Monday, March 22, 2010

An old invitation

written on the reverse side of the exhibition poster:

La Garde Guerin
48800 Villefort, France
July 10, 1988

Dear Hans –
Thanks to you, we had a most interesting and enjoyable 24 hours in Arles. We were so glad to see the exhibition of your work, and also the Chinese, and despite all imperfections on the part of whomever organized things, it was a great delight to see all the projections of your work, and of you working, and the interview with you, and all. Thank  you so much for putting the tickets aside for us, and congratulations for all honors the “powers-that-be” were wise enough to bestow upon you.
I’m sending this, and the enclosed postcards, because close friends of ours (French) who have this very beautiful medieval chateau of Castanet (he’s an architect for the monument historique and she is very active in “les Vieilles Maisons Francaises” (protecting great houses, etc.) and also in art (she has interesting exhibitions each summer in the Castle of Castanet, and sometimes concerts too) have never been to New York, and they would like to trade their castle for two, or for three weeks in June, 1989 for a nice, and especially well-located apartment in Manhattan. I don’t know your apartment, but I am sure it is nice, and the address is certainly good. We know these friends very well - they have come to visit us and have stayed with us in Switzerland and Madrid, and we have stayed with them often, both at Castanet (before our house here was finished – we are a small half hour’s drive from them) and where they live in the winter in the Laynedor (?). They are careful, conscientious and I would not hesitate house trading with them myself whereas I would be very reluctant to do so with most people!)
They would put personal things away and lock their own bedroom, which leaves 2 absolutely charming and comfortable double bedrooms (one with divan also), plus a small bedroom in a tower; 2 bathrooms; a small but well-equipped kitchen in another tower (with dishwasher). Beautiful salons and dining room – all in granite with heavenly views (one would have to rent a car).
I thought you might like to invite some of your family or friends for a 2 or 3 week adventure in the Cevennes!? We could try to be in La Garde for some of the time to show you around.
If you are interested, please let me know as soon as possible. I’m writing 3 other NY friends, and if none of you is interested, our Castanet friends will try through other friends to find something.
The castle is done with great simplicity and elegance – all authentic furniture from this region. We adore it.
If you are interested, please send details (and maybe a photo?) about your apartment. They only need one bedroom, plus all the rest.
All good wishes, Pat

 Chateux en Lozere
“There are absolutely marvelous drives, hikes, walks and quite unknown, wild countryside to explore. Tuts regions is almost unique in its primitive state because most young people left all the villages (the climate being very rough in winter) before hideous additions and transformations could be made. So the villages are really an integral part of the landscape and the harmony is very rare in our day.

Les Cevenes Touristiques
“It is wonderful to be literally in tuts beautiful lake….with the light and water dancing on and inside the castle on the wonderful medieval stone.
We share the same cleaning lady (very nice and efficient) who lives within a 5 minutes walk from the castle. They would have her clean it thoroughly before you come and after you leave, and you could have her any time you like in between – even every day.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A toy for little girls - and a fashion icon

I, like most little girls in the US, grew up with Barbie dolls. It began with the infamous story of how my mom bribed me to give up my baby bottle by offering me a Barbie doll. Its companion story is how I subsequently agreed to give up my pacifier also, but for a Ken doll this time (hey - Barbie needed a husband, and not a plushy, furry one. My mind was still innocent and pure at this time). Over the years, I accumulated many, many different Barbies and Barbie-related items, which over the summer we had given away to friends and family or donated to our local church. However, apparently some random small items remained scattered in our apartment, as will happen over a lifetime, and I stumbled upon these two Barbie fashion cards in a drawer.

I don't even remember where these came from or what they were for; I'm pretty sure I didn't own the dolls themselves. I'm so amused by the text that accompanies the images on the back - its like Barbie was trying to actively teach me about fashion through her wardrobe. I really don't understand the 'fun facts' that are also there since, as a little girl, I couldn't care less about something like Wrigley Field if I tried (which I didn't even know about anyway).

Fashion Facts:
Barbie is tutu beautiful! Her ballerina skirt is frothy white net over her strapless bodice of sparkly silver lame. Barbie looks as sweet as a Sugar Plum Fairy in her princess tiara and white ballet slippers!
Barbie Facts:
Included with the original fashion are black practice tights and leotard, pink satin shoe bag, and a "ballet program" announcing Barbie dancing the "Sugar Plum Fairy" ballet from Tchaikowsky's Nutcracker Suite!
Fun Facts:
John F. Kennedy is sworn in as America's youngest President. In his speeches he says, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!"

