Tuesday, July 30, 2013

100 Idees = 20,400 Ideas

Honk if you remember 100 Idees, the incredible treasure trove of a French magazine published from 1972-1989. At 100 ideas per issue, that's 20,400 ideas. It then merged with Marie Claire but lost its original format.

100 Idees was a how-to compendium of fashion, beauty, celebrations, cooking, toys, games, nature appreciation, interior design, crafts and gardening. NO relationship articles. NO parenting features other than cute stuff to make with/for kids. NO health scare pieces (or helpful ones for that matter). It was pure joy.

You didn't have to read French to be inspired. The pictures were truly worth thousands of words. Specific instructions were included, printed on newsprint in a center section titled "Savoir-Faire sans Panique". My limited French translates that as "How to make it without panicking". It also kept me from translating further.

Just looking at the pictures whisked you off to a France that was both romantic and modern. Those years were the epitome of Hippie in the popular culture. We baked our own bread, grew avocado plants and sieved yogurt over the sink to make cheese. Or tried. The models in 100 Idees looked so young, clean, happy and gainfully employed. All that frolicking obviously took place en vacance.

But I don't want to get even the tiniest bit snide. The magazines really were wonderfully inspirational. I subscribed. It regularly arrived, from France, in a plain brown wrapper.

My friend and fellow fan Deegee pretty much summed up what made 100 Idees different from what was on the American market. "I liked that the dresses were simple and not American-looking— the European flair, the creativity was so ramped up. Early recycling and rethinking and repurposing. Pillow cases as curtains (but Old World embroidered pillowcases). It was the alternative to McCall's patterns...100 Idess was the bible. The lifestyle photos, so unposed, likely inspired the early J Crew catalogues and maybe even the real-people look of other editorial pages. Maybe even Martha Stewart (though she would never admit to a parallel life with 100 Idees)."

Did someone make a quilt
 of their I00 Idees?

Deegee was smart enough to clip and file her favorite things. I considered the magazines too holy for a pair of scissors, and now they are gone. I had well over 150 issues when we pulled up stakes and left the old homestead. I gifted them to a neighbor (who didn't seem thrilled to receive several boxes of doorstops). I think I parted with them because they always reminded me I should create more art. But who had the time? I shouldn't have felt guilty. Looking at them was surely art appreciation.

Au revoir 100 Idees


  1. Honk. Honk. I too had all the issues, saved faithfully. Not a knitter, or seamstress, I remember my husband saying, 'You've had dix milles idees and haven't done one of them!"

  2. Am guessing you don't have them anymore either, right? If so let's hope they are the most creative landfill ever!

  3. Love love love 100 idées! still have some, and can't manage do get rid of them... Thanks for this post!

  4. I bought it sometimes when I lived in France but unfortunately did not keep them when I moved to Italy. We all have to get rid of things! I think it was the first publication giving ideas on how to recycle things, "avant l'heure". I discovered a few months ago that passionated women have created a blog entirely dedicated to Cent Idées where you can find photos and some explanations. Here it is: http://les-centidealistes.over-blog.com/
    It is in french but I think it may help you to see the pictures.
    Wish you will like it. Regards.

  5. I just loved them. I am now looking for a tapestry that I did from there!!

    1. Oh Honk honk! I loved them - had them shared with a French pal. I am ALSO looking for a tapestry. One which was huge with vases of tulips and other flowers on a tiled background. Have you have any luck. susanjhudson@hotmail.com