Friday, July 29, 2011

Dorothy Draper, Off the Collar.

The Draper Necklace at Mizrahi's F/W 2011
show.  I'm also smitten with the dyed to match
pooch.  No need to dig out the lint roller!
I eagerly anticipated the departure of Isaac Mizrahi from the realm of Target.  He was far too good for the likes of mass marketing.  True, it gave him the opportunity to dress a broad spectrum of women and give style to any income bracket, but it was heartbreaking to see a wonderful design executed in a lack luster fashion via poor craftsmanship and sleazy fabric.

Since departing the land of the red bulls eye, Isaac has returned stronger than ever over the past few seasons with incredible designs that are undeniably fresh, making the traumatic plug pulling by parent company Chanel so many years ago seem like a case of drastic short sighted decision making.  Case in point his witty, irreverent, and inspired homage to decorator Dorothy Draper, rendered in white enamel and rhodium. 

Part of his Fall 2011 collection, the Baroque collar (which also has matching earrings that I haven't found yet but they can be seen on the last photo of this entry), provides a graphic and delicate foil to his bold swaths of exuberant intense color, a Mizrahi signature, and his sculptural and voluminous silhouettes of the season.  

The Draper Necklace is available at Saks
and for $880.00.
The Draper necklace, as it is called, looks to be inspired by Drapers work in the 1940's for the Palace Quitandinha, in Brazil.  At least it does to me.  The dangling shell, the central lattice cartouche, and the scrolling volutes all appear in her designs executed in white plaster and wrought iron and carved stone throughout the resort.  The necklace is also done in bright white, another Draper hallmark. 

These calling cards are not found solely in her work in Brazil; Drapers penchant for the Baroque and her desire to render everything over scale (I often refer to it as 'bombastic') can be seen in every installation she has ever done.  Subtle and nuanced were not in her vocabulary.  Draper was a full on assault of the most decorative kind. 

I am sure this piece will fly off the shelves, especially with so many decorators out their (many of whom I went to school with) pledging their allegiance to the United States of Draper.  While this trinket won't give them any more talent or skill, it will at least help them keep Draper close to their hearts.  And as for Isaac, I can do nothing but commend him for his tongue in cheek salute to one of America's most notable decorators.  

- Ian 

The trellis cartouche above the doors is very similar to
the one seen on the necklace.  Also note the stark
white trim.

One of th  many fountains at the Quitandinha, the
scrolling volutes and the shell motif echo those found
on Mizrahi's design.
The leafy acanthus scroll arms of this wall sconce recall
the scrolling leaf forms seen at the neck of the piece.

The matching earrings shown with a pink dress.
I think it's smart to keep the necklace and earrings
apart.  No one wants to look like a Showgirl.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Little Kitchen That Could is Finished!

I am crazy for the beautiful simplicity of this corner.
It's all just so right.  Also, even though I was cramped
for space, I was able to find an oven that gave the owner
options.  This model has a full size oven, plus a smaller
area that can be another oven, a warming oven, or a broiler.
Such a good use of space.

And we're done!  After 3 months, the Kitchen is complete.  Painted, plummed, electrified, tiled, floored, and full of new appliances and fabulous semi custom cabinetry.  It was a marvelous project, and I'm proud to have done it. 

A lot of Designers I know of wouldn't have wanted this Kitchen, because it wasn't glamorous, it had limitations on space and budget, and they couldn't go over the top and radically change everything. 

I'm sort of the opposite.  Don't get me wrong, I love carte blanche projects, but I think restrictions can also help push a project to be truly great.  Finding solutions takes more time, but it also helps you refine your options and make choices that will ultimately be the best for your situation.  There's nothing wrong with working inside a set of parameters; where you get in trouble is venturing out and looking at things you know you can't have. 

For instance, I had a total gut on this kitchen; everything had to go.  I knew I needed new electrical and plumbing, appliances, cabinets and a floor.  Keeping this in mind, I went straight for the moderately prices products.  Why dream of a Viking Range when my kitchen is as small as my budget?  No one likes being the heavy, but we all have to be realistic, and the right choice is there if we're open and willing to work it into our plans.  

- Ian 

In keeping with the idea of a Period style Kitchen, I ordered
a scalloped wooden valance for above the sink and window seat.
It was an option my Vendor said many people didn't go for.
I completely understood, but it is so right for this little
charmer of a room.

