The House that Dior Built: choose any door

Christian Dior must have had trials during his short life, but he doesn’t appear the kind of gentleman to be stopped by the likes of wars, great depressions, lost family fortunes, or childhood dreams realized, and just as quickly snatched from within his grasp.

 

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Les Arts Decoratifs . through 7 January 2018

Born in Granville, France – a seaside town in Normandy, Christian’s Father was a fertilizer magnate, who thought Christian was destined to be a Diplomat.  Christian had other plans.  From a young age he expressed an interest in art, and asked for his Father’s backing in a Parisian Gallery that he was to open with a childhood friend.  While his Father agreed – he insisted he keep the family name out of it.  The gallery was a great success, showcasing artists including Picasso along side less well known artists of the time like Marc Chigall, and forming lifelong friends.  The war, and the subsequent depression led to the loss of the family fortune, and the backing that Dior depended on to continue gallery operations, and it was forced to close.

Ever resilient, Dior simply went to work selling fashion sketches, eventually working for Robert Piguet in 1937 where he was allowed to include pieces of his own design in one of Piguet’s shows – they were well received.

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Les Couturiers outside their workshop…where all the magic happened.

After Dior’s military service was complete he returned to Paris to work for Lucien Lelong’s Fashion House.  Together they struggled to keep fashion alive in war torn Paris, designing for the wealthy wives of Nazi soldiers.  Dior credits Lucien for teaching him “the virtues of simplicity from which true elegance must come.”  They remained friends and confidants throughout his life.

A brilliantly set stage helped to recreate the mystique of the time.

Dior opened his “House” in 1947 with the launch of his first show – Corelle – Circlet of Flower Petals.  The collection was coined the “New Look” by the Editor-in-Chief, Carmel Snow and launched the brand which continues to thrive today.  A consummate perfectionist that loved the female form, Dior made curvaceousness all the rage.  A fortuitous clash of photography and fashion paved the way for a phenomenal pairing of artistic talents, exotic shoots, and the coupling of fashion and fashionable places that undoubtably enhanced the upward trajectory of the label.

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This year – the 70th Anniversary of the House of Dior led to the exhibition from which I just returned at Les Arts Decoritifs.

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Floral Perfection.

CHRISTIAN DIOR, COUTURIER DU RÊVE

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Percale wrapped in ivy and ribbon.

Over 300 gowns from his collection, miniature doll sized models, and toiles are on display through 7 January 2018.  Book your ticket now.   It was the single best museum exhibit I have ever seen, anywhere.  Tiffany agreed.  We could have spent all day in the museum setting off alarms that signal we were far too close to the dresses.  Signal away

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Toiles . Mocking up the designs.

– I will never feel close enough until I have slipped one on and headed to the ball.  The detailing, the beads, the fabrics, the folds, the genius, the glamour, it is all there.  From frocks to hats, shoes, jewelry, bags, and a stunning photography collection that captures some of the very best in advertisements.  The ode to starlets that wore his gowns and catapulted his name into the mainstream are beautifully displayed through film clips, and photographs, that have you spinning your head from one side of the display to the other, to first see the screen image that was created, and to then catch a glimpse of the real life confection, just over your shoulder, and through a throng of admirers, on the other side of the isle made me woozy with wonder and want.

Samples and sketches and created in miniature before the final piece is developed.

To think that it began with Dior holed up in his home, furiously sketching away, and then those sketches were turned over to the head seamstress – “Couturiere” that created the mock ups in the Atelier – the workshop – then presenting these to Dior, always with the same question….”have we achieved your vision for this piece Mr. Dior…thousands of hours can go into a single dress.  The mock-ups are pieces of art in their own right.  I would have walked right out of that exhibit in any one of those gauzy white creations – without a touch of color or a single embellishment owned one of the single most sublime creations that ever have I set my eyes upon.

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A prolific designer – in just 10 years he created a lasting legacy.

Now hip hop.  Pack that suitcase and book your ticket.  This exhibit cannot be missed.  J’adore Dior!

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I’m ready for a garden party with the Queen.

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I think I’ve used up all my adjectives…it’s beyond.

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Show up for work!

 

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Blow your own horn.

 

 

 

Miles To Go Before He Sleeps

mr 1Redd gets it right for Ballard.  Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Miles Redd found his way to NYC where he studied Interior Design at NYU.  Though some call his style quirky and theatrical, I think it rather sophisticated.  Sophisticated need not be stuffy, and with Miles love of shiny objects and surfaces, and high gloss paint in bold poppy colors, he’s a far cry from boring.

