My pregnancy essentials

Being pregnant in Paris and France can be quite daunting when you’re not at all familiar with the health care system or which resources are available to you. Even finding normal, or rather, “Anglo” pregnancy items can be a challenge. 11 months later with a healthy and gorgeous baby in our lives, I’m happy to share my 7 pregnancy essentials with you!


1. My morning sickness wasn’t terrible but it was still very present. As long as I was kept fed I seemed to be ok. A friend visiting from London put together a pregnancy kit for me and these cookies were in them — apparently ginger is a wonderful remedy to morning sickness? All I know is these cookies helped me get through several waves or nausea and for that I will be eternally grateful!

Sold in Paris at W.H. Smith, 248 rue de Rivoli, 75001.


2. Another ginger-y item that saved the day! Especially since it’s caffeine free. I bought box loads of these at a time and always had sachets in my handbag for whenever I was out for tea with friends.

Sold at La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché, 38 rue de Sèvres, 75007, Paris.


3. I will be eternally grateful to my friend Zack for my Snoogle Total Body Pillow. Near the beginning of my pregnancy I wasn’t sure I would be able to exclusively sleep on my left side as recommended for the baby (I’d trained myself to be a back sleeper years ago — less wrinkles!) so I knew I had to get some kind of body pillow. Unfortunately it seemed almost  impossible to find in France so mine came from BuyBuyBaby in Manhatten. It’s, without a doubt, the best pregnancy item I bought or received. I love, L-O-V-E, my Snoogle. Like sleeping on a cloud!


4. My Moleskine red journal was a timely gift during Paris Fashion Week in January. Although I wish I had used it more, the stories and moments that I did recount during my pregnancy are precious. I can’t wait to relive them in the years to come.


5. As I mentioned, navigating the French healthcare system was at times totally bewildering. Luckily a friend of mine had given me a copy of Pamela Druckerman’s French Children Don’t Throw Food — an excellent read in itself, but also referred to Message, an organization for English-speaking families in Paris. Their forums were a wealth of information for the gazillion questions I had and they also publish an excellent guide, the ABCs of Parenting in Paris.


6. After reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide To Childbirth and seeing The Business of Being Born I was absolutely positive that I wanted a natural birth. I discovered Hypnobirthing through the blog The Healthy Tipping Point and was intrigued by the idea of a painless natural birth. After visiting their site I discovered that they had a practitioner in Paris, Elizabeth Echlin. My husband and I took three sessions with Elizabeth, which were great for releasing fears and learning visualization and breathing techniques. Without these sessions I don’t know whether I would have had the brilliant birth that I did, all natural, with our DD arriving one and a half hours after we arrived at the hospital. I can’t recommend these sessions enough!


7. On a more superficial note, I discovered BB creams during my pregnancy and when I was completely exhausted with dark circles under my eyes and no energy to even think about make up, this cream was a lifesaver! Throughout my pregnancy everyone kept complementing me on my skin, little did they know it was thanks to a miracle tube from Bobbi Brown.

Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35


*Note* I didn’t include clothing or accessories in this list as I didn’t really add much to my wardrobe, except some leggings and camisoles. In fact I was decidedly “unfashion” about this pregnancy. If you have any pregnancy essentials yourselves, I would love to hear them! I may even adopt a few when pregnancy number two comes along (in the future!) ;-)


Cate Blanchett in Paris for Big and Small

Image © Lisa Tomasetti 2011

Last night the hubby and I attended a performance of Cate Blanchett’s Big and Small, which is on tour through Europe and currently performing at the Théâtre de la Ville. We were blown away by Cate’s performance: so big *and* so small, in this complex and thought provoking piece about the search for human connection.

The play performs until April 8th in Paris — if you’re a Cate fan, I won’t say the name of the hotel she’s staying at, but it’s in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, so chances are you might find spot her and family walking around taking in the sights before they head to London’s Barbicon on the next leg of their European tour. 

Cate Blanchett around Paris with husband Andrew Upton - Image via

Raf Simons IS in at Dior

Image from

The Twitterverse is definitely in a tizzy today about Jil Sander heading back to her eponymous label and Raf Simons heading to Christian Dior as John Galliano’s official replacement. According to a good friend at LVMH, Raf Simons has already signed on at Dior and the announcement will be made shortly.

