Author Archives for Vicki

My First Handbag Came From Carnaby Street

August 27, 2014

I blame my mother for my love of handbags.

From an early age, I was crazy about handbags… some are smitten with dolls… some are born to be fashion slaves.

That was me… at least when it came to handbags.

My first handbag was one that came with great provenance.

Think London at the end of the swinging ’60′s.

My mother and I took our first trip to London… Carnaby Street, psychadelic and Twiggy were all the rage.

Carnaby Street was where my handbag came from… the most darling little bag.

Groovy in an Austen Powers kind of way…the two of us fell in love.

Proenza Schoeler 2014, French Essence, My First Handbag Vicki Archer

Ever since Carnaby Street I have been collecting handbags.

Men may not understand this affection we women have for our handbags… but I am sure you know how I feel.

I can not even explain why I would need to have a new handbag this season.

That would sound entirely irrational… besides there is no real reason, other than true amour.

Nordstrom in the US have the greatest choice of all… I wish they would open in Europe… Maybe not, I would be in trouble.

The next best thing… Nordstrom have invited me to curate this season’s handbags for you… Dream job, right?

Good handbags are major investments, I do keep mine forever and I like to choose very carefully… to take my time.

This season, I fancy a soft bag… with a feel of the 60′s… to re-kindle those first handbag memories.

Proenza Schouler have created some beauties… Don’t you love the lizard embossed?

And I still think the PS 1 is one of the best bags ever.

As for the bucket shape, I have already succumbed.

 Do you remember your first handbag? Do tell… I’d love to know… xv

In Love With

1. alexander mcqueen  //  2. proenza schouler  //  3. phillip lim  //  4. chloe

5. proenza schouler  //  6. proenza schouler  //  7. ***alexander wang

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Foundation Made Easy… Tips And Tricks

August 25, 2014

Yves Saint Laurent Quote


One of my biggest struggles with make-up has been with foundation.

I have lost count of the brands, the types, the colours … the matts, the sheers and the tinted tubes I have bought in the quest for a “flawless finish”.

A beauty land mine of negotiations and it’s only now that I am learning the difference between products.

It’s only now that I know what I want to wear.


Day… and I am using a light SPF protection cc cream or a tinted moisturiser… depending on coverage requirements.

Evening… and I am wearing a “luminous silk” foundation.

** Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk is my best find so far, by a long way

That’s it.


The shade is the hard part.

In my experience consultants always sell me a shade too deep… now I go one lighter and it’s generally the correct one.

Once you know which foundation is for you… and the colour… there are a few tips and tricks that really help.


Tips And Tricks


1. prepare the base

the tom ford illuminating primer

 this primer makes all the difference and prepares the skin for the foundation layer


2. create a dewy finish and a glowing complexion

the mac strobe cream or moisturiser

on the palm of the hand mix equal parts of the strobe cream ( or moisturiser ) and using fingertips apply the blended foundation to the face from the middle outwards


* the strobe cream is a secret of make-up professionals… the difference between using moisturiser and this product is the light reflecting properties… not sparkly just enhancing

If you can be bothered to add another product to your cabinet it’s a very worthwhile addition… and yes, I have.


3. set the foundation for a longer lasting finish

evian water spray mist 

spray a fine mist over the entire face after foundation and blush, before eyes and lips


tom ford illuminating primer // mac strobe cream // giorgio armani luminous silk


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Paris Turns Blue And White

August 24, 2014

Paris in Blue and White, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I don’t often see Paris in a blue light… mostly rose.

Not only because I see through rose coloured glasses, but also because Paris, for much of her days, casts grey and the buildings take on a rosy glow.

Paris in Blue and White, Vicki Archer, French Essence

This week Paris surprised me with her quietness and her colour.

The dramatic skys alerted my eyes to shades of azure, to periwinkle… and to the pastels in between.

Paris in Blue and White, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Places I took for granted shined more brightly against this powder blue backdrop.

Has Cathédrale Notre Dame ever looked so lovely?

The Louvre was even more a masterpiece in grandeur.

The series of sculptures over-looking the courtyard appeared to be present, life-like almost.

As if they were addressing the waiting crowds.

Paris in Blue and White, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Ralph Lauren manages to Frenchify blue and white perfectly.

Ralph’s on boulevard Saint Germain is a delicious place to stop.

American style with a French twist.

Paris in Blue and White, Ralph Lauren, Vicki Archer, French Essence

And meanwhile, there are new discoveries in Paris.

I have a list for you… places I haven’t been and that I would like to try, next time I am in Paris.

