Tuesday, 29 January 2013

illustrator: sujean rim

My latest artist crush is illustrator Sujean Rim. She grew up in New York, watched Bugs Bunny and read Charles Schulz's Peanuts (I guess many of us did). She was always drawing and wanted to become an artist. In high school she became interested in fashion.

She graduated from Parsons School of Design with a degree in Fashion Design, and started her career as a footwear and accessories designer. However, she never stopped drawing. She kept a collection of her illustrations in a book, which she showed to every art director when she had the chance.

It was Barneys New York that first hired her in 1995 and since then she has worked with Tiffany & Co., Target, DailyCandy and others.

In 2007 a childhood dream came true when Little, Brown and Company contacted her and offered her a book deal. Two years later her first children's picture book was published, called Birdie's Big-Girl Shoes. It was followed by Birdie's Big-Girl Dress and Birdie Plays Dress-Up.

On her website, under peeps, peewees, pleasures and places, you can view more of her wonderful illustrations.

photo credit:
illustrator Sujean Rim
(published with permission)

Monday, 28 January 2013

drawing with light 13

photo credit:
Scott Schuman / The Sartorialist
on a street in Milan, 2011

Sunday, 27 January 2013

the villeneuve mill house

I stumbled upon a feature on the Art & Décoration website with some lovely images to find out that it was an old mill house, Moulin de Villeneuve, that once belonged to the French poet Louis Aragon (1897-1982) and his wife and muse, Elsa Triolet (1896-1970). She had studied architecture in Moscow, where she was born, and later in life she turned to writing, probably after a little push from Maxim Gorky himself, who had read letters, which she wrote to a mutual friend, Viktor Shklovsky, when she was visiting Tahiti.

The Villeneuve mill house is now a museum, called Maison Elsa Triolet - Aragon. It's located in Saint Arnoult en Yvelines, south-west of Paris, an one-hour drive or so from the city. The Villeneuve mill contains thirty thousand works. In the left photo below you can see autographed books by Jean Cocteau, Paul Éluard and Georges Perec, who were friends of Aragon and Triolet.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

photo credit:
Christophe Rouffio for Art & Décoration

Friday, 25 January 2013

charming spaces: gold and brown shades

Today's charming space is an upstairs room in a New York townhouse, in the West Village, that was once owned by musician Billy Joel and his ex-wife Katie Lee, who used it as a casual living room. It was Nate Berkus who helped them with the design. I like how well balanced it is; how the gold and brown shades make the room look warm without being heavy. I love the white bookshelves and the small lamps attached to them. It's such a beautiful space.

On a personal note, I'm feeling better today but now our son is sick. It happens to be A's birthday and this morning our son asked if his father was 99 years old. Ahem ... he's older than I am but he's not quite there yet!

photo credit:
Paul Costello for Domino magazine via La Dolce Vita

Thursday, 24 January 2013

things i'm loving these days...

Since yesterday I have been feeling rather rotten and my body is obviously fighting something. Luckily I don't have a fever or a cold and I hope it stays that way; that the hot ginger and lemon water I'm drinking will do the trick.

Today I wanted to share with you two items that I have recently received in the mail. I was so lucky to win yet another giveaway, this time on Wendy Paula's blog, Mulberry Muse. I won this Marie Antoinette day planner/diary for 2013 that you see in the photos. The cover is designed by Wendy Paula herself and the item is sold by the Korsch Verlag in Germany. The day planner is in both English and German, it's neat and it looks beautiful. I feel like the year just started all over again.

Wendy Paula has two shops on Etsy where you can buy her design: Mulberry Muse and Cafe Baudelaire. I'm a big fan of her work, as some of you probably know already. Remember the Marie Antoinette inspired giveaway almost a year ago on the blog? It's the same designer.

Thank you Wendy Paula!

The other item I received in the mail was quite unexpected. It was a thank-you-for-your-hospitality gift from Mary Jo of the Trust Your Style blog, who visited me earlier this month. She gave me a cookbook called Clean Start by Terry Walters. It was a gift that made me think oh you shouldn't have but I'm glad you did! I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I have already found quite many that I like. It's a beautiful book and what I see so far is a cookbook author that is telling you to eat well and healthy without preaching. It looks like a very solid book and I like how she names the chapters after the seasons. Maybe I'll share a spring recipe on kitchen & aroma in a few weeks.

Thank you Mary Jo!

One more thing.

At the library on Saturday I saw this book in the travel writing section, From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the shadow of Byzantium by William Dalrymple, and on some level it appealed to me. I cannot say that I have given much thought to the struggle of Eastern Christianity in the Middle East, but it turns out that I'm very interested. Dalrymple, with his informative and entertaining writing, has lured me into a world that I hardly knew anything about. The book was published in 1998 but it seems to age quite well. What Dalrymple did was travelling from Greece, from the Simonopetra monastery in Mount Athos, down to Egypt, visiting monasteries and churches and he's telling us about communities that have fallen or are falling into ruin. Dalrymple, who is a historian, is a well-known travel writer and his books about India are next on my list.

I'm going back to bed to rest. Have a wonderful day everyone!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

k&a: indian tea (chai latte)

As I write this I'm enjoying a bowl of this delicious spicy tea, which in our home we always call Indian tea (or chai latte). This morning I posted the recipe on kitchen & aroma. Well, I can hardly call this a recipe; it's just water, milk, and black tea with a bit of organic raw cane sugar and spices. I love it and I always drink it from a bowl.

If you were expecting fashion on the blog today then I simply have to say that at this point I feel so uninspired by the fashion world that I'm skipping NOTES À LA MODE this week (my Balenciaga post on Monday is enough). Perhaps I should narrow this down and say that I'm uninspired by the couture world. It's haute couture fashion week in Paris, which I always enjoy, and after seeing the shows of Versace, Dior and Chanel, I didn't know what to think. Lack of enthusiasm was probably the first thing that came to mind. I'm just going to say it, even though my opinion certainly is of no importance at all: Are these designers just plain bored?!! If Donatella Versace found her groove with her last couture line then she lost it again with the latest one. Karl Lagerfeld needs a long cold shower. Period. I think Raf Simons is just lost in some weird Dior dimension. I liked one dress - one dress, people, and this is Dior! And I liked a few details up-close. That's all.

Don't get me started on the reviews. Is it too much to ask to have just one reviewer speak the truth? Or do the reviewers really like this? Are they really being honest? Unfortunately, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy isn't showing this season and who knows when he'll be back with a couture line. I haven't watched the other shows so I'm counting on the Valli, Armani, Valentino and Elie Saab shows to impress me.

Who knew that one day I would write about Indian tea and haute couture shows in the same post? Life is full of surprises, isn't it? Enjoy your day ... and if you are enjoying the couture season then please don't let my opinion ruin it for you!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

paris: île saint louis

Audrey Hepburn said that Paris was always a good idea, and you know what, I totally agree with her. Totally. Let's go a little back in time. One of my favourite moments from the October trip was a walk in the 4th district that took us to Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, and into two shops that I had been wanting to visit, Papier + and Melodies Graphiques. Yesterday I was pleasantly reminded of this area that I loved so much when I found a link on the Bright.Bazaar blog (thank you Will) to a photo of Café Louis Philippe taken by Nichole Robertson of Obvious State.

That café is next to Pont Louis Philippe, the bridge that takes you over to the small and beautiful island, Île Saint Louis. I stood on that bridge when I took the first two photos.

Before going to Paris I had read Paris: The Collected Traveler by Barrie Kerper, a book that I have mentioned a few times on the blog (it has both pros and cons; my copy is falling to pieces which is another story). It contains, among others, a collection of articles on Paris and one of my favourites is a piece by Herbert Gold called 'On the Île Saint-Louis' that starts on page 196. Here is part of it:

The Ile-Saint-Louis is like France itself—an ideal of grace and proportion—but it differs from actual France in that it lives up to itself. Under constant repair and renovation, it remains intact. It is a small place derived from long experience. It has strength enough, and isolation enough, to endure with a certain smugness the troubles of the city and the world at whose center it rests.

The self-love is mitigated partly by success at guarding itself and partly by the ironic shrugs of its inhabitants, who, despite whatever aristocratic names or glamorous professions, live among broken-veined clochards (hobos) with unbagged bottles, tourists with unbagged guidebooks, Bohemians with bagged eyes.

