Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gleðilegt ár (Happy New Year!)

Some years ago, Mr. C and I spent New Year’s Eve in Iceland. We had a little apartment right on the rocky coast of Seltjarnarnes.

Our landlord was French, and the apartment reminded me of something out of an Eric Rohmer film. We had his phone number in case the roof blew off. I don’t think that detail was in any Eric Rohmer movie.

Fears of roof-flying aside, we found that the apartment was situated perfectly because we had a flawless view of the Reykjavík coast, upon which Icelanders set large (think two-storey) bonfires on New Year’s Eve. We strolled down to one bonfire, glimpsing into the warmly lit windows of Reykjavík homes where New Year’s dinners were being enjoyed.

I knew only one Icelandic phrase at that time, and I used it throughout my stay: Gleðileg jól (Merry Christmas).

I used it after ordering waffles at one of the little cafes; I used it when someone mistook me for an Icelander and launched into a conversation with me (in Icelandic) about how I had an American husband.

But on December 31, it was time to upgrade, so I learned a new line: Gleðilegt ár. And now, I pull out that phrase again to wish all gentle readers a very happy new year. I hope that 2010 is filled with pleasures for you and yours.

Gleðilegt ár. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So Phie (Theallet), So Good

Is it the prospect of a new year (a new decade?!) that has sparked this rush of nostalgia?

Or is it all the Canadian literature I’ve been reading over the December break?

In any case, my mind has been turning to remembrances of things past, to ghosts of (successful) ensembles past, and twice I’ve been reminded of a favorite Alaia-esque knit ballerina dress that I adored in my very early twenties, that I wore while spending time in Montreal.

Another Montreal garment that I adored was a red halter jumpsuit, made in Paris, cut from fabric that had Sprouse/Scharf-like designs in black. Loved. It. And I wish I had taken a picture.

But! Sophie Theallet, who used to work with Alaia, is bringing these style touchstones in a big way with a dress from her spring/summer collection.

The above dress calls upon both Alaia’s influence (that belt! that scoop!) and the Sprouse/Scharf print on red (yes, of course the stripes are more primitive than literally representative of S&S’s work, but, you know how the mind free-associates).

I’ll be looking forward to seeing this dress in shop.

Balloon Skirts at Valentino

Today, whiles mes petites enfants were eating their lunch and then some, I screened Valentino: The Last Emperor.

Indeed, I am late to this film, but truly, I am content not being “on trend”: avant or après are (oddly?) preferable.

What were my favorite parts: the seamstresses (with the accent on stress); the pugs on a plane;

the handsome young man with shoulder-length blonde hair who showed up twice sans introduction (no, not Lapo Elkmann); and the floating dresses—in red and avec balloon.

In fact, the fonts on the balloon were really quite, umm, uplifting, and I was delighted to find the (far) above image for my gallery. Has anyone else seem the film?

On Auto Pilot?

When my infants outgrew their charming pilot caps, I shed a farewell tear, so cherubic were they in those snug bonnets that accentuated their chipmunk cheeks.

But thanks to a spread in January’s Vogue US, grown women may be able to claim that infant chic for themselves!

To wit: consider Sasha in what may be a scarf, or what may be a pilot cap. Never mind which; the effect is the same.

What thinketh you, gentle readers? Too Grey Gardens?

Too Hanna Andersson? (Not my baby, btw.)

Or just right?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Girls with Pearl Handbags; or Rembrandt van Vuitton: Louis Vuitton Ads Featuring Young Ingenues Reference Old Masters

Have you seen the new Louis Vuitton “old master” ads?

They feature a Scarlett Johanssen lookalike (to the right), a Natalie Portman doppelganger (below) and a Johnny Depp wannabee (far below), each plying his or her craft to a new piece of LV leather.

I think that the ads are beautiful (though I’m annoyed that I made a celebrity connection with the models; a Vermeer or Rembrandt reference on its own would have been perfect).

And although they provide a phantastic image of what goes on in the LV “factories,” (advertising does sell dreams, after all), the connection that these ads make among the handmade, the individual craftsperson, art, and LV may be compelling.

However, rather than being inspired to rush out to a LV boutique, I’m looking forward to cutting a piece of leather, stitching my own fabric, or taking up a paint brush again.

Such are the collateral effects of strong advertising, I suppose. What would Don Draper say? (Or better yet: Peggy Olson?)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Peacocks on the Rug

This is the most beautiful rug designed by Matthew Williamson for The Rug Company.

It is—it must be—even if the copy doesn’t say so, inspired by Liberty’s peacock prints,

here, the classic Hera interpreted as a velvet panel:

and the updated, art deco-ish Liberty cotton lawn in grey/blue hues.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stretchy Dressing

I’m writing this while looking at a wide-screen computer monitor which is strettttching images horizontally.

Still, there’s enough vertical pull in this perfect little dress by Balenciaga to draw the eye up, then down.

Love this zipped mini (on the shoulder and sleeve), and its splash of minty-pistachio green.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Part II

A pretty image from Zurbaran, courtesy of today's New York Times: Hope everyone is having a lovely day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Greetings

Joyeux Noel, gentle readers.

See you under the mistletoe!

Soho Adventures, Part II: Ivan Grundahl Tartan at IF

A visit to Soho would not be complete without a jaunt to IF to check out what Ivan Grundahl has in store.

Yesterday there was an exceedingly thin, excessively saturated with red tartan, asymmetrical jacket that was perfect.

This half Scottish lass LOVES an eccentric tartan and would have worn it out of the shop, had it been the right size. Alas.

The above image shows the proper Grundahl colors, but imagine the jacket with long sleeves, and a chic-ly raggedy peplum.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Soho Adventures, Part I: James Wolanin

Today, just as we were leaving Soho with three well-fed, wind-blown, and exhausted children, Mr. C and I happened down West Broadway and came to a standstill in front of Campton Gallery.

Staring us down in the vitrine was this painting by James Wolanin. The artist works in acrylic and, once the colors are down, in a rather radical act, he layers the painting with a coating of resin, giving it a surfboard-cool quality.

I love the color of the car, the fact that these girls are driving by Harlem’s Cotton Club, and the joyful expressions on their faces. I’d like this painting even more if it were on my wall, but the virtual wall of my blog home will have to do for now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ewa i Walla Style

The current issue of Selvedge magazine features designer Ewa i Walla, whose dreamy, psuedo-primitive, multi-layered approach to dressing conjures up references to a sophisticated, grown-up Heidi, as well as to Tasha Tudor.

Although I’ve recently been an advocate for minimalism, I do appreciate these un-ironed, cross-stitched, flouncy clothes to put me in a candle-lit state of mind.

Now for a loaf of rustic bread, some white wine cooled in a mountain stream, and some fromage aux chevres.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Over The River and through The Fog . . .

Isn’t that how the poem goes? It’s how my journey went, anyway. We’ve safely arrived chez Grandmere, and, fortified by one or two glasses of wine, I can reflect on some travel miscellania.

Indeed, the early part of our 14-hour drive was marked by fog. For the first 40 minutes of our first 30-minute leg we were wondering whether we’d be able to see anything, narrowly dodging people who just *had* to check their lane-side mailbox during early morning fog.

I recalled earlier Christmas trips to Grandmere’s, including one in which I was four months pregnant and took a maternity vitamin on an empty stomach at 7:00 a.m. En route to Starbucks, the first stop of our journey, and some 35 minutes away, I fainted (in the passenger seat, mercifully). One swoon and 13.5 hours of car time left = delightful. (I always measure my travels from cafe to cafe; how do you measure yours?)

Then there was the time we had bought a new Saab (which, amusingly, may become a collectors’ item now, unless the company is purchased) and, somewhere over a great Pennsylvania body of water I was feeding my (back-seated) daughter applesauce (from the front seat) and must have turned the key to “off” with my knee (remember where the Saab key-turn is located). So there we were, confused and coasting in neutral over a bridge.

* * *

Along with fog, this December trip was marked by a typo: Did anyone else see the New York Times’ party section identifying Linda Evangelista’s son as a daughter? Innocent mistake or passive-aggressive commentary?

And it was also marked by a cameo: I admit to finding Will Ferrell’s mug in a NYT engagement photo unreasonably amusing. Perhaps it was also the effect of being on the road for 13 hours at that point.

All of this is to preface my announcement that regular programming will now resume. My pulse is already racing with possibility.

