France Seduces Me . . .

Karen enjoying one of her favorite pastimes in Sarlat, France

Karen enjoying one of her favorite pastimes in Sarlat, France

I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks this summer wrapped in France's food, gardens, wine, art and architecture.  There is nothing like a 13th-century priory to draw you in and capture your imagination.  I will live there one day.  For now, she inspires me and I infuse French style into a Hawaii life.  Here are some of my ways I bring her to the island:

The Gallic passion for living and eating well has its heart in a country kitchen.  I, too, love a clean, comfortable workspace with a rustic element.  Fortunately, my coffee shack does rustic very well.  The rest falls into place with a small oil painting of a farm scene I have cherished in all my homes.  The pottery and cookbooks I bring back from Alsace adorn the shelves.  And I have a passion for french linens and baskets found at Paris flea markets.  In 1853, La Parfaite Cuisinière declared, “Order and cleanliness must reign in the kitchen; everything must be in its place, well polished, well cleaned.” I feel good and produce quality products when my space is organized and beautiful.  What is missing from my kitchen?  True French bread.  That cannot be reproduced in our climate hard as I might try.  So I enjoy all that I can when I am there!

French textiles inspire me both in terms of decorating and packaging.  I have a life-long love of anything embroidered or woven.  A prized remnant of an antique Aubusson rug is made into a pillow on my reading chair.  I love its colors.  It is noticed every time I pass by.  Scraps of well-worn, French fabric become linings in my purses I sell on occasion at market.  I look for inspiration in color palettes for special packaging and photo compositions.  France is everywhere on our website when you look close.

Edith Piaf can be heard on the farm.  Somewhat out of place at first thought until you come closer to our home.  She fits here.  Her tenacity and beauty fills the orchards.  There is a source of inner confidence that is both French and Hawaiian.  French lessons continue most days in the garden as I weed. I think the Hawaiian plants enjoy the sounds and I’m certain they are more beautiful because of it.   

Add in the philosophy that French women take time for themselves, for their houses - that extra moment spent adjusting fresh flowers in a vase - or the ability to add just the right touch to an outfit before heading to the boulangerie.  The French worship quality.  These characteristics define every Luana Naturals’ product I create.  The details are key.  Quality of ingredients is never compromised.   The beauty of packaging is a must.  As for my own personal style?  A blouse from one of my favorite shops in Paris will combine quite well with a subtle Hawaiian print sarong.  I admire my French cousin’s beautiful light and flowing dresses that she wears and I look for similar feminine touches to add to otherwise simple farm work clothes.  It can be a stretch.  But I assure you, you will never, ever see me in a pair of shorts. France reminds me to take time for oneself and enjoy feeling pretty.

It is easy to succumb to something à la française.  Every day I come up with a new idea and France is often behind it.  New flower waters and perfumes will be launched early next year.  Perfume is a passion of mine and I love to think of new combinations that combine Hawaiian botanicals with a French nose.  Ylang-ylang is one of my favorite scents.  It grows well on the island and did you know it was the “secret” ingredient in Chanel No. 5 - my personal favorite?  When sandalwood meets French flower wax, you find yourself with something truly magical.  Hawaii and France.  At first very different places and yet, the two complement each other quite well.  They are both beautiful, dedicated to quality, and impart wisdom for living well.