Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cappuccini, anyone?

During my undergraduate summers off from university in Canada, I often waited tables, enjoying the camaraderie with my fellow summering, working chums.

In those early years, coffee--just coffee in a mug--was on the menu, and we could zoom it right out to the diners, offering refills from an elegant silver coffee server.

Somewhere along the way, the specialty coffee craze took over, and the once simple coffee-and-dessert coda became an entire opera.

I remember one evening when a new baristo was manning the espresso machine. "Three cappuccinos, please!" I sang out (we Canadians always say "please," to my memory, as well as "sorry" [pronounced "sore-y"]).

Oops--sorry for the digression.

Anyway, after I politely ordered three cappuccinos, the new baristo glared at me. "Cappuccini!!" he hissed, reprovingly.

Tell me, how is an Island girl with her head full of Chaucer and David Adams Richards supposed to have learned the Italian plural for "cappuccino"? From righteous baristos, I guess.

So for all decades henceforth I have carefully ordered cappuccini, when requesting two or more. The baristas at Starbucks don't know what the hell I want, as they always repeat, "Two cappuccinos?"

But I persist, my wounded dignity ever seeking the barista/o who will "get" my immaculate Italian coffee-speak.

Till then, let me treat you, gentle readers, to four virtual cups of cappuccini, in these delightful cups by PiP Studio, from Amsterdam, available at Liberty of London.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pink Poufection

Since Kurt Andersen has inadvertently revealed his list of  "words we don't say" from when he was editor at New York Magazine, I feel it's it's time to announce that one of my favourite words is "pouf."  (However, I may be terribly tired of it by the end of this post, so be prepared for a backtrack.)

I was very happy when Christian Lacroix showed his poufy dresses collection,

with these poufy bougainvillea-coloured decorations (above).  Indeed, I daresay that I particularly like poufs in pink.

In addition to wearing a pouf, I would like to sit upon one.

Here is a pink-and-white pouf,

and a deeper pink pouf, both from Morocco:

Here is a pink pouf in context:

Pink also lends itself nicely to tufted couches,

and to pink tufted chairs:

and sometimes, if we are very lucky, pink tufts can be edible:

So who likes a pouf?  Youf?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Go Figure

It has been raining cats and dogs since Monday.

If it would only rain figureheads I would be content.

Here is a glorious figurehead from the Seamen's Church in New York. Called "mystery maiden," it is from the nineteenth century and was up for auction at Bonhams on May 25.  (In case you're interested, it sold for $30,500.  No, I didn't buy it!)

Figureheads, from the illustrated ones in Miss Rumphius, through the unusual Stephanie Seymour "trophy wife" piece, to vintage carvings from actual ships, may just be my favourite form of art.

So I guess it is reigning figureheads around here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Lies Beneath: Jane Eyre 2011

The other week I *finally* saw the new Jane Eyre film. 

I had blogged about it in advance, based on the photo below, which was so much more colourful that I could imagine a Jane Eyre film to be. 

After seeing the film, I decided that the director based much of his visuals on sly nods toward interpretations of the book.

For instance, after Jane refuses to go to India with St. John as his wife (one of my favourite lines from the novel is when she responds to his marriage proposal by begging him for mercy, not in the film, alas), she is next seen wearing her paisley shawl.  Paisley gets its name from Scotland, but its design comes from India.

So Jane externalizes India; she wears its fabric, but she will not enter it, as St. John's wife (a good thing).

As the classic Madwoman in the Attic reading of Jane Eyre is all about repression--what lies beneath the surface of, say, a Victorian woman's proper behaviour, or behind the door of a garrett--I noticed attention paid to hidden details.

Consider the beautiful blue--and optimistic--lining of this carriage, which transports Jane back to Thornfield.  You can see Jane's paisley shawl here too.

And Jane's own cape reveals a patterned lining as well, hinting at the complex interior of this famously "plain" governess.

Even the film poster, far above, shows Jane beneath her wedding veil (which was, curiously, not rent in two by Bertha Rochester).

I agree that it is a lovely and sensual surprise to discover pretty linings. One of my favourite ideas is to wallpaper the interior of a closet.

If we follow Jane Eyre's lead, then Cole and Son makes this large-scale paisley wallpaper:

But I really love a more primitive, Bloomsbury-esque look, like this hand-blocked wallpaper, found on Wikipedia, of all places:

And this peacock/paisley-ish wallpaper, Greta Jade from Villa Nova, would cheer me every time I opened my closet:

I would think that I were entering Jane Eyre's carriage.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rooms with a View at the Met

"Open the window!

Let in the daylight!

Open your mind to what is going on all around..."

So sang Miss Stacy, Anne Shirley's beloved new teacher, to an intrigued group of Avonlea students in the 1965 musical Anne of Green Gables

Is there anything more full of possibility than a room with a view?  E. M. Forster thought not. 

And I'll bet that Virginia Woolf's room of one's own would not be complete without a view to contemplate. 

Even Harriet Jacobs' self-imposed room of her own had a view that she made herself, with a found tool, so she could watch over her children in the street below.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition of rooms with a view from April 5 through July 4.  Let's take a peek:

Do gentle readers have a favourite real--or fantasy--view from a room?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vintage Sheets: The New Summer Dress?

The other week, a polite young man asked me whether I made my dresses from vintage sheets.*

I do not make my dresses at all, but I did see his point.  In the spring and summer I tend to wear cotton dresses with large prints--white and green, white and blue, white and citron--that could very well be made from sheeting.

Perhaps I could make some floaty dresses from these Garnet Hill sheets:

Or perhaps even from curtains, depending on the thickness of the fabric.

Making dresses from curtains is nothing new, as Maria (not yet von Trapp) will tell you:

Here is one of the curtain dresses from The Sound of Music up for auction:

Scarlett O'Hara also knew a thing or two about transforming curtains . . .

as did Carol Burnett's Scarlett: 

I like this Bob Mackie sketch of Burnett's dress:

And I've always like his signature.

*Top image from trueup.net

Friday, May 20, 2011

Books that Cook

Gorgeous books about food from PenguinUK.

First spied on Yvestown's pretty website.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Have Bag, Will Travel

This summer I am spending a week at a different university, where I may or may not run into James Franco, and I would like to outfit myself with a smart travel bag.

I want something that engages with textiles in an attractive way and avoids any Boy Scout associations.  Ideally, the bag would not scream any particular designer label, but would be beautifully, intriguingly, under the mainstream radar.

Here are some bags I've been looking at, through my virtual vitrine:

The top bag is by Margo Selby, one of my favourite British textile designers.  I have one of her scarves, in a textured bubble print, in shades of verdigris, aubergine, and blue, and adore it. 

The next two are by the British designer Susannah Hunter.  In the interest of full disclosure, I bought one of her handbags several years ago and returned it because I did not like the interior (loose crushed velvet, if I remember) for a handbag.  (I like a more structured interior.)  But for a travel bag, let crushed velvet interiors rule!

Finally, here's a bag by Mulholland Brothers in "cayenne."  I like the peppery color because it's not "pretty," but oddly appealing.  It's not trying to be Hermes "orange," and it has ruggedly feminine flavour.  Dare I say that this cayenne is "hot"?  (No; I would never utter [or write] such a Bruno Tonioli-inspired phrase.)

Do gentle readers have any travel bag recommendations?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Daphne Guinness Gets Dressed

Ms. Guinness dresses for the Met today, from 4-6 p.m., in Barneys' window.

Rear Window this is not.