All Aboard The Paris Hanoi Express

queue_paris-hanoi

“Because you love making new friends…”

All aboard the Paris Hanoi restaurant express. Sounds like an Agatha Christie novel. Can’t you just picture the dialogue: “Oui, mon ami Hastings. The rouleaux du printemps at Paris Hanoi are a délice. And the nems are perfection.”

“Are you sure Hercule? I mean, wouldn’t you rather fancy an Indian curry than Vietnamese food?”

“No Hastings, I would not. The mix of the raw and the cooked at Paris Hanoi is good for the little gray cells. And the parfum, c’est magnifique!”

rouleaux_paris-hanoi

“When you love the beauty of SE Asia…”

Now Poirot, certainly travelled on his belly to recoin an old phrase from the little general. I can’t blame him. This restaurant, Paris Hanoi, will not disappoint for its saveurs in the kitchen. Located at the heart of the Bobo universe deep in the eleventh, P-H is pure Paname.

The way Paris Hanoi has been popping up in the French media of late, you would think that Parisians have just discovered Vietnamese food. Au contraire. What is happening is a Southeast Asian food renaissance with French finesse. Add the simple fact that this has become a tout Paris favorite, and you’ll understand why the lines outside the door pack this place to the rafters.

In terms of style and decor, the ambiance is simple and clean. The food is light and flavorful punctuated with lime, fresh mint and coriander. There is a freshness about this place that more typical joints in this genre simply lack.

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“Because you’re in the mood…”

The vibe is fashionista. You are guaranteed to be sitting cheek to jowl with models, artists, and designers. Foodies adore the aromatic and perfumed flavors Vietnamese cuisine delivers when prepared by the right hands. The kitchen is run by three brothers: Mido, Jean-Phi and Hando. The beauty of their artistry is arranged on the dish. It is hard to know what to order first.

I recommend starting with a Vietnamese salad, spring rolls or nems. Afterward, go for a Bun Bo Hue, Pho, or brochette de poulet. Whatever you decide, I counsel coming with friends so you can share in the plentitude. If you find it hard to choose, look at the dishes of your neighbors and point. We came with the RedHerring gang recently. My gosh, I thought I was at a fiesta. Chilled Sinhga beer was making the rounds. People laughed, slurped and crunched away.

One word of caution: the crowd is dense. So either come early or late. Opening times for lunch are noon. Cash only. Don’t expect the waitress to smile and say: “Hi, my name is Babette and I’ll be your waitress today”. However, the food is glorious and Paris Hanoi is worth the visit.

After your meal, you might be tempted to buy the restaurant’s cookbook, which was published last year by Marabout. The recipes are easy to make and the book is a delight to the senses.

Bon Appetit!

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Paris Hanoi
47, rue de Charonne
75011 Paris

Article Title: All Aboard The Paris Hanoi Express
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

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MBA: The Ultimate Content Strategist Playbook

meeting_MBA-Admissions

“Building one success story at a time…”

In recent conversations at an impromptu forum, I found myself challenged by several professionals contemplating the use of MBA Admissions consultants. It was interesting what they said.

One flannel suited chap blithely stated, “MBA Admissions consultants are for losers. I have no interest. Besides, they’re costly and make promises they cannot fulfill.

Another Chanel suited figure added, “You would think that. However, I have it on good authority that a great consultant can give you a leg up. Given the intense competition to get accepted, I want the best shot I can get.

Now, please understand I am not trying to change people’s minds. I’d rather discuss why strategic planning can make your career aspirations happen. In my experience, I found that the terms of engagement must be personalized and well thought out. Were I an MBA candidate, I would relish an actionable step-by-step roadmap to eliminate the guesswork and the anxiety.

How To Choose
There is not one road to get accepted to a top MBA. The more savvy MBA candidate realizes that the MBA Admissions game has changed. Professional counsel can deliver quantifiable results when you know what you are buying. The best advice I can give to someone shopping around for help is to choose an organization you feel comfortable partnering with.

Many firms on the market peddling services are just coaching factories. Is this what you want? Or do you prefer the counsel of professionals who really care about you?

The Value Proposition
Fees vary among service providers, but the variations are negligible. Some firms offer packages. Others charge by the hour. Packages appear to be the best deal with their all inclusive features. However, sometimes an hourly rate is more appropriate. Why pay for something you won’t take advantage of?

robot_MBA-Admissions

“Because everyone needs a personalized game plan…”

Opportunities
To the uninitiated, the entire MBA application process appears as an exercise in witchcraft. The magic is hard work. To not loose time, work with people who understand how the admissions process actually works. Working with a former admissions officer is not guarantee that you will be accepted at Harvard or Stanford. What you really need is content strategist familiar with the science of personal brand management.

So what should an MBA Admissions consultant provide?
Outstanding knowledge of the business education industry. Secondly, they should match your aspirations with your career objectives. Sometimes, there is no point to just applying to the top 4 business schools unless your credentials are exceptional. Choosing the most appropriate target schools is the first key step to success.

This is where content marketing can help you make the sale. An expert can position your pitch on the basis of what you’ve actually done. Most essays or personal statements submitted to the leading MBA programs read like they were written by an admissions consultant. Don’t fall into this trap. Avoid cliches and flamboyant prose.

Some of us are advised by friends or family. This may work for you. Our advice is to choose professional counsel with discretion. Make sure that the firm you work with actually cares about you and your ambitions. Service must be personalized to be effective. Otherwise, it is bog standard and a waste of time and resources.

