Thursday, May 28, 2009

Opening Ceremony . . .

. . . or closing after previews?

Not quite thematic parallel structure, but you get the jist.
(Also: Not easy to find shoelaces that are good quality, even in a supposedly good-quality shoe.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Molly Gibson's Outlandish Tartan

I’ve just begun to watch Episode One of Mrs. Gaskell’s delightful Wives and Daughters, a gorgeous 300-minute BBC series.

The clothing is utterly captivating, even the “bad” choices such as Molly Gibson’s outlandish tartan, which the shopkeeper Miss Rose assured her was all the rage in London “last season.”

Frankly, it reminds me of a McQueen, which *never* goes out of style. I’d wear this in a heartbeat.

My maternal ancestors are from the Nicholson clan, and I’ve always been drawn to tartan, especially when worn like this:

(Although I did wear full Highland dress at boarding school when I was a sergeant in the [then-ceremonial] Cadet Corps. Don’t judge; it was a requirement for all students!

Be assured that I also have peace-themed “twin” sandals that I got from Camper in San Francisco. One shoe is a dove, the other an olive branch. They’re simultaneously too much and compellingly neutral.)

Polish: OPI "Creamsicle"; four coats!

Here’s looking forward to more beautiful clothes worn by a spirited (but not “tart”) heroine.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Little(?) Pink Houses

UPDATED below (already!)

And yet again. Please keep your "pink houses" coming!

Yes, I know that the Guggenheim isn’t *exactly* a house. I have been thinking about it for the past week, though, as I uncharacteristically return to the advert pages of my New York Magazine, where this image is featured.

Truly, I think it would be lovely if the Guggenheim *were* pink, as a pink building in the midst of Manhattan’s characteristic gray is a lovely amuse bouche.

To wit, here’s the much maligned home of Julian Schnabel:

And stills from a video promoting its luxury apartments for sale.

I would live here. Indeed I would.

It actually reminds me not of an Italian villa, but a grand Cuban hotel I stayed at in Havana: Hotel Armadores de Santander (Shipowners of Santander), right on the water in Old Havana. It had enormous doors looking out onto a gloriously pink-tiled deck.

And pinkish-burgundy tufted leather couches. (The mojitos were perfectly green.)

But perhaps the most pinkish place I’ve stayed in was also in Cuba, the Hotel Horizontes los Jazmines, in the Vinales countryside.

I loved the pink exterior, as well as the stunning view of the mogotes (flat-topped mountains) from my window:

and from the swimming pool.

These images are from the web, but I’ll see whether I can’t find my own, which I've tucked away somewhere. I also have photos of the gorgeously pink bougainvilla at Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba.


Belle de Ville reminded me that I'd forgotten to include the beautiful pink Beverly Hills Hotel. I visited it in the late 1990s and still have my pink souvenir t-shirt. Wish I'd picked up a bathrobe (though I can't remember whether they were pink . . . )

And below, thanks to a reader's suggestion, is a photo of Don Cesar, in St. Petersburg, Florida. I love the Days of Heaven quality of this photo: it looks like the hotel is alone among the dunes. I have a thing for Days of Heaven-type homes, but that's for another post.

Here's another shot of the Don. This image is a little too jet-ski-set for me; I prefer the illusion of old-world romantic solitude sans noisy technology, and avec books and pitchers of Pimm's. But still . . .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summer Bonnets

The New York Times calls this a bonnet (tongue firmly in cheek, I assume). For the humble bonnet does not do justice to the fanciful, architectural creations from the "Tulips and Pansies" show.

And there's some up-close-and-personal coverage here, courtesy of that fabulous jewelry-designer-and-blogger-about-town, WendyB.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whites for Summer

White swimsuits have been catching my eye and this shorts/bikini top combination is one of the prettiest that I’ve seen in a while.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the actress Isabel Lucas has impossibly long legs and is lit in a way that recalls a Slim Aarons photograph, with a touch of vintage Polaroid (love that blue-green sky and sea that meets the sand . . .).

It also reminds of Alaia’s work with eyelet, and I’m remembering (or imagining) Naomi Campbell in a two-piece set from the early 1990s that’s not dissimilar. Here’s a more recent look at Alaia’s cutout work:

This white bathing suit from T Travel Magazine completes my cloud-like cluster. Love its high waist.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Hunger

I smiled when I saw that NYT’s “Pulse” section highlighted a Nars nail polish named after The Hunger, a 1983 vampire film that starred Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, with Susan Sarandon.

I saw that film in the fall of 1983, as a first-year university student at an art-house film theater in downtown Ottawa. Deneuve’s Parisian vampire chic style mesmerized me, and I went out the following week to purchase her look.

