Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Hydrangeas and September issues

These days in late August give me pleasure: morning coffees, walks, mainly to enjoy blooming hydrangeas, slightly darker afternoons, and book reading by candlelight in rain or thunderstorms. Then there are the September issues. In my case only one is a fashion magazine. The World of Interiors is as solid as ever; it always seems to leave me feeling a bit richer.

A few years ago I very likely would have bought a few editions of Vogue (there are old September issues of the American, British, French, Italian, and German on my shelves) but at some point I stopped. I hadn't really planned on buying Harper's Bazaar UK but when I leafed through it in the magazine shop there was a feature that caught my attention, on Amanda Brooks and her beautiful country home in Oxfordshire. Brooks is the former fashion director of Barneys in New York.

I think me buying the issue had also something to do with the Vita Kin dress Brooks is wearing in one photo. I'm fascinated with the design, the patterns and embroidery, of these traditional Ukrainian garments - vyshyvanka. I wondered if I would grow tired of them now that everyone seems to be wearing them but it doesn't look that way. These are classics.

Apart from beautifully styled and photographed editorials that tell a story (often hard to find), there really isn't much in fashion magazines anymore that particularly appeals to me. I'm referring to the fashion part. I think I have grown out of them and I'm weary of the way fashion is presented. What's with these endless label-orientated collages of the pieces of the season that always look the same? I'm much more interested in the design process itself and what inspired a designer's collection. That's why I was pleasantly surprised with an interview with Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccoli, the creative directors at Valentino. Just look at their mood board below for this year's autumn collection! This is what I want to see.

In the interview they honour the relationship with their seamstresses, who 'put their own passion and love into the collection. . . . There is a lot of care in every single dress, in every single detail, and you feel that it is something very precious' (p. 313). They have added a third couture atelier and are training young people to learn the skills. As Chiuri points out: 'There is a dignity in this job, but it is also fun to see a punky girl in her Doc Martens working beside a 60-year-old lady in slippers - two generations together, sharing the knowledge and expertise' (p. 314). You can view a few Valentino design details on my Tumblr page.

Another enjoyable article was about Diana Vreeland, the legendary fashion editor, written by British historian Kathryn Hughes (her biography of George Eliot is on my wish list). A new book about Vreeland will be published by Rizzoli in October, Diana Vreeland: the Modern Woman: The Bazaar Years, 1936-1962, edited by her grandson Alexander Vreeland.

There were plenty of features in The World of Interiors that appealed to me. One particular about a Mexican ranch, bordering Arizona, owned by designers Jorge Almada and Anne-Marie Midy of the Casamidy furniture company. Think traditional rugs with diamond patterns and leather chairs. Midy describes the surrounding landscape as 'green after the summer rains, but bleached pale gold by the autumn' (p. 130). I want to sit on that veranda and take it all in.

An article about Caffè Stern in the Passage des Panoramas in Paris made my heart beat a little faster because of Picasso cushions that are part of the décor (see one in the above photo to the left). I cannot remember when I first fell flat for them. The covers are woven by hand and handcrafted in Flanders, created in collaboration with the Picasso foundation. A few covers are available in The Conran Shop in London.

Soon the kids go back to school and the bright colours of the hydrangeas will start to fade. Eventually, the tree leaves will start to turn. Part of me looks forward to crisp autumn mornings; another part hopes for an Indian summer.

[Update: Because of a comment below about the olive textile sample and an email I received about the red one: All samples in this post are from Fermoie. The olive green is Rabanna (L-077), the red is Marden (L-275), and the striped ones spotted in one photo are York Stripe (blue L-173, red L-016). These are all 100% cotton. All info on the yellow one spotted in a few photos are in my blog post yellow fabrics by Fermoie.]



  1. Thanks, Lisa, for the recommendations, I'll definitely look up the World of Interiors issue! Every time I've followed your magazine suggestions, I've been very satisfied. :-)

    I think I've also gone through a similar cycle regarding the fashion magazines. Nowadays I would rather buy the collections' catalogue than the separate issues, and then investigate further on style.com if something seemed interesting. At least with those two sources you see the clothes and the details – how many times the editorials don't even show the pieces, but some blurry black&white close-ups!

    Valentino was a revelation to me after I'd seen Garance Doré's video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VbneW-7w48) in which you can glimpse the details, the work of the seamstresses and the moodboard. Like they say, many times the silhouette will be very basic, so in a magazine it's easy to just turn the page. But once I realised how rich the detail is, the quality of craftsmanship just took my breath away.

    By the way, do all the textile samples mean you're musing over interior makeovers? I especially love the first cream/olive sample!

    1. Thank you, Inga, for your comment. I'm glad my recommendations haven't disappointed. I thought about mentioning other magazines in the post but it was already so long. I was e.g. disappointed with the September issue of Elle Decoration UK, which has never failed to impress me. I only found a few pages interesting. Perhaps it only applies to the subscribers' issues, but pretty much all the house tour images were shaky, as if something had gone wrong with the printing of it.

      Thank you for reminding me of Garance's video, I enjoyed watching it again. I certainly would like to be able to visit the atelier and see the craftsmanship with my own eyes and feel the fabrics. I have never bought a collections' catalogue but like you, if I see something I like investigating further, especially the details.

      About the samples. I'm simply a sucker for textiles and these are all samples that I got from Fermoie. However, I must admit that I'm dying to have two old chairs that we bought in Antwerp upholstered. But oh my, how would I ever decide which fabric to choose!!!

    2. Ooops, I forgot. The olive sample from Fermoie is a fabric called Rabanna, 100% cotton, production no. L-077. You fill find it under the dark green fabrics on their website: http://fermoie.com/product_colors/?color=dark_green

  2. I love the fact that you're always inviting us for a virtual cup of coffee and a peek into your favorite magazines and books. It's like a virtual coffee break with a friend!

    1. Thank you for lovely words, Igor. A virtual coffee break ... I have never thought about it in that way, but of course that is exactly what it is ;-)

  3. And, I am now a fan of the magazine recommendations as well as the books. I'm so happy I've found your blog.


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