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“Yes, I’d like to book an appointment…”

Where most MBA candidates make mistakes is when they try to cut corners. So, they write their own essays. Afterward, they approach an MBA Admissions consultant, asking for a quick edit. Why pay someone when you have a spelling & grammar check on your computer? What you really need is powerful feedback that generates original ideas to brand your MBA application.

Considering the cost of an MBA, don’t you think it is worth the investment to go all in? We do. For that reason, we’ve listed below a few suggestions to get you started:

7 Pointers From The Content Strategist Playbook
1. Assessment
Assess your strengths and weaknesses. List the key attributes which makes your profile distinctive. To be successful, you will need to highlight your UQ (uniqueness quotient). Each one of us is distinctive. However, as George Orwell might have stipulated, some of us are more unique than others.

2. Strategic Plan
Outline a strategy, confirm your call to action, scalability, and opportunities. Start with a professional evaluation from your current employer. Next draw up a target list of desirable business schools. Keep abreast of deadlines, the financials, recommenders to be selected and contacted.

3. Personal Brand DevelopmentHave you identified the DNA of your personal brand? If not, find someone who can assist you. It will make your essays personal as well as professional. The business schools are seeking a well rounded and cultured audience. To learn more, study the culture and the curriculum. By doing so, you will better understand your target market audience.

4. Lay An Appropriate Foundation
It’s not enough to simply put up your name on essays someone wrote on your behalf and call it a day! Make your working relationship with an MBA Admissions consultant a partnership.

5.Stand Out
Apply strategies, which make your profile stand out. Evangelizing your personal brand is only part of the picture. You will need a compelling storyline to make your profile stand out from the crowd.

success_MBA-admissions

“Because we’ve got you covered…”

6. Contact Alumni
Speak with alumni. The more recent the alum, the more valuable their insight will be on how the school currently operates. It is always wise to visit the campus and attend an information session when feasible.

7. The Interview
When you are invited to an interview, you are almost there. Leave nothing to chance. Train with an communications specialist used to handling the press. If they’ve trained CEOs, they can certainly train you. Remember, this is when you must seal the deal.

If you have questions, contact CAREO for a free professional evaluation.

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Article Title: MBA Admissions: The Ultimate Content Strategist Playbook
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit CAREO: Life In The Fast Lane

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Dateline Florence: Because You’re Hell Bent On Leather

ponte_italian-style

“For those lovely evenings…”

Hell bent on leather for a gentlemen is not a question of S&M. It means finding the right bag. Bridle leather is stiff, but Italian leather is sprezzy.

Enter Wanny Di Filippo, the founder of Il Bisonte. To meet with Wanny in the flesh is quite a treat. Now, if you have never heard of Il Bisonte, you are in for a surprise. If you are an old Bisonte aficionado than you will rediscover why you fell in love with this brand. This firm of artisans was always hell bent on leather.

Launched 40 years ago in tiny workshop-boutique in Florence, Il Bisonte embodies La Dolce Vita. Walk down any street in this town and you are overwhelmed with creativity and beauty. Every church is adorned with Renaissance masterpieces. Eat at a local trattoria such as Vini, and you will never go home. No wonder Florence has such a reputation for splendor and leather craftsmanship. The setting is so inviting that Gant Rugger made Florence their narrative for their Team Americano collection two seasons ago.

Before I get carried away, our story begins in 1970. It is here in the heart of town on the narrow via del Parione the whole show kicks off. Before you can say Michelangelo three times backwards, Wanny is making leather handbags, travel satchels, briefcases, leather wallets, belts and accessories.

For anyone with a leather fetish, your lust will definitely be satisfied here. The leather products stand as a testimony to Wanny’s good taste, craftsmanship, and understatement. The shop captures his DNA, which in essence incarnates his vision of beauty. What is it that gives Italians the innate quality to do such wonderful things with leather?

Many have tried to imitate Italian leather techniques. No one has ever succeeded. It seems genetic. Unique leather treatment techniques are coupled to unalloyed craft of the highest caliber. Just touch a pair of Wanny’s driving shoes. The skin is soft and the patina is magic. Last time I was in town, I succumbed to pair in cognac. Although there are a multitude of color choices, the natural shades age best. They quickly take on your personality . So what is it that makes this brand so special?

bisonte_italian-leather

“When you are looking for something soft as butter…”

The secret lies in the use of natural vegetable-tanned cow-hide. The leather arrives at the store in the purest, palest tan. It darkens with time, sunlight and handling. Years ago, I asked Wanny why the bison logo. Here’s what he said:

“I’ve always been fascinated by the peace and strength bison convey. For centuries these animals were the very source of life for the people who roamed North America. Nowadays, it is a symbol that I proudly use to sign my product.”

These are the words of a true romantic. What I also admire about the man is his authenticity. The firm refuses to sell out in the old meaning of this term. Il Bisonte is infused with the idealism of the 1960s and 1970s. For lovers of all things preppy, you cannot go wrong here. There are no gaudy gold buckles or “in your face” logos on Il Bisonte products. Just outstanding quality and unique design.

Considering the times in which we live, the firm manages to perpetuate this legacy with sustainable growth. Although the articles are no longer made in their original workshop, they are still manufactured the old fashioned way in the Tuscan countryside.

The best term I can use to describe the house style is simplicity. The founder continues to work and takes real joy in shaping with his own hands the designs he conjures up each season. No wonder the store has such a cult following. Just ask one of the cognoscente to show you their bag or wallet.

