Sunday, June 12, 2011

Out Horsing Around . . . Le Prix de Diane . . .

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It's time to take a little break from abandoned factories and cemeteries or rolling rust heaps of old cars; today I was just out horsing around a bit. Chantilly is to France what Ascot is to England or Louisville is to the USA for hosting prestigious horse racing events. This afternoon the Prix de Diane was held at the Hippodrome of Chantilly ; people from all over the world were there to watch the horses run, and just to relax and have a little fun dressing up for a grand picnic on a fine Spring afternoon. The horses ran for all they were worth. (which is a pretty penny, no doubt) As your roving reporter in France of everything under the sun, I wanted to get these photos out to you while they were hot off the press. All told I clicked roughly 370 shots today. Which is not to say that all 370 are any good, but a good time was had by all, which is what matters. More photos will no doubt follow at a later date, but here is a small selection. It was nice to totally forget about work and taxes and the news for a bit, caught up in the excitement of thundering hooves.
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The Prix de Diane is filmed and broadcast live to a large audience, and there were photographers swarming the event as well. I liked this camera person's purple hair.
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Very fine looking picnics were spread out on blankets and tables everywhere; it looked like the champagne was flowing liberally. (which might appeal to some of you readers out there, you know who you are !)
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This lady even had a race happening right on her hat. Hats for the ladies are of course obligatory, and they take on a wondrous variety of forms and colors. It is obvious that huge amounts of time, effort, creativity, and certainly cost go into producing some of these amazing chapeaux. The ladies' hats sort of steal the show from the horse racing. It was clear to me that most of the photographers present were focusing more on the hat-scapes than on the horses.
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Some of the attire visible there gets into the domain of the theatrical.
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Her seahorse earrings were particularly enchanting. I could hear the mermaids singing.
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My goodness, there was even an Eiffel Tower hat, taking us to new heights of millinery creativity. I will let you peruse the following series of ladies in hats without further comments to distract you. I've never thought I'd ever do any fashion photography, but I have to admit to having had a rather good time out shooting today. If you happened to be a magazine editor, would you want any of these images to illustrate a story about the Prix de Diane ?
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Near the end of the afternoon I stumbled on a gentleman who was painting horse and jockey images on copies of the racing program. Which brings us to the end of the show for today. But stay tuned for more hats and horses to come.
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58 comments:

...louciao... said...

Ha! I am the first to arrive so I get my picture taken in the winner's circle, with a bottle of champers, an embarrassingly large bouquet, and big bag of oats! I know my way round a race track! Will be back later, once I've emptied my feed bag and washed it all down with bubbly.

Patricia said...

When you combine horses and ladies hats you deserve squeals of delight.
These creations were even better than those at the royal wedding.

K'line Bloom said...

Un très beau reportage Owen ! La série sur les chapeaux est incroyable ! Un coup de cœur également pour le peintre sur programme. Bises ;)

lgsquirrel said...

What weird and wonderful fashion statements! Loved the hats although the Eiffel Tower one was just a little too silly. I was curious to know how our roving reporter was dressed for the occasion.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

I like the way over time people have tweaked the tradition of the ladies' hats. Once a means of displaying wealth and status, it now is a way to display creativity and not a little irreverence. Egalité seems to have trumped class distinctions. Bravo to your gallery of fashion statements.

Lorrene said...

Hat Heaven !!! I loved those hats.

Le Journal de Chrys said...

J'aime beaucoup ton reportage!!!!!! Je me suis régalée à regarder tes photos. Prendre en photo tous ces chapeaux, cette ambiance, ce monde, j'adorerais!!!

Merci OWEN!


Bon lundi

Steve said...

The girl with the seahorse earings... ooh la la!

Adam said...

Great photos Owen!

I'm quite a fan of horse racing (my 5 year old son even more so!) and I think it's very funny to see so many people at prestigious meetings such as this one, and NOBODY at all the other meetings during the year.

Nadege said...

That was fun looking at those beautiful photos. Can't wait for part II.

Suze said...

This was so incredibly cheerful. There are so many images in this post that I really, really enjoyed.

