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Thursday, August 28, 2008

vivre le siecle

set of six hand decoupaged, artist-signed animal plates
E 110 at siecle

for the love of découpage

The ancient art of decorating objects by applying layered cut-out paper and enamel or laquer, découpage got its first major recognition and name (découper = to cut out) in France during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Because there are no stead-fast rules of decoupage and because it does not require any specific equipment, it is viewed by many modernists as a hobby... they could not be more wrong. I attempted my first decoupaged jewelry box when I was in 8th grade, and it was tragic. The varnish I used (or the ill application) made the colored images bleed together in a muddled mess much to my dismay... I admitted defeat and have barely touched the beautiful medium since.

Mostly due to my own failed attempts, I have a weakness for the illusive art... so I could not be more thrilled that certain connoisseurs have started a revival. While in Paris, I stopped by Siecle, the wonderful atelier of Philippe Chupin and Marisa Osorio-Farinha in St. Germain des Pres. The store is an entertainer's paradise... a mix of fine embroidered linens, horned serving pieces, and one-of-a-kind hand crafted decoupage plates and platters. As I gazed admirably at each item, I realized that the congenial man keeping the shop that spring day was M. Chupin himself... only in Paris would you have such an opportunity!

Recently, he has been diligently working on setting up an international website for the wonderful company, so most of the design work is completed by his wife and business partner Marisa Osorio-Farinha, who he met at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. The company's name, which means century in French, reflects Philippe and Marisa's "eclectic taste for different cultures and times" is reflected in the varied style of their products. It really is a must for any well-versed international shopper. I fell in love with the exquisite plates and pretty serving sets packaged in purple and green silk boxes...

Siecle Paris
24 Rue du Bac
Paris, France

lacquer and horn salad set, $96 (tax free)

for the love of vivre

Vivre, a online and printed magazine of wonderful artisans, is the brainchild of "mail order magnate" Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti and the epitome of style. A unique selection of the finest in ready-to-wear, housewares, and fine art, Vivre redefines luxurious living purposeful shopping. There are no "filler" items... just pages and pages of unique and exquisite European luxury. A superb source of inspiration and wonder, even the Queen of England will wish she had a larger bank account while thumbing through the pages...

interview with Philppe Chupin in Vivre

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a passage to india

pretty embroidered pillows on my bed
shades of grey

There is something so alluring about the East... I am fascinated by the culture, the colors, the animals... all of which seem so distant yet so inviting. Printmaker and textile king John Robshaw must feel the same way. Robshaw apparently traveled to India in search of authentic indigo dye and never looked back. Over the past few years his collection of hand block-printed textiles has sparked new interest in ancient techniques and given proper recognition to fabulous Indian artisans.

Robshaw's New York showroom is absolutely amazing... as colorful and as richly decorated as an authentic Eastern bazar. As much as I adore the vibrant colored prints, I like my bedroom to be tranquil and airy like a giant cloud, which is why I am a HUGE fan of the "precious metals" collection... the gold and pewter metallics are divinely elegant and add texture and ornament without overpowering the eye. The moment I saw these gold embroidered euros at Bungalow Classic, I knew I just had to have them...

And the most exciting part is that for the first time, Robshaw's work is easily accessible! Anthropologie offers exclusive bedding sets and art prints at retail stores and through their website, and Robshaw himself has opened his website to the public. So go ahead and find your eastern flair...

Bungalow Classic
1197 Howell Mill Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

"circus" decorative pillows by john robshaw
handprinted in jaipur, each takes an entire day to finish
12" x 18" (camel, leopard), $115
20"x 20" (tiger, ram), $140
26" x 26" (elephant, horse), $150

