One of the first portraits of Audrey Hepburn taken after the liberation of Holland, 1946.

"We were in our cellar, where we’d been for weeks.  Our area was being liberated practically house to house, and there was lots of shooting and shelling from over the river and constant bombing: explosions going on all night….Once in a while you’d go up and see how much of your house was left, and then you’d go back under again.  Then early in the morning all of the sudden there was total silence.  Everybody said, my God, now what’s happening?  We listened for a while, and strangely enough, I thought I could hear voices and some singing—and I smelt English cigarettes.

We crept upstairs to the front door, opened it very carefully and to our amazement, our house was completely surrounded by English soldiers, all aiming their guns at us.  I screamed with happiness, seeing all these cocky figures with dirty bright faces and shouted something in English.  The corporal or sergeant walked up to me, and in a very gentle English voice—so different from all the German shouting we’d been used to—said, “We hear you have a German radio station in your house and we’ve come to take it away.  We’re sorry to disturb you.” I laughed and said, “Go right on disturbing us.”  Then a cheer went up that they’d liberated an English girl.  I was the only one for miles.” - Audrey Hepburn


Barry — The Most Famous Life-Saving Dog in History

St. Bernard dogs are famous for saving lives and Barry, a St. Bernard from the early 19th century, is the most famous. Since the early 18th century, monks living in the snowy, dangerous St. Bernard Pass—a route through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland—kept the canines to help them on their rescue missions after bad snowstorms. Over a span of nearly 200 years, about 2,000 people, from lost children to Napoleon’s soldiers, were rescued because of the heroic dogs’ uncanny sense of direction and resistance to cold.

At the turn of the 18th century, servants called marroniers were assigned to accompany travelers between the hospice and Bourg-Saint-Pierre, a municipality on the Swiss side. By 1750, marroniers were routinely accompanied by St. Bernard dogs, whose broad chests helped to clear paths for travelers. The marroniers soon discovered the dogs’ tremendous sense of smell and ability to discover people buried deep in the snow, and sent them out in packs of two or three alone to seek lost or injured travelers.

The canines made rescue excursions on the St. Bernard Pass for the next 150 years. Often the dogs would find buried travelers, dig through the snow and lie on top of the injured to provide warmth. Meanwhile, the other dog would return to the hospice to alert the monks of the stranded pilgrim. The system became so organized that when Napoleon and his 250,000 soldiers crossed through the pass between 1790 and 1810, not one soldier lost his life.
The most famous of the St. Bernard rescue dogs was Barry, who lived in the monastery from 1800-1814. Barry is said to have saved the lives of more than 40 people from the freezing snow and treacherous conditions of the Alps.

In 1815, Barry’s taxidermied body was put on exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland, where it has stood for the last 200 years and remains today, standing proudly in the lobby of the museum.

The legend surrounding Barry was that he was killed while attempting a rescue; however, this is untrue. Barry retired to Bern, Switzerland and after his death, his body was passed into the care of the Natural History Museum of Bern. His story and name have been used in literary works, and a monument to him stands in the Cimetière des Chiens, a well-known pet cemetery near Paris.

At the hospice, one dog has always been named Barry in his honor and, since 2004, the Foundation Barry du Grand Saint Bernard has been set up to take over the responsibility for breeding dogs from the hospice.

source 1, 2, 3
Her personality dazzled or melted everyone. She could just as easily conduct a conversation with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as with visiting Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. A friend summed it up: ‘It broke my heart. Just the look of that girl. It’s one of those magic things.’
—  Audrey Hepburn’s biography (written by Barry Paris), New York, 1996.

A young Audrey Hepburn and her Mother in Arnhem during the war, 1942.

"I had jaundice during that last six months.  My mother and aunt and I ate very little.  We ate a few turnips, we made flour from tulip bulbs, which is actually a very fine flour.  In the winter there was nothing; in the spring we picked anything we could in the countryside….

I was very sick but didn’t realize it.  It wasn’t until after the war that I started to realize how my mom must have suffered.  She wanted to give me an orange or something.  She often looked at me and said, ‘You look so pale.’  I thought she was just fussing, but now I understand how she must have felt.