Friday, December 18, 2009

TV Style

Last night my children and I were watching a DVD of The Partridge Family (yes, really!) and while they were captivated by the show in general, I appreciated seeing lovely stars from the 1970s in their prime.

I was especially drawn to Farrah Fawcett in this absolutely stunning mini dress. On a lesser sort it could have a considerable, well, skank effect, but on this Texan blonde, the dress is as innocent and fresh as a daisy.

Love this dress in its context. (And yes, Jaclyn Smith makes an appearance in a later episode.)
*Images from DVD, hence the slight blurriness.

Jeweltide Greetings: Stephanie Jewels

This collage is lifted from GOOP, but I couldn’t resist because I really like the earrings and two rings featured here by Stephanie Jewels, a Parisian now based in Morocco.

I particularly like how the pieces’ perfection lies in their imperfection—the not quite evenly circular earrings, the slightly out-of-line discs on the ring.

The website is informational only, but it does provide addresses of international shops that sell Stephanie Jewels, including one in the United States.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blue Christmas

OK: According to this shoe by Rupert Sanderson, it’s more of a purple Christmas, but truly, I had originally set out to find a blue shoe because I’m loving the idea of non-navy, blue heels. And complex sentences, too, obviously.

But I also like this wonderfully deep shade of purple with a hint of metallic.

By Hand or Buy Hand? The Creative Small Business Dilemma

I read this article on Etsy businesses in the New York Times with great interest today, because I’ve harbored small-business dreams for a little while now.

When I worked in New York, I designed and executed prototypes for women’s neckwear during my “spare” time, scouring the fashion district during lunch for gorgeous European fabrics. (I still have a stash and should work them into a quilt.)

In my current incarnation, I’ve made what I call tiny cakes, which can be tabletop decorations (I like to display them on upside-down egg cups) or if I add a velvet ribbon, an ornament for the Christmas tree.

And don’t even get me started on my Royal Court collection: more handmade fabric embroidered tree ornaments that pay homage to Marie Antoinette in various guises.

But although I very much like making these things for myself and for presents, I wonder whether they would become “work” in a less positive way, had I a business on Etsy, for instance. An alternative is to have someone else manufacture the pieces, and while that works beautifully for, say, jewelry, if I’m touting something that’s hand-stitched, I’d want those stitches to be mine.

So what to do? What if, say, a bride-to-be gave me an order for 200 tiny cakes to be placed at each wedding-table setting? Perhaps I’d hope that her wedding were two years in the future, so that I didn’t have to make one cake almost every single day. Would I loathe the cakes by week 2, with 14 down and 186 left to go? Or would they be so charming in numbers that I'd feverishly make more? (When I left for grad. school the great critic Northrop Frye advised me not to study what I loved, because I’d end up hating it. I did in fact, switch subjects, so that I still, happily, love Chaucer.)

Perhaps art is the answer. Rather than selling my wares piecemeal, I could cultivate an artistic persona and have a gallery showing. And the price of my tiny cakes would then explode, because everybody knows that the smaller the piece of art, the more valuable it is. Right?

OK: I’m getting into murky territory here, but I am grateful that the NYT article jogged my memory. Alas, I have not yet made a single thing this holiday season, because I would have had to begin at 2:00 a.m., but I think that over the next two weeks I’ll try an item or two and decide to which realm they belong.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tecnica Skandia: Apres Ski Boots

Today I was happy to don my Tecnica Skandia boots and clomp around.

There’s no snow, which is just fine, because these boots are really designed for après ski, for sitting around a large lodge fireplace, drinking hot somethings, warming rosy cheeks, and comparing slopes.

But if you’re me, you would stick to the cross-country trails. I love to race, having been a member of my boarding school’s cross-country ski team, and the gentle slopes that give one’s quads a quick rest are just fine.

I’m also wearing a palomino-colored fitted puffer, in a rare nod to---oh I can’t even write it! You know: the MM phrase. So please just imagine it.

But the retro image far above and below? That's a bit how I feel today, sans snow, of course. I hope we get, in the immortal words of a New York Post headline from years gone by, a S’Noel.*

*The NYP didn’t apostrophize, but I edited here for contextual clarity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lofty Thoughts? Loeffler Randall Shoes

Last night I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. and got up at 6:00 to start my (children’s) day.

