A weekend in Paris

August 2016 again.  This time, a stop in Paris.ebelandi_paris_2016_5

Paris and I have always been in a bittersweet relationship.  I’ve frequently visited the city as a child, have family there, love the architecture, the food and the fashion but I struggle to appreciate its people. Maybe because my first experience in Paris was one less of a tourist but more of a local, with blunt-to-the-point-of-plain-rude encounters with some Parisians.  Then again, I have met some very charming Frenchmen from Marseilles and Lyon so I’ll just get over it at some point… Last August was a very relaxing trip. Unlike my tense stop in Paris in November 2015, the atmosphere this time around was more relaxed, though still a bit edgy because of recent attacks in Nice.


This trip, my goal was to experience as much of the Parisian food scene as possible…so, hubby and brother in toe, we ravaged bakeries in search of the perfect croissant and baguette, had lunch in a cosy bistro (quick note, if you’re non smoker, you may want to sit inside or closer to the doors) and argued on the better Parisian macaroons (I preferred the Pierre Hermé brand which I found creamier and tastier, hubby could not care for either and brother picked the Ladurée brand because he cannot agree with anything I say, of course).

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And I finally got to take a cruise on the Seine river.  You gotta admit that Paris (or any city really) looks great at night.



We stayed in Saint-Dennis, 20 minutes away from the city using the train. As you get away from the city, you see sides of Paris that no one talks about, overcrowded apartment buildings, beggars with their children and even men and women selling braised corn, peanuts and barbecue chicken potstickers inside some train stations! That was a first for me.

And we walked…a LOT! Got to admire the gardens (Tuileries, Jardins the Luxembourg), various museums, fairs and a flea market at Le Marais. I missed the tango on the river but if you’re in Paris, check it out, I hear it’s worth the trip.ebelandi_paris_2016_16

When it comes to outfits, I was all blue and flowers, or lace and burgundy. A total walking cliche for the city of lights and romance 🙂


skirt(review)/top(gap, old)/belt(ann taylor, old)/necklace/bag



Some tips from this trip:

  • Unlike London, it gets harder to commute to the city from the subs, unless you do not mind waiting on buses.  Otherwise, you may take a taxi or Uber to the nearest train station. Beware, the drivers are easily excitable and may swear a lot (then again if they say “Pardon my French”, you’ll know for sure it was French)
  • When you take the metro, buy a carnet, will save you money.
  • Check that the restaurants or stores on your list will be open! In summer, many shop owners go on vacation.
  • Food scene in Paris is amazing! So good that my picky eater of a husband had nothing but positive things to say about the food (even though the carbs and sugar explosion at breakfast was a major turnoff for him). He wasn’t as impressed by the Eiffel tower or the other Paris that no one talks about but my LJ is rarely impressed by anything unrelated to science or sports.ebelandi_paris_2016_1
  • Go ahead and spoil yourself with escargots, steak et frites, crepes, canard, etc. You can people-watch by sitting outside at a bistro, just be ready for all the cigarette smoke.
  • If you love hot chocolate, you must try Angelina’s
  • Be prepared to walk a lot, best way to fully appreciate the city (and burn all the extra carbs).ebelandi_paris_2016_25
  • Make a stop at Quartier Latin and let me know what you think 😉
  • Try tango on the Seine in summer, I hear it’s pretty cool (I have yet to experience it myself…). One location along the Seine is at Tino-Rossi I was told by a friend. This link gives an address but I have not verified it yet so if you get there before me, let me know how good (or bad) it is!
  • I did not do Versailles but am leaving it for my dream trip where I will be able to combine Versailles with a stop at the abbey Mont Saint-Michel (yes I love Gothic architecture) and Lyons, finally. One day…
  • Be sure to try the fairs and flea markets. Nice little treasures available. I followed David Lebovitz great guide here.

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  • The cruise on the Seine is very relaxing, try it in the evening. I used this viator deal and paired the cruise with a bus tour of the city at night.ebelandi_paris_2016_4
  • If you must stop at the Eiffel tower, try later in the day, the view is really amazing when the sun sets.
  • I’d recommend you Airbnb your stay in the city to save on commute. It may be more expensive but will save you time on commute. Just make sure to leave extra early for the airport. Traffic may get frustrating (you may also catch an early train to commute to the airport).
  • If you’re into shopping, try second hand stores.  My favorite is Reciproque for affordable luxury items (no worries, they look as good as new). Other popular thrift stores per this.


