Dec 4, 2013

Model Children: Petit Billy


Gigi has a most unusual extracurricular activity this fall. And I mean most unusual. She has been cast as Ann Lee, a Japanese manga character come to life, for a piece of performance art in a major exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo, the world-class contemporary art museum of Paris. She and seven others were chosen  from 160 girls at the audition, by the artist himself, Tino Sehgal, who calls the kind of interactive performance art he creates "constructed situations."
Gigi is the youngest among the girls, and she performs the solo piece he created in either English or French, depending on her audience, three times a week, for two-three hours at a time. The piece is about 10 minutes long, and she performs in a sort of animated slow-motion then rests, performs then rest, for the whole session, under the supervision of a chaperone. I am, unfortunately, not allowed to publicly post any photographs or videos of her performance. You'll just have to catch the exhibit live, through early January.
I am a combination of proud (my big girl!) and envious (I mean, how cool is that?!) and impressed (she's so poised about it -- and in two languages!).
I signed Pippa and Gigi with an agent in Paris when we moved here, and now both girls have had jobs: print, runway, and theatrical. I am sure this makes me some horrible version of a stage mom, but the girls have been doing this since they were babies, and both of them love it. Some cousins I greatly respect live in Southern California, are "in the business", and strongly advised me against having the girls do this, since from their experience it leads to girls with self-esteem problems, eating disorders, and unhealthy egos. But I think that must be an L.A. child-actor thing. It's a whole lot mellower in San Francisco: parents are nice to each other, and to the other children. It's a friendly group, and nobody seems to take the situation (or themselves) too seriously. Frankly, we're not aiming for stardom -- just a fun activity and a little to add to the college savings accounts. And I have to admit that both the girls and I -- not to mention the grandparents -- get a kick out of seeing them in the occasional catalog and ad (below: Pottery Barn Kids, Hanna Andersson, Mervyn's, and Old Navy).


In Paris, it seems similarly mellow. That's partly because by French law all auditions and modeling jobs must take place only when school is out of session (after hours, weekends, vacations). Gigi is given an exception for the Palais de Tokyo performance by the French government itself, and once a week she misses a few hours of school for the show. But that's a rarity. There's the added bonus that at the end of each modeling job in Paris, they give the models party favor bags including little toys and, of course, lots of candy. That's after trays full of candy and pastries and juices during the job. The French are not afraid to sugar up their kids, after all.

Gigi is given vouchers she can use each session for snacks or lunch at the museum café. She claims she occasionally takes vegetables and proteins, but she's an independent working girl now, so I'm not there to monitor her. Besides the treats, my girls love the attention and performance aspect (now, who could they have inherited that from?), and they also love the process of having their hair and make-up done. It's a girly-girl's dream.


Pippa's first job in Paris is to model for the catalog and spring summer 2013 children's collection of Lanvin. Besides being the oldest fashion house in Paris, dating from 1889, it's also one of the most elegant. That means that the outfits Pippa models are undoubtedly more expensive than anything I've ever owned, including my wedding dress.


The shoot takes place at the Hotel de Crillon, which is a treat in and of itself, since it is originally a building constructed in 1758 under the auspices of King Louis XV.


Pippa also lands a runway modeling job, which is something the girls haven't ever done before. She is hired to strut her stuff on the catwalk for Bonpoint's spring summer 2013 collection, another very high-end kid's clothing line, in front of a couple hundred buyers. She prances, wears pretty outfits and some fancy accessories, and, as she says, "walks back and forth a hundred times." In the video, you can see her smiling at 0:26, and then parading her heart out at 1:18, 1:38, and 2:32.
She wakes up excited for the job and, I'm happy to report, is not disappointed by the experience. The only ones disappointed are Gigi and me, both because we're not allowed to stay and see it, and also because we fantasize about being in it. High fashion runway model in Paris -- not bad for a kid still losing her baby teeth!
Petit Billy is an industrially-produced, modern cheese made from pasteurized goat's milk and sold in large grocery stores. It's a soft, fresh cheese with a very mild taste. In texture, it's less like a cream cheese, and more like a cool, silken custard. In flavor, it's even lighter than a cream cheese, with a slightly lemony tang.
The only thing rare about Petit Billy is that it's a goat cheese produced in the heart of cow-country -- Bretagne -- at a factory in Noyal-sur-Vilaine. The brand and the cheese were both launched in 1986. It's not going to be the star of the cheese plate, but it works well in salads or even just spread on toast for a simple snack. Because it's so mellow, it turns out to be lovely with a drizzle of honey on it, which we discover one day when we have nothing else in the house for dessert.
I must admit, Petit Billy is not terribly special: not like my Petite Pippa or my Petite Gigi. This cheese is industrial, cheap, mild, simple, and mostly found in supermarket cheese aisles. But just look at what a beautiful photo it makes! Honestly, have you ever seen a more gorgeous cheese photo?! I think some of my other photos are cheese p-o-r-n: oozy, rich, sensual. This one, however, is more cheese cover girl. 


  1. Extraordinary journeys indeed! Your daughters are absolutely beautiful, and beyond the cute faces, haute couture and precocious poses, their authentic exuberance shimmers forth like a full-body twinkle of the eye. Just gorgeous. Mazel tov Kazz and family!!

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