Behind Closed Doors – Poilâne Bread from Paris

Many many years ago, I visited a local townhouse that was for sale – thinking my charming cottage was filled with endless to do lists of repairs. The owner was nonchalantly noshing on a beautiful bread round, he offered me a bite. I thanked him and marveled at the magnitude of the loaf and delicious flavor. He casually commented, it was just delivered by FedEx from Paris!

I forgot the townhouse, but I NEVER forgot that bread and the notion that behind unassuming ordinary doors, some clever people have their bread delivered from Paris! Don’t judge a book by its cover comes to mind.

I added Poilâne Bread to my Paris list of must visits and eventually met and interviewed the young owner, Apollonia Poilâne. You can read the tragic tale with a happy ending: My Daily Bread.

Multiple Poilâne bakeries in Paris, 8 rue du Cherche-Midi in the artsy Saint-Germain-des-Prés district is one of my favorite locations. I use their linen lined bread proofing baskets to serve bread.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had yummy Poilâne bread FedExd to my cottage and to my friends. With the forthcoming pandemic holidays ahead, I encourage you to make it a bit more magnificent and memorable with Bread from Paris! I’ve already placed my order for the decorated Thanksgiving sourdough, it’s enormous and serves a crowd or hoard it and nibble with a scrumptious cheese and a flute of bubbly.

We all deserve to be a bit spoiled during Covid.

Poilâne

Ana Palza – Bolivian Haute Couture

Pandemic Travel Activities, in all the travel webinars I’ve appreciated, I never expected a webinar on Bolivian Haute Couture. When one thinks of Bolivia, movie buffs may remember the masked bandits Butch Cassidy and his partner The Sundance Kid who robbed banks and had their final shoot out and are buried in the cemetery in San Vicente. Another action hero, James Bond, finds himself in Bolivia in Quantum of Solace, the quintessentially suave British spy confronts his arch nemesis, who planned to take control of the country’s water supply.

I’ve always wanted to visit Bolivia, a country brimming with diverse travel options: The Amazon, the soaring Andean peaks, and stay in a hotel made entirely from salt at Uyuni, in the incredible bright white salt flats of Bolivia. In spite of a relatively small population, Bolivia is culturally diverse with three official languages: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara.

With over 50% of the population indigenous, Bolivia has the least changing population on the continent. As such, it offers an excellent opportunity to view the remnants of ancient civilization embodied in life today as well as in the old Colonial cities, traditional villages and occasional ruins scattered across the landscape. Bespoke travel Bolivia will enable you to take the best of Bolivia’s highlights. A land of extremes, the country is an adventurers dream – but you needn’t be a hardened adventurer to enjoy luxury travel Bolivia.

We have a cracker jack team to create a bespoke Journey when you are ready to escape!

But back to Bolivian Haute Couture, the webinar was an interview with renowned Bolivian jewelry & clothing designer, Ana Palza. She designs beautiful jewelry and traditional outfits for cholitas, Andean women who have maintained their ancestry through culture and tradition.  Creating haute couture in Paris.

Cholita fashion, Bolivia

Ana Palza was born in La Paz and raised by an American mother who taught her to cherish and celebrate all that is unique about Bolivia. As a child, she would accompany her mother to the market; where she learned to see beauty in the mountains of ají in their brilliant reds and yellows, as well as to appreciate the fragrant Bolivian herbs like quirquiña. To this day, Ana’s biggest inspiration comes from walking through the streets of La Paz.

An amazing highlight of her career, one of Ana’s recent collections of haute couture was presented by eight cholitas at the Cartier Foundation for Modern Art in Paris, France. For the first time, indigenous Bolivian women from the Aymara community modeled their traditional Bolivian attire in Paris, in the capital of haute couture. Ana, who makes jewelry and clothes for mujeres de pollera, accompanied the cholita models to Paris for the three-day event. In an event space designed by famed Bolivian architect Freddy Mamani – whose cholets in El Alto have gained worldwide acclaim as of late. The cholita, or the mujer de pollera, is an iconic representation of Bolivia and La Paz. For Ana, her work is not only about designing jewelry and clothing, but also empowering the very women she designs for.

She has presented her designs in fashion shows across Bolivia and has sold her collection internationally. Her work has also been featured in German documentaries.

Cholita fashion, Bolivia

In a time of great social discord in Bolivia, Ana Palza pioneered the creation of jewelry meant for the Bolivian woman – regardless of class, race or background. Her work draws on rich historical and ancestral motifs, integrating the past with the present to create a product that is both dynamic and authentically Bolivian. She bridges two cultures, honoring the past while creating haute couture for the indigenous woman of today.

Palza, who has created jewelry for 19 years, began to focus on cholita fashion about five years ago. She noted that most jewelry was too expensive to be worn by participants in La Paz’s extravagant Gran Poder – pieces were frequently stolen during the wildly chaotic celebration. Palza wanted to create a line of affordable but elegant jewelry. So instead of using gold or silver, she created pieces using pearls, finding inspiration from the style of the cholitas. Palza then started making clothes after realizing that there were no traditional cholita wedding gowns.

The first thing you notice in Ana Palza’s design studio, Disenos Ana Palza, are the mannequins adorned in colorful cholita dress, outfitted with the iconic bowler hat, plush petticoats, shawl and huge decorative jewelry.

“It wasn’t too long ago when Cholitas would have been shamed for the way they dressed. They were discriminated against in their education, job opportunities and were even banned from certain parts of the city. Now, Cholita fashion is huge and even non-indigenous Bolivians are taking part, like me.” Ana participates regularly with the numerous fashion shows in La Paz, featuring solely Cholita dress. But, the most significant event in Cholita Fashion is Gran Poder, a two week long Christian religious celebration observed by the indigenous community in La Paz.

Traditional Bolivian Women

An important reason why Cholita fashion has become a movement in Bolivia, was the presidential election in 2005 when Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president was elected for the first time. His two terms have ushered in pride for Bolivian roots and reduced social injustice. The president was elected for a third term on January 22, 2016 (historically only two, five-year terms have been legal).

The firm we work with is proud to collaborate with these inspiring cholitas and can organize visits to Ana´s atelier providing a unique and memorable experience.

Cholita fashion, Bolivia

Highlights of Bolivia – Seven days
Marvel at the mesmerizing white expanse of the Salt flats of Uyuni, a photographer’s paradise.
Cruise to the Sun Island on Lake Titicaca, the birthplace of the Incas.
Ride La Paz’s cable car network for a unique perspective on the burgeoning capital.
The landscapes and vistas in Bolivia are truly matchless. This landlocked Andean nation boasts some of the most extreme, diverse topographies on the planet. At a dizzying 11,975 feet above sea level, snow-capped mountains frame La Paz. Pristine Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, is so grand it almost looks like an ocean from its shores. The Salar de Uyuni is iconic in its otherworldly splendor. Bolivia’s rusticity makes it a destination best suited to seasoned travelers, but the rewards are plentiful for those with a sense of adventure. Highlights of Bolivia, takes you through Bolivia’s most incredible sights and is designed to take your breath away. Visit the lush Yungas, descending from snow-capped mountains to tropical climes in a day trip from La Paz.

Ana Palza dancing

Two years ago, Ana started Disenos Ana Palza. “We are the only option available in Cholita fashion in the mid-tier price range. But, I know that because we have been successful people will soon start to copy our model. Our competitive advantage is our styles. We mix today’s Cholita fashion with older indigenous styles and modern western flairs. For example, this year our fish and coin jewelry has been very popular.”

Ana Palza, Bolivia