Experience, Fashion, News, Pattern, Tech, Work / Life

Posts From Indy

◙ On Monday, Erika Smith wrote an Indy Star column in response to (the response to) that Worst Dressed City “study” by Movoto: “Benjamin and Janneane Blevins were in one of the most fashionable cities in the world when they got the bad news about their hometown of Indianapolis… But the truth is, fashion is becoming a serious business in Indianapolis — especially for a growing number of young professionals such as the Blevins. The couple, heavy into business, technology and urban issues, helped found the local fashion magazine, Pattern. They’re currently in Paris — the one in France, not Illinois — on a fashion-fact-finding mission.”

“When I first heard about the list, I was pretty ambivalent,” Benjamin wrote. “We’re not known for anything regarding fashion — and that includes being known for so-called bad fashion.”

“We aren’t interested in getting a Gucci next to every Starbucks or a Versace inside each Downtown hotel lobby,” Benjamin said. “… Pattern wants local designers to be able to sustain their businesses and build viable, long-term brands. We don’t want everyone to suddenly start sporting Luxe fur coats or (name your exotic animal)-skinned boots.”

“We believe that fashion can help Indianapolis in a way that benefits the city aesthetically and economically. And we believe that the combination of those two is a potent force.”

So, should we compete with Chicago or NY or LA? No. Should we shrug, and sit around competing with our past? No. We’re trying to see what’s next – and the horizon is full of opportunities for homegrown upstarts like Indy to beat Chicago and the Coasts to the punch. (What that “punch” is, I’m not sure. But it’s on tip of everyone’s tongue, and it’s coming faster than ever.)

◙ Tuesday’s We Are City [BRIEFING] had a lovely bit about our stay in Paris as temporary Hoosier expats: Retrouver Paris! “Hoosiers Janneane and Benjamin Blevins, who have their hands in some of Indy’s coolest orgs and businesses including PATTERNIndyHubIndySpectator, and KA+A, are living in Paris for a month and proving it with a blog.”

“And while they live and work, they’re taking an amateur urbanist’s eye to it all.”

We Are City“As we meander through Paris’ coworking spaces, fashion incubators, tech accelerators and universities, we hope to bring back a few new tools that may help us to better be a part of guiding and participating in Indy’s urban growth,” write the Blevins on their about page. / tag: Paris / MH

Subscribe to We Are City’s biweekly [BRIEFING] here. And be sure to keep your eye on this month’s [IMPORT] (Oliver Blank) and last month’s (James Reeves) and their Bureau of Manufactured History project.


Occurring? Was, or will be.

02:23. 40° in 31 Rue Charlot’s cobblestone courtyard.

From haven to destination. (at Shakespeare & Co, 37 Rue de la Bûcherie)

From haven to destination. (at Shakespeare & Co, 37 Rue de la Bûcherie)

Tomorrow’s all we ever thought.
And all we talked was yesterday.
Occurring? Was, or will be.

The de-manifestation of the present
neutralised the paralysing uncertainty
of potential.
(Potentialities hang on
fragile hopes & dreams;
Histories & futures hinge on
knowing unknown things.)

31 Rue Charlot cobblestone courtyard nook

31 Rue Charlot cobblestone courtyard nook

We stand planted in the past
& rooted in what’s coming,
attuned to both
aware of each
& living/being them at once.
(Not now,
but here
amidst the haze
of futured history.)

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News Roundup: Paris

The Unnamed Eco-Mowing Ewes

◙ New lawnmowers have been purchased for the 19th Arrondisement: four black sheep (specifically, Breton Ouessants). In lieu of gas-powered riding mowing machines, the city of Paris decided to send in “eco-grazers” to help maintain a half-acre patch of grass. Overseen by the Ferme de Paris, these 2-foot-tall ewes will munch away, and the city has plans to expand the (relatively inexpensive: $335) project into other spaces in need of mowing.

◙ The Louvre has named a new director, hired from within the museum’s current staff. Jean-Luc Martinez will begin on April 15. As with many of the country’s arts organizations, the pick was made by President Hollande and will serve a three-year term. Of related interest: read this article on the Louvre’s financial troubles and their use of crowdsourcing (or as they called it, “participatory financing”), raising over $650k. But because the museum’s budget is closer to $350 million, so the impact of the fund drive is as-of-yet uncertain… Oh, and while we’re reading about utilizing the crowd: check out this French scientist who is crowdsourcing biomedical pet data.

