Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bedroom Makeover

Old Bedroom

I was bored with my bedroom and was thinking the solution was new curtains.  I love my vintage linen armchairs but the bright pink fabric felt limiting.  So here's what i did... I moved them into my living room and in their place...

Chair Switch

 I moved an old flea market find that I had reupholstered in a knockoff Michael Smith tree of life fabric that I found Downtown at the fabric market for a song.  Finding old chairs with great lines and then taking to my upholsterer is one of my favorite ways to get a designer look without the designer price tag.  Then, I re-hung my curtain rods super high to open up the room and hung new curtains in a suzanni print. 

Close up of curtains

I love mixing fabrics and as long as you work in the same color family you'd be surprised at what you can get away with.  For a finishing touch, I placed a japanese garden stool for a side table and an old wicker stool that I keep my current rotation of books and magazines on.  An antique flag pillow and a blue silk throw are the finishing touches.  Totally different vibe and it feels like a new room.

New Room!

Does this dress clash with my curtains?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tights Weather

I love tights and I'm excited every year when tights season finally rolls around.

And every year around this time it occurs to me that I still haven't found a really good system of organizing my tights drawer.  It's currently a snarled tangle of old tights,  new tights, over the knee socks, fishnets, stockings, garter belts and random Halloween costume bits and pieces.  In a perfect world there would be clearly marked spaces for tights that are Wolford, tights that are not Wolford but still perfect, tights that should only be worn with boots because there's a little fuzzy patch where the boot zipper has rubbed, tights that have a hole in the toe but will do in a pinch, tights that look too shiny in daylight but are perfect for night, tights that are anything but black and therefore will never be worn, tights that should be thrown out immediately but are being kept for an emergency which necessitates old tights, tights that are too sheer and tights that I hate but can't remember why.  

Maybe someday...

Over the knee socks

Chanel Tights

Vinyl tights.  And also, I wish I could wear this every! single! day!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Painted Books

I love artist Jeanne Shapton's painted books.  These one of a kind pieces made from acrylic and house paint on wooden blocks merge two of my passions books at art.  Her titles lean heavily towards English and French fiction and belles lettres and they are sold exclusively through John Derrian in New York (

It would be difficult for me to choose my favorite.  But I'd have to go with Raymond Carver.  When in doubt it's never a bad idea to go with Raymond Carver.  And just because, here's my favorite poem ever...

“Luck” by Raymond Carver

I was nine years old.
I had been around liquor
all my life. My friends
drank too, but they could handle it.
We'd take cigarettes, beer,
a couple of girls
and go out to the fort.
We'd act silly.
Sometimes you'd pretend
to pass out so the girls
could examine you. 
They'd put their hands
down your pants while
you lay there trying
not to laugh, or else
they would lean back,
close their eyes, and
let you feel them all over.
Once at a party my dad
came to the back porch
to take a leak.
We could hear voices
over the record player
see people standing around
laughing and drinking.
When my dad finished
he zipped up, stared a while
at the starry sky--it was
always starry then
on summer nights--
and went back inside.
The girls had to go home.
I slept all night in the fort
with my best friend.
We kissed on the lips
and touched each other.
I saw the stars fade
toward morning.
I saw a woman sleeping
on our lawn.
I looked up her dress,
then I had a beer
and a cigarette.
Friends, I though this
was living.
Indoors, someone
had put out a cigarette
in a jar of mustard.
I had a straight shot
from the bottle, then
a drink of warm collins mix,
then another whisky.
And though I went from room
to room, no one was home.
What luck, I thought.
Years later,
I still wanted to give up
friends, love, starry skies,
for a house where no one
was home, no one coming back,
and all I could drink.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gold Fever

Taxidermy badger with crown

Gold Bug in Pasadena is my new favorite store.  Nestled amongst the usual suspects of J Crew, H&M and Baby Gap, Gold Bug is a little oasis of charming eccentricity.  

This quirky little shop carries a unique collection of one of a kind jewelry, taxidermy, gold crowns, corsets and a carefully edited selection of home accessories including John Derian, Agelio Batle and Andy Paiko.  Whether you're in the market for a cast bronze talon bottle opener for a hostess gift, a pair of steam punk bloomers or a set of Victorian paper dolls, Gold Bug has something for everyone and for every budget.  Love!

John Derrian platers, vintage medical ephemera

quartz skull

They also have a fantastic online site

Gold bug pasadena
22 East Union
Pasadena, CA  91103

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I know when to go out.

I know when to stay in.  Get things done.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  The days are shorter, the weather is cooler and I just want to stay in and nest.  My list of fall must haves and a few for this years wish list...