I came home with a black leather knee-length pencil skirt, a pair of kittenish-heel, pointed-toe lace-up booties (that fit snugly around my ankle; hate gaping bucket-like ankles!), and a white fitted blouse that was meant to be worn outside the skirt; it had a straight hem with a band and a deep v-neck sans collar.

This I happily wore to my literature classes after lunch (in true vampire fashion, I didn’t rise before 11, although in my case it was 11:00 a.m.).

I did not, however, wear nail polish with this ensemble and think that even now I will pass on the chance to wear that particular shade of “Hunger.” Although I *do* like to go to bed a little hungry, “Satisfied” is my look of choice.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Floating Island

I know that the title to this post is a dessert, but it sums up my anticipated summer activities.

I plan to spend my days alternately floating in the deliciously chill water of Prince Edward Island (once you get in, it’s fine, we natives say with a wink), sampling fresh, sweet strawberries with cream, gazing lovingly at the red cliff beaches, and writing, writing, writing. (Sometimes, one woman *is* an island.)

As our semester races to its end, I’m so looking forward to slow, luxurious days of water and sand and new books. And maybe I might sample that delicacy mentioned in Anne of Green Gables . . . what was it . . . ice cream?!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Double X, John Currin, and A Feminist Triumvirate?

I’m pretty sensitive to the process of naming.

When deciding on what to call my middle daughter, for instance, I tried out a number of samples at my local Starbucks. The barista would write my daily “name” on the cup (steamed milk, by the way, for the pregnancy police out there) and call it out loudly when my drink was ready.

When I was well into my ninth month, I’m sure that the staff thought that the very pregnant woman with at least sixty different names for herself was a little wacko, but I did get a feel for how some of our more literary baby names would be accepted (would be pronounced! or spelled!!) out in the world. (Alas, my beloved “Honor” came back to me on my cup as “Honer,” pronounced “Hoe-ner.” Sigh.)

Today I read about the launch of a new Web magazine for women, published by the Slate Group (as in It grew out of a blog called The XX Factor, whose contributors include women who wrote for Slate as well as other female writers.

As a name, The XX Factor (which gives a nod to women’s two X chromosomes) works well enough for me. The sound of “X” before “Factor” of course conjures up an image of Max Factor cosmetics; the “F” following the “X” invokes “The X Files,” but those two buried cultural references seem innocuous enough.

But check out the name for the new Web magazine: Double X.

Sure, it’s a snappier reference to women’s double X chromosomes, but this purportedly feminist magazine's name also invokes a fantastic bra cup size: Double D, meet your match.

Now, I’m all for reclaiming pejorative language and concepts and turning them on their heads (Hi Bitch Magazine! Hi Feministing's Mud Flap Girl!). But I’m not sure that reducing (ahem—augmenting) a magazine’s title to a woman’s impossible bra size is something to celebrate.

Double X is the nameplate equivalent of a John Currin painting: you’re looking for the irony, but all you see is a serious presentation of cartoonish curves. The name suggests that no matter how much women drink from the cup of knowledge and smarts, it’s our other cups that define us.

Slate editors: It’s time to get out your chalk and write 100 times: I shall not use sneaky sexual double entendres to promote feminist thought.

Tonight, I’m writing “Annoyed” on my Starbucks cup. It runneth over.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mythological Mum

There’s a family mythology surrounding my mother.

When she was a teenager, she left little Prince Edward Island to work at the beautiful St. Andrew’s By the Sea in New Brunswick for the summer. I don’t know exactly what she did there, but it was some sort of appropriate summer work for a teenage girl in the early 1950s.

Apparently she met an older “millionaire” couple from the United States and they liked her so much that they wanted to adopt her! My mum had golden ringlets, dancing brown-velvet eyes, and a fun sense of humor. But who adopts a teenager?! And who would leave her precious PE Island for good, except for a silly, overly ambitious girl?

Anyway, my mum returned home to complete her education, but the mythology remained. Growing up, I thought this scenario terribly romantic in an Anne of Green Gables sort of way.

My mum's in the second row from the bottom, the tall blonde to the right of the ladies and gent in black (in the front row).

Who knows what kinds of magical encounters could take place at this pretty hotel by the sea?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Shoes for Mother's Day!

UPDATE! Reminder to self: if footwear in your size (8.5) is on sale, it's usually for a reason. And not a good one.

I’ve been searching for black sandals/shoes/booties for forever and a day, but have come up empty-footed each time.

Sure, I’ve teased my gentle blog readers--and myself--with potential black-shoe purchases, but nothing was ever right; everything turned out to be two left feet.

But today, in a flash of Mother’s Day energy (?!), I took a peek at Saks’ sale and found something that I like very much indeed, at least in the virtual world.

I ordered the above sandal/booties by Stuart Weitzman as a MD gift for myself. So here’s hoping that they look even better in person than they do on my monitor!