I interviewed Raf last year when he was Jury President for the Hyères Festival — he’s a wonderfully modest and humble person — I couldn’t be happier for him!

New John Galliano rumours… time for the John comeback?

The rumour mills are swirling…. Wagging tongues are saying that fashion designer John Galliano is in talks with the powers that be at PPR to front a new PPR-funded luxury company.

And just when the eternal PPR vs. LVMH battle seemed put to rest — will these negotiations have fashionable furs flying again? Only time will tell!

Stay tuned!

Interview with Vanessa Barneby from Barneby Gates

Vanessa Barneby of Barneby Gates © Tim Daukes

Our upcoming move has had me glued to all manner of design websites throughout the last few weeks and one of my favorite discoveries has been the English wallpaper design duo of Barneby Gates. Their gorgeous wallpapers are based on classical themes with a contemporary twist and have me dreaming of not only doing a few rooms in our new flat but also some future projects in the country. Vanessa Barneby was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about their designs, inspirations and share her tips for the wallpaper-shy.

Who are you and how did Barneby Gates come about?

We are Vanessa Barneby – interiors stylist, journalist and ex-Living Editor at British Vogue, and Alice Gates – artist with roots in fashion illustration and textile design.  In 2009, we decided to pool our experience and set up Barneby Gates. We both adore wallpapers, but felt frustrated at not being able to find what we wanted for our own homes. I have a passion for print and colour, and my background as an interiors stylist and working for Vogue means I have a fair idea of what people want in their homes, how to play with colour and texture, and the direction of certain trends and so on, while Alice – as an artist – loves working on a flat surface, so wallpaper seemed the obvious route.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

We both live in the countryside now, so much of our inspiration comes from nature and our surroundings (Deer Damask, Boxing Hares, Wild Meadow, Horse Trellis) but there are certain things that we just happen to be a bit obsessed with – like Chairs and vintage photographs (This Other Eden) – that have become designs!  Art Galleries, museums, thrift stores, vintage magazines, and fashion are all constantly inspiring. I’ve always adored Chanel’s star print dresses for example, and it was this that led us to design our All Star wallpaper. We didn’t want the stars to look static though – as would be so easy on a flat wall – so we worked hard at giving them that movement, so they have that same soft fluidity of a silk dress.

Which other designers and creative people do you admire?

Inès de La Fressange – the epitome of Parisian chic. Celia Birtwell – for her eccentric but lovely designs that have stood the test of time. Tim Walker for his magical way with a camera. 

What are your favorite brands of the moment?

Rag & Bone – fabulously un-fussy designs which are both chic and practical. The ideal combination.

What has you obsessed at the moment?

Chairs – of all styles and eras. We have just launched a new wallpaper called Chairs, which features 14 iconic chairs – from Gothic Revival, Jacobean, Hepplewhite, to mid-century designs by Norman Cherner (my favorite) and Eames, to the modern classic Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck. So Alice and I have been ridiculously obsessed by chairs for quite some time now! 

What are your favorite home items?

My kitchen chairs are very old beaten up Tolix chairs that I found on the Goldborne Road years ago before they got ridiculously expensive, so I really treasure them. I recently moved from a flat in Notting Hill to a cottage in the country and the Tolix chairs work equally well in both – they are so versatile. 

© Vanessa Barneby

© Vanessa Barneby

© Vanessa Barneby

A Tim Walker print from a Vogue shoot that I was given by the girls when I left Vogue (can’t send picture because it’s in the Framers I’m afraid! – it’s the one of Lily Cole in India standing on a spiral staircase with long blue dress falling down over the banister and all the way down onto the floor – know the one?). The architectural mirror above the fireplace is made from an old Georgian window frame – I love it. (And it sits very well against our Boxing Hares wallpaper too!) The Union Jack cushion on the chair by the fire was designed by Lucinda Chambers for The Rug Company.

© Vanessa Barneby

In my bedroom the bedspread is a table cloth from India, and the cushions are made from pieces of antique Indian textile. The colours and textures compliment our Wild Meadow wallpaper so well – a soft pink based on the colour of natural setting plaster.