If you are visiting Paris soon… Let me know what you think… xv

Paris in Blue and White, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Paris Discoveries

Hôtel Montana

a boutique hotel with fabulous views and a rooftop bar

22 rue Saint- Benoit

75006, Paris

Monnaie de Paris

a new artistic direction for this museum

11 quai de conti

75006, Paris


for a good cocktail

88 rue Saint-Dominique

75007, Paris

Galerie Mitterrand

just opened

79 rue du Temple

75003, Paris


exquisite florals

30 rue Henry Monnier

75009, Paris

Montaigne Market

concept store

57 avenue Montaigne

75008, Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Frank Gehry and the Bois de Bologne, opening in October

8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi

75016, Paris

La Réserve

for a luxuriating spa day

42 avenue Gabriel

75008, Paris

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Jardin Du Luxembourg… Where The Parisians Hide Out

August 22, 2014

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

August in Paris… The Parisians are hiding out.

In the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Reading, sunning, chatting… playing with their children… the park was in holiday mode.

Few runners enjoying their daily workout or workers speedily cutting through the grounds to their offices.

Just a relaxed bunch who appeared not to have a care in the world.

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Jardin du Luxembourg is a favourite of mine in every season.

The expanse, the grandeur… the florals.

The way the gardeners plant up the urns… especially in Autumn… enthuses me to become more creative, more colourful in my plantings.

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I admire the way the park transitions into perfectly trimmed allées and gravel pathways.

A study in symmetry and simplicity

Secret corners for sweet talk… for solitude or for nothing at all.

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Most of all I enjoy observing.

The Parisian custom of sitting quietly… of being content… of living in that moment.

The park is their private garden, the rest of the world appears superfluous.

In many public spaces… I have noticed the same contemplation.

The Parisians have the ability to make it their own… xv

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Parisian Promenades

Jardin des Tuileries

rue de Rivoli,

75001, Paris

Jardin du Luxembourg

2 rue Auguste Compte

75006, Paris

Jardin des Plantes

36 rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire

2 rue Buffon, place Valhubert

 57 rue Cuvier

75005,  Paris

Parc des Buttes Charmont

rue Botzaris

75019, Paris

Parc de Belleville

rue Piat

75020, Paris

Parc André Citröen

rue Balard, rue Saint-Charles, quai André Citroën

75015, Paris

Le Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

3 avenue de la Porte d’Auteuil
750016, Paris

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Hotel Costes and French Ambience

August 20, 2014

Hotel Costes, Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

 People watching in Hotel Costes is a pretty fun pastime.

I think it is still one of the best places to relax and gaze on the scene.

Hotel Costes is usually over crowded with beautiful people.

It will be again, next month, when the fashion crowd decend on Paris for the shows.

Last night, like the rest of Paris, it was quiet.

Perfect to enjoy the visuals, the sumptuos interiors.

As many times as I have seen them, they still have an impact.

Luscious, rich reds… tassels and trims… chandeliers and candlelight.

A tutorial in detail, a lesson that enough is never enough.

An interior to dream of, not to live by.

I love that the decor is extreme, a destination.

Hotel Costes is a place where you know what to expect and yet I am always surprised.

The luxury of their roses never ceases to enchant me.

The heady, familiar scent of their candles is most welcoming.

The sound of their play list, so familiar.

Hotel Costes… fabulous French ambience… whether crowded or not… xv

Hotel Costes

239-241 rue Saint Honoré

75001 Paris

+33 1 42 44 50 00

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Paris in August

August 19, 2014

Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I can’t remember the last time I was in Paris in August.

It’s quiet… so much quieter than in other months.

It feels deserted, not by the loyal Francophiles of the world who flock to Paris in all seasons, but by the Parisians.

 It is August and France is on holiday.

I am here to see my photographer friend Carla… so we were delighted to catch up on our news and our surroundings were secondary.

Truthfully, it’s a hard backdrop to beat.

Conversation was fractured as we stopped every few minutes to click away.

Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

The small streets were empty, the larger boulevardes boasted a trickle of traffic… the frenetic sounds of the city had almost disappeared.

Carla and I could walk with a freedom, take long distance shots with the camera… without interuption.

Paris is different in August and a new discovery for me.

Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Even the river seemed slower and more relaxed.

The banks of the Seine were deserted, the book sellers had packed up, joined the rest of the Parisians and gone away on holiday.

The major sites, like Notre Dame, were still busy with visitors but not in the same way.

Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Many of the shops were empty, even closed for their annual holidays.

Even Laduree had no queue and the windows were free to admire.

I haven’t been able to do that in a long time.

Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Cafe de Flore, Brasserie Lipp and Les Deux Magots were buzzing… but they generally are.

The difference being… a table was yours if you wanted, without reservation or relegation out the back or upstairs.

We ate at Ralph’s at Ralph Lauren in the coutyard… not typically French but I have always wanted to try this impossible-to-get-a-table-destination.

The courtyard is stunning, the architecture about as French as it gets and the food was delicious.

I recommend a brunch or a lunch… I think you would love it.

Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

We walked all day… thankfully my New Balance did me proud… they are just the best sneakers ever.

They look fine and are even comfortable.

Paris is all about the walking and as much as I want to wear my latest heels, it’s not happening.

Carla warned me that the temperatures had dropped so I had my canvas utility jacket with me.

( this jacket is probably one of the best pieces I have bought in ages… its from Old Navy… )

Enough pockets for the bits, long enough for cover… warm enough and the indented waist is flattering.

Some days are the best… this was one of them.

Follow Carla and I in Paris on Instagram… who knows where we will end up today… xv

@vickiarcher   @carlalovesphotography

old navy canvas utilty jacket  //  new balance 420 sneaker

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Vintage Linens

August 18, 2014

Vintage Linens, Vicki Archer, French Essence My love affair with vintage linens started with my first visit to Provence in 1995.

I could not believe the beauty and the availability.

That French families would sell complete vintage trousseau at their local flea markets for very little, seemed unbeliveable to me.

I have come to understand that the French don’t appreciate the vintage in the same way as I do… at least when it comes to linens.

Very often they prefer the new and the modern.

I am happy with that… it makes my quest for the embroidery an easy one to fill.

I still search out sheets, pillowcase, serviettes and nightdresses whenever I can.

I believe that my collection will never be complete.

The delicateness of the finish, the lace work and the texture of the linen… calls to me every time.

I can never say no.

My lovely friend Sharon at My French Country Home is having a month of giving and this week I am so delighted to say, it’s my turn.

I have offered a pair of my vintage linen pillowcases and an embroidered sheet to be won by one of her readers.

All that is required is that you visit her blog, leave a comment and be a subscriber to My French Country Home and French Essence.


I would so love you to win…  click over to My French Country Home… xv

P.S I am off to Paris for a couple of days… if there is anything I need to see or that you would like me to explore… do tell…

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The Best Kept Beauty Secret #5

August 16, 2014

The Best Kept Beauty Secret, Vicki archer, french Essence

The best kept beauty secret is not always an obvious one.


Do you find it easy to relax… to take time out for yourself and wind down?

Last night, chatting to a girlfriend, musing over what I would write to you about today, I commented that I hadn’t relaxed like “this” in ages.

She said, write about that.

It was a small revelation and crystal clear.

Relaxation is as beneficial, if not more so, than any beauty treatment.

We had spent a lazy day… a girl’s day… talking about girly things. We had been laughing and catching up about all and nothing.

The afternoon was spent watching movies… there were no time constraints and was no pressure to do “something”.

No “must” anything, much enjoying of the moment.

No worrying about what’s next, or rushing here and there.

No feeling that we “should” be doing anything other than what we were.

Relaxation felt indulgent, but so, so good.

Relaxation made me feel lighter, more carefree.

The unknown weight, for I didn’t know that I felt heavy, was lifted.

Then there is the bonus of sleep.

Relaxation makes for deep, restorative sleep.

It wasn’t until I stopped and thought about relaxation that I realised it is a tricky little concept.

We might think we are relaxing, but are we?

I am guilty of faux relaxing when all I am doing is going through the motions.

True relaxation is for the self, not selfish. True relaxation is therapeutic.

Why do I think relaxation is one of the best kept beauty secrets?

When we really breathe, really wind down and truly relax… so does our face, our body and our posture.

Our muscles stop working overtime and we become tranquil, calmer.

Relaxation brings composure and like happiness, laughter and romance… it’s a beauty elixir.

Do you manage to take time for yourself? How do you truly relax? xv

The Best Kept Beauty Secrets

#1  //  #2  //  #3  //  #4

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Capturing The Visual Beauty Of Provence

August 13, 2014

Diary from Provence, Vicki archer, French Essence

Capturing the visual beauty of Provence is a challenge I never grow tired of.

It can be so fleeting; it can be too overwhelming.

I want to guard and protect her loveliness in my thoughts.

I want to be able to draw upon a stock of memories from Provence when the the urban life becomes all too routine

Soon the morning mist, the filtered light, the warmth and the blazing sunsets of Provence will be nothing more than a delicious reminder.

London and all that runs with it will beckon.