I was given an outlook on life by my mother….It was frowned upon not to think of others first.  It was frowned upon not to be disciplined….During the last winter of the war, we had no food whatsoever, and my aunt said to me, ‘Tomorrow we’ll have nothing to eat, so the best thing to do is stay in bed and conserve our energy.’ That very night, a member of the underground brought us food—flour, jam, oatmeal, cans of butter….When I hit rockbottom, there [was] always something there for me.” - Audrey Hepburn


An exclusive look in to Rick Owens’ Paris home featuring his own line of furniture and artworks by Barry X

IN a salon where subjects like universal education and health care benefits once held center stage—a room groaning with elaborate boiserie, inlaid mirrors and parquet flooring—a taxidermic monkey now looms over a massive stone-gray table. Rick Owens, the iconic expatriate American designer, has taken up residence in the former French Socialist Party headquarters on the Place du Palais Bourbon, a few blocks south of the Seine.

"The building was empty for 20 years before we got it in 2004. It was hideous: office cubicles, insulation tiles, a real rat warren. I think it was too daunting for most people to take on—not too many people would do it the way we did," Owens says, explaining that he "just ripped things out, but left the concrete floors and some of the other stuff—the bare bones are good."

If a house in need of a total (or, in this case, artfully partial) renovation suits Owens, it may be because it conforms to his particularly unorthodox artistic vision, a love of polished imperfection that informs the clothing that has made him famous—a mode of dressing (and, more recently, home furnishings) that could be described as high-end, glamorous grunge. (Owens himself has called it “glunge.”) These creations have mesmerized the fashion world since he launched his first collections in the early ’90s, growing into a global phenomenon built on a foundation of skinny leather biker jackets beloved by everyone from teenagers (who admittedly have trouble scraping together enough babysitting money to purchase the original) to customers Owens proudly describes as “fierce grannies.” Among the other codes of the house are a willingness to treat sable with an irreverence usually reserved for sweatshirts and the employment of trumpet skirts and narrow trousers dedicated to elongating the body. Virtually everything is made in a palette that a former associate likened to the color of a dying bird.

Owens, who was born in 1961 in Porterville, California, came to Paris with his then-partner, now wife, Michèle Lamy, in 2003, when he was hired as creative director at Révillon furs. He met Lamy in Los Angeles in the late ’80s. He had been studying to be a painter at the Otis College of Art and Design but switched to pattern-making; Lamy, originally from Paris, had a sportswear factory at that time and employed him. Today, she is his muse, his goddess, his artistic other-half, the force behind his fur and furniture lines and, by default, his translator. “My French is still nonexistent,” he laughs ruefully. “I am so horrified I didn’t pick it up easily. I live with a mean French lady, and when she hears my French she can really give me a look of disdain.”

Though he remains a quintessentially American guy—soft-spoken but strong-minded, a long-haired, louche, super-fashionable version of Gary Cooper—Owens, like so many American artists before him, is besotted with Paris, thrilled to think that Montesquieu and Proust trod the very same cobblestones he crosses every day. Gazing out a window at the Ministry of Defense garden at the back of his house, he dreamily observes, “On days when there are visiting dignitaries reviewing the troops there’s a little band that plays the Marseillaise. It’s so sweet.”

This Left Bank building, whose glorious front rooms date from the early 19th century, but whose back area is an unimpressive addition from the ’50s, served until recently as Owens’s entire headquarters and living space. A few months ago he moved his showroom to another Paris location, but the furniture designing still takes place here. The fur department remains in situ, with a second-floor atelier featuring a curtain of mink pelts drying overhead, an eviscerated bear draped over a chair—purely as decoration, Owens confides—and a rack of rare python biker jackets, typically Owens-esque in their feral decadence. (Who knew scales could grow this big?)