Proposed Mosque in Bussy Saint-Georges

◙ Laïcité is getting a few tosses & turns in France. Secularism has long been the de-facto foundation of French law, but has been increasingly codified into law (with various bans on religious clothing and symbols being passed in 2004, 2008 and 2011). One of the most significant (and controversial) laws was recently overturned by the upper French court in Paris: a woman in Chanteloup has won the right to wear her head scarf to work. While we’re talking laïcité, we should probably mention the new “Esplanade of the Religions” in Bussy Saint-Georges, France. The mayor describes it as “a laboratory for interfaith dialogue” …But, because the public funding of religion is illegal, they have yet to get any money. One Algerian Muslim described it simply: “We’re living this laïcité problem.”

Cafe, Work / Life

Space and Place

I’m ready to go home. I’ve seen it, done it, ate it, tried it. Well, not quite everything. But I’ve hit a threshold – be that sickness for home, or the onset of the ordinary.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Perhaps its the combination of a cold, a poor night’s sleep, the persistent chilly weather, the advent of the third leg of our journey with a new set of guests and new set of rules, but all I can think is of home and the known. My body drags through the street, as Ben deciphers the pharmacie to find a decongestant, then whisks me away to my favorite spot, Le Loir dans la Théière, for tea, chocolat chaud, and a pastry (or two). My spirits are lifting, but when we arrive home to dive into our work day, the internet is down and then the nearby café’s wifi is inaccessible. My worst dreads officially came true. The magic of Paris has dissipated – I just want to be home.

I share this for posterity–as grand as our trip has been and will be, there are inescapable dull and dreary moments. And there will be things we’ll want to change and improve for the next time. I think though, we’re just in the lull. Our trip to Paris is long enough that it’s not a vacation, but short enough that we can’t establish permanence. There’s a tug-o-war to keep up with the urgency to see and try things because the opportunity is limited, to turn our attention to work, and to pause to rest.

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Cafe, Experience, Fashion, Play

Parisian Vetiver

We explored the concept stores of Paris. Part boutique and cafe, they offer products for home, beauty, fashion, music and more.  Shopping becomes an experience that blurs past departments to displays that are matched by mood rather than object. Colette, Merci, 0fr, and Broken Arm are just a few that we’ve enjoyed.

Cafe creme in Merci's library.

Cafe creme in Merci’s library.

We had lunch in Merci’s used book cafe, surrounded by library shelves and little tables & nooks to sit and munch. We enjoyed œuf à la coque and chocolat tartines, along with frothy cafe cremes. Clumsily breaking through the shell of the egg, we reached the sunny center, dredging the fingers of bread in butter and yolk. With full bellies, we went on to explore the three levels of the store, I with a mission to buy something that captured the Parisian spirit. Once I spied the rack of Isabel Marant Étoilé, my heart was  set on a piece from the quintessential designer of effortless chic and cool femme style. I came away with an embroidered silk sheath , spun of kohl and gold, with a low slung tie that hung on my hips hearkening the 20s. It matched the mood of my new scent, Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique, “a warm and romantic vetiver” inspired by Paris in the late 20s and its infatuation with the avant-garde and vibrant expression of the African culture. I imagine my own euphoria in Paris – spun in a cloud of cloves and mojitos, drinking in the city and its exuberance of light and culture.

Diary, Work / Life

a Ramble through St-Germain

18:28. 43° and raining in a café in Le Marais, sipping espresso slowly as Janneane reads about Diana Vreeland and nurses a sore-throat-soothing grog au rhum (like a honey-less hot toddy).

Yesterday, we walked past the magnificently exoskeleton-ed Pompidou, across the rue Rivoli and the Seine, and down to Saint-Germain. Though little remains of Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche and the Lost Generation‘s* (footnotes at end) literary conclave, the tangled sidestreets and multi-named (and multi-directional) allweyways still feel a bit like the worlds that Yves designed for and the 20’s expats wrote about (and in).

In Saint-Germain, outside the (4-star/luxury) hotel where Oscar Wilde died, remarking “I am dying beyond my means.”

We try to wander slowly, perceptively. But the ease of instant mobile-GPS mapping makes accidental discoveries feel purposeful. Still, we’re able to happen upon unmapped libraires & boulangeries (while simultaneously making sure we turn right on Rue des Beaux-Arts to stare at L’Hôtel, where Oscar Wilde succumbed to cerebral meningitis in 1900).

After a few espressos & pomme chaussons, we find Rue de l’Odéon and its tightly tucked-away Shakespeare and Company book… place (I hesitate to call it a bookstore because although buying is the point, you’re supposed to pretend that you’re in a 1920’s salon – sitting with Sylvia Beach, waiting for Joyce to hobble his crumbling figure through the tiny entryway and listen to his unintelligible reading of an unexpurgated passage from Ulysses). I still bought books**. And I said yes when the cashier asked if I’d like the tourist-baiting Shakespeare & Co stamp inside the front cover of my purchase. Continue reading