Saturday, January 26, 2013

Martine Roch's Beautiful Animal Portraits

When humans appropriate aminal characteristics in the name of style, the results are not always appealing.
Take the "duck nails" from my previous post, for instance, or the cloven-toe sneakers that former beasties (err--besties--) Madge and Gwyneth used to wear with their yoga pants.

But when the photographer Martine Roch depicts animals that she knows and loves in the sympathetic posture and clothing of an Edith Wharton novel via vintage photos, it's a game-changer.

Gentle readers know that I admire a good rabbit profile, and this elegant hare (below) has me raising my carrot juice in a toast. 

Bread and jam (or papillons?) for Frances?

The pastoral beauty here is lulling me to sheep (umm--sleep).

Martine Roch's website is here; I learned of her work through Sister Wolf (many thanks for the introduction!).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Is What not to Wear "Real" Any More?

What am I these days, a critic or something?

Last night I watched Tristen's episode of What not to Wear, and although she was wearing "duck" nails, something smelled fishy.

Was it me, or did Tristen's anger toward Stacy and Clinton seem a little *too* disrespectful?  After all, S&C are characterized by their frank yet warm manner.  They don't make gratutious fun of their subjects and don't deserve to be dismissed as if they are fools.

Did Tristen's wailing pre-manicure and haircolour seem overdone?  I totally understand how someone feels vulnerable before a new haircolour, but to go from snubbing silence to histronics seemed unexpected.

And then, Tristen's rudeness shifted abruptly, with her new hair and then, even more, with her new, softer makeup.  Suddenly she was smiling and loving everything and everyone, hugging Stacy and Clinton as if they were best pals.

This episode began with a dramatic staged squabble between Stacy and Clinton, culminating in Stacy tossing her salad as she threw down the duo's lunch table. Was she hinting at the acting to come?

Then we moved to the set of a "new" reality show, during which the host ominously stated something to the effect of how the contestants would be left wondering how real reality is. Or something Real World-empty/profound like that.

This episode is, I believe, the third of the new season, the first being another tables-turning encounter as the mall-singer Tiffany nominates herself and foots her own $5000 spree. It was painful to see Stacy and Clinton oohing and ahhing over Tiffany's unflattering clothes makeover (her leather dress and tweed jacket wer bursting at the seams--far too tight!), and they lost a bit of credibility at that moment. They must have been doing some Jon Lovitz Acting! to try and convince us that Tiffany's new clothes were an improvement.

The second episode, also dressing a ghost of celebrity past, involved former Baywatch lifeguard Nicole Eggert.  I didn't see it, alas. But is this show becoming a vanity vehicle for vintage celebrities (I could have written "vixens," but that would be too Tarantino-esque [see previous post])?

But it's not a stretch to suggest that Tristen's episode is the third to involve theatrics at the conceptual level.  Is TLC trying to add drama to the show?  Had it become too predictable? I would say "No," and just as the spinoff Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta disrespects the original by having the consultants spout catty bon mots into the camera, by having an endless parade of singular bridesmaids who WILL NOT WEAR THE DRESS that the bride likes, this version of What not to Wear appears in danger of exploiting (what I would call) the genuine situations and tension from its earlier seasons.

WNTW is a non-guilty TV pleasure of mine, and I do hope that it does not become a parody of itself.

So here's a plea to WNTW: Please leave the manufacturing to the professionals who construct the clothing, and don't manufacture plot.  It doesn't look good on you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not the New Yorker on Quentin Tarantino's Golden Globe

Quentin Tarantino won a Golden Globe from the Hollywood Foreign Press for his Django Unchained screenplay. His acceptance speech detailed his creative process; later that evening he told a New York Times reporter his favourite line from the film: "If there are any astronomy aficionados amongst you, the North Star is that one."  He continued: "'It's clever,' Mr. Tarantino said, eating sushi. 'And there's a lot of "A" words all connected together, which is very musical. That's poetry.'"

What follows is an imaginary conversation among possible member publications of the HFPA:

Ahh, that humble Quentin Tarantino!  He said that he wasn't expecting this award, and he sounded like he really meant it! Like he knew his screenplay was overwritten and the couldn't believe that the Hollywood Foreign Press chose it over the more nuanced works by those other writers! But to me it was a (ahem) match made in artistic heaven: Tarantino and the Golden Globe.

