've read biographies of, but it's slow going as there are over 750 pages of text in fine print, not counting all the end notes. I sometimes get confused amongst all the people who appear in her long life though. Is this the biography you're reading?
    I do love biographies. When this is finished will begin the much lighter Paris Wife, the story of Hadley Hemingway.
    When we were in Paris in June found a remaindered book of old Paris photos by Atget and a couple of his contemporaries, Fabulous and so interesting to see views of areas that we know well today and see how different they were in Atget's time. Best wishes, Pamela

  3. I was very happy reading this blog...

    thank you.

  4. Re the toddler yes funny and written by an adult of course! I loved Coco and Kiki, really lovely images

    I hadnt heard of Atget before but will check him out!
    A friend bought me back a French book on Cats from Paris recently ..really great.. but my Francais is so merde I cant read it.

    Pairs looks great and I hope to visit one day but my heart really wants to go to Anjou and other parts and do a Plantagenant tour


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