This afternoon, a few days after Owens’s well-received fall 2013 runway show, the designer has been persuaded to conduct a house tour, clad in his usual uniform: unlaced sneakers, shorts over trousers, a halter T-shirt atop a garment he calls his “level” turtleneck (because of the straight line across the shoulder, in front of the throat). We ascend the narrow wooden stairs (he has plans to widen the staircase, rip out the charmless elevator and flood the place with light) and arrive at the living quarters, decorated almost exclusively with the furniture that Owens has been designing since 2006. Monumental and dramatic—combining the influences of Robert Mallet-Stevens, Donald Judd and Le Corbusier—the pieces, though spectacular in an Art Brut sort of way, are not exactly what you would call warm and cozy. They aren’t meant to be—Owens says they are the antithesis of his clothes, which place a premium on slouchy comfort. “With the furniture, I completely disregarded what’s practical—that’s art, that’s magic!” If the materials are wildly ambitious and the prices insanely high, if these antler chairs and petrified bark tables are scaled for a Texas oligarch or a Middle Eastern potentate, Owens merely shrugs. “The furniture started as a hobby for me. I mean, it’s not like I collect cars or anything. It was a personal indulgence. Frankly, I was surprised when we started selling it.”

Even when the decor is not Owens-designed, it is hardly candy-colored. On the floor of an area he refers to as Michèle’s gym—”I hate boxing,” he says. “She’s into cardio; I can’t do it”—is an elegant all-black boom box (words that don’t usually go together), a recent gift from Cher, a new acquaintance who has become a fast friend.

The master bedroom is dominated by a bed that is a replica of the one they had in L.A., a humongous creation made of felt-covered plywood, a design that Owens has also rendered in alabaster, in an edition of two. (Should you be considering asking him to increase this to three, bear in mind that it will weigh two tons—the person who previously purchased this $180,000 item had to have his floor reinforced.)

"How do we make all the things around us beautiful?" Owens asks rhetorically, explaining his interior design philosophy. "Every switch plate, every sneaker, I want all the everyday stuff to be great. I would like a rock crystal toilet!" In lieu of a crystal facility, there is a wonderful library, which Owens refers to as his "panic room," and features rugs repurposed from surplus military blankets. Owens-designed shelving holds tomes that range from Scotty Bowers’s scandalous memoir, Full Service, to a compendium of Fellini films to seven bound volumes of Interview magazine.

“”When you think about it, my niche has been around forever. Sarah Bernhardt wore a taxidermied bat in her hair!””

"Honey, are you decent?" Owens calls out as we approach the next landing, where Lamy is just finishing up in her custom Owens-designed hammam. And here is the lady herself, surprisingly diminutive (birdlike, you might say), with a wicked grin that reveals her trademark mouthful of gold teeth. She is friendly and welcoming, and the two of them seem like they couldn’t be happier, but suddenly you find yourself wondering, OK, so there is a marble hammam and a bed that could sleep a family of 12, but can you get a cup of coffee around here? The answer is not really; though the work area has a full catering kitchen, the living quarters don’t even sport a dorm fridge, which Owens says is fine with him. "We have minibars on each floor—I can always get a cookie."

As it turns out, the couple takes most meals at the Brasserie Le Bourbon on the corner: “We need to get out of the house anyway,” Owens says. Recently, they were having dinner at the restaurant when Pierre Cardin, still designing at 90, approached Owens and complimented him on his work. “I was just so touched, he’s so French!” Owens remembers. “It made me feel so validated, like I had achieved major French acceptance.” Not bad for a California boy with a schoolteacher mom and a very conservative social worker dad, who grew up in a house with a library that contained volumes of Colette and Huysmans but no TV. (Nevertheless, Owens watched television at friends’ houses, and it’s easy to guess his favorite program: The Addams Family, which was clearly a formative influence.) His parents travel to Paris twice a year to see his women’s runway shows, and every season his mom asks if he’s embarrassed she turns up in bright colors. (“No, mom, it’s fine,” he reassures her each time.) She was at his most recent show in February, which offered Asian-inspired women warriors marching to a Wagner soundtrack, their pre-Raphaelite hairdos literally blowing in the wind via steam machines.

