Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

6/23/14, Feast or Famine

Posted on June 23, 2014

Hi Everyone,

Wow….busy times here, and I hope that all is well with you.

Oddly, I always find that my social life is very irregular. In New York and San Francisco, I very seldom see friends, and try to spend as much time as I can with my kids. They always have the priority when I’m in their cities. And given the nature of my work, I tend to hole up and disappear whenever I’m writing. Everyone has their own style, and I’m always impressed by writers who have a regular pace and schedule, write for a few hours in the morning, and then go out, see their friends, play golf, or whatever. That sure doesn’t work for me. When I’m writing, I can’t deal with any distraction, I don’t see anyone, talk to anyone (except my kids if they need me), I don’t even read phone messages or mail. Anything distracts me from the work, so I lock myself up in my office and don’t leave my house for weeks at a time. My writing style is to keep my foot on the gas, and keep it there until I finish whatever I’m working on. It can keep me locked up in my house for weeks or a month at a time, with no contact with the outside world. If I interrupt the writing to go to dinner with friends, it can take me days or even a week to get back into the book afterwards. So I don’t do that, and stick with the story, and usually write 20 or even 22 hours a day at a time when I’m working on a first draft, sleep for a few hours, and then go back to work. I’m very energized when I write, and hopefully excited about the story, and don’t want to think about anything else. (I used to have to be more civilized about my writing schedule when my kids were young and at home, but now that they’ve grown up, I can indulge my preference to stick with the story). And coming back from a long writing binge like that is like returning from a trip. I catch up with everything I’ve missed, return calls, open mail, and get back to real life. It makes for a somewhat erratic social life, since I don’t accept invitations to anything while I’m writing. And I find that one’s social life can be erratic anyway, even without writing, since people kind of hibernate in winter and don’t entertain much except for holidays, or everyone goes their separate ways in summer, and then catch up with friends in the fall. And I’ve found that there are times when I don’t go out socially for a long time, and then I get a bunch of invitations and go out every night. And for the last ten days, it has indeed been a feast of seeing friends, and fun invitations, and I’ve been out every night, which is very unlike me. But friends have come through town, childhood friends have surfaced after years of losing touch, and I’ve just had a bunch of fun activities and invitations, and even did a little work, though not serious writing, at least not this week. I’m always working on something!! But it’s only when I’m in the heat of the first draft of a book that I disappear. The rest of the time, I can edit or correct or work on an outline, and not go at it 22 hours a day, and manage to do other things. » read more »

4/21/14, Courage

Posted on April 21, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week, that you had a warm family Passover or Easter, or are just having a nice Spring if neither of those religious holidays are part of your life. Religiously, and just philosophically, I have always loved what Easter represents, not the crucifixion, but the resurrection. A renewal, a rebirth, a healing from the challenges we live through, rising from the ashes. It’s about hope that we will survive our difficulties and things will get better again. Whatever one’s religion, or none, it’s a comforting thought.

I just had a wonderful weekend before that, in LA with one of my daughters, to celebrate her birthday. We had a great time, and I always have fun with her in LA. I loved it!!! And as I left LA, she gave me some magazines to flip through on my trip home. And I had a great time browsing through Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Time Magazine, W, Town and Country. I love looking at the fashions, and reading articles that interest me. I wasn’t expecting to find one in Vogue that struck a real chord with me, I was having too much fun looking at the clothes. And then I found one about a fascinating woman. It was an article about an apparently famous political journalist in the l950’s, named Dorothy Thompson. I probably should know about her, or have heard about her, but I don’t know of her. She was greatly respected and apparently in 1939 was named by Time Magazine one of the two most influential women in America, along with Eleanor Roosevelt. She ran a foreign news bureau in Berlin, and apparently stood up to Adolf Hitler, and wrote a book about him, which got her expelled from Germany. From everything the article in Vogue’s Nostalgia section said, she sounded like an amazing, admirable woman. A trail blazer in a major way, at a time when few women worked, most were in the home, and she was apparently a devoted mother and grandmother as well. They mentioned her in Vogue because apparently in the 50’s, she complained that she had nothing decent to wear, and was a size 20. (They commented that in those days a size 12 was considered slim). And apparently Vogue did a whole article at the time, based on putting a wardrobe together for her with half a dozen looks, in her size. But the woman who wrote the article I read went on to say how she had always admired her, and what a gutsy woman Thompson was. It made me think of actresses we admire from those days, who were gutsy too, or appeared to be, Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell, Katherine Hepburn, women who spoke their minds and had big personalities. Clearly, Dorothy Thompson was not just acting a part, but was the real deal, and just reading about her, I admired her too. The writer said that reading about her had given her courage in her own life, which made me think too. » read more »

4/7/14, New Chapters (2)

Posted on April 7, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you.  Every book must have them, and every life: new chapters. And that’s never been my strong suit. I love the old and familiar, favorite restaurants, favorite places, favorite people, those we know well. I get attached to houses; I even keep my cars forever. New is exciting, but old and familiar feels safe and warm.

My first husband was French, but had an American grandfather, and we came to San Francisco when we were engaged. I was seventeen, ridiculously young, and the grandfather was a remarkable person, who lived to be 103. During our visit to San Francisco, I discovered a remarkable beach that I thought was spectacular. Years later, long after I had moved to San Francisco and we were divorced, I rented a house there for a few weeks. It was a beautiful long stretch of beach, it wasn’t fashionable, it was rugged and simple, natural and peaceful, and I loved it. I remarried, to a man who loved the country, and I spent 20 years spending weekends and summers in the Napa Valley, and it was lovely….but it wasn’t the beach. And I could never ‘sell’ my beloved beach to my husband, who preferred Napa, and the country life there. By then ‘my beach’ had become a bit more fashionable, though not very, and it still had a simple natural feel to it. And finally, divorced and alone again, I looked at some houses at the beach, and my longtime dream came true. I bought a house at the beach I loved. I fell in love with it instantly, and called the house “Coup de Coeur”, which means love at first sight in French. And I spent some wonderful years there, entertained friends, my kids were still at home, and in middle school and high school. They wanted to be in the city with their friends, and I never got to spend a summer at the beach house, but I went there a lot. It was where I went to find peace, or entertain friends, or spend time with my children. It was a happy place and a happy house. I loved it.

Fast forward the film again. The kids have grown up, half of them moved to other cities for their work, and seldom come home because they have jobs and lives somewhere else. And the peaceful beach is too peaceful for them. And 10 years ago, I went back to France, and live there half the year. When I come back to San Francisco, I want to spend time with my kids, who don’t want to go to the beach, understandably. And I’m too busy when I’m home. So the beach house stands empty now, and makes no sense. When I go there, I am still in awe of how beautiful the beach is. The area is more polished now, the real estate more expensive, and it’s as lovely as when I first saw it, and the house cuter than ever, but we just never go there anymore. And owning a house you never go to makes no sense, economically, practically, even emotionally. And I realized recently that it was time to end the chapter, and for someone else to enjoy the house I once fell in love with, but never go to anymore. In recent years, we’ve gone there for a few weekends a year, which makes no sense. So I decided to put the house on the market and sell it.

I only made the decision a few weeks ago. It made perfect sense, and still does. So I dove in, called realtors, and decided to get the house ready to sell, and clear it of our things. I’ve owned the house for 13 years, and in a perfect world, I would love to keep it as a little gem, a wonderful escape to retreat to when I need peace. (But that’s a high price to pay for peace. I can rent a house there for a few weekends a year). In reality, I wont miss it, but I’ll miss the idea of it. Buying a house there was the fulfillment of a dream. It was my happy place. But now I have a life in Paris, and my children are grown up. So I just spent the week at the beach house, emptying closets, reading old notes, finding forgotten treasures, smiling at old photographs, and boxing things up to send to the children, or bring home, and in some cases just throwing things away. It’s the right thing to do, but the right things are not always easy. As much as missing my beach retreat, it marks the passage of time, and reminds one that life has changed and moved on, and what makes sense at one time in our life, no longer makes sense a dozen years later. I am grateful that I was able to have that house, and the fun times we had there. When I had my art gallery, I used to invite all my artists and their partners out for a beach day once a year, and we had a ball.

