French Impressions: Barbara Redmond on A Woman’s Paris
23 Friday Dec 2011
Barbara Redmond, founder and publisher of A Woman’s Paris® (AWP), is a long-time Francophile. Her stories about Paris have been published in AWP and republished, with permission, by other blogs and publications.
Barbara is founder of Barbara Redmond Design, Inc., a graphic design firm specializing in creating brands for Fortune 1000 corporations and middle-size companies. She has been recognized for excellence in art by international and national organizations. Barbara holds a B.S. Degree in Art from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and serves as a Retail Merchandising advisory board member at the University of Minnesota College of Design, where she is also active as a student mentor.
Barbara hosts groups for discussion and private art tours and has brought her venture, A Woman’s Paris, to the Alliance Française-Minneapolis/Saint Paul and other groups where she has presented programs on French fashion and food, and tips for students who are planning to study abroad. She is a frequent guest of KFAI’s radio program, Bonjour Minnesota! Prints of her paintings of Paris are featured in A Woman’s Paris online magazine and are in collections in Europe and North America and are available for purchase. For purchase, contact Barbara at: email@example.com
AWP: Name the books and movies, works of art and music, fashion or cuisine that have inspired you.
BR: Art, music and fashion from the 20th century; particularly the art works of the American painter and printmaker, Robert Motherwell; the Spanish Catalan painter and sculptor, Joan Miró; and the French artist Henri Matisse. The piano works of the American composer, Leonard Bernstein, and the Catalan Spanish composer and pianist, Frederic Mompou. Fashion? French fashion designer Coco Chanel, and the up-and-coming French designer, Maxime Simoëns.
AWP: Do you have any role models?
BR: The painter, industrial designer and advertising artist, Paul Rand, an American graphic designer and one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design.
AWP: What is the last book you read?
BR: La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, by Elaine Sciolino, the Paris correspondent and former Paris bureau chief for The New York Times. Which I’ve read for the second time!
AWP: What is the best (or worst) advice you’ve ever given or received?
BR: “Atta girl!” Advice from sailing instructor Gordy Bowers, one of the world’s elite sailing coaches, when he changed my crew position from trimmer (in the cockpit where I trimmed the jib and spinnaker) to bow-person on the foredeck at the front of the 22-foot sailboat. At the foredeck I quickly learned to “step like a cat,” because there was no bow rail or guard to keep me safely on deck during training and racing with the Sibyls, a group of six women who sail together.
AWP: What handed-down wisdom did you receive from your mother or father?
BR: “It’s all in a lifetime,” words from my mother—often accompanied by a subtle shrug of her shoulders.
AWP: What childhood experience has served you many times?
BR: Drawing and the magic of a single line with a life of its own; not unlike following a dream.
AWP: In your youth, what did you imagine your adult life would hold? What influenced this vision?
BR: I imagined my adult life would be as an artist or graphic illustrator. From grade school through high school, I was encouraged by my art, music and English teachers to use my artistic skills and interests to fulfill many assignments. During my study at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where I received my B.S. Degree in Art, I was given the opportunity to study independently; and was allowed to select professors and advisors from among several disciplines with whom I wanted to study—and who where interested in my pursuits and academic career.
AWP: In your early teens, what formed your romantic fantasies of adventure and love?
BR: Music. The lyrics and sounds of American and British pop music, especially the songs: Two for the Road, composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse; Just Like a Woman, music and lyrics by Bob Dylan; and Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night, by songwriters John Lennon, John Winston, Paul McCartney, and Paul James.
AWP: What were your favorite childhood things to do?
BR: Hour upon hour playing with my Barbie Dolls in elaborate rooms fashioned from paper décor cutouts from magazines together with bits of fabric, ribbons and mirrors as the backdrops to made-up stories by my grandmother and me. And sketching and painting with my grandfather.
AWP: What nourishes your passions?
BR: Discovering new things, meeting new people, travel and adventure.
AWP: How did you get your foot in the door at the beginning of your career?
BR: At the beginning of my career, I was fortunate to have a mentor, an award-winning art director, who took interest in guiding my portfolio of graphic design. Within six months he brought me in-house for two weeks as a contract substitute for two art directors who were on a leave of absence. Suddenly, the two weeks were over and I was back out on the street as a freelance graphic designer. At the beginning of the third week, he called and asked if I might work for him full time. This was a big-deal advertising agency. I would have a plush office, leather chair, big desk, floor to ceiling windows, private phone line—and big accounts. I said I couldn’t, and that I just had to try this thing (running my own freelance business). “You really mean this?” he asked. Yes, I remember saying into the phone. “Well, come over as soon as you can. I have a big account for you—freelance,” he said. We worked together for several years and which got me on my way and I never looked back.
