>> Did everyone get good hefty tomes for Christmas?  I hope so.  When I was doing the last bits of convenient Amazon gift shopping, I put a few cheeky additions for myself into the basket.  One of them was Dangerous Women, a collation of found imagery, gathered by Peter J. Cohen, a New York-based investment banker slash antique photography enthusiast.  Cohen became obsessed by photographs in the early half of the 20th century of “dangerous” women, behaving badly in a corseted and stiff society.  That image of women still persists today through stuffy period dramas and traditional portraiture.  Through Cohen’s brilliant finds though, these anonymous women are basically havin’ a laugh openly – drinking, shooting and being candid in front of the camera lens.

It’s basically the equivalent of images you’d see on Facebook of gals living it large, had the social media platform existed back in 1920s onwards.  The book was exactly the visual reminder I needed for 2016. “Dangerous” is a misleading title considering the joy and positivity expressed in Cohen’s collection of photographs.  Risk-taking perhaps is a more appropriate adjective, although it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as smoothly.  But risking it is what I’m fixated on as a loose resolution for the new year.  I say “loose” because I don’t tend to make concrete promises to do things, lest I break them one month in (no ‘dry’ or ‘get-fit’ Januaries for me).  The cheeky winks, broad smiles and mischievous expressions on the faces of these women though are prompting me to perhaps broaden my own horizons.  In what way, I’m yet to know.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why you’re reading a Susie Livejournal entry, style-wise, don’t these women just look supremely cool and cavalier?

IMG_7742

IMG_7744

IMG_9815

IMG_9816

IMG_9817

IMG_9818

IMG_9820

IMG_9821

IMG_9822

IMG_9824

IMG_9825

IMG_9826

IMG_9827

IMG_9829

IMG_9830

IMG_9831

IMG_9832

IMG_9834

IMG_9836

IMG_9837

IMG_9838

IMG_9839

IMG_9840

IMG_9841

IMG_9843

IMG_9844

IMG_9845

IMG_9846

>> Having spent the weekend playing imagination-based games with a toddler where expensive toys were duly eschewed in favour of sticks and stones, I suddenly remembered how much fun I had aged six or seven, with my own lo-fi fun when I used to jump into books.  Vaguely inspired by the jumping into chalk drawing scene from Mary Poppins, I thought diving feet first into my illustrated picture books and thus further destroying their spines, was a surefire way of escaping reality.  Today, there are more effective ways of re-imagining and re-configuring your surroundings.  Why not just superimpose your feet with Photoshop on to any image you can glean from Google?  Or looking further down the line into the future, you might virtual reality it up with whatever new Google Glass-esque device so that your surrounding realm is a living fashion editorial?  And yet there’s something pleasingly silly and antiquated about physically standing on a book.  There might be slicker and more efficient ways of jumping into books but I’ll still be encouraging future lil’ ones (either mine or other people’s offpsring) to dream up a different realm when their feet meets paper.

0E5A4580Supersweet x Moumi Purrple Label shoes on issue one of Special Request magazine

0E5A4591Chanel S/S 15 chain sandals on Sol & Luna by Vivianne Sassen

0E5A4627Ashley Williams for Red or Dead shoes on Hans Feurer book

0E5A4633Coach clogs on Locals Only by Hugh Holland

0E5A4698Meadham Kirchhoff S/S 14 shoes on Wallflower by Deborah Turbeville

0E5A4678Dior neoprene boots on Tiwimuta by Andre Walker

“This stroller spots the novel in the humdrum, the unseen in the deja vu, the faraway in the local.  The flâneur gathers and gleans like a bee among flowers.” Pierre Alexis Dumas in the introduction to the latest S/S 15 issue of the in-house magazine Le Monde D’Hermès

Flâneur.  It’s a French word that has no equal or direct translation in English. As a noun it means – “lounger”, “stroller”, “saunterer.”  But read deep into the word and it’s more than just a physical action.  The act of flânerie is really rooted to 19th century France, and in particular Paris where it caught the imagination of literary figures as it came to describe anyone who’s a man of leisure or idler to an urban explorer and connoisseur of the street.  For Honoré de Balzac, flânerie was the “gastronomy of the eye”.  In 1863 in an article for Le Figaro, Charles Baudelaire painted a pretty picture of the flâneur: “The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family.”  A more concrete modern definition can be attributed to Edmund White who wrote a book dedicated to the flâneur: “A flâneur is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles without apparent purpose but is secretly attuned to the history of the streets he walks – and is in covert search of adventure, aesthetic or erotic.”

0E5A9473

Nix out the erotic, and that’s exactly what Hermès had in mind when deciding upon “flânerie” as their theme of the year, which will be feted by an exhibition entitled “Wanderland” that will open at the Saatchi Gallery next week on the 9th April until the 2nd May.  You’re all invited to understand the meaning of the act of flânerie as well as being a flâneur in the exhibition, and hopefully beyond.

I, along with Shini of Park and Cube, got the chance to go to the source of this word in Pareeee for the day on Tuesday to learn how to be a “flâneur” for a day.  That’s no easy task for someone who is on the go all the time to direct destinations with a strict and set agenda.  To meander, wander and just hang out and see where the streets take you is not something I, alas get to do often, and certainly not in Paris.  Paris isn’t for having fun in; it’s for shows, appointments and meetings.  I doubt flâneur-ing counts when you’re meandering from word to word, stumped by an iMac keyboard.

Therefore it was a real pleasure to have Hermès remind me that Paris is a city to enjoy, not to be burdened by.  We started at Palais Royal.  Yeah yeah, I supposedly know this place like the back of my hand.  There’s Acne.  There’s Marc Jacobs.  There’s Cafe Kitsune.  There’s scary Didier Ludot (the first vintage store I ever walked into in Paris, whose staff pretty much gave me evil eyes the whole entire time I was there).  Oh but wait, as the helpful guide told us, look up, and you’ll see the neo-classical motifs on the mouldings are deliberately different from one section to the next.  I also never noticed Le Grand Vefour, the restaurant opened in 1784 where the likes of Victor Hugo and Colette have dined.   

0E5A9090

0E5A9086

0E5A9113

0E5A9122

Palais Royal is the most famous example of a covered walkway, which became fashionable in Paris in the late 18th and early 19th century and so was a a solid starting point to our walking tour through Paris’ remaining galleries and passages which survived Baron Haussmann’s urban revolution in the latter part of the 19th century – the majority of which I hadn’t encountered in person.  Next was Galerie Vivienne – another place that I thought I knew as it’s often stuffed full of showrooms during fashion weeks.  I hadn’t stopped to see the mosaic work or the nymphs and goddesses which adorn the rotunda nor one of the oldest bookstores in Paris at Libraries Jousseaume.

0E5A9152

0E5A9145

0E5A9149

0E5A9148

0E5A9155

0E5A9159

0E5A9164

On and on we went weaving our way from the the 1st to the 2nd to the 9th arrondissements (distance and time become blurry concepts when you’re walking through covered passageways).  They oscillate from grand and ornate (Vivienne, Colbert) to utilitarian and run-down (Choiseul).  The past met the present at Passage des Paroramas where we stopped to have lunch at Stern Caffè, once the home of the famous engravers Maison Stern et Aumoitte founded in 1836.  Closed in 2007, the location came under the hands of restauranteur David Lanher to create a curious bijoux Italian caffè with Venetian cuisine.  Nothing about the interior is expected as Philippe Starck applies a surprisingly restrained hand to the pre-Belle Epoque interiors, accentuating the 1800s woodwork and thick gold wallpaper with taxidermy oddities and walls of old photographs.

0E5A9178

0E5A9208

0E5A9180

0E5A9183

0E5A9210

0E5A9221

0E5A9225

0E5A9227

0E5A9241

0E5A9239

After lunch as we follow on to Passage Jouffroy and Verdeau, we’re not quite sure how we ended up there as antique shops, stamp collector’s emporiums, bookstores and galleries blur into one.  Being a flâneur is in part about forgetting the objectives of the day but rather allowing the time for your senses to absorb your surroundings. 

0E5A9243

0E5A9253

0E5A9251

0E5A9255

0E5A9248

0E5A9258

0E5A9263Love this reference to Émile Zola’s novel by the same name

0E5A9242

0E5A9273

 

Our walking route: Palais Royal – Galerie Vivienne – Passage Choiseul – Passage des Panoramas (and all its attached galleries) – Passage Jouffroy  – Passage Verdeau

0E5A9278Look up inside the atrium of the Hermès rue du Faubourg SaintHonoré store and you’ll see the floor of the collection

We could have gone on but we did have one important appointment to keep to.  It was the culmination point of our journey as a flâneur.  At Hermès’ 24 famous rue du Faubourg SaintHonoré address, there’s a floor that isn’t accessible to the public.  Look up in the atrium where a horse carriage is suspended and you’ll see glimpses of it.  It’s the Hermès “collection Émile Hermès” – consisting not of Hermès archive items, but of historical artefacts, curiosities and objects that relate to horses, carriage and in general, the elegance of movement and mobility.  Menehould de Bazelaire is the guardian of this Ali Baba’s cave as her official title is the director of the patrimony of culture at Hermès.  She curates and augments this collection and guides Hermès designers from all the different metier to come in and explore to their heart’s content as an internal source of inspiration to pick up the “air of Hermès or the air of time”.  What started as a private collection for Émile Hermès, who bought an antique walking stick at the age of 12 in 1870, has grown into a collection over well over 15,000 objects, spanning 3,500 years.  “He was able to find the youth and freshness of the past,” said de Bazelaire.  “He had a revelation that this collection could become a tool.”

0E5A9288

0E5A9296The oldest object in the collection – a horse statue originating from 3,500 years ago from the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the beginning of the silk road

0E5A9287The newest object in the collection – a zoetrope made out of a bicycle wheel by a French artist called Yannos

0E5A9310

0E5A9313

0E5A9302

0E5A9306

0E5A9314

0E5A9321

Every inch of floor space, wall and cabinet is stuffed with treasure from the smallest minutiae that you have to seek out and look for to giant saddles and paintings positioned to grab your attention.  The objects are not ordered by chronology or theme, nor are there accompanying captions.  You’re forced to look at everything with fresh eyes so that the past becomes inspiration for the future.  “Memories are like butterflies,” said de Bazelaire.  “They can fly anywhere.  All these objects are here to stimulate your imagination and dreams to spur the desire to create.  We are not looking at the past like a museum.  We give a second life to these objects.”

Nothing is too precious or meant to be looked at from afar.  De Bazelaire encouraged us to touch,  feel and poke around.  She’d open up books and scrolls and pick up small curious objects that all reveal something intriguing and surprising.  We were flâneur-ing to our heart’s content as we looked at oddities like 18th century pressed leaves mixed with collage, a galloping horse in motion from the Japanese Edo period or a horse whip handle made out of a stick bitten by a rabbit.

0E5A9323

0E5A9328

0E5A9329

0E5A9338

0E5A9343

0E5A9346

0E5A9347

0E5A9365

 

0E5A9405

0E5A9378

0E5A9368

0E5A9382

0E5A9360

0E5A9369

0E5A9379

0E5A9386Émile Hermès’ office

0E5A9411The Hermès logo derived from an early 19th century painting of a Duc carriage and horses

0E5A9390

0E5A9392

0E5A9429

0E5A9416Shini taking a sideways view through this special periscope

0E5A9423

 

0E5A9407

De Bazelaire could have carried on unlocking the secrets of these objects but we had a train to catch and one last Hermès spot to see.  Away from the hustle bustle of the store (people were queueing up to buy bags downstairs) and the craftsmen of the ateliers (saddles and special custom orders are still made on-site here at rue de Fauborg SaintHonoré), at the very top of the building is the most beautiful of “jardin sur le toit” (garden on the roof) flanked by old Hermès signage and a the statue of a man on horseback waving Hermès silk scarves, otherwise known as “l’artificier”.  It’s a tranquil haven that doesn’t quite correlate to the streets below – perfect for the mind to wander and continue the journey of a flâneur, between the real and the imagined.  Dreamlike apparitions didn’t stop at the gardens as our day of flânerie ended with an open fruit-tart prepared by Hermès’ in-house chef, topped with raspberry powder and fragrant pu-er served in Hermès china. 

