Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Married to the Maestro – Part 1

In “Married to the Maestro – the Prelude” I introduced you to one of my favorite couples, Jacques Lacombe (the Maestro) and his wife, Janet. An internationally renowned conductor, Jacques is constantly on the go and Janet goes everywhere with him.

Over dinner a few months ago, Janet and I were discussing the ups and downs of their peripatetic lifestyle, and it occurred to me that this was a conversation I would love to share with you, my wonderful Blog readers. And so, Janet and I sat down together (via e-mail) for some serious girl talk.

In the following interview, you’ll get a little taste of what it’s like to be married to a globe-trotting Maestro. Enjoy!

M-T: Let’s start with the basics - Packing 101. What are your “must-have” beauty items?

J-L: I never leave home without my Dove Soap, Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion (unscented), YSL Touche Eclat, Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer, which you introduced me to (thank you, thank you), Lancôme Définicils mascara and lots and lots of Sunscreen – I never go outdoors without it.

M-T: What are your “must-have” wardrobe items?


J-L: Jacques has a hectic schedule, and there’s always that unexpected engagement that kicks things up from hectic to frantic. I often pack for various places and climates during one trip and need a variety of outfits for different functions from formal affairs to casual get-togethers. And no matter the occasion, I always try to look my absolute best.

Sooooo, I always pack my black sling-backs, LBD and matching black cocktail purse. They go with everything. For daytime, a great pair of tailored jeans is a must (M-T Note: Except for formal affairs, a pair of nice-fitting jeans can take you seamlessly from day to evening,).

Obviously, I spend a lot of time attending operas, concerts and parties, but I spend just as much time walking so I make sure to pack comfortable, but pretty, walking shoes. Wherever we are, I do my grocery shopping in the morning and buy only what I can carry back to the apartment. BTW, eating only what you can carry back is a great diet tip.

Turin Opera House
And while we’re on the subject, grocery shopping can really be an adventure. Once, when Jacques was conducting in Turin, Italy, we had a lovely apartment right in the center of town, but with my limited Italian I had no luck finding a grocery store.

I managed to find the butcher, the baker, the pastry-maker, but no green grocer. After a week of wandering around the City, all I could find was a small fruit stand. I was getting really frustrated.

“This is ITALY, for crying out loud,” I said to myself. “Where are all those gorgeous tomatoes???”

Porta Polazzo Market
Undaunted, I decided to expand my search. Imagine my surprise when I discovered nearby the Porta Polazzo, the largest open air market in all of Europe.

The case of the missing pomidori was solved – 2 Euros (about $3 at the time) for a huge bag of gorgeous, juicy tomatoes! I bought so much food that day that I almost didn’t make it home.

For the rest of our stay in Turin we had pasta every night with a different sauce inspired by all those fresh ingredients. By the time we left Turin, I was fluent in market Italian. I’ve tried to duplicate those sauces at home, but somehow it never tastes the same. The secret must be in those fabulous tomatoes.

M-T: No doubt you have had your share of lost luggage containing things you thought you couldn’t do without and suddenly had to. What have you found you can do without if you have to?

J-L: Well, I wouldn’t recommend it, but I have gone without a hair dryer (yikes!), hairspray (eke!), hairbrush (double “eke”!!), conditioner, pantyhose and, believe it or not… (a story for another day) and survived relatively unscathed, but I definitely would NOT recommend it.

I guess, in general, I find I can go without brand name items of my favorite products, except for Dove Soap, but shopping for substitutes can be tricky. When you don’t know the language, labels can be really confusing and I have been known to pick up the wrong thing. For example, I spent a whole week washing dishes in the dishwasher with clothing detergent. I kept wondering why the glasses came out so scummy.

M-T: Favorite packing tips?

J-L : Don’t unpack everything. I always keep my make-up in one bag no matter where I am. That way, if I have to pick up and go, I have everything I need in one place and don’t have to hear the dreaded question from my husband, “Honey, how much longer??” while I try and remember where I put my lipstick. I always keep certain items in my “to-go” bag. Jacques once suggested buying another complete set of make-up to keep in my “to-go” bag. Men! They just don’t get it. If I did that, half of it would get thrown away from lack of use (M-T Note: Make-up items such as mascara and foundation do go bad after a time and need to be thrown away.).

I keep a plastic bag full of mini-sized things to take on the airplane with me – moisturizers, toothpaste tubes, face soap, etc., and I do move some of my make-up from my “to-go” bag to the plastic airplane bag.

Also, an oldie but goodie, roll your clothes before you pack them to avoid wrinkles and save space. It really does work……….and ALWAYS pack extra underwear, socks and bras in your carry-on bag. I can’t tell you how many times this has come in handy.

M-T: In addition to clothes and beauty items, what else do you routinely pack?

J-L: I never forget the corkscrew/bottle opener. Believe me, after a 12-hour day of rehearsals all Jacques really needs sometimes is a nice glass of red wine to melt the troubles away.

When Jacques does operas in different countries we rent short-term apartments instead of a hotel room.  Not only is it more economical, but it’s more comfortable and feels like home, which means I cook as often as possible.

So I have gotten into the habit of packing a kitchen bag filled with spices, small utensils, garlic crusher, can opener, the all-important corkscrew and my wonderfully awesome Wusthof knife. You wouldn’t believe how many kitchens I have been in that don’t have a proper cutting knife. This bag stays in one spot filled with whatever we need at all times so that it’s always ready to go when we are.

Some women are prêt-à-porter; I’m more prêt-à-partir at a moment’s notice. Excuse my French.

*     *     *     *     *

Next week, in Part 2, Janet shares with us some of her favorite places to shop, more travel stories and why you should never leave an attractive woman alone too long in Paris.

Stay tuned. You won’t want to miss this.

Check out "Married to the Maestro -- the Prelude"

Check out "Married to the Maestro -- Part 2"

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic blog and brilliant post!!! You're amazing!!! Your sense of style is fantastic too!!! Absolutely brilliant...


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