Recently, I paid a visit to the store’s Paris branch, and I collared a catalog. You’ll never guess what? The catalog is in Japanese. It features the entire Bisonte range for both men and woman. The Japanese recognize great leather craft as easily as they can identify the freshest sashimi.

Since I am in the market for a briefcase, I found just what I was looking for and light as a feather. As the delightful sales woman and I spoke about the details, I could picture Wanny Di Filippo holding the bag himself sauntering around Florence. Perhaps this is also part of the brand’s allure. He is a complete original. This gentleman doesn’t just make leather goods. He is an artistic eccentric, who loves waistcoats, colorful scarves, and is not adverse to excellent cigars.

bisonte2_italian-leather

“Home on the range…”

I totally appreciate why Wanny lives and creates in Italy. Here living well still resonates with the fervor that continues to give meaning to La Dolce Vita.

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Article Title: Dateline Florence: Because You’re Hell Bent On Leather
Photographs: (1) curated by ES (2)(3) Alessandro Moggi

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

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Dateline Paris: In The Heart Of Papa Sapiens

papa1_french-food

“Where the roots of terroir run deep…”

Paris is home to some of the finest food stores in France. One gem I know you’ll want to discover is Papa Sapiens. This amazing boutique is located at 7, rue Bayern in the seventeenth. Let these French food specialists fill your larder with treasures.

The guys ‘n gals who run this place are fanatics of organic charcuterie, artisanal beer, wine that won’t give you a headache, chickens which glow, and even Breton biscuits from Belle L’Isle. Best to come with a donkey. This way you won’t have to struggle with the metro.

tart_french-food

“Because you love to shop with your donkey…”

Let me just whet your whistle further. Bread fans will adore the sour dough rye that puts Poilâne to shame. Here you can nab candied tomatoes from Marc Peyrey, cornichons from the only French grower left in the country, jam made in copper vats, and this is just for starters.

The enterprising souls who launched this venture are Alexandra Lepage and Christophe Perruchas. They are hospitality incarnate and offer tastings on just about everything in the store. One particular weakness of mine is jabugo.

Do you know that eating this pork fat is actually good for you? I thought not. Not just any fat, mind you, but the fat from Patta Negra. This pig is semi-wild and cured in Spain. Its sole diet consists of acorns, herbs, and weeds. The taste of this meat will melt on your tongue. French doctors claim the fat has the same quality as pure virgin olive oil. Not bad, what? Papa Sapiens sells a wine from the Jura, which is the perfect accompaniment. Tastes a bit like sherry, but is more complex, and is in fact one of the greatest wines this country produces. So what’s happening?

papa2_french-food

“It’s time to take stock…”

France is in the midst of a food revolution and Papa Sapiens is just the tip of the iceberg. It is pure Paname and is being driven by intersecting factors. People no longer are content with industrial food, which lacks character and is insipid. They want the real deal. Parisians in particular are obsessed with terroir. Because of globalization, great products are harder to find. Supermarket chains are clearly the worst offenders with their relentless drive towards mediocrity.

Fortunately, organic products have gone mainstream. Thankfully, we have people like the folks at Papa Sapiens, and a new generation of entrepreneurs committed to excellence. New magazines such as 180C are acting as catalysts to a public ready to alter its eating and drinking patterns.

For French foodies, this is great news. Bon Appétit!

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Article Title: Dateline Paris: In The Heart Of Papa Sapiens
Photographs courtesy of papa sapiens

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

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Where Nautical Meets Naughty

stripes_nautical-preppy-style

“When do you think the boat will be ready…”

Where nautical meets naughty? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s in the Haut Marais district of Paris. Sounds a bit like Rodgers & Hammerstein’s, South Pacific, don’t you think? Thank goodness for all things, Saint James. I’m waiting for the big kahuna, Mai Tai in hand. Makes me feel like if a catch a wave, I’ll be standing on top of the world.

Earlier this morning, I begin fishing around in my mahogany chest for that Saint James jumper. You know the one, which flaunts horizontal stripes. I am feeling rather naughty today. Here awaiting my inspection is my favorite navy with red horizontal stripes. It is just the ticket to brave nature and be nautical.

Now, were I Jean Paul Gautier, I’d dispense with my nautical Saint James jumper and paint my chest. My son claims that I never really grew up. What he is really pointing out is my continual love affair with striped nautical jerseys and sailing shirts with three-quarter sleeves.

Originally made for the French Navy, the Saint James sweater and shirt have been immortalized by the likes of Coco Chanel not to mention a whole bag of other celebs. Just think, this nautical style was loved by Picasso and Brigitte Bardot. The Japanese buy them by the box load. Just last weekend, I saw a gaggle clean out the store in back of Place de la Madelaine.

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“Because you love all that jazz…”

With the St Trop’ crowd, Saint James remains the nautical standard. Yes, I know there are others, but this one to quote Jeeves, “stands alone“. Speaking of Jeeves, I wonder what the blazes is keeping that man. I’ve been waiting for my tea for ten minutes now. Nothing rockets my engines better than a good morning cuppa.

If you are in France, be sure to put the factory where Saint James is still made on your must see list. The firm is located in Ducey. It’s the sort of place people dream of. What’s the term I’m looking for? Ah, yes. There it is: buccolic. It’s a fortified town of only 3,000 souls, and it straddles Lower Normandy from Brittany. It is a jewel of a region. It is also a hop, skip, and a jump from Mont Saint Michel.