I finished getting the house ready to sell today, and it was bittersweet. It looked wonderful when I left it, and it may not sell for a while, so we’ll get to enjoy it a few more times. But I have put it out there, for someone else to fall in love with it at first sight. To me, houses are like romance, you can walk into 50 houses, and they do nothing for you, and then you walk into The One, the right one for you, and you know it instantly.  I hope that happens to someone when they see my beach house, it’s time to pass the baton to someone else, who will enjoy it, and spend happy times there, and watch their children grow up there. And then it will be someone else’s turn. It would be greedy and foolish to hang onto a house I no longer use, so I am setting it free, to be loved and enjoyed by others who will spend more time there, and have as much fun there as I once did. The chapter of my life at that beach is over. I had the dream, and now it’s time for the chapter to end. Paris is where I go for fun now, and to relax, and spend time with friends, and with my children when they visit me. I will miss the idea of the beach house, more than the reality.

So I spent the week packing boxes, and tucking away memories. The chapter ends. And a new one begins. The house isn’t sold yet, and will be put on the market in the next few weeks. And the new chapter will be full of surprises, and whatever life has in store. I’m grateful for the 13 years I had there. And now a new chapter will begin.

love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Homes | 11 Comments

3/17/14, Cinderella After the Ball.

Posted on March 17, 2014

Hi Everyone

First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you who are of Irish descent. In the international mix of my ancestry (Portuguese, Spanish, German, French), I can’t make any claim to Irish, so it’s not my holiday. I think there was an English great grandfather somewhere on my mother’s side, but that’s about it. It’s always such a festive day, so if you’re Irish, or want to celebrate with them, have a Great Day!!!

Other than that, life is getting back to normal after the glamour of fashion week in Paris, and the real excitement of being decorated with the Legion of Honor. Now I get to wear the little red ribbon on my clothes that identifies me as a Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honor (and a miniature of the medal for special events). It’s a big distinction in France, and I’m wearing the red ribbon with much pride. But then after the honor, and the ceremony, and the fashion shows, you go back to real life. Someone has to take out the garbage, sometimes me, feed the dogs, go to the dry cleaner, and do all the mundane stuff we all do. I had a lot of work to do this week, taxes are due, money is tight, kids have problems, dogs get sick. Two of our family’s dogs had surgery this week, which worried me. And I had to grind through all the stuff that wears you out, worries you, and is a LOT less fun than being decorated, and watching a fashion show by Chanel or Dior. Welcome to real life!!! It can’t be a party every day, and I’m lucky that it’s fun some of the time. Getting the Legion of Honor really thrilled me, and it’s a once in a lifetime event!!! I will cherish the memory of it forever, and loved sharing it with my children who were here.

I had a classic French experience this week. I pay my phone and internet bills by automatic transfer from my bank, which is easier than writing one more check every month. And lo and behold, I discovered that six months ago, the phone company and my bank got in an ‘argument’, a disagreement over procedures, so my bank stopped making the transfers, but never told me. The phone company wasn’t getting paid, and didn’t tell me. And yesterday I had one of those nightmare days where modern communication was vital: I had to do some things with my bank in California, had some important business to do with my agent, one of my children needed advice, another was travelling, I was emailing and calling people in several countries, doing business, and needed phone and Internet vitally. And guess what? All my phone and internet services went dead. Just like that, one minute a string of emails, and the next, a total black out. What happened??? I couldn’t figure it out, except a notice on my screen said I hadn’t paid my bill. Impossible!! Well not so impossible. I called the bank, who blamed the phone company for not complying with their ‘norms’ so they stopped paying them. I called the phone company who told me to get another bank. And guess who got squeezed in the middle with no phone or Internet service on a day I REALLY needed it??? Me, of course. What a crazy, ridiculous situation. So I paid my bill by credit card on the phone, and they promised that sometime 2 days later, I would get service back. Oh Great. And 2 days with no communication at all, and my whole life was conducted by cell phone. How crazy is that? While the phone company and my bank were throwing rocks at each other, I got bonked on the head and stunned into silence. It made for a VERY annoying day!!!! And I was really mad. Other than that misadventure, I love France, and Paris. The weather has been gorgeous and spring like and makes one dream.

