Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Friday, October 2, 2015

Great books, great stories, grand travel, and even grander fathers

Exactly two weeks ago, our family and friends celebrated the life of my kind, wise, clever and thoughtful father, in a packed chapel overlooking the gentle green hills of the countryside. (Don't worry; this is a post about happy things!) I was reluctant to attend; my father was my hero and I was heartbroken. But I did and it was beautiful. (I also had to do the 150 photos for the slide show; which took a few G&TS.) Afterwards, my partner and I had a quiet word at the cemetery, where I told dad what a wonderful father he'd been, and how grateful we were to have had him in our lives. All daughters think their dads are special, but I was particularly lucky. My father was an adventurer who taught his children to love travel, an educator who instilled in us the very best of his values and beliefs, a mathematician with a gift for money and numbers (oh, how I wish I'd inherited THAT gene!), a hard worker who believed that tenacity, determination and a strong work ethic will take you a long way in life, and a gentleman who practiced kindness right until his last days. I hope I am as kind as he was at 74 years of age.

But the one thing I'll always remember my dad for, the one thing I want to celebrate here, was his ability to tell a great story. My dad was a born raconteur. Not only that, he also loved listening to others' travels and adventures (just as I do), especially if an entertaining anecdote was involved. In fact, I think it's his laugh that I will miss most. There's nothing like someone's laugh to make you laugh in return, don't you think? We need more laughter in the world. We could all do with a little less negativity and a little more joy. And so I'd like celebrate my father by posting about some of the things he loved; namely books, great stories, good friends, and grand journeys (with luggage to match!). 

As always, feel free to follow on Instagram – link below. I'll be back on board IG in a few days with pix of New York and New Orleans gardens (doing a little garden tour of the French Quarter), and would love to chat to you there! 


My publisher will growl because I haven't publicized this earlier, but I hope the circumstances mentioned above allow me to be forgiven. Paris in Style is my newest book on Paris, and probably my last. And because it's my last, I've packed it with Parisian secrets and insights! From the splendid Architecture Museum (just as good as the Carnavalet) to the little-known tours of Chanel's apartment on Rue Cambon, it covers hundreds of wonderful places to discover in this endlessly fascinating city. There are secret fashion and textile museums, sweet little hotels, under-the-radar neighborhoods, lesser-known design destinations, unusual boutiques, irresistible vintage stores and flea market stalls, gorgeous shoe stores and fashion boutiques, heavenly homewares places, and even hidden gardens and parks to explore.

There's also a convenient list of 'must-sees' if you're in a hurry, and an extensive section on Paris's most surprising fashion and design quarters, from SoPi to NoMa and the 16th. And of course, there are hundreds of photos and captions— because who reads copy anymore? It's a great little format too: compact enough for your handbag or carry-on. So grab a copy (it's just been released on October 1) for your next trip to Paris. I hope it offers lots of insights and ideas to help you plan the perfect Parisian sojourn.

MUP (Melbourne University Publishing), $39. 
(Available through all bookstores and Amazon)
Link here – PARIS IN STYLE


If you were lucky enough to attend LV's magnificent exhibition on the art of travel and antique travel trunks at the Carnavalet Museum in Paris several years ago (and even if you didn't), you're going to love this special exhibition. Held at the sumptuous Salon d'Honneur at the Grand Palais in Paris, 'Volez, Voguez, Voyagez' will celebrate the evolution, and the glamour and adventure, of travel. The exhibition will include displays on:

THE TRUNK OF 1906 — an innovative design
THE CLASSIC TRUNKS — a catalogue of refined canvases, shapes and locks
THE INVENTION OF TRAVEL – the inauguration of the Steamer Bag
THE PORTAIN TRUNK — a conversation with art
ECCENTRIC AND CURIOUS TRUNKS — including Gaston Louis Vuitton’s own collection
FASHION AND BEAUTY – including 'celebrity' luggage and 'superstar' trunks
and 'THE MUSIC ROOM' — comprising special orders (aka the stuff dreams are made of!)

If you're a traveller, an adventurer or just an armchair dreamer, you won't want to miss this show. (Highlights will inevitably be posted online closer to opening date.) It will inspire, delight and perhaps also motivate you to pack your own well-worn bag and seek out some quiet corner of the globe to explore. 