Now, the Mont has always been part of the St. James logo. The coastal flats are still home to grazing flocks. Although the wool used no longer comes from here, they still manufacture in Normandy. When you visit, Yannick Duval, the company director will explain to you the fabulous evolution of Saint James, and how this region gave birth to a wealth of knitting expertise, which is still used. The people who work at Saint James are proud of their enterprise.

Did you know that 400 tonnes of wool are used per year?

I thought not. I am sure though that you do remember that it was Coco Chanel, who made the sea shirt into one of the hottest unisex styles of all times, when she first introduced them into her Deauville shop in 1917. The rest as they say in show business was history.

The French refer to this classic as the Mariniere. With years of experience under their belts, the company understands that both the wool and the cotton behave differently depending on the humidity in the air. Speaking of the wool, it is a natural fiber, which retains the original lanolin. It has a dry, some would say, rough feel to the touch. It is this sought after quality that makes the item indispensable to sailors and style mavens alike. Since workwear has been gathering more steam among the Fashionistas, it is no wonder that major designers such as Junya Watnabe and Jean-Paul G. continue to work with the firm.

stj_nautical-preppy-style

“When you’re sailing to Tortuga…”

Recently, I treated myself to another Saint James jumper in ecru wool with the navy stripes. Well, considering the damp climate, it made sense. The dry wool which is perfected and unique to this part of the world is ideal for European climate.

Listen to this: Did you know that each stripe represents a victory of Napoleon over the English at sea? Interesting, what! Such trivia makes owning these jumpers such a pleasure.

Ah, there’s Jeeves now with my tea, not too hot, not too cold, and not a drop in the saucer.

Article Title: Where Nautical Meets Naughty
Photographs: (1)(2)curated by ES (3)Saint James

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

Dateline Greece: Why Homer Is Always Relevant

water_sailing-greece

“Because you’re waiting for the water taxi…”

Sailing Greece, I discovered that reading Homer is always relevant. Shrouded in mystery, he is so contemporary. Imagine breaking crust with this gent. I found wine dark seas pursuing dolphins and the children of Odysseus such as the Colossus of Maroussi. George Seferis was heartbroken every time he thought about Hellas. Once the blinding blue is etched on your mind, you will too.

Sailing Greece is more to me than my love of boats. Perhaps, the Retsina went to my head more than 20 years ago. Playing backgammon and idle chatter with fishermen can do this to a chap. The people are charming and natural story tellers. I’d love to state that I met him in Piraeus. Perhaps we all have. From the first moment sailing Greece, I encountered a light that pierces the soul and gives birth to love.

sailing_sailing-greece

“Look dolphins…”

As a creature of rational habits, Greece stimulates my blood. There is nothing to comprehend except the appreciation of bouzouki.

On my maiden journey, I was swept away with Syrtaki and Zebekkiko. I cavorted through the tavernas of Athens until I was shanghaied to the shores of Sifnos. There I encountered authenticity, worthy of verse. At first, I thought it was the heat and ouzo. The ancient rivers run deep. Circumstance brought them out. Before I knew it, I was off with Pan to God knows where. Clearly, sailing Greece is not for the foolhardy.

I am reminded of that haunting quotation in the Revelations of St. John The Divine (1.Rev 1.8):

“… I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”

Saint John always did have a way with words. I’d like to think he was inspired by the pleasure of sharing a table with friends eating grilled octopus marinated in wild oregano.

Tavernas are a showcase for theatre. It’s the place your inner being demands to be refreshed. You see, sailing Greece is an odyssey to the core of your own being. It’s where the soul arouses the senses of charmed moments, laughter, and contemplation. Who knows, you might even learn to dance! Conversations are whispered and on other occasions animated. You’ll simply love tavernas for the camaraderie not to mention the food.

Sailing Greece, head for Crete and tales of the labyrinth. The freshness of the bread is perfect to rub olive oil or to nibble a crumbly piece of feta. Take port and rejoice. When it comes to the table, seasonality still carries weight. What could be better than a dozen mezes spread across a checkerboard cloth.

Take the two sisters who run the Dome Hotel in Chania. They make the most amazing rose petal jam you will ever taste. Eaten with Greek yogurt and you will start re-evaluating your career options. This is a good town to begin. When possible, leave your car and walk in the hills. Let the landscape act as your guide. Let your feet start you off on your first journey. Who knows Gnosis may not be far behind.

In the winter, stews hark back to antiquity. The meats, vegetables, and herbs simmer for hours giving slow food its original content. Stuffed peppers can be found in many cultures, but few are flavored with sultanas, nutmeg and mint.

dress_sailing-greece

“Because no man or woman is an island…”

Curiously, each dish has a story culled from someone’s grandmother. I love the fact that Greek cuisine is based on the humblest of ingredients such as chic peas, wild greens, garden vegetables, yogurt, and fish.

What I also find uncanny is that consumption is based on products sourced locally. Perhaps this is why dishes with similar descriptions are often quite different from one part of Greece to another. Take the spicy shrimp served on the island of Symi. The shrimps are tiny, briny, and laced with spices reminiscent of Asia.

Even the ubiquitous country salad, can vary tremendously. When it comes to Greek wines, imbibe. Most think of Retsina and turn up their noses. Although I love this simple country wine properly chilled on a hot summer’s day, the country produces some outstanding vintages grown across Macedonia and the Peloponnese. The Mecouri family do a red wine to die for. I once made a blind taste test with a close friend in the wine trade from Bordeaux. He was blown away when I told him the wine was Greek.

