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The Chantaco bag comes in navy blue, white, baby blue and black. This fall, burgundy and grey will be added to the mix ($295 each, available at Lacoste flagships in Canada)
[/caption] If you ask about the origins of the
, most fashion types will know that this iconic bag from Hermès was named after the famed French singer and actress Jane Birkin. Same for the equally famous Hermès Kelly bag, whose namesake, Grace Kelly, was the epitome of style. But unless you’re a golfer, the name Chantaco—and its fashion link—might not resonate with you. The bag was named after the famed private golf course that was built in 1928 on the outskirts of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the south of France. René Thion de la Chaume, whose daughter Simone Thion de la Chaume, later married tennis champion
, owned the course. It remains in the Lacoste family to this day. I’ve added one to my summer-bag collection, and it has already become my go-to. The textured-leather looks and feels like a golf ball, and the points at the end of the handles are meant to resemble a tee. It’s practical (isn't it amazing what women carry around every day in their bags?!) and has a sporty-chic design that offers a modern spin on the classic shopper shape. A few years ago, I had an opportunity to visit Chantaco and meet René’s daughter, Catherine. Like her mother, she was once a golf champion. While today her game is bridge, she told me that golf fundamentally shaped her character. “Golf teaches you how to win, how to lose and how to fight,” she said. “You learn to hang on, how to never give up. Until the last putt is in, you can’t give up. I think that’s the same in life.”
I also had a private golf lesson with former French champion Patricia Meunier-Lebouc. Aside from humility, what life lessons did she teach me? Read on….
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Simone Thion de la Chaume, the wife of René Lacoste, on the family golf course at Chantaco. Photo: Courtesy of Lacoste
[This was my editor’s note in the June 2013 edition of ELLE Canada.]
Game for anything: Swing out, sisters!
I’ve made peace (sort of) with the fact that, on many occasions, I have to fly by the seat of my pants in this job. There’s never enough time to finesse the copy until it’s perfect, and there’s rarely enough time to do the kind of research I’d like to do before an interview. Case in point: my golf lesson with Patricia Meunier-Lebouc on the famed Chantaco golf course, owned by the Lacoste family, in the south of France. As we were walking to the practice area, I turned to Meunier-Lebouc and politely asked if she was the local “pro.” It was like asking Marc Jacobs if he worked at Gap on weekends. “No,” replied the former French Open and Austrian Open champion patiently. “I used to play professional golf on the circuit.” “Oh,” I said sheepishly. “I have to admit I don’t know much about golf—in fact, I’ve only golfed once in my life and it was on a blind date. I was terrible—so terrible that I managed to hit someone in the head with one of my errant balls. The date was terrible too—let’s just say I didn’t make the best first impression. You have your work cut out for you.” Meunier-Lebouc selected a club and gave me a lesson on how to hold it, and then we set off for the practice tee. I braced myself for what I imagined was going to be a humiliating session. I swung. I missed. I swung again. I nicked the ball, and it plopped to the side of the tee box. “Resist the desire to whack the ball,” she cautioned. “Listen to the feedback you’re getting from your body; be intuitive. Concentrate on what really matters—it’s that split second before you make contact with the ball and send it off in the right direction.” Then our conversation shifted into more of a therapy session about golf being a metaphor for life and how it reveals a person’s strengths and weaknesses. “You’re constantly facing your fears and failures with this game—and that can be an uncomfortable place to be,” she said. “You learn to deal with unexpected twists and failures. You always strive for perfection, but you have to make peace with what you’re able to do at that moment. Get the facts, determine your obstacles and think about your options.” Wise counsel—both on and off the green. I then turned my attention to the ball, and—without overthinking the swing or my stance—I finally connected. The ball lifted into the air—in a gentle and straight arc. It barely travelled any distance, but it was on the right course, and so was I.
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