From December 4 until February 2016.
Grand Palais, Paris


If you can't make the Grand Palais exhibition, you can still peek inside Louis Vuitton's atelier via its new museum, which has just opened inside the original Louis Vuitton home and workshop in Asnières-sur-Seine, France. Simply called 'La Galerie', the new museum was put together by the renowned Australian-born, London-based curator Judith Clark, and showcases Louis Vuitton's journey via stories, inspirations, collections, and artistic collaborations, plus, of course, all the magnificent travel pieces, from steamer trunks to canvas bags. It's a wonderful opportunity to see inside the hallowed walls of this legendary French house. 

 Visits by request. Weekends only.


Les Journées Particulières only comes along once every few years, so mark the dates of May 20-22, 2016, in your diary. Organised by the LVMH group, this is a unique event designed to celebrate the heritage and craftsmanship of Paris' various maisons, and all their ateliers, workshops, studios, back rooms and pin-filled toiles. The opportunity to see inside these ateliers is so rare that whenever LVMH announces these open days, people queue for hours for the chance to join the privileged few visitors. (The last one, in 2013, saw more than 100,000 people go through the various doors.) The most popular atelier is, of course, Christian Dior, but Givenchy, Céline, Guerlain, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Marc Jacobs and the other maisons will no doubt be just as packed next year. More details will be released early next year, so keep an eye out.


Last week, I sent piles and PILES of gift parcels to friends and family, including my favorite aunt, Margot, who is just the most beautiful soul, inside and out. (And has been incredibly kind to me, as good aunts are.) All of these parcels contained books – the BEST kind of gifts, I think – and these were some of the goodies. 

A Day at Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte If you bought the book on Versailles by the same publisher, you'll adore this little gem, which goes behind the scenes of one of France's great chateaux (the gardens inspired Le Notre to design Versailles). There are architectural drawings, garden plans, garden photographs, and incredible wide shots of the interior, including the kitchens and grand salons. The best part, however, is the history, and all the scandalous stories. A great gift idea. Flammarion, $42.

Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed is the latest look at this Bloomsbury-esque couple who shared their home, their hearts, their dollars (they were two of our greatest art patrons), and their business know-how to enable up-and-coming artists to achieve extraordinary success. Of course, they shared their beds too, but thankfully this book doesn't go into the dirty details too much. It's one for Heide lovers, including Nicole Kidman, who named her daughter after Sunday Reed, and a fascinating insight into art and love and how, when the two are combined, they often create the greatest inspiration. There's also an accompanying exhibition at Heide, which is well worth seeing. MUP, $45.

Endless Pleasure: Exploring and Collecting Among the Byways of Gardens is a wonderfully quirky title about gardening featuring contributions from garden writers, food writers, chefs, artists, gallery curators, and antiquarians who love the outdoors. There are stories behind the tools we use and love, recipes and memories, and irresistible garden paraphernalia such as prints and drawings. Much of it draws on the collection of the new Australian Museum of Gardening in Adelaide, and the illustrations, images and page designs will give you pleasure for an entire weekend. Buy one for a friend and another for yourself! Wakefield Press, $39.95.

World of Interiors. If you don't have a subscription to this sumptuous magazine, put it on your Christmas Wish List. The September 2015 issue is a little slice of bliss.


I first met the New York author, editor, stylist and consultant Tricia Foley several years ago, while shooting her quietly beautiful Long Island farmhouse for a book. We've stayed friends ever since. She is not only one of the kindest and most unpretentious people I've ever met but also one of the most talented interior designers. And her home... well, the word 'farmhouse' (Tricia's word) is an understatement really. Imagine a stylish white house on an idyllic river setting (complete with a tiny white boathouse), and then fill it with antique armoires and elegant sleigh beds, cupboards of beautiful white porcelain, sublime tablescapes of beautifully arranged treasures, crisply slipcovered white furniture, worn white floors, piles of books, and room after room of gentle grace. Even the basement has been converted to a charming office with a fireplace, library and flower room.