With thousands of islands to visit, you are spoiled for choice. Eschew the places mass tourism destroyed. The mysteries of Eleusis await anyone with an open heart. Mingle with the people and feel their pulse. And don’t forget to keep a copy of Fagel’s Homer in your pocket.

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Article Title: Dateline Greece: Why Homer Is Always Relevant
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

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The French Touch: How To Identify The Effervescence Of Shooting Stars

audrey_style-french-touch

“Some claim the French Touch is in the tap water…”

Fashionistas love the French Touch. Who doesn’t! Invited to a charming restaurant, I jumped at the chance to pin down the undefinable. We foregathered at a rather discrete gem at the far end of the rue Saint Honore. At the table were a distinguished cast of cognoscenti. With cocktails in hand, we set about our business.

Table talk centered on a host of topics. One pundit wondered whether you had to be born here to craft or brand the French Touch. Another stipulated that it was not an issue of ethnicity. She said, “It is a question of expressing a style vernacular suitable to our distinctive culture and heritage”.

A blue suited fellow exclaimed, “There’s more hear than meets the eye. Are we focusing on style or mere fashion?”

I could feel his lament for I knew how much he treasured French artisans and their distinctive sense of craftsmanship. His view was that craftsmanship has suffered in recent years. However, one great thing I have always loved about this country is its capability to renew its traditions. Style must be contemporary to be valid.

The hotter the debate got, the more I mused that we were arguing over terminology. I wondered what Molière, the French dramatist would have brought to this round table. Hey, Paris has a latin soul, but it was nothing several Mojitos couldn’t cure. As the starters arrived, the general consensus was that identifying the French Touch is similar to spotting a sea dragon riding the wind.

Our guests, I might add, were not hide bound bores. Quite the contrary. They relished innovative design, new players as well as more established houses. Off the record, one Lagerfeld disciple added: “Luxury brands like any other retailer deal in bottom lines. Fashion is a world driven by constant change. However, we must set the mood and the tone. Stagecraft fuels the imagination and gives special meaning to the fashion shows in Paris.”

It is true that Creatives directing major brands try to cajole and persuade an ever-fickle public. Magazines such as Vogue focus on shaping taste and generating desire. However, despite the glossies, predicting the next big thing is akin to watching the weather forecast.

Some of our set claimed that fashion is designed in a showroom. Others stipulated that it was branded in the street by savvy souls who know how to put it all together. In reality, the French Touch draws its inspiration from multiple sources. Where the concept of timelessness was once a by-word for quality, today French luxury is the effervescence of shooting stars. Take a journey over to Louis Vuitton on the Champs-Elysees showcase. Engage with the current zeitgeist.

pivoine_style-french-touch

“It’s hard to beat the French Touch when it comes to style…”

Real style is intangible and is intrinsic to a person’s persona. The concept of The French Touch is not any different. It is easy to identify, but quite difficult to replicate. It is as one lovely figure among us noted, “a state of mind”. The French actress, Marion Cotillard encapsulates the French Touch to perfection in Woody Allen’s film, “Midnight In Paris”.

Lea Seydoux is another beauty who radiates the French Touch.

Just imagine you are dining with her. She is sheepishly looking at you with those hypnotic eyes, and then says in that most Parisienne of voices: “Mon chou would you care to share a bottle of Foufoune. If this happens to you, you are done for. Cuite. Take it from me, you’ll fall in love and most likely live here for the rest of your life.

For those who aspire to capture this French look, study Audrey Hepburn for guidelines. Although she was not French, she was not born in the States either. There is something quite mystical about her persona. She captivates. In her film with Fred Astaire, she causally remarked, “I am not beautiful; I have a funny face.” Ever the gentleman, Fred Astaire responded, “What you call funny, I call interesting.”

Audrey knew she had allure. Her clothes personified her character not the other way around. She was an ambassador for Hubert de Givenchy, and wore his clothes with panache. However, because her beauty was so natural, she was just as much at home in a pair of jeans. This is not just style but real class.

Perhaps the best personification of the French Touch is Ines de la Fressange. Several years ago, she published La Parisienne, which was an international best seller. The book oozes with French style cues. Today, Ines is 50-something, and just as captivating as when she modeled for Chanel. She is living proof that the French Touch is not about age. It’s about being classy.

Visitors and designers alike claim that in this city men and women dress better. They certainly carry themselves differently. Body language also impacts on how someone can make clothes and accessories stand out. This is where that certain je ne sais quoi comes into play.

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“Because you want a touch of class in Paris…”

That something special is well articulated in Ines book. It is also lovingly captured by fashion photographer, Scott Schuman. He has the uncanny knack of demonstrating how personal and organic the French Touch, really is. Anyone can look great; it is a question of attitude, not money. Visit his website, The Satorialist. There are reams of pictures taken in Paris, which encapsulate the French vibe.

I have another dear friend who claims that The French Touch is in the tap water. Drink the water at will he laughs and “voila”. Here, I am not so sure. The “Chateau Robinet 2015″ is barely drinkable. Perhaps, the water he was referring to, came from Reims in bottles, labelled, Bollinger. Baudelaire claimed that all French women had beautiful legs because they spent half their lives walking up and down countless flights of stairs.

Someone remarked to me just the other day that everyone should have an uncle called “Christian”. It is true that Dior had certainly added to the modern vocabulary of contemporary woman. His feel for shape and color were unique. He knew how to drape fabric across a woman’s body. His genius was to let a woman’s body speak with its own voice without calling attention to the clothes. Elegance is always a point of subtlety.

Away from the world of haut couture, Paris has a vibrant street style culture. It draws from native and foreign influences. Some of the current trends are drawn from workwear and vintage military apparel. For example, a trend gathering steam is the craze for French vintage military jackets. Those sailor shirts made popular by Coco Chanel are back big time. Times at Saint James couldn’t be better. Designers have been borrowing workwear concepts for ages. Jean-Paul Gautier is just one of the best.

Want to laugh?

One of our readers was asking what color do dapper French gents prefer for shirts. At first, I thought this was an existentialist question. I was about to consult my annotated copy of the Being & Nothingness by Jean-Paul Satre, and caught myself saying, “Wait a second. Color is personal”.

The French like the Italians are fond of blue and white stripes of assorted persuasions. This classic can be worn with or without a tie. Speaking of ties, the bow tie has made a smashing comeback. This would have pleased my father no end. I find that bow ties are not only great in summer, but pass muster all year round. In case you would like to start fostering a collection, why not head over to Charvet near Place Vendome. Talk about the French Touch!

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Article Title: Fashionistas Love The French Touch
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

Leadership: How To Tackle Authenticity

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“Who ever heard the sound of one hand clapping…”

The best leaders are free from compulsive instincts. They see their career as a mountain stream. Man or woman, they have transformed their need for applause. They roam in the world as lions of self control. They take pleasure in thunder and rain because according to fortune cookie wisdom, the true sound of leadership is silence.

To really exercise leadership, it is best to be authentic. Take for example, a master chef I know. He works at Wo Fat’s Cantonese kitchen and is know by the name of Mencius. He could speak volumes on leadership. However, he is more at home selecting the finest ingredients from the market. Wok hay drives him crazy. That’s what you would expect from a Taoist leader, who favors the meditative breath of fire.

On the other side of the world, Socrates taught another path to leadership. He too was obsessed with self-mastery. He understood that diligence and astute planning took place in silence. To settle his mind, he would stroll the streets of Plaka. Although the tavernas and cafes are filled with rhetoricians, he would go for insight elsewhere.

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“Captain, I’ve spotted Isle della Muerta…”

Simply put, Socrates preferred to watch the fisherman. He’d contemplate their banter and salty songs. He loved to watch them tenderize the evening’s octopus on the rocks. Performing humble tasks emptied his mind. In this emptiness, he found the meaning of all things. Perhaps, we should do likewise.

Emptiness is often confused with ignorance. Ignorance however, is more than a lack of knowledge. A lack can be sensibly remedied. It is a question of training. Real ignorance is the misapprehension of all things. Take the case of the Buddha. Although not a sailor, he desired more than a career sea change. He desired smooth sailing.

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“When your reflection is just a fleeting fantasy…”

Determined to achieve this state of being, he sat under a fig tree, legs crossed in a full lotus position. He was resolved not to budge until he was filled with clarity. By learning this lesson, he saw leadership was a question of equilibrium. The mind is a close friend of ignorance and this is the trap. Give the mind conundrums, and it will smile and spin in a vortex of relentless aggravation.

On the other hand, you could give the mind something nobler to consider such as the following Taoist proverb: “The sound of water is silence.”

Mojito?

Article Title: Leadership: How To Tackle Authenticity
Photographs: (1)manofthemmnt (2)curated by ES (3)stayfr-sh

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit Whitefield Consulting Worldwide

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Why The Fundamentals Are Keys To Social Media Management

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“Because you love a good story…”

Managing social media demands perseverance. Analyzing trends and tactics can feel like reading tea leaves. To get relevant traction, read the experts. LinkedIn features many. One thing however, is certain. Your social media team must be passionate about being wired.

Key 1: Social Listening
This will not come as a surprise to astute marketing experts. Listen to your customers. Analyze your sector. Pay attention to firms, which shape trends. Then, examine the online behavior of your target audience.

According to intelligence reports, +60% engaged in marketing use social listening strategies. What is surprising is that many marketing experts secretly feel that their social media tactics are ineffective. So what is the secret to actionable social marketing? The term is engagement.

Twitter
Engagement is more than posting tweets at red lights. Dont’ flood Twitter with dross. Make the messages tight. Add visual content. Tell a story. Give people a reason to follow you. Use Tweet Deck to time the delivery. Times should be calibrated to market where you operate. Respond to follows, retweets, and favorites. The more you dialogue, the more compelling this channel becomes in your social strategy.

sphere_social-media

“Because you love simplicity…”

Blog Content
Content marketing on your blog demands compelling story telling. Every major brand that works has a story to tell. The best have a heritage to draw upon. Keep the voice dynamic and youthful in spirit. Use videos and image rich content. When you understand need, you recognize people don’t buy products. They buy value propositions, which change their lives. Therefore, make your messages meaningful.

In our experience, viewers love what is termed, a value exchange. People are after all, people. They crave entertainment and excitement. Give them the old pizazz.

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“When it’s hard to say goodbye…”

Key 2: Adverts v. Sponsored Posts
The lure to advertise on social media is overwhelming. Everyone believes, if I only had a banner… Google Ads and others can make a difference. It will depend on which keywords you feel are worthy of investment. Other social media platforms offer sponsored posts. Which ones to choose depends on where you think your clients live online. Facebook clearly tops everyone’s list. Be aware that certain audiences find adverts an annoyance, not a call to action.

