Blog - Carla Coulson
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Home – The Loveliest of Words

Photo Copyright Carla Coulson

Where do you call home? I have thought about the concept of home all these years that I have been kicking around Europe.

Each time I pull up in a new Italian town or walk up beautiful stone steps on a new Greek Island I ask myself ‘will this be my home’?

Then there are moments I forget about it,  live in the moment and that’s all that matters.

The question has popped up again as I am about to leave for Australia.

You all know about the calm before the storm but do you know the phenomena called ‘the calm after the storm’!

That is exactly where I am right now. The eye of the storm has moved, the tornado has passed, the debris has been cleaned up and I am almost ready to get on the plane.

The past two months have been the busiest two months of my life, lots of great photography, writing two workshops and preparing two presentations and finishing a book. I have worked 7 days a week for as long as I can remember and now its all done, my bags are packed, the house is quiet, my kitty is on my lap and I am an emotional wreck.

I know this phase well, it always happens when I go home. It is almost two years since I last was in Australia and the comings and goings to Australia are always joyful and painful. There is always someone I can’t wait to see and someone I am leaving behind.

Yesterday I was on the metro, an old man got on with a piano accordian and started playing a Christmas tune. Within seconds I had tears streaming down my face, blubbering about leaving Francesco, Avedon (kitty) and the nostalgia of not having seen my parents and family for so long.

I long ago learnt that home can be anywhere in the world, for me it is a spiritual place and as long as the people I love are with me that is my home.

So my dear cyber friends I will be tuning in from Australia (my other home) shortly and can’t wait to share my adventures with you from the other side of the world.

“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you”.  Chistian Morganstern

All my love

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Changing Your Life – Packing and Unpacking

vintage suitcases, changing lives, carla coulson, travel,

As I pack my suitcases for Australia and I am thinking about some unpacking I will soon tackle not suitcases but boxes. A lot of boxes…

For 13 years I have pushed a project to the back of my mind, my life that I put in storage when I left for Italy in 2000. An entire storage shed of things that the rent could have bought me a couture gown, a new car or a deposit on a small Parisian apartment. OUCH……That hurts..

But I have also chosen not to think about that either.

Because what that storage shed did was buy me a whole lot of freedom. And I am talking about just-two-suitcase kind of freedom, turn back the clock to when you were sixteen years old kind of freedom!

For 13 years I didn’t have to think about a couch, a plate, a chair, a vase, a rug or a desk.. .Nulla, zippo, zilch.

I didn’t want to own anything, I didn’t want to be tied down to a place, a city or a vase! I not only wanted to be physically free to restart a life and a career but I wanted to be mentally free, nothing to weigh me down. I wanted to be able to get on a plane, train or automobile when I felt like it.

Image via The Alternative Consumer

Well, that storage shed awaits me and I have to tell you after 13 years of living like a student with other peoples furniture I am little bit curious and excited to see what is in that shed. I can remember bits like an old faded film but I am sure there will be some big surprises! And I am sure half of it will go in a garage sale.

But hey I am ready. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I do live in Europe, Paris for 8 years and Italy for 5 years and I wouldn’t mind sitting on my lovely white couch and have my 60’s glass vases full of tulips, sweet peas and peonies.

Carla’s student phase has been AMAZING, beyond rewarding, liberating and sooooooo fulfilling but I am ready for the next step whatever that will be.

So to any of you out there who are packing or unpacking I wish you much happiness on whichever part of the journey you are at.

“Don’t forget to pack your courage for your journey to greatness”. David Weinbaum

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Coco Chanel’s Apartment Paris – Recently Published Work

What happens when you receive an email from a magazine asking would you be available to shoot Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris?

First you faint with excitement and then hit the reply button as soon as you can with a giant YES!!

That’s exactly what I did when House and Garden asked me to shoot Australian writer Sarah Ayoub in the  famed Rue Cambon apartment.

Sarah has idolised Coco Chanel from her teenage years when she saved every penny she had to buy her first Chanel handbag. It was her life dream to visit Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris and you can read the full story in this month’s issue.

Sarah and I had the great fortune to have a Chanel historian recount the story behind each object and who gave it to Coco. We listened as the historian recounted the revolutionary way she decorated her apartment with simple linen curtains and a giant beige suede couch. At the time the decoration was all florals and heavy velvet or brocade draps. Go Coco!

I loved shooting this last portrait even though it is small on Coco Chanel’s famed staircase. It is a photo that I will always treasure in my portfolio of cool Parisian places and awe inspiring moments on my photographic journey. I pinched myself when I left her apartment that day.

Merci House and Garden, Sarah and Chanel!

“Fashion fades only style remains”. Coco Chanel

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PS: Sarah has a popular blog called Chasing Aphrodite

Check out my Portrait Lightroom Presets here.

Where to Stay in the Marais – 4 Star Hotels

Photographer Unknown

Cole Porter sang, I love Paris in the Springtime but she’s also glorious in the winter. The streets are shiny, glistening from the rain, the Christmas lights are slowly going up all over town and the coats and hats are out in full force.

In winter Paris is at her chicest! If that is a word?

I am asked all the time where to stay in the Marais. There are so many hotels but I am going to give you a list of my favourite 4 star hotels that are warm and cosy and decorated for winter. Think rich velvets, flocked wallpaper and log fires.

Here we go:

La Pavillion de la Reine – discreetly tucked behind one of the porticoes on Place des Vosges this a beautifully decorated hotel, quiet and has a wonderful courtyard to lounge around in the summer. Killer location.

Hotel Bourg Tibourg – Jacques Garcia designed the sweet little (rooms are small but aren’t they all in Paris?) Hotel Bourg Tibourg smack bang in the middle of the Marais. To-die-for location, scented candles and rich fabrics and textures. Kind of like Morocco in Paris in winter!!

Hotel Villa Mazarin – Just in front of BHV (great if you have forgotten your stockings or need to whip in and grab a new Bobbi Brown lipstick) the Hotel Mazarin is tucked away behind a door. You wouldn’t even know it was there but it has lovely decoration and is great value!

Hotel du Petit Moulin – This is in the hot new area of the Marais, the 3rd. Clever Mr. Christian Lacroix decorated this ex-boulangerie in a myriad of colours, textures, wallpapers and fabrics. The fashion crowd go wild for this hotel. Just in front of traditional bistro Chez Nenette so you drop into one of the Marais’s last traditional bistros for lunch.

Stay warm and if your visiting, rug up.

This is what you do on your very first day in Paris. You get yourself, not a drizzle, but some honest-to-goodness rain, and you find yourself someone really nice and drive her through the Bois de Boulogne in a taxi. The rain’s very important. That’s when Paris smells its sweetest.  It’s the damp chestnut trees”.

Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina 

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My Favourite Parisian Florists

If you are coming to Paris you won’t want to miss her flower shops. Amongst the flowers and the perfume you will discover the true style of the Parisians.

Those sweet little local shops with their fine selection of peonies and sweet peas, lillies and roses and their devoted staff creating bouquets with love. All the flowers are sorted into colour and there is hardly a mixed bunch to be found.

Here are some of my favourites:

L’Artisan Fleuriste

95 Rue Vieille Du Temples

75003 Paris

This florist is in my hood and they always have an exquisite selection of seasonal flowers. I had my wedding bouquet made here and let them decide on the flowers and colour as  I trusted their good taste.

Vertige

11 Rue De Sevigne

Paris 75004

Vertige is located in the heart of the Marais just two steps from St Paul Metro. They have a beautiful display of flowers outside that has caused me the odd trip every now and then.

Marche Place Baudoyer

Place Baudoyer

Paris 75004

Each Saturday I take my place at my local flower stall in Marche Place Baudoyer in the 4th to select my weekly flowers from Carole’s seasonal array. All colour coded on hue and type! This is a small market and most Saturdays amongst the market stalls you can catch the weddings happening in our local town hall that spills into the same Place.

dani roses, paris florist, carla coulson, fleuriste paris, hotel costes

 Me a tiny little bit excited to be at Dani Roses

Dani Roses

239-241 Rue Saint Honore

Paris 75001

Ok gals if you love roses this place is going to spin your head. It’s heaven.. Roses and glitz all together. The clever folks next door at the Hotel Costes opened this boutique designed by reigning French king of sumptuous design, Jacques Garcia. The roses here are like the ones you used to find in your grandma’s garden, heavenly perfumed in pastel colours and it’s a life changing experience to receive a bouquet of these I know, (thank-you Claire).

 

Nouvelle Eve

7 Rue du Jourdain

Paris 75020

If you want to go see an upcoming neighbourhood you could head to the 20th. Fleuristes like Nouvelle Eve are quietly going about their business of beauty thrilling the locals and visitors like me with mini purple arum lillies and peonies in every colour imaginable.

 

Even Montmatre

53 Rue Notre Dame de Lorette

Paris 7500

Sopi (South of Pigalle) is the hot new area to visit in Paris for so many reasons. Every time I go to my hairdresser up here I marvel at the new and groovy restaurants, bars and shops. A little New York vibe happening for sure. You will find beautiful florist Even in this area and if you are poking around looking for beauty do drop by.

Where to see beautiful flowers

Go treat yourself to a champagne at the bar of the George V Hotel just so you can walk through the foyer and feast your eyes upon the flowers of superstar florist Jeff Leatham.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg in any season will stop you in your tracks. This garden never disappoints thanks to 80 gardeners keeping her flowers perfect.

I hope you enjoyed my little floral tour of Paris!! Wherever you go in Paris it is a visual feast and even the trees leave us lovely little messages of love.

“All I wanted was to connect my moods with those of Paris. Beauty paints and when it painted most, I shot”

Ernest Haas

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