Friday, July 29, 2011

Pink and Green

Indeed, the pink and green mix is known as classic preppy, but even on Nantucket, one can tweak the standard to produce a new look.

I've written both this summer and last about the tunic salad available on the island, but was hesitant to take a bite till I found the most unusual colour combination, tucked away in an unlikely shop.  It's a bright mossy green with rich fuschia flowers, a slim fit, and, well, just pleases me.

As I looked at the Indian cotton block-print, I realized it reminded me of one of my favourite hand-blocked wallpapers, from Adelphi.  That image is above.

But it also reminded me of the Priory Garden wllpaper from J. R. Burrows, seen below, although the colors in this historic print are more subdued.

And you know, it's impossible to be a wallflower in this "Proustian wallpaper" tunic.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Sound and the Frilly

Well, that's the vacation book William Faulkner might have written if he'd spent his time swimming in the Nantucket Sound and beachcombing for frilly shells instead of stoking a university furnace on the third shift.

This morning was spent not in the Sound, though, but on Madaket Beach, where the waves crash, and sweep one up before hurtling them to shore and dumping them out in a furious froth.  And if that sentence was written in the passive, I guess it mirrors my state as I was rocked and rolled in the relentless surf, to my happy exhaustion.

This afternoon I may just contemplate the similarities and differences between the nationally beloved Miss Rumphius . . .

and Madaket Millie, a true Nantucket beach read, original illustrations of which are prettily on display at the Atheneum Children's Library.

Barb Desire: Liberty of London Collaborates with Barbour

My love for Liberty of London has been well documented here, as has my affection for Barbour. 

My home is full of Liberty prints, but Barbour has eluded me, though I have worn Mr. C's and felt tremendously warm, dry, sporting and chic, despite the fact that he is over a foot taller than I am.

(Such is the magic of Barbour.)

(And I am not short.)

(Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

So gentle readers will understand the racing of my pulse when I learned, via the always-in-the-know Liberty London Girl, that these two terrific companies are collaborating.

A rapid URL-type took me to Liberty's site where I found some lovely Barbour jackets, lined in Liberty.

Here are details of all the tantalizing Tana Lawn /waxed cotton /corduroy collar combinations.  Do tell me if you have a favourite!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Macaroons Are the New Cupcakes

When I was one year old at Christmas, as my mum liked to tell it, I took one bite out of my first chocolate and promptly screamed for another.*

That impulse came rushing back today when my middle daughter and I went to Petticoat Row Bakery on Nantucket to pick up some birthday cupcakes.  She spied a selection of macaroons, in the Laduree tradition with a twist: the fillings are buttercream.

I have not (yet) sampled a proper Laduree macaron, but I was delighted with the key lime macaroon from Petticoat Row that we two girls shared.

We will have to return tomorrow to sample some other flavours.

Petticoat Row: so-named for the Centre Street, Nantucket, stores owned by women while men were off on whaling voyages.

* For my gentle Canadian readers, the chocolate was from a box of Moirs Pot of Gold.  Does anyone remember the never-ending box-lid art of a woman holding a box of chocolates with a woman on the lid holding a box of chocolates with a  . . .

Monday, July 25, 2011

Waist, Not; Want, Yes!

Here on this tiny holiday island there are lots and lots of shops.  And in these shops there are lots and lots and LOTS of dresses and tunics in beautiful, summery, colorful Indian cotton prints.

Some of the dresses have pretty embroidery and sequin embellishments around the neck and hem (tastefully boho, I promise), some simply rely on their gorgeous prints for impact.

But what these lovely garments all lack is a waist. 

Truly, I'd be happy with a hint of  shape, a cut that follows one's contours instead of draping like a tent; a set-in waist, empire or true, is not necessary.

Perhaps one could add a belt to the beautiful tents, but that defeats the ease of a dress for me, and also can result in a puffy silhouette.

I am thinking out loud that a niche needs to be filled.  I now have dreams of producing a line of summery dresses that do not conceal a woman's shape in those perfect Indian cottons. 

I'll do it right after I direct my Jane Eyredale film.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

LA on the East Coast

I grew up in a family of women golfers, and dressing for golf was an important part of the sport: golf skirts and smart tees.

In a little English seaside shop on Nantucket I was brought back to the links of my youth when I saw the clothing by LA label Franklin & Gower

F&G make Rat Pack-era swim trunks for men:

And in a selection of blue, they make cool shorts for women, in microwale cord with a floral stripe:

Hot pants(!)--for women, in seersucker:

And these little skirts that would be perfect for calling "Fore!"

Out of this lot, I could see the (longer) shorts being "fore" me on the east coast. . . if styled in a west coast manner . . .

Friday, July 22, 2011

Breaking the Waves

Will dock soon . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Best Dress-ed

Sometimes newspapers can state the obvious.  Take today's Styles section of the NYT, for instance.

Its above-the-fold photo (and story) focuses on the dress as an appropriate summer uniform.

To which I can only respond, "Duuuude" (with the proper inflection, of course).

I realize that a few days ago I posted on the potential beauty of light layers.  And indeed, I do think that the layering of colors is lovely, but my summer wardrobe consists almost entirely of dresses.

Why?  I love their ease, their floatiness, their completeness.  All I need for summer (when I'm not in the ocean) is a cotton dress, a light pair of sandals, and some glamourous sunglasses (and a topknot).

But I have some serious dress requirements.
  • It must be cotton or linen and, ideally, lined in cotton as well.
  • It *must* have a discernible waist.  No smock or sheath dresses.
  • No gathered drawstrings beneath the bustline.
  • Preferably an A-line skirt that floats over the body.
  • Sleeveless.
  • V-neck or surplice neckline.  Possibly a scoop on a case-by-case basis.
  • No collars.
  • Nooooo buttons.  Side zip is best.
  • Knee-length or just-ever-so-slightly longer. 
  • Print or plain, however, the print cannot be cute.  "Cute" is an adjective that I avoid like the plague.
So, fellow gentle summer-dress wearers: do you have any demands that you make of your dresses?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


To my mind, a black-and-tan is something to order from Chumley's, the late, great Village joint with the secret entry.

But August's Vogue shows Karlie Kloss wearing a black-and-tan manicure, with some definitely pointy filed tips.

Would gentle readers try this black-and-tanicure for fall, with or without the long points?

**If you want a piece of Chumley's, Rick Kelly at Carmine Street Guitars is making knotty-pine telecasters from that fabled speakeasy's wood.

And if you want the black-and-tanicure, it was done by Yuna Park at Streeters.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sheer Layers

New York Magazine has stated that night for day has returned, in the form of sheer, nightgown inspired dresses for day. 

The magazine doesn't give any hints for wearing the sheer component out in public, aside from a slideshow of Real People "sleepwalking" in such dresses, but only one Real Person wore what I'd call truly sheer, and she paired it with black undergarments. (See the slideshow in the link above.)

I like the idea of going vibrant, as in this combination, below, by Shakauchi: 

However, I would definitely wear a colorful slip/petticoat that matches the camisole/bodysuit. If I were on So You Think You Can Dance, and dancing on stage, I'd skip the slip.

There's no room for the T logo on this sheer Tory Burch dress:

I'm imagining a black sheer dress worn with vibrant violet underpinnings.  The combinations are endless!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Golden Horn, by Chanel Wharton-James

I thought that the name and look of these heels and sandals by Chanel was very Wharton-Jamesian.

On an innocent American lass the sandals might yearn to visit the Coliseum at dusk. 

Or knowledge about a golden bowl, almost received as a wedding gift, might suddenly enter one's ken while wearing the heels.

Perhaps the heels might try to brazenly enter Old New York society, having just moved from the middle west. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Backward Bedlingtons: Miu Miu Pink and Sparkly Gold Heels 2011

Miu Miu has created a fantastic new heel that looks to me exactly like a Backward Bedlington.

(Bedlington is what I named the shoe silhouette designed by Alexander McQueen.  It reminds me of a Bedlington terrier.)  I've blogged about the Bedlingtons herehere, here, and here.  And here they are:

Up top: the Backward Bedlingtons on their glorious own.

Below: on the runway.

And finally, on 15-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, who was born the year I began working in publishing.  Sigh.

The name Backward Bedlington kind of reminds me of the character named Wrongway Feldman from Gilligan's IslandSherwood Schwartz, the creator of GI, made some of my favorite childhood shows.  I hope that teens from Hailee's generation had the opportunity to watch some of them.

Made in Buckingham

I watched the film Made in Dagenham for the first time right around the time when the Duchess and the Duke of Cambridge were leaving Calgary. 

In both productions a red dress featured prominently. 

The Duchess wore a Catherine Walker design, accentuated by her mother-in-law's large, glittering maple leaf pin.

Rita (Sally Hawkins' character) wore a borrowed Biba, with large, diamond-shape buttons.

The more I thought about it, the more the two narratives began to intersect.

Both Kate and Rita work for well-known institutions (The Firm and Ford Motor Company); both are commoners (though I dislike that word) who emerge as public figures while wearing a designer red dress.

Most importantly, both speak out on behalf of the oppressed: in lieu of wedding gifts the Duchess invited guests to donate to an anti-bullying charity, and Rita's persuasive speeches led to women receiving equal pay for equal work.

