Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tartan Plaid

I know tartans have been very popular lately but they've always been part of my life ( even my alma mater's mascot is a tartan plaid! seriously). Growing up we were very 'American 'and not very in touch with my Scottish heritage -but there was always an abundance of tartan plaids around especially at my grandparents. Maybe because of that I always associate them with Christmastime.
My favorite store, William Sonoma Home, is featuring some GREAT tartain plaids for the holidays. Aren't these just great, cozy little accessories for your home in the holiday or even all winter? (unfortunately the market has me in saving mode -not spending mode :-( )

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt" Charles Schulz

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mirrored Walls

I've been thinking about mirror a lot lately. What do you think of a room that is mirrored? My mind goes instantly to those suburban dining rooms which are tragically mirrored...Or the city apartments that were mirrored back in the 80s - Oy Vey.
However, I think these images posted are pretty fab, don't you think? Look at the famous mirrored bathroom in Miles Redd apartment above, or this living room by Bunny Williams below.Remember I talked about mirroring my backsplash in the kitchen HERE? I keep returning to that idea. So -yah, or nah?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beau Brummel: this charming man

I recently watched a wonderful dvd "Beau Brummell: This charming man" about the life of George Brummell (nicknamed Beau for obvious reasons). This movie was a BBC Television drama made in 2006 and based on the biography by Ian Kelly. You've probably all heard of this famous man, but aren't sure why.
The handsome James Purefoy (from 'Rome') plays the Regency England dandy who changed male fashion. In an era when men relied on powders, wigs and perfumes in order to appear well groomed and fashionable, Brummell's comparatively simple regiment of common-sense elegance and frequent washing was revolutionary. Matthew Rhys (from brothers and sisters) co-stars as a conniving Lord Byron while the delightful Hugh Bonneville plays the prince and future King George IV.
'Beau' Brummel (1778 - 1840) established fashion that exists today of men wearing understated, fitted dark suits with pants instead of knee britches adorned with an elaborately-knotted tie. He was known to take 5 hours to dress (while being watched by admirers, CREEPY!) and said that it was best to polish shoes with champagne (ever tried that??). He met the Prince Regent while serving his time in the military in the Tenth Light Dragoons. Through this friendship, he soon was promoted to captain by 1796. He resigned shortly afterwards and took up a house in the fashionable Mayfair in order to stay in London. He shortly burned through his rather large inheritance by gambling and shopping. After loosing the patronage of Prince George ( he called him fat to his face - ouch!), he no longer had a get out of jail free card or anyone to pay his debts. He had to flee to France in 1816 to escape debt collectors who threatened his life where he used his friendships once again to get a job as consulate in Caen. Here he died penniless years later in 1840 from complications due to Syphilis in a madhouse, not a pretty way to go.
An 1805 caricature of Brummell - compare him with James Purefoy in the movie belowWe all owe a debt to 'Beau' as he went against the times and promoted daily grooming: brushing your teeth, taking a daily bath and shaving. He also advocated pants for men and a more natural style (no wigs, powders and perfumes - those were left for the ladies!).
Hugh Bonneville as the Prince in the previous 'fashion'
This movie is very well made and entertaining filled with great acting and nice eye-candy. Definitely check it out!!
REVIEWS: Nancy Banks-Smith writing in The Guardian said the film was exquisite to see and very easy to enjoy, stating that, it was one of those plays where the director of photography and the costume and set designers, who normally bring up the rear, led the whole parade. She also compliments Hugh Bonneville for his frighteningly feasible Prince Regent. She concludes that, the Georgians had a natural beauty in their lives which makes ours seem ugly.
Jodie Pfarr writing in
The Sydney Morning Herald describes the film as an engaging costume drama romp, which provides a fascinating account of the relationship between Brummell and the prince. He calls the show, Queer eye for the straight guy 18th-century style, and concludes that the moral of the story is all can be fine and dandy until you tell someone they're fat
Visit the website for the movie at the BBC HERE including some clips from the movie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dior, the talent

While I can barely do him justice, especially in such a short post, I would like to just talk briefly about Christian Dior as I'm currently reading his autobiography from 1957. Dior believed that accessories MADE the outfit. After coming up with the initial sketches of a dress, he would then go on to chose the accessories right away, even before seeing the finalized dress! He worked with Roger Vivier often for shoes, such as this cheetah printed silk show above. Notice the beautiful details such as the rhinestone button and beautiful catch.
This is a detail photograph from 1954 of his dress called ' Moulin Rouge'. He wrote that he wanted to make women happy and gave his dresses fun, exotic and happy names.
This sketch by Gruau shows Ispahan from 1947 for the magazine 'Adam'. From the start of the Dior salon, it was a huge success. He wrote that after 1 year of business, it was such an established brand that he would hear people talking about it as if it had been around since the turn of the century! All he ever wanted was a tiny, small exclusive salon -he never expected or wanted all of the publicity and growth of his company.
Entry to the boutique. Housed in a grand but sedate mansion /townhouse at 30 Avenue Montaigne - he wanted it to be a simple take on tradition ala the style of 1910: Everything in shades of gray and white.
Cachotier from 1951 - I love this very architectural dress with the ruched gloves. It must be so uncomfortable though!
A dress from Fall / Winter 1954 -this shows the finished product on the right and the process on the left. Primarily known for his evening gowns, Dior was in the group of the moneyed classes who were throwing grand balls after WWII to forget the horrors and atrocities they witnessed -society wanted fun! Dior provided the dresses.
An ad from 1960 for shoes by Vivier for Dior. Drawn by Gruau of course.
Dior made the cover of Time magazine in 1957 -the year of his autobiographyThe models of the house of Dior from 1957. I love the model with alabaster skin and red lips in the black dress! So chic. Her name was Lucky! A sketch by Dior for the 1951 collections. Such expressive lines, evocative of Gruau.
All images from the book 'Dior' by Universe of Fashion by Marie-France Pochna; forward by Grace Mirabella. You can find this great little book online HERE very inexpensively used.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mies van der Rohe library

This past weekend I finally went to the library to check it out. It just so happens that my local library is the main branch of the DC library system and was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe! Completed in 1972, the library measures in at 400,000 sf and is the only public library ever designed by Mies. Steel & glass with some brick privacy walls at the first floor, this is a rare example of modernism in dc replacing the old Andrew Carnegie donated 1903 beaux arts building nearby (which unfortunately is vacant). The building is typical of Mies's style -with a grand exterior public entrycourt. The interior is delightfully open and filled with natural light.
In 2007 it was designated a historic landmark by the district and rightfully so. Unfortunately, while the upkeep on the facility is adequate it seems to have been bastardized. The grand spaces are littered with subpar clutter and tacky lighting belying Mies's modernistic vision: not a barcelona chair or table in site! It's still a great space though I was surprised to find!The library seen through 2 more typical traditional dc office buildings.
the open interiors (entry lobby)
The library is great -who needs blockbuster or amazon??!! I got 2 great books as well as numerous movies and cds. I'm reading 'Dior by Dior' - the autobiography of the designer first published in 1957 - it's incredible to read the backstory and his rather modest take on his abilities! Also checked out 'Antoine's alphabet, Watteau and his world' which is a historical fiction based on the life of the painter. Both definitely are worth a read!
Sorry for the poor picture quality, it was pouring rain and I was juggling an umbrella!