Friday, September 18, 2015


I have changed into a shiny blue, pink, silver and gold patterned Jacquard vintage 60’s dress, with light and airy Angel chiffon sleeves. It’s truly delectable, a garment that’s dressy, unique, and has that bit of extra Pizazz, but I’m in shock. My bath was so relaxing that I fell asleep, and woke when I slid beneath the water line and naturally inhaled. Moet has a lot to answer for, especially when combined with a bath tub full to the brim of scented hot water. Choking, my vision blurred, looking at two little Angels cavorting on the edge of my bath-tub, “this is it” I thought, “I’m dying” (I immediately think of my Hermes scarf) then squint a bit and realise that my little friends are Porcelain ornaments. “Jesus I’m late” I leap from the bath tub like Stefka Kostadinova, and proceed to change.

I stop at the top of the grand staircase of the Chateau and try to look composed, Thank God for make-up and Solpadine. Beauty and worth might not be found in the same bottle, but for now I’m grateful to Revlon and Omega Pharma, and feeling decidedly worth it. My flushed complexion has immaculately evened out, and I’m about to descend into an ocean of French suavity and chic, and every possible little perk will help me negotiate my way through the fashionable throng with a bit more va-va voom.I descend slowly, ignoring my perspiring palms, I grab a glass of champers from a floating tray and walk smack bang into “luscious lips” that I tried to kill earlier this morning.“Ah my wine glass assassin“ he says, his voice coming from somewhere deep in his coffee coloured immaculately toned chest that peers from an 18 thread count open necked shirt.“Yes sorry, I got so excited by the view, it was the scenery, I mean not you, the country side”...please just let me die now I thought. He appears to ignore my blabbering.“You are alone, please come with me to our table, I am Gaspar”“I’m Agnes, so nice to meet you” we shake hands. He smells of Louis Royer Cognac, leather and Terre D’Hermes.He gallantly brings me to his table, and introduces me to all ten guests, including his beautifully attired girlfriend Marianne, who opted for a black Chanel knee length sleeveless dress, with the most beautiful pair of svelte black high heels. “Salvatore Ferragamo Agnes” she informs me “Gaspar bought them for my birthday.”That’s the thing about French men, they will comment and advise a girl on her choice of clothes and perfume, appreciate the time it takes for her to make the most of herself, and visibly and unashamedly appreciate a woman’s form. It makes me wonder about the rest of the male sex, who are in comparison, essentially blind to a woman’s style and to the many trials and tribulations of “getting ready.”What I truly appreciated was how welcoming the entire table were, and they made genuine efforts to speak in English. It was touching, and every gent felt that it was his sworn duty to sweep me around the dance floor, it was very “Old World”- impossible to resist-and I didn’t.Hours later I’m engaged in a “deep and meaningful “with Marianne in the rather posh and elaborate loo. For all her utterly fabulous chic and composure, she tends to suffer from the same insecurities that have forever plagued woman kind. She confesses that she can’t leave the house without full make-up, I can completely empathise. I have the same deep seated habit of not being able to “show face” without good cover; when I leave the house it almost feels like I’m going into battle. And I had to wonder, when did make-up stop becoming a self-esteem balm and start becoming armour? We vowed to keep in touch and go bare-faced on the exact same day and figure it out between us.

Later I am doing a Charleston in the garden fountain, kicking up sheets of water with all the abandon of Josephine Baker, (a little more challenging when completely “trolleyed”) I blame the band, anyone who plays the roaring twenties hit “The Black Bottom Stomp” at 1.00am are asking for trouble, and I’m blameless, and I’m not from here, so I can get away with it. My natural exuberance appears to amuse the natives, so I play to the audience, enjoying the sounds of resounding applause, when mid “high kick “my supporting knee gives under the strain and I scream “Oh Fuck” and I splash into the water in a way that makes a tsunami look like a ripple in a kiddies play-pool. The crowd went wild. The French may appear reserved, but there’s an underlying Latin vivacity that can very easily erupt at the drop of a hat, and it’s just as well, it saved what was left of my dignity.At 4.30am I’m back in the bath tub almost floating with that serene sense of effervescence that comes from Moet. 

I’m musing about the Gallic culture. There’s something about French style that’s singularly hard to identify, and yet is remarkably alluring, the French of course have a word for it, “Je ne sais quoi” a mysterious quality that makes something distinctive, and can be applied to almost any situation where certain elements come together to create an alluring aesthetic or appeal. In a person, it requires a “contained reserve” and while I have to admit to looking on a little enviously at the de rigueur of French women, and their elegant reserve, on the other hand I prefer the freedom that Vintage so generously offers. Either way being comfortable in my own skin is the defining factor-and therein lies the ultimate secret weapon of style.

Edited by Roland Thackaberry

Photo editing by Matthew Reilly 


Thursday, September 10, 2015


I fling open the windows of the Chateau bedroom; it’s a postcard, a perfect blue sky, not a wisp of cloud, the mountains lilt and s...
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