Miller's Crossing Soundtrack

Miller's crossing soundtrack - Carter Burwell's music sounds like fall.  Seriously, if you close your eyes you can hear the wind rustling the leaves.  Melancholy, wistful, the entire album is an elegy to Limerick's Lament a traditional Irish folk song and I love how it keeps popping up.  Like it's weaved throughout the fabric of the album.  Plus you can never go wrong with Danny Boy.

D.L. & Co. candle

D.L. & Co. Le Pomme Vert Candle - Fall is apple season and what better way to celebrate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil than D.L. & Co.'s gothic brass enameled green apple sculpture filled with their signature thorn apple scented candle.  Tempting.

Pendleton National Parks blankets

Pendleton Glacier National Parks blanket - Pendleton Mills has been weaving traditional indian blankets since. 1909.   Their Glacier National Parks blanket is my favorite and I'm always scouring flea markets for vintage ones.  Perfect for an end of the bed throw or curling up on the sofa on a cool fall night.  They can also be purchased new at Pendleton's website for $160-200.

Hermes Umbrella

Hermes Pluie de H umbrella - Definitely a splurge at $435 but cheaper than a Birkin and guaranteed to make you look forward to rainy days!

Brach's candy corn

Candy Corn - I'm big on seasonal treats and candy corn is my all time favorite.  It's been around since he 1880's and according to the National Confectioners Association over 20 million pounds are sold annually.  Brach's makes enough candy corn every year to circle the earth 4.25 times!  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Phaidon Design Classics

PHAIDON DESIGN CLASSICS is the first comprehensive collection of classic design objects. Packed into three bright yellow volumes, this set presents 999 iconic industrially manufactured objects many of which are still in production today.  Beautifully edited, everything from cars to cameras is represented.  Big hitters like Breuer, Le Corbusier and Eames  predominate but there are some underdogs like the anonymously designed chop sticks and corkscrew.  The writing style is brief and informative and you're sure to drive friends crazy by giving them lessons on the history of the Toblerone bar or the glue stick or any of the other 999 iconic designs featured in the series.

The objects are presented chronologically, beginning with an elegant pair of Chinese bonsai scissors from the early 1600s and ending with Barber Osgerby’s Lunar bath accessories.  Phaidon Design Classics is a key reference tool for designers, architects and home enthusiasts with an interested in the history of design. 

 #1 - Chinese bonsai scissors from the early 1600s

#91 Toblerone Bar

#666 - Lamy 2000 fountain pen

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Twenty to One

I'm re-reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly a memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby.  Bauby, the Editor-in-Chief of French Elle, suffered a massive stroke that left him with a condition called locked-in syndrome.  Unable to move or speak, he wrote the entire book letter by letter using a type of morse code that involved blinking his left eyelid and died shortly after publication.  The book is a slim volume of random recollections that is by turns funny, heartbreaking and totally random.  Trapped in his body with no freedom but thought, what did he think about?  Mainly food, love, family, missed opportunity and flights of fancy.  Bauby's mind soared like a butterfly.  In circumstances most people would find unbearable, Bauby found within him an invincible spirit.  My favorite story is twenty to one about a day at the races and a tip on a bet for a sure thing that thanks to a long wine drenched lunch he forgot to place.

"Frankly, I had forgotten Mithra-Grandchamp.  The memory of that event has only just come back to me, now doubly painful: regret for a vanished past, and above all, remorse for lost opportunities.  Mithra-Grandchamp is the woman we were unable to love, the chances we failed to seize, the moments of happiness we allowed to drift away.  Today it seems to me that my whole life was nothing but a string of those small near misses: a race whose result we know beforehand but in which we fail to bet on the winner."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jean-Michel Frank

Jean-Michel Frank was one of the most influential designers and decorators of Paris in the 1930's and 40's.  He's best known for his spare interiors and his use of  luxurious materials such as vellum, bleached leather, lacquer, straw marquetry, malachite and shagreen.   Today Frank is best remembered for his furniture designs.  His parson tables and blocky rectangular club chairs and sofas have been endlessly copied.  Last year there was a major exhibition of Frank's work in Paris at the Fondation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Larent.   Rizzoli also recently published a book on his work and life entitled Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of  the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period.  It's an amazing book and even if it weren't, I will read anything with Strange, Parisian, Haute-Monde or Art Deco in the title.  

Sadly, personal demons took their toll and in 1941 at the age of 46,  he committed suicide by throwing himself from the window of a Manhattan apartment building.  

Portrait of the Designer

Cole Porter's Music Room

Blonde Dressing Table

Straw Marquetry Fire Screen & Parchment Cabinet 

Friday, September 10, 2010


I've heard it said that meditation is the art of enjoying doing nothing without falling asleep.  For me it can also be the art of trying to sit still without giving in to the overwhelming need I feel to dust every time I try to meditate.  Clearly I need a new meditation pouf.