I once had occasion to meet Jonathan Adler, and I asked him if he knew Miles because their design styles seem to share an ability to coax a smile out of even the most steadfastly serious individuals.  Jonathan reported that they were good friends.  Smile I did at that.  I told him that I drew much inspiration from his furnishings and accessories, and I hope to be able to tell Miles the same one day.

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Diamond Coffee Table.

When my Ballard Designs catalog arrived the other day, I spotted a canary yellow, ribbed and upholstered, with a long tassel fringe chair on it’s cover.  I saw it and said, that’s new, and I wonder who they have designing for them now.  If only I’d REDD on I would have discovered.

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Channeled Slipper Chair $599.

I paged through trying to find something – anything that perhaps I didn’t love so that I might narrow down the topic of discussion, but this Bunny Williams trained talent really gets it right.  His acid green diamond coffee table $599. , also available in navy with chrome, is a stunner.  The diamond dining chair with the fretwork detailed seat in chalky white or high gloss black and an a bright selection of leather fabrics to choose from, making it both edgy and glamorous all at the same time. $649.  The glass deco fireplace screen for $299. is a yes!  The Alberta Button Headboard, $699. (queen) and the Tuxedo Chest $2299. in black lacquer are just a few of the stand out pieces in this collection.

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Tuxedo Chest.

Miles style can sometimes look buttoned up in its perfection – as is often customary among Southern designers, but it takes the edge of with a bit of the playful in the form of a polka dot, or a gingham fabric, and you are reminded of how and why he rose to the top of the design world so quickly since opening his own studio in 1998….he’s good.

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Diamond Dining Chair. 

While the pieces are a little pricier than Ballard’s typical pp, I’ll be one of the first to say I think it’s worth it.  I better get moving with number 5.

Hedging Your Bet: Versatile bedding that travels

In the summertime I basically live out of a suitcase.  Granted, it’s a very pretty suitcase with it’s silky, poppy bow tie interior, a la a Kate Spade and Steamline collaboration, but it’s still a suitcase that sits in the doorway of my second bedroom awaiting its next destination.  For me, it’s no problem.  My life in sawdust has me living out of suitcases even when it’s not summer.  I am acclimated to the versatility that is required to make oneself at home, whether it’s your home or not.

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Hedgehogs Portable Mattresses . $375.

I wish I could say that I adapt to my varied sleeping conditions with as much nonchalance as I do the traveling part of my existence, but never having been a great sleeper, I like my bed, its pillows, my sheets, the blankets, and all the other accoutrements that lend themselves to a restful sleep, or at the very least give you something beautiful to look at as you lie awake.

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Lyford Seersucker Throwbed . green

Cue French obsession.  I have long admired the French’s interesting custom of placing what appears to be a version of a featherbed, on top of the fitted sheet, and calling it done.  Very practical when making the bed in the morning, but not quite enough for me.  Since I love a coverlet, with all it’s smooth sleekness, I want that, and a top sheet so I can stick my toe in the corner when it wants to shake all the energy that’s still hopping around inside of me – out.  There is something so relaxed and elegant all at the same time about this floating cozy cloud that sits atop all the other bedding that I fell hard for.

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Metallic Throwbed in Mt Blanc

Low and behold, didn’t I just spy these beauties in one of my favorite South End stores – Willey Boston.  Now they are not French – they are produced here in the US – LA specifically, and I love the fact that Beatta Henrichs Lieb started making them out of her garage – Hedgehouse was born….and later having her very good friend and ex-MTV Executive join the company to support its growth.  Though they don’t say it, I have a sneaking suspicion that they are in fact influenced by this French custom.

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Toulouse Throbbed in Red.

The concept of a portable mattress that you can take anywhere, and lay your head down in comfort and style is brilliant.  I don’t just want one, I want a half dozen.  They will be perfect in The Manse.  Jo-Jo will make me buy them myself, but it’ll be worth it.  Sometimes knowing what your heart desires is more than half the battle.

Sleep tight this Sunday night.

 

White Sale: Classic beauty

I came across several advertisements for White Sales this weekend.  Of course I know what a White Sale is, I am the daughter of Pat Falla after all.  Shopping was a top skill of Pat’s, right up there with etiquette, so you can see having clean linens in one’s home was naturally a priority, and shopping for them a must.

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Frette . Chine Lace Sheet . Queen $1175. frette.com

I did get to thinking about its origins though, and was tickled pink to learn that back in the day – the early 19th century that is – John Wanamaker of John Wanamaker + Co the first Philadelphia Department Store, dubbed January the month of the White Sale – bed linens, and towels, etc, only came in that single color.  Imagine that, it must have made selecting your wares a whole lot faster.

