Time and Again: Les Classiques

Wherever I turned last week, from You Tube to the Wall Street Journal, there was talk of editing your life, your home, your wardrobe -- talk of Les Classiques. The siren song of Less is Best floated in the air. Along with suggestions that when adding items to your wardrobe,  to choose pieces that not only make you feel good and are comfortable, but are stylish and will stand the test of time. In other words, traditional pieces--Les Classiques.

Of course, while restraint was in order, should you want to splurge on a pair of Louboutins for evening wear, that's understandable.  After all, researchers tell us that the first thing people notice isn't your smile or your hair, but your shoes. Don't believe me? Check it out.

On You Tube, the New York Times best-selling author Jennifer L Scott was discussing the'Ten Item Wardrobe Check-In for Winter 2015 .' The idea of delimiting your wardrobe was one she had picked up as an exchange student in Paris, when living with a well-to-do French family in a grand apartment in the sixteenth arrondissement. Everything about Monsieur and Madame Chic -- their fashion sense, sophistication, even their family life -- was unlike anything she had known growing up in Southern California. Naturally, it made an impression.

Years later, back home in California, she missed the beauties of Paris, missed the pleasures of life she had known when living with Monsieur and Madame Chic. The result? Lessons from Madame Chic; Twenty stylish Secrets Learned while Living in Paris. And what is to secret to la vie Parisienne? To simplify your routines, rid your home of clutter and build a limited wardrobe around a few quality items. The author must be onto something because her You Tube videos have attracted thousands: 'Clear that CLUTTER' and'Polish Your Poise' have eachhad more than 23,000 views.

Turning next to the Wall Street Journal, I came across a piece about a youngFrench designer, Alexandre Mattiussi, the owner and design talent behind the AMI Paris brand. Introducing Les Classiques,  his collection of menswear for fall and winter, on an e-commerce site Mr Porter, he suggested purchasing a few classic items to create "the perfect wardrobe” to hold you in good stead from year to year: A camel-hair coat, a pair of jeans, a navy blazer and a pair of white sneakers. And ago-everywhere striped mariner shirt or a red ‘bonnet.’  So popular was the Breton-style mariner shirt that this past summer you could find it at every other store on Madison Avenue.

All of of which had me rummaging through my closet searching for les classiques. Surely, my twenty-year-old Burberry trench-coat would qualify. It wears like iron, something I appreciate all the more with every passing year. So, too, my Armani jacket, the one I had for so many seasons I ended up giving it to a friend who admired it.

Say Armani and what comes to mind? Sophistication, elegance and timelessness, all rolled into one. Which is why when Restaurant Week came around in July, we beat a path to Armani. Not to the store, but to the third floor restaurant. To the discreet side entrance on East 56th Street, where an elevator brings you to a très chic space overlooking Fifth Avenue, a place where all the dinersthat day were well-dressed and many of the men wearing business suits.

Being summer, the list of wines showcased a number of rosés. Indeed, how better to celebrate summer than with a glass of rosé? For so long rosé was thought a beginner wine, and for me, it actually was. The first wine I fell in love with was a Mateus rosé from Portugal. That was when I was flying for TWA, and we would stop in the Azores to refuel on the Madrid-New York flight. There, for two dollars a bottle, we discovered the lush and lovely Mateus rosé.  Increasingly popular nowadays with connoisseurs, rosé has been something of a breakout wine of theyear.

Selections by the glass included a French from the Cote de Provence, and two Italians—one from the Alto Adige in the high Alpine country and the other from sun-blessed Sicily. We went with the Lagrein rosé (Lagrein the name of the grape, not the winery) from the north, to find it fruity, floral and downright gorgeous in the glass. Smooth on the palate, with a long finish, my companions agreed it was a winner.

Amuse bouche at Armani
Amuse bouche at Armani

Presently, out came an amuse bouche—Pinch me, am I in Paris? -- the most delectable scoop of broccoli puree ever.  Delectable broccoli? That sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn't it? We followed with a risotto primavera,  each translucent grain of rice like a pearl set against a matte black dinner plate. Then, again, this is ristoranteArmani where the presentation counts.

Red Mullet with Zest of orange
Red Mullet with Zest of orange

For the main course, we enjoyed a crimson striped mullet—crispy on the outside—a fish found in the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the eastern part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Passing on dessert, we ordered espresso, as rich and black and bitter as the best. But the waiter insisted we try a sampling of the gelato, each of which transported us to another time, to another table at the piazza Navona in Roma.

At Armani, the chef outdid himself; the service was professional and friendly; and the young women at the front of thehouse could not have been more charming. So, should find yourself shopping on Fifth Avenue or visiting nearby MoMA. treat yourself royally and enjoy lunch at Armani. He may not be French, but Giorgio is without doubt a classic.  So, too, la femmebleue. 

In thinking about clothing choices for fall and winter, money being no object, what would be the one item you would most like to add to your wardrobe?  Other than the Hermes Birkin bag.

Before I say goodbye, could Iask a favor? Have you noticed the changes at the top of the post? For one, the BonitaBabs Writes logo has given way to Barbara Donsky. Then, too, a black-and-white Facebook button has been added.  After you share this post with family and friends, would you click on the "f" button. That will bring you to my new Facebook Author page. Once there, feel free to look around as a number of sections, including the About and Memoir pages,  have been fleshed out.  Then be sure to click the LIKE button.  It only takes a second, and I really appreciate your enthusiasm.

See you next Sunday. In the meantime, remember sharing is caring.