October 25, 2021

Luxembourg - Meet Nana

Apparently Nana's history is way longer than our history in Luxembourg, but I came to meet her back in 2019 when she stood proud in the city centre. 

Recently I was in a bit of a shock not to see her in her usual place and found out from Instagram that they moved the statue to the garden of the Vauban Villa, but that will not be her final place. So let's start from the beginning. Nana, by her real name "La Grand TempĂ©rance" is the creation of Niki de Saint Phalle, an artist who had a thing for big, curvaceous, colourful ladies statues. During her lifetime, she died in 2002, she created more than 3000 sculptures, big or small, but always colourful. 

According to the press, Nana came to Luxembourg in 1995 to celebrate Luxembourg as a European Cultural Capital. She was placed on Boulevard Royale near Hamilius. There were different times back then (although to me it seems like yesterday) and people did not appreciate her curvaceous body. Lux Times even said that an Octave Procession had to change its course to avoid the statue or in one year they covered the statue altogether. She was taken down in 2011 in anticipation of the works at the Hamilius area so that is why when we arrived in Luxembourg, at the end of 2012, I had no idea she even existed. 

Nonetheless, in 2019 she came back to Luxembourg and was placed near the Post Office, still in the Hamilius area. 

I found her there last year around Christmas when I took this picture

So when, this year, they moved the weekly market from Knuedler to Hamilius, Instagram was flooded with pictures of Nana surrounded by flowers. During the Summer she looked lovely. As of the pandemic, I had no business being in the city centre on a Wednesday, so I could not take a picture of my own, but when I did come to Luxembourg, she was moved again.

She is now in the garden of Villa Vauban and Ville de Luxembourg says it will stay there until 2023 when the works of the old Post Office will be over. It was there where I found her on a rainy day, she is visible from the street, although she has the back to the street and the face towards the villa. 

So that's it, boys and girls, she is Nana, a 6 metres tall colourful sculpture, made by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle, bought by the Luxembourg City in 1995. As usual you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

October 18, 2021

Luxembourg - Discover a place celebrating women's history

Today I want to take you to Pafendall or Paffenthal a neighbourhood in the old Luxembourg. First mentioned in the 15th century, it was a popular neighbourhood for all sort of craftsman who were making things along the banks of the river Alzette. At one point it had its own language, a dialect of Luxembourgish, called Yenish. In our days it is known for the Panoramic Elevator which connects it to the centre of the city and for the Funicular which connects it to the Kirchberg area. 

In the middle of Pafendall there is a basin which is called kneipp path (foot bath) where one could exercise the stork walk which improves the circulation. But before that was transformed into a contemporary socialising place, the kneipp path was a lavoir, a place where women would come to wash clothes. 

This particular lavoir was one of the four washing spots that existed in the area and the only one surviving today. It was built in 1931 and it was used for more than forty years up to the era in which running water was introduced in every house and the washing machines became popular. It was a place where women would come to wash, to meet and to chat. It was restored in 2016 almost at the same time they installed the Panoramic Elevator and if you want to find it, it is across the street from the church.

Close to the Luxembourgish National Day, which is June 23rd, there is the Day of the Neighbourhood in which they organise a water carrying contest for children around the old lavoir. 

The place has a specific energy and if you visit it on a sunny day as I did, take a coffee or a sandwich with you to enjoy it, who knows you might meet your next best friend there.

A shorter post for today, as I am in a very busy part of my year, but rest assured I have more stories to tell you about Luxembourg, friendship and collies :) so stay close. I hope you've liked reading this post as much as I've enjoyed writing it, hope to spot you on Instagram where I am a bit more active @mademoiselle.ralu 

P.S. Pit Weyer a graphic designer drew the pattern for the railings that lead to the lavoir trying to recreate the old, local, colour of the neighbourhood, with women washing clothes and children playing.

October 12, 2021

Luxembourg - Iconic fashion pieces - The basic striped t-shirt

I wrote so many posts about the Romanian Blouse that you might think that is all I wear, but it's far from the truth. Normally if we'd meet on the street, chances are I am wearing a striped t-shirt. Long sleeved, short sleeved, blue and white, white and blue, green, red, orange, coloured, it doesn't matter, really. This year I've discovered the striped dresses and I already own and wear two :)

I've started wearing them almost ten years ago, because I was working on television and striped t-shirts were a big no-no because the TV screen is made of horizontal stripes and the t-shirt of vertical stripes, together they create something which is called the Moire effect. My everyday uniform was a striped t-shirt, jeans and converse, because my other t-shirts were for TV.

My personal favourite are the blue with white stripes, but that design is not the original one. Turns out the Breton Striped T-shirts were invented in 1858 as the uniform for the French Seaman in Northern France, in Brittany. They were made of wool fabric, white with blue stripes and they had exactly 21 stripes, one for each of the Napoleon Bonaparte's victories against the British. Similar to Romanian Blouses, when a sailor would die in battle he was recognised as being French after his striped t-shirt. 

The one who is responsible for turning this uniform into a fashionable item is non other than Coco Chanel. Apparently striped t-shirts with trousers were worn by women at the seaside towns on holidays, and she had a store in Deauville on the French Riviera, but they became fashion items in 1917 when she made a whole collection inspired by this shirt and called it the Nautical Collection. We already know that she helped promote the wearing of pans in women clothing so one could say the striped shirt and pants combo became fashionable from then on and it is still now.  

Over the years a lot of celebrities chose to wear the striped t-shirt in a casual setting or in a more formal one and with just one Google search you can see all the examples. I have chosen just three:

Coco Chanel wearing a striped t-shirt and flared trousers.
Audrey Hepburn in the 1956 movie "Funny Face" wearing a striped t-shirt, blue with white stripes.
To me she will always be the Fashion Icon of my generation, so here she is, Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a striped t-shirt.
Closer to home, here is Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Maria Teresa wearing stripes. I took the photo from their oficial instagram account  

As I've said, I think stripes are good for any occasion, I dress them up or down, I wear stripes at the office or at parties and you know what, I even find them flattering on my silhouette. The combination stripes with pearls I think it's amazing. I always choose natural fabrics, cotton or linen t-shirts or dresses, I haven't yet found a hemp striped t-shirt, but if you know a good one, send it my way. 
Let's just pause for a moment: when or where would I ever end up together with Sarah Jessica Parker or Coco Chanel on an article? But nonetheless here I am in all my glory, this Spring in a wheat field.
Here I am on our holiday in the South of France in Martigues
Stripes again at the Souleiado Factory Museum
Stripes on my hometown
And again stripes on our weekend in the Netherlands with the tulip fields.

Where to find good quality striped t-shirts? 

Well I have to confess I buy most of my striped t-shirts online from Debenhams (back when they had a decent store for Europe) from M&S or a recent favourite is Seasalt Cornwall. In Luxembourg I found good t-shirts at MonoPrix in the City Centre, from there I bought my blue striped dress in the first picture and IT HAS POCKETS :) but depending on your budget you can find them at Camaieu, H&M, Zara, C&A, Esprit...they all have good quality cotton striped t-shirts.

If you want to splurge and buy a close to authentic striped t-shirt, there are Saint James or Orcival stores, the first advertises itself as the ones producing the t-shirts for the sailors back in 1858, the last sells only striped t-shirts, but they are one in a lifetime items, I would asume. 

And that is it, boys and girls. I don't want to jinx it, but I'm imagining this blog taking a bit of a different direction. So stay with me :) As usual I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu