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Posted on February 7, 2015

The Myth of Parisian Chic – BUSTED!

Coats/ Current Affairs/ Movie & Books/ Rebel/ Romantique

French Books on Chic, Style, Life, relationships

“Parisian Chic”, “How to be Parisian wherever you are”, “Paris Street Style”, “Why French children don’t throw food” – the French-know-it-all hype shows no sign of abating. French women clearly have the world figured out – from style to love life to children. We at Romantique and Rebel are francophiles too and have fallen for the myth – there’s no book on French style we don’t have, we’ve written many articles on French icons we adore and have interviewed French colleagues and friends, all in the quest for deciphering their secret to style, love and life.

Last week, Rebel and I booked a train from London to Paris to engross ourselves in some field work. We’ve been to Paris many times before, but this time we wanted to look at Parisians with a fresh pair of scrutinising eyes. We looked at the myth and carefully checked this against reality. Here’s our impressions from our Paris trip:

French women wear red lipstick (and nothing else):

100% correct. Mostly warm, yellow based red lipstick is a make-up staple all Parisiennes share. However, we noted that little else make-up is applied. From a certain age, one should cover up imperfections to smooth skin to look polished. Not so the Parisienne. Which leads us to the next point….

French women have the “effortless style” nailed:

There’s a fine line between effortless and down right sloppy. We witnessed  French ladies in hip Marais sported having-just-crawled-out-of-bed hair, scruffy jeans, grey hair, paired with dirty adidas Stan Smith trainers. All of this seemed forced, as if the carrier wanted to appear “cool” by appearing to not have made too much of an effort.  Which defies the whole idea of “effortless” , right?

French women are chain smokers:

This is a stereotype which rings very true. People on the continent, compared to the UK, smoke a lot, especially in Paris. Which might explain how Parisienne’s stay so slim. Look at Caroline de Maigret, one of the authors of the book “How to be Parisian wherever you are”. She’s 39 and may be skinny, but also looks a decade older than she is.

Caroline de Maigret wearing Stan Smith trainers in Paris.

Caroline de Maigret wearing Stan Smith trainers in Paris.

French women love heels: 

Quite the contrary, Paris is the city of adidas trainers. Women of all ages can be seen in two types: Stan Smith and Superstar. Every shop window displaying elegant fashion paired outfits with a pair of trainers. Our Air B and B landlady wore the same pair as Rebel who is a fan too. I’ll stick with my ballerina, thank you!

Rebel is wearing: "Stan Smith" Adidas, Sunnies by Fendi, Bag by GF Ferré

Rebel is wearing: “Stan Smith” Adidas, Wintercoat by Max & Co., Sunnies by Fendi, Bag by GF Ferré

 

Parisiennes and labels

YSL, Celine, Balmain – all these labels can be seen worn by Asian women. I wonder if it’s the astronomical price or the cliche the Parisiennes are avoiding?

I'm wearing: Black Max and Co coast, quilted leather cross body bag from L Credi, sunnies by Prada, pink oxford lace-ups by AGL Attilio Giusi Leombruni.

I’m wearing: Black Max and Co coat, quilted leather cross body bag from L Credi, sunnies by Prada, pink Oxford lace-ups by AGL Attilio Giusi Leombruni.

 

For many, including us, French culture is the synonym for elegance, style and charm and the French have perfected fuelling this fire.

Where do you stand? Do you think the French are naturally good at putting clothes together and finding the perfect balance in life between femininity and feminism? Is common sense fashion advise such as: Choose a few quality timeless basics and build on them, avoid faddy fashion trends.” inherently French? Let’s start the debate!

Parisian Chic - busted

Posted on January 22, 2015

Mad about Germany – The Brits aim to change their one-time enemy’s public image

Current Affairs/ London/ Romantique

Germany - memories of a nation exhibition London

The German-British relationship is often marked by rivalry and competition, with the British tabloids fueling the fire by WW2 symbols of  tanks, and soldier uniforms. Unlike the other allies, France and the USA, British culture tends to associate Germany first and foremost with the two world wars. One only need look as far as the famous “Don’t mention the war” sketch in Fawlty Towers, for evidence!