There aren't a lot of stylish pouf's out there.  Most of them look like they were designed primarily for comfort.  However, I did find a few that manage to combine comfort and style.  Below are the contenders.

CB2 makes a cool chunky knit pouf.  It's like a cross between a  metallic fisherman's sweater and a bean bag.  When not being used to meditate it would look great on a bed made up with all white linens.  It's also really reasonably priced.

CB2 knit pouf $79

The white leather embroidery embellished pouf from Serena & Lily is very stylish and has such 1970's Morrocan vibe to it.  It screams Gypset.  I'd keep it in my living room and use it for extra seating when guests come over.

Leather embroidered pouf $450 Serena & Lily

The leather pouf/ottoman from Neiman Marcus is a good option for someone who doesn't want to sit to near the ground.  It's a great in between option.  Part pouf, part ottoman.  It would be great if you were meditating outdoors.

Leather ottoman pouf $499 Neiman Marcus

And the winner is.... A Missoni pouf!  I love the shape.  Square not the typical round.  It's part pouf, part pillow, would make a great side table with a tray on top and I love the signature wool stripe Missoni fabric.  I feel Zen just looking at it.  Ommmm

Missoni square pouf $416

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

God Save the Queen

Born September 7th, 1533 Elizabeth Tudor was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  When Elizabeth was three, her mother was beheaded and she was declared a bastard by Act of Parliament.  Seriously, you cannot write this stuff.  From this shaky start, Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25.  Upon hearing of her accession to the throne, she is reputed to have quoted Psalm 118, in Latin: "A Dominum factum est illud, et est mirabile in oculis notris" - "It is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."  Indeed, Elizabeth's reign from 1558 to 1603 is considered the golden age in English history.  During her reign, art, theatre and literature flourished.  William Shakespeare, Francis Drake, Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh were all products of Renaissance England.  It was an age of exploration, expansion, peace and my second favorite English era of all time.

What did Henry VIII do besides kill all his wives and write Greensleeves?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Che would not be amused...

One of my favorite iconic pop images is the two tone portrait of Che Guevara by Irish graphic artist Jim Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick created the image in 1968 from the photograph Guerillero Heroico by photographer Alberto Korda. Korda took the picture of Guevara in 1960 at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion in Havana, Cuba. Korda was drawn to Guevara's expression which he says showed absolute implacability as well as anger and pain.

Che Guevara died young, good-looking and for his ideals. With is death in October 1967 he was reborn an icon.

Forget the revolution, Che has become a brand and the brand's image is his face. He represents the outside thinker, anti establishment, anti-war, pro-green, pretty much pro or anti anything. His image can be found everywhere from Hot Topic to Parisian boutiques and is used to sell everything from t-shirts to bubble bath.

My favorite is the 1968 painting attributed to Andy Warhol. Using the same graphic processes used on the acclaimed Marilyn Monroe pieces, this painting was a forgery, created by factory regular Gerard Malanga who was in need of money. When Warhol heard of the fraud, he "authenticated" the fake, providing that all the money from sales went to him. Brilliant.

The original photograph by Alberto Korda

Iconic Pop Image of Che by Jim Fitzpatrick

Che by "Warhol"

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bedroom Makeover

I've been wanting to switch things up in my bedroom for ages but I have two vintage chairs with a retro Palm Beach feel that are really hard to coordinate with anything!

Problem solved. Trina Turk's collection of indoor/outdoor fabrics for Schumacher would be perfect for coordinating drapes, pillows or even slip covering a headboard. Trina is known for fashion and her first foray into interiors is a line of fabrics featuring her signature bright, bold colors and retro vibe. They're stylish but also really lovely and girly. I'm thinking the trellis pattern for some floor to ceiling drapes and maybe the peacock for some pillows.

My Chairs

Trellis Print in Watermelon

Peacock Print in Punch

Pisces Print in Punch

Super Paradise Print in Punch

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Joyeux Anniversaire Marcel Proust!

Valentin Louis Georges Eugene Marcel Proust was born July 10, 1871.  Proust was a French novelist best known for his monumental (7 volumes) A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time; also known as Remembrance of Things Past).  

Early in the novel the narrator who is based on the author himself, dips a madeline into a cup of tea and the resulting memories that come flooding back to him fuel the following 3,000 pages of the novel.  There is some speculation and some scholars believe Remembrance of Things Past was not, in fact, inspired by a madeleine. There is an early version of the scene where  the narrator dips a piece of dry toast in tea. So the original madeleine, some say, was a piece of dry toast, and some scholars say that Proust actually had an epiphany with a piece of dry toast.  Perhaps if things had worked out differently, every Starbuck's on the planet would have packets of dry toast for sale by the till.  