Hellooo! Did you hear what he said next? The next five minutes when he talked about how he gets his friends together--or is it individually?--and lets them read scenes from his work-in-progress?

Hello backatcha, eh! You're wrong!  He reads the scenes TO them, out loud, so that the listeners get the full benefit of his rhythm and voice.

No--it's not for the listeners--he doesn't even want their feedback; he tells them to say NOTHING! It's for him, the auteur, so he can hear himself in front of a breathing human, though that person must remain utterly silent.

Maybe the person doesn't even have to listen, if he or she isn't expected to comment.

But then they'd miss hearing his awesome alliteration, a phrase that, omigosh, repeats the connecting A words, just like the maestro did above!!

You have only two connecting A words and he has five. That's why he's the awesomest alliteratingest auteur (drat; just three! Need another Molson. Eh.).

Bonus: Not the New Yorker Cartoon:

Sally Field: "You really like me."

Quentin Tarantino: "Actually, I really like me."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More Quilty Pleasures

This fabric will be winging its way to me shortly and I am ready to burst with anticipation.  It's a cotton, linen-y-feel Japanese print and I love the muted purples and greens.
I'll be pairing it with some unmatched strips of floral Liberty of London from the same color family to make another whole-cloth quilt.  There days I've been finding fabric that I cannot bear to cut, so whole-cloth quilting has been a revelation.
Is there anything better than planning and then making something? I think it's bliss . . .

Monday, January 7, 2013

Imaginary Tweets from Downton Abbey Season 3 Premiere

    • Shirley MacLaine denies "Sweet Charity" that would keep Downton Abbey in Grantham family.

    • Lord Grantham warbles "If they could see me now . . ." whilst wearing black tie(!) to his family's indoor picnic(!); Shirley MacLaine cuts in with high kicks, regaining the spotlight.

    • Shirley MacLaine and Lord Grantham Downton spin-off show: "Terms of Entailment."  Jack Nicholson *may* parachute in as a retired early aviator.

    Saturday, January 5, 2013

    Test: A New Method of Uploading Images

    This colourful illustration by Demetrios Psillis for Elle Decor is a test: Blogger will no longer allow me to upload an image from a computer file; I had to sync my Picasa album to the Blogger host. 

    Has anyone else had difficulty in uploading images recently?

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    A Lena Dunham Misquote, Perhaps?

    "I think we can agree with the idea that the beautiful girls that get all the boys get written about. They don't usually write."  --Lena Dunham in V Magazine, January 2013.

    Disagree.  Strongly.

    Anyone else?

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    Family Jules?

    This "Jules" dress by J Crew looks so cheerful and smart, but I am wary of its waist-less-ness. 

    Dear J Crew,

    Sheath dresses are not as attractive as you think, on *any* figure.  Please bring a hint of shape.


     Miss C

    Vince Loves Chloe

    Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?  When I went to Barneys over the break, I fell for a pair of Chloe booties--I'd call them a plum colour--that were decked out in flashy buckles and studs.  They were delicate and tough at once. 

    But in expected counterpart to their low heel, their price was steep, a number I couldn't justify spending. 
    Vince Camuto
    A browse through Nordstrom's website turned up an astonishingly similar pair by Vince Camuto, at a fraction of the cost.  I present both pairs here (in  a deep brownish grey), and wonder whether readers prefer Chloe to Vince or vice versa.  What details give away the more "luxe" pair?

    To Prince Edward Island, encore une fois

    As gentle readers probably know by now, thr Alex Colville painting To Prince Edward Island is a favourite piece for sentimental reasons.  Many, many times I took the ferry to and from my home.

    The fantastic Tim Walker photograph of Tilda Swinton, far above, reminds me of the painting, though its subject is quite different.  But its composition--the elbows, the "binoculars," the curious, perhaps interrogative gaze--creates, I think, a pretty visual echo.

    A Ruff Spell (Ruffian Toile)

    It's a bit of  a rough spell when you go back to school before your children do.  I return tomorrow; my three are able to hang out at home till Tuesday. 

    I have a gazillion things to do today in preparation for my class, but also want to make sure that my three are gainfully occupied--practicing instruments, completing homework, playing in the snow, letting their minds wander to where their fancy takes them.

