Updated: Apr 11, 2020
Though I am admittedly not an avid reader, j’adore books. New ones and old ones. Mostly hardcover. Like so many of you, I love the way they smell. I like the way the pages turn, almost instinctually cueing my head to tilt left and look up to discover what the next page holds. Their hard edges and defined shape appeal to my sense of order and self diagnosed OCD.
Biographies of triumphant women throughout history pique my interest, and I rarely pass up the opportunity to add a wildly imaginative children’s book to my collection. If we’ve ever had le plaisir of welcoming you into Maison Marcellé, then you will have noticed that our petite Parisian dress shop is chock full of delightful books, almost exclusively from my home library. Aside from adding another layer of style to the boutique, they comfort me. I’m content being surrounded by them.
Note: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is my favorite book. So tender. So timeless. That it happens to be French really is a coincidence.
And then, there’s the hunt! The same obsession that I have for sniffing out upscale resale clothing transcends into books. Rarely do I leave a flea market without some obscure title in my Shakespeare & Co canvas tote (a must visit on your next trip to Paris), and my dear friend Laura, who some of you have enjoyed playing her harp in the boutique, recently introduced me to The Book Trader. This place is a treasure trove of sustainable, gently used books. Every interesting thing from Civil War Journals (uhhhh, no s’il vous plait) to The History of Ancient Civilizations (what type of hemlines did they wear? NVM…). I left this heavenly little hole-in-the-wall with an armful of livre charmont for under $40. Score!
Note: Each time (you and) I visit Paris to curate a collection neuveau, I pack un petite book in my silver sequined carry on. I find an obliging bench, give it one last read, and leave it there with a dated inscription that reads “Maison Marcellé was here.” Poetry is my favorite leave behind. We’ve left Yeats in Jardin du Luxembourg, Wadsworth in the Palais Royal and Nikki Giovanni by the Seine.
My darling familie very often gifts me trés chic style and décor books. Audrey Hepburn at Homewritten by her adoring son, Luca Dotti. Coco Chanel andParis, both from the beautifully written and illustrated collection by style guru, Megan Fless. It is in these pages that I often find the inspiration for a Maison Marcellé fashion collection, or the idea to deliberately seek out a certain style of dress. It was after flipping though Debutantes: When Glamour Was Born (forward by the dressmaker of all dressmakers, Oscar de la Renta) that I went on a deliberate hunt for what I affectionately refer to as “the cupcake frocks of the 50s.” Not long after, three darling young ladies, who all attend the same high school and share my passion for “cupcakes,” were styled by our team in head to toe vintage for their 2020 prom. Couldn’t you just eat them up on a spoon? Delicious!
With the extraordinary time that has suddenly fallen into our laps, I’m self medicating with style books. I can’t really narrow down a list of favs (there are just too many!) but here’s a list of 10 that are sure to inspire. If you, too, are escaping into a good read, please do share it with us. Stay healthy, stay positive, stay chic.
Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, by Caroline Weber
Green is the New Black: How to Change the World with Style, by Tamsin Blanchard
Iris Appel: Accidental Icon, by herself, of course! (Iris is hardly the kind of dame to let anyone else write her story)
Perfumes, the Guide, by Turin & Sanchez
Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography, by Meryle Secrest
Our Rainbow Queen, by Sali Hughes
French House Chic, by Jane Webster
Mademoiselle, Chanel and the Pulse of History, by Rhonda K. Garelick (It goes without saying, any livre de Chanel is going to be a stylish read)
100 Years of Fashion, by Cally Blackman
The Paris Apartment, by Claudia Strasser
Note: I’m currently reading Confessions of a Window Dresser, by Simon Doonan, the famed fashionisto who spent his life designing windows in the Upper East Side fashion Mecca that is Barney’s. I expected it to be fun. I had no idea that it would be side-splitting funny. A welcomed surprise this week, indeed!