Thursday, October 29, 2009

That Print Again

I'm being haunted by Braquenié fabric. A few weeks back I posted about one of my favorite Braquenié prints, "Le Rocher", that has been retired but that does make a banded appearance in their current "Bordure Cheverny" print. (Kim Huebner of Pierre Frey was kind enough to comment that "Le Rocher" has not been permanently discontinued, only sent for a rest in the archives. Frey owns Braquenié.) You can see "Le Rocher" at top and "Border Cheverny" beneath it.

So as I was reading The Givenchy Style over the weekend, I saw the photo below of the "Châmbre d'Hélène" in Givenchy's estate Le Jonchet. The glorious fabric draped, swagged, and upholstered all over the room is Braquenié's "Tree of Life". The tree has roots of what appears to be my beloved "Le Rocher".

I'm thinking that this was a sign that 1) "Le Rocher" will be reintroduced in the Braquenié line and that 2) it will eventually find a place in my home. There's no harm in being hopeful, is there?

(Givenchy photos from The Givenchy Style by Françoise Mohrt)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Norman Parkinson: A Very British Glamour

Need testament to the glamour of the good old days? Then by all means, pick up a copy of Norman Parkinson: A Very British Glamour by Louise Baring. Parkinson, one of 20th century's most innovative photographers, captured the sophistication that was fashion during the 1930s through the 1980s. What was unique about his work was that Parkinson was one of the first photographers to shoot models outside of the studio, often posing them on the street or in some incongruous setting. (Look at the cover, above, which features a model in a butcher shop.) Much of Parkinson's work was featured in Vogue (both British and American) and Harper's Bazaar, magazines at which Parkinson worked with the likes of Alexander Lieberman and Diana Vreeland. In fact, it was Parkinson to whom Vreeland remarked "How clever of you, Mr. Parkinson, also to know that pink is the navy blue of India."- this in response to Parkinson's photo of a model posing in a pink coat in Jaipur.

While the text is quite interesting, it's the glorious photographs that make this book a must-have for you glamour pusses and fashion hounds. And if you're a fan of the legendary model Carmen, then you're in luck; there are lots of photographs of her posing for Parkinson through the years.

Celia Hammond photographed for a Wetherall advertisement, Paris, 1962

Carmen Dell'Orefice on a crane in front of Old Bailey, London; Queen magazine cover, September 1960.

"Young Velvets, Young Prices" photographed for Vogue, 1949, from the roof of the Conde Nast Building.

(All images copyrighted Norman Parkinson Ltd., provided courtesy of the Norman Parkinson Archive, London. Norman Parkinson: A Very British Glamour, by Louise Baring, Rizzoli New York, 2009)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My London Flat

What? You didn't know that I have a flat in London? Well, actually I don't, but I'd love to own one someday. And I always say that if I do obtain a London home, I will most certainly decorate it in a very British manner. I know, some might say how boring or expected, while others might think "damn American trying to out British the British", but why not? So what would my dream flat look like? Well, probably something like this- the flat of Tom Parr in Eaton Square as featured in Living in Vogue.

Parr, seen above, is the former director of the venerable firm Colefax and Fowler. You might also recognize his name as he used to be the design partner of David Hicks. What I'm taken with is the home's warmth and coziness. As Parr said about his work "When you walk into a room, you should think 'What a lovely atmosphere' and not just notice individual objects." I couldn't agree with him more.

The image at top and above are the dining room/ guest room. Behind Parr you can see the sofa which doubles as a bed. The bookcases are faux bird's eye maple, and there are numerous Indian Raj paintings in the room. The dining table is a Colefax & Fowler design. Also, I think the lighting is close to perfect in this space.

The drawing room walls are covered in a handmade paper inspired by an old damask. The carpet (a pattern called "Rock Savage") is a replica of that in Cholmondeley Castle. Note too the marbled molding. And I think that mossy green velvet sofa with the bullion fringe is terrific. (Remember my post on bullion fringe? This is the way it should be used.)

Beyond the drawing room is the tomato red bedroom. The Colefax velvet sofa turns into a bed. This room is actually my least favorite of the three, and I can't decide if it's because of the ferns in the photo or if it's something about the velvet on the sofa. Or maybe it's the way that shade of green looks against that red. I guess it doesn't really matter because the other two rooms are knock-outs, or at least they are to me.

(All photographs from Living in Vogue by Judy Brittain and Patrick Kinmonth; photographer Snowdon.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations

I just finished reading my review copy of Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations: Entertaining at Home with New York's Savviest Hostesses. I love to curl up in bed and read cookbooks...and sometimes cook from them too. This one came along at a fortuitous time as the holidays are right around the corner.

Members of The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have contributed their favorite recipes that they rely on to celebrate holidays and the seasons. There are menus and recipes for Valentine's Day, Passover, Derby Day, and of course what I'm thinking about now: Christmas. I haven't tried any of the recipes, but I thought the Society's previous effort was a success so I'm anxious to try my hand at a few of these dishes. (Also, the fact that Florence Fabricant is associated with this book is like a seal of approval.)

I've included a dessert recipe below that I'd like to make, but if you're not someone who enjoys cooking or reading cookbooks, you should at least look at the photos of the gorgeous interiors and tablesettings. You just might be inspired to get into the kitchen and whip up something to celebrate.

Roaring Twenties Coffee Bavarian Cream (Makes 12 or more servings)

2 packets plain gelatin
1 cup whole milk
1 cup brewed espresso
1 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
Small chocolate truffles for decoration, chilled

Place the gelatin in a 4-cup glass measuring cup and stir in the milk. Bring the espresso to a boil and whisk it into the milk mixture. Stir in the sugar. Transfer the mixture to a metal bowl and place it in a large bowl filled with ice and water. Stir from time to time as the mixture cools. When the mixture starts to thicken, transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer.

Beat the mixture at high speed until it is smooth and fairly thick and lightens in colors. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold peaks but are not dry. Fold the egg whites into the gelatin mixture.

Whip the cream until stiff and fold it into the gelatin mixture. Transfer the mixture to an 8-cup metal ring mold or another fancy mold. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To serve, unmold the mousse and decorate it with chocolate truffles, if you like, which can also be piled into the center of the unmolded dessert.

(Recipe and photographs from Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations: Entertaining at Home with New York's Savviest Hostesses, Rizzoli New York, 2009, photographer Ben Fink.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Style in Miniature

A few months ago, I wrote about miniature rooms that were created by McMillen back in the 1930s to help market their firm. That led to a discussion of the Thorne miniature rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, some of the most famous of all miniature rooms. Well, I got all excited when I found photos of other tiny rooms (in this case 15X24 inches) in a 1934 issue of House Beautiful. (Obviously, it doesn't take much to get me excited.) Additionally piquing my interest was the fact that one Mary Miller, a decorator from Atlanta, designed the rooms. I'm not familiar with Miller, but I think if I were around back in '34, I'd hire her to decorate my home based on these pint sized replicas alone.

The room at top, my favorite, was designed in the Regency style. According to the article, the walls were chalky white and the ceiling was deep emerald green, while the black floor was bordered in boxwood green and outlined in white. I love the tiny leopard print rug not to mention the stars on the overmantel mirror. And look at the charming curtains, swag, and arrow motif rod. A bit elaborate, but I wouldn't mind having them in my home. Large scale ones, of course.

Then there was the Georgian room. The Romney portrait and the Aubusson rug established the color scheme of the room. The apricot pink walls and ceiling and pastel colored fabrics allowed the mahogany furniture to take prominence.

And since it was 1934 and all of the magazines were breathlessly touting the "modern" look, Ms. Miller designed a Modern room with a neutral color scheme which included a dark brown rug and ombré brown walls. I'm not so sure about Miller's choice of browns, but perhaps it was a 1930s thing. My favorite detail is the mirrored fireplace surround.

Now, I know that we are all rushed for time so hobbies don't seem to be a priority, but don't you think somebody should consider creating a new collection of miniature rooms? Don't look at me- I don't have the time nor patience. I just like to look at them!