Fashion Facts:
"Bright & Breezy Fashions"
Here's a casual outfit all dotted with fun! Barbie doll's long-sleeved top is a white cotton knit with primary-colored dots. It's belted at the waist with a bright red cinch belt. Red ribbed-knit pants are extra long, so they "scrunch" perfectly at the ankles. Her shoes are red open-to high heels.
Barbie Facts:
Island Fun Barbie comes with an exotic sarong and has a "bamboo" hut with a swinging hammock and ceiling "fan"!
Fun Facts:
1988 is the first year night games are played at Wrigley Field.

So many articles and studies have been done about how Barbie negatively influences girls, not only in terms of body perception but also regarding materialism, and while there is some truth in those articles I don't ever remember viewing Barbie primarily in those terms. I saw her first as a doll through which I could create my own stories of adventure and love, as a woman who could attain anything that I wanted her to in my 5 year old mind (which admittedly was not too grand, but grander than I was capable of in my 5 year old body).

Barbie was also like a little model for me, the stylist, to dress up in whatever fashion I chose. That was what I loved the most about Barbie - all the tiny fashion accessories and clothes you could buy for her. If I wanted her to wear her yellow open toe high heel sandals with her white sun dress and not the white pumps that came with the dress, then by golly I could do that! Sure, maybe that aspect influenced the materialistic side of me, but I'd say that the people in my life influenced my perceptions and opinions more than an inanimate object, with my mom influencing me more than anyone. If you had asked me who I wanted to be like back when I was a child, I can guarantee that I would have said that I wanted to be just like my mom - not some plastic, can barely move her limbs, disproportionate semblance of a human being. But I do wish that my boobs were bigger...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Habits never change

I visited my family in NYC this past weekend and, among the many items that I discovered, the first thing that I found was this large, red leather bound book. It was sitting all alone on a table in the living room and begged to be opened - which is precisely what I did:

Turns out that this is a scrapbook that my dad made. He and a friend of his signed up for this guided tour of Europe right after their high school graduation (I know, right?! Can you believe he made this and was barely even in college yet?!).

This is exactly something that I would do; now I know where I get it from! All of the things he kept are ones that I would've too, like copies of the ship's daily program and own newspaper the 'Ocean Times,' theatre bill from seeing "Bye, Bye Birdie" in London (3rd row, center only $4.50), local maps and tickets to places, etc. My dad and I looked through it all together and he related stories connected to all of the items and pictures. It was an organized tour, mostly younger people around my dad's age so they ended up acting like average American college kids with some hilarious results. While in Naples one night, one of the guys got drunk, went around to all of the girls' rooms and ended up getting dressed in drag. Everyone thought it was a hoot, took pictures of him, and then noticed that he had disappeared. They found him walking outside on the streets with a line of cars slowly following him...that must have been quite a sight to see.

I just can't help myself

Jil Sander, via

You know you have a problem when other people can recognize it. Take for example my boyfriend who, upon noticing me playing around with images of shoes from runway shows in Photoshop, exclaimed, "Wow, those are amazing, when did you get them?" Of course, he comforted me as I bemoaned the fact that while I have at least 4x as many shoes as he has (probably more, actually), I do not and cannot easily own most shoes that I see. These Jil Sander shoes epitomize my dilemma: 1) I can't afford them 2) I probably can't easily wear them 3) They're so beautiful, I don't even want to just own them to wear them (which I desperately, desperately want to do). I want to own them so that I can hold them, and look closely at them, and place them on my non-existent mantle as the pieces of art they are so that everyone who came into my home would see them and exclaim, "Those are beautiful, where did you find them?"

Shoe Porn, Fall 2010

I'm the first to admit that I'm a shoe-aholic - its the first accessory I turn to, the one item I yearn after. A pair of shoes can instantly transform not only your outfit but also your attitude; when I'm feeling low, I inevitably put on a pair of my favorites and just wear them around the house, sometimes only in my underwear if I want to feel sexy too ;)

I love when Fashion Week comes to the world primarily because so many designers go all out with their shoe designs. These are the types of shoes that I truly crave - architectural, sculptural, so unique that you have to stare at them in wonder. This is truly, truly wearable art (although the requisite model-tumbles beg to differ).