0E5A9435

0E5A9442

0E5A9452

0E5A9464Waving the special Hermès scarf made for the exhibition 

0E5A9512

0E5A9522

0E5A9527

0E5A9529

0E5A9504

If philosophers and writers took flâneur to be a modern way of engaging with their changing urban environments then today, the act of flânerie could be seen as a luxury in our pace-stricken and digital-dominated lives – hence why Hermès have chosen it as its theme.  To be a flâneur, is to be able to afford time, effort and a discerning eye of hidden details and undisclosed pleasures.  They’re values that are embedded into Hermès.  The exhibition will undoubtedly reveal those values in the context of its product but of course to be a flâneur is something that can be incorporated into our daily lives.  De Bazelaire was kind enough to liken bloggers as natural flâneurs.  According to her, we document the world around us in ways that are idiosyncratic to our individual selves.  That’s a compliment I’ll heartily take and with the word “flâneur” permanently ensconced in my head, every day now presents itself as an opportunity to look, look again and be curious. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition open from the 9th April to 2nd May at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY.  Open 10am-6pm daily.  Free entrance.

I want to apologise for being absence for all of… five days (well, four if you count Saturday) but I’m not.  I’ve cooked, hosted and scoffed to my heart’s content with five different kinds of meat consumed over the past week.  Faced with a glut of leftovers, I’ve been pottering around at home, knocking my head against the wall, seemingly with little to blog about style wise, unless the way I drape streaky bacon over my stuffing mix tickles your fancy.

Then I realised I hadn’t really taken the (admittedly narcissistic) opportunity to blog up the way I’ve done up my hovel and all the bits and bobs that I’ve accumulated to fill up the rooms of my hovel.  I’m not going to lie.  In fact, I may sound a touch smug.  I have fully relished my first opportunity to paint, hang wallpaper, bang holes in walls and buy bits of furniture (that aren’t from the bargain basement in Ikea…) for the house.  With twice the amount of space to play with than my old Holloway flat, I no longer live in peril of a random shoebox or coat falling on top of me.  After two months of managing the renovation of the bathroom and kitchen in the new house (much thanks to Aspect.co.uk and Kitchens Unlimited – you were tops) and getting my trusty Papa Lau to do most of the donkey decorating work, I moved in last December and have since been slowly building it up decorative layer by layer.  It’s finally gotten to the point where I have to resist homeware overload as every interiors/lifestyle store holds temptation.  I’ve *just* about weaned myself off my daily visit of Clippings, Decor8 and the ever trusty Houzz.

The dangerous thing about it this whole house malarky is how my attitude towards interiors mirrors that of my clothes.  Hurrah you might say.  Except that my love of colour, print and ridic cartoonish-ness needs to be tempered because a) you have to work/live with a room interior for longer lengths of time than when you wear a super loud outfit and b) this house belongs to both me and my boyfriend Steve, who favours the subtler and dare I say more tasteful side of things.  There’s also all the fashion gubbins to contend with.  Bags, shoes, accessories and other paraphernalia aren’t ever going to be seamlessly concealed behind magic white cupboards and nor do I want them to be.  In effect, they’ve had to be incorporated into the “schemes” of the rooms (can you tell I’ve been lapping up The Great Interior Design Challenge?)

