Celine, Duke University, Edith Wharton, Elaine Dundy, Emily Dickinson, Hunter S. Thompson, Kate Chopin, Lacoste, Seven For All Mankind, Stella McCartney, University of Minnesota, William Gardner Smith
Kristin Wood, doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, specializes in expatriate literature, Kristin seeks out every opportunity to explore French history and culture. She graduated from Duke University in 2006 with a major in European history and minor in English, then moved to receive her MA in Modern European Studies from Columbia University. An enthusiastic traveller, Kristin has lived abroad in Australia and New Zealand and has studied abroad in France and England.
When Kristin isn’t reading or writing, she can be found running around Lake Calhoun or exploring Minneapolis boutiques.
AWP: Name the books and movies, works of art and music, fashion or cuisine that have inspired you.
KW: The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, The Stone Face by William Gardner Smith, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I love texts by iconoclasts and authors who were ahead of their time. As far as fashion goes, right now I’m especially inspired by Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo (the current creative director at Céline). I also adore fashion blogs — Kendi Everyday, Atlantic-Pacific, Cupcakes & Cashmere, The Clothes Horse, and Hello It’s Valentine are my favorites.
AWP: Do you have any role models?
KW: I’m still in the process of figuring out what I want to do, but I’ve been blessed with great bosses and mentors along the way. I hope that one day I can be the kind of boss that people like working for.
AWP: What is the last book you read?
KW: The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy – a gift given to me by my thoughtful friend, Laura. It’s a hilarious read about a young woman who moves to Paris right after college. I love the publisher’s blurb on the back: “[The Dud Avocado] remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
AWP: What is the best (or worst) advice you’ve ever given or received?
KW: “Find something you would do for free, and get paid to do it.”
AWP: What handed-down wisdom did you receive from your mother or father?
KW: Love yourself — after all, you have to hang out with you all the time.
AWP: What childhood experience has served you many times?
KW: My mother claims that she never spoke to me using baby talk, nor did she read baby books to me. Now that I’ve made a career out of reading and writing, I value the idea that I was raised in a household that esteemed advanced vocabulary and sophisticated sentence structure.
AWP: What were your favorite childhood things to do?
KW: I loved playing dress-up, especially in my grandmother’s closet. She had this one salmon-colored chiffon ball gown that I couldn’t get enough of! I also loved performing — on the stage, the dance floor, or the soccer field. I don’t crave the spotlight anymore, though. I’m a much more private person as an adult.
AWP: What nourishes your passions?
KW: Why not be passionate? It’s more fun than just going through the motions.
AWP: How did you get your foot in the door at the beginning of your career?
KW: I’m still at the threshold of my career, but the best advice I have been given is simply to meet as many people as you can, and to treat every single person you meet as a potential business colleague.
AWP: Was being stylish important to you growing up in your teens? Is it now?
KW: Since I wore a uniform to school every day K-12, I didn’t get many chances to explore my personal style in my teens, but I was enthralled by the possibilities I saw in fashion magazines. Once I got to college and had the freedom to choose my own outfit every single day, I quadrupled the size of my wardrobe (much to my freshman roommate’s chagrin). Duke has a very, very well-dressed student population, so I found inspiration around every Gothic arch. My college staples were preppy and casual: a-line skirts, Seven For All Mankind jeans, and little Lacoste polos. I even went through a period where I found vintage ties and wore them as belts. Now, I tend to dress up a bit more, and it’s an essential part of my character. If I’m not dressed properly, my whole day seems askew.
AWP: How do you define style or fashion?
KW: Whatever makes you feel and look your best. Style doesn’t obey any rules. It’s different for every person, and that’s what makes it fabulous. I love this quote from Carol Edgarian: “If you must be matchy-matchy, for God’s sake show some wit.” Style is supposed to be fun.
AWP: Tell me about your cooking and eating habits and traditions.
KW: I loathe cooking, but I love attending dinner parties! I’ll always bring a bottle of wine.
AWP: What was your most memorable meal to date?
KW: Every brunch, lunch, or dinner I had at the now-defunct Les Deux Gamins in Greenwich Village, New York City. There was something about that L-shaped bistro that inspired an overwhelming sense of love and excitement for everything around you.
AWP: What is in your refrigerator right now?
KW: Not much. Sparkling water, organic pink lady apples, organic baby carrots, arugula, Boursin cheese, Australian cheddar cheese, Holy Land hummus. I keep things pretty simple at home.
ART OF LIVING:
AWP: What do you live for? What do you love above all?
KW: The highs and the lows. It’s all part of the art of life. Above all, I love the feeling of anticipation. I’m horrible at living “in the moment” — I’m constantly looking forward to the future.
AWP: What natural gift would you most like to possess? What talent are you most thankful for?
KW: I’d like to be a more eloquent debater.
AWP: What question are you tired of being asked?
KW: Why does literature matter?
You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Vive La Femme: In defense of cross-cultural appreciation. Kristin Wood finds Francophiles around the world divided about Paul Rudnick’s piece entitled “Vive La France” in the New Yorker magazine. As is often the case with satire, there is a layer of truth to the matter that is rather unsettling. Including comments from readers worldwide.
Imperfect Perfection: The new French woman, by Kristin Wood who reminds us of the words attributed to Henry David Thoreau, the famous American author and philosopher who eschewed material excess and extravagance… “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” Kristin writes about the predicted trends of the “undone” makeup look, and the “de-blinging” of luxury items. What better place to introduce these two trends on a grand scale than Paris?
Ritz Paris: Makeover for “la grande dame” by Kristin Wood who shares the incredible story of her stay at the Paris Ritz for several nights, when her college roommate “D” invited her on a European getaway. The petal-pink robes and slippers for a quick power nap, then to the piscine for a refreshing wake-up swim before embarking on their first adventure à Paris.
Paris Makeover: Coming home blond, by Barbara Redmond who declares, “Never question a Frenchwoman,” and succumbed to the transformation of coming home blond. The haute-coiffure, the pharamacie, and her new “French look!” Including Barbara’s favorite book on spas, salons and beauty boutiques in Paris, and her personal directory of hair and makeup salons in Paris. Not to miss is her vocabulary of French to English words so “nothing” gets lost in translation!
A Woman’s Paris — Elegance, Culture and Joie de Vivre
We are captivated by women and men, like you, who use their discipline, wit and resourcefulness to make their own way and who excel at what the French call joie de vivre or “the art of living.” We stand in awe of what you fill into your lives. Free spirits who inspire both admiration and confidence.
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. — Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)
Text copyright ©2012 Kristin Wood. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.