Archive for Culture

One Week in Paris

Posted in Art Nouveau with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2018 by James Field

 

 

Holiday

noun  hol·i·day 

“A day on which one is exempt from work; specifically a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event”

Following the Webster definition of the word, the event that is in question was my Thirtieth birthday, which I was blessed to have spent in France. Follow me as I retrace my steps back to that One Week in Paris.

I arrived on the sunny Saturday morning of June 23rd. When I landed, I was hit with an immediate sense of adventure and excitement to experience all the wonders the city was calmly awaiting for me to marvel over.

My trip of course needed a central comfort base, and the quaint Hotel Boronali in the colorful neighborhood of Montmarte, was just the place. The hotel is perched atop a little hill with a cafe just on the corner, and surrounded by picturesque townhouses and restaurants.

The Hotel Bornali – 65 Rue de Clingnancourt, Montmarte neighborhood of the 18th Arrondissement

The Beautiful Sacre Coeur Basilica, at the top of a hill on the Rue de Chevalier de la Barre.

 

My room was located on the 3rd floor and overlooked an inner courtyard, but was very quiet and cozy. I flew into Paris from New York City, with a connecting flight in Toronto, so to say the least my back was in all kinds of knots. I immediately searched for a local spa. After being restored by a wonderful hour-long back and leg rub (fairly priced), I was ready to start planning my week, but not before a quick roam around the neighborhood to get a feel of my surroundings. I walked for about two blocks before I stumbled upon a bustling little market. The side streets were full of charming vendors selling 18th and 19th century furniture, vintage jewelry, and all sorts of objet d’art.

It wasn’t long before I spotted a vintage brown leather drawstring bag, a pair of red cotton and hemp slippers, a set of two watercolor paintings from 1960, and a mixed-metal African pendant necklace, before I calmly made my way to the hotel with the biggest grin on my face. I was absolutely thrilled and knew from that moment on the rest of my time in Paris would be a special one.

Unpacking luggage and organizing took about an hour and after grabbing a bite from a delicious local Turkish stand, the evening was upon me. I wanted to head out for a walk, so I showered and changed into my interpretation of a 1970’s Parisian club kid: A black silk velvet smoking jacket with no shirt under, a set of vintage 1940’s black silk pajama pants with gold thread embroidery, and finally topped with a vintage 1960’s black wool schoolboy cap.

Paris at night is sublime. The street lights collectively glitter like jewels that have been strategically placed about to adorn the great city. I walked and marveled for about two hours before stopping in a small bar for an evening nightcap.

The next morning I wanted to begin with a semi-traditional “French breakfast” so I made my way to the corner cafe on route to the center of the city, which would be my ultimate destination for the day. A warm and flaky almond croissant, black coffee with a little fresh creme, and a tart topped with fresh berries was appropriate, at least I thought.

It takes about a 30 minute walk down from Montmarte to the center of the city, so with music playing in my headphones I began to capture the sights along the way.

The iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame Pl. Jean-Paul II

The Palais Garnier Opera House

The fountains at the Palais de Chaillot

The Place Vendôme

The Place des Victoires and the equestrian statue of King Louis XIV.

The inner courtyard (Cour d’Honneur) of the Palais Royal. I am standing on art, as the black and white columns are part of the famous installation “Les Deux Plateaux” by French artist Daniel Buren.



The Hôtel de Ville

 

Returning to my hotel that afternoon I was tired but began planning out my next adventure….Versailles. The famed suburb of Versailles is located 30 minutes by train outside of Paris. The historic Chateau de Versailles is unlike anything I have ever seen in person. The sheer scale of the building and gardens are breathtaking, but it is nothing compared to what awaits the eye once inside.

 

 

There is a reason my photos of the inside of the Chateau were void of other people (of course I was one of hundreds of tourist that day) and that is because I wanted to try to capture the still beauty of what I consider to be a work of art, in its own right. There are countless exhibitions around the world dedicated to the architecture, furnishings and gardens of Versailles that it made it hard for me to actually believe I was there. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in my life. The photos and memories will truly last a lifetime.

The remainder of my time in Paris consisted of visits to the Louvre, Nissim de Comondo, and Arts Decoratifs Museums, and more fantastic views of the city below.

 

The Jardin du Luxembourg, June 25th my 30th birthday

 

 

Throne of Emperor Napoleon I

 

 

 

 

The French Crown Jewels

 

 

 

The Cafe Marly at Musee du Louvre

 

Musee Nissim de Camondo

 

Musee des Arts Decoratifs

A 1920’s Cartier clock at Musee des Arts Decoratifs

 

The Seine River

The Fountaine de Mars

 

 

Pont Alexandre III Bridge

Home

Before I knew it, it was time for my flight back to the States and I just couldn’t believe the week I had just experienced. It was an enchanting, wonderful, and special trip full of great memories that I will certainly cherish forever.

Thank you for reading.

(All photos are my own)

James

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T.B.N Interviews: Lawrence Charles

Posted in T.B.N Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by James Field

With every new year comes new beginnings. For myself and The Black Nouveau, I wanted to kick off my interviews section with a dynamic, entrepreneurial spirit that embodies the new energy that I wish to bring forth this year.

Enter Mr Lawrence Charles, CEO and Founder of the luxury tea company Charles & Company. He is a man of great character and perseverance, and he made his dream come true with true grit and determination. He talks to us today about his struggles growing up in the inner city with a single parent, modeling for one of the biggest names in Fashion, and ultimately creating the brand that bears his name.

T.B.N- Welcome Mr. Charles and thank you for taking the time to speak with me about Charles & Company. Let’s begin with a little background, where are you from?

L.C- I’m from Canton, Ohio. I grew up in the inner-city and was raised by a single mother. My grandmother and grandfather played an important role, but I did a lot of “self-parenting.” It was normal to do things like walk to school by myself in kindergarten, or have to make parent level decisions regarding my education, dealing with counselors, etc. I essentially escaped high school by the skin of my teeth. I wanted to attend college and double major in Industrial Design and International Economics or Finance.

Schools like Wharton made me salivate, but I finished high school with a 1.2 GPA. I found myself navigating a home life of both parents on drugs while fighting with my teachers and an education system that sorted me below my aptitude. I simply gave up fighting and just survived. Upon finishing high school I was able to get into college on my talent alone. I was off to Pittsburgh. I went to design school and studied Industrial Design with an emphasis on consumer product design and interactive software development. To get through school in Pittsburgh I lived in a homeless shelter. There, I learned how to play chess at the level of chess master. You’d be surprised who you may find in a homeless shelter, but being a kid there I was taken under the wing of some caring, brilliant people. There, I learned how fragile life is. I also learned to be present. I learned how to love, care for, and care about people from all walks and circumstances. To this day, although I’ve worked with Royalty, and extremely powerful people and celebrities, I believe that everyone is a dignitary. Everyone.

I finished school at the top of my class and was recruited by one of my professors to be a Head Designer on a start-up children’s television series. It went on to win 3 Telly Awards, beating juggernauts like Fox Kids and Disney. About this time was when Tommy Hilfiger came calling.

T.B.N- After reading your bio I can, on many levels, relate to your upbringing by a single parent in an urban and sometimes discouraging environment. Did that ever deter you from pursuing your dreams?

L.C- Yes I had challenges, but I think the question may have been more about did I feel challenged in my ability to achieve my dreams and goals. Every one of us has talents and fresh passion that helps us in pursuing our goals. But in coming from an urban environment, there’s generally no one there to help you understand the talent you possess. Nor are you just a parent, uncle, or sibling removed from seeing for example an attorney, a professor, an investment banker. I had to set out on a path of defining and understanding what these incredible gifts and talents God gave me were, and then how to use them and hone them. So, pursuing your dreams from there is somewhat of a long chartered flight.

T.B.N- Did you always have the entrepreneurial spirit, and when did it begin flourish?

L.C- Yes. In kindergarten through grade school I would auction off my “hand-me-down” toys to neighboring adults for their kids. In the 2nd or 3rd grade I was always building, constructing things out of paper or whatever spare parts I could find. I rarely built things for the norm, but rather the aberration. I was pioneering then. By 7 years old I stumbled across a flower factory in town that was constantly throwing out what I thought were perfect flowers. I came up with the idea to sell flowers in front of a busy bank on Fridays. Even at 7 I knew that was when everyone got paid. I had category pricing, meaning I would set prices by what I thought commanded more or less. I would also bundle deals, like purchase 2 for “X” price. By high school I started a neighborhood barbershop.

T.B.N- Your work as a model and spokesperson for Tommy Hilfiger must have been an exciting and memorable time in your life. Tell us the story of how that came to be?

L.C- While I was going to design school, I took advantage of the filming that was done in Pittsburgh and the different casting offices as well as modeling and I just turned my photo into as many places as I could. I was a “starving artist.” One day I received a call from Tommy Hilfiger NY that was left on my voice-mail at home. I almost lost my mind. That was a surreal moment. I did a show for Tommy and with Rebecca Romijn. That sent me to New York City and was the launch of my modeling career.

T.B.N- When did your love of Tea begin?

L.C- I began drinking tea while in New York City. New York is a non-stop, 24/7 city, but when I discovered tea I found that it had an almost magical ability to quiet and slow down the chaos of the city. I fell in love with the history of tea and how it was King Charles II that integrated tea in to the higher, social fabric of British society. How it was through the influence of his wife, and her use of it to socialize with family and friends.

T.B.N- What were some of the challenges you faced when launching the company?

L.C- Without question, capital. And I also had no idea what I was doing from the perspective of building a real, organized start-up company. I owned a bicycle, I had a backpack and all I knew was to take my tea to places I thought I could find people to buy my tea. I was literally selling tea on the streets.

T.B.N- What is your favorite tea to drink and why?

L.C- My favorite to drink is breakfast tea because I like that its complex, but I’m fond of its simplicity.

T.B.N- For those who are not aware, what are some of the many health benefits of drinking tea?

L.C- Tea is an amazing elixir that scientists are discovering new things about continuously. If you just take a look at white, green, oolong, and black tea, you will find things like Thiamine, which affect the brain and heightens mental alertness and concentration. Tea contains good antioxidants that thwart free radicals and slows aging. Outside of its ability to help you fight common colds, tea helps prevent cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

One of the most overlooked health benefits of tea is what it does for mental health. Just by sharing a cup with a friend or a neighbor or in your own solitude allows you to take a moment, slow down, stop thinking about the bills, the kids, etc. But it allows you to be present and pulls you out of the challenges of life. This is critical to your mental well-being.

T.B.N- What are some of Charles & Company’s bestselling teas?

L.C- It varies at times, but I would say our Indian Chai, White Blueberry Pomegranate, or Coconut Chamomile. Chai is in many ways the basis of Ayurveda. Our Indian Chai is very traditional, I use clusters of spices like cardamom, pieces of cinnamon, and ginger beautifully arranged in a deep, smoky Indian black tea. With our White Blueberry Pomegranate, to raise the antioxidant and vitamin C levels, I use freeze-dried blueberries and pomegranate that’s laid in a beautiful, open leafed white tea which gives it a deeper, richer brew. Our Coconut Chamomile begins with fresh, beautifully picked chamomile flowers, tossed in with delicious coconut meat and honey bush. I’ve been told by customers it’s so good, and that if you drink too much you’ll hallucinate. Those customers, I believe, may have been enjoying something else along with our tea.

T.B.N- What are some of your future plans for Charles & Company?

L.C- First of all, I listen to the pull of our customers. This is a great barometer as to where we will and can be. In addition, we have built up a ton of cachet that we will begin to slowly cash in on. Our customers have done us an incredible service by giving us the title “luxury.” For this I am deeply grateful. In being a luxury brand, we cater to lifestyle. We are currently in talks with a couple major department stores. We are already looking at expansion in Europe. Our customers have been asking for china, so we will be launching our line of tea ware and china soon. Our customers consider us the “Ralph Lauren of tea,” so I believe this gives us the ability to become a multibillion dollar brand. I’m excited about what’s ahead.

 

Kathy Eldon & Lawrence Charles

Kathy Eldon & Lawrence Charles

 

T.B.N- What advice would you give struggling entrepreneurs?

L.C –

· Be persistent.

· Be persistent.

· Be kindly persistent.

· By all means do what you say.

· By all means, follow through. It’s tough to have so much on your plate at once, so delays are understood, but by all means follow through.