From In Search of Lost Time: Volume 1: Swann's Way: Within a Budding Grove. 

The Cookie

Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called "petites madeleines," which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?
I drink a second mouthful, in which I find nothing more than in the first, then a third, which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop; the potion is losing it magic. It is plain that the truth I am seeking lies not in the cup but in myself. The drink has called it into being, but does not know it, and can only repeat indefinitely, with a progressive diminution of strength, the same message which I cannot interpret, though I hope at least to be able to call it forth again and to find it there presently, intact and at my disposal, for my final enlightenment. I put down the cup and examine my own mind. It alone can discover the truth. But how: What an abyss of uncertainty, whenever the mind feels overtaken by itself; when it, the seeker, is at the same time the dark region through which it must go seeking and where all its equipment will avail it nothing. Seek? More than that: create. It is face to face with something which does not yet exist, to which it alone can give reality and substance, which it alone can bring into the light of day.

And I begin to ask myself what it could have been, this unremembered state which brought with it no logical proof, but the indisputable evidence, of its felicity, its reality, and in whose presence other states of consciousness melted and vanished. I decide to attempt to make it reappear. I retrace my thoughts to the moment at which I drank the first spoonful of tea. I rediscover the same state, illuminated by no fresh light. I ask my mind to make one further effort, to bring back once more the fleeting sensation. And so that nothing may interrupt it in its course I shut out every obstacle, every extraneous idea, I stop my ears and inhibit all attention against the sound from the next room. And then, feeling that my mind is tiring itself without having any success to report, I compel it for a change to enjoy the distraction which I have just denied it, to think of other things, to rest refresh itself before making a final effort. And then for the second time I clear an empty space in front of it; I place in position before my mind's eye the still recent taste of that first mouthful, and I feel something start within me, something that leaves its resting-place and attempts to rise, something that has been embedded like an anchor at a great depth; I do not know yet what it is, but I can feel it mounting slowly; I can measure the resistance, I can hear the echo of great spaces traversed.

Undoubtedly what is thus palpitating in the depths of my being must be the image, the visual memory which, being linked to that taste, is trying to follow it into my conscious mind. But its struggles are too far off, too confused and chaotic; scarcely can I perceive the neutral glow into which the elusive whirling medley of stirred-up colours is fused, and I cannot distinguish its form, cannot invite it, as the one possible interpreter, to translate for me the evidence of its contemporary, its inseparable paramour, the taste, cannot ask it to inform me what special circumstance is in question, from what period in my past life.
Will it ultimately reach the clear surface of my consciousness, this memory, this old, dead moment which the magnetism of an identical moment has traveled so far to importune, to disturb, to raise up out of the very depths of my being? I cannot tell. Now I feel nothing; it has stopped, has perhaps sunk back into its darkness, from which who can say whether it will ever rise again? Ten times over I must essay the task, must lean down over the abyss. And each time the cowardice that deters us from every difficult task, every important enterprise, has urged me to leave the thing alone, to drink my tea and to think merely of the worries of to-day and my hopes for to-morrow, which can be brooded over painlessly.
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the meantime, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks' windows, that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the shapes of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness. But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. And as in the game wherein the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little pieces of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch and twist and take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, solid and recognizable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann's park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Portrait of a Muse

Born in 1881 in Milan, Marchesa Luisa Casati was one of the most artistically represented woman in history right after Cleopatra and the Virgin Mary. Sculptures, photographs, sketches and paintings preserve her image and she continues to inspire fashion designers including Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano. The Marchesa line is named in her honor and her gothic, androgynous look reappears on fashion runways every few seasons some 53 years after her death. She posed for Man Ray and Cecil Beaton and her devotees included Erte, Jack Kerouac, Jean Cocteau, Tallulah Bankhead, Tennessee Williams, Ezra Pound, Colette and Coco Chanel. She is quite simply the most intriguing person you've possibly never heard of.

She blended the macabre with the outlandish in her demeanor, surroundings, and dress. She was known for her black eyeliner, arsenic pale skin, bobbed hair and emerald green eyes. She had scandalous love affairs with both men and women and her decadence knew no bounds. She kept pet cheetahs on diamond studded leashes, dabbled in the occult, wore live snakes as jewelry and was partial to evening strolls with nude servants gilded in gold leaf lighting the dark with torches. She collected friends, art, decor, clothes, houses, pets and lovers with an abandon that was delightfully mad. She never lost her sense of style was buried in leopard skin and false eyelashes with her taxidermied Pekinese dog at her feet. Her grave inscribed with a quote from Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra - "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety".