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Paris Journal: Day 22 (June 12)

Today was probably one of my favorite days of the trip so far. 

We woke up and got ready for the day, and then our whole class met in the Paris American Academy’s lobby. It was Clare’s birthday, and her mom arranged for a special pastery treat to celebrate, which was such a fun suprise! After we ate our chocolate croissants, we got on a bus and headed to Ysabel de Masionneuve’s art studio. 

Ysabel is an artist and she specializes in dyeing and specifically Shibori, which is a Japanese dyeing technique. She is inspired by movement, as she use to be a dancer but had to retire due to poor eyesight. She is intrigued by the way dyeing fabrics shows the movement of the dyes. 

Ysabel was probably the cutest little lady I have ever met. She was so much fun to work with and told us to make ourselves feel at home in her studio, and she really meant it. She made us laugh all day with her witty comments and she kept reminding that there’s no right or wrong way to do Shibori, whatever you create will be beautiful. At the end of the day, she was so excited that all of our projects were different, but each beautiful in their own way.

We started off by doing three samples just to get a feel for shibori. It is very similar to tye dyeing, just a bit more intricate and strategic. Ysabel let us do the samples and then she gave us a white silk scarf and set us free- she said we could use whatever techniques we wanted! I wrapped my silk scarf around a plumbing tube and tied string around it to create a beautiful dye pattern. I dyed my scarf a combination of blue and green. 

Our day with Ysabel was so much fun, she was so happy and genuine. She also showed us some pineapple and banana fibers and talked to us about the importance of sustainability. 

After we left Ysabel’s studio, we headed back to our apartments, where we got ready for another long night of portfolio work and sketching. I finally started putting things in my portfolio and finalizing some of my sketches. Although it is overwhelming, I am starting to see my vision come to life.

We sketched from around 5pm until midnight, taking a break only to eat some pasta for dinner. Sketching has definetly become more important than sleep!

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Paris Journal: Day 21 (June 11)

Today we slept in once again. (Sleep has been very rare and precious on this trip). When we woke up around 10am, we started showering and getting ready and then Allison, Serena, Holly, and Holly’s fiancé Jake all headed to the metro station to get to Momart and Sacre Coeur which is a church that translates to “Sacred Heart”.

The metro station was a nightmare. We got horribly lost and looking back, the situation was humorous but at the time it was incredibly stressful. Momart is quite far from our apartment, so we had to take the metro and then get on a bus after. We got off at the incorrect stop and got totally lost. Anyhow, we made it to Sacre Coure and it was just beautiful. The church was huge and there was tons of cute little souvenir shops that we went into. 

When we got back to our apartments, I took a quick power nap because for some reason I was exhausted. I then woke up and immediately got started on my portfolio.

I got up to get some water and the faucets would not work, in the kitchen or the bathroom. It turns out that the water in our apartment building got shut off, which was a real hassle. Luckily it was only off for an hour or two before it came back on and we were able to shower.

We took a quick break from sketching to go and eat dinner. We got ham and cheese subs from our favorite pastery shop right across from the Paris American Academy. That little bakery may just be the thing I will miss the most about Paris.

After dinner, we went right back to sketching. After about 4 hours of working, I am just now getting ready for bed. We have an exciting day of shibori dyeing planned for tomorrow, and I am anxious to learn more about this technique!

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Paris Journal: Day 20 (June 10)

Today was one of our few free days in Paris. Naturally, a lot of sleeping in occurred. I woke up around 11am. I got ready and ate a Nutella sandwhich for brunch.

We went to Luxembourg Gardens after lunch to lay out and people watch. It was scorching hot, about 90 degrees. It still blows my mind to see Parisans in long sleeves and full length pants when it is so hot, I was in shorts and a tee shirt and sweating beyond belief! We ended up staying there for an hour or two before we got too hot and could feel our skin starting to get a bit crispy.

We then went back to the apartments to work on our portfolio projects. Today I got about 5 sketches done, and I hope to do 10 tomorrow. That would put me at a good halfway point. I’m really enjoying sketching. As a Merchandising major, I don’t do a lot of sketching so it’s kind of relaxing just to put on some music and create whatever I want.

For dinner, Serena and I went to Masion Marie, a small cafe just a few blocks away from the Paris American Academy. There was no English menu, so ordering our food was a bit difficult, but luckily our waitress spoke good English and was able to help us. I ordered a citrus penne pasta dish, which was very light and refreshing. 

After dinner, we sketched for a little while longer until our friends who went to London returned. We all hung out in Serena and Hollys apartment and Holly shared some big news with us – her boyfriend proposed to her at Luxembourg Gardens! We were all so happy for her and decided to go to a nearby jazz cafe to celebrate. It was such a fun evening and everyone was so happy for the soon to be husband and wife. 

We ended up coming home fairly late, because we were having so much fun and everyone was so excited for Holly and Jake! We went right to bed when we got home, we were exhausted!

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Paris Journal: Day 19 (June 9)

This morning some of the students in my class departed for London. Due to recent terror attacks across the U.K., myself and a handful of other students did not exactly feel comfortable traveling to make this trip, so we decided to stay in Paris with our faculty advisor.

We started the day off at 10am with Madame Martine, whom we worked with before alongside Madame Picco. We spent the day making samples of pleated skirts, and sewing fasteners onto material. Martine is so funny to work with, she doesn’t speak any English but she always finds a humorous way to get her point across. The pleated skirt samples were tricky, but I had the pleated leaf under my belt and compared to that the skirt was not so bad. Martine worked for Madame Gres so she is an absolute perfectionist, and if something is not perfect (like a single stitch) she will make you redo the whole thing. I like this though, because it pushed me to work my hardest and not slack, which resulted in near perfect stitching.

After class ended at 4pm, Serena and I headed to the local printing shop to make copies of croquis that we need for our portfolio projects. We saved the images to a flash drive, and the woman was very nice and allowed us to use the printers for a low price. 

Then we went to a Boulevard Saint Micheal, where we did some shopping. We went to Zara, Pull and Bear, Burshka, and H&M. It is so interesting to shop in France because I feel like people take it very seriously… they try on everything before they buy it. The lines for the fitting rooms sometimes take up to 45 minutes! I feel like this is not really something that happens in the states… instead people just buy it and figure they will return it if it doesn’t fit. 

I ended the day with dinner in my apartment. I enjoyed a fresh baguette from the local bakery with hummus and grapefruit juice. I am really going to miss the fresh bread and other foods when I go home! After dinner I started working on my portfolio project for Xiaver, and now I am heading to bed. I have organized my thoughts and ideas for my portfolio, now I just need to make final copies of my sketches. Tomorrow is a free day which means sleeping in!!!!

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Paris Journal: Day 18 (June 8)

This morning our whole class loaded onto a coach bus at 7am, and departed the Paris American Academy to head to Giverny, France which was the home of Claude Monet.

We first went through Monet’s gardens and got a tour of his house. It was absolutely beautiful. Claude Monet was an impressionist painter who was famous for his paintings of his water lily ponds and flowers. The inside of his home was amazing, every room was painted a different vibrant color. The kitchen was blue and the dining room was yellow, for example. All over his home, Claude showcased his collections of Japanese art, something that he was extremely passionate about. It was amazing to see such an old house in such great condition. 

Then, we were able to explore the town of Giverny a little bit and ate at a bakery called Monet’s cafe. We all ate ham and cheese sanwhiches and pastries. Giverny is such a cute little town and we were able to walk to the church and see Monet’s grave as well. There were lots of tiny vintage shops and artists selling their works. 

After that, we all got back onto our bus and drove for about an hour until we reached the Palace of Versailles. Versailles was originally build as a hunting lodge for the kings, and it is gigantic. We had a tour of the rooms, lead by a tour guide who gave us a lot of info. It was crazy to see how the walls were literally lined with gold. Also the fact that this mansion was built for hunting blows my mind… most people just stay in a small cabin when hunting!

We then went through the hallway of mirrors, which is a giant hallway literally composed of mirrors. We also went to the gardens of Versailles, which were absolutely breathtaking. Every bush and shrub was perfectly trimmed and all the ponds were crystal clear. We also went to the guest house in Versailles, where Louis XIV’s mistresses stayed. This is also where Marie Antionette spent a large portion of her life.

On the way home, we hit a ton of traffic and while we were supposed to get there at 5,  we ended up not arriving until 7. No worries though, it was still an amazing and educational day.

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Paris Journal: Day 17 (June 7)

Today we had our very first presentation with Olivier Roux, who has worked in the fashion industry for over 30 years, even working at Dior. He is an expert in merchandising, which is what I am majoring in, so I found it to be very interesting. He gave us a map of all the important shopping centers in Paris, and encouraged us to check them out. Not for the purpose of shopping, but instead to take note of the displays and advertising. As a student interested in visual merchandising, I am excited to do this. 

He also gave us a list of luxury brand names and provided us with his thoughts and opinions on each one. Some brands, like Balmain, he thought were overrated (I love Balmain), and some brands (like Dior or Chanel), he thought were stunning and worth the hype. It was interesting to hear his thoughts about each of these brands, because even though he is a professional, these were still his opinions and not necessarily factual.

After a short lunch break, we returned to the Paris American Academy to finish our hat making workshop with the incredible Jean Pierre Tritz. He does not speak any English, but through funny gestures and sounds he managed to guide us through all the steps of successful hat making. Last week, I worked on the felt hat and today I worked on the sisal hat, which I found a bit more enjoyable. I liked that I had the creative freedom to mold my sisal into whatever shape I wanted it to be. I sewed blue flowers also made out of sisal to my beige base, and then added some green sisal to represent leaves.

When class was over, we headed to a local art store called Rougier&Ple. It was overwhelming how many things they had… it was 3 stories! We traveled there as a group in order to find materials for our portfolios that are due next week. I probably could’ve spent all day in there, but I ended up just getting a hardcover sketchbook, a few sketching markers, and a fine point pen for sketching. 

After the art store, we walked around for a bit on Saint Micheal and found a cute little market where they were selling jewelry and also food, so we got hot dogs to eat. 

We then headed back to the apartment and worked on our sketching and projects for an hour or so. Now I am heading to bed, because we have an early morning (7 am) tomorrow!

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Paris Journal: Day 16 (June 6th)

When we woke up in Paris this morning at 5 am, it was pouring rain and freezing cold. We loaded into a taxi that met us outside of our apartments, and headed to the Orly airport in Paris. It was about a 45 minute ride to the airport.

When we got to the airport, we went through security and got right onto the plane. There was no hassle and everything went pretty smoothly. PAA had already printed out our boarding passes and everything, so all we had to do was get to our gate. We arrived right on time, and checked right in and boarded the plane.

I wish I could tell you about the plane ride, but to be honest I fell asleep before we even took off and by the time we landed I had just woken up. We landed at an airport that was still in France, and then we got on a bus that took us the rest of the way into Spain. The bus ride was incredibly beautiful and scenic. We got to see a lot of the French countryside and then a lot of mountains and Oceanside views once we reached Spain.

Our first stop was in Guetaria, Spain. This is an adorable little beach town that is very slow paced and charming. It is also wear the famous Christobal Balenciaga was born and raised. We were going to spend the day learning about him and contribution to the fashion world. 

We went to the Christobal Balenciaga Museum first. The museum was celebrating 100 years since Balenciaga opened his first shop, and to celebrate they had put together the “Rachel L Mellon exhibition”. Rachel Mellon was an American icon, friends with Jackie Kennedy. She was extremely wealthy and could afford anything she desired. That being said, everything she wore was made by Balenciaga, from her evening gowns to her pajamas. After she died, she donated 600 pieces of Balenciaga clothing to the museum. I really enjoyed the museum because the Balenciaga exhibit that we saw before was interesting, but it only featured black dresses. This exhibit features brightly colored, more interesting dresses that caught my attention more. I enjoyed the bold pinks and lime greens.

After the museum, we went to a cute little seafood restraunt on the beach. I ordered salad, lasagna, and chocolate cake for desert. The food was delicious and we had a beautiful view of the ocean.

We then drove for a while and stopped in a quiet little resort town right on the coast of Spain. It was on the ocean and there was a beautiful beach that we spent all afternoon relaxing at. We also enjoyed gelato and some shopping.

We then headed back to the airport in our bus. We grabbed subs for dinner at the airport and then boarded the plane. Once again, I fell asleep before we even left the ground and my classmates had to wake me up when we landed. 

Once we arrived at the Orly airport in Paris, we had to catch a bus and then take the metro the rest of the way back to our apartments. Honestly, this turned into such a stressful situation. There was probably a hundred people waiting to get on the bus at once and the ride home was so ridiculously jam packed that we were all just leaning on eachother, there was no seats open or bars to hold onto. 

By the time we got home, it was midnight and I was absolutely exhausted. I got right in the shower and crawled into bed immediately, happy to be home but grateful for the opportunity to see Spain.