I was watching painter and stylist, Kate Schelter earlier today, and she said something that reminded me how important it is to get a glimpse of your city from a far sometimes. “In New York I always feel like you have no perspective, you literally have no view of anything, you can’t see very far. You need to go and get a view of something –– I think it’s very inspiring to have a view.” My neighbour Gina likes to go to the island in the summer for the feeling of vacation that the outing gives her. “I actually feel like we’ve gone somewhere.” I often walk up the steps to Casa Loma and catch my breath up there. That’s a view I like. I also like the familiarity of the fences and roofs and lawns outside my window. And the view of our late summer garden from the kitchen table. But Schelter’s right –– sometimes a wider, less familiar view is inspiring, and necessary, too.
Inside our rather dilapidated garage are boxes and boxes of books. We’ve nowhere else to put them. The idea was always to create alcove shelving for our fiction, travel guides and art tomes, but somehow the project fell by the wayside. It’s a little heartbreaking to think that all those books that once brought so much pleasure and wonder, are now gathering dust among our disused car seats. It’s the memories, the nostalgia, that I hold on to. But the more I think about it, the less reasons I can think of to keep them. A much better idea would be to go through the boxes and put aside select books that are particularly meaningful, unique or beautiful. And then take that edited collection and create a home for it within our home.
I have a long pink coat. It’s the best pink because it’s Schiaparelli pink. The blue and white lining looks like a man’s stripe shirt. The coat has gold nautical buttons along the cuffs. Those, I’m less keen on. I’d like to replace them with red suede ones. Red and pink is one of my favourite clashes. It’s always fun taking a high street purchase and customizing it with your own twist. Buttons transform a coat.
I do love the designs of Louise Misha. Last year, I bought a batik dress from her kid’s line for Iole. If it were a few sizes bigger, I’d steal it often. It’s all very feminine and boho. This little cami in moutarde is delightful as is this embroidered gilet. And don’t get me started on the petite fille peices –– I want to steal them all.
A red dress for the holidays sounds a bit clichéd, but with a dress like this one, who cares about clichés. I kind of love the 70s vibe of this Gucci number, too. Zara has two flirty frocks that I rather like –– this one with frills and a sleeker, more dramatic option that I’ve been eyeing for weeks. If you’ve got red shoes and you can pull off a red lippy, I say go for it, and paint the town red.
Here is the Tunisian home of filmmaker, Ahmed Bennys. Paintings and photographs hung on soft apricot walls, folk art, (amassed over decades travelling the world as a cameraman for NBC) antiques, and mismatched fabrics –– this is just the sort of rich, eclectic hodge-podge decor that I adore. I’ve never been to Tunisia, but I’ve visited both Morocco and Tangiers, and the north African aesthetic inspires me no end. “Bennys’ house, which fronted the beach –– surf and children’s cries and the smack of paddle balls floated in through the windows –– seemed to be a monument to post revolution Tunisia’s reclaiming of its more cosmopolitan past. The house is deliriously crammed with folk art from all eras: local Tunisian paintings, Sicilian puppets procured from the medina, a wooden statuette of Barack Obama.” What a wonderful experience, to visit Bennys in his home, and listen to him tell his stories.
Olive oil and chocolate sound like a peculiar pairing, but they actually go together quite nicely. I learned this lesson one Wintery weekend in Minden. But I digress. This lovely looking cake seems like something that even I could bake. I think my family would keel over if everyone came home to the smell of fresh-out-of-the-oven cake. They’d gobble it up in one sitting.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had much to do with what my eldest child wears. From a very young age -– maybe two and half –– Iole knew exactly how she wanted to dress. On her third birthday, I wrote her a note on the back of a post card that said, “ich bin mein stil” –– “I am my style.” At that time, her outfits were an eccentric mix of hot pink tutus, tiaras, cowboys boots and frilly tops. These days, she’ll rarely wear a dress. And her choices are steered by comfort and conformity. Physical comfort has always been a priority, but dressing to fit in, that’s new. To her chagrin, I won’t buy, “teenager clothes” –– tops that show her belly and leggings with dollar signs on them –– but I do understand, that for now, at least, flower crowns and fairy dresses are out. Iole still knows how she wants to dress, it’s just not how I would like her to dress. And so I resist the urge to force her into a pretty frock with velvet bows and printed tights, because I know that that is my taste, and not hers. And because few girls want to be the kid in polka dot culottes when your pals are all in jeans. One day she may choose to stand-out, but today, all she wants is to fit in. And so we navigate our way through this awkward terrain, (that my Mum and I navigated our way through, also) where I accept her need to feel the same as everyone else, while gently whispering to her that it’s okay to be different.
“Fashion makes me feel like the other version of myself, like my Sunday best,” wrote Sarah Jessica Parker in an interview on Net-a-Porter. “Just putting stuff on creates a feeling so specific and different than every day. Anytime you are in a fitting room, it’s very much about you becoming something else, and sometimes it’s a familiar place, but sometimes it’s completely pretend. I think a lot of other women want to feel that.” Most of us believe in the trans-formative power of fashion. Indeed, woven into the hems of skirts and sleeves of blouses is some weird, wonderful magic that makes us feel sexy, strong, smart, demure, delicate, prim, whimsical or wild. In the right dress, you may even feel all those things at once.
This Art Nouveau renovation in Barcelona is really quite cool. Between the traditional tiled floors, stark white walls and sleek modern furnishings, I can’t think of a cooler place in which to sit around with good company and several bottles of Cava. I do appreciate the grand height of all the doorways, and those Serge Mouille lights are among my very favourites. Olé.