    My own mind has been wandering over to the Ruffian toile collection, which features images from Brooklyn's Williamsburg. 

    There are gorgeous clothes, more suited for spring than this weather, but still--

    And there are square silk scarves, in blue, pink, and yellow. Details from the toile below; colors seem to appear considerably deeper than they are in photos:

    Every time we go to New York, we say we'll make it over the bridge, but the farthest we've got is Orchard Street (with the bridge clearly in sight/walking distance).  (Mr. C of course has been to Brooklyn; he studied at Pratt in his [relative] youth.) I'm pretty sure that I'm the hesitant one; I'd prefer someone who knows the area well to guide me rather than explore on my own.

    If any gentle readers live in/near/have been to Williamsburg, please tell me why I should go and what I should see/eat/do there.  I'll be back in the summer! 

    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    An English Rose Changes Her Nation?

    Over the Christmas Break I did a little lipstick shopping at Nordstrom to replace my pilfered tints. 

    One, a Laura Mercier, was a snap, as I've worn it for a few years and know its name well. The other, a Bobbi Brown, I bought just this summer at Saks, and could not remember its name.  I even have the receipt and the Saks assistant could not pull it up on her register (I did this part over the phone, lest gentle readers think I've confused stores after only one paragraph). 

    It was a lighter pink, which is super-unusual for me, as I tend to stick with the Bobbi Brown browns. But in a summer-induced bronzey state of "try anything!" I walked away with a pink pout.  All fall I wondered, though, whether the pink was right.  But when I had my makeup done by Ms. Brown herself (shameless name-dropping) in the late 1990s, she also selected a shell pink, so I felt I was on the right track. 

    (And she ordered me to go to Bliss, of which there was only one, in Soho, to get my brows shaped. Of course I did, and while there coveted Oprah Winfrey's fruit plate.  But that's another story.)

    Back.  As I consulted with the Nordstrom assistant on the perfect shade of pink, she tried a couple and then dismissed them, telling me that I had too much pigment in my lips to wear a light colour.  That a light colour would give the dreaded "frosted" look, and she was so right.  Light bulbs went off.

    She selected Italian Rose.  I tried it, liked it, then went outside to see what it really looked like, and still approved. So now this English/Scottish lass is borrowing from her Italian neighbours.

    (When looking for an image, I found this one of GP wearing Italian Rose.  Our colouring is similar, except that my hair is not so overtly b.l.e.a.c.h.e.d., so you get the picture.)

    Have gentle readers ever learned something useful about themselves at the maquillage counter? 

    Of Sugar Plums, Ballerinas, and Sticky Fingers

    It's been a season of Nutcrackers for my daughters and me: my eldest performed in nine shows, and we watched two other versions: one by a local conservatory and the other by the New York City Ballet.* 

    Although I didn't know it at the time, we were very fortunate to have tickets for Lauren Lovette's Sugar Plum fairy (she debuted on December 23 and danced one additional show). Ms. Lovette received the annual Clive Barnes Award, which recognizes a young professional dancer with great potential, and we certainly experiences her promise, though we didn't learn of her accolades till after the performance.

    I was curious to learn about the origin of "sugar plums"--I was aware of their name through both the ballet and that other great Christmas narrative 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (the children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads).  I had always imagined a sweet English fruit, not an actual candy, till I saw the ballet.

    Sugar plums are dried fruit candies, coated in sugar and date back to the mid-1800s.  Here's an early ad for one:

    The sets of NYCB's production were mouth-wateringly beautiful (the second half is set in a candyland), but we didn't endure any sticky fingers from all the sweets, though someone backstage at my daughter's production assuredly did.  While I was volunteering my time, applying full faces of makeup, smoothing hair into buns, and making sure that costumes were perfectly presented, one evening a sticky-fingered individual swiped my bag, dumping its contents (all intact, minus my lipsticks in the interior pocket) out into the ballet parking lot. 

    While I was relieved to have my paperwork back (I didn't look forward to renewing my permanent resident status under the circumstances, cancelling cheques or credit cards), the experience left, shall we say, a sour taste. 

    *My darling younger daughter says that she never wants to see a Nutcracker ever again; nor does she ever want to hear its music; she's done. I will find something just for her; here's hoping Lady Gaga will play in New York this summer . . .