However, things are changing: Germany’s world cup win and subsequent uber-cool party at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was admired by the British (even by the tabloids)!   Angela Merkel, Germany’s “Mutti”, is seen by the English, as a respected leader of Europe, whilst Germany’s decentralised economy serves as a role model to the Continent and the UK.

In this changing spirit, The British Museum has dedicated a whole exhibition (Germany – memories of a nation) to 600 years of German history to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Wir sind ein Volk - Germany memories of a nation exhibition London

Director of the British Museum, Neil McGregor, says that he is on a mission to change the British perception of Germany. He wants to educate the British that there is more to Germany’s long and eventful history than 12 years of Nazi Era.

The exhibition uses objects to tell the story of 600 years of German history. Its rolling out the red carpet to German-speaking artists, craftspeople, designers, musicians, writers and philosophers who have made great contributions to the world’s culture. German political history is one of diversity,  coming from the Holy Roman Empire which continues to blossom with federalism to this day. With no dominant central court, this culture of political rivalries created intense and fruitful competition for artists.

The exhibition also touches on the exodus from East Pommerania after WW2, and on the division and re-unification of Germany. The display of the Gutenberg bible, one of the first printed books in the world, was one of my highlights.

Germany memories of a nation Gutenberg Bible

the gate to Buchenwald concentration camp, Weimar

The exhibits ran the gamut through from the beautiful to the horrific: A Bauhaus artist who was a prisoner at Buchenwald made the cynical inscription at the gate of the concentration camp “each to their own”. Avantgarde meets Nazi terror – both part of German history.

The exhibition closes this Sunday, if you’re interested, hurry to the exhibition this weekend! The museum offers extended opening hours in this final week.

Germany memories of a nation exhibition London romantique

Posted on January 10, 2015

Green Smoothie from Fashion to Mainstream

Cuisine/ Rebel

Green-smoothie-true-fruits

Naturally I’m not able to spend all day making smoothie drinks and going to the gym like all celebs in L.A but it’s cool to see fruit & veg getting pushed by celebs instead of drugs, booze & other junk! Green smoothies are the  new fashion drink like Starbucks cups. It’s finally happening.

green-smoothie-jessica-alba

The juices now going mainstream and everybody (even in Germany) can get green smoothies at supermarkets. Now I just drink my bottle of veggies and enjoy them because I would struggle to eat a plate foods – e.g. spinach, carrots, ginger (a real good immune system booster), carrots, celery, apples, cucumber – in the morning, or even in the day!

beckham-green-smoothie

Do it like David Beckham; a bottle healthy green smoothie in the back of fitted denim on motorbike!

 

Posted on January 3, 2015

Inspirational Quotes to Make a New Start 2015

Astro & Spirit/ Rebel

From my home in Hamburg to yours, wishing you a Very Happy New Year 2015!

I love reading quotes and I feel they can be very helpful and inspiring. Here are my personal favorite inspirational quotes to make a new start.

I hope you like them as much as I do and help you make 2015 the best year ever.

Best of Luck! 

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Posted on December 25, 2014

Top 5 reasons to drink 3 litres of water a day – by a German Biologist

Lifestyle/ Rebel

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Everybody is talking  about drinking water to stay healthy and fit – Gwyneth Paltrow even took a selfie with her water bottle.

Here are some quotes from celebreties about the fascinating subject of water:

“Full of healing power #ILoveWater.” —Gwyneth Paltrow

“Drink water, stay hydrated and sleep. It’s so boring, yet so simple.” — Jennifer Aniston

“I think it’s very important to drink lots of water.” – Victoria Beckham

“Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is so ’90s.” — Nicole Richie

“Water is so boring! But that’s all I drink.” — Tom Ford

“Drinking water works.” — Doutzen Kroes

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Mr Rebel is a biologist, so I asked him: Is drinking 8 glasses of water a day really so 90’s and complete nonsense?

He said: “Everything that is said about water is true because here are top 5 reasons for drinking 3-4 litres of water a day”:

1.) Reduces hunger, so you avoid taking up calories and will reduce fat and weight.