Now, Tricia's 10th book, Lifestyle: Elegant Simplicity at Home, chronicles the 13-year renovation and decorating of this once-ramshackle 19th century farmhouse and its little twin, while revealing the heart and soul of their wonderful owner. Some chapters are deeply moving: "I didn't expect to stay long in this little orphaned house I found on Long Island years ago.." she writes on one page. And the images show the love she has poured into the place. She also offers advice drawn from years of working with famous clients, including Ralph Lauren. The foreword was written by her close friend and neighbour Isabella Rossellini, who writes: "Her determination to make anything old and decrepit beautiful is so contagious that ever since she moved to Long Island, the entire village has been transformed." It's true, too. In recent years, I have gone from being a black-and-white girl to embracing color in all its shades but reading this book makes me wonder if we shouldn't all return to the peace, elegance and utter sophistication of refined, timeless white rooms? With the publication of this title, I suspect an interior design movement back to white its well on its way. 

Rizzoli, $45.


Remarkable is an overused word in the creative world, but in Rodney Smith's case, it really does apply. One of the most outstanding photographers to have emerged in the past 40 years, his work bridges both commercial and creative. Think Margritte meets Mad Men. There are images of ballgowned beauties reading classics in lush country gardens, bowler hatted-gentlemen doing dances with black brollies, and elegant 1950s-style travelers heading off on their own glamorous Grand Tours with suitcases atop their sleek sedans, but there are also surprising scenes of broken tea sets in French ballrooms and philosophers contemplating wise old trees. 

Not surprisingly, Rodney Smith's 45-year-career spans everything from the New York Times to magazine editorials, and his work has long been coveted by collectors. Well, now those of us unable to afford the $4000 for a single print can purchase 170 photos for just $75 via Rodney Smith's Kickstater campaign, which aims to fund funds to publish a stunning new tome. With the goal of $42,000 almost reached, you'd better be quick if you want to secure a signed copy of your own. 

Like everything else Rodney Smith does, this is certain to be spectacular. For more details and a video of the project, click on this link –


Tropical Chic was was a surprise buy. I fell in love with the cover and then found the contents to be just as gorgeous. Written by Jennifer Ruddick, it takes readers behind the grand garden hedges and gates of glamorous Palm Beach in Florida, home to some of the most spectacular residences in the US. If you're a fan of bold color and chic interiors done with a certain cheekiness and whimsy, this is the book for you. There are iconic mansions that have been featured in many magazines but there are also private residences that are clearly more about family than making a statement. A truly lovely book. 

Vendome, $80.


Provence and the Côte d'Azur has been published in Australian for a year or more now, but has only just come out in the USA (Chronicle Publishers), and friends have been kindly emailing me whenever they've caught sightings in Anthropologie and other stores. I thought I'd mention it in case you're heading to France this year, or making plans for next year. As always, if you want any travel ideas and insights, feel free to email me. I'm always helping people with itineraries (and love doing it). Even if time is restricted, I'll always offer whatever I can by way of great, under-the-radar places, including hotels, hideaways, stores and more. Of course, you can buy the book, too! 

Chronicle, $20.

Until the next blog post, wishing you all much love from our (slightly weed-filled) garden. (Clearly Mother Nature's been hard at work while we've been away tending to family things.) 

As always, feel free to follow on Instagram – I hope to be back on IG in the next few days, with some gorgeous pix of glamour and gardens in New York and New Orleans, and perhaps Europe too!

(Click for link)


  1. Janelle, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your father--but what a wonderful tribute you've written to him--he sounds a very special person and father. Thank you, as always, for the wonderful bounty you always manage to unearth! I can't wait to order many of these books! And as a former contributor to Tricia Foley's wonderful books, I'm so happy to see you singing her praises here! She truly is extraordinarily talented and deserves to be better known outside design circles!

    1. It's so lovely to come across another of Tricia's friends and associates! You know what a gorgeous person she is then. I had hoped to make her first book launch on Long Island last week, with Isabella Rossellini, but had to postpone the US trip. I plan to make her Manhattan launch in mid-October and can't wait. I, too, think she needs more recognition; her interiors are so graceful. I know she's designed the homes of a few big New York fashion names (she's told me but I can't tell!), and it's a tribute to her discretion that she never uses those 'names' to promote her career. She's very, very nice, indeed.

      I hope we meet one day, Jill; would be lovely to talk about books and other gorgeous things!

  2. So sorry about your dad, Janelle. It sounds like you were indeed blessed by his presence.

    A post packed with utterly beautiful books. I'm sure all the recipients will be thrilled, and I have a few new titles to look for.

