Thursday, December 21, 2017

An Embroidered Handmade Pillow for Christmas

Now that my final exams are graded and my senior daughter has been accepted to the college of her dreams (yay!), I can relax and settle into some textiles.

I like to give handmade gifts for Christmas whenever possible, and made this last night for one recipient.

The embroidery is adapted from Alicia's book Embroidery Companion. I drew it freehand on fabric, as I prefer the freedom of not following a pattern. The rest of the pillow I measured as I went along.

The blue is Liberty of London and the othe two fabrics come from Purl Soho, but I do not remember their manufacturer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Rumour with a View: Meghan and Harry's Marital Home?

I've said on this blog many a time that I'm not a wedding person (I love marriage, though!), but I've got a case of wedding fever over Meghan Markle's impending nuptials to Prince Harry.

I'm mentally assembling the ingredients for my May trifle, which I'll serve to my students, and which I've made only once before, for Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding.

But at the risk of getting ahead of the wedding party, today I'm thinking about the "news" that the young couple may have purchased Luckington Court, a home in the Cotswalds. This home has a cinematic lineage, as it was home to the Bennets in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice TV series.

I'll be teaching a class on Jane Austen in a couple of months, and might take a virtual visit to Longbourne (oops--Luckington) then.

Until then, isn't it a truth universally acknowledged, that a young couple in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a house?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fiona: Hippo Prima Ballerina

Long-time readers will know that I adore English bulldogs. Mr. C and I had two--Marilla and Bossy--for ten years each, and loved every minute with them.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I am equally smitten with the bulldog of the water: the hippo. Or more specifically, Fiona.

Yes: I've followed her birth and development every step along the way, and have loved seeing how gracefully she moves in the water. My first thought was to the Disney ballerina hippo (whom the NYT takes to task here), but I realized that there's an even more timely hippo dancer.

In a complete coincidence, about a week or so after Fiona was born on January 24, 2017, Lincoln Center mounted its own hippo ballerina, on temporary display, resplendant in her Degas-esque tutu and eyelashes. The Danish sculptor Bjørn Okholm Skarrup made her.

I have my own 6-foot ballerina getting ready for this year's Nutcracker performance, and it would be lovely to see her dance alongside Fiona. There is some footage of Fiona twirling in the water set to classical music on the Cincinnati Zoo's Fiona Updates blog on October 26, 2017. You'll have to scroll: I couldn't figure out how to embed the video here without linking to my own Twitter account.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Royal News

I am so very delighted for this couple.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Erdem's Erb-so-lute-ly Awesome Sweater

I missed the debut of the absolutely fabulous Erdem/H&M collaboration, but I would absolutely consider tracking down this mohair Icelandic-inspired sweater.

To be styled with a long floral skirt, Doc Martens, and triple-topknot, bien sur.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Windowpane Checks at Lismore Castle

While on the east coast of Ireland this summer, we took an afternoon drive to Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford, Irish home of the duke of Devonshire, and variously Deborah Mitford, Adele Astaire, and Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy. Peregrine Cavendish (I know!) is the 12th duke of Devonshire.

To reach the castle and gardens we climbed up a stone tower, walked through an enclosed bridge, and were deposited on the upper level of the grounds, into a beautiful garden with sculptures seemingly planted throughout.

The top image is of a little window from the bridge. I loved the windowpanes and felt that I would be right at home in the tower; no castle necessary.

The tower/sentry is below. One enters through the right, climbs up to the window level and walks across.

Remembering those Lismore sentry/tower windowpanes, I wondered what Miss Cavendish would wear in her tower.

And Valentino did not disappoint.

I'd wear this windowpane dress:

The back is as pretty as the front. And are those pomo Ghillies she's wearing?

If there's a breeze, I'd add this windowpane jacket:

It also has a lovely back view. 

And if I ever tired of my tower home, I could always venture out in the garden, toward the castle . . .

. . . to say hello to the sculpture trying not to be noticed in the avenue of trees. 

I'd try not to annoy him, though. I wouldn't want to be a pain.

(all photos mine, except those of the clothes!)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Harp, She Wored

OK: these are not harpsichords, but returning gentle readers will know that I can't resist a pun once its taken hold of me.

They are lyres, from Gucci, and I think that they make the loveliest hair ornaments.

I did see a couple of harps this summer, while in Dublin. Our family of five had taken a train from Galway to Heuston Station, and were having difficulty finding a cab to fit us all, so we decided to walk to our accommodations, some 20 minutes away.

I am directionally challenged, so I started us out walking west instead of east, which added a good 20 minutes to our walk, and took us on a path that really was not suitable for rolling luggage and uncertain travelers.

We crossed a freeway, made twists and turns on tiny, tiny sidewalks, went up and down hills, and were relieved to see something we recognized: the Guinness Storehouse. Then as we trudged along further we saw the Arthur Guinness house and then Arthur's Pub. I'm not sure of the order of those last two, as my thoughts were focused on getting us to our apartment.

The next day, after feeling refreshed, we walked to Trinity College, where we saw the original Guinness harp, the Brian Boru's harp.

And full disclosure: I did not take these photos in Dublin. I was too focused on locating our accommodations and my hands were too blistered from lugging, well, luggage, to stop for a photo. I do have photos of the harp, but the Long Room was crowded that day and there are people surrounding the case. I'm no lyre.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Interlude . . .

to be continued  . . .

