Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring Blooms at Posie

I walked past Bloom today, admired the costly pretty things, and ran straight to the corner grocer for my own more affordable blooms. It is unfortunate that those of us who live in the city often have to pay for fresh flowers, but imitation flowers in vases just don't cut it. Having grown up with a mom with a thriving orchid nursery, fake flowers in a pot or a vase still make me wince.

There is, however, a kind of synthetic bloom that I love, and those are Alicia Paulson's boutonnieres and barrettes. Ms. Paulson makes her blooms from a variety of fabrics, all rich in color, pattern, and texture, and with a flair that produces such charming beauties. Pin the boutonnieres to your scarf, lapel, or bag (I've ordered one boutonniere, but I'd like to order more to pin to my plain white drapes when tied back - maybe for that special dinner party one of these days). The barrettes are great for keeping your tresses off your face and in place (unless in place is in your face).

Pouf Boutonnieries from Posie Rosy Little Things

Blossom Barrettes from Posey Rosy Little Things

There's more to see and admire at Posie, including bags, stuffed animals, scarves, and crochet patterns and kits. An innovator, Ms. Paulson was one of the first to offer the now ubiquitous open chain capelets. (The capeltes are no longer for sale, but the pattern is still available.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Favorite Milliner: Kelly Christy

In the catalogue for Inside Design Now, The 2003 National Design Triennial, Donald Albrecht writes of my favorite milliner:

In the age of mass-produced fashion, Kelly Christy holds out for customization, transforming her clients into eccentric actors in the drama of city life.

As an aspiring milliner, I count Kelly Christy as one of my inspirations. I still remember the first time I walked into her little shop on Elizabeth Street in Little Italy. That was right around the time that Café Habana had just opened a few doors down, and the neighborhood was starting to be called Nolita. (The shop has since moved to Broome Street in Soho.) Maybe my mouth was slightly open as I stood there in awe of her beautiful creations, a little afraid of touching the rich felts and soft straws. I examined my favorite shapes, each trimmed with a distinctive band, a feather, or some other treasure. Tickled.

Kelly’s designs are traditional, but with a nod to the contemporary, and often with a witty twist. Until then, I had satisfied my hat lust with a mad ebay addiction, which deprived me of the joys of a custom fitting. I stalked the little shop for a few years before I finally broke down and just had to have a hat all my own. Kelly is terrific, as she guides you in picking the shapes that are most flattering, and invites you to pick out the trimmings for the millinery confection that she is about to create.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Highlights from the Masters of Bamboo: Japanese Baskets and Sculpture

Wave Wave by Yamagucki Ryuoun

Flower Basket - Billowing Waves by Kibe Seiho


Bird by Monden Kogyuko

Flower Basket

Open Flower Basket by Maeda Chikuboosai II

Masters of Bamboo: Japanese Baskets and Sculpture in the Cotsen Collection is an exhibition that draws on the richness and breadth of the approximately nine hundred works Mr. Lloyd E. Cotsen generously donated to the museum in 2002.
The exhibition is organized around the network of master-disciple relationships through which makers of these baskets are interconnected. The exhibition features one artwork each by 76 bamboo artists representing most of the major lineages in the three key geographic regions—Western Japan, Eastern Japan, and Kyushu—over the past 150 years. Many of the artworks in the exhibition are on view publicly for the first time.

At the Asian Art Museum, Hambrecht Gallery in San Francisco: February 2–May 6, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go."

A few days after sharing his disdain for his room's wallcoverings, Oscar Wilde passed away. The wallpaper, on the other hand, remained on the walls for another one hundred years. Let's choose that wallpaper carefully. Some favorite designers:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Old Fashioned Fun!

I bought a house for my god daughter!

Ah, ok...it's as small as she is.

A while back, I had an interior designer-friend in New York City who showed me her marvelous, chic condominium apartment that overlooked the Statue of Liberty and the Harbor. It was as fashionable and formidable as she was. She designed the modern interiors in all white, the walls, the carpeting, her modular, lux furniture, giant potted plants at the corners of the squarish-studio floorplan; with fanciful modern artwork and wall-to-ceiling windows affording a magnificent water-and-city skyscape.

She had a giant pull-down screen to watch television in 5 foot by 8 foot dimensions, and touches of black laquer, red chinese details and modern splashy colorful prints.

And displayed behind the couch near the dining area, she had a gorgeous Plantation dollhouse encased in glass....

It was fully furnished. It had small asian dolls representing her parents and her three sisters. She said she had it since she was a child, a large cupola'd confection that reminded me (a little frighteningly) of the Overlook Hotel from the Shining. She opened up the magnificent display and showed me the interior, how she changed the rooms every year so that the detailed furnishings were fresh and original - one year modern, another year Americana, five years ago - Classical Victorian.

It was the most fun gift from her (admitted wealthy) childhood, and she cherished it still.

It's a great toy. You have a lot of options. There are Chateaus, and Plantations, Modern Bungalos, and yes, my dear C, even Hello Kitty has one.

You can change the flooring, install cabinets, hang curtains and update the wallpaper, or cover the wood walls in flourescent green.

I picture myself each year buying my goddaughter the tiny furniture for each 1 inch scaled room, maybe a miniature dish-set, or bathroom arrangement....

And I imagine her grasping the beautiful furnishings and people and playing little fantasy family games and dramas, where they eat dinner, or sit near the fireplace.

The one I got her is called the Willow House.

The plain wood dollhouse has six spacious rooms on three floors. It's entirely open in the back and has a first floor fireplace centered between two built-in bookcases. The master bedroom features a fireplace and shutters to compliment the 18th-century architecture. Other features include the ornate front door, gracious stairway and double hung windows.
From Greenleaf Dollhouses, a New England Miniature Dollhouse maker.

Best of all, my friend says it directly lead to her career choice in being a fashion and interiors designer, a rewarding and artistic career.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Burberry London for Women

On my recent trip to the Philippines, I bought myself a little present from the DutyFree shops after being ignominiously patted down by airport security and having my toothpaste taken away from me. Anytime you go traveling internationally, buy yourself a little gift from DutyFree. I know, your friends are making requests for this 30 year old Scotch or that Gucci Bag, (I usually pester my jet-setting friends for a ten-carton-box of ciggies), but I kept it lowkey this time and just for me.

I love perfume. When I saw the little Burberry-checked covered atomizer in the shiny glass duty-free display, under Rachel Weitz's wonderful poster-ads, I thought about how much I love English style.

Unique and daring and carefree, clean and simple and chic and very cosmopolitan...Had to get the bottle and try it out.

I love it.

Here's the skinny:

Burberry for Women Fragrance Notes

Top Notes Lavender, Bergamot, Thyme, Mint,

Middle Notes Geranium, Sandalwood, Moss, Cedar,

Base Notes
Amber, Tonka Bean,

Most reviewers of the fragrance gave it a thumbs-up too, but I read an interesting opinion from a blogger named Colombina, who was overwhelmed by the heavy tiara scent, which she felt buried the clementine-rose accord, peony, jasmine, as well as the sandalwood and patchouli on the drydown. She did acknowledge that body-chemistry may have affected the outcome of the fragrance. She did recommend other fragrances authored by this nose, Dominique Ropion, and rated Une Fleur de Cassie in lieu of this combination.

I agree, it's very-very strong. It's a great floral though, and although I'm not sure it screams "London" to me, I think it is sophisticated. I didn't get the sense that it was a linear frangrance, as the above reviewer did, I could smell pretty much all of the notes from base-to-top.

Many of the "niche-snobs" may by-pass this scent based on it's mass-marketing, but I enjoy my little Duty-Free gift to myself this month.

Friday, March 9, 2007

I'm in love with baggy forms, I mean, I love baggy forms if they emphasize and celebrate the beauty of the body. The architecture seems to scream, "The details are important," and "Look at my legs and neck and shoulders."

Cute, huh?

Have you been to Oak in Williamsburg or Park Slope, C?

I love Brooklyn for its brave and unique and sassy sense of style. It's the best kind of sexy, a brave, confident, "look at me!" sensibility.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


I tried not to be rude and attempted to avert my gaze, but on the train ride home I couldn't stop staring at this man. To be precise, I couldn't stop staring at his boots, which were fierce! Utilitarian and fierce. With generously proportioned felt uppers and chunky rubber slip-ons for bottoms, they look like they came from the anime wardrobe department. This is what I found:

“Nyet” to cold feet! Military historians attribute the Russian army’s battlefield victories after opposing Napoleon and while fighting in Stalingrad to the Russians´ superior winter uniforms, notably their traditional Valenki, the felted 100% wool boots. The authentic Valenkids comes without a rubber sole and is just perfect to walk on the snow in subzero temperatures. Add Galoshi, which is a removable rubber overshoe and you can wear them on city streets in rainy weather. Another variation of Valenki comes with an integrated rubber sole. These are just perfect for any kind of environment and weather.

I guess I missed last year's coverage, but there was a fair amount written about Valenkis Rus, which imports the purportedly peasant-designed boots from the land of the tsars. I wonder how popular these boots will get? Will a payless version not be far behind?

Images from the Valenkis Rus website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Halo-Halo on a cold winter's night...

(Some thoughts for C while she sips her hot chocolate in snow-covered NYC. Look, they put Corn Flakes in it too.)

This is what I ate at the Bohol Beach Club, where we jetted the last weekend before coming back to the States. Here's a recipe for the Philippine's National Dessert. For more information, see this great little article I read on the shaved ice, milk and fruit concoction.

Halo-Halo Recipe

2 tablespoons kaong or...2 tablespoons nangka (jackfruit)
2 tablespoons macapuno (a variety of coconut meat sold in bottles)
2 tablespoons sweetened kidney beans
2 tablespoons sweetened garabanzos
2 tablespoons sweetened plantains
2 tablespoons ube or yam
2 tablespoons custard or creme caramel
2 tablespoons sweetened corn kernels
crushed ice to fill glass
2/3 evaporated milk
a scoop of ice cream on top

The Guesthouse

C! Just returned late last night from my trip to the Orient, it was WAY too short, actioned-packed, and alot of fun.

(Yes, I brought stuff for you, I will bring it on my next visit to NYC this month!)

These pics illustrate the guest house on our compound in Tagaytay. We're happily hidden about a quarter of a mile away from the edge of the Taal Volcano, and the weather is cool and crisp and very clean. I had to wear a thick cable knit sweater the entire time I was in the mountains, can you believe it? (Most of the rest of the Philippines is about 100 degrees in the shade.)

For the guest house, my father chose a gleaming parquet floor in a filipino basket weave pattern. The floor is whisked every day with a wide grass broom. This house, and the main house at the bottom of the hill, have concrete walls and thatched grass roofs, tightly woven and tied together grass sheets lying atop gleaming mahogany beams. The first floor is studio-style, where rooms flow into each other without walls, and he used a few different levels and steps on the floor to delineate a dining area and a mid-story tea room, plus a platform for the boats my father built. My mother hung red Chinese lanterns from the beams, to celebrate Chinese New Year, and the rest of the home gives some nods to our spanish colonial heritage (mostly in the wrought iron lanterns above the breakfast table) and some Frank Lloyd Wright-style windows and seating areas.

We ate breakfast and dinner here at the guest house, currently hosting my Tito Butch, who is visiting from New Jersey. My favorite place to sit is the front parlor at the corner of the cottage, where we raised bamboo sunshades and took in a fantastic wrap-around view of the hills and valleys surrounding the compound, dotted with banana trees, pine, and vineyards.