This is silly, but i love details: I found a vintage reproduction
door bell and had my GC install it.  It's perfect, and it
also works, two features the old door bell lacked.

Attached to the kitchen is a rear hall.  A narrow space
that's mostly storage, but with some cute little features,
like the built in desk and book case.  The Kitchen floor
continues into this area.  For fun, I painted the cabinet
interior Green to pick up on the Kitchen color.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gilbert Adrian and the Tigeress.

With a silhouette that recalls the 18th Century (Adrian had done the costumes for Marie Antoinette, starring Norma Shearer, in 1938), I love that this rather modest gown gets a huge shot of sex appeal from the print alone. 

I can not think of any other phrase to use on this ensemble except 'hot damn'.  This Tiger print gown and bolero was designed by Hollywood Costume Designer Gilbert Adrian in 1949 and is made of silk shot through with metallic threads.  It was a gift of Janet Gaynor (Adrian's wife) to the MET in 1963.  

As you know, I have a soft spot for animal prints and the people bold enough to wear them, and I can not help but fantasize about the brazen post war sex bomb that wore this number out on the town.  Perhaps she wore it to the Mocambo in Hollywood, with lavish interiors by Tony Duquette, or dancing at the Coconut Grove with it's exotic Orientalist flair.  Either way, this movie star confection would have had tongues wagging in all directions and leaving them wanting more.

- Ian  

Diana Vreeland and the Fire Breathing Fish.

One of my favorite images of Vreeland,
during her years at the MET.
 I am getting ahead of myself.  I wanted to make a brilliant tribute to the one and only Diana Vreeland, notorious editor of Harper's and Vogue, shaper of destinies, story teller, doyen, among other things, but I found a marvelous little memento of hers that I had to share post haste. 

Imagine you are dripping with style in 1960's New York; just walking up 5th or Madison Avenue as you do.  Maybe you had been to lunch with friends, or are on your way back from the Kenneth Salon, freshly shellacked.  With a gloved hand you reach into your bag for your 2:15 pm cigarette and stop to stare disappointed at the sad state of your lighter.  It's worn, tarnished, dented; just not up to par.  A woman like you must posses beauty in all forms for all uses.  Contemplative, you feel that there is no room for inconsequential design, it all must serve a purpose and be aesthetically pleasing.  Lit cigarette secured between two graceful fingers, you continue your stroll, passing before Tiffany & Co., and there you see it.  Behind the glass, a sparkling cigarette lighter designed by Jean Schlumberger rendered as a golden fish with incised scales and an articulating tail.  You must have it.

The fish, presented in a Tiffany & Co. hinged box.

You and Mrs. Vreeland are women of the same mind.  Vreeland and hundred of others snatched up Schlumberger's lighter, and other trinkets that he designed exclusively for Tiffany & Co. during it's Renaissance under the ownership of  Walter Hoving (former president of Lord & Taylor and later owner of Bonwitt Teller) and the Creative Direction of Van Day Truex (former director of the Parson's School of Design). 

Schlumberger's appreciation and interpretation of natural motifs made his designs instant classics at Tiffany, and they remain highly sought after today.  Google the Jackie bracelet by Schlumberger and you'll see what I mean.  Incidentally, Schlumberger was the first designer to ever be allowed to sign his name on a Tiffany products; later additions to the lucky few include Paloma Picasso, Elsa Peretti and Frank Ghery.

Flip the head back and strike the flint.  It fits beautifully
in the palm of your hand.  The perfect size to carry in your
evening bag as well.

The golden sardine Mrs. Vreeland carried in her bag was just another talisman of her personality.  Wit, humor, style, and taste were hallmarks of the impeccable woman, and certainly elements that we can all use a little more of in our lives.  I'm not saying you should take up smoking to have the opportunity to be glamorous, but adding a little extra flair to the everyday never hurt anybody. 

- Ian

Vreeland's fish lighter has an articulated tail, and is made of Gold
with Ruby and Sapphire eyes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Food. Need I Say More?