When we were children, my parents had a painting of jockeys by Lee Reynolds that covered most of the small den wall. The first few images of this post really brought that painting to the forefront of memory.

I particularly love the pineapple and yellow roses. And I, too, like the camerawoman's purple hair.

Céline said...

En fait les courses ne sont qu'un moyen de se montrer pour toutes ces belles dames... Et toi, avais-tu un beau costume pour t'approcher au plus près des beaux chapeaux et des belles bouteilles de champagne ?? J'aime beaucoup la "grue" rose !

Pastelle said...

Les chevaux, oui, bravo.
Les détail aussi.
Mais les chapeaux ! Les chapeaux je suis totalement fan, je ne savais même pas que ça existait, des trucs pareils !
Merciiiiiiiii !
Dis, c'est quand le prochain prix ?
Il faut absolument que je vienne !

Stickup Artist said...

Oh Owen, your portrait work is divine! I feel cheerful and alive, full of the fun life offers especially when we go out on a limb, play dress up, and forget ourselves and the day to day grind! An excellent reminder to get out there and have some fun!!!

My favorite is the one where the woman is dressed in all white, face hidden, hat trimmed in black lace with a matching necklace.

...louciao... said...

An excellent pictorial survey of what it is to attend the horse races and hat displays at le prix de Diane. It looks like great good fun, full of eye candy. My favourite picture would be the one of the two women wearing glasses. Something about their rapt, unguarded expressions and unwitting similarity. I'm also fond of the purple hued-hats seen from behind with their sisterly playfulness how you frame it. And how could I not be charmed by the photo of the lady in black and white with her hint of décolleté! I also like how you began the post (they're at the post!) with the galloping horses, and ended it with the sketched horses...which would be a great souvenir to bring home from a day at the races. Definitely a winning, not to say whinnying, blog post. Great fun!

Owen said...

Dearest Lynne,
At this point as I write, you came in first far above here, and now you've come in last, so you've certainly covered the span of possibilities for placement in the pack... it would have been hard to bet that you'd come in both first and last, for one horse in the same race, it would be impossible, but hey, what did our great poet songwriter fried write ? : "He that is first shall later be last"... guess you had that in mind. And apart from a few odd bits sloshed out of the feedbag, I see you've finished the oats and are back raring to go... I think you've earned some carrots, sugar cubes, and apple quarters... horses need a varied diet too ! I had wondered if you, or anyone else, would notice the décolleté glimpse in the white hat with black band and black lace trim image, it was intentionally blurred a bit, as remember, we were there for the hats, the hats, and the hats... :-)

Ah, whinnying and winning, you've fetched my most winning of smiles, as we pass you the bouquet... now, would that be Veuve Cliquot or Pipers that you'll be drinking ? Oh, you want the Moet ??? Expensive tastes I see. Well just try not to splash too much of it out on the winner's circle gravel...
:-)

PS I'm fond of the violet apparelled pair there too, they go so well together, the slightly different lavender hues complement each other nicely...

Owen said...

Hi Patricia, there have been a lot of reactions here over the months, but squeals of delight, that may be a first ! So a toast to you too, may you delightedly squeal to your heart's content...
:-)

James said...

That does look like a great time! You did a great job of capturing the event. It's been about 23 years since the last time I went to a horse race. I placed one five dollar bet and won with 36 to 1 odds. In fact that was my one and only horse race bet. :)

Faye Pekas said...

These shots are amazing. I especially like the candids. Quite a colorful event!

I absolutely adore the old car in your header photo :)

Owen said...

Hi K'line, faudrait que tu viennes pour le prochain prix, avec un chapeau digne d'une petite fée verte... je suis sûr que tu t'amuserais, surtout avec un nouveau appareil photo à tester...
Bonne soirée,

Owen said...

Hi LGS,
There was really some of everything under the sun, wonderful, wild, weird, and wacky, but apparently just about anything goes there...

As for me, I was just a very discreet and unobtrusive photographer in a polo shirt and a light sweater, no hat, nothing to cause any heads to turn. A long telephoto lens on the camera being the only slightly remarkable accoutrement. But then there were a lot of photographers there, some, I gather, from magazines like Elle, etc, etc, so even my camera around the neck was not unusual. I'm a very low key kind of guy... :-)

Owen said...