Depending on your market, advertise in a magazine or newspaper online. In fashion, the adverts constitute part of the reader’s pleasure. Everything online should be a call to action. If you have the budget, go for it.

Use advertising to enhance your brand, but do so with discrimination. Case studies indicate that content driven posts are more effective. They generate dialogue and speak to actual desires. Begin with classic channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. Studies indicate using a mix. Keep the channels linked, but do not repeat the same content.

Budgeting
Since financials matter, where is your money best positioned? To sponsor a post can gain attention in search engines. This does not imply that people will read the post or act on the story you are selling. A content driven story is different. Readers appreciate when nobody is actively selling them something. They are attracted to the message. Your call to action is implied. In other words, your content adds meaning to their lives. This is the ideal value proposition. Authority and credibility convert calls to action into sales.

Here’s a few pointers to get started:

a) Establish measurable marketing goals
b) Set your budget
c) Know your audience’s needs
d) Pick the channels
e) Research appropriate advert types
f) Examine similar concepts used by your competitors
e) Optimize your landing pages

Key 3: The relationship between email and social media
Email marketing is commonplace. It takes the form of newsletters. That is why firms encourage potential clients to sign up. The recipients will not always read your updates or promotions. It is still a great way to reach out.

Subscribers also enhance your database. This enables you to calibrate future offers and share your content across relevant social media channels.

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“Because some part of us never grows up…”

Key 4: The Social Media Team
Typical social media teams tend to be small. They can even be just one person. Budget plays a role. Examine firms whose social media strategies you admire. Learn how they play their audiences. Adapt your social media positioning accordingly to your business model.

Then ask yourself, what do you really hope to accomplish? There shouldn’t be any mystery. Focus on basics, quality, and strategy. Make your website, blog, and other social media channels engaging.

Key 5: Measurement
Goals should be calibrated. Focus your brand awareness on lead generation. Feature social icon bars. The more people follow and share indicates that you are doing the right thing. If possible, become an influencer to get recognized what you do best.

Conclusion
Social media is no longer an option. It is a highly charged atmosphere where persistent engagement is essential. If you get the mix right, your target audience will react and join the conversion. Ultimately, you will have reinforced your brand awareness and drive sales.

Article Title: Why The Fundamentals Are Keys To Social Media Engagement
Photographs: (1)maninpink (2)lookstoinspire (3)archival, curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

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Why Dungarees Are The Real Deal

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“Who doesn’t love vintage jeans…”

You know dungarees are the real deal as Levis celebrates another vintage classic. We are witnessing the greatest denim revival of our times. Workwear fans are leading the way with their love for dungarees. They want the original heavy weights, detailing, and selvage. Connoisseurs treasure their dungarees raw. Perhaps, this coincides with a corollary fetish for sashimi.

Great dungarees are dyed with real indigo. The color is unmistakable. The more it is worn the more nuances appear in the fabric. Pundits declare that real denim appreciation is like drinking the finest single malt whisky. We would say, a single batch single barrel Bourbon, but why quibble over trifles.

We’ve been doing a bit of research on the nature of denim and dungarees. Among vintage fans, there is quite a debate about when dungarees became jeans. The original fabric for dungarees was thick and robust. The fabrics are woven in Japan on the original machines once used by Levis or by Cone Denim in North Carolina. This year Cone Denim is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Crafted dungarees really do make a difference. If you own real vintage dungarees, you know the difference. Sugarcane is one of the brands whispered in small circles as the crème de la crème denim available on the market. They are manufactured from double ring-spun Zimbabwe cotton. The result is a heavy cloth, not the thin facsimiles bandied about as fashion jeans.

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“Faded indigo glory…”

In the first half of the twentieth century, America wove the best. Brands such as Levis, Lees, Wranglers and a clutch of smaller manufacturers provided the market with some excellent styles and weights to choose from. Remember, these were work clothes. They needed to be robust and last.

By the late 1960s the will to manufacture honest solid denim disappeared in the States. Levi’s iconic 501 XX and Lee’s 101B became the dungarees of folklore. Everyone wore these trousers from John Wayne, Gary Cooper to Marlon Brando and James Dean. Even Marilyn Monroe was captured wearing a pair.

Fashion is almost as fickle as the changing tastes of people. The 1970s gave birth to fashion jeans with perhaps Calvin Klein leading the pack. Brooke Shields was the first to model jeans literally painted on her body. Remember the advert? “Nothing comes between me and my Calvin’s.”

For lovers of real work wear the rest was downhill. Fortunately, the Japanese saved these iconic American styles. Sticklers for details and high quality, they trolled the States for every real vintage piece they could find. Trendy start-ups began to reproduce copies according to the original specs and designs.

The good news is that vintage styles are B-I-G. There is a hunger for authenticity and the selvage-denim. Dungarees,traditionally featured a higher waist, loose seat, and had a straight-leg design. The term skinny whether for jeans or latte would have been an anathema to our forbearers. They had more common sense when it came to clothes and strong coffee with real milk.

When I was last in London, I stumbled into the Double RL store on Mount Street, and had some rather interesting talks with the work wear fanatics at Ralph’s shop. It was quite a treat to discuss dungarees with passionate denim heads. I’m pleased to state that the Double RL brand has painstakingly recaptured the authenticity and quality of original workwear.