So it’s back to real life for me. I may be a Knight now, but the phone company wasn’t impressed. My dogs aren’t impressed, I have to feed them now, and take out the garbage….and do some work….then I’ll do the dishes…..some laundry….I feel just like Cinderella after the ball!!!

love, Danielle


3/10/14, Paris Fashion Week

Posted on March 10, 2014

Hi Everyone,

It’s been a busy ten days in Paris with the Ready to Wear Fashion shows in full swing (to show clothes for next fall, so store buyers can see them and order them now, 6 months ahead of time). It’s always a crazy time, with show after show every day, and for those who love fashion it’s like a ten day long buffet of constant treats, feasts to the eye, exciting line ups with beautiful clothes worn by gorgeous models, often in amazing locations. And by the end of the week, I think everyone is on overdose, both those who design the clothes and put the shows together, and those who see dazzling fashion shows all day every day for about 10 days. I had a front row seat both to the behind the scenes hard work, and the front row excitement of being a spectator, with my three daughters who work in fashion staying with me for ten days. Before Paris fashion week was New York fashion week with American designers, Milan where the Italians show their latest creations, London Fashion week, and finally Paris. By today, I was almost reeling from the beauty and the gluttony of it. There are anywhere from 35 to 75 outfits in each show, worn by 40 or 50 models (depending on who the designers are), and each show is attended by from 300 to 1,000 people, buyers, press, fashionistas, movie stars, celebrities, customers, and there are several shows every day.

I lucked out the way the show schedule played out, and the first show I saw was Balenciaga, which is always one of the most beautiful, and one of my daughters is the design consultant to the designer, Alexander Wang, who designs for Balenciaga now. The show was held in the early morning on a rainy day at the planetarium, a beautiful old building with a circular staircase. I was excited to see Alex Wang’s and my daughter’s work, and What a Show!!! It was an absolutely spectacular show, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Incredibly chic, elegant, which really showed Alex Wang’s talent. I was thrilled with what I saw, and I knew just how hard they had all worked on it, as I watched my daughter come home at 2 am at night, and leave for work again at 6:30 the next day. They all work incredibly hard to put together the season’s collection and put on the show. It was going to be hard for anything to match up to that first show. I went with two of my other daughters and we were very proud!! » read more »

2/3/14, Half Full

Posted on February 3, 2014

Hi Everyone,

It’s been one of those whirlwind weeks when everything rushes past me, or seems to, like an express train, and carries me along. Some weeks are like that, and this one was a microcosm of my life. Sometimes, life is quiet, and I wish something interesting would happen, this wasn’t one of those. We all have boring times, and quiet times we enjoy, busy times that can be fun, and other times when it feels like the balls are being pitched at you faster than you can hit them, or even see them before they hit you.

Most of the time, my life is pretty ordinary, I worry about my kids, my dogs, help the kids solve small problems when I can, some piece of machinery not working (a projector in my daughter’s apartment this week), my dogs had an eye problem and I took them to the vet. I went to the ‘reweaving’ place in Paris to get something torn repaired. My refrigerator sounded like a 747 was landing on it or about to take off, so I went to look at new refrigerators, and wound up having the current one repaired for $40.00, a MUCH better solution. So I do the same boring stuff everyone else does. I have the same worries as most people, the same challenges in a day’s time, car repairs, trips to the dentist, concerns about my kids. And then added to that are the things that come with fame, the headaches, sometimes the threats, and also the opportunities, and even some very fun stuff. So along with the refrigerator shopping and repair, I got to go to two gorgeous fashion shows this week, (which I wrote a blog about, the shows were at Dior and Chanel), and there is no question, events like that are exceptional and dazzling and special (but despite that, my fridge still goes out of whack, my fridge does NOT care if I’m famous or not. And I still go to the vet and the dry cleaner). And the fun part of fame is great. I also got to go to Prada, and see some clothes before they put them in the store, and that was really fun too. On the less fun side of fame, there were a series of very nasty articles about me in the San Francisco press, that the journalist who wrote them thought the hedge around my house in San Francisco is too tall. And I did something I never do, I wrote an Op Ed/letter to the editor in response, but the articles were just too mean spirited not to speak up. In a world so full of real problems, starving people, people out of work, children in jeopardy, the economy tough—-does anyone really care about my hedge? I had to speak up, and the response to my letter to the editor has been kind, supportive, and warm. I’m glad I spoke up.

In Paris this week, I had a problem with a neighbor who borrowed an apartment above the one where I live, and invited 300 people to a party, who invaded the building halls and rang my doorbell all night. She was selling furniture out of her apartment, which is illegal. So I had to deal with her, the building owner, my lawyer and eventually the police. Things have finally calmed down but it was time consuming and a pain in the neck. I had a great ‘girls’ dinner one night with 3 wonderful women friends. And dinner with 2 men friends a few nights before that. I enjoyed time with my daughter while she spent a few days with me, and came to work. I had some lovely conversations with some of my other children, and some not so lovely conversations with some of the others. I had business stresses and some disappointments, and some disappointing conversations with other people, and a minor disagreement with a friend over something ridiculously stupid. And I’ve been busy getting ready for the ceremony and reception for the award I’m getting in France, the Legion of Honor, which is a huge honor in France. So I met with the florist, the restaurant, was given the medal by a friend, which an official will pin on me. The medal is gorgeous. And I met with the man who will do the official ceremony, to discuss his speech, and mine (and I am terrified of giving speeches). And in between all that, I answered work emails, and talked to my editor about some work I’m doing. It was a chock full, insanely busy week. It didn’t seem that way when it started, but by the end of the week, my days felt like an overstuffed sausage ready to burst. One thing added to another, both special events, and ordinary ones, some headaches and problems to solve, the disappointments I mentioned that made my heart ache. By the end of the week, I was exhausted, and it all felt like too much, and it got me down.

There is no question, I have a big life. Not in the sense that it’s so important, and a lot of it isn’t. But there is a lot in it. I have many children whom I love and worry about, I work very hard and write a lot of books, I live in 2 cities six thousand miles apart which is sometimes hard to manage, I have employees I care about, obligations to my publisher, dogs I love, and the usual machinery that breaks and falls apart. Just having 8 kids, even as young adults, is a full time job. And when you add the rest to it, it’s a lot. When all is going smoothly, it is an enviable life. When it’s not, it can really be overwhelming at times. And problems are like grapes, they always seem to come in bunches, often about things you really care about or that impact your life. And you can’t control what’s going to happen. When the ‘shit hits the fan’, you have to deal with it, before you get buried in it, and that’s not a lot of fun. So between the fashion shows in Paris, and advance peek at clothes collections, I’m dealing with some real stuff too, very real, that can be very upsetting at times. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my kids, our big family, the work I do no matter how pressured it gets at times or the demands it puts on me, and living in 2 cities which adds a lot of joy to my life. And I love my friends. And my dogs of course.

By the end of the week, I looked at all I’d done and the things that had happened, and my head was spinning. And when I focused on the disappointments (and there were more than a few big ones this week), and the problems (also a few too many), my spirits sank and I decided that the glass was half full, or maybe even less than that. I spent a couple of nights ‘eating worms’ as they say, when you feel sorry for yourself, and I confess that I did. And I was tired too. And the problems and disappointments broadsided me, I hadn’t expected them. And then with a little more calm, I looked at the good things that had happened this week, there were a lot of those too. My daughter’s visit, the problems I was able to solve (not all, but a few), the children who called me and were really sweet to me, the friends who are there for me, the award that I’ll be getting, which acknowledges my hard work, the praise of my editor, and the two nice evenings I spent with friends.  It’s the same for all of us. Sometimes life hands you some really awful things to deal with, the death of loved ones, or loss of health, or the loss of jobs you need to support your family, the money you need to live on, or something terrible happening to a child. And some things can’t be fixed. But in our everyday lives, with most occurrences, we have a choice as to whether we see the glass half empty or half full. By week’s end, I had no question about it, I was convinced the glass was even less than half full. But was it really?? When I took a closer look, I realized it was actually half full, and I could see it either way. Half empty or half full??? I had just as many problems to deal with, but seeing it as half full seemed like a much better choice. I can’t always do that, and sometimes seeing it negatively is the easier choice. But seeing it as half full was the better choice, and it was equally true, and made me feel a lot better. It was a good reminder to me to count my blessings, and I have many… report from the front from me: the glass is half full. I hope yours is too!!!

love, danielle

Paris Report

Posted on June 27, 2011

Hi Everyone, it would be very hard to top my blog about the White Dinner in Paris, which was an incredibly memorable experience and a visually gorgeous event, but I thought I should share some of the more mundane events while I’m here. And after all, let’s face it, how mundane can Paris be? Even after spending so much of my youth and childhood here, spending time here every year throughout my life, and now living here half the year for the past seven years,—-Paris never fails to take my breath away, just driving through the city, or to thrill me as I look at the sky, a sunset, the incredibly beautiful architecture and monuments, or just enjoy a Parisian moment walking down the street. It is a spectacular city, and even Parisians love their city and are never jaded to it. It is a beautiful place to visit or to live, with a quality of life that is irresistible. People in Europe really do stop and smell the roses more than Americans, with a sterner work ethic, and in Paris particularly. They work hard here, but they want to enjoy life too, which makes it wonderful to be here. » read more »

Filed Under Fashion, Paris, Shopping | 4 Comments

More Paris Fashion: Givenchy Fashion Show

Posted on April 4, 2011

To all you guys who are nice enough to read my blog, I apologize for assaulting you with fashion reports from Paris, but just one more, okay?? Besides, as I just explained to a friend in the states, in France, fashion shows are not considered only of interest to women. The men here (in France, and Europe generally) consider these fashion shows interesting hunting grounds for ‘real’ men—-they go to ogle the models, and check out the women who go to the shows. That’s actually a pretty clever idea; there are lots of good looking women (and men) at the shows. So with all due respect to both sexes, I just thought I’d tell you about the Givenchy ready to wear show I recently saw.  It was a Wow!!! » read more »

Vintage Furniture

Posted on July 19, 2010

Vintage has come to mean a lot of things these days. ‘Antique’ used to cover a multitude of eras, and was applied sometimes incorrectly to anything more than l0 or 20 years old. Nowadays, people are a little more precise, and vintage seems to refer to something old, but not old enough to be antique. And it refers to clothes and furniture. And vintage has now become considered a noble status, highly desirable, and covers everything from what is found at a yard sale—-or the highly prized ‘mid century modern’ (remember when that was called Danish Modern?? Although you may not be old enough to remember that). But all the furniture we considered ordinary (and the clothes) in the 60’s and 70’s, » read more »

6,000 Shoes

Posted on May 10, 2010

Now that would make poor Cinderella look pathetic wouldn’t it? All she had was one pair of glass slippers. Not even a pair of Nike’s!!!

I am writing about something I thought I’d never write about, or didn’t have to. But there is so much talk about it, that I finally decided to say something. » read more »