    1. So lovely to hear from you Kathy. I've been thinking of you recently, as I hope to make it down to Florida this month. Hope all is well with you, your family and those beautiful thoroughbreds of yours.

  3. Janelle,

    Very sorry to hear of your loss, very sad. You have written many times about your parents with great respect and love. Take care Janelle

    1. Thank you Janelle (another Janelle!). You're so kind to write, and what a good memory you have! Thank you for taking the time to send a note. I'm very grateful.

  4. Hi Janelle, sorry, I replied directly to the email this morning. Was so thrilled with your post, some great reading ahead with all those wonderful books, I've been thinking of you over the past few weeks. Take care xx

    1. I received your email Andrina, thank you! Loved it. Thanks for thinking of me. I thought of you the other day too, while visiting Clyde School. What a place to go to school! Can you imagine seeing that after a 5-day train trip across the Nullabor in the 1920s? No wonder it toughed them up. But it had a lovely feel too. You can imagine the girls walking to Hanging Rock, can't you? Will email soon. J x

  5. So sad to hear about your dad Janelle. I've been religiously checking your blog for updates lately and it had been so long I was concerned something had happened. My heart goes out to you - I feel very teary as your dad sounds like he was an amazing human being and all round great father. Not all dads are that wonderful so I hope you can treasure the memories and honour him through continuing to pursue your shared passions.

    PS. I shall have to put your Paris book on my Xmas wish list! I have booked tickets to Europe for a month next June. Will have been 4 years since my last trip! This time it's our honeymoon - and my partner's first time to the Euro shores! London, Paris, Rome and northern Italy is on the list!

    1. Oh, how kind of you to write Anne. Thank you. I'm very touched by your note.

      I also feel bad now that I've made you sad. In fact, I shouldn't have written anything here; it's rather brought the mood down! Dad was such a private person, and hated any fuss. But yes, he was wonderful. Simply a wonderful human being. So many people loved it, and he shall be sorely missed.

      On a brighter note, I'm so pleased to hear you and your partner are married and planning your honeymoon! I hope the new Paris book comes in handy for your trip. June is the perfect time to see Europe! Don't forget to visit some rose gardens while you're there – the Bagatelle rose gardens in Paris are glorious in June, as are the rose gardens in Regent's Park in London. Lake Como is well worth a visit too (just a short train ride from Milan). There's a lovely ferry down the lake to Bellagio, and from there smaller ferries go across the lake to all the grand gardens. Or you can just wander around Bellagio; it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. Email me if you want details or ideas; I'm always happy to assist.

    2. No you haven't brought the mood down at all! I think it's so important to share with the world how much people have meant to us and the positive influence they've had on our lives. So many bad people in this world (sadly) that I am always grateful to hear about good ones.

      Thank you so much for your tips on the Paris rose garden and Bellagio. I've actually been struggling to find any books on the lakes region of Italy or Italian Riveria - at least beyond the standard Frommers, Lonely Planet etc. I was rather hoping I could find something in the style you have written on Provence or Paris! (Hint hint lol!).

  6. Oh Janelle I'm so sorry to hear about your dad, it's an left changing event, your dad sounds so lovely and I hope like I that the amazing memories you have will brighten the dark days that appear from nowhere. But I love the tribute and I can see my Christmas list has grown. I've never been to Paris but I feel I have had a glimpse down lanewayd and into windows with your gorgeous descriptions and photos.

    1. Thank you for such kind words Nanette. They made my morning!

      I hope you get the chance to see Paris one day Nanette. It's lovely in any season, but spring (April/early May) is particularly beautiful, when the blossoms and bulbs and flower beds erupt in fragrant loveliness. I love staying at Trocadero Dokhan's hotel, a sophisticated ideaway in a former mansion with pretty blue-and-white striped rooms.

    2. PS Nanette If you do go to Paris, email me privately for suggestions for places to go. I'll be more than happy to give you some insider tips and tricks.

  7. You are your Father's daughter my beautiful friend - always & forever xx❤️

    1. Have been thinking of you Mills. We'll be over that way this Christmas (or a week before Christmas), so will pop in to see you and the pup! Much love back to you. xx

  8. Wow!!! An amazing list......I am due to visit Paris again in June, so I think that will be my first read!!!!

    I saw your


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