Posts Tagged ‘mémé’

My chosen feminist style icon

02 Mar
beach, smoking

Sitting together at the beach

As a child I had very strong likes and dislikes. My propensity for all things bright and colorful turned my mother into a very concerned citizen. I’m only paraphrasing slightly when I say that she would swear I dressed myself up like a Christmas tree when left to my own devices, having taken after my grandmother, the family magpie. I realize now that the analogy of the Christmas tree must have made more sense in French because it doesn’t really hold much drama when uttered in English.

That said, she meant I had too great of an enthusiasm for color and textures to meet the criteria of a lady, classy and tasteful. She had me pegged right. I still think fondly of my mémé Nadia (Najla) Bittar as my inspiration with regards to fashion. Stories of her eccentric behavior and questionable moral fiber flit about here and there, as a child I knew a very different woman.

It was 1972, a Parisian living in Lebanon. She was a woman who would not rely on a single man, she lived a fabulous life. The rose pink baroque velvet sofa, the glass-topped dining table and chandelier, the fox stole, the sequined dresses. Last but not least, the caribou bedroom slippers with the kitten heel. As child of five I was mesmerized by the magical natural of this opulence. Oh, my mémé must have been Liberace’s fantasy muse. She was a free spirit and she never turned down anything that glittered or shined.

She traveled and brought back trinkets from faraway places, she regaled tales with the theatrical intensity of Gloria Swanson, one captivating story after another. While adults might have tsk’ed-tsk’ed, she was my hero. Dressed to the nines every time she left the house, she drank Johnny Walker Red, smoked unfiltered Lucky Strikes, straightened and bleached her curly black hair blond, outfitted her golden arms and fingers in costume jewelry and wore a lot of heavy eye make-up.

She carried herself with a glamour to inspire and mesmerize the young and innocent. She broke every rule about the expectations of women’s roles along the way. I’m not saying everything she did was right but she certainly did it her own way. While no one may have ever heard of her, Nadia Bittar is my chosen feminist style icon.

Check out these additional contributing Fashionable Feminist Icon posts for inspiration:
Hedy Lamarr – Adventures in Refashioning

Björk – Oranges and Apples

Christine Lagarde– Rags Against the Machine

Cindy Sherman – Mrs Bossa Does the Do

Claude Cahun – Cervixosaurus

Diane Von Furstenberg – For Those About to Shop

Elizabeth Smith Miller – Techie Style

Ellen Page – SK{ru}SH

Frida Kahlo – La Historiadora de Moda from Fashionable Academics

Frida Kahlo – Knitting Up the Ravelled Sleeve of Care

Gloria Steinem – Ef for Effort

Gloria Steinem – What If No-One’s Watching?

Gloria Trevi – Feministified

Grandmother – The House in the Clouds

Griselda Pollock – Magic Square Foundation

Marjane Satrapi – Jean of all Trades

Joan of Arc – Interrobangs Anonymous

Julia de Burgos – Mad Dress Game

Margaret Cho – What Are Years?

Rachel Carson – Aly en France

Siouxsie Sioux – Yo Ladies

Sydney Fox – My Illustrative Life

Vivienne Westwood – Seamstress Stories


30 for 30, Day 24. Yummy Goodness!

01 Dec
Fearlessly mixing black and brown

However wrong it may be, sometimes, cereal for dessert is just yummy! There, I said it. It’s true and I just had a bowl, (actually, it was a small tea cup.)

Less yummy was the belt. It actually looked so much cuter to remove it and un-tuck the thin blouse and have it peek from under the black t-shirt. Much cuter and more comfortable. Honestly, I take my comfort so seriously that it’s a miracle I’m not running around in sweatpants, circa 1985. Alas, I take my vanity seriously, too.

Another yummy thing is that I got tagged with a Versatile Blogger Award by one most super awesome Rose of Lovely Ladypants McGee. Aaack! An award is an award is an award. Silly or not, I’m excited! I recently discovered her blog and fell in love. She’s got delivery, she’s got a rad style. And she’s nice, too boot. Bear with me, here’s how it works:

1. Thank and link back to who gave you the award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass it along to 7 other blogs you recently discovered and enjoy
4. Leave your recipients a note telling them you awarded them the award

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you’re well aware that I took part in that “25 things about me” meme three times. That’s seventy-five different things about me. I pretty much have no more secrets. Just kidding! Of course I do, silly. But here are seven (hopefully) new-to-you facts:

1. I’ve been blond three times in my life. My current driver’s license states that I’m blond. I’m not blond.

2. I speak French fluently. Mais oui! My written grammar is not quite up to par, I did not continue with French in school when we moved to the U.S. because I was shy and didn’t like the attention. I’ve since realized I’m not shy at all but I was very awkward. Very, very awkward.

3. When I started running, I couldn’t run more than twenty minutes. I was horribly slow and I panted the whole time. Old ladies used to pass me up, (it’s true!) I also have asthma. I was not a natural runner but I didn’t give up. Slow and steady over time, I built up my condition and no longer even use an inhaler. Now, running approximately a 9 minute mile for an hour is not that big of a deal anymore.

4. My mom used to tease me when I would dress myself as a kid. She used to say I looked like a Christmas tree, (and also like my eccentric grandmother, Mémé.) She was afraid I would never quite become ladylike. It’s a phase I never really outgrew.

5. I had a pop band in my 20′s and we played locally. I still sing all the time and totally love it. In fact, I recorded a song for my best friends’, Telene and Konstantin of Polygroovers. Singing makes me very happy. I hope to record more, (hint, hint.)

6. I love making people laugh. I might consider humiliating myself for the sake of a good laugh. I don’t mind humor at my expense, I’m a ham with no shame. In fact, if I get enough encouragement, I’ll post one of today’s ridiculous outtakes. My head ended really large and my legs really little, like a reptile. I laughed super hard when I first saw it. You might, too.

7. I’m a total gear-head. I’m very outdoorsy and practically have everything piece of gear necessary for hiking, backpacking, camping, snowboarding, running, cycling, cold weather, colder weather, the coldest of weathers and Burning Man. I even have a wetsuit and booties. I love the little bit of surfing I did a few years ago and know that I will do it again. I think the ideal snowboarding conditions is when it’s dumping snow and freezing cold. In fact, I may find myself hiking in the rain this weekend, depending on the weather. It’s ok, I have water-proof gear, too.

The bad news is that I’ve been so busy that I don’t have the time to immediately tag 7 other bloggers. But I will, I’m good that way with promises. To be continued…

Deets: Boyfriend blazer/ Sparkle and Fade, Urban Outfitters, sheer paisley blouse/Laundry, black t-shirt/Michael Stars, sage cargo pants/J Brand, Anthropologie, black hand-carved gingko earrings/Braindrops, brown man-made suede boots/Munro.


Posted in Fashion