I just got a voice mail from Ian describing in detail some scrumptious meal he just had. I remember it had something to do with caramelized onions. I'm not quite sure what else he said because he had me at 'caramelized'. That made me hungry of course so I decided to torture myself by googling food related topics. Now while I consider myself a good cook -I have my Classic Wusthofs, my Microplane zester, my Emilie Henries and I know how to use them, I am certainly not an excellent cook. I know excellent cooks -these are the people in my life who will never fall off of my Christmas card mailing list.  These excellent cooks have the ability to commune with food like some kind of Jedi foodie. They can open anyone's fridge and create a gourmet meal out of random this-and-thats. They know the precise moment when to by a melon and, their yeast never goes bad or, if it does, they know that they should bake with it the day before it does. They use words like, souciant, dash, julienne, emulsify, and chanterelle. I love these friends. Their talents amaze me and their food comforts me like a long lost childhood wobbie. I only hope one day I can return the favor by selecting the correct window treatment or bureau plat for their home.

I'm not really sure where I am going with this but in my search for food stuff online I came upon Irish born photographer, stylist, and fellow blogger, Katie Quinn Davies. This fair lass' photography looks and feels like a Dutch Master painting: rustic,vibrant, alive. She has a great blog, What Katie Ate. And, if I could eat all that she blogs about I would be one happy camper. Of course I would also look like a camper or small RV but, these are the sacrifices I am willing to make that is, until the Alkaseltzer runs out. So to complete my self torture today I will call back my friend Ian and ask him to finish telling me about his fabulous meal. I only hope he took a picture.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The little Kitchen That Could - Part VII

And we have a floor!

New floor installed, and cabinet hardware too!

For all the planning that went into the Kitchen (counters, lighting, cabinet finishes, hardware options) I never once thought about the floor.  I'm not bragging; it was a problem I didn't realize I had until almost the very end. 

I though I'd be able to find some really cute vintage looking sheet flooring that would punch up the space.  Let's just say my options were limited, regardless of my budget.  There was nothing cute to be found; it all looked like something out of a hole in the wall Mexican Restaurant or a Trailer Park.  I started to get a headache.  I wanted sheet Vinyl.  I budgeted for sheet Vinyl.  I dreamed of sheet Vinyl.  The market, however, was cluttered with hardwood, laminates, porcelain tile and stone, not sheet Vinyl.

With limited options, I went with what I could find that was reminiscent of the 1940's or 50's; which means I fell back on what I could remember from my Grandmother's house.  She liked a floor that looked clean when it was dirty, and one you wouldn't slip on when you spilled water.  She was practical to say the least.

I found some workable patterns that had the look of mosaic tiles, both in a Grey/Green color way.  I really wanted my clients to want the busier of the two, because I like that clash of the the reserved and the chaotic.  Happily, they went for it and the floor went down two days later.  As a boon, the whole house smelled like new toys thanks to the fresh floor.  I'm probably the only one who finds the aroma of new Vinyl pleasing, but it's the little things that make us special, right?

- Ian


Option #1 - A Mosaic style with varying shades of Green and White.
Punchy and fun, but sort of busy, depending on who you ask.
Works nicely with the cabinet color as well.

Option #2 - A Travertine look with a Green-ish cast.
Safe, but boring and drab.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Little Kitchen That Could - Part VI

And we have counters!

I always say, it's going to get ugly before it gets pretty.
Case in point, the Kitchen looks like a crime scene. 

I chose to do a two tone tile because it was appropriate to the
house; Granite, while popular, would not have fit in with the style
or Period of the home.  I chose an affordable tile in a pretty
sage green and ivory with a glossy finish to reflect light.   

I love the pencil tile that creates the pin stripe effect on the
Back-splash.  My Grandmother's kitchen had a detail similar to
this, and it's such a simple way to add a little Period charm.  Her
was a home of the same period, and her kitchen tile was Canary
Yellow and Forest Green!

Remember how i said the old cabinets were 18" deep?  Well, here's
the solution to that.  I had to keep 18" on part of the cabinet
due to the door swing, but we brought the rest of the depth out
to the standard 24".  I think it's works well, and it adds a little
quirk to the kitchen.  This area is for silverware and linens.
It's always so convenient to keep those two things near the sink.
Love the green frame around the Back-splash, so graphic.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Little Kitchen That Could - Part V

And we have cabinets!

In the corner is a Lazy Susan cabinet.  I could play
with that all day. 

I was like a kid on Christmas Morning when the big truck rolled in with boxes upon boxes of cabinetry.  I gleefully snatched the shipping manifest and helped the installers call off unit numbers and accessories as they found their way into the garage for storage.