AWP: Was being stylish important to you growing up in your teens? Is it now?
BR: Absolutely, then, and absolutely, now.
AWP: How do you define style or fashion?
BR: It’s the ultimate expression of character, a living work of art. It’s something you do for yourself. Style is not about money.
AWP: Tell me about your cooking and eating habits and traditions.
BR: When my daughters still lived at home, I cooked and entertained a lot and loved it! Family. Friends. Clients. My kitchen was a test kitchen for my own satisfaction. Then after a while, each weekend for three years in a row I cooked from Julia Child’s two volumes Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That was before the 2009 movie Julie & Julia. I bake. I still entertain, but I cook less. I bake tarts—savory and sweet—and pair them with champagne, in what I refer to as my “urban picnic.” I return from Paris with jars of foie gras for my now simpler affairs. Most recently I’ve enjoyed hosting Sunday afternoon teas.
AWP: What was your most memorable meal to date?.
BR: Summers in Minnesota can be very hot and dry. When my three sisters and I were children, and during the hot, hot, summers, my mother would assemble open-faced sandwiches made with thin white bread, homemade or store-bought, (crusts removed) spread with a very thin layer of mayonnaise or salted butter on one side. She would thinly slice red French Breakfast radishes grown in her garden and layer them in beautiful overlapping patterns, like the scales on a fish, and top each with a simple sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper. Served with glasses of cold Lipton’s ice tea, my sisters and I loved these simple summer sandwiches. My fondest memories are of the simplest food combinations in the most modest of settings.
AWP: What is in your refrigerator right now?
BR: Greek yogurt; eggs, both fresh and hard-boiled; sprigs of thyme; leeks; Dijon mustard; and R.W. Knudsen Sparkling Organic Pear juice.
ART OF LIVING
AWP: What do you live for? What do you love above all?
BR: Family—and the freedom to live the different lives we’ve all imagined.
You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Ballet Flats in Paris: And God made Repetto, by Barbara Redmond who shares what she got from a pair of flats purchased in a ballet store in Paris; a feline, natural style from the toes up, a simple pair of shoes that transformed her whole look. Including the vimeos “Pas de Deux Coda,” by Opening Ceremony and “Repetto,” by Repetto, Paris. (French)
French Lingerie: Mysterious and flirty, by Barbara Redmond who shares her experience searching for the perfect lingerie in Paris boutiques and her “fitting” with the shop keeper, Madame, in a curtained room stripped to bare at Sabbia Rosa. Including a French to English vocabulary lesson for buying lingerie and a directory of Barbara’s favorite lingerie shops in Paris. (French)
Paris Makeover: Coming home blond, by Barbara Redmond who declares, “Never question a Frenchwoman,” and succumbed to the transformation of coming home blond. The haute-coiffure, the pharamacie, and her new “French look!” Including Barbara’s favorite book on spas, salons and beauty boutiques in Paris, and her personal directory of hair and makeup salons in Paris. Not to miss is her vocabulary of French to English words so “nothing” gets lost in translation!
Fashion Crashing: Paris haute-couture, by Barbara Redmond who crashed Maxime Simoëns’ haute-couture catwalk show during Paris Fashion Week with patience and persistence, but no invitation. The models, the show, the crème de la crème audience, and the style she wore.
Boulangerie Poilâne: A toast to French Breads, by Barbara Redmond who shares her face-to-face encounter with the French baker during her visit to the 18th century ovens of Poilâne in Paris. Could she steal a pinch from the raw, soft-white boule in its proofing basket resting close by? The penetrating aromas of bread; strong, yeasty, and hot… Recipes included for Tartine Chocolat et Poivre (tartine of melted chocolate and black pepper), and La tartine For’bon (tartine of cheeses and ham), from Boulangerie Poilâne.
A Woman’s Paris — Elegance, Culture and Joie de Vivre
We are captivated by women and men, like you, who use their discipline, wit and resourcefulness to make their own way and who excel at what the French call joie de vivre or “the art of living.” We stand in awe of what you fill into your lives. Free spirits who inspire both admiration and confidence.
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. — Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)
Text copyright ©2012 Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.