Musical Monday: Duran Duran

I’m still mining the list of artists I’ve seen more than once. I shall not be featuring those I saw only once, or those where I didn’t last the distance, for obvious reasons. However, I might showcase those I wish I’d seen.This week I’m turning to fellow Brummies, Duran Duran and featuring a golden oldie and one of their relatively newer tracks.

Duran Duran are an English new wave band formed in Birmingham in 1978 by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor. With the addition of drummer Roger Taylor the following year the band went through numerous personnel changes before settling on the line-up including guitarist Andy Taylor (no relation to other two Taylors) and lead singer Simon Le Bon in May 1980.

When Duran Duran emerged they were generally considered part of the New Romantic scene. Innovators of the music video, Duran Duran was catapulted into the mainstream with the introduction of the 24-hour music channel MTV. The group was a leading band in the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US in the 1980s.

The band’s first major hit was Girls on Film (1981), from their self-titled debut album. The band’s breakthrough sophomore album was Rio (1982), which peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 album chart in the US, number two in the UK, and number one in Australia and Canada.

The songs Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio (above)featured cinematic music videos and became two of their biggest hits. The former won the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 1984. Their follow-up third album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, became their only UK number one album and featured the US and UK number one single The Reflex. In 1985, the band topped the US charts with the single  A View to a Kill from the soundtrack of the film of the same name.

Before the recording of their fourth album, 1986’s Notorious, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor had both left the band. The band spent the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s continuing to release albums and singles, to only moderate success. Their comeback album, 1993’s Duran Duran featured two top-ten worldwide hits Ordinary World and Come Undone.

After John Taylor left in 1997, the band released a number of albums and singles which underperformed on the sales charts. A full reunion of the original lineup of Le Bon, Rhodes and all three Taylors in 2001 led to a number of highly successful concert tours and the 2004 album Astronaut, which reached number 3 in the UK and top 40 in numerous other countries. The album’s lead single (Reach Up for The) Sunrise (below) was an international dance hit, and reached number five in the UK. Andy Taylor left again in 2006, and the band has released four additional albums, with the most recent being Future Past in October 2021.

Duran Duran has sold over 100 million records, making them one of the world’s best-selling music artists. They achieved 30 top 40 singles in the U.K., 14 singles in the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart and 21 in the US Billboard Hot 100. The band have won numerous awards throughout their career: two Brit Awards including the 2004 award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, two Grammy Awards, an MTV Video Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a Video Visionary Award from the MTV Europe Music Awards. They were also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2022.

French fancies: Etam

French women love lingerie, particularly matching lingerie. Consequently, there are plenty of brands at every price point. Today’s company started life in Germany but then became French! Let me explain how this came about.

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Etam Developpement SA is Europe’s leading designer and retail distributor of women’s lingerie and ready-to-wear fashions for the women’s and young girls’ markets. The company operates an international network of more than 1,100 retail stores as Etam and as 1,2,3. Etam represents the company’s core lingerie and ready-to-wear brand and head of its largest segment of stores.

Plage en fond

Etam’s store formats range from the petite Etam Lingerie shops to its mega, all-in-one stores. The company has retail operations in all major global markets operating through franchise agreements with local partners.However, it only recently made it across the pond to open shops-in-shops at Nordstrom.

Dans les coulisses du leader de la corsetterie | La Gazette Nord-Pas de CalaisThis delay, according to Etam’s Chairman Laurent Milchior (left), the grandson of one of the founders, was due to an effort over the past 10 years to build more content, narrative and purpose into the brand, with an annual blowout fashion show during Paris Fashion Week among its boldest marketing statements. Etam has also stepped up its traceability and sustainability actions and social engagement in support of women.

How it all began

Etam was launched by Max Lindemann, a German stockings’ manufacturer. In 1916, Lindemann decided to venture into the retail arena, launching his own line of lingerie and opening his first store in Berlin. Lindemann chose the name Etam for his retail activity, a name taken from the etamine fabric used in much of his undergarment production.

By 1920, Lindemann was ready to expand the Etam brand internationally. Rather than risk his fortune by opening company-owned stores in new foreign markets, Lindemann set up a network of local partnerships who in turn developed the Etam franchise in their own markets. As such, the Etam brand was introduced to the UK in 1923, with its first store on London’s Oxford Street. Through the rest of the decade, Etam stores opened in other markets, including France, Argentina, the Netherlands and finally Belgium in 1928.

By then, Martin Milchior, founder of Milchior et Cie of Belgium, had launched his own chain of retail lingerie stores. The first Milchior store opened in 1925 and Milchior quickly expanded the store format throughout Belgium. In 1929, Milchior himself went international, opening a boutique in Paris. Over the next 25 years, Milchior’s expanded deeper into France and the Milchior family eventually transferred its headquarters to Paris. A major step in this transition came in 1933 when Milchior acquired a chain of 21 stores. The company transformed its new chain of stores into lingerie boutiques, then adopted the Setamil store and brand name in 1941.

Pierre Milchior joined his father’s business in 1955 and took over the lead of the company when Martin Milchior died in 1958. The younger Milchior was to prove the chief architect of the company’s success, transforming the relatively small company into the European leader in its segment by the end of the century. Meanwhile, Etam had continued to establish itself as an important brand name, especially in the UK.

Back in France, Setamil and Etam France, operated under parent company Elan SA, were preparing to join forces. This process started in 1961, when Milchior acquired Elan, taking control of the Etam France network. By 1963, Milchior had reached an agreement to merge his operations into Etam parent Max Lindemann, and the two companies began the process of merging the Etam, Elan, and Setamil store brands, resulting in the 49-store Etam chain. At the same time, the newly enlarged company launched a line of Etam-branded ready-to-wear clothing for the French market. Milchior was placed at the head of the company, now known as Groupe Etam, and became its principal shareholder.

The development of the Etam brand remained country-specific, with each local market partner operating as a separate company with operations independent of the largely French-market-focused Groupe Etam. As such, the Max Lindemann family retained control of the Etam Belgium franchise.

1 - Etam

In France, Milchior and Groupe Etam continued to develop the Etam network, reaching 120 stores by 1980, with sales of more than Ffr 200 million per year. The company launched a new retail franchise format, Kiosk, that same year. The Kiosk operation led Etam into extending its operations from the retail sphere into the wholesale market. In 1981, Groupe Etam bought out the Lindemann family’s stake in Etam Belgium.

The 1980s marked a transition period for the Etam brand. By 1985, the company had more than doubled its revenues, and by 1990 sales had topped the FFr 1 billion mark. During this time, Etam stopped looking to Hong Kong for its garment manufacture–and instead began contracting for much of its clothing needs from manufacturers in France. This policy enabled the company to react more quickly to fashion trends, while also giving it better oversight on quality.

Another important move came with the birth of the company’s 1,2,3 store format, launched in 1983. The 1,2,3 store allowed Etam to branch out from its mid-market position to capture a higher-end lingerie and ready-to-wear clientele. These moves helped Etam outpace its competitors, and by the end of the decade Etam had captured more than 10% of the French lingerie market.

Groupe Etam restructured its organisation in 1991, now grouping its operations around its core brands. This restructuring led the company to exit the wholesale market. From 1992, Etam moved to extend its store format internationally, including China.

By late 1997, Groupe Etam was preparing to go public. The company had come under pressure from the arrival of a number of foreign clothing groups, notably H&M, Gap, and Zara, which were attracting growing numbers of Etam’s traditional customer base. The public listing, under the name of Etam Developpement, was a step toward achieving Etam’s newly developed international expansion goals, which aimed at balancing the company’s domestic operations. Despite competitive pressures, Etam remained France’s leading women’s clothing retailer.

MVRDV - Etam Paris

Only three years later, the company had slipped into losses for the first time, largely as a result of its heavy debt burden, and issues with its  new large-scale “megastore” format. Despite these short-term difficulties, Etam Developpement continued to invest in its long-term growth, particularly internationally and has certainly turned a corner.

All images courtesy of ETAM

Silent Sunday #109

It’s Sunday and today’s photo is from ma belle France.

The Musette: Pepper and apricot salad

I like to shop daily, locally and seasonally. This week’s basket of goodies yielded plump apricots and yellow bell peppers. This is what I did with those ingredients.

Ingredients (serves 4)

pepper salad:

  • 4 yellow bell peppers
  • 4 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 apricots
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 2 tbsp capers

dressing:

  • 5 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp nut butter, preferably tahini or almond
  • 1 tbsp liquid honey or maple syrup
  • 1 pinch smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 100g (3 ½ oz) pine nuts

Method

1.Preheat the oven to 200 °C/180 °C fan/350°F/gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet with greaseproof (parchment) paper.