· Following through builds trust.

· Get a financial adviser if you already don’t have one.

· Get a mentor too.

· Listen to your adviser (And learn through your own experience what advice is working. Don’t just think you’re right. Let go a little)

· Listen to your customer. Pursue what you deeply believe is the correct path, but they will ultimately show you the way.

· Learn how to grow with no capital. When you get capital, continue to be resourceful.

· Revenue is deceiving.

· By all means, find your “product-market-fit.”

· Once you have your product market fit, build your network of “strategic” advisers.

· Continually look at growth and how your company fits into this thought of growth.

· If you’re a millennial or generation X African-American, do not carry the weight of your parents, and do not be coerced to do so. Yes, racism still exists in parts. So what, it’s not the majority. As Maya Angelou said, ‘Pick up your crown and wear it!’

T.B.N- What do you love most about your job?

L.C- Building a brand is a magical experience. I love everything, especially the people and the relationships. We get to work with amazing people both famous and not famous. From HRH The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; Greta Garbo’s Estate; Diane Von Furstenberg’s Estate; to Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide/The CW Network’s TV show “Breaking Pointe.”

T.B.N- Lastly, please give us some final words about Charles & Company and what you hope people will discover about your products.

Charles & Company Tea founded by Lawrence Charles brings to life the experience of traditional British Tea. The company was started to share the comfort, health, serenity, and togetherness that people experience while drinking tea. With a background as an award-winning Industrial Designer, CEO Lawrence Charles’ passion for creativity and elegance is present from the first step of selecting the leaves, to the last step of sharing Charles & Company Tea with the world. Charles & Company has signature blends you can learn about and purchase at www.cnctea.com

Thank you so much Lawrence for taking the time to inspire us all with your story and speaking for me, it was my pleasure. I look forward to hearing more about Charles & Company and I wish you much success on your future endeavors.

Like Charles & Company Tea on Facebook

Follow Charles & Company Tea on Twitter: http://twitter.com/charlesncompany

J.F

My Escape

Posted in Art Nouveau with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2011 by James Field

One of my absolute favorite places in New York, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I find it to be the only place where I can totally immerse myself within the art, and feel like I am discovering something new each time. It almost has a therapeutic effect on me. Today I went to the Met and just walked, walked around and gazed and observed the beauty of what man can achieve. It was such a relaxing and awe-inspiring experience, and I found myself getting lost, within myself. I feel a place like this or something like is necessary in life, sometimes you need to just escape and let go.

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”  -Twyla Tharp

“Movement” x INKIE & INSA

Posted in Art Nouveau with tags , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by James Field

This is the coolest street graffiti  I have seen in a while! ( Click on the images to see the animation)

GIF animated street art by INKIE and backgrounds by INSA

Via Blame It On The Bogi

Topic: The GeboMana Shirt

Posted in Art Nouveau with tags , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by James Field

So about a week ago a wonderful company named GeboMana contacted me about their beautiful handmade tee shirts and the great cause that they support. The company makes these  amazing limited-edition handmade shirts of 100% organic cotton featuring beautiful motifs. They were even so gracious enough to send me one, called the “Temple Fan” which has a beautiful silver foil effect to it.

The name “Gebo” literally means giving or gratitude, and was given to the tenth rune in the Viking rune alphabet. The main focus on what makes this company so special, aside from their cool shirts, is that every 5 shirts that are sold, GeboMana provides a whole year of education to an underprivileged child. With that fact in mind, GeboMana is out to make the world a better place, one shirt at a time.

“At GeboMana we have chosen Gebo to stand for what we’re all about; socially conscious fabrics, giving gifts and creating bonds and connections between all of us here on this planet.”

  GeboMana

Special thanks to Fiona and the entire GeboMana PR team.

Thanks so very much guys!

Visit Gebomana.com for more info, and also check them out on Twitter and their Facebook page.

James

The Dance In The Dark

Posted in Art Nouveau with tags , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2010 by James Field

This is what you get when you mix Moose-Hunters, Runway Wonderland  and The Black Nouveau together…#Greatness in its purest form.

Photos courtesy of Curtis Bryant

James

Dog Days Are Over

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by James Field