© Vanessa Barneby

What tips can you share for people embarking on their first wallpaper experience?

Don’t be afraid! I hate this ‘feature wall’ thing people do because they’re scared of over-doing the wallpaper. Rooms look best wallpapered in the traditional way – with every wall papered and – if you’re feeling really adventurous – the ceiling as well. It’s like walking into a jewellery box.

What’s next for Barneby Gates?

We’re exhibiting at Decorex next week (25th – 28th September) at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea. We’re also working on two new designs for Spring… and we’ve just been taken on by Stark in the US…

Thanks to Vanessa! Don’t wait to visit and shop Barneby Gates online at:

A beauty post and what’s in my makeup kit

Yesterday’s press visit to the Peggy Sage press day at the Hôtel George V has inspired to me to make this a beauty post type of day. First of all about the nails! Peggy Sage is an American brand that was brought to France and is sold to salons and other beauty professionals. They have a super selection of colors — I had fun choosing this sparkly sort of Burgundy color to wear home. They also have a corrector stick that is amazing! Perfect for erasing any nail polish mistakes in seconds.

Now to my make up bag! Most of these I discovered during the summer when I was choosing my makeup for our wedding. I went to lots of different beauty brands and tried out lots of different products. Here are my faves of the moment:

From L to R

1. Chanel VitaLumière Aqua Teint Parfait Effet Seconde-Peau (Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup) with SPF15 — I love this foundation because it goes on light. You don’t even feel like you’re wearing foundation! I use this whenever I have an evening event, especially if cameras are around, it photographs really well.

2. Chanel Les 4 Ombres, Ombres à Paupières Quatuor (Quadra Eye Shadow) — I’m very attracted to purple-ish hues for eyeshadows. This one is perfection.

3. By Terry, Teint Terrybly, Ultimate Beige — I use this powder all over when I’m just using a little bit of cover up and no foundation. It really absorbs any oils really well and I love By Terry products, everything smells so divine!

4. By Terry, Blush Terrybly, Beach Bomb — This blush gives a very fine and beautiful girlish blush. It looks ultra natural as well, which is why I’m a fan.

5. Chanel Le Crayon Yeux, Precision Eye Definer, Black — I don’t like to wear a lot of things on my eyes. I use to use a liquid liner from Chanel religiously, which gives a very polished look, but at the moment I prefer looking more natural, so I use this just to give my eyes the tiniest bit of oomph.

6. Chanel Éclat Lumière, Style Embellisseur de Teint (Highlighter Face Pen) — I use this to cover up every day imperfections. My skin has the tendency to go red around my nose and under my mouth, so this product gives a beautiful lightness and mixes really well.

7. By Terry Hyaluronic Eye Primer, Base Nude Contour Yeux & Paupières Combleur Intégral Extra-Tenseur (Lifting Brightener Eyelid & Contour Perfecting Filler) — I swear by this product. It’s only for eyes and goes on nice and cool to help with any puffiness. I always have darkness under my eyes and this covers so naturally and stays put for hours. It’s my miracle product.

8. Maybelline Great Last Waterproof Mascara — An oldie but a goodie. I honestly prefer Waterproof mascara because it rains so often in Paris and I’m scared to get raccoon eyes after a big storm.

9. Giorgio Armani Base Lissante Perfection (Fluid Master Primer) — I love this primer. Everything stays put with this. Also lasts for hours and hours and goes on very smoothly.

10. Giorgio Armani Lip Stick Rouge d’Armani — funny that the Rouge d’Armani should actually be very nude. I love this nude lip stick as it gives just a bit of sensuality to your lips and stays in place for hours as well. Goes on so smoothly as well. Beautiful hydrating feeling on the lips.

11. Chanel Rouge Coco Shine — this is the same lipstick used on Vanessa Paradis for her new Chanel ads. It’s a very natural pink which gives a very plump glimmer to your lips. I’m crazy for natural lips and this is one of my favorite lipsticks of the moment.

So there you go! What are the hidden treasures in your makeup bag? Do tell!! xox

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