Dior Fall 2010, via
I can't get enough of these Dior shoes; the heels in particular are entrancing, like stackable puzzle pieces. So much fun!

Gaultier Fall 2010, via
Gaultier had such an insane variety of styles that its hard to choose which ones I like the most - I just want to try them all on! Those booties on the bottom right are fantastic, I love the detail of the straps tied around the heel creating a wedge like form.

Prada Fall 2010, via
The combination of the knitted stockings with the shoes at Prada is fascinating. I'm curious to know how comfortable they are, or if the cable knit portion creates an uncomfortable bulge on top when stuffed into these pumps.

Chanel Fall 2010, via
Oh, Chanel. One of the few times I'd consider having huge furry columns as legs.

Rodarte Fall 2010, via
Maybe its just me and the fact that I saw "Alice in Wonderland" this weekend, but I'm totally getting that vibe from these Rodarte shoes. Whimsy everywhere!

Thakoon Fall 2010, via
Lanvin Fall 2010, via
Yves Saint Laurent Fall 2010, via
Dior Fall 2010, via
Proenza Schouler Fall 2010, via
Miu Miu Fall 2010, via
Valentino Fall 2010, via
Carolina Herrera Fall 2010, via
Nina Ricci Fall 2010, via

(from L to R) Commes de Garcons '10, Gaultier '10, Derek Lam '10, Dries van Noten '10, via

Monday, March 15, 2010

Momma's got a new toy

...and its not of the vibrating kind ;)
photo via

I almost forgot that my trip to NYC was not only to check in on Dad post-knee surgery but also to pick up my brand new, gloriously beautiful Nikon D90! Gotta love eBay - I managed to snag this digital baby in a package deal that a bunch of eBay stores offer. Not only did I get the camera with its lens, but also like 5 additional lenses, lens filters, two carrying cases (hard and soft), two tripods (large and small), an external flash, a 16GB SD card, a lens cleaning kit, and probably two or three other small items that I can't remember and don't feel like opening the case to look. Its a lot of stuff, more than the average person needs - but I'm not average :P Better yet - I paid less than the retail price for JUST THE CAMERA on all of that stuff. I'm still glowing with a sense of conquest.

This means better photos, and hopefully an exponential increase in my own photography! Once the weather is nice this week I'll have to take it for an outdoor test drive. I already got a first try when my niece came to NYC for a surprise visit (yay!). Even she wanted to try taking pictures with the new Nikon, and I couldn't refuse. Two years old and she already has the creative gene in the family.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Do kittens like electronic hamsters?

Today, I stopped by my local CVS for a few items and while browsing (I love looking at all the random crap that pharmacies have) I stumbled upon an entire shelf full of Zhu zhu pets! Remember those? The weird little electronic hamster toys that kids went ga-ga over because they're apparently so cute, parents went ga-ga over because they were the perfect recession-friendly holiday toy for their kids, and then subsequently the media went ga-ga over first because it was selling out instantly and then later because it might be made with cancerous materials or whatever. I'm still alive and healthy and god only knows what my childhood toys were made out of.

Anyways, I grabbed one - just one, they had four different Zhu zhu pets on the shelves, the box said something about having 'distinct personalities' so I went with this little brown guy named Scoodles since it sounded like he liked to move. I figured either I would love it, or my two kitties would love it, and either situation was awesome since my super-human, way too intelligent kittens easily tire of toys once they figure them out and are currently in desperate need of amusement. And I need them to be amused so that I can get work done at home.

The verdict? I kind of really do love little Scoodles (and totally a name I would give an adorable hamster). He has a high-pitched adorable 'voice' and scurries around the floor, randomly spinning and changing directions. I want to buy the other ones too, but I don't know how my boyfriend would feel. The look he gave me when I showed Scoodles to him was...well...anyways, not sure yet how the kittens feel since the novelty factor has yet to wear off. They're still tentatively curious, but slightly freaked out when it decides to run in their direction. We'll have to wait and see before it gets relegated to the 'seen it, done that' pile of gifts. I always spoil them. But how can you say no to these faces?