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

bringing preppy back

midnight rider...
alice & olivia wool blazer, $400 
and black satin skinny pants, $264

city school kids & upper east side charms

The runways (and soon the streets of Manhattan) resemble a prep school fire drill. Tailored blazers, riding  boots, horizontal stripes, and (gasp!) pearls are helping bring classic conservative back in style from New York to London. Edgy dressers fear not... for once, preppy is not synonymous with candy-colored prints that resemble a Nantucket flotation device. This is not your grandma Betty's conservative, and designers don't expect you to wear frumpy shoulder pads or boxy suits. The new look is a freshly modern take on tradition -- sort of Audrey Hepburn meets Balenciaga -- featuring soft, tailored elegance with a touch of attitude (not too unlike the modern woman).
classic cocktail...
nanette lepore black merino wool dress, $230

black and tan...
geren ford black cap-sleeve top, $267
marquis & camus collar with cameo, $200
marie claire

highland clans & a coat of arms

While Paris and New York appeared to be inundated with black, London and Milan gave a nod to the Queen with inordinate amounts of tartan, plaid, and check complimented by faux coat-of-arms and jewels becoming of Elizabeth herself... Vivienne Westwood showcased anglomania with red houndstooth minis, floral silks, and brass-buttoned coats... Alexander McQueen embodied the trend with outrageously regal gowns that harkened back to the days of Anne Boleyn, accented with elaborate headpieces and fine borrowed vintage jewels... and Italian designers Domineco Dolce & Stefano Gabbana's fall D&G collection showcased an array of traditional Scottish tartans layered with checks, plaids, and argyle vests...

The result? An endless selection of cross-Atlantic preppy wear that oozes sophistication of days past...

british power prints...
vivienne westwood red label fall rtw 2008

ode to the queen...
alexander mcqueen fall rtw 2008

plaid to toe...
d&g dolce & gabbana fall rtw 2008

a daring pair...
d&g dolce & gabbana navy plaid coat, $1690
rebecca taylor black pants, $275
marie clare

Experiencing sensory overload? No problem. I'll help. Take a cue from Kate Moss and pair a basic black blazer with slick skinny jeans, tall boots, and great accessories like an eye-popping clutch or an oh-so-popular charm bracelet from your favorite fashion house... Combine a slinky shift with black tights and a pair of sweet ankle boots for a night on the town... dress up a pair of leggings (left over from that awful moo-moo tunic trend) with riding boots, a pretty feminine blouse, and an oversized leather bag...

geometric pillow, shades of light 
eliza mcallister silhouette plate, $65 jayson home & garden
pearl and rhinestone studs, topshop
jasper conran teacup, wedgewood
long fabienne high-heel boots, $398 jcrew
calvin klein horizontal stripe dress
hermes printed silk scarf
crest cuff, $74 shoptwigs
gucci lace-up ankle boots
superfine skinny jeans, $260 net-a-porter
chanel charm bracelet, bag borrow or steal
marc by marc jacobs fan bracelet, $98 nordstrom
kate moss for topshop boyfriend blazer, £55.00 topshop
betsey johnson drop earrings, betsey johnson
alexander mcqueen union jack clutch, net-a-porter
ralph lauren alligator clutch

stripe military blazer, £30 topshop
d&g dolce & gabbana wonder corduroy jeans, net-a-porter
ralph lauren home "mayfair stripe" fabric
world food programme feed bag, $60
louis vuitton monogram vernis alma, $2080 eluxury
sherburne sofa, $6540 ralph lauren home
hunter wellington boots, jcrew
mcq skinny leg jeans, net-a-porter
vivienne westwood black petite jacket
lela rose ruffle neck blouse
ralph lauren home tweed fabric
silk rose brooch, topshop
carolina amato leather gloves, eluxury
frye "paige" tall riding boots, $348 nordstrom
burberry "brit gold" perfume

Last but not least, industrious artsy types who'd "die" for a Balenciaga crested blazer but can barely afford bread can create their own perfect (and personalized) look by adding one of these fabulous bullion crest appliques to their favorite clothing item... now that's just fabulous!

2 1/434.25

bullion crests, $9-25
PHEW! I'm exhausted...

Monday, August 25, 2008

unearthing agate

semi-precious stone, dazzling accessory

Agate, a semi-precious gemstone, is a variety of quartz commonly associated with volcanic and metamorphic rocks. The colorful stone was given its name by Greek philosopher Theophrastus, who discovered the gem between the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. The many varieties (noted by differences in colors and patterning) reflect the region and conditions under which the agate was formed. In antiquity, the Greeks used the stone to make jewelry and beads, while ancient Egyptians used the gem in decoration. Agate was believed to possess incredible powers and virtues as a medicinal cure from scorpion stings and snake bites. Today agate is most commonly used in ornaments and decoration.