I read some reviews after I had screened the film and learned from a male English critic that the plot device of a posh, highly educated and bored wife (Rosamond Pike, the wife of a Ford exec.) lending a working-class gel the red Biba dresss is a "clunky attempt at female solidarity across the class divide."
But I think that dresses are a fitting way to bridge the class divide. Just look at how easily Rita and the female politician Barbara Castle (brilliantly played by Miranda Richardson) bond over frocks. Both working women share a recognition of quality (Biba) but own the much lesser priced C&A.

I'll argue that although women can and do unite over social and political issues, we can also build alliances through dresses. I know that I'm looking forward to seeing more of those dresses that are made in Buckingham.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hue, Britannia!

This summer is all about colour for me. 

I've completed two quilts, one a crazy melange of Liberty prints, the other a dialogue between vintage applique squares and primitive quilting (which means larger stitches and freehand designs) I've done with coloured embroidery floss. 

My family even beat the NYT to the punch with its Elvis-would-be-proud colourful-shoes story.

Now I want to turn to my home in a way I have never done: I want to paint parts of it.  I've already noted that I plan to reimagine my fireplace a la Vanessa Bell at Charleston, if I get the nerve, but a less public-room project might be transforming a chest of drawers. 

As you may know, I have a "thing" for the Union Jack as decoration, and have just seen a fantastic DIY project that I would like to emulate.

Look above at the bureau painted by clothing designer Sheridan French.  She was inspired by the chest of drawers painted in tradition Union Jack colours but updated it.  Would it not be a lark to try this as well?

Now for the colour palette.  I love the orange and pink pictured, but think that a turquoise or aqua and jade or pink combination could be smart.  (OK, maybe funky rather than smart.) 

Have gentle readers seen the Union Jack dressed up in any utterly desirable colour combinations?  I'm open to inspiration!

Possibilities: red and purple (inspired by a Zac Posen dress)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Frock and Roll

Liberty of London has just released its fall 2011 fabric collection, which is inspired by musicians.

Singer Florence Welch selected two prints from the Liberty archives to reissue, right (Dancing Ladies) and below (lace):

Guitarist Graham Coxon produced an original sketch (which became this print A Boy Dreams) to recall vintage rock posters:

Singer Emilia de Poret designed this print to evoke microphones, though I see disco balls too (!):

Here's a link to the entire range.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Pearl in Soho

The other day I visited Purl Soho to buy some fabric for my summer create-a-palooza (just finished another quilt).

It was my first IRL visit, and I was very pleased.  The shop is long and narrow, but filled with light, and, most importantly, a very nicely edited collection of fabric. 

There was a riot of Liberty of London, from bundled bits through fat quarters and half yards to lots of gorgeous bolts.

There were some usual suspects, like Amy Butler, and an enticing new collection from Heather Ross. All the fabric was boutique-y, which often meant pricey, but often simply meant cult of personality.

And there were some discoveries for me, like the Japanese fabric above, which will be a new quilt.  I cannot bear to cut it, so I will make a lap/throw quilt (Kaffe Fassett sunbleached mango on the back, crazy L of L handmade binding).

If you like to knit, there's also a beautifully presented selection of yarn, and wonderfully helpful craftspeople to assist with any questions.

I also appreciated the stand-up display of embroidery floss, the project books that were easily accessible, and the cheerful color everywhere.  Indeed, I think that Purl Soho just may be my Tiffanys.  To borrow from Holly Golightly, there are no mean reds here.  Only warm florals and heathered crimsons.

The shop is also next door to Rudy's Guitars, so if you happen to be travelling with a musician who prefers frets over finishes, he/she won't have to sit and wait.  And wait.  And wait. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Princess Kate in the Big Apple

When the Duchess of Cambridge landed in the Big Apple last week, she wore a perfect apple-green dress by DVF.

What's that you say?  Where did she land?  Well, then.

At least she didn't land in a puddle, where these silly boots and kneesocks below would have come in handy.  Or footy.

But since DVF is the president of CFDA, and since the CFDA awards take place in New York City, there is that apple-y connection.

In more accurate news, the duchess wore a very pretty Jenny Packham dress to watch her prince lead his polo team to victory.  I've been a fan of Jenny Packham since waaaaay back, since like March 2010

And that rogue military valet really didn't give anything away when he flashed Kate's garment bag, giving the world a sneak peak at this beautiful gown by Alexander McQueen. Or the Daily Mail did, anyway.

Finally, Kate indulged in a bit of granny chic in this Whistles crocheted top and pleated skirt to board her plane home. 

Would gentle readers whistle at this ensemble?  If so, how loudly? 

Shakespeare in the Frock

I like Annie Parisse's graceful elegance in this summer's New York City show of Shakespeare in the Park.

All's well that hems well.