Tonight/tomorrow will be more of the same.

But to keep my mind lively and alert on the drive to school of les petites tomorrow, I’ll be scheming and plotting: I wish that these shoes by Loeffler Randall would find their way to my home.

They’re identical in style to a smooth grey pair that I have, and I love the updated colors and suede.

Back in full force soon; am busy with end-of-semester busy-ness!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ultra Violet; Ultra Freudian?

Do you know just how a hint of color can summon up some of the most deep-seated memories?

As I was glancing through Bazaar yesterday, I happened upon a tiny shot of this trouser suit by Proenza Schouler, and my eye immediately fixed upon the ultra violet stripe.

Actually, it was more like my four-year-old self than my adult eye, because this slash of color transported me to my childhood home on Prince Edward Island, where I would watch my mother color her own hair. (Going to a salon for color was unheard of when I was a wee lass.)

My mum would buy little capsules of color, which, when poured out into a decanter, were the most brilliant shade of deep ultra violet. (And they turned her hair a pretty blonde.)

I’ll be looking for this color in the next few months—but just a hint of it. After all, though we carry our childhood everywhere we go, we don’t want it to be our defining feature, right?

Are there any colors that transport you, Gentle Readers?

Friday, December 11, 2009


See you on Monday!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Breton' on Mr. and Mrs. Antoni & Alison

I’ve written here before that I’m not a real wearer of novelty clothing, but every so often something so tantalizing enters my vision that I revise my stance.

The toujours savvy Wendy Brandes posted the other day about an intarsia sweater collection from Mr. and Mrs. Antoni & Alison, and I haven’t been able to shake the memory.

The colors in all of the sweaters are just right—to me they have the feel of a Tim Walker photograph,

with perfect, slightly faded blues and bright-but-subtle reds. Here is part of the A & A sweater collection; click here to see more.

I’ve posted my favorite (far) above.

But this terrific duo based in London makes more than sweaters! A quick tour of their website turned up tiny purses, which are equally witty and chic:

As well as scarves, whose classic beauty is added to by the graffiti scribble:

And even their gift certificates (vouchers) are objects of desire—in more ways than one!

Finally, I love this logo:

Like the colors in the sweaters, the font is just right, evoking a bygone age, when clothing labels were taken seriously. (Do you know how much I adore labels? Must do a post on some.)

Another must: when I’m in London next, I will surely pay a call to this delightful shop.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Selv Indulgent; or: Miss C in Selvedge Magazine encore une fois

Today I received my hard copy of Selvedge magazine, in the mail, from London.

I do hope you’ll indulge my punning and posturing, as it was a true thrill to see my article (and name!) in print in one of my very favorite magazines.

Equally exciting was to discover a reference to my piece in the Editor’s note, called “Bias,” and, as you’ll see above, a blurb from my blog on a page devoted to bloggers who love Selvedge.

Here’s a larger version, in case the collage doesn’t transmit well:

I’ve written about Selvedge in these virtual pages numerous times, long before having any writerly association with the magazine, so you can be assured that the sentiment was—and continues to be—genuine.

But don’t take my word for it! Selvedge is an independently owned magazine, treasured by those who love textiles for its keen eye and luxurious presentation. By the way, Selvedge is, in terms of height, about half the size of other magazines, so, if you’re looking through the racks, look down!

Copies should be going on display on December 14.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Phoebe Philo: Pastry to Go

After looking at my gaily decorated Christmas tree for a week now, I’m ready for some palate cleansing.

Plus yesterday for brunch I enjoyed some delicious pancakes made with pastry flour (oh, what a difference it makes!!), and would like an amuse bouche in that department as well.

So, playing a genial game of word association, I connected pastry flour with philo pastry, which, in turn, led me to Phoebe Philo, whose RTW collection for Celine proves to be anything but flaky.

Although I usually eschew black for being too harsh, these two pieces above and below are terrific examples of power dressing that ask for only a great pair of shoes (not the ones shown, please). (OK: I know that the jewelry aficionadi and thoughtful designers who are gentle readers would insist on at least one piece of statement jewelry. Done!)

In this season when trees and houses and boxes and people are beribboned and swagged and lit up and tinseled, it’s a pleasure to slip into a little minimalism, if only in one’s mind.