The magic of Lake Lucerne.

Lake Lucerne, like any other lake, looks best in summer. Then, the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful, the clear, transparent water, there is no lake cleaner than in Switzerland, believe you me, I swam in it, it’s gorgeous, anyway, the high mountains, topped with snow, the lush trees that line its border, the figs, chestnuts, yuccas and cypresses, the intensely blue sky, insanely blue even, everything looks just majestic, as I said, in summer. In winter, it looks something like that, grey and shapeless, you might say, or quite bewitching, if you have a liking for anything mystic, romantic and enchanted, then it might be impossible to resist its allure, you’re facing a magic realm, by the way, are these old willows on the border or the Erl-Kings daughters? Don’t blame these streaks of fog, your sight is not deceived, you might find yourself entering a different world, out of touch, disconnected, ethereal spheres will take you in and never let you go, so beware, these cruising boats might never come back, leaving you behind in that gloomy place, you might want to change your plans and stay ashore, you will find some enchantment here too, just head for Hermès, the store is right there, just follow the voices coming through the withering leaves, we have many a golden robe for you …

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It’s a bird‘s world.

The Bible, which I have never been too fond of, says birds don’t put seeds in the earth, which, pardon my bursting out into laughter, is so completely wrong, it’s such utter nonsense, as of course they do, this is how trees and stuff spread, anyway, although they don’t get in any grain and put it in any store-houses, the Bible is right about that at least, I appreciate their being around and that they are being fed by our Father – or, more accurately, by my mother. You cannot imagine the amounts of seeds, big and small, my mother is giving them, some of it is also enjoyed by our squirrel population, regardless of the walnuts these guys are given twice a day, the good ones at that, the French ones from Grenoble, our grocer had run out of the cheap ones from California, so they might never suffer from hunger or any kind of starvation-inflicted deficiency, anyway, growing up with such a love for birds, I just had to buy this Hermès scarf when it came out some years ago, the Zurich store had Le bal des oiseaux on display in their windows, couldn’t resist, it‘s not the manliest print of them all, but hey, the title is really fitting, as that’s what birds are having on a daily basis, a ball.

Louis Vuitton‘s magic.

It’s lost on me. Completely. When you live in Zurich, for any length ot time, you cannot help but grow tired of that monogram, or even worse, their Damier pattern, it’s positively everywhere, or to use college talk, it’s downright ubiquitous. Ubiquitous to such a degree that it makes you want to run away, or to get blind, or just have more vodka, depends on the time of day. Anyway, one day, I needed Louis Vuitton’s San Francisco City Guide when writing an article on interior designer Jonathan Rachman who happens to be mentioned in it, well, mentioned is actually a sheer understatement, they did praise him in it, and so I wanted a photo of the guide for my blog. The next day, I had to go to Louis Vuitton on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse, and instead of being appalled, I was amazed, first by their windows, some cute white ermines presented a black attaché case, just black leather, no pattern at all, then by a clutch, also black, this time in cuir épi, but most intriguingly, with an owl on it, both really beautiful, stunning even, what can I say, apparently it’s not Louis Vuitton’s fault that the Swiss all buy the very same stuff, and why nobody has bought one of these bags is beyond me, I really don’t get it, I absolutely loved that owl clutch, and, truth be told, that monogram canvas looks really good on the suitcases, I think, I need one, so much better than these black or silver ones everybody seems to have, they’re so very ubiquitous.

The Avedon crisis.