Provence can turn on a show at any time of the day.

The sun is relentless, the storms are dramatic.

There is nothing bland about life in Provence.

Life might beat to a slower tune, but visually Provence works on overdrive.

Capturing The Beauty

Do you follow on Instagram? I’d love to have you join me… xv

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High Summer And All White

August 12, 2014

As the temperatures climbed this last weekend and the humidity kicked in… my mind floated towards the pale, the fresh… the light, the all white.

This week I’m feeling all white… I want to enjoy this high summer while I can.

Black and navy will be beckoning soon enough.

I’m adding a flash of white to my wardrobe… accessorising with some, going the whole way with others.

This is what I’m thinking.

High  Summer White, Vicki Archer, French Essence, France

all white

rebecca taylor lace top  //  nordstrom tissue weight cashmere wrap  //  thierry lasry cat-eye sunglasses  //  nike free flying 4.0

miguelina cotton lace kaftan  //  burberry brit tee  //  cara studded leather band  //  tibi jacquard skirt

nicholas kirkwood pointed flats  //  via spiga cage booties

I’m wearing the whites and not just on the court… xv

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Girl’s Night In… The Best Of The Face Masks

August 10, 2014

Venetian Mask, Mary Beth Aiello, Face Mask, French Essence

When I think of a girl’s night in … I imagine lots of chat, copious amounts of laughter and…  beauty.

I remember younger days when ‘the girls’ would get together for a sleepover and part of the fun was slathering ourselves in beauty products… in particular facial masks.

Sitting around, slathered in thick face cream … we waited…  for a transformation.

Little did I know that I was already sitting on a miracle… youthful, beautiful skin that really needed nothing more than simple looking after.

The benefit of hindsight… what a luxurious concept.

These days it’s usually me and the mask… yes, we are old friends… but not nearly as much fun as we were in a group.

I need the relaxation… the way a treatment makes you stop, even for 30 minutes.

I certainly crave the benefits… the extra nourishing and polish they provide to a mature skin.

Do I use a mask as often as I should?  No, of course not… When do we ever look after ourselves as we should?

Lately I have been trying and testing.

My top 3 are new ones for me, recommended by friends who swear by their particular favourite.

It’s hard to drag me away from my SKII love affair, but sometimes we need to mix it up a bit.

The How

use the mask at night, this allows for the greatest absorption

apply to clean skin after cleansing and toning, either use before moisturiser or do not use moisturiser, avoiding the delicate eye area

 masks are a treatment, between 1-3 times a week, depending on the mask, is sufficient

 sun screen should be used the following day to ensure that the skin is protected

The Best Of The Face Masks

divine extravagance

La Mer, The Lifting and Firming Mask… the royalty of all face masks with a price to match. Is it worth the cost? Yes… it’s beautiful and beneficial.

It should be applied sparingly so it does last… It is an indulgence and a serious luxury.

happy medium

Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask… more affordable, with a divine fragrance of cucumber and rose

this is one to use more frequently… hydrating, refreshing and firming

don’t refrain

Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Intensive Revitalising Face Mask… a sheet mask , like SKII, that works well on fine lines… the advantages of this mask are many… after a single application, there are noticeable differences… it really boosts the skin and makes it glow.

one to use the night before

p.s for uk readers the aromatherapy overnight repair mask is heaven

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Diary From Provence… Need To Know

August 7, 2014

Diary From Provence, Market Day, VickiArcher

It is impossible to escape the colour in Provence, especially during the summer season.

Wednesday morning’s market in St Remy de Provence swells to double or even triple the size and by 11am, there is scarcely room to move.

Each week I am in St Remy de Provence bright and early to buy from my favourite vendors.

Flowers from one, fruit and vegetables for another… to die for tapenades, olives and nuts near the local town hall.

Then there are all the fun bits and pieces… the vintage, the hats… the bracelets.

More is definitely merrier when it comes to those bracelets, the hats and the baskets.

The baskets get better and better.

I usually have a friend with me who is visiting so we make the tour and find the best baskets.

One for them, one for me.

Like the bracelets, there is no such thing as too many… Right? xv

Need To Know

* be early, the crowds can be overwhelming

* the best baskets are on the church steps and in front of the truck that cuts keys ( yes, that’s a market service)

*the best linen is in the car park opposite the church right near the pedestrian crossing

* the best bracelets are in place favier right at the back next to the musee des alpilles

( walk through the arch and straight ahead to take a peak at le petit bijou)

*the best hats are in place favier… on the far right hand and near the fishmonger on the ring road

*the best soaps are in front of the town hall… try the fleur d’oranger… heavenly

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