2.) Keeps you kidneys in good condition and making it easier for them to detox your blood.

3.) Reduces smaller skin wrkinkels by the intercalation of water in the cells. So you look younger and fresh because your skin gets a healthy glow.

4.) Lets you feel better since your blood can better supply all your organs with oxygen and nutrients.

5.) Enables better results in your job since your brain and body do better if they are well lubricated by water.

Jessica+Alba+Running+Errands+Santa+Monica+B378Bub6OIIl

So, drinking water is great for your health and beauty but remember, it will make you having to go to the ladies much more often as women have a smaller bladder than men.  Don’t worry: You will be in good company, every Hollywood actress dashes frequently to the loo for the exact same reason!

Posted on November 19, 2014

Stylish Christmas Decor from Germany

Berlin/ Decor/ Romantique

 

Moss green and brown fir cones

Moss green and brown fir cones

 

 

Christmas is my favourite time of the year! In Germany, Christmas is the biggest holiday and many Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree and the advent wreath stem from Germany (as you will have heard me mentining on more than one occasion previously)!

This year I am going to spend Christmas in Australia, swapping Gluehwein for  stubbies and bitterly cold Christmas markets for Bondi beach.  To get into the festive spirit, I’m going to decorate our tiny London apartment during the pre-Christmas period. Think lovely ornaments and traditional wooden nutcrackers and figurines from the Ore Mountains.

Gingerbread houses, cinnamon swirls and cheeses - a scrumptious Christmas bakery

Gingerbread houses, cinnamon swirls and cheeses – a scrumptious Christmas bakery

 

During my last visit to Berlin, I re-visited my favourite flower& décor  shop in Potsdam near Berlin, home of the Castle Sans Souci. Every year, this shop houses an extraordinary Christmas décor exhibition. It’s the most creatively & lovingly decorated Christmas store I’ve seen, always rejuvenating my festive spirit every year. Enjoy the pictures and get drawn into the world of frost and Santa claus!

Ice skates in the snowy Christmas tree decoration

Ice skates in the snowy Christmas tree decoration

If you happen to visit Potsdam, you can find this magic gem of shop in the Dortustrasse

If you happen to visit Potsdam, you can find this magic gem of shop in the Dortustrasse

Flower shop and christmas decor Potsdam Germany

Red Hanging ornaments christmas decorations germany

The Christmas Bakery has opened!

The Christmas Bakery has opened!

 

Check out the shop’s last years Christmas Decoration here.

Beautiful Potsdam is always worth a visit. Stroll in the romantic gardens of castle Sans Souci

Beautiful Potsdam is always worth a visit. Stroll in the romantic gardens of castle Sans Souci

 

 

 

Posted on November 9, 2014

What life was like behind the iron curtain

Current Affairs/ Rebel/ Romantique
Romantique and Rebel in East Berlin, 1988

Romantique and Rebel in East Berlin, 1988

This weekend, Berlin commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an 80,000 balloon light illumination to recreate where the wall once stood.

The wall split the city into the West Sector, occupied by American, British and French allies, and the East sector, occupied by the Soviet Republic.

On the evening of Sunday, Nov. 9, 8,000 citizens will line up with a key in hand, each responsible for unlocking a balloon. One by one, the balloons will float into the sky, carrying personal messages with them.

Berlin's "Lichtergrenze" - Border of lights

Berlin’s “Lichtergrenze” – Border of lights

The wall is an integral part of Rebel and my upbringing: Aged 9 and 17 when our parents fled the dictator run country, we are both deeply affected by German/German history. When we lived in East Berlin, we had access to West German radio and TV: Longing for the exotic travel, shiny cars and abundance of goods the channels showed. In my case, this was a holiday to Brazil, a Barbie dreamhouse and “my Little Pony”. In the East, Rebel learned Russian at school and went through a tough-as-nails education at the East-German State-Ballet run by strict Russian Ex-Bolshoy teachers.

Rebel practicing at the state run East Berlin school of ballet

Rebel practicing at the state run East Berlin school of ballet

As a kid I remember being forced to sing communist anthems in a very strict and authorative primary school. For holidays, we would travel 3 days in the car to countries like Bulgaria & Romania. Only eastern-bloc countries were within our reach.

Yes, goods were scarce and exotic fruit like Mango, passion fruit and honey melon were completely unknown to me.

Our family was torn apart by the wall and politics even divided our family: During the Soviet occupation of East Germany in the 1950s, our Mum’s mum spent time in an East German jail for spying for the west. This was a thorn in the eye of our dad’s parents who were loyal communists and advised my dad against marrying mummy R&R (which in turn only made him even more determined to marry her!)

Our parents in 1970. They got married despite their families who opposed the union.

Our parents in 1970. They got married despite their families who opposed the union.

In February 1989, 10 month before the fall of the wall, our parents fled East Berlin with nothing, leaving behind all material possessions and funds. having to start from scratch at the age of 40; an incredibly bold move, all to regain freedom and to give their children a better future.

Starting fresh in West Berlin wasn’t a bed of roses. My mum’s East German degree was not recognised and she had to study again at the age of 40. Rebel had to abondon her Ballet Career and I was traumatised by the fact that we had to leave behind my beloved cat Sina who died shortly after our move, of a broken heart. At West Berlin school, I was teased for my un-trendy Eastern Bloc-chic clothes and my East-German slang. I spoke German, but a Colloqial German that was different to that of my classmates.

Rebel, Romantique and our mum in East Germany, note the Trabi in the background!

Rebel, Romantique and our mum in East Germany, note our Trabi in the background!

Today, Berlin is an über-cool tourist destination, currently number 3 of Europe’s most popular destinations. Berlin’s visitor numbers are predicted to eclipse Paris, currently holding number 2, in 2015.

It’s a fascincating mix of a City that is nothing like the rest of Germany: easy-going, anarchic, ever-changing, open and cosmopolitan. A city whose locals are known for having a “loud mouth with a golden heart”. A city which has influenced Europe politics like no other with a female chancellor (called Mutti=Mami) who’s calling the shots in the EU. Who would have thought all of this possible 25 years ago?

Stay tuned for more insights into life behind the iron curtain with interviews of contemporary witnesses….

Coming soon!

At the Berlin Wall, with a "Trabi" symbolically breaking through the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on September 27, 2014

LFW 2014 – Best of New Designer

Current Affairs/ London/ Romantique
Cynthia Mak and Romantique, LFW 2014 SS 2015

The lovely Cynthia Mak and myself at LFW 2014 at Sommerset House.

 

At this year’s London Fashion Week, Rebel and I were lucky enough to get access to the New Designer’s lounge. For us, the stand-out designer whose collection we loved most  was Cynthia Mak. Her SS2015 designs are classic yet modern, chic, romantic, edgy and most important of all: FLATTERING to the feminine body. Straight pencil skirts, A-line dresses, beautifully embroidered, dipped in monotone, red and blue colours.  It’s no wonder that Italian Vogue included Cynthia in their list of “New Talents”.  The exquisite tailoring of her collections are reminiscent  of Italian Style, fused with Asian understatement.

Cynthia was born and is based in Hong Kong. She studied at London’s Art and Design College Central Saint Martins and worked at Alexander McQueen, Preen and Vivienne Westwood before returning to her Hong Kong and launching her own collection this year. Take a glimpse at Cynthia’s SS2015 collection here.

I can’t wait to see more from Cynthia and most importantly, to shop her collections at London’s department stores very soon!

Pencil skirt Cynthia Mak SS2015 at LFW 2014

Pencil skirt Cynthia Mak SS2015 at LFW 2014 Pencil skirt Cynthia Mak SS2015 at LFW 2014

Pencil skirt Cynthia Mak SS2015 at LFW 2014

Posted on September 21, 2014

Weekend in Paris with Cat Macarons

Accessoires/ Cuisine/ Dresses/ Paris/ Romantique/ Travel
Badou Badou Cat Macarons Paris

Badou Badou cat macaron and macaron bracelet by N2 Les Nereides Paris.