Monday, November 20, 2017

Erik Sandberg's PowderPuff Girls

All this talk about Downton Abbey: The Exhibition and its accompanying dressing-table paraphrenalia took me back to the one item I coveted most on my mother's bureau: her powderpuff.

When I could gain acess to her bedroom, I'd remove it from its round container and puff away, feeling much more glamourous than I looked when I'd done.

These portraits by Erik Sandberg look like I felt.

(discovered via the cover of Hi-Fructose magazine)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ayana's Finale Dress on Project Runway: Modest Jane Austen?

During the two-episode season finale of Project Runway Season 16, the camera kept showing teasing glimpses of a dress Ayana had made--it looked to be a pale green with embroidered "tarnished" gold embellishments, and I couldn't wait to see her runway show.

She did not disappoint, as her finale dress was as beautiful as I'd hoped.

I've loved that combination of green and gold for years, and Ayana's dress brought me back to a beloved Wyeth dress I bought in Palo Alto many years ago (documented here).

I've long thought of my Wyeth dress as a Jane-Austen-in-LA dress, and Ayana's beautiful garment is a welcome cousin: a modest Jane Austen?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Vulpine Tights, Vanity Fair, and Radhika Jones: A Saturday Miscellany

I suddenly have an *inexplicable* urge to wear tights with foxes emblazoned all over them.

Alas: these tights, from Anthropologie, are no longer available.

But soon the new Vanity Fair, edited by smart, accomplished journalist Radhika Jones, will be.

Farewell, Azzedine Alaia

He was simply the best.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Upstairs, Downstairs; Exit through the Gift Shop: Downton Abbey on Display

I confess that I adored the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, but it became too Melrose Place-among-the-Hounds for me after that. Still, I can appreciate the detailed costumes and example of gracious living that was set.

So, then, it would be a pleasure to visit Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which looks to be set in the old Lee's Art Shop building, 218 W 57th. (I loved going to Lee's during my twice-a-year pilgrimages to New York.)

And fittingly, I bought my Solar Jubilee Queen there as well.

But this is not about tchotchkes, for at Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, one can luxuriate in the familiar good company of Mrs. Patmore's kitchen, Lady Mary's dressing table, and the iconic Downton pull-bells. Sets and clothing are on full display.

But as Lady Grantham knows well, keeping Downton running comes at a cost. And instead of benefitting from one American heiress, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition will invite many--whether landed gentry or nouveau riche--into its gift shop to help, as I imagine, keep the displays on parade.

Maybe there will even be some Solar Lady Sybils and Solar Mr. Bateses in shop!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

On the Fringe: Caroline Kilkenny Cape

I have a talent for buying eccentric but beautiful pieces that go with nothing I own. They languish in my closet until I decide to play dress-up in my room, every few years or so, or I finally give up and sell them on eBay.

When I was in Dublin this summer I popped into Kilkenny's on Nassau St., where I promptly found just what I hadn't been looking for: a cream silk twill capelet that just covered the shoulders, with cascading cream silk fringe by Caroline Kilkenny.

It made no sense with anything in my closet, so I bought it.

My trip ended in late July, and the capelet is still in its bag, though I have taken it out to try on a couple of times and to admire it.

I don't know whether I'll ever wear it out of my house, but the pleasure it gives me, nevertheless, is worth it.

The cape above is decidedly not my cape, though it would be a caper if I pursued it too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sleep-In Sunday in Elizabeth Cotton Liberty London PJs

On Sunday I had the pleasure of sleeping in, which is unusual, and the even more distinct pleasure of remaining in my pajamas all. day. long.

Still, I felt like I was "dressed," because I've broken out a Christmas gift from last year: a pair of Elizabeth Cotton pajamas in one of my beloved Liberty London prints.

This print is Sheona Rose, and it reminds me of an early Mary Katrantzou digital floral, or a Kate Spade more-recent digital floral, but it's all Liberty and luscious.

Lest this gushing sound like a PR pitch, let me assure that I'm simply remembering that rare luxuriant time where I could stay at home, drink coffee, and write articles in my PJs--without feeling schlumpy in the least!

Elizabeth Cotton used to offer summer Liberty PJs as well--shorts and a sleeveless pajama top. I'd be happy if they returned, as I could imaging myself adding a cardigan and sandals and running an errand, if need be, on a summer's morning.

I think the day also felt delightful because I'd saved a gift from Christmas 2016 for a later date. A pleasure for me is to buy something, forget about it (usually unintentionally), and then unearth it months later and enjoy it. This happens rarely because I usually buy what I need there and then, but this summer in Ireland I also bought some woolen mittens that I'm looking forward to wearing this year. Or maybe next.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Two Coats Are More Stylish than One?

When I think of "two coats," the image that pops into my mind is nail polish--apply two coats of color, plus base and top coat.

If I tweak the language to "double coat," my thoughts go to golden retrievers, Newfies, and their cousins, dogs who have double coats.

But this fall, the concept of "two," "double," or "layered" coats has hit the runway, whether the catwalk be a designer's space or a city street.

I've been in awe of individuals who can layer fabrics and not look like le bonhomme de neige. I remember when I went away to university and met reed-thin twin sisters who would wear two Ralph Lauren polo shirts, with collars popped, beneath a button-down. It was not only a display of wealth (those polos were pricey) but also of silhouette superiority: they looked fashionable, not bulky.

My favourite two-coat look? The jacket as bustier above.

A close second: This look below, which reminds me of Sarah Jessica Parker's highland fling in McQueen a number of years back.

But this is my absolute favourite double coat ever (in double!):