Il pleut en février

It’s only February 5th and I’m already googling “when does it get warm again in Paris?”

The days of multi-layer outfits and constantly checking for hat, scarf, gloves and coat before I leave the apartment, seem endless. With that being said, the rainy days are both a curse and a welcome change of pace. For many weeks there was a stiff coldness that ran through Paris, no rain, just off and on between gloomy clouds and clear skies. Without the rain, it made the pollution in Paris unbearable, to the point of frequent health alerts advising people not to do any exerted breathing outdoors. You know, like, don’t run or walk too much. Nothing is worse than an overly packed metro and during those weeks, I was just one of the many sardines stuffed into the underground tin.

Thankfully (I say with reservations), the rain has brought some warmer (just barely out of negatives type of “warmer”) weather and cleared away the pollution. With this, I’m back outside; choosing to get around à pied rather than taking le métro. On this such an occasion it was a trip to the library.

La Bibliothèque nationale de France, is a vast and modern building in Paris. Having been built in 1994, the space has an untouched forest that grows in the middle of four towers connected by walkways, with lecture rooms and study halls. The wooden outdoor walkways, where food trucks park, and a wide set of stairs that take you from the docks of the Seine to the library, remind me a perfect summer day. However, in this case it was a rainy Sunday afternoon, so my friend Maïté took me to see an exhibition just inside the BnF.

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Photos from Funny Face by Richard Avedon

Avedon’s France: Old World New Look, featured seven rooms that represented Avedon’s work surrounding French themes. From French fashion, to film, portraits and his time working for Egoïste, a magazine founded in the late 1970s by Nicole Wisniak.

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Selfie at the Avedon exhibit

As visual consultant for Funny Face, Avedon’s work was astonishing and the exhibit portrayed the images along with side-boxes that ran the movie clip from where the photograph took place. If you’ve seen the movie, you know it’s about the “quirky” face of Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) and how she becomes a model. The iconic photos are legitimately taken during the scenes in the movie, as you can see here:

After seeing the whole exhibition, I’d have to say his work in Egoïste had to be my favorite. As he said, “Egoïste is the only magazine in the world to give me completely free expression.” With that freedom, he created some very raw human photography of very private people. He also created a long-form, fictional, tragic love story, called Kate’s Story that gave me dark// pseudo-lesbian// Pretty Woman vibes.

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Egoïste cover by Richard Avedon

The exhibition finishes at the end of February, so catch it while you can.



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