CE&C Renovation Experiment: A Guiding Light – Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

Yesterday, as the Love of My Life (LOML) and I were in the car going to do our ritual Saturday grocery shopping run, in front of a house in our ‘hood, there were a number of cardboard boxes with a sign saying: “Free to a Good Home.” As devoted Antiques Roadshow junkies we stopped the car and started rummaging through the boxes in search of discarded collectibles…

There in one of the boxes were some old books that other roadside scavengers had clearly pilfered through before me.

Within one nearly empty box were three books by the same author, Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, entitled, and I kid you not:

  • A Guide to Elegance: For Every Woman Who Wants To Be Well And Properly Dressed On All Occasions (1964)
  • Entertaining with Elegance: A Complete Guide for Every Who Wants to be the Perfect Hostess on All Occasions (1965)
  • The Men in Your Life: Timeless Advice and Wisdom on Managing the Opposite Sex (1968)

I flipped open A Guide to Elegance and read out loud the first words my eyes glimpsed:

“There is a saying in France, “Elegance is the privilege of age” – and thank heaven it is perfectly true. A woman can be elegant until the end of her days. However, as the years pass, a woman changes in type, and she must be intelligent and objective enough to recognize the fact.”

LOML and I broke down in a fit of uncontrolled laughter. While there was no orchestra playing and the sky didn’t break open, we shared a spontaneous epiphany.

Claiming the three books and a Centennial shot glass, we left the scene where the direction of my Mid-century Modern transformation may have been determined. Without knowing the contents of these discarded literary gems, I have decided to use them as my CE&C Experiment muse. One has to start somewhere and I would never ignore what is clearly divine intervention.

When I got home I searched the net for information on the author. For the last 50 years Madame Dariaux’s encyclopedic lifestyle guides have continued to inspire.

For example, Kathleen Tessaro’s book Elegance was “greatly” inspired by Madame Dariaux’s A Guide to Elegance. 

According to the plethora of on-line reviews, A Guide to Elegance is founded on two underlying hypotheses:

  • “No woman ever lacked elegance because of an excess of simplicity.”
  • “One of the basic rules of elegance is to discover your own style and remain faithful to it.”

On va voir!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *