The beauty of Taffin jewellery is in the materials –– diamonds strung on silk, a sparkling marquise set within a simple pebble or a four-carat African ruby set into ceramic. And the colour combinations –– mandarin garnets with pink ivory wood, a pink kunzite on rose gold and an orange sapphire on lilac ceramic –– are electric. When Architectural Digest asked designer James Taffin de Givenchy (nephew of the fashion legend Hubert) to describe his trademark colour, he said, “tomato-coral.” It’s hard to choose a favourite piece, but a 10-carat Golkonda diamond set on a ceramic band in that signature red, is high on my wishlist. Who else combines stones that extraordinary with ceramic, stainless steel and pebbles picked up at the Home Depot? It’s where the magical meets the mundane. The result is simple, unpretentious and wildly imaginative.
The Australia edition of Vogue Living is an indulgence of mine. This cover is so rich in texture and colour, it practically leapt off the shelf. I love the mismatched vases filled with jewel-toned blooms that look like they’ve been picked from an English garden. I have plenty of ‘proper’ vases, but these days, flowers always end up in mason jars or in Jason’s crystal whiskey tumblers. I like the look of a bougainvillea vine cut short into a white milk jug, or a blue hydrangea flopping out of a tall green bottle. If I ever muster the energy to throw a dinner party, I’ll pour all my talents into the decor and leave dinner to the delivery man.
I’m a big Goldie Hawn fan. Overboard is one of my favourite films, with outrageous 80s costumes. Remember the white swimsuit with the plunging neckline that Joanna wears under a white jacket with elaborate gold epaulets accented by nautical rope tassels? And what about the scene where she’s having her toes polished by the butler on deck wearing little else but giant gold earrings, crystal studded sunnies and cherries in her hair? Then she bangs her head, falls off the yacht and it’s all plaid from there. But those early outfits give Alexis Colby a run for her money. I read a great piece on Hawn in the latest Porter in which the 69-year-old actress talks about ageing, marriage, the joys of grand-motherhood and her education program, MindUP, that helps kids learn to focus through meditation. “Hawn’s career was predicated on her genius for playing dumb, but in person there is nothing remotely ditzy about her,” writes Carina Chocano. “She is the very definition of a pro.” The piece is full of Goldie wisdoms –– “We are the sum total of our life experiences, that’s what builds us; that’s who we become.” –– and ends with a beautiful anecdote about her father. “My father, when he was 70, said to me, ‘Go, I’ve given up the violin.’ He was a brilliant violinist. ‘I’m going to take up the piano instead because I can’t get any better with the violin. I’m going to master that piano.'”
Iole was born the colour of a peach. She was tiny and beautiful. I loved the baby in my belly so much that it came as a shock when I didn’t feel much for the baby in my arms. But in time the love came, and when it did, it poured out of me like water released from a dam. My daughter is one of the most capable people I know. And believe me, as my first child and the eldest of three, she’s had to pick things up fast. She is resilient, patient, beautiful and kind. Her smile lights up a thousand rooms, and when she cries, and she very rarely cries, my hearts swells to double the size. She turns six on Saturday, and it’s all sorts of amazing to me that she was ever tiny enough to fit inside my body, and that she’s now riding a bicycle and spreading jam on toast. She’s been sick this week with a virus that’s left her with a nasty red rash and an uncharacteristic need for closeness. I feel bad that she’s not well, but weirdly, I’ve enjoyed the week. As we walked around our neighbourhood, it felt wonderful just to hold her hand, something she usually thinks she’s too grown up for. But this week, we held hands a lot. And I realized just how very small her hands still are. Happy Birthday, my sunbeam. You light up my world.
I have a thing for blue and white china. Delftware springs to mind, but it’s not so much pictorial plates that I gravitate toward, but rather ones with a simple, graphic design painted in inky blue on white porcelain. I love the simplicity of Sue Binns‘ distinctive stripe and Hermes’ Blues D’ailleurs reminds me of Moroccan tiles. Everyday life looks great on a Marimekko Siirtolapuutarha blue dot plate. But my favourite plate is Royal Copenhagen’s Blue Fluted –– a lapis blue pattern painted on ridged white porcelain –– of which Jason and I received twelve as a wedding gift. We don’t use them often, but even cucumbers look and taste Cordon Bleu when we do.
I learned to ride a bicycle on the small lane that ran alongside my grandparent’s pink cottage in the parish of Paget on the island of Bermuda. Crab grass makes a good cushion for a wobbly cyclist’s tumbles. My grandmother, in white Keds and a lemon yellow visor, must have given me a hundred pushes before I finally found the balance and courage to ride the length of the lane. Many years later, when I moved to Toronto in my early 20s, my father bought me a navy blue Norco with a basket and a bell that I rode everywhere. When I was three-months pregnant with Iole I put the bike away in the garage, where it’s been gathering dust ever since. Today, Iole and I hosed it down of leaves and cobwebs and scrubbed the handle bars clean. We took it to our local bicycle shop (where my dad bought her a bike, too) to fill the tires with air, and then off we sped up and down our windy, sunny street. It’s true what they say about riding a bicycle. Within seconds, I felt like my feet had never left the peddles.
You need a lot of nerve to paint a house pink. Perhaps, if we lived on Bermuda, where homes are painted every colour of the rainbow, or on Santorini where a dusty rose can hold its own against the fierce fucsias and nectarines of its sunsets, I may consider a pink home. It would be like living in our very own petit four!
As a child, I loved to open the mirrored doors of my mother’s cupboards to touch all the pretty dresses inside. There was jewel-toned silk, ruffles, polka dots and black lace embellished with sequins. My favourite dress was a boudoir pink satin cocktail dress, strapless, with fans of tight pleats on the derriere. If Cinderella’s fairy-godmother cast a spell on a flamingo, this is the dress that would appear. It’s so feminine and flirty. “Do you still have the pink satin cocktail?” I texted my Mum this morning. I had visions of wearing it with tangerine ballerinas and a messy top knot to a wedding this summer. “Silk moiré? I think I got rid of it in March.” Quel shame. Let’s hope its new owner loves it as much as we did.
p.s. I am aware that this is a Spoonbill not a flamingo, but the picture is too beautiful not to share.
High Key Spoonbill
It’s hard to say the word, “macaron” without sounding like a total ponce. You either grunt the “R” and sound all Franco-phony, or stick with the English pronunciation, which sucks the sugar out of it, really. I tend to attempt the French version, only I say it at a whisper, “five macaron, please,” and just pray that the person behind the till is Polish.
I don’t know much about Lucille Ball, but I’m pretty sure she and my grandmother would have gotten on famously. Throw my Mum into the mix and dinner just turned into a dance party. “I’m not funny,” Ball used to say. “What I am is brave.” It’s true; some of the funniest women I know are also the bravest, sharpest, and most resilient. “Let’s cross to the sunny side of the street,” my mum suggested to Yiayia as they walked out of Sloan Kettering after her last round of radiation. “Haven’t I been charred enough for one day?” She was bold, she was blunt, she was funny. And the two of them together were a comedy act for the ages. That’s what we need. People who make us laugh ’till we fart, and don’t even notice, because they’re laughing so hard with us.