I was looking through some photographs taken by retailing giant Stanley Marcus this morning. It was mainly candid shots of his family and friends. There were plenty of his wife Billie in Venice, at Stonehenge and on the Queen Mary. And there were photos of his children and grandchildren in swings, on bicycles and in graduation garb. For all intents and purposes, these could be anyone’s old family photos; the content, the styles of the day, the blue and yellow tones. But Marcus had sensational “verve and flair” and that’s what separates his images from others. Jerrie Marcus Smith once said about her dad, “My father was an inquisitive man and he loved gadgets, I remember he always had two or three cameras around his neck or in a pocket. In the 30’s he won first place in a photography contest sponsored by the New York Times. I believe it was the only contest he ever entered.”
I’ve gushed over Gucci here before, but when outfits like this Trompe l’oeil dream hit the runway, well, I have no choice but to gush again. The whole ensemble –– the nerdy, studded sunnies, ruffled puce sweater, tomato red pins in 70s loafs –– is pure theatre. I’ll take a front row seat.
I have a thing for honeycomb tiles. I like silver, shiny ones that look like fish scales, graphic black and white ones, and larger ones in charcoal or slate. The combination of subway, honeycomb and decorative tiles in the image below is just the kind of mix and matching I like to see. Plus, I appreciate the luxe brass fixtures against the utilitarian, white tiles. Personally, I’d ditch the tub for a walk in shower of hammam grandeur.
Kinda Khalidy’s paintings are naive, playful and jubilantly colourful. They remind me of Wassily Kandinsky’s Blue Rider period. My fondness for Kandinsky is less about his paintings and more about the personal memories attached to them. In our late teens, a group of us arrived tipsy on Diamond White to a school trip at the South Bank to see a Kandinsky/Wagner inspired performance art piece. Well –– yawn, yawn — we made such a raucous, that audience members (namely ones with chewing gum in their hair) complained to the school the next day. Our art history teacher was devastated, and when Kandinsky came up in the curriculum a few months later, we squirmed in our seats. All of us except Polly, that is. “I see the Madonna and child,” she proclaimed as “painting with red spot” appeared projected on the classroom wall. Maybe she really did see the Madonna, or maybe she was just taking the piss, but it’s all I can see now when I look at his paintings. After Polly died, the same group of friends who drank Diamond White down by the River Thames, gathered in NYC to celebrate her beautiful life. The minute we walked into the Neue Gallery and saw the Kandisnkys on the walls we regressed to the kind of silly school girl behaviour that only Polly could provoke in us. I’ll never own a Kandinsky, but it would be wonderful to own a Khalidy. I’ve got my sights on one with a giant red splodge.
She was one of the leading figures of the audacious Dada movement, and she’s the only woman to appear on the Swiss Franc note. How is it that I’ve never heard of Sophie Taeuber-Arp? She and her husband Jean Arp created abstract multi-media art together. She was a dancer (she danced at Dada soirees at the Cabaret Voltaire) and teacher and she made avant-garde stage set and puppets for the theatre. Google celebrated her 127th birthday last month with a Doodle. “It was Sophie,” said Jean, “who by the example of her work and her life, both of them bathed in clarity, showed me the right way. In her world, the high and the low, the light and the dark, the eternal and the ephemeral, are balanced in perfect equilibrium.”
I came across Shilo Engelbrecht’s textiles in Vogue Living, and now I’m imagining a beach of parasols in her signature high wattage colour. Her process involves large scale oil paintings which she then digitally prints on to linens for napkins, table cloths, scarves and drapes. A hundred parasols would be fabulous, but so would a giant teepee.
I have no idea how many letters the Queen receives in a week, but I know that it takes lots of people to sift through them all. My mum’s friend Kathryn used to work at Buckingham Palace opening letters and cards to the Queen. Very special ones made it into the hands of her Ladies-in-Waiting. Iole and I have decided to send a card to the Queen. We have no idea what to say yet, but we’ll make it charming, I’m sure. I see pastels, pretty cursive letters and glitter, of course. Not too much that we piss off the Ladies, mind you.
We’ve been eating a lot of popcorn lately. The inside of our sofa tells me so. I came across these recipes for popcorn which I’ll likely never try. But you might. My neighbours were raving about nutritional yeast and aleppo pepper yesterday, while I was like, “what’s that?” I’ll let them make it. And hope we’re invited over for movie night.
Last week, a lady in my pottery class brought in some vintage cream lace to compress into clay. I made a plate and covered it in large anemones from one of her crocheted pieces and then dipped it in a turquoise glaze. Now I am wishing I had painted it white. There’s something so demure, feminine and romantic about white lace. A long lace dress, light and ethereal, is on my wish list for summer.
We’re reading the most delightful book these days, about a fabulously eccentric Parisienne called Mademoiselle Oiseau who lives alone with 42-cats and many birds in a bizarre and grand apartment on the Avenue des Temps Perdus. The illustrations –– by one of Scandinavia’s best known illustrators, Lovisa Burfitt–– are pure whimsy. Her painterly sketches of poppies and macarons, chandeliers and shoes, and an an attic filled with Schiaparelli-like frocks, hats and cobwebs, bring Andrea de La Barre de Nanteuil’s weird and wonderful imagination to life. (Please note the swimming pond with fountain in the salon where MO takes frequent dips / and one of those cats is named Senorita Chachacha)