Are we allowed to read this book? Or are we to dismiss it, as it’s obviously full of alternative facts, at least as far as The New York Times and The Avedon Foundation are concerned, one being the quite macabre story of Avedon’s son preparing a meal with his father’s ashes, he had mistaken it for oregano, so Norma Stevens, the author and part of Avedon’s entourage tells us. I can relate, I also store oregano in an urn, but my ability to believe it is of secondary importance, as the son has denied it, false, all false, he says. Francis Bacon once refined a stew with a bottle of Château Pétrus instead of, well, the juice we call red wine, also funny, less macabre though, and so nobody ever felt like denying it, although it seems to be out of the stuff anecdotes are made of, exaggerate, set proportions aside, drop some names, some familiar unachievabilities, your father’s ashes, however, mistaken for the most profane of all Italian spices, that speaks volumes, that’s what I would have denied, that my father, that iconic stylish guy, smelled like oregano and not like, say, lavender, or, at the very least, tarragon. Anyway, I’m reading this biography despite all the warnings, I’m reading it for alternative reasons, you see, I met Veruschka this summer in Berlin, we bumped into each other when I was leaving a favourite book shop of mine, Bücherbogen on Savignyplatz, I was mesmerized, humbled, breathless, unable to speak and apologize for my clumsiness, I was only able to stumble on and take a shot with my iPhone, a shot that made me join the fine club of photographers who have worked with Veruschka, I’m just reading the book to see what my colleague Dick thought about her. True story.

I love Paris when it drizzles.

One day, or rather one night, in February, 2016, I decided to go to Paris, right away, I mean, I’m talking taking the first possible train, quite spontaneously, so to speak, actually, that’s no big deal, the TGV makes it from Zurich to Paris in less than four hours, and there’s no reservation needed, they might tell you it is, but it’s not, even when it’s really crowded you do still find a place, at least, I always did, anyway, on that morning, it was already raining when I left the house, but I didn’t give a damn, and when I arrived in Paris, at Gare de Lyon, nothing had changed, it was still raining, but I am not that easily defeated, and, for some strange reasons, I always carry an umbrella, those tiny foldable ones, black in a black plastic bag that looks just like the black plastic stuff from Prada, for far less money as there’s no logo, try this with one of those big ones which nowadays are only seen on state funerals and such, laughable constructions, so very cumbersome the moment it stops raining, anyway, my point is, I made it through the rain. I walked and walked and walked, and doing so, I praised not only my umbrella but more importantly, my sneakers’ soles’ reliability, soyez loué, Pierre Hardy, obviously, we are the only two people left on this world with dry and warm feet, the others are hiding, some place sheltered, wimps, all of them, and they are missing the best about Paris in the rain: you have it all to yourself.

Big bucks at Chanel.

While you wait for your bee brooch from the Croisière collection to be wrapped up, you wonder why you resisted that glass of champagne you were offered and had water instead. Water? Who has water? What were you thinking? They might have served you a glass of Dom Pérignon here, you’re at Chanel’s, for heaven’s sake. In order to let go and regain your peace of mind, you let your eyes take a turn and then you start wondering again: who would buy that fluffy coat for 10,840.00 Deutsche Mark? I know, it’s 2017 and so it’s only €5,420.00, but they cannot fool me. You see, I still haven’t accepted the euro as a currency. In Deutsche Mark, everything sounds like so much more money, everything is literally twice as expensive, whereas the euro-halving provides the illusion of saving money, bargains on a daily basis, the price tags are playing a dirty trick on us, I fall for it all the time, to be quite exact, I’ve fallen for it since January, 2002. Obviously, my mind doesn’t adapt easily, you might respond, in an alarming way even, very alarming, but truth be told, otherwise I would never have bought that bee brooch.

Basic me.

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I came across this selfie when I was looking for photos of Marie Antoinette’s tomb in Paris, and as I found that I have equally important things to say about this outfit of mine, I shall postpone my article about Marie Antoinette’s last resort. So, instead of learning that Proust lived quite nearby, on the opposite side of the street actually, you learn about what I wore the day I went to see the tomb of France’s notorious queen. I actually never take selfies, but on this day, in the restroom of a bistrot next to Galerie Maeght and Deyrolle in St.Germain, I had to (although, is it a selfie if you leave your head out? Well, I had just visited the tomb of Marie Antoinette and let’s not forget she was beheaded, too), as I was wearing my favourite jacket, I’ve been wearing it day in, day out ever since the day I bought it at Hamburg’s Jil Sander flagship store, it’s from an autumn/winter collection when Raf Simons was still in charge. It’s been in the washing machine dozens of times, its zipper is mostly out of order, and if it works it gets stuck in the tiny pleat that frames the zipper, nice detail, nicely sewn, but not very intelligently placed, its only fault actually, but I wonder if Madame Bertin would have lost her head sooner than Marie Antoinette if she had ever confronted Sa Majesté with such thoughtlessness in tailoring, anyway, then there’s my favourite pair of jeans ever, the only one that I will really miss, from that frightful day on when they dissolve into thin air, Ralph Lauren will be invited to attend its funeral, and one of my many black crew neck cashmere pullovers, a cheap one, no logo, but their quality is actually the same, a white shirt, you only see its cuffs, I think it’s from Charvet, and my beloved Hermès scarf, 140 x 140 cm, silk and cotton, imprimeur fou, Les Clefs and some other iconic design printed on top of it (or the other way round). That’s it. Basic me. Tomorrow, I might wear the very same, so you won’t have any difficulties recognizing me in the streets.

Numbers.

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Numbers on a watch are easily deciphered, there are only twelve, their design, however, well, not so much. I am most particular about design when it comes to numerals, there are only a few I can tolerate, Roman ones are the worst, only the ones on Cartier’s Tank are really nice, but ever so ugly on a Rolex, I am so very grateful for Arabic numbers, God save Arabia, the Romans are mad anyway, so says Obelix and he is to be trusted, anyway, I do remember very well the day when Max Bill set my mind at ease. His 4, well, this one is almost agony, so let me rephrase that: his four is one of the most beautiful fours I have ever seen, the whole design is so Bauhaus-like, somewhat “midcentury Art Déco”-ish, yet so timeless, plain and simple, yet highly individual, sans chi-chi but with much understatement, and so, some many years ago, when in Cologne to pick up my father at his office, by the way, that famous cathedral, the Kölner Dom, doesn’t cease to amaze me, breathtaking architecture, anyway, that day, I didn’t hesitate at all but had my mother buy me (I’m spoiled rotten, I know) this watch at once.

Patou revisited.

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Coco Chanel was cool, Jean Patou not so much, he looked like a dandy, some kind of Parisian Fred Astaire, smartly dressed but without any insolence, ever so uptight, to me, he lacked a great deal of casualness, actually Patou himself lacked the very casualness his dresses had, for some reason, the women he dressed looked way smarter than he. And they looked gorgeous. Emmanuelle Polle wrote a terrific book to show us all what made Jean Patou eternally famous: the elegant gowns, the sportswear, imagine, sportswear with an haute couture approach, Nike only dresses women on the brink of exhaustion, ever so prone to dehydration, if any of the women in Patou’s sportswear ever were dehydrated it was just from champagne, believe you me, or the juice called parfum, he offered plenty of stylish perfumes, Joy was the costliest fragrance of its time, well, you had to attack Chanel and Guerlain somehow, his world was leisure and luxury, and with this book, published by Flammarion, we are allowed a glimpse into this world, let’s take those stairs, they are every bit as stylish as Chanel’s famous staircase.

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Gone with the wind.

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One day, I bought this thing. Raf Simons for Jil Sander. I loved it. I was the only one though. Aha, my mother said. It looks like you were wearing a tie, a colleague said. Adding, but why would you wear a tie? Nobody said, well, that’s a smart vest. Nobody. I wore it anyway. No, it’s still no tie, I said. People never learn from their mistakes. Anyway, here’s the thing: For one summer, I stopped eating carbs altogether. You’re familiar with the concept, I guess. I had lost so much weight that this vest, once quite près du corps, just hung on me, just like Monica Geller’s high school outfits did on her, the wind would play with it, a shapeless mass of cotton, the non-existent tie always staying in place of course, mocking me, the Duchess of Windsor was wrong, you can never be too rich, alright, but you definitely can be too thin, I suddenly looked like I shopped for clothes in gift shops, at the tie museum gift shop maybe, I never wore it again. The moral of the story? Don’t ever lose weight.