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“Perfect for crabbing…”

Double RL is absolutely obsessive when it comes to details. I should also add, the dungarees are manufactured in either Japan or the USA. Of the pairs I examined, I loved a circa 1920s pair used for hauling stones. The most sought after model is based on Levis 1955 501s with a zipper fly and slimmer tapered leg. The color and the nubs of the cloth made my heart palpitate. The style was relaxed and comfortable.

Another brand of which I am much enamored is Sugar Cane. Niche brands although hard to find, will give real lovers of dungarees all that they are seeking. Sugar Cane comes in raw and once-washed denim. They represent the best of two worlds: Solid American construction and Japanese denim. Self Edge on Orchard Street in New York should be your next port of call if you are interested. They can also be ordered online. They ship worldwide.

Article Title: Why Dungarees Are The Real Deal
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

Parisian Kit: In Search Of Lost Time

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“Because Paris offers real style…”

Parisian Kit essentials are for RedHerring in search of lost time. It is a game of fox & hounds. With the disappearance of Parisian stalwarts such as Old England and Arnys, we corralled a group of Parisian dandies to ferret out where you should shop. Our panel dropped names of bespoke tailors, shoemakers, and hidden gems. In certain circles, each member is known for his exquisite taste on all matters Parisian.

One chalk-stripped fellow rattled off ubiquitous luxury brands. To which another hipster almost choked on his espresso. Wiggling his nose, he retorted: “Too plebeian”. Needless to say, no panel member frequented department stores. As you can see, our panel is spoiled on craftsmanship.

Ironically, Paris is better known for women’s haute couture. Despite the city’s well-heeled reputation, there are Parisian treasures to entice chaps of good standing. So why is the Parisian gents scene so different from other cities?

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“When you’re cruising like there’s no mañana…”

For starters, our panel agreed that there is no one neighborhood to investigate. Pedigree menswear is scattered about. If you are looking for great street wear, then I would direct you to the Haut Marais. You should know that tailors worth a detour are not at street level. You must have the address.

In my experience, Parisian gents are quite discrete. In general, the French do not discuss their tailors. Nor for that matter, will they babble about where their shirts are made. Cognescenti know. They spy out the notched lapel and the width of the trouser leg. Shirt buffs examine collars. I know one fellow who has a keen eye for pearl buttons. He is so extreme that he works up a sweat by examining their size, and the manner they were sewn to the shirt front. Experts among experts, you might say. As you can appreciate, Parisian aesthetics are a question of style.

Fashion hounds can cite for you the latest trendy brands. Fanatics focus on artisans, who are not household names. For example, if I was in London, I could identify a gents tailor by the cut. Stylish men can easily spot the difference between a suit cut at Edward Sexton or Anderson & Sheppard. Similarly in Paris, aficionados can identify the cut of Camps de Luca from somebody else. So what’s all the fuss? It comes down to details and personal taste.

Some chaps absolutely adore their jackets waisted. It is a hallmark of fine London tailoring. Others prefer the Neapolitan sense of aesthetics. The Italians have come to specialize in soft shoulders. They give a sense of weightlessness to their garments. Parisian tailors however, have borrowed ideas from both traditions. By doing so, they have articulated their own voice. Therefore, it is harder for a layman to quantify as uniquely Parisian. Suits with that certain je ne sais quoi are for the purists at heart.

Next, there is the issue of cost. Start to think of clothes as an investment. Not that English or Italian tailors are inexpensive. They are not. However, Parisian tailors are pricey. I do however, have recommendations to share. They clearly deliver value for money depending on your budget.

My first counsel is to visit Husbands on the rue Manuel. Nicolas, who owns and runs this place, is fashion savvy. He is also quite the gentleman. With spring on the way, he can update your wardrobe with style. His attitude is preppy modern.

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“When something amber is called for…”

My second great discovery is Jean-Emmanuel Moreau. This Parisian gem is just off the rue Marboeuf. You will undoubtedly find his establishment suave. In Jean-Emmanuel’s hands, you will leave with a keen sense of sprezzatura and a pashmina scarf worthy of a prince.

If you fancy bright colors, check out Cifonelli. Hugo Jacomet of the Parisian Gentleman is a big fan. Craft and attention to detail really do matter here. Hugo recently stated: “In the last five years, the scene has changed. Houses such as Cifonelli have had an influx of young customers. They are highly educated about bespoke. I put his down to more mainstream media coverage. A dusty trade has become aspirational again.”

His comments indicate an attitudinal shift among Parisian men. The younger set have started to care again about their appearance. They are unafraid to shop online, follow style blogs, and love Parisian tailors.

Cifonelli is run by Lorenzo and with his cousin Massimo. They have a stylish boutique at street level. Their pret-a-porter is to die for. The apparel is vibrant and contemporary. Their workshop is one floor up and is a tribute to the tailor’s art. Clients have a tendency to prefer lightweight cloths with little structure. The roped shoulder tilted slightly forward is a Cifonelli trademark.

Each coat is cut clean, fitting the chest and waist. Eager to experiment with a more youthful approach to clothing, Lorenzo has come up with designs featuring different pockets, trims and fastenings. These details fascinate the young professional. They clearly make Cifonelli easily recognizable at 100 paces. Whether you like all these bells & whistles is a question of personal taste.

One thing is certain. Here is a straight shooter, no chaser. Perfect for the essential Parisian kit.

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Article Title: Parisian Kit: In Search For Lost Time
Photographs: (1)(3)jeanemmanuelmoreau (2)curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane