By: Gabriela Yareliz
When I wrote The Didion Estate, it was the first time I had put in writing my dissecting of another’s library. I do it all the time mentally, but it was fun to share it.
So, as summer winds down and autumn calls, I figured it was time for another fun library. Unlike Didion, Ms. Damas is alive and well. She is known as a fashion icon of France. While some in France are moving toward the more global Instagram image, she reminds us of the classic French look and aesthetic. She is the quintessential French ‘It Girl.’
I noticed Ms. Damas’ library years ago, maybe around 2017-2018, and during the pandemic, she upped her bookstagram posting. Here are some of the treasures in her library:
Le Fer et le Feu by Eric & Jean-Marc Stalner: Described as a book of romanticism, adventure and and elegance. A story focused on the estate stewards and the vulnerable Baroness Mathilde.
AnOther Magazine: I had never heard of this magazine. It focuses on fashion, beauty, art and photography.
Artistes Africains – De 1882 à aujourd’hui – Beau Livre, Alayo Akinkugbe, Natasha Becker, Emmanuelle Debon (Traducteur), Jeanne Maylin (Traducteur), Collectif: The English version of the book is available here: (African Artists: From 1882 to Now). This book was described as, “A comprehensive guide to the continent’s brightest stars,” – ARTnews.
Sheila Metzner: From Life: This is an incredibly expensive Rizzoli book showcasing the world of fashion and portrait photographer Sheila Metzner.
Francois Halard’s Visual Diary: “This volume presents the famed photographer’s newest lush images of the stunning interiors of acclaimed designers, artists, and tastemakers. Francois Halard’s unique photographic sensibility–old-world elegant and bohemian, accessible and personal–is unmistakable. Each image is imbued with the intimate knowledge of design history, each story a lesson in a master’s point of view.” (Source)
Several Georgia O’Keeffe books are in the mix of the stack. I was fascinated by her giant flowers as an elementary school student.
She is also a fan of Pierre Bonnard, the French postimpressionist.
On the same vein of art, she has that green Charleston book leaning against her board:
L’Amour Fou by André Breton: In English, this is called Mad Love, and it is part of the French Modernist library. About this book: “Mad Love has been acknowledged an undisputed classic of the surrealist movement since its first publication in France in 1937. Its adulation of love as both mystery and revelation places it in the most abiding of literary traditions, but its stormy history and technical difficulty have prevented it from being translated into English until now.” (Source)
Correspondance (1944-1959): “For fifteen years, Albert Camus and Maria Casarès exchanged letters from which springs all the intensity of their love. Between the tearing of separations and creative impulses, this correspondence highlights the intimacy of two sacred monsters at the peak of their art.” (Source)
Chagrin D’ecole by Daniel Pennac: This is a book that weighs education and school from the perspective of a really bad student.
Dali–La Vie D’un Grand Excentrique by Fleur Cowles: Dali, the life of a great eccentric. This is an old book from 1961. A rare find.
Vingt poèmes d’amour et une chanson désespérée : Les Vers du Capitaine by Pablo Neruda: Twenty love poems and a desperate song by the Chilean poet of international fame.
Le Bal des Folles by Victoria Mas: This book was translated into The Mad Women’s Ball: A Novel. This book is being made into an Amazon film! It is described as: “In this darkly delightful Gothic treasure, Mas explores grief, trauma, and sisterhood behind the walls of Paris’s infamous Salpêtrière hospital,” Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train.
Le Chardonneret by Donna Tartt, also known in English as The Goldfinch. A summary: “Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by a longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into a wealthy and insular art community. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love — and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention. From the streets of New York to the dark corners of the art underworld, this “soaring masterpiece” examines the devastating impact of grief and the ruthless machinations of fate (Ron Charles, Washington Post).” (Source)
Le Pays des Autres by Leila Slimani: Slimani rose to fame with her international bestseller, The Perfect Nanny. This book’s English version is In the Country of Others. One of the reviews for this book says, “Slimani has made a career out of catching readers on the wrong foot with unsparing prose. . . . In the Country of Others is [her] most personal book yet.” The New York Times
Les Enténébrés by Sarah Chiche: This was a prize winner in 2019. This is a novel about a psychologist’s love affair with an international musician and all that stems from WWII and other pieces of history.
Ms. Damas is a big fan of award-winning fiction, many are translations or translated as they are that good and best-selling. By her inspo board for her brand Rouje, she has several art books. Not surprisingly, I find that her makeup palettes have many colors that sort of tug on the work of Georgia O’Keeffe. As every good It Girl, she is in the know. She has some classics mixed in but most books won their awards between 2014-2019. We’ll see if her taste evolves with her into her 30s.
“Elle incarne un idéal de beauté et de réussite commerciale. Elle présente une figure publique parfaite ou idéalisée, qui utilise stratégiquement les stéréotypes de la séduction pour dessiner ses propres contours.” (Source)