 

September has been a whirlwind month for me: a trip home to Berlin, rocked London Fashion Week with Rebel, started a new job in Marketing and last but not least, Mr Romantique whisked me away to Paris to celebrate our first wedding anniversary!

Paris romanced us with stunning weather, mouth-watering food in Paris’ most popular tea room and breathtaking views from Montparnasse tower.  My absolute highlight of the trip was a box of cat macarons from Parisian patisserie Lenôtre. Unlike Laduree’s Hello Kitty Macaron collection, which simply contains macarons in Helly Kitty themed packaging, Lenôtre offers macarons shaped like Kitty’s head. The adorable cat macarons, named Badou Badou, are offered in two delicious flavours: Cotton Candy and Strawberry Haribo.

 

Badou Badou Cat Macarons Paris

 

Elodie Martins, writer and amateur pastry chef, created the feline macarons inspired by the girly universe of the movie “Marie Antoinette”, directed by Sofia Coppola.

Paris Street style pont Alexandre trois Max and Co vichy gingham dress. moschino bag. Street style Paris at the gorgeous pont Alexandre III.

I’m wearing:

  • The quintessential French Vichy Gingham dress by Max & Co
  • Green ballet pumps by Pretty Ballerinas
  • Brown cross body bag by Moschino
  • Shades by Ray Ban
  • Parisian themed hoop earrings by Les Nereides

Paris Street style pont Alexandre trois Max and Co vichy gingham dress. moschino bag.

The girly world of Sofia Coppola's movie "Marie Antoinette" inspired Elodie Marting to create her Badou Badou cat earrings.

The girly world of Sofia Coppola’s movie “Marie Antoinette” inspired Elodie Marting to create her Badou Badou cat earrings.

 

Paris Lenotre cat macarons Badou Badou Badou Badou Cat Macarons Paris Badou Badou Cat Macarons Paris Lenotre

Posted on September 14, 2014

London Fashion Week Street Style – Edit by Romantique

Accessoires/ Beauty/ Coats/ Current Affairs/ Dresses/ London/ Romantique/ Skirts

London Fashion Week Sept 2014 street style Les nereides alice earrings

I loved getting amongst the inspirational, stylish like-minded bloggers and designers at LFW September 2014.

Romantique’s round-up of the hottest and most romantic street styles of London Fashion Week!

Street Style 1: Tea Time in Paris

Gorgeous designer and blogger, Love, from The Girl Named Love is rocking jewellery from Les Nereides. The small Alice in Wonderland from the “Tea time in Paris” collection is to die for. Apart from her name, I also love Love’s laid back, chic style. Checkered sneakers, checked poncho and that rebel red lipstick! (Fire and Ice by Revlon).

ondon Fashion Week Sept 2014 street style Les nereides alice earrings

 

London Fashion Week Sept Street style Gingham

Street style 2:  Brigitte Bardot Style in London

What’s not to love about this look? The Vichy gingham checked blouse – casually knotted, the A-Line leather skirt, the flat ballerina pumps and the natural make-up.  It’s like an excursion to the Cote d’Azur in the 50s.

London Fashion Week Sept Street style waffle coat

Street style 3: Fondant coloured Autumn Look

This sugary pastel blue, quilted waffle coat makes me long for chillier autumn days so I can wear coats again. The flat,  gold-chained slippers  mirro the gold buttons of the coat beautifully. The embroidered mini bag is the icing on the cake.

 

London Fashion Week Sept Street style lilac and purple

Street style 4: Lilac and Turqoise

In this outfit, lilac and turqoise go together like toast and Nutella! This is a romantic princess look with the little sparkly crown, embellished collar and soft dress. The clashes of the colours give it just the right amount of edge to balance the sweetness.

 

London Fashion Week Sept Street style sicilia dolce and gabbana

Street style 5: Greetings from Bella Italia

Ah Sicilia I miss you! This street style makes me reminisce about our holiday back in July. The cart wheels on the Dolce and Gabbana T-shirt look like a statement necklace.  Knitted pencil skirt from Ekaterina Kukhareva.

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