Challenges aside, as I’ve spent the past few days enjoying holing up in my house, I’m happy to say that I’m now mega house-proud.  It’s not exactly #chic-to-the-next-lev or Elle Decoration ready but it was never going to be.  I’d liken my house in a similar way to my personal style – it’s basically an overdecorated cake, with far too much icing, too many candles and extra ornaments.  It was never going to be that minimal Scandi interior blog thig.  Nor was it going to be floor-to-ceiling psychedelic cray.  It’s something in between with opportunity to be amped up should I become braver, with my weapon of choice be it paint, wallpaper or washi tape (going to attempt to washi tape the entire staircase soon…).


Living/Dining Room – I’m not sure why I was hell bent on the combination of grey, white and yellow (with a flash of pale blue).  It might have been the Miss Print “Mountains” wallpaper that led the way.  Or the Knight Mills rug but once I got going it was hard to not go matchy-matchy.  It’s a running joke with friends that we’ve stuffed our smallish room silly with no less than six different kinds of chairs with my favourites being the grey moustache chair that I use as a desk chair and the white geometric Charlie Crowther-Smith dining chairs.  I’m not the biggest fan of Made.com (late-late deliveries…) but they came good with this Je-Uk Kim Lovebird sofa.  Special mention to Shoreditch-based furniture company Unto this Last for the slat and step shelving, which you used to be able to order in a ton of colours (now they only offer three) and Chiaozza in Brooklyn for making all your multi-coloured display shelving dreams come true.

0E5A1855Wearing adidas SLVR hat, Marni shirt, Peter Jensen striped skirt, Christian Dior slippers, checked socks from Tokyo sitting on Charlie Crowther Smith “4” chair with Unto this Last slat bookshelf in the background.

0E5A1800Habitat “Naoko” armchair with Kenzo blanket, Notknot “Good Luck” yellow pillow, Seven Gauge “Lolli” knit cushion, two large grey Swash cushions, Louis Vuitton blanket

0E5A1827Givenchy “Rave” tote, Roksanda carrier bag and Proenza Schouler x Master & Dynamic headphones on Knight Mills “Pilot” rug

0E5A1734Lounging in Ryan Lo jumper and Calla jeans on Made.com Lovebird sofa by Je-Uk Kim and Swash cushions

0E5A1203Chiaozza frames painted with custom colours 

0E5A1293Vintage Ercol desk against Miss Print “Mountains” wallpaper

0E5A1299Little Miss Sunshine/Bubble print from Selfridges

0E5A1230A load of “stuff” on Unto this Last step shelves in pale blue and yellow

0E5A1323Ikea Hönefoss hexagon mirrors on wall, Matt Pugh candlestick holders, West Elm honeycomb vase, My Drap napkin roll

0E5A1319Kristina Krogh green galaxy print

0E5A1321“Summoning of Radiations and Wavelengths” painting by Dee Dee Cheriel

0E5A1315Kristina Krogh print

0E5A1840Burberry blanket cape on Moustache chair and vintage hall runner

0E5A1546Marimekko teapot and plate, Loewe brooch, Hermes candle

0E5A1559Assortment of cacti and stone shaped vase on Hairy and Grainy cheeseboard, Delfina Delettrez earrings, YSL mini bag on Restored copper table.  

0E5A1568


Kitchen – This room is still recovering from the four day cookfest and plus it’s fairly utilitarian (cream and grey) and not so interesting on the pretty pretty front.  I’m oscillating between organic wooden things and garish crockery.

0E5A1478LSA paddle and dip set, assortment of Iris Hantverk utensils, Sebastian Conran cookery bookstand, Muji oven mitts, Polpo book

0E5A1492Hybrid Seletti plates


Hallway – The star of my entrance way is the neon yellow Brose Fogale Camerino valet stand.  It’s never going to actually hang all our bags and coats but isolated in one area I can kid myself that I’m the sort of person that might only have one or two bags and a few pairs of shoes.

0E5A1528

0E5A1506Lean Man console with Hay trays and Studio Arhoj piggy bank


Landing – I yelped quite a bit when pictures like the Givenchy M/M Paris invitations and the original Julie Verhoeven illustration were finally hung, only because I’ve never ever hung a picture up having lived in rented properties.  That was almost as monumental as buying the house itself.  The wooden vintage shoe cabinet came from a very friendly eBay furniture seller based in Germany, who called up several times to ensure safe delivery.  I also love that the owner is called Axel.  I’m going to try and bid on more stuff just so I can converse with Axel.

0E5A1410Shoes from L-R: Comme des Garcons brogues, Chanel trainers, Celine slip-ons and Buffalo platforms on the vintage shoe cabinet with Julie Verhoeven’s illustration peeking in the background.

0E5A1729Converse rubber chucks, Acne x Stephen Jones hat and Bernstock Speirs visor on the dressmaker’s dummy, the rolls of tape that I’m definitely/maybe/maybe not going to use one day and the Nike Air Force 1 Mid

0E5A1421Givenchy M/M Paris invitations


Bathroom – Again, more utilitarian than interesting.  White subway tiles, Victorian/Edwardian-esque tub and sink and errr… a lot of white.  I basically wanted the Soho/Tribeca Grand bathroom in my house minus the quirky wallpaper.  My baby sister Jennifer’s “You got pooped on” “It’s my hat.” comic strip illustration is the smidge of whimsy.

0E5A1457

0E5A1434Illustration by my sister Jennifer Lau

0E5A1442Aesop, Suzanne Kaufmann, Chanel, & Other Stories… stuff

0E5A1435

Special special love to this pair of spade chairs by Faye Toogood, the standouts from our ridiculously large collection of chairs.  They came with a note that simply said “Sit.”  Trust Faye and her sister Erica to send something minimal yet salient.

0E5A1722Wearing Somewhere Nowhere furry sweatshirt, The Layers striped skirt, Christian Dior slippers on Faye Toogood spade chairs in black and white.


Guest room formerly known as the out-of-sight, out-of-mind room – This room was a tip for such a long time that I now just love going in every once in a while and sigh.  I’m still deliberating whether it needs some paint or yet more wallpaper but I’ll enjoy its clean state for the time being.  The decoupaged flamingo chest of drawers upcycled by Lady MucknBrass on Etsy  got a lot of love on Instagram and I’m excited that this former fashion nail technician turned furniture upcycler will be opening a shop in Crouch End early next year.

0E5A1646Lady Mucknbrass flamingo chest of drawers, Surprise Surprise light by Stephen Johnson, Marni bag

0E5A1659Kenzo Kalifornia Gommato bag, Little Sunny Bite pouch, Studio Arhoj figurines

0E5A1639Wearing J.W. Anderson x John Allen tapestry top and Toga jeans on top of boucherouite rug from Marrakech

0E5A1705Dior print and books, Nicholas Kirkwood sandals, Acne clutch, Somewhere Nowhere Woo Hoo armbands, Isabel Marant La Montre watch on Made.com Stroller desk


Our bedroom – There was only ever one wallpaper I was interested in for our bedroom.  I’d been looking at Kirath Ghundoo‘s work forever, mesmerised by her seemingly random vortex of glitchy geometric patterns doused in pretty pastel shades.  My dad was tutting the whole time he was putting up this Mosaic wallpaper, perplexed and confuzzled by the patternation.  A year in and I haven’t had a pattern migraine yet.  It’s just been augmented by a lovely wall tapestry that my other sister Yonnica Lau made me for Christmas.

0E5A1399Wearing Victoria by Victoria Beckham pink tracksuit and pretending to be Luna P on John Lewis by Ercol bed, Hay bedsheets, Sian Elin cushions

0E5A1368Confetti System garland, UE Boom speakers, Meadham Kirchhoff shoes, Confetti System decoration, Studio Snowpuppe paper light, a doll of me made by Iain R Webb

0E5A1338Wall tapestry by my sister Yonnica Lau

0E5A1587Wearing Katie Jones jumpers and Kit Neale trousers with Marc by Marc Jacobs tote on boucherouite rug from Marrakech