Until next time, aurevoir Paris!

Style Watch: Saint Laurent: Pre-Fall 2014

I received an email regarding the 2014 pre-fall Saint Laurent collection at Saks Fifth.

Well I cannot afford any of the items, but I notice the trend is for studded shoes, pointed toes with extra high heels and ankles (both boot and ankle strap).  Also, it looks like a return of the square tote.

Check the collection for yourself at Saks.

Few of my favorites below:

Paris Foldover Studded Leather Ankle boots


Small Sac de Jour Tote


Paris Fashion Week Septembre 2013: Trends to watch – Parts 3,4,5 and 6: Classic Lines, Ethnic Accents, Minimalist Makeup and Shoulders

Classical Lines:  The silhouettes at the PFW were conventional and straight to the point: simple, flowing, showcasing women’s natural curves (some ruffles at Isabel Marant).  I will sound biased but Eli Saab was once more the winner in this category, in my humble opinion (how humble am I when I pat myself in the back, huh?) .


At Eli Saab


At Chloe



At Miu Miu


At Emmanuel Ungaro

Sissi’s Notes:

  1. Return of tweed blazers and loose coats at Chanel and Miu-Miu
  2. It is OK to cover up
  3. Go ahead and tuck-in a top with your skirt or pants 😉

African/Middle Eastern/Azteq Accents: Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Valentino showcased lots of non-Western accents in clothing, accessories and hair styles…though I was a little confused at McQueen with ancient Roman gladiator-like outfits…



At Valentino


At Alexander McQueen

Sissi’s note: Try the strong middle line hairstyle with braid…so cute! Oh, and open up to other non-western style, very pretty!

Fresh Faced Makeup: the trend was minimalist or simple make up (OK, not at Chanel obviously…).

pfw_fresh_makeup_free_face pfw_makeup_liner and rouge

Sissi’s note: return of the simple eye liner and rouge lips 😉

Pretty Shoulders:  Lots of shoulders out from sleeveless to one shoulder, to sheer lace for a strapless illusion.  Love it!  Oh, of course, legs were to display as well…legs and abs and everything in between.


At Emmanuel Ungaro


At Chanel


At Yves Saint Laurent


At Valentino

pfw_mcqueen_show skin

At Alexander McQueen


At Stella McCartney


At Givenchy

Sissi’s note: Subtle, less is more.

What do you think? Please share.

Unless noted, all pictures credits to HuffingtonPost and Vogue.

Culture: To My Mom by Camara Laye


Image credits to designblog.rietveldacademie.nl

My African heritage begins and ends with my mother, the lovely woman who has given her whole for her children and remains a beautiful lady inside and out, despite all the trials and losses she has experienced throughout the years.  A picture of my lovely mother below:


While I was searching for my first topic on African culture, a song that I learned back in primary school* played in my mind.   The song is an excerpt from the book ” L’Enfant Noir” by Camara Laye. This translates to the “Black Kid”.  The book was published in 1953 in Paris.


Camara Laye was born in Haute-Guinée in 1928 and decided to write about his childhood at age 25 while in Paris.  His book is a powerful description of customs and traditions of his people, back when he was a young boy.  The excerpt that is forever inscribed in my memory is his poem to his mom.

The original text in French below, and my attempt to english translation further down.  Laye’s poem rings true to the African mothers I have known…and I hope that the newer generation of mothers stays true to this description.  I can only hope…

*As a background, the Belgium system I was raised in, back in Congo-Kinshasa, segments education into two categories: primary school and secondary school.  Primary school starts from age six (or five) to 11-12 years old, grades are one to six.  Secondary school begins at age 12 to 17/18.


Femme noire, femme africaine,

Ô toi ma mère je pense à toi …

Ô Dâman, ô ma mère, toi qui me portas sur le dos, toi qui m’allaitas, toi qui gouvernas mes premiers pas, toi qui la première m’ouvris les yeux aux prodiges de la terre,

Je pense à toi …

Femme des champs, femme des rivières, femme du grand fleuve,  ô toi, ma mère, je pense à toi …

Ô toi Dâman, ô ma mère, toi qui essuyais mes larmes, toi qui me réjouissais le cœur, toi qui, patiemment supportais mes caprices,

Comme j’aimerais encore être près de toi, être enfant près de toi !

Femme simple, femme de la résignation,

Ô toi, ma mère, je pense à toi … 

Ô Dâman, Dâman de la grande famille des forgerons, ma pensée toujours se tourne vers toi,

La tienne à chaque pas m’accompagne,

Ô Dâman, ma mère, comme j’aimerais encore être dans ta chaleur, être enfant près de toi …

Femme noire, femme africaine,

ô toi, ma mère, merci;

Merci pour tout ce que tu fis pour moi, ton fils,

Si loin, si près de toi ! 

English Translation by Sissi:

Black Woman, African Woman,

Oh, you my mother, I am thinking of you

Oh, Daman, oh my mother, you who you carried me on your back, you who breastfed me, you who directed my first steps, you who opened my eyes to the marvelous works of the earth,

I am thinking of you…

Woman of the fields, woman of the rivers, woman of the big river, oh you my mother, I am thinking of you,

Oh you Daman, oh you my mother,  you who dried my tears, you who rejoiced my heart,  you who patiently endured my whims

How I wish I could be close to you again, be a child close to you again,

Woman of simplicity, woman of resignation,

Oh you, my mother, I am thinking of you,

Oh Daman, Daman of the large family of blacksmiths, my though always revolves around you,

Yours is with me at each step,

Oh Daman, my mother, How I wish I were in your warmth, to be a child close to you…

Black woman, African woman,

Oh you, my mother, thank you

Thank you for all you’ve done for me, your son,

So far, yet so close to you

What is your memory of your mother? Please share!

Paris Fashion Week Septembre 2013: Trends to watch – Part 2: Rich Hues (30 Oct 2013)

Let’s talk colors at the Summer 2014 Ready-To-Wear Runways during the Paris Fashion Week (PFW)!

This is no secret: I LOVE colors.  The brighter, the better.  In Paris, I was most enchanted by Elie Saab’s summer 2014 line.  The richness of his colors, the simple lines, the subtle lace…His outfits conveyed simplicity, elegance and femininity.  To me, the Eli Saab woman is a lady who is comfortable with her body, very feminine, yet she does not feel the need to overly expose herself.  It is a quiet elegance and strong  womanliness.  The clothes accentuate the curves without being unnecessarily tight or short.


These are traits I feel are quickly disappearing in our contemporary fashion.  We are encouraged to ‘expose all’ to everybody in order to feel attractive and confident.  Just to clarify, am not referring to one’s outfits during intimate encounters with one’s mate as those are hopefully private and rightfully so.

At Elie Saab, the colors were vibrant peach, rich emerald green, black, deep berry red and metallic white.  Take a look at his runway video.

At Chloe, it was white, royal blue and a camouflage fest, you know…the green which is common to military outfits and safari pictures of tourists in Africa (no, Africa is NOT a country, nor is it only about deserts and forests and lions….but I digress).  A video on the idea behind the collection.

Overall, the colors in Paris were a mix of bright corals, red, rich green and blue pastels, white with golden accents, shiny black (who can forget the LV show) and deep gold.  Also, some lavender and Kiwi green at Versace and Miu-Miu (a video), silver accents at Christian Dior with the occasional pink and orange.

Sissi’s Notes:

  • It is OK to wear the same color hue all over
  • Pairing neutrals/light/soft pastels with a pop of color, a la Miu-Miu
  • Black shoes with tan skirt and royal blue top actually can pass (hmmm Hermes)
  • Different textures for an all black outfit
  • Black and white – always in style

My Favorite looks below (yes, lots of Elie but I cannot get over it yet… ;).  Unless noted, all pictures credits to Grazia.fr.

Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_berryRed_fav1 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_berryRed_fav2 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_black_fav1 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_blackFav2 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_blackFav3 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_emeraldGreen_fav1 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_emeraldGreen_fav2 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_peach_Fav2 Le-defile-Elie-Saab-printemps-ete-2014_whiteDress_fav Le-defile-Hermes-Printemps-ete-2014_exact780x1040_p (1) Le-defile-Hermes-Printemps-ete-2014_exact780x1040_p