The actual troubles of the world do not miss the Ile Saint-Louis—one doesn't string hammocks between the plane trees here—but the air seems to contain fewer mites and less nefarious Paris ozone.

The lack of buses, the narrow streets, the breeze down the Seine help. And as to perhaps the most dangerous variety of Paris smog, the Ile Saint-Louis seems to have discovered the unanswerable French reply to babble, noise, advice and theory—silence.

One can, of course, easily get off this island, either by walking on the water of the Seine or, in a less saintly way, by taking a stroll of about two minutes across the slim bridges to the Left Bank, the Right Bank, or the bustling and official neighbor, the Ile de la Cite.

Island fever is not a great danger, despite the insular pleasures of neatness, shape, control. Some people even say they never go to "Paris." (In 1924, there was an attempt to secede from Paris and France, and Ile Saint-Louis passports were issued.) Monsieur Filleul, the fishmonger, used to advertise: "Deliveries on the Island and on the Continent."

[black text, mine]

I found Herbert Gold's article under a different name on the website of the Los Angeles Times. Follow the link if you are interested in reading the whole piece.

I have to explore Île Saint Louis better when I go back to Paris. I need better photos of its streets and scenery and I definitely have to get me some of that famous Berthillon ice cream that everyone seems to love.

On that autumn day in October we just wanted to sit down and have something to drink before heading over the Pont Saint Louis bridge to view the Notre Dame on Île de la Cité. We decided to enjoy tea at Le Saint Régis, on the corner of Rue Jean du Bellay and Rue Saint Louis en l'Île (see left photo below). It was probably the most expensive tea I have ever had in my life but the people watching on that corner was totally worth it.

If you are in the mood to get lost in Paris then please visit Igor's Happy Interior Blog. Lately he has been taking us to Paris in his From Place To Space posts. He's killing me!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Monday, 21 January 2013

birthday of a master

The Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga was born on this day, 21 January, in 1895 in the town of Guetaria, in the Basque region of Spain. He retired in May 1968 and died of heart attack on the 23rd of March 1972. It is not my intention to write Balenciaga's life story in this post, but to share some of my favourite pages and quotes from the beautiful book Balenciaga and Spain by Hamish Bowles. (See details at the bottom.)
For three fecund decades, from 1937 until 1968, Cristóbal Balenciaga honed and perfected the art and craft of the haute couture from his monastic ateliers on the avenue George V in the heart of fashionable Paris. His fascination with the properties of cloth–its cut, construction, and embellishment–and his inventive responses to its possibilities established him from the beginning as a master of his métier (to use his preferred term). ( p. 15)
from the introduction of Balenciaga and Spain

When viewing Balenciaga's design it is quite extraordinary to think that he was mainly self-taught. One of the things he did to teach himself the mastery of dressmaking was buying clothes from the couturiers in Paris and adapting them. He was only nineteen years old when he started his own business in San Sebastián; at the age of twenty-one he had begun dressing members of the Spanish royal family.
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel described her friend Balenciaga as "the only couturier. He is the only one who knows how to cut a fabric, and mount it and sew it with his own hands. The others are just draughtsmen." (p. 19)
from the introduction of Balenciaga and Spain
- Coco Chanel quoted in Gloria Emerson,
'Balenciaga, the Couturier, Deat at 77', New York Times, 23 March 1972

Balenciaga fled Spain when the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) started. First he went to London and then to Paris where he established his couture house.
Balenciaga believes that an elegant woman does not necessarily wear the latest style, but dresses in a manner becoming to herself, choosing clothes of good material and cut which she wears for several years, changing accessories to make them up-to-date. She never wears clothes that are conspicuous or uncomfortable, is never dominated by fashion, but uses it to express her own personality. (p. 19)
from the introduction of Balenciaga and Spain
quote from 'Balenciaga—and the Art of Making Elegant Clothes', Women's Wear Daily, 9 July 1948, p. 26

Every time I tried to take a photo of Lipnitzki's photo of Balenciaga my younger daughter's Persian kitten was in the way. In the end I just gave up and allowed her to be a model.

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt
from the book Balenciaga and Spain by Hamish Bowles:
1: Joan Miró Painting (Blue), 1927 + photo by Hiro, winter 1967, p. 80-81 / 2: photo by Richard Avedon, winter 1950, p. 101 / 3: studio drawing, winter 1957, p. 55 / 4: ca. 1948 + Bullfighters, early 20th century, photo by José Ortiz-Echagüe, p. 168-169 / 5: studio drawing, winter 1957, p. 230 / 6: photo by Irving Penn, winter 1967, p. 69 / 7: photo by David Bailey, summer 1957 + El mundo de Balenciaga exhibition catalogue cover, by Joan Miró, 1974, p. 74-75 / 8 + 9: photo by Boris Lipnitzki, France 1927, p. 14

Friday, 18 January 2013

charming spaces: bright + stylish

My today's charming space crush is an old and good one from Domino Magazine. This bedroom speaks to me; I love the style and how bright it is. Don't get me started on the window and the high ceiling. I probably would have placed that beautiful mirror elsewhere and put a piece of art on the opposite wall, but that's just me.

How are you doing? My wrist is better and our daughter is on the mend (thank you for all the kind well-wishes). Yesterday I made a chicken noodle soup for dinner with plenty of ginger and garlic, which gave everyone a little boost. Ahead is a relaxing weekend in this house with home-made goodies and warm drinks. We have snow and the weather has turned colder so I'm fine with staying warm indoors.

I'm signing off one day earlier and will be back on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
Annie Schlechter for Domino Magazine, March 2009 via Pinterest

Thursday, 17 January 2013

resting + biscotti

Today I'm just going to rest my wrist and enjoy a quiet moment with our daughter, who turned out to have bronchitis. We have our books, magazines and DVDs, and there is of course coffee and almond biscotti. Here's the recipe if you find yourself craving some, and here is another good one with macadamia nuts and cranberries.

Have a beautiful day!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

notes à la mode 27

I think it is time to devote some space to menswear in my NOTES À LA MODE. I don't really follow the men's fashion weeks but I am always interested in seeing the collections from the Milan fashion houses. It's probably the Italian craftsmanship that fascinates me; these people just know how to create beautiful clothes and accessories. Honestly, I didn't know what to think when I saw Armani's Autumn 2013 Collection, that is, when the meggins, or male leggings, appeared on the runway. Seriously, Armani?!! Giorgio Armani is probably my first favourite fashion designer (we share a birthday - 11 July - which is probably one of the reasons) so my heart was aching. I will forgive him one day, I'm just not there yet. Did any of you see the show?

The designer who didn't disappoint me was Tomas Maier of Bottega Veneta. The Autumn 2013 Collection that he unveiled on Sunday was sophisticated and elegant, consisting of tailored suits, lean coats and gorgeous accessories (I absolutely loved the styling of the scarves). To me this was flawless.


  After viewing the Bottega Veneta collection I made A promise me to give me the Bottega Veneta book on my next birthday. It has been on my wish list since its publication and I want it on my coffee table
  I know there is a lot of red carpet talk on blogs after the Golden Globes. I didn't watch the ceremony but when I viewed the photos from the red carpet I felt a little bored. Maybe I just wasn't feeling it this year. I find it painful to see a beautiful dress doing absolutely nothing for a woman with a beautiful figure. Don't these women have stylists to help them out? The dress I loved was the Louis Vuitton that Jessica Alba wore at some after party. Had she worn that one to the ceremony as well she would have been my favourite. She nails that LV dress but the one she wore to the ceremony was simply boring, beautiful but boring (sorry Oscar de la Renta)
  Speaking of being bored, could someone please tell Raf Simons at Dior to stop boring me! I think I liked two outfits from the pre autumn 2013 collection and I found some of them simply hideous (I cannot believe I'm using that word for Dior)
  Has anyone seen the Balenciaga pre autumn 2013 collection? It was the fashion house's design team that created it because Nicolas Ghesquière has left and Alexander Wang isn't presenting his first collection for the fashion house until the Paris fashion week in February/March. I found myself loving many pieces and I shared a few on one of my boards on Pinterest

PS. I don't really feel the need to make any excuses but I wanted to let some of my close blog friends know that I'm not commenting much on blogs these days because of a pain in my right wrist. I had to type this post with my left hand only, which almost took forever. This is so annoying but I'm slowly getting better. Keep up the good work people and keep those beautiful photos coming!

photo credit:
Yannis Vlamos + Alessandro Viero via Style.com