(All images from House Beautiful, March 1934)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's in Their Library: Lynn Goldfinger, aka Paris Hotel Boutique

Many of you are fans of Lynn Goldfinger's wonderful online shop Paris Hotel Boutique, and for good reason. Lynn has the uncanny knack of finding treasures of all kinds-hotel silver and china, vintage art, and antique furniture- that evoke that romance of a bygone era. (Not, however, a cheesy, romantic bygone era. Think Belle Epoque Paris or London's Jazz Age, for example.)

To me, what really sets Lynn's shop apart from the others is her selection of vintage books. Subjects range from cookery to fashion to design and travel, but there is a common thread that ties these books together, and that is the books' covers. Have you noticed how Lynn manages to find books that have absolutely fantastic covers?

In a twist on my library series, I thought it would be fun to have Lynn provide us with a list of her favorite cover art. While it's true that you can't judge a book by its cover, a colorful, whimsical, or downright chic dust jacket certainly entices you to pick a book off of the shelf. And you know, there's really nothing wrong if you do buy a book based solely on its cover design. I've done it before, and I ended up reading- and enjoying- books that otherwise I might not have purchased.

When asked about her love of smart dust jackets, Lynn responded "I don't know what got me hooked on them. I must confess that I'm not an avid reader, but there is something about vintage book covers that intrigues me; their artwork, simplicity, design, interesting titles, etc. They are like small works of art. Current books just don't have the pizazz that these old covers had. Since I love all things vintage, books fall right into that category."

Portrait of New York and Face of the World by Cecil Beaton. "I love all of the dust jackets that Cecil Beaton designed. Brilliant works of art!"

Pierre Balmain- My Years and Seasons "A rose is a rose...what a pretty cover. Quite an interesting autobiography about this French fashion designer."

Bergdorf's on the Plaza by Booton Herndon. "This is one of my favorite jackets with a wraparound image of the Plaza Hotel illustrated by Irving Docktoer. The book is quite rare. I have my copy proudly displayed in my office."

Decorating is Fun! "Two rare editions of Decorating is Fun! by the fabulous Dorothy Draper. I just love the whimsical green or pink striped covers. And they have wonderful pink endpapers as well."

Esme of Paris by Esme Davis. "Great whimsical circus-themed dust jacket. The blue & red colors compliment each other well. It's also a fascinating autobiography of Esme Davis, famous for her fashionable perfumes."

David Hicks on Living - With Taste "Guess there is something about stripes on a dust jacket that tickles my fancy. This is a particularly good book as well!"

I Married Adventure and Four Years in Paradise by Osa Johnson. "We all know how trendy these book covers have become. You'll especially see I Married Adventure displayed in just about every home decor magazine. The zebra and giraffe stripes make these books better without their dust jackets. Also, the giraffe cover (Four Years in Paradise) is actually more rare than I Married Adventure!"

Goodbye Picasso by David Douglas Duncan. "According to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the jacket design is based on a photo-collage created using Picasso's self-portrait as an owl- with holes for his eyes- and a photograph by David Douglas Duncan. Very cool indeed!"

The Pink Palace by Sandra Lee Stuart. "Let's say I love anything pink as much as I love hotels. Especially the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is the epitome of luxury! Those paired together makes this one of my favorite book covers!"

The Snob Spotter's Guide by Philippe Jullian. "What's not to love about this cover? The fun title...the whimsical illustration of dressed up animals with a large fleur de lis."

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. "A classic. Simple cover in bright orange. A much better cover than the reproductions of this classic book."

The World in Vogue. "Graphic and eye-catching cover from 1963. Must read Courtney at Style Court's recent post about this cover and the reissue of the book."

Le Nouveau Voyage de France "This book from 1899 doesn't have a dust jacket and it's sublime without it. An elaborate robin's egg blue cloth cover with a gilt and pictorial spine. Wonderful Art Nouveau motif with birds, flowers, and plants. Page edges are gilt. One of my absolute favorites! And it's a large book to boot. Looks great on a coffee table!"