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Elf Style

When my husband lived in Iceland for a year, I wrote him many, many letters. And he responded in kind, telling me stories about the Icelandic elves and trolls, the feisty Icelandic horses, and the hardfiskur (it's delicious with butter).

I must have been inspired, because we just found (in our shared cache of billet doux) this card that I sent him. It looks elfish, by way of outer space, which was probably where my mind was since I was writing my dissertation at the time.

Maybe it should be MC’s new avatar? I could trade my bunny ears for antennae. . .

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Response to Azzedine Alaia Being Excluded from the "Model as Muse" Exhibit at the Met

UPDATED below . . .

We are not a-Mused.

Not at all.

Not one little bit.

Update: Word has it that Michelle Obama wore an Alaia gown to Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People gala. What excellent (ahem) timing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Of Bretons and Capes

The NYT has been celebrating the Breton shirt, the classic blue-and white striped long-sleeve T worn by French sailors. I’ve loved this shirt for years and years, though my Breton is actually Italian (it’s from Benetton and is over 20 years old). So I guess it’s not *really* a Breton, just as Champagne is sparkling wine if it doesn’t come from France.

That’s OK, though, because when I think of Breton, the first image that pops into my mind is not this funky reimagined Balmain (above; love it!!),

nor is it Pablo Picasso in his Breton,

but rather, it is Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, home of the gorgeously treacherous Cabot Trail. I drove this with my father when I was but a wee lass and my heart was in my throat the entire time, so steep, so winding, and sans shoulder lane was it.

If I think a little more, though, I’m reminded that I just love Hemingway’s writing on Bretons in his Garden of Eden. Catherine, the creatively frustrated young bride, wears one on honeymoon with her writer husband, and reinvents herself (rather extremely) in part because her gender stifles any other kind of creativity.

Every time I read it, I want to crop my hair a la Seberg, color it white blonde, develop a golden tan, and wear that blue-and-white Breton. And, being fortunate enough to have writerly choices that Catherine didn’t, I might then go and blog about the whole enterprise.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Still Life: Golden Dog, Golden Hat

As hoped for, here’s a quick photo of my perfect Kentucky-Derby–Audrey-Hepburn hat (see previous post for context).

And below there’s a still life: the hat with a 110 lb. golden retriever in a happily tangled garden.

Yes, of course I tried to put the golden straw hat on the golden dog.

But the life, it was no longer still.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Of the Kentucky Derby, a J Peterman Hat, Audrey Hepburn, and a Literary Horse or Two

If you Google “Miss Cavendish,” you will find that she writes a blog, lit up the British actors’ stage in the 1870s, and is a thoroughbred horse.

Miss Cavendish the horse has, apparently, not yet raced, but with kin like Lady Audley and Madame Eglentine (Chaucer's Prioresse), she’s in fine literary company. And who needs to race when you have such a scandalously bookish heritage? You’re racy enough.

However, if she did race, she might look to the Kentucky Derby (which was run today). And even if she didn’t race there, perhaps she would enjoy looking at all the festive hats in the crowd.

After all, the literary counterpart to horsey Miss C’s equine relative Madame Eglentine wore her wimple well.

In honor of today's Kentucky Derby, the blogger Miss C was thinking about hats, and climbed a tiny ladder to reach up, up into the recesses of her tall closet to locate a very large box from the J. Peterman Company, which contained one very appropriate hat for the Derby.

I (back to first-person narrator—whew!—) bought it in the early 90s, when, smitten by all things Audrey Hepburn, couldn’t resist this simple hat with the strong Audrey-esque lines.

Indeed, it was even named the Audrey Hepburn hat (I found my sales receipt in the box—along with a long-lost belt!!) and I adored it. It looks like a collaboration among the three Audrey hats pictured here.

It’s a golden wheat-colored straw hat. There’s a wide navy grosgrain ribbon (as in the wide-brimmed black hat) with a bow, but the brim is smaller than in that photo.

The shape reminds me of the two other straw hats pictured here and above. Like these, my brim curves down ever so gently, shielding one’s eyes from the paparazzi or the Capri sunshine.

Tomorrow, if the weather cooperates, I will attempt a photo of said chapeau. In the meantime, you may enjoy this photo of a horse in a pretty spring straw hat.

This image depicts, of course, neither Miss Cavendish the equine, nor Miss C the blogger, but I do think that she represents us well.

**Photo from Corbis

Friday, May 1, 2009

In Short . . .

I’ve posted before on how much I love a well-cut trouser suit. But did you know that I ADORE a shorts suit?

Don’t worry—I’m not referring to cuffed, pleated walking shorts worn with pumps and a matching jacket. (Yes, I know that the shorts to the right are both pleated and cuffed. But they're cool.)

Just look at these pleated, tapered shorts from Reiss:

they’d look fab with this jacket (also from Reiss, conjuring up last year's Roland Mouret silhouette. But still . . .)

and a wicked pair of heels.