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Wanamaker’s Designed by Daniel H. Burnham

Fascinated by history as I am, I was even more pleased to learn that his department store was designed by Daniel H. Burnham!  Daniel is famous, in case you weren’t aware.  He was the Director of Works for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, aka – The World’s Fair, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus voyage, which took place in Chicago.  Chicago is coincidently known as the “White City” due in large part to the Master Plan that Burnham, Charles McKim, and Louis Sullivan developed accented by beautiful white stone Beaux-Arts buildings.

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The Flat Iron Building . NYC . Burnham design.

I like white.  It being far from the absence of color, it is the sum of all the colors that make white … white.  Perhaps that is far too technical an explanation.  The fact is – I like it.  It’s crisp, and clean, and allows me room to think.  White, like a good hostess, allows other colors to appear brighter, to pop, to be the lead character in a story.  A room with too many colors can be exhausting, don’t you agree?  This is particularly important to remember as many of you will be receiving house guests this summer. Entertaining too many colors simultaneously can be exhausting.  Keep that in mind.

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Serena & Lily . Marvista Duvet $258. – $428.  serenaandlily.com

As a proponent of advertising, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Wanamaker is the Father of the White Sale, the fact that he is was also a marketing pioneer has me thinking that I owe him a debt of gratitude.  That is, after all, how I make my living.

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Julia B . Mourn . Queen Top Sheet. $1214.  juliab.com

Happy Sunday.

 

Simon Says…small living is sublime

Simon Woodroffee wasn’t through with his Yo-deling after the launch of his Yotel Air and Yotel Urban Locations, the founder decided to add Yo! Home to his portfolio of small, but perfectly appointed apartments.  Just 40 square meters (430.5sf), these units possess all that you would expect a posh city pad to have; a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and living room.  Ample storage too.

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Sunken Living and Dining Room disappear to make way for sleep.

Drawing from the same inspiration that brought Yotel to the market – an overnight flight to London tucked into the cozy confines of a British Airways first class sleeping pod – Simon got his bright idea.  Little can be simply lovely, and he set about proving it.  Now with the help of Glenn Howells Architects, Manchester, England is in the approvals stage for its own Yo! Home.  This stackable building complex will be largely prefabricated off-site, in the quality controlled environment of a warehouse.  This approach, in and of itself, is cost savings, and increases the quality of the end product as you don’t suffer the indignities of winter conditions, manpower shortages, and sequencing difficulties.  Just assemble, and slide onto the truck for delivery!

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Let’s get comfortable.  Style and sophistication on every level.

I have seen a lot of small spaces of late. The U-Hu (Boston’s road show of a solution to micro apartments), tiny houses on wheels, Ori (MIT Media Lab’s high-tech apartment in an amour), these are all steps in the right direction.  Densification is a hot topic, because frankly the population is getting hot under the color over the lack of affordable housing, and that has to change. The question has long been, “how do you make a little slip of a space desirable?”  How do you make it cool, sought after, coveted?  Yo! Home just might be the answer.

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When I first saw the renderings, and watched the video about how these spaces transform into a flat (you know, the word for an English Studio) – I have to admit I thought about Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk.  I should say that I love this movie.  1959, a time when a girl was taken on a proper date, when men dressed for dinner, and Doris Day had suitors that bought her cars to try and win her affection.  I’m thinking about this because it’s time for a new car, and that little grey Mercedes with its red interior, that she turned down … hello.  At any rate, no one is currently offering to buy me a new car, so I can’t possibly know whether or not I would turn it down because its offer is so highly inappropriate.  Is it so wrong to want the opportunity?

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Yo! could you say no?

Rock Hudson had a bachelor pad to beat all bachelor pads.  His sitting area converted to a bedroom, lights dimmed on command, music popping out from behind hidden panels.  A perfect modern wood wall suddenly reveals a cocktail bar, and Manhattan’s are served.  So is the case with Yo! Home.  The king size bed drops from the ceiling concealing the sunken living room, the dining table drops down into the floor and is covered over for safety.  The kitchen is revealed from behind glossy fold away doors.  Underfloor storage offers what us Feng Shui enthusiasts dream of – a place to hide away the clutter that is destined to keep us from realizing our full potential.

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Sleek lines, modern design, sunken tub…yes please.

Yo – can you feel me when I say, if these baby’s make their way to Boston, even at the conversion rate of 150,000 Euro, I’ll take one.  It could be the suitor for whom I’ve been waiting.

Bad Ass Boutique . Thompson . Nashville

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Thompson . Nashville – sorry Nash this is a five star hotel.

To be clear, I am generally speaking, a hotel lover.  I like watching people, imagining where they are from, what brought them to this place, and the delicious thought that others are toiling away – while you are not.  I love them so much, I spend a good deal of time in them, in the various neighborhoods in my own home town.  Lap top, mobile, note pad, it’s as good an office as any old place, and I find that the general buzz is a welcome and impressive noise.  So there you have it.  Hotels are my jam.

Tyler and Lauren stand under the lights . Design – Parts and Labor . NYC

But…Thompson Nashville is the jammiest of jams – high tea at the Ritz with crumpets and clotted cream without any of the formality that comes with a British accent.  The Southern twang is served up with a 40 ounce Rosé wrapped in a paper bag.  Don’t laugh, you’ll be pleading for more of this porch pounder before the last live song is sung for the evening.

The prettiest 40 I ever did see.

21st century lighting in mid-century costume.

It goes without saying that a place as hip as Nash, and Thompson would not disappoint with the design.  San Fransisco based Two Roads Hospitality, the owners of the Thompson Brand opened their newest, 12 Story, 224 room, boutique hotel (one of eight) on 20 October 2016, to rave reviews.  Located in the Gulch Neighborhood, named literally for the narrow, steep-sided ravine which marks the course of a fast stream, arcing through the city’s south side.  The Gulch was previously the site of a very active rail road yard, which brought the majority of the supplies to the city, but became defunct after WWII.

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The Marsh Restaurant at Thompson

Now for those that have been paying close attention to me, you know I love edgy design, and I swoon over lighting, and make all manner of bad decisions when this happens.  Darlin’ we’re all human.  When I tell you that Parts and Labor NYC based design firm combines the sweet and salty scrumptiousness that offers up a veritable explosion for your visual senses, I’m really not doing them justice.  Andrew Cohen and Jeremy Levitt offer up “bespoke, bare-knuckled and straight forward approach to high end design”.  I feel lightheaded.  Brass and glass, texture and layers, pops of color and sophistication, mixed with a little industrial to remind you of the origins of its geographic location.  The chug of the train receding into quiet.  It’s gritty and glamorous all at the same time.  This is Thompson.

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Cane Backed Bench inside a bookcase.  Considering my options.

I didn’t peak into the rooms, but understand the mini-bar dispenses vinal records.  So beyond cool I can’t stand it.  Apparently they provide maps that will guide you to neighboring record stores where you can really score.  Who doesn’t like an adventure.  Stop along the way at any of the restaurants or shops that have found their home inside the re-purposed industrial buildings that line the streets, or make your way back to Thompson’s Marsh House Restaurant, or to its roof top bar where the warm breeze blows, and views of the city are tipped in pink at sunset.

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Relaxing Rooftop

Y’all, I’m preparing to book my October visit.  Don’t wait, the hotel stock is so low in this booming city despite their hyper-track pursuit to bring rooms on line – the lines are outpacing supply.  The Thompson is a sip of perfect whisky in a city where you are the star in the song.  I so love being the star…..

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Rooftop Restaurant

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The final word . wood pendants, capped in silver, surrounded by Crystal … please!

HIGH POINT: design inspiration

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Nancy Price Interiors . Abby Price Art

Design is a high point in my day.  I’m inspired by beautiful settings.  It’s always a bit surprising to me when people aren’t.  And there are people that are NOT inspired by beautiful settings.  It’s as if they can’t see it at all.  They are foreigners to me.  I recently had to take a personality test.  It said I liked aesthetically pleasing work environments.  This doesn’t shock any that knows me.  Though if you were to take a gander at the state that my office is often in, you might wonder.  A story for another time.

High Point, South Carolina is a place I’ve never been and were it not for the International Interiors Market that takes place there twice annually, I probably would never have known of it’s existence.  More than 100 countries are represented, more than 75,000 people attend to peruse 1.5M Square feet of show space.  I get dizzy just thinking about it.    It occurred to me that it could be this cold that seems to have lasted 3 months, and has a tenacity that is getting the better of me.   Silly right?  It’s definitely the idea of having access to so many amazing designers, products and furnishings all in one place.  I’d just load up on cough medicine and Red Bull, and be on my way.

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Made Good . Area Chair

Though I wasn’t able to attend, and I am currently on a buying hiatus – also a story for another time.  I have been watching Instagram blow up with jaw dropping photos of all the new finds, and lines that the showcase had to offer.

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Maggie Cruz Home . maggiecruzdesign.com Habanera Console and Cleo Stool

I feel a pang that has nothing to do with the cold, and everything to do with jealousy.  I’m consoling myself with the reality that so many of the offerings are never going to be in my budget, and that’s ok.  They can still provide inspiration, and that is just what they have done.  I hope that you feel the same way.

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SHO Modern Verge Pendant Shomodern.com

Take a look.  Next showcase is in October in the event High Point is destined to become….well the “high point” of your Fall.

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Woodson & Rummerfield . wonderdesign.com