Fruits & Légumes du Marché Bio - Poivron jaune

2. Slice the bell peppers in half, remove the stalk and seeds, and cut into wide strips. Remove the sage leaves from the stalks and transfer to the lined baking sheet, along with the strips of bell pepper. Drizzle everything with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, halve the apricots, remove the stones, and slice into quarters. Slice the lemon crosswise into thin rounds and then slice into strips. When the peppers have baked for 15 minutes, add the apricots, lemon strips and capers. Toss to combine, and continue baking for another 15 minutes, then allow to cool slightly.

4. Mix together all the dressing ingredients. I generally do this in my small liquidiser, adding some water as needed to make sure the consistency is creamy and not too thick. Gently toast the pine nuts in a small dry pan over moderate heat. Do not take your eyes off of them!

4. Arrange the warm, oven-roasted ingredients on a large platter. Drizzle with the dressing, season generously with pepper, and serve scattered with pine nuts.

One from the vaults: Things my beloved says – Celine Dion’s in town!

This one harks back to 2017 but as Celine’s visiting Nice again this summer, it’s just as relevant. We’ve recently seen John Legend and Alicia Keys but they were both concerts I wanted to see and my beloved was happy to tag along. Of course, he’s now been converted, just like Gregory Porter last year.

Yes, Celine Dion’s in town and there are still unsold tickets! This isn’t as unusual as you might think. The French don’t like to pay for things months in advance, they like to be more spontaneous. When my beloved unleashed this astonishing news I merely advised that if he wanted to go he would  a) need to buy a ticket and b) go on his own. I’m perhaps being unfair on Celine here. I’m sure her show will be fabulous and the woman has an undeniably fantastic voice but she’s just not my cup of tea, she’s my beloved’s.

In years past, I would’ve immediately acquired two tickets for the show and then, on the night, my beloved would be unavoidably detained somewhere and unable to attend. Leaving me with two tickets to a concert I never wanted to go to in the first place. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened over the years. However, I’ve gotten wiser in my old age. If he wants to see something, and I don’t, he has to buy himself a ticket. I can tell you now, he won’t be going to the Celine Dion Show. Even though, according to the office diary – not always the most up to date record – he’s in town that night, along with Celine.

The new arrangements work well from my perspective. If he wants to go to see OGCN play football, I’ll be happy to join him but he has to buy the tickets. If I want to see something, I’ll always check beforehand whether he wants to come too. He hardly ever declines. This way I’m spared seeing things I never wanted to see in the first place or wasting my money. Okay, so I sound like a bit of a philistine. I’m pretty much always up for a sporting event, less so the ballet, opera or a classical concert. Though most years, I’ll get tickets to one or more of the various Jazz events in the area and he’s happy to come along too.

Friends recently had two tickets available for a Depeche Mode concert which I’d happily have taken off their hands except we were away for the event. I’ve seen the band a number of times in the past and would have enjoyed seeing them again. My friends were surprised largely because last year I turned down their offer of two tickets for Coldplay which my beloved would’ve accepted. Again, I have nothing per se against Coldplay but I couldn’t sit through one of their concerts. My beloved was most disappointed. Well, actually he wasn’t. That night, the wind was blowing in our direction and he listened to the concert from our balcony for free. Sadly, that won’t be an option for Celine as she’s playing at OGCN’s home stadium which is way down the Var valley. No amount of wind will (thankfully) carry the sound of her concert to our balcony.

My beloved’s frequent business trips to London afford him the opportunity to indulge in his (misguided) love of musicals, something I abhor. Nothing would persuade me to see another one. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, never ever going again. [I admit I did go to see Hugh Jackman recently in NYC in The Music Man in return for my beloved attending not one but two modern art exhibitions.]

Now I love the theatre and would see at least one play per month when we lived in London. I’ve been to see plays here in France and have not had any trouble understanding what’s going on. Not so my beloved. We started going to the new multiplex that’s opened near us and watching the latest films in French. It was only when I realised that my beloved’s understanding of the plot was flawed because of a linguistic misunderstanding that we reverted to seeing films in their original language. Plays would similarly probably be a step too far. Also, he doesn’t share my interest in exploring situations. He likes plays with a start, middle and end. Yes, we’re culturally estranged though united in our love of sport, particularly live sport.

Thursday doors #162

Here are more doors from our most recent trip to the East Coast.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Wordless Wednesday #129

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.

Postcard from Washington DC: Part IV

A dear friend advised me to visit the Library of Congress. I’ve always loved libraries with their stacks of books, hushed atmosphere and more. This is truly a magnificent place to dally particularly amongst its architectural splendour.

The Library of Congress, housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, is the US Congress’ research library and the country’s national library. It’s also the largest library in the world, with a collection of more than 170 million items. It’s massive and really has to be seen to be believed.

How it all began

Its story began in 1800, when President John Adams approved a congressional act that moved the national capital from Philadelphia to Washington DC. As part of that bill, a sum of US$5,000 was earmarked for books intended for use by Congress. Under Adams’ immediate successor, Thomas Jefferson, Congress passed another law under which the US president appointed someone to the official post of “Librarian of Congress.” Jefferson named the first two librarians, who each did double duty as clerk for the House of Representatives. (The two positions were separated in 1815.)

Interior of Old Library of Congress in the Capitol (1866) - Ghosts of DC

Jefferson’s contributions to the Library of Congress didn’t stop there: In August 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces burned the Capitol, destroying the small congressional library. The following year, Congress purchased Jefferson’s extensive personal library (including some 6,487 books) for some US$23,950, which became the foundation of the new Library of Congress collection.

Unfortunately, another fire in 1850 (this time accidental) destroyed some 35,000 volumes, including almost two-thirds of Jefferson’s original contribution.

Until the Civil War, the Library of Congress just served Congress. But post-war, the influential Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford (who served in the post from 1864 to 1897) convinced Congress that it was also in effect the nation’s library, and should be used by the public as well as by Congress.

Spofford also played a leading role in promoting the copyright law of 1870, which centralized all US copyright registration and deposit activities (including the U.S. Copyright Office itself) in the Library of Congress.

As its collections grew steadily under Spofford’s watch, Congress approved the construction of a separate building for the Library of Congress. The Italian Renaissance-style structure opened in 1897, nearly a century after the library’s founding.

In the early 20th century, the Library of Congress took another great leap forward thanks to the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1903 issued an executive order transferring the records of the Continental Congress and the personal papers of six founding fathers (George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and James Monroe) to the library from the State Department.

A new Art-Deco style annex building opened in 1939 to hold the library’s ever-growing collections. The latter half of the 20th century saw the Library of Congress build its collections at an unprecedented rate, largely driven by the impact of automation on its cataloging procedures and its expansion into overseas acquisitions.

Library of Congress Today

A third major building, named for James Madison, opened in 1980, doubling the library’s size. Its two older buildings were renamed that same year – the original 1897 structure for Thomas Jefferson and the 1939 annex building for John Adams – and both underwent extensive restorations and modernisations in the 1980s and ‘90s.

With the dawn of the Internet, the Library of Congress website and its National Digital Library Program (both launched in 1994) created an increasingly valuable online research destination, including a high-quality electronic catalogue of historical documents and other research materials.

By 2012, the library’s American Memory website had grown to include some 37.6 million primary source materials (including manuscripts, photographs, films and audio recordings).

By 2016, when Carla Hayden was sworn in as the first woman and first African American to become librarian of Congress, the library had more than 3,000 people on staff and more than 38 million books and 70 million manuscripts in its catalogue.

According to its website, the Library of Congress receives approximately 15,000 items, and adds about 12,000 items to its catalogue each day. Most of these come in through the copyright registration process; others through gifts, purchases and exchange with libraries in the United States as well as abroad.

Our visit coincided with a number of fascinating exhibitions, many photographic ones, including one on Rosa Parks. I knew the name, of course, but the exhibition cast her in a previously unseen light.

Rosa Parks (1913–2005) is best known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1955. She became an icon of the movement, celebrated for this single courageous act of civil disobedience, but she is often characterised by misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, Parks was not a demure seamstress who chose not to stand because she was physically tired. Her calm demeanor hid a militant spirit forged over decades.

The real Rosa Parks was a seasoned activist. She was punished for the bus incident with death threats, unemployment, and dire poverty, yet was sustained through years of hardship by her strong Christian faith. Parks remained committed to the struggle for social justice and human rights until her death, inspiring millions.

Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words showcases rarely seen materials that offer an intimate view, documenting her life and activism.The materials are drawn extensively from the Rosa Parks Collection, a gift to the Library of Congress from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

If you’re ever in Washington DC, this is the place to visit!

 

Postcard from Washington DC: Part III

I’m continuing with my meander around Washington DC, this one leads from our hotel to the Library of Congress (tomorrow’s post).

Our hotel was close to the Ellipse Park and The White House but there was some event which made it difficult to see either, so we didn’t bother! No doubt the Bidens were disappointed in our lack of interest.

Lafayette Square

A statue of General Andrew Jackson on a galloping horse waving hat in the air. A canon is nearby.

General Andrew Jackson’s  Statue is in the centre of Lafayette Square which was the first bronze statue to be cast in the US. The large seven-acre park north of the White House is named for the Marquis de Lafayette, a wealthy French hero of the American Revolutionary War.

St. John’s Episcopal Church

This pretty yellow Greek revival building is also called the Church of the Presidents. Completed in 1816, every sitting president has visited at least once. It is a National Historic Landmark but, sadly, I can’t find my photo of said church. 

Pennsylvania Avenue

The avenue between the White House and the Capitol Building is home to a number of monuments, museums and interesting buildings. 

World War I Memorial

An engraved quote at the World War I Memorial

 

Pershing and George Washington are the only US Generals awarded the rank of General of the Armies, the highest possible rank in the US Army.This memorial honouring the more than 4.5 million Americans who served in the first World War was unveiled in April 2021. It includes a previously existing monument to John J Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The Peace Fountain is in the centre and, in 2024, the final installation called “A Soldier’s Journey”, will be completed. Meanwhile, there’s a representation in its place.

 White House Visitor Center

The visitor centre provides an opportunity to see some of the White House without an invitation.  Displays include archival photos and footage of White House events.

Freedom Plaza

The marble surface of the plaza shows a partial representation of the L’Enfant Plan for the city developed in 1791.

Old Post Office Building

The beautiful building on the south side of Pennsylvania at 12th Street is now a hotel. This was US Postal Service’s national headquarters from 1899 to 1914 when they outgrew it.  The building avoided the wrecking ball several times until being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

US Navy Memorial Plaza and the National Archives Museum

The memorial honours the men and women of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine who serve in both war and peace. The National Archives Museum is framed by the flagpole masts of the US Navy Memorial.

The archives protect items telling the story of the growth of US, its government and the American people such as the original signed copies of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights.

US Capitol

Since 1800 Congress has occupied the Capitol though it has been expanded to meet the government’s space needs. The original construction was rather less grandiose than today’s. In December 1863, the Statue of Freedom was placed on the top of a new cast iron central dome, above the East Plaza.

Our wander around Washington concludes at the Library of Congress (tomorrow’s post)

 

Musical Monday: Red Hot Chili Peppers

The band are currently touring but sadly they’re not scheduled to play anywhere near us otherwise I would happily go and see them again.They’ve previously featured in Song Lyric Sunday #18 but here they are again, this time with one of my all-time favourite tracks and a new one.

Californication was the band’s seventh studio album, released in June 1999, it marked a notable shift in the American Rock band’s style, to a softer, more melodic side. The album’s subject material incorporated various sexual innuendos commonly associated with the band, but also contained more varied themes than previous outings, including death, contemplations of suicide, California, drugs, globalisation and travel.

Californication is the Chili Peppers’ most commercially successful studio release internationally, with over 15 million copies sold worldwide, it peaked at number three on the US Billboard 200. A large part of its commercial success was attributed to the popularity of its singles: Californication, Otherside and Scar Tissue.  

My featured single, Californication, has remained one of the band’s most popular and most performed live songs, appearing in almost every setlist since its live debut and making it the band’s third-most performed song, with over 500 performances.

The track’s video takes the form of a fictional open world video game that depicts each of the band members on some sort of adventure in a California setting. It’s the group’s most watched video on YouTube, with 950 million views.

Fast forward to the band’s latest and 12th studio album, Unlimited Love, released in April 2022. It debuted at number one in ten countries, becoming their first US number-one since Stadium ArcadiumIt was promoted with the singles Black Summer (above) and These Are the Ways. The Red Hot Chili Peppers began an international stadium tour in June and a 13th studio album, Return of the Dream Canteen, is scheduled for release this October.