Over lunch—the catering kitchen supplies orange juice and mineral water and a nearby bio (French for “organic”) restaurant sends over delicious chicken and couscous—Owens talks about his guiding aesthetic, common to both his fashion and his furniture. “When you think about it, my niche has been around forever,” he says. “Sarah Bernhardt wore a taxidermied bat in her hair! What I am doing is really a reformulation of exoticism.” We are in the room with the monkey (Francois Mitterrand’s former office) sitting on Owens’s Alchemist chairs—a triangular affair that he describes as “meant more for perching than for reading.” (Halfway through the meal this becomes readily apparent.)

The conversation turns to the underpinnings of virtually all his creative work: “It boils down to construction, creating my own language from the inside out, but always keeping my signature,” he explains. “Clothes are supposed to be about experience—the damage, the patina, accepting it and enjoying it, making it part of life. We all get impatient when things are too prim.”

Still, despite his many European influences—his entire opus, he says, smiling, owes a serious debt to Madame Grès, the French fashion designer and master cutter, and Eileen Gray, the avant-garde Irish furniture designer—Owens’s collected works aren’t exactly Continental; they are the product of an imagination that resides in a very specific Rick-land. His signature is so recognizable that it has inevitably turned up, massively copied, in high-street stores all over the globe, but Owens takes this in stride, even thinking of it as a compliment, though he admits that lately he has been considering his legacy. He says he is thrilled to be so influential, “but if I wasn’t credited, then it would hurt. And if someone was doing it better than me it would kill me. There are moments I want to claim my space a little more strongly. Sometimes I worry, Will I be a small footnote in fashion history?”

He laughs and that Gary Cooper–esque, all-American modesty reemerges, especially striking, and even a little touching from a guy who heads up a nearly $100 million business. “I know I should just be grateful paying the rent. I started out to do what’s cool and what amuses me, and I still try to operate like that. For a long while it was about struggling to survive, struggling to get better. Now it’s about staking my place.

via WSJ


No other film actress was so revered —inspired and inspiring— both for her on-screen apparences and for her passionate, off-screen crusade. She remains so beloved that virtually no one has a bad word to say about her…Beneath her kind, warm surface lay more kindness and warmth to the core.  — Barry Paris on Audrey Hepburn

Happy Birthday Audrey Kathleen Ruston, alias Audrey Hepburn!

He couldn’t get her to the queen’s, but Green succeeded in getting Garbo to make a far more difficult visit—to Cecil Beaton. Their last and most serious falling-out was then several years old, caused by the publication of Beaton’s diaries—with many intimate Garbo passages—in 1972 and 1973. In her view, publishing the diaries (and their sensational serialization in the London newspapers) was an atomic bomb of betrayal. When Sam asked why he did it, Beaton told him that he had written Garbo to ask permission and, after a year with no reply, phoned her in new York but that she hung up on him. At that point, Beaton said he decided it would be dishonest to eliminate a major part of his life “because of this woman’s neurosis.” He felt insulted. Naively or disingenuously, he thought she would listen to his explanation and was crushed when she would not. Cécile was among many who later confronted him, asking how much money he’d made from Garbo over the years, then adding, “Even Stokowski didn’t sell his story to the papers!” Sam Green recalls: “Diana Cooper wouldn’t speak to him again. Diana Vreeland told him he was a horrible person. Truman Capote went on TV and criticized him—the pot calling the kettle black. Everybody attacked. He was humbled and embarrassed and riddled with guilt about it.” Even the sweet-tempered Deborah Kerr says, “I cut Beaton off dead when he published that.”

Green’s loyalty to Beaton—who was partially paralyzed from a 1974 stroke and very depressed—predated his friendship with Garbo by many years, and he was determined to reconcile the irreconcilable. Gently but relentlessly, he worked on her, emphasizing Cecil’s pathetic condition and equally pathetic desire to see her one last time: “In London that trip, I had her on a short leash. She really couldn’t move without me. I said, ‘You have to finish this up with Cecil. He’s very diminished. He’s had a stroke. You have to go and see him.’ She didn’t like the idea at all, but she really didn’t have any choice. It was a kind of blackmail, and when she weakened enough to say, ‘Well, maybe I should go,’ I made the arrangements fast.”

