Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Liberty Print That Got Away

I rarely purchase anything on impulse, which is often very wise but sometimes leaves me with regrets. 

Last summer, for instance, when I was on a fellowship in New Haven, I was cooling my academic jets by wandering around the shops and found a small cosmetics bag in Jack Wills, made from a pretty Liberty print.

"Oh, I'll get it later, if I still want it," I said to myself, but left without, having indulged in French linens and a London clutch elsewhere that day.

Later that summer, I looked for the bag online and in the Nantucket Jack Wills, but it was sold out. Small sigh, but I'll survive.

When I discovered that Sailor Rose makes tunics and dresses from that (and other!) Liberty print(s), my pulse temporarily increased.  The tunic is lovely on the model above, but its combination of a button-up back and waistlessness brings my heart rate back down.

Still, I can gaze upon this photo and luxuriate in the fabric through the filter of the computer screen.  And maybe I should just get some of the tana lawn cotton and fashion it myself.  We'll see.

Friday, June 29, 2012

DIY: Schiaparelli Flower-and-Crystal Sunnies

Gentle readers will know that I am gaga over the cool whimsy of Elsa Schiaparelli sunglasses.

If I make it to the exhibit at the Met (Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations), I might break my rule about matchy-matchy dressing.


I couldn't resist trying to embellish a pair of sunglasses, inspired by Schiaparelli's art.

My materials: a pair of sunglasses with a strong shape from Tar-zhay.  Also a somewhat unusual color: loden green.

Resin flowers from a craft store.  They're putty, not pink.

Swarovski crystals and glue.  Crystals are shades of moss and coffee.

The result (so far) is pretty nutty, but I like it.  Tomorrow I may add flowers and crystals to the stems.

And although I'm not frightened off by a DIY, the PIY (photograph it yourself) remains a challenge.

(The requisite hipstamatic filter.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Thousand and One Bytes: In Celebration of Publishing

This is my 1001th post(!!!), and I wasn't sure how to mark it.  But in the tradition of 1001 Nights, I think that stories are appropriate, especially stories that deal with the publishing world.

Today I read a terrific article in the New York Times about Janet Groth, long-time receptionist on the 18th floor of the New Yorker when it was on 43rd Street.  I love stories about New Yorker culture, and this one, from 25-year-receptionist turned scholar and author, did not disappoint. 

But I was drawn to more than her experiences: just look at what she's wearing in this photo:

This dress, photographed in Greece in what must be the late 1950s-early 1960s looks almost like this one from Tory Burch:

And this home decorating fabric from Amy Butler:

And maybe this ghostly Marni print:

I interviewed at the New Yorker, in its fabled 43rd Street location, around 1997.  The position would have been a ridiculous fit--the editor said he'd be unconfortable with a PhD candidate fetching his dry-cleaning (snap!)--and I was too seasoned in my own way for that kind of Devil Wore Prada experience (Devil Drycleaned Prada?).  So it didn't work out and the editor jumped ship with Tina Brown anyway, not too much later. 

I was reminded of my NY publishing worldview when I was recently given a novel.  I can be turned off pretty quickly by certain titles (like this one) and covers (like this one) but decided to give the novel a go because I trust the judgment of the person who gave it to me. 

Turns out, this novel, Happily Ever After (eeek!--that title!) by British author Harriet Evans is a very good read about the book publishing worlds of London and New York (Evans has experience).  I even invented a literary heritage for Evans: her parents are Sir Harold Evans and Joni Evans (her parents really are in publishing too). 

Anyway, the novel's heroine (the far-too-trendily named "Elle"--eeek! again) wants to be the kind of gell who pops into Pret and grabs a takeaway coffee and sandwich for lunch.  I wanted to pop into Dean and Deluca for the same.

(I did go to this great little bistro in the mornings between 5th and Mad for its sweet potato muffins dusted in icing sugar.  Delicious. At lunchtime the joint was in full swing with serious lunchers who had their expense accounts in tow.)

Back again: the novel is very self-aware of its status as a potential chick-lit book, and of the derisive status that chick-lit has in some minds.  So there are smart discussions of cover designs (what makes a novel look literary?  What doesn't?); of Bridget Jones' Diary as the original chick-lit text (or is it?); and literary versus "pleasure" reading.  Think literary canon vs. personal paracanon--the books that anthologies tell us to read versus the books that we LOVE to read (and there can be crossover).

And what on earth is a detail from that umbrella by London Undercover doing at the top of this post?  It reminds me of the gingham umbrella on the cover of Evans' novel, which further recommended the book to me (Despite the shopping bag.  I'd have added a satchel instead).

Still awake?  Tune in for Scheherazadean story 1002, yet to come.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Terrific Tassels by Acne

I have seen oversized polo ponies on shirts and think that they are best worn in the stables.

Oversized alligators on shirts?  They should stick to the schwamps.
But a pair of oversized tassels on shoes?


These objets of desire are no longer available at Barneys, where they were, unknown to me, on a steep sale. Gravity Pope has them, in urbane black, for some 400ish dollars.  I stopped counting.

(P.S.:  I wouldn't wear a regular-size tassel, though in my schoolgirl days I thought they were preppy cool.  No more.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fit for a Princess? The L. K. Bennett Sledge Saga Continues

My favourite fairy tale growing up was The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  The very idea of "dancing slippers" conjured up soft, velvet-y leather, slippers that were beautiful and comfortable.  And just imagine the princesses receiving a new pair of slippers every day, after wearing out the previous set during the night!

I yearned for a pair of princess dancing slippers.

Gentle readers may recall that I received a pair of princess pumps a couple of weeks ago, a generous birthday gift.  They were the L. K. Bennett taupe Sledge court pump worn, in seemingly great comfort, by the Duchess of Cambridge, affectionately if inaccurately known as Princess Catherine.

My pair was too tight, so I sent them back for a half size larger and today received them.  This time I was able to get them on (notice I didn't say "slip" them on) and, after wearing them for approximately a minute, was happy to take them off and return them to the box.

For the L. K. Bennett Sledge pumps are profoundly uncomfortable, even if they "fit."  The leather is stiff and unyielding, such that it felt like it cut into my foot.  The heel is high, with a platform, and, though high heels are no stranger to me, my high arch did not fit into the shoe, but revealed itself from the side.  Indeed, the shoes wore me.

And I think they may have worn me out, too, not out dancing, but they wore out my optimism that these would be a perfect pair of neutral heels for fall, when the right size arrived.

So L. K. Bennett now reminds me of the difficult cousin of Lydia and Kitty Bennet, and the Sledge pumps recall a revised Sister Sledge song, "We Aren't Family." 

I guess that's fitting, even if the shoes aren't.

Rose Britannia!

Just back from a five-day violin camp for mes tres enfants.

My blog had to play second fiddle, though, as there was no wi-fi in the lovely, lake-y woods where we stayed.

To reacclimate to the s'more-less landscape, I've been pondering this Alexander McQueen rose-gold clutch.

And yes: I've also been wondering whether the designer might make a violin case.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Edith Minturn and Her Elbows

Sort of sounds like an Eric Rohmer film (Claire's Knee) by way of David Cronenberg.

These two Edith Minturns have more in common than their names (Edith Minturn Stokes, above, painted by John Singer Sargent; Edith Minturn Sedgwick, right, photographed by Gianni Penati).

It's their shared elbow, thrust out insouciantly, as well as their rather bold dressing: shirt, tie, and boater for Mrs. E. M. Stokes, bodysuit and floral Givenchy stockings for Ms. E. M. Sedgwick. 

And maybe there's also a glint of social defiance in their bright eyes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tiers of Joy

I've been spending a good deal of time with my bookcases today, reorganizing and restocking them. 

That activity reminded me of a favourite photo from a past T magazine: it's the decorating issue that features the Chicago home of Jean and Steven Goldberg.

My favourite room, perhaps not surprisingly, is the library.  The bookcase is magnificient enough, with its carefully bowed shelves (done for effect, not naturally from years of heavy reading), but I couldn't stop looking at the fantastic curtains, designed by Ms. Goldberg. 

With their tied tiers, creating a drapey-pouf effect, these curtains wouldn't be out of place walking the steps of the Met at its annual ball.

They reminded me of some of Charles James's designs, such as these:

And a post-postmodern version might be the inimitable Lady Gaga, who wore this tri-tier gown at the Brit Awards, back in 2010:

Then there are those upstart garments, as worn by Anne Hathaway:

Florence Welch:

and Daphne Guinness:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sister Sledge, or; Stepping out with the Duchess

A review from Nordstrom insists one will "feel like a Duchess" in them!

In what, exactly?

The Duchess of Cambridge's taupe L. K. Bennett patent platform "Sledge" heels, of course, the ones she's worn to many a function over the year (and worn them winningly, I add).

A box containing a pair of L. K. Bennett Sledge pumps arrived on my doorstep today, a slightly belated birthday gift from my wonderful family. 

But let's forget the Duchess for just a minute, for the scene chez moi was more Cinderella as I tried to slip on the size 39 shoes (my usual size).  Only one would go on, and it was very tight indeed. 

And unlike my character in Into the Woods (Cinderella's stepmother), I was not about to take a Sledge-hammer to my feet to secure a fit.

Plus, since I'm not planning on Pelicaning any time soon, I have, on the advice of the gentle assistant at L. K. Bennett, wrapped up the pair of pumps and popped them into the post for a half-size-up exchange.

Until they return, I'll be a Duchess-in-Waiting.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I've been pondering 1984, the end of my first year of university, over the last couple of days. 

Through the lovely blog Nibs I located this model, from the Laura Ashley fall/winter 1984 catalogue, who, in her LA clothing, inspired me that year. 

I cut my hair like hers, curled it comme ca, and indulged in a small Laura Ashley wardrobe: a powder blue sailor dress made of sturdy cotton; a white nautical jacket with matching pleated skirt, and a long corduroy dress with square collar and the famous puff sleeves.

These ensembles left me impossibly dressed for class, so I skipped as many as possible and swanned about the campus instead, books in hand, looking for a soft filter that would transport me into the catalogue pages.  Having worked so hard in boarding school, I was ready for a break and took it.

But somewhere long the line I realized that it was better to be studious than simply to look studious.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Daffy Garden Wear

This photo, by Tim Walker for Vogue April 2012, is a favourite because of its unabashed celebration of florals.  I love how the contrasting patterns bloom in a virtual garden.

I thought of this image when I came across these vintage Joan Vass bloomers made from Liberty of London fabric on eBay.

I wouldn't wear them, I don't think, but would display them somehow.  They are seriously daffy and would put a smile on my face every time I passed them.

However, I would wear the Valentino garden gowns below. 

Meryl Streep wore a Valentino skirt the other night to honour Shirley MacLaine. Definitely daffy, with the ecru blouse.  I think she should have gone all out floral, though.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Eye Spy Schiaparelli Garden Glasses

My roses have just bid a temporary adieu (to return in late August), and I am thinking about how to surround myself with more flowers.

I recently purchased some tiny resin flowers, in a pretty shade of cafe au lait as well some mossy green and cappuccino Swarovski crystals with an eye toward embellishing some sunglasses, a la Elsa Schiaparelli.

Her whimsical, yet strong lunettes have me s-eye-ing with delight.

And the colours in this "Shocking" perfume ad are exquisite.