Author Archives for Vicki

Dress Like Chanel Without Wearing Chanel

September 1, 2014

Today I’m thinking about the little black dress.

As I mentioned on the weekend, I’m living out of a suitcase and of course it’s full of what I don’t want and missing what I do want.

The little black dress.


How could I forget the little black dress? Elementary… but I did.


Coco Chanel, The Little Black Dress, Vicki Archer, French Essence


Coco Chanel figured out the marvels and practicality of the little black dress, decades ago.

Look at her, still as relevant today (minus the cigarette)… a few pearls, an exquisite jacket… and ready to go.

Anywhere and with such superb style.


I’ve been browsing for myself and I have found some wonderful options… on sale too.

Each of these little black dresses would take me where I need to go this weekend.


Coco Chanel, The Little Black Dress, Vicki Archer, French Essence


from left to right

**halogen leather shift dress  //  halogen belted and capped sleeve dress  //  ***elie tahari elbow sleeve dress

maggy london fit and flare dress  //  **adrianna pappell lace inset dress  // ***cynthia steffe lace panel sheath dress

vince camuto lace inset  //  **vince camuto lace hem  //  ivy & blu ruched jersey dress


These little black dresses are inexpensive additions to the wardrobe… not “designer” or high end, but stylish and workable.

With the right shoes, bag and accessories… these could make you feel and look as if you were dressed by Chanel.


I like that idea… xv


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A Gypsy Life

August 31, 2014

A Gypsy Life, Vicki Archer, French Essence


For the next little while in London I am going to be living life out of a suitcase… a gypsy life.

It’s a question of timing… moving out… finding a new home… waiting for a renovation to be complete… moving in.

This kind of thing takes synchronisation and somehow the cogs are crunching ever so slightly.


London is as much home for me as is Provence so to find myself with a suitcase and no fixed address is rather unusual.

It’s also kind of fun.

Hotel life… free of responsibility.


I have been living between London and Provence for nearly 15 years… my children are all in London and my husband works here… and yet I am suddenly a tourist in this town.

Truthfully, at first it was very off-putting. A gypsy life is not for me.

I am a homebody… creature comforts and familiarity mean the world to me.

The memorabilia of life gives me great security.

As we all know, things don’t go according to plan.


So it’s a gypsy life for me for the next few weeks… or months.

I am going to embrace it… enjoy the lack of baggage… and carry the excess baggage.


I might be a gypsy, but this gypsy carries her home on her back… snail like.

When I am away from home, there are certain can’t-live-without items that have to accompany me.

Like… my pillow and a cashmere shawl, to lay over the bed or to keep cosy with.

A scented candle… the Cire Trudon Giambatista Valli Positano is my latest crush.

My Neroli bath oil… because scents remind me of home.

A few favourite books and the latest fashion magazines.

Life’s simple luxuries.


And my beauty routines… I can’t be without those.


Have you ever lived a gypsy life?

Am I the only overly sensitive traveller who needs elements of the familiar around her?


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The Old Fashioned Way… Les Crayeres, Reims

August 29, 2014

Les Crayeres, Reims, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Driving back to London from France is quite a journey.

It’s easy in that the autoroutes are beautifully maintained, but it’s long… 1000 kilometres near enough.


This time we stopped over in Reims at Les Crayeres.

A total indulgence and so, so welcome after 9 hours in the car.

Reims is Champagne territory so the bubbles, the true bubbles were appreciated.

Les Crayeres, Reims, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Les Crayeres is so beautifully old fashioned in our modern world.

Traditional French decor and traditional service go hand in hand.

The art of luxury in an elegant and timeless fashion.


Les Crayeres could not be more different from Chateau de la Motte Fenelon , the hotel where we spent the first night on our drive down to Provence.

Les Crayeres focuses on detail, on presentation… whether it be in the houskeeping or the gastronomique.

We dined in Le Jardin, the more casual restaurant at Les Crayeres.

The roast chicken adorned with summer truffles and accompanied by baby roasted potatoes was a taste sensation.

Perhaps my tiredness, the sparkling bubbles and the delicious comfort made it so memorable.


After a dreamless sleep, tucked up in puffed and primped Eygyptian cotton, breakfast the next morning was served in the formal dining room.

Breakfast was elevated to a new level… convincing me even more so that presentation is 90% of everything when it comes to entertaining.

The china, the glassware, the linen… the way the compotes and jams were served, the fruit sliced… it was all beyond heavenly.


Les Crayeres is an investment in sumptuousness, in indulgence of the most agreable kind.

Not for everyday, but once or twice in a lifetime… xv


Les Crayeres

Domaine Les Crayeres

64 Boulevard Henry Vasnier, 51100 Reims, France
+33 3 26 24 90 00

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The Fastest And The Best Facelift

August 28, 2014

Paris Pharmacy, Vicki Archer, French Essence, The Fastest and Best Facelift


Do you want to know how to take years off your face in a photograph?

Do you want to be amazed at how fabulous you can really look… sans surgery?

Creams and potions really, really help and well applied make up can make all the diffence.

But there is one more thing… a little secret I discovered.


Last week in Paris, Carla and I took heaps of portraits and the one thing that became very, very clear was this…

When I smiled or laughed I looked ten years younger… True.

Trust me, ten years helps… a lot.


There was nothing wrong with a pensive face or a contemplative look… but the smiles, well… they made me smile wider.

We all know the beauty advantages of laughter and smiles for inner radiance… but a smile, as a practical tool, is very useful.

It truly is an instamt facelift.


In this day and age of “selfies”… not that I am a massive fan nor have I mastered the art… it does help if we can take a decent photograph.

Family photos, holiday snaps…birthday memories… we want to look as we feel.

Happy, bright, enthusiastic… and full of life.


Here is the tip.

Smile big, smile wide… show teeth or not, depending on your smile… but smile.

The trick is that it lifts the jaw line and puts an instant sparkle and flash of cheekiness in the eyes.

It’s fun, it’s infectious… and trust me, it works.


Try the big wide smile, our mini-facelift when you are next snapped… and tell me what you think… xv


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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


 Malabar

for a good cocktail

88 rue Saint-Dominique

75007, Paris


Galerie Mitterrand

just opened

79 rue du Temple

75003, Paris


Debeaulieu

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.

Easy.


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.

Relaxation.

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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