Channel your inner gypsy this fall by accessorizing with this dazzling stone... take a break from pearls and combine earthy & classic with this elegant necklace from Tory Burch... or opt for bohemian chic with an agate-studded cuff...

Don't believe me? Check out the agate belts that turned up on the Gucci runway...

5-rock agate necklace, $325
tory burch
agate cuff, $195

gucci rtw fall 2008

a house of gems

If you're not into jewelry or you just can't imagine pairing a chunky slice of agate with your tailored Theory suit, try adding a touch of natural wonder to your home decor with brilliantly colored accessories of brazilian agate... Just looking at these gorgeous gem coasters makes me long for a stiff drink with Holly Golightly and Simon Doonan in a sun-drenched TriBeCa loft while the coasters make a bold, daily statement.

Rab Labs was created in 2002 by London-born Anna Rabinowicz, an accomplished product designer and current teacher at Parsons School of Art and Design in New York. Based in New York, Rab Labs currently offers a selection of coasters, plates, napkin rings, bowls, photo frames, ornaments, and bottlestoppers. According to Rabinowicz, "My intention is to bring natural, warm elements into spaces constructed of hard materials -- steel, glass, concrete, and plastic." Look for RabLabs fresh, natural designs at Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, and (of course) Vivre.

set of 4 brazillian agate coasters, $60

Friday, August 22, 2008

floral illusion

west elm chair reimagined by robba for a charity auction, 2007

emilio robba, sculptor of flowers

"I always knew that nature would be the guide in my life..." 

Born into a family of Italian artists residing in Paris, Emilio Robba knew from a very young age that his artistic roots would guide his life. He began with painting and studied form and color at the prestigious Beaux-Arts school. His fascination with nature led him instinctively towards the art of floral design, where he rapidly pushed the frontiers...

In 1980 Pierre Cardin asked Robba to create a retail store specializing in fine and unusual flowers. Robba quickly developed his own aesthetic, creating the first "flowers of illusion" collection. The result was an outstanding collection of synthetic flowers that
 offer unprecedented beauty with absolutely no management... perfect for any person who loves beautiful arrangements, but was born without a green thumb.

I was blown away by the flagship store in Paris, located in the charming (and fashionable) Saint Germain des Pres. The two-story boutique was cluttered with unusual and artistic arrangements -- ranging in size from shot-glass sized vases holding a single orchid stem to enormous metallic pots containing exotic cacti, succulents, and palms -- resting atop sleek acrylic tables and carefully lit against metallic pewter walls. The boutique exudes luxurious ambiance and feels more like a museum of flowering plants than a 
retail outlet, a reflection of Robba's joie de vivre.  

inside the beautiful Paris boutique
shades of grey

I found several must-haves to bring back to the states (without breaking the bank)... a sculptured glass vase encasing a vine of thistled wild roses acts as a modern candelabra, holding four votive tea-lights adds effortless elegance to any table and looks dashing when lit... glass tea light candles filled with Robba's signature illusion florals make a lovely gift or a savvy paperweight... and a beautiful arrangement of pink phalaenopsis orchids alongside a succulent tree is a wonderful investment for anyone who likes to be continually surrounded by nature's beauty (and these squared-off jet black vases are the oh so in-the-moment in Paris)... So go ahead and indulge yourself with an artful arrangement:

Emilio Robba Paris (St. Germain des Pres)
63 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris

Emilio Robba Miami
358 San Lorenzo Avenue
Coral Gables, Florida 33146

Emilio Robba Palm Beach
333 South County Road
Palm Beach, Florida 33480

sculptured vase with roses (around €60) 
shades of grey

medium glass t-light with white poppy ($45)
shades of grey

phalaenopsis orchid and succulent tree in black glass vase, $95

Thursday, August 21, 2008

virtuous virgo

august 23 - september 22


So I know astrology is somewhat of a risky subject, as many people put as much faith in the stars as they did the Ouija board... but, I happen to be a fan of the mystical world, particularly the queen bee of astrological forecasts Susan Miller. Miller, who learned the art of astrology from her mother, has become an internationally acclaimed authority through her website as well as her monthly contributions to InStyle and CosmoGirl! magazines and guest appearances on Good Morning America, Access Hollywood, 20/20, and The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. In honor of this celestial diva, I have compiled a shopping guide for every sign, featuring the hottest and most unique finds... look to the stars to find inspired shopping.

If I didn't have a single virgo friend, I wouldn't be surprised. Virgos are are intelligently organized machines that require precise planning and pristine surroundings. They are meticulous perfectionists... the type of girl who has hand-pressed linens on her bed that perpetually smell of lilac, she'd never wear a pair of ripped jeans and dirt doesn't dare hide underneath her perfectly manicured nails. Virgos have wonderfully refined taste in food and fashion and like to stay up-to-date with trends. Most importantly, virgos enjoy constant productivity and intellectual stimulation, whether its a new book or a new project. Honestly, I'm tired just thinking about all that activity.

famous compadres: twiggy, lance armstrong, upton sinclare, beyonce, sophia loren, h.g. wells, hamilton jordan, bill murray, william h. taft, d.h. lawrence, peter lynch, buddy holly, lauren bacall, otis redding, arnold palmer, richard gere, christopher columbus, jerry seinfeld, ingrid bergman, michael jackson, yasser arafat, mother teresa, marco polo, elvis costello, and regis philbin.

Here are some fun VIRGO-inspired items I like... A magnificent compact like these from Estee Lauder adds a bit of glamour to daily make-up routine (just image you are Marilyn Monroe or Doris Day)... There is a reason why Chanel has started so many nail polish crazes -- it doesn't get "goopy" and the colors, both traditional and exotic, are quite fashion forward... Help keep the meticulous virgin organized and up-to-date with the latest iPhone (now available without waiting in line 11 hours)... fabric designer Virginia Johnson makes fabulously chic scarves and pillows in pretty geometric prints... tap into Virgo's intellectual side with a good book, be it a pulitzer prize-winning novel or talked about best-seller... keep things classic buy choosing a timeless silk necktie or scarf from French fashion house Hermes... invigorate desk/cubicle space with fabulous accessories like a Thomas Paul desk tray... in terms of flowers, stay simple and elegant with a bouquet of white calla lilies or a mix of blush roses and hydrangeas... a sweet room spray from John Galliano is perfect for an impeccable beauty... a gold-plated dictionary is the ultimate luxury for a book worm (seriously, who knew they made such stellar reference books?)... and I am absolutely crazy about these fun gold hoops at Fred Flare (apparently so is Beyonce, who sported them in a music video)... last but not least, soular therapy's candle, scented with sage and wintergreen, will keep the body and soul quite virginal...

estee lauder "tuberose gardenia" powder compact, $125, saks fifth avenue
estee lauder limited edition"treasured memories" compact, $60, estee lauder
chanel "le vernis" nail coulour, $20
apple iphone g3, $199
scarf and pillow, $98 and $75, virginia johnson
The Road by Cormac McCarthy, amazon
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, amazon
hermes silk necktie scarf
creation of adam 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle, $66, hobby masters

thomas paul desk tray, $8, seejanework
webster's deluxe dictionary, $160, seejanework
john galliano room spray, $60, barneys new york
virgo zodiac hoops, $10, fred flare

soular therapy astrological virgo candle, $26.00
essential oils: clary sage & wintergreen

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

plum perfect in 2008

the color purple

Doesn't it look delicious? Almost as enticing as Eve's apple... I've been a bit of a rebel lately myself, evading my blogging responsibilities and instead opting for pedicures on the Georgia coast. Who wouldn't choose a good sugar-scrub by the ocean over hours at the computer? My pampering wasn't entirely in vain, as my polish color inspired me to write about one of the latest fall trends... the color purple.

oscar de la renta fall rtw 2008

michael kors fall rtw 2008

matthew williamson fall rtw 2008

Plums, eggplants, grapes, and violets turned up all over the fall 2008 runways from Paris to New York... which is good news for all. Rich shades of purple tend to be very forgiving and universal -- that is, they are easily complemented by most neutrals and they do not favor a particular complexion -- making them ideal for blondes and brunettes alike in Oscar de la Renta's fall ready-to-wear collection, which featured shades of royal purple, plum, and deep fushia intermixed with light browns, dark greys, and wine-colored suede boots. American designer Michael Kors opted for feminine shades of violet paired with soft camel-colored sweaters, furs, and accessories and elegant nude pumps. The look exudes soft sophistication and the models looked as cuddly as cashmere teddy bears... but beware! violets and light purples can wash-out certain complexions, particularly in the paler months. Last but not least, quirky British designer Matthew Williamson brought a touch of Indian flair, mixing rich fushias from Mumbai with modern tartans from Edinburgh.

black cherry chutney
louvre me or louvre me not
parlez-vous opi?

And, of course, the trend extends far beyond the realm of slick catwalks accessible only to global fashionistas. Nail polish is an excellent way to find your perfect purple (or to be fashion forward without a huge investment). OPI has added several stellar shades for the fall: Black Cherry Chutney is deliciously a dark black-red that evokes the vivid landscape of the East... Louvre me or louvre me not is a bold purple that screams royal glamour (and would look divine paired with black)... while the smoky-violet Parlez-vous opi? has a sensuous 'come hither' quality that compliments just about any style...

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

rebecca taylor ruffle sleeve top, $225 net-a-porter
rab labs agate picture frame, $45 vivre
diamond pattern dome paperweight, iomoi
kim seybert "wood bead" placemat, $60 vivre
chanel purple cross bracelet, bag borrow or steal
catherine malandrino deep v-neck sweater dress, net-a-porter
kim seybert "jewel cuff" napkin ring, $115 vivre
lauren merkin sequin "classic clutch," $228 searle nyc
betsey johnson "wells" pump, nordstrom
thomas paul "goldfinch" silk twill pillow, thomas paul
marc by marc jacobs "geo gems" print skirt, $187 net-a-porter

Monday, August 18, 2008

not your grandmother's chair

I love new design, but sometimes classic is best. A good piece of furniture is versatile and timeless... The wingback chair, for example, can be traced back to the early 18th century in both the northern United States and Great Britain. Originally designed to protect loungers from drafty houses by insulating the upper torso and shoulders, the wingback chair (also called the wing chair) has become a staple of classic American design. 

But just because this chair has been around for centuries does not mean it has to be frumpy or accompanied by a warm glass of milk. There are dozens of examples of hip, stylish wingbacks available today... for every style and budget.

So whether you're in the market for a good chair to snuggle up in with a book, or you just aren't sure what to do with that vintage piece you inherited from your mother, look no further. A neutral fabric or cool color is perfect for young and/or indecisive owners (you can change the look by swapping out colorful pillows and throws)... while a stately print can add depth and interest to just about any room.

chair 21

eight ideas
clockwise from top left...

1. nailhead
durant stretcher-frame wingback chair with nailhead detailing
martha stewart for bernhardt furniture,

2. carved
hanna chair with carved details, $1865.00
oly studio,

3. twill
joseph wingback chair in natural twill, $1498.00

4. printed
joseph wingback spindle chair in isle orawford "spindle" for christopher farr cloth, $1299.00

5. colored
beatrice chair in patton-aloe linen, $999.00
jayson home & garden chicago,

6. leather
similar to shown miss potter's wingback chair in leather, $1695.00
the victorian trading company,

7. modern
gertrude chair in ringo-cream linen, $499.00
jayson home & garden chicago,

8. luxury
vintage wingback chair in kelly wearstler's "imperial trellis"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

an american designer in beijing

Lots of attention is being paid to American athletes this week... their triumphs, their failures, and their outfits. Legendary American sportswear designer Ralph Lauren was commissioned to create Team USA's look for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and who knew fashion could be so controversial? The preppy patriotic ensembles have received high praise by some and high criticism by others.

Here's a glance at the athletes at the opening ceremony (in case you missed it)...

high praise:

Team USA looked pretty great on TV, and the U.S. Olympic committee appears to be quite satisfied with their dapper threads...

Norm Bellingham, the U.S. Olympic Committee's chief operating officer said, "Ralph Lauren was a 'perfect fit' for us, as, not only do they present a timeless and quintessentially American look, but they also have a great understanding of the importance of this moment in presenting these American ambassadors on a world stage in a manner that is appropriately dignified."

high criticism:

The Polo pony is an offensively large marketing ploy by Lauren during an economic recession...

Jeff Koopersmith, international political consultant, said, "Lauren - a most likely his son David - celebrated not the spirit of athletic competition but themselves and their brand, morphing our athletes into unpaid billboards for the "Polo" pony and rider that has helped bring Laurens great - and well deserved - riches."

triumphant or tragic?

I think the outfits were a triumph. Team USA looked like a force to be reckoned with in their sharp blazers. The Polo pony did not distract me from the spirit of the Olympic Games, Mr. Koopersmith, your negativity did.

lilian bassman

Anneliese Seubert, Paris, 1996
NY Times Magazine

Dress by Thierry Mugler, 1998
German VOGUE

Anne Saint-Marie, New York, 1958 
Chanel Ad Campaign

More Fashion Mileage Per Dress, Barbara Vaughn, 1949
Harper's Bazaar New York

Anneliese Seubert, Paris, 1996
NY Times Magazine

Monday, August 11, 2008

beyond bangles

accessories & beyond braided cuff

I've already admitted my obsession with accessories, bangles in particular... so it's no surprise that I'm wild about these fun bracelets from Accessories & Beyond. They have a fabulous modern-vintage feel about them... lots of pretty colored leather, shiny metallic, and retro-fabulous charms.

And while I don't like to think of myself as high-maintenance, I'm kinda a prima donna when it comes to beachwear (I might be the only person in the world who'd wear a Pucci mini to a pool party)... the new elastic bangles are perfect for the summer girl on the go -- they're water-resistant so you can look effortlessly stylish while sipping mojitos in the cabana and splashing around in the pool.

Accessories & Beyond opened in 1997, bringing Italian bracelets to the United States and quickly became the ultimate destination for what's hot and new in fashion jewelry. The tradition of excellence from foreign locales continues, as Accessories & Beyond offers works by talented designers from Brazil, Italy, and France.
accessories & beyond elastic ink, $62 

engaging cards & stationary

It's kinda crazy... I'm barely out of college and my life feels like its turning into a matrimonial frenzy. All of a sudden the hot topics of conversation are diamonds, dresses, and destination weddings. I have a few friends who are well on their way to starring in the 27 Dresses sequel... and not just girls. I've overheard a few of my guy friends discussing wedding details while throwing back beers at the bar with the same ease and fluidity as an SEC football debate.

Engagement announcements may spread like wildfire, but an appropriate response can be a bit tricky, as it generally deserves a touch more tact and class than a Facebook wall post... If I was the eponymous bridesmaid like Jane (Katherine Heigl), I would stockpile sweet letterpressed cards just like these in my emergency matrimonial arsenal... 

Unfortunately, I'm no Jane. So when I got word that two of my friends were getting hitched, I decided to turn to IOMOI, a very cool website that features adorable and personal e-stationary and accessories. IOMOI was founded by Irene Chen and Matthew Grenby, a couple living half a world away from each other. Their e-designs are modern, yet classic and the website could not be easier to use. All I had to do was type my message, then I could pick the font, color, and recipient! In seconds I had the style of a hand-written note with the efficiency of email. A 1-year unlimited membership is just $15, roughly the cost of 3 cards... The best part? You can try it out for free!

"engagement ring" greeting card by snow&graham, $3.50

"perfect match" greeting card by snow&graham, $3.50

"little miss engaged" greeting card by mr. boddington's studio, $5.50

example of a note written with IOMOI e-stationary