Hi Oakland, well, I'm not sure that egality has completely trumped class distinctions, some of which were very evident there on Sunday, but certainly a good time could be had by all, regardless of origin. There was no admission fee for the large public area in the infield of the track, and only 8 euros to get into the grandstand side, closer to the rich and famous... In any case, thank you very much, but then really the bravo should go to the folks who organize the event, and the ladies who organize their hats...

Owen said...

Hi Lorrene, it was definitely heaven for anyone appreciative of millinery finery... thanks !

Owen said...

Chère Chrys, maintenant avec ton nouvel appareil, il va falloir que tu te déplaces un peu plus loin, et pourquoi au Prix de Diane l'année prochaine. Je pense connaître au moins trois bloggeuses de la région lyonnaise, voire 4 ou 5, qui auraient aimé se balader parmi tous ces chapeaux et chevaux dimanche dernier... bon, on peut toujours rever un peu...
:-)

Owen said...

Hey Steve, not only the seahorse earrings, but I think it's her freckles that totally did me in... being a bit of a redhead myself, I have a weak spot for freckles...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Adam,
Hope all is well...

Yes, it's odd, le Prix de Diane is most certainly THE place to be during the spring and summer horse season, no other event has the reputation that the Prix de Diane has, imho, in France. And the hats ! Hats off to the hats !

Owen said...

Hi Nadege, thanks very much... part two will be coming along soon I hope, if my working week permits me to get to it... never a dull moment in life these days !

Owen said...

Hi Suze,
I love it when something on the blog sparks memories or connections of one sort or another, that's what's wonderful about blogging; all the free form associations which occur through simple playfulness mostly. Sort of like a perpetual Rorschach test, one never knows what someone else is going to see and respond in the patterns presented. Anyway, am happy this triggered memories of another painting familiar in childhood for you. My parents had a huge print of a photo of the Grand Tetons on the wall in the dining room for a long time when we were little. I still today can't see a picture of the Tetons without thinking of that print, and without thinking of how we got in trouble for throwing paper airplanes, one of which skimmed over a ketchup bottle, picked up some ketchup on a wing, and then promptly spattered it on the Grand Tetons picture...
Memories... misty ketchup colored memories...
Wasn't that a line in a song ?
:-)

Owen said...

Chère Celine, absolument, c'est see and be seen...

Non, en fait, j'ai juste mis un polo propre et un pull par dessus... pas de costume chic pour moi, ce serait pas confortable pour la photo, car faire des photos à ce rhythme c'est carrément du sport, j'aurais eu trop chaud dans un costume...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Pastelle,
Bon, je pense que le prochain prix de Diane c'est dans un an... va falloir se patienter, et surtout commencer dès maintenant à travailler sur un chapeau ! Je suis ravi si ces chapeaux t'ont plu, il y a d'autres à venir... si ça continue à faire plaisir à certains, je vais les mettre tous... Je pense il va falloir organiser un picnic des bloggeurs la prochaine fois... visiblement il y a d'autres qui aimeraient voir ce spectacle... Juin 2012 ?
(si le monde est toujours là)
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Stickup, I'm thrilled you like the lady in white, that is honestly my favorite photo of all from Sunday... you can see she is smiling, and the hat with black lace in crisp focus, while her dress and necklace are slightly blurred, definitely one of my favorite photos ever taken, funny, la grenouille really liked that one too. Although the freckles on the lady with seahorse earrings come in a close second place... What was that song, The Race Is On ? (the Grateful Dead played that a few times acoustic...)

"The race is on and here comes Pride up the backstretch,
Heartaches going to the inside
My Tears are holding back
They're trying not to fall
My Heart's out of the running
True Love's scratched for another's sake
The race is on and it looks like Heartaches
And the winner loses all"

Owen said...

Jeez James, I'd say you better get back to a track soon, with that winning percentage !

Mary Ann said...

Owen, you did a great job capturing the crazy, self-parody aspect of the hats. Amazing. I wish there were more photos like your in the fashion magazines.

Nevine said...

What luscious photos, Owen! I am jealous that you got to go and I didn't. No doubt I would've sported a funky hat of my own... and gladly been photographed, too! I love the Eiffel Tower hat... reminds me of the ads for Galeries Lafayette! And those bottles of Moet and Veuve-Clicquot. I'm a fan of Veuve Clicquot. But I'm sure you already know that...

Oh, fantasies! I get to live some of mine right here... going through your photos one by one.

Thanks for sharing your traveling joys... always!

Nevine

Owen said...

Too kind Mary Ann ! Guess I'll have to get in touch with Vogue and Elle and whoever... if they don't get in touch with me first... there are more where these came from...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Nevine, I'm sure you would have dreamed up a fabulous piece of head-dressing, I'll have to post some more for your pleasure, and to give you ideas for when you can get over here in June one of these years to attend in person... oh, and I'll put the champagne in the cooler to have it ready when the time comes... Veuve Cliquot it is... one can certainly do worse...
:-)

:: Karine :: said...

hello owen adoré !
comme c'est merveilleux tous ces chapeaux sur ces belles dames ! une en particulier est vraiment féminine :-)
et que dire de ce fabuleux artiste sur papier journal ! vraiment génial, j'adore !
merci pour ces petits bonheurs ...

nathalie said...

Owen This is so much fun! I've never been to Chantilly and your hat & fashion series is brilliant. You should have heard me: as I scrolled down each new photo brought new ahs and ohs. Every time I thought you'd achieved THE shot a new one would pop up that would take up first place on the podium - pretty much like a horse race in fact! :-)))

The guy's sketches at the end were great. I assume he sells them for a fair bit of money....
I noticed your last photo shows a 2009 programme. Did he also paint on any 2011 programmes?

Please upload another batch of photos ASAP, I'm dying to see more ! (I'm back to watch them all again now)

Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Bonjour Owen. Thank you for becoming a follower of French Girl in Seattle! I have just browsed your blog and love it. Great post on Le Prix de Diane. While we still lived in Paris, Chantilly was a favorite day trip. Bike rides in the woods, lunch at a local creperie, a visit to the chateau and ecuries. Lovely place. Merci et a bientot. Veronique aka French Girl in Seattle

Clytie said...

I absolutely love your hat parade - to me it was more thrilling than the horse race (probably because the race itself must be experienced IN PERSON to really get the thrill of it). I did notice the lady in freckles, and thought she is very beautiful. My favorite is the white hat with black lace trim ... something about the set of her mouth. My only question is ... were you really taking a picture of her hat? It seems she was exposing an awful lot of, er, skin from this angle as well! :=}

P.S. Your amazing rusty heart was featured on this week's Guest Heart Thursday.
clytie-randomhearts.blogspot.com

Owen said...

Chère Karine, cela me fait très plaisir si ce petit reportage t'a plu... bon, sinon, je les trouve toutes très feminine, chacune sa caractère, admettons ce ne serait pas évident de faire des photos des chapeaux sur la tête de ces dames et mademoiselles sans montrer parfois un peu les femmes en question... :-)

Peut-être l'année prochaine tu pourrais y assister, en chapeau bien sûr, si ce n'était pas possible cette année ? Tu t'y ferais un plaisir, j'en suis sûr...

Peter said...

Yes, definitely different as an "Owen-post"! :-) A few questions: You didn't meet Mr. Woerth this year? What did "Mrs. Owen" wear as hat?

(Also, I'm curious to know who you are referring to concerning the champagne?) :-)

Suze said...

That's crazy, Owen. My parents had a painting of sword ferns in a greenhouse that I tossed a ketchup-drenched pickle against. It stayed stuck to that thing for years. Who knows? Wherever that painting is, it may still have the pickle. (Not the one traded in for a diamond.)

mythopolis said...

love the campy hats and costumery...it reminds me of the court jesters of old. To me horse-racing is a rich man's game and horses are his toys....so, the 'fans' do lighten up the scene....I think it would be perfect if a couple showed up in a horse costume with a monkey on its back....

Catherine said...

seems like you had a fine time out of your usual milieu - love the fashion shots especially the tilted tower - Paris meets Pisa??
is Chantilly in Paris?? Greetings from final days in Mexico....

Significant Snail said...

How wonderful! Thank you for sharing with us!

Owen said...

Hi Nathalie,
I hope you'll be able to get to Chantilly one day before too terribly long, the Prix de Diane is plenty of fun. I didn't see the prices the gentleman painting horses on the racing programs was asking, but I imagine they are not cheap. He was working on some from this year as I walked by and snapped a couple of shots... am really happy if you had fun scrolling down this post, if a photo gets a gasp, then I'm in heaven ! Will try to get some more up very soon...

Owen said...

Bonjour Véronique,
Am happy you could stop by here and look around a bit... After living in Paris, then in the proche banlieue, we moved out here to Chantilly, to have more green space around, which we love. But it's still close to Paris, with just a half hour train trip. After over 18 years here am still exploring France, la belle France, so rich, so dense in simply amazing places. Will soon be going down to spend two weeks in Florac, to re-visit les Gorges du Tarn and les Causses, a region I fell in love with quite some years ago. Many thanks for stopping by. Do you summer in France, or is Seattle year round for you now ?

Owen said...

Dear Clytie,
Ah, ye of little faith ! :-)

Of course I was only shooting the hats the other afternoon. But I really couldn't help it if some lovely ladies were attached to the hats and by accident got into some of the photos. Any bare skin here is entirely unintentional... yes, I can only plead innocent, it was the hats, the hats, and nothing but the hats, your honor, on my honor... :-)

Am glad you liked the white hat with black lace, as I mentioned to Stickup also above here, that photo is a favorite here for me too.

Again, a million thank you's for your kind words about the colorfully rusty heart over at your place... And you are right about the horses running, without hearing the thunder of their hooves, the cheers and encouragements shouted, and seeing how fast they fly by, it isn't the same...

Owen said...

Hi Peter, well, I didn't bump into Eric Woerth personally, but I imagine he was there with his wife, who is a big horse lover. Unless he was away climbing in the Alps, which is often the case. He was probably up in one of the exclusive lodges above the stands. Mrs Toad, la Grenouille was there earlier in the day, et sans chapeau, malheureusement... maybe next year... the champagne is for whoever cares for a flute...
:-)

Owen said...

That is crazy Suze... I'll have to watch out for flying ketchup covered pickles if you are ever in the neighborhood... Sounds like something out of a Tom Robbins novel...
:-)

Owen said...

Hey Dan, I think you should organize the horse costume with monkey on board... would be a sensation, for sure. Yes, most certainly a rich man's sport, the Aga Khan, among others, is a big name in the horse world in these parts, and his fortune seems nearly limitless. But regardless of all the ostensibly visible wealth, the atmosphere was relaxed and open, I felt very comfortable in my jeans and camera...

Owen said...

Hi Catherine, certainly a change from the usual fare here, but then, the point of the blog is to not have any usual fare, anything goes here. Well, almost...

Chantilly is well outside Paris, about 60 kms to the north, about 30 kms north of CDG Airport, a half hour train ride from Gare du Nord...

Hope all goes well with your move !

Owen said...

Hello Significant Snail,
Many thanks for sliding on over here, you are very welcome... I was wondering who had left the shining silver trail across the page, at first I thought it might be Mrs Slug...
:-)

Karine A. said...

wouahooo ! Ça c'est de l'aquarelle !

Roxana said...

wow, i am totally blown away by this, i had never known about this hat-tradition, it must have been amazing to just sit there and gaze at the hats (i wouldn't have noticed the horses myself!). and i am quite taken with the little horse paintings too!

Mimi said...

Wow, the French really do know how to go racing! Great hats and great picnic fare, way to go! weather obviously helped too.
You did ag reat job of capturing all the glamour of this occasion, including the lovely programme (or whatever it's called)

Sar@h said...

Ouah !
Génial l'aquarelliste !

Un petit tour en Bretagne, durant ces vacances ?