Garbo was so nervous that Green thought to the last minute she would back out—and she tried. “What happens if we arrive at the train station in Salisbury and he has photographers hiding in the trees?” she fretted on the train ride. Against all odds, in October 1975, Sam delivered her to Reddish House, Beaton’s home near Salisbury in the village of Broadchalke. They arrived just before dark and were led by Eileen Hose, his secretary, upstairs to Beaton’s drawing room, where he was seated by the fire in a fawn-colored suit, bright pink cravat, and trademark broad-brimmed hat. On seeing Garbo—her longish gray hair tied back with a shoelace—he began to weep. “Beatie,” she said, “I’m back,” leaning over and cupping his face in her hands, then looking straight into his eyes before kissing both checks. “Greta,” he said. “I’m so happy…”

It was the first time Sam had heard him get a name right since the stroke. She sat on his knee and snuggled against him like a child, to his great delight. Sam left them alone but returned just before dinner and helped pull Cecil to his feet. Now for the first time, Garbo saw how incapacitated he truly was. It took twenty minutes to shuffle to the dining room. At dinner, he had to have his food cut and he cried often, pointing to his paralyzed body and apologizing. His dignity was shattered. “Everyone went to bed right after dinner,” says Green, “and I’m positive the sandman didn’t visit her that night.” 

The departure next afternoon was no easier. In the middle of his tearful farewell embrace, which seemed to be lasting an eternity, Garbo—over Beaton’s shoulder—spotted a guest book by the front door and used it as a polite way to disengage. She had never been so willing or eager to sign her name, says Sam. 

Hugo Vickers, Beaton’s biographer, called Garbo’s visit of forgiveness the most important moment of Beaton’s life. Green says it was a brilliant, bittersweet performance and the most generous act of her life. 

Garbo by Barry Paris

So, I finished Barry Paris’ biography of Louise Brooks, my dinner companion for the last three months, on and off.  And it’s difficult to know what to say about Louise Brooks.

In some ways, she reminds me of Al Jolson—not someone with whom she’s regularly compared, I would think—in that it seems that the effect of each in person is irreproducible in any medium.  I mean, yes, we see Pandora’s Box or The Jazz Singer or read Lulu in Hollywood or hear “Toot Toot Tootsie” and understand some, maybe much, of his or her appeal.  But the number of times I read in this book about the spell that Brooksie, as she was sometimes known, could, and regularly did, cast on those around her, either through her beauty, her sexuality, her intelligence, her manner, convince me that watching her in the dumbshow that is silent film only captures the glint and not the essence of this woman.

Otherwise, it’d be extremely hard to understand or explain how this woman, beset from her teen years through middle age by a tremendous thirst for alcohol, unable and unwilling to do anything she didn’t want to do even at ruinous cost to herself, possessed of a violent and mercurial temper, could have been the toast of two continents, not once but twice.

Louise Brooks summed up her rejection by Hollywood with the sentence “I like to fuck and drink too much.”  But that can only be part of the story, for, reading this book, one is alternately amazed and horrified at the opportunities she squandered out of whim, ill-temper, apathy or just plain orneriness.  Thanks to her bad attitude, which one might charitably describe as “fierce independence,” she left or was asked to leave plum positions in one of the premier modern dance troupes in the United States, George White’s Scandals revue, Ziegfeld’s Follies and the American film industry.

After years of destitution, charity and occasional prostitution, unable to hold a job thanks to the aforementioned “bad attitude,” she moved to Rochester, N.Y., at the age of 49 and lived there in increasingly eremitical solitude until her death at 78.  During this period, she learned to write and became celebrated as an astute and incisive film historian and essayist.  Further, her film work was rediscovered during this self-imposed exile, and the cult of Louise Brooks grew to its full flower even as its object grew increasingly less able and willing to leave the confines of her apartment.  The girl who had Charlestoned through Manhattan, London and Berlin; who, at 18, had had a summer-long affair with Chaplin; who inspired comic strips’ Dixie Dugan; and who had been a favored guest at Hearst’s San Simeon mansion cloistered herself in a sparsely furnished apartment (save for the hundreds of books she meticulously annotated) and drank herself through middle age into a final enforced abstemiousness and slow deterioration at the hands of emphysema and arthritis.

She was, by all accounts, an extremely difficult person.  Some anecdotes, even those set in her salad days, give the impression of someone who’s just a little deranged.  Yet.  When she was not, she was apparently the most desirable, impressive and charming woman in North America.  She knew everyone, at least before her fall from Hollywood’s graces, and everyone seemed to want to know her.  In fact, I would substitute Six Degrees of Louise Brooks as the gold standard, at least for the entertainment world before 1960.

So, I recommend this book without reservation for anyone interested in the worlds of modern dance, revue, spectacle and silent film in the first third of the 20th century as well as for those interested in the ways that a human life can unwind and develop in adversity, both external and self-imposed.  Louise Brooks was, more often than not inadvertently, at the center of several fascinating periods and scenes in pre-war cultural life, and the author takes frequent breaks in the book’s first two-thirds to describe these, be they whores in Weimar Berlin or the early films of W.C. Fields.  But through it all, it’s Brooksie and her charisma, her bangs, her legs, her brains, her moods and her look—that Look that launched a thousand thousand pale imitations—that piques one’s interest even as one peeks through one’s fingers at the multiple train wrecks and triumphs of her life.

estcebonheur asked:

I jut started the audrey book by Barry Paris so good so far it's so detailed I love it! And I ordered audrey and elegant spirit and audrey in Rome, vogue on and fifth avenue five am any heads up about those ahh so excited for them to come in I just wish where I lived I cn go to a book store and buy it rather than having to wait haha x

Hey! I’m reading Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris also and I’m very pleased with how detailed it is; the author must have spent a lot of time researching the book and I’m very thankful.  Wow, you did a lot of shopping! Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit is a wonderful book and very heartwarming.  It’s a loving look into the life of Audrey written by her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, and it’s a must read for every Audrey fan! Audrey in Rome, also written by one of Audrey’s sons, Luca Dotti, is full of rare and candid pictures of Audrey while visiting and living in Rome.  I’d definitely recommend it, too.  I received Vogue on Hubert De Givenchy for Christmas ;however, I have yet to read it.  The book has stunning and HQ pictures of Audrey from some of her Vogue photo shoots, which I was very happy to see. Vogue does a series on fashion designers and Vogue on Hubert de Givenchy happens to be their latest issue. Perhaps, when I have the time to sit down and read the book I’ll do an official review, same for Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris.  Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman was a quick and very enjoyable read.  It gave a lot of insight on the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the era in which it took place, the 1950s.  I really enjoyed that book and it’s unique view on the people and drama involved in making BAT.  I’d love it if there were books about the making of all of Audrey’s films, particularly Sabrina and Funny Face.  I’m sure there was a lot of good gossip happening behind the scenes.  


Arnold Genthe (1869-1942) was a German photographer and his series of photographs would be the first serious study of Garbo as an Artist. In July of 1925, Garbo and Stiller were waiting in New York to get instructions by MGM. Than one evening they had a meeting with a new friend - photographer Dr. Arnold Genthe. Genthe immediately wanted to make pictures of her. The pictures were taken in the hot summer of 1925, in New York. 

After he saw Greta, Genthe immediately wanted to make pictures of her. But Greta wasn’t prepared and pleaded: “Look at the dress I have on and my hair – oh no, not now!” Genthe wasn’t interested in pictures of her clothes or hair. He wanted a portrait of her soul and stated: “You are here and I am here and my camera is ready.” She finally consented and results were breathtaking. Each pose reveals a new facet of her persona:  sensual, dramatic, vulnerable, intensely female, always distinctive. 

By August 1925, director, and friend of Stiller Victor Sjöström delivered the Genthe pictures to Mayer. It is said that at first, Mayer didn’t recognize the woman in the pictures as the actress he had signed in Berlin. A portrait from this sitting was published in Vanity Fair in November 1925.

Source: Garbo, by Barry Paris, 1995.