Saturday, October 26, 2013

Jane Franklin's Potentially Beautiful Book Jacket

I was browsing in a book store last night and the novel Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin caught my eye.

Well, it caught a sideways glimpse from me, because the book jacket is, unfortunately, so poorly executed.

The cover art is gorgeous--it's from an oil portrait of Jane Flagg Greene (Jane Franklin's granddaughter) and painted by Joseph Badger in 1765.  The original is located in the Thayer Memorial Library, Lancaster, MA.  (I'm infatuated with 18th-19th-century early portraits of children, so much so that I embroidered two miniatures for my daughters as well as a "portrait".)

However, by placing an oversized piece of parchment (with too much white [umm, tea-faded] space) front and center, the portrait is sadly obscured (it stretches over the spine and back).  And there's just an unpleasant visual juxtaposition with the blob of parchment against the subtle background colors.

Would that the parchment could be deleted and the title printed on the painting.  Please do for the second edition, Knopf designers!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Strapless with Shirt: Does the Look Hold Up?

I've been obsessing for the past few days about strapless dresses worn over shirts, especially since I misplaced the magazine where I recently saw an image that inspired me. (It was buried under a pile of novels. Imagine.)

While I was searching for the magazine, I tried out a couple of looks to see if I could extend the life of my strapless dresses into the fall and into the classroom.

One combination was a crisp blue gingham shirt with a cream dress heavily embroidered with blue filigree. I felt like I should be holding some chilled mugs of St. Pauli Girl.  So no it was to Oktoberfest.

Another combination was a bright watercolour-y floral silk dress over a Liberty of London pink rosebud-print shirt.  It was bold and wild, but not in a gorgeous Issie/Daphne manner.

But the above look (east corner) seems "just right" to me.  Lovely menswear checks with a feminine silhouette.  Would gentle readers give this--or somesuch version--a try on?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Dressing for The Day apres Thanksgiving

As a Canadian living in a foreign land (the large country directly south) for twenty years now, I still cling to some things I grew up with: I say "washroom," for instance; the letter "u" has popped back into my spelling; the expression "eh" may even find its way into a comment (though I NEVER uttered that verbal tic when living in the Great North; it's now entirely deliberate).

When I first moved here, I also made some sort of nod to our Canadian Thanksgiving, which takes place during the American Columbus Day holiday.  Maybe I wouldn't exactly cook a turkey, but I'd remember our Thanksgiving and raise a festive Moosehead. 

This year I don't even have time for beer, with increased demands at work and chauffeuring duties for children.  But I did have time to imagine a pretty side dish, inspired by the colours in these gorgeous photos from October's Vogue.  They're the ingredients for my butternut squash and cranberry dressing, with a dash of blueberry.

As gentle readers may note, I also grew up saying "dressing" instead of "stuffing"--and I like this distinction.  I'd rather dress a turkey, and dress one's own self, rather than stuff them both.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Having a Ball with Old Masters and Valentino Shoes

 I bought a pair of Valentino shoes long before I should have. 

I was working in Canada at an embassy (I wrote dinner speeches for the ambassador) during the eight months between earning my BA and beginning graduate school (I graduated in December) and was invited to a ball. 

Yes, a ball.

I had a dress already, but for ball-appropriate shoes I turned to the pages of Vogue and saw, in an advert, a pair of black lace heels by Valentino.  I called up the boutique in New York and asked them to send me a pair (this was eons before the Internet).  To give you a better sense of how prehistoric the times were, I may even have sent a money order in US dollars, as I do not think I had a credit card at the time.

Still more curious: either I did not seem to know what size of shoes I wore, because the pair that arrived  turned out to be a half-size smaller than what I should wear, or European sizes run small and narrow.  I think the latter.

I paid for Federal Express shipping, but the shoes just did not arrive. And did not arrive. The day before the ball, I called up Fed Ex and learned that the shoes were delayed in customs.  Is that--umm--customary?

At about 4:55 on the night of the ball, I was at my desk at the embassy when the ambassador's chauffeur came running up, all a-flush, with a box in his hands.  If I remember, a small crowd gathered as I opened the packaging, then the Valentino shoebox, and lifted the lace shoes from their tissue paper.

These "old masters" adverts from Valentino, with the richly designed still-lifes, remind me of the tactile pleasure of those shoes.  You could certainly have a ball in these clothes.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Momo Wang, "Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity" and Miss C in Selvedge

Yesterday I picked up the September issue of Selvedge (it takes a good while to cross the pond and assume residency in my bookstore's magazine racks).

In this issue I have two stories--the cover story on Momo Wang, who graduated from St. Martins and makes wonderfully creative "upcycled" fashion and a review essay of the "Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity" exhibit, which I saw in Chicago.

I was delighted to see on Selvedge's Facebook page that Momo Wang stopped by their shop earlier this week.  Here's Selvedge's snapshot of the designer holding a copy of the magazine with her look on the front.

It was a real pleasure to learn about Momo Wang's vision and to see images of her imaginative, lovingly handcrafted clothes.

Below: a peek at the layout and gorgeous photography:

And the review essay: