October 22, 2021
Dear Frenchly Readers,
Back when I was the tender age of eighteen and was studying French language and culture at the Sorbonne in Paris, I used to walk home through Le Jardin du Luxembourg and down the Boulevard Saint Michel until I passed a store with the words agnès b. affixed in black cursive on the glass. There, this honey-haired girl from Maine, would stand and press her nose to the window and wish she had a few more francs in her poche.
My friend Andrea told me a story the other day about how her sister, Katya, used to save up her money for agnès b. clothes. One day, Katya was visiting Andrea in Paris and she realized that an agnès b. dress she’d brought along didn’t look that great on her anymore. So she gave it to Andrea. It was black, Andrea remembers, with little pink flowers all over it and had capped sleeves and a plunging neckline. “She said, here—take it. I can’t look,” Andrea told me. I asked Andrea where that dress went and she told me she has no idea. She said, “It was a tiny, very feminine mini-dress that I definitely couldn’t wear past my 20s!” But she remembers how pretty she felt in it.
Years later, when I got my first job out of college working as a research assistant to Richard Avedon at The New Yorker magazine, I would sometimes find myself in SoHo, standing outside an agnès b. store, looking in through the windows, now wishing I had a few more dollars in my poche.
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to correspond with the legendary fashion icon—Agnès–herself about this piece here that I wrote about her collaboration with an American photographer named Tim Barber whose blue cyanotype photographs she used in her Fall/Winter 2021 collection.
You, my dear readers of Le Weekend, are getting this exclusive email correspondence with the woman—the real Agnès– right here, right now, which I am literally copying and pasting—and not editing!– for you all from my personal email:
How did you first come to know Tim Barber and his work?
The first time I discovered Tim Barber was thanks to Ryan McGinley in 2005. I exhibited some of Ryan’s photographs at the Galerie du Jour in Paris and Tim was in some of the photos. The photos were from an early road trip.
In 2015, Chris Apple, our PR in NYC, introduced me to Tim Barber’s work in more detail including the ‘Blues’ series of cyanotypes that I immediately loved.
So that year we exhibited his BLUES series at our Howard Street Galerie Boutique in NYC and we published a book of the show. I really liked the blue of the works in this exhibition. I decided to use this blue for our pieces in the Fall/Winter 2021 collection.
I love the blue for fall. What made you decide to stray from usual fall colors of yellow, brown and black and go to cyanotypes for your fall collection?
For fall I thought it was nice to put blue to change a bit from the usual fall colors. In addition I don’t particularly like the fall. I wanted cheerfulness! And even in the black coats there is a blue lining that stands out and it looks very well. I am very happy that Tim allowed me to use his photographs to make clothes!
You are known as a huge supporter of the arts. Why is this important to you?
I was born in Versailles and had parents who loved classical music and art. Art has been a big part of my life since I was little. I then gradually discovered contemporary art by working in a gallery and then by opening my own gallery in 1984.
I’ve recently opened La Fab., a new exhibition space in the 13th arrondissement of Paris that also houses the gallery. Here we show works from my personal collection as well other works by artists who are represented by the Galerie du Jour.
Now, I am going to keep the rest of this Le Weekend short, because I really want you to go read my piece on Tim Barber and how he came to know Agnès. I was so interested to learn about her humanitarian work and how committed she is to fighting against climate change—this woman has founded an entire organization to help save our oceans! And I’ve got some of Barber’s beautiful and nostalgic photos up there, too. I think it’s a pretty interesting story, one I loved doing because everyone I spoke with was so smart and interesting and kind.
If you want to check out Tim’s website, it’s here, and if you want to buy some of the “agnès b. X Tim Barber” collection, you can check it out online here in the U.S., or here in Europe, or visit these stores in New York.
What I am watching ce weekend :
Now, the other big news ce weekend, if you’re vaxxed and want to be out and about, is that Wes Anderson’s much anticipated movie, The French Dispatch, about ex-patriot correspondents for a magazine a lot like the New Yorker, comes out today. Speaking of those bygone days when I worked for Avedon at the New Yorker, this is a movie about those good old days when print magazines were still something you held in your hand and thumbed through actual pages and we still called each other on the telephone. (Added bonus, you get to see Luke Wilson in a béret, which is bound to make you hoot.)
Our own Catherine Rickman, now based in Berlin, saw the movie yesterday—it came out in Europe one day earlier– and already has this review for us, here. You can also read her companion piece about Wes Anderson’s new book, An Editor’s Burial, which is a collection of essays and journals from the New Yorker’s archives that inspired the director to make The French Dispatch.
If you happen to be in New York, there’s a pop up this weekend of the café in the The French Dispatch. Check that out here.
And if you get excited and want more French films to stream this weekend, consider Wes Anderson’s curated list of French films that inspired him, here at the French Institute Alliance Française, FIAF.
Or, for something entirely different, just watch this 8-minute cool video from Le Monde about the music in the James Bond movies.
What I am listening to :
For those of you who liked learning about Paul Taylor –and laughed as much as I did–last week, here’s a podcast from Frenchly’s Anne-Fleur where she interviewed him.
I’ve also been listening to this recording of fellow Brown alum Lisa Loeb’s song The Upside. I love the videos of kids dancing in their houses.
What I am reading :
I am hoping to spend some time with this piece of Orion’s about the Pribilof islands in Alaska and their delicate ecosystem.
I also read this interesting and sad piece in Le Monde about the price of foreign wars.
And if you need a good cry, this piece about a father and son being reunited just before the son died, will leave you weeping.
Finalement, here’s what I’m cooking ce weekend:
If, like me, you’re home and cooking this weekend you might follow my lead and roast a chicken stuffed with 40 cloves of garlic. That’s right, 40! I first read about this in Alice Water’s cookbook Fanny in France, which my kids and husband and I cooked through during the confinement of the worst of the pandemic. It’s the most unctuous chicken I’ve ever made– it cooks slowly while the garlic steams the meat. Throw some roasted pommes de terre on the side, and a small salade, and dinner is made! Just don’t forget les bougies to illuminate the early and close darkness of October.
That’s it. Have a good weekend.