After working with the Vendor on the perfect plan for this Kitchen, which, by the way was done on a budget, I finally started to see the work come to life.  True, it was cathartic to be rid of the obsolete appliances and the floor I ran the risk of falling through, but after draining the pool for cleaning, it's nice to fill it up again.

The name of the game for this kitchen was storage.  I wanted it, whether or not my clients knew they needed was another issue all together.  You can never have too much storage in a kitchen.  That Fondu pot you thought you'd use all the time has to get stashed somewhere, as do all those boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, and the cleaning supplies.  With this design, we have skinny cabinets for baking sheets, corner cabinets with Lazy Susans, glass front cabinets for China, Tall shallow cabinets for pantry items, and slide out trays for pots and pans.  In today's world of over done and under thought, convenience and practicality are party guests we need to invite more often.

- Ian

The drop cabinets under the window is the future home
of the new dining area.  We're doing a little cafe table and
treating the area as you would a window seat.  Very charming.

The perfect solution for the Range.  Ample room on either
side to act as a resting spots for a hot pot just off the cook top.
I see so many Kitchens without this convenience, and it's really
quite an oversight.

A stacking Washer and Dryer will go by the door
on the right.  I love my vintage lights!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Perfect Jeans for Guys

Catherine, my blog buddy and mother of my unborn children (it will be the master race I always dreamed of) paid me a wonderful compliment when she mentioned that my wardrobe was stellar.  I think it was her post on wallpaper.  I don't remember how she got there, but when it comes to compliments, I'm not too picky about the origins so long as they keep coming.

On the subject of my wardrobe, I recently did a purge of my closet.  I've lost some weight, so about 70% of my jeans had to go.  Yes, I had enough pairs of jeans to start using percentages rather than quantities.  I deliberated, but was ruthless about what had to be expelled.  I saw my torn denim phase exit, my embellished jeans phase be cast aside (though I still kept the hand painted Gucci's and the Cavalli's with the embroidered Griffins...I'm a man, not a machine.) and while I mourned for old friends now gone, I took solace in the new need to go shopping for new jeans.

I am not one to try things on; I think this coincides with my DNA. I can usually guess what will fit without having to hunt down a dressing room so I can look at myself half naked under bad lighting in a tri-fold mirror.  However, needing a new size, I was going to have to relent and actually take a few pairs of jeans into a dressing room.

On a whim, I avoided the trend jeans I always buy and went for classic Levi's.  It didn't take long for me to find the perfect pair; the pair I feel all men should own.  That pair is the Levi's 501, the father of all jeans.  Not skinny, not baggy, no boot cuts or high rises, just perfect and button fly.  A multitude of washes are available, but you only need one, and it needs to be dark.  It's dressy enough to go out at night, but also passes for casual without looking like you slept in your car.  If you must buy a second color, make it black.  They make a great over-dyed black style, with black buttons and rivets too, very hot.

The Perfect Jean for Guys.
501's in Dimensional Rigid wash.  $64.00.
The perfect dark, inky, go with anything, blue. 

The Perfect Jeans for Guys, II.
501's in Over Dyed Black.  $58.00
Super dark and edgy.

For up keep on jeans (yes guys, there are rules to follow), it's pretty simple.  To keep jeans looking nice and new, don't wash them in hot or warm water, this will fade the color, and you want them to stay dark.  Darker colored jeans look more expensive.  Wash them inside out (with the zipper zipped) on cold with Lingerie soap.  Yes, you read that right.  Man up and go to the land of Bra's and buy a bottle.  I use Forever New from Macy's, it does not smell like a flower garden, in case you're worried.  For black jeans, send them to the dry cleaners.  There is nothing sadder than faded black.  And I shouldn't need to say this, but, no creases in jeans.  Ever.

- Ian

PS, Converse sneakers are the perfect shoes for jeans.  Boots, flip flops, drivers, mocs, and brogues are also nice depending on season and setting.  Never, under any circumstance, wear running shoes with jeans.  This is a cardinal sin; loved ones will shun you, you will be unfriended on Facebook.  Just don't.

A classic Gucci slip on (or something like it) dresses things up a bit.
Available at Saks Fifth Avenue for $550.00.

Lizard embossed leather sneakers from Converse by
John Varvatos are perfect for a casual style. 
Available at Saks Fifth Avenue for $150.00.