Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Chaos and the Soothing Sounds of Songbirds

The holidays have me in a tizzy! Fashion crazed shoppers run amok, the pursuit of all things glittering and gleaming and recipes, endless recipes flying everywhere, vying for a place at the table. 

Having had a father that was a chef and having grown up part time in a professional kitchen environment where music was played constantly as a motivator and as an instrument of calm (mainly Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk) it has become essential to have good music playing while a feast is being prepared. 

In the midst of all this chaos I have found calm and pleasure listening to some great songs by favorite songbirds of yesteryear. 

Below are a few favorite photos of the great Peggy Lee.

I absolutely adore these gloves and have been looking everywhere for a similar pair to no avail!

Next is the song "Black Coffee" performed by Peggy Lee.

The next song is one of my favorites by Peggy Lee, "You're My Thrill".

Below are a few photographs of Diana Dors, a great starlet.

Below is the very funny Diana Dors song "The Gentleman is a Dope".

Next is my favorite Diana Dors song "Roller Coaster Blues".

Below are select photos of the wonderful Julie London.

Below are two sultry videos of Julie London accompanied by the Bobby Troup Quintet performing on "The Julie London Show". 

Below is the fantastic jazz singer Nancy Wilson.

In closing, we have two upbeat songs performed by Nancy Wilson sure to get the kitchen jumping!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Treasure Hunting - Glamorous Ghosts In A Country Manor

Freak snowstorm aside, we just returned from a wonderful weekend in the country visiting Victorian mansions and digging for fabulous treasures in countless antique stores. 

We had the great pleasure of enjoying cocktails in one magnificent house in particular. Our friends have decorated their late 19th century home with such care and superb taste that we have been relishing the memories of each of the rooms since our return. 

The house is arranged around sublime vignettes, utilizing the most fantastic decorative objects and pictures from the last 200 or so years, from the Baroque to high modern without ever forgetting to honor the gorgeous architecture of the house. It was truly like walking into the pages of The World of Interiors magazine. The house was described by one of the owners as a personal Wunderkammer, a perfect description of a perfectly beautiful home. 

Moving through these many rooms, up and down staircases, resisting the urge to slide down the shiny polished banisters, treading gently over French silk carpets, careful not to let my small vintage Celine handbag knock over a frighteningly fragile Bavarian porcelain folly (a priceless accident I would never live down), I began thinking about the scenes these rooms have been witness to over the last century. I wonder what songs have been played on Victrolas to Hi-Fis with party revelers wearing clothing that one might find eccentric today...

The images that are inspiring me this week derive from this idea of imagining one great old house and the history of fashion that the privileged people have worn in these rooms, from Edwardian finery to the sleek lines of the Art Deco era. Maybe it's because of Halloween, but I could swear that I saw out of the corner of my eye fantastically dressed ghosts going about their ghostly day, moving from room to room lighting candles and then blowing them out. 

Below is a beautiful photo of an Edwardian girl. I love the way her striped fur wrap is worn so casually. The plumed hat is also quite fantastic.

Below is a great studio shot of an actress wearing an insane dress that appears to be made of silver silk velvet and chinchilla. The way she is standing, hand on hip with just the right amount of bangle bracelets is perfect. The head wrap is also great with the scarf ends hanging long with glittering beaded tips.

Below is a stunning photo of an actress wearing a magnificent pleated dress with fabulous accordion pleated wings. 

This next photograph is unusual and beautiful. I love the placement of the two jeweled bows and double heart beauty marks. 

Beneath is a great image of the beautiful actress Veronica Lake looking absolutely gorgeous.

Next is a beautiful photo of the actress Kathryn Adams. I love the vertical ruching at the shoulders. The tassel necklace is beautiful. Lately we have been collecting a variety of tassel necklaces for the Pearl Modern store from Hattie Carnegie to Etruscan revival. There is something so fun about the way they swing!

Next is a photograph of the always beautiful actress Carole Lombard in the most exquisite beaded leaf patterned dress. Amazing!

This next image is so haunting. It is of the actress Marion Davies, the lover of infamous publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.

Below is a photo of the silent movie actress Mary Brian, who played Wendy Darling in director Herbert Brenon's 1924 silent movie adaptation of 'Peter Pan'. I love the rhinestone buckle detail at her waist.

This next photo is a wonderful image of the actress Kay Francis from the 1920s. The all white outfit is so chic and modern that I could imagine it having been designed by Giorgio Armani.

Beneath is an image of the actress Toby Wing. This corduroy dress is quite amazing. The geometric details and the diamond shaped belt buckle are excellent design elements. 

Next is a stunningly goth image of the actress Suzanne Ridgway from 1938 taken by master photographer George Hurrell. I have a scarlet red dress just like this that needs to be exhumed from the wardrobe immediately!

Below is another amazing 1938 photograph by George Hurrell of the actress Whitney Bourne. This is just a perfect photo. I love the use of the hat and the long netting is mysterious, sexy and slightly subversive.

This next image is also mysterious. She looks like a James Bond villainess in her high heeled boots.

Below is a photo of the actress Elaine Dunne, who played Vashti on the "Wild Wild West" television series in the episode "The Night of the Infernal Machine" in 1966.

Next is a photograph that I absolutely love of the Swedish stage actress Viveca Lindfors. The styling is absolutely perfect. 

The next photo inspiring me this week is of actress Merle Oberon. Born in Bombay in 1911, she made her way to England and then to America, where she had a long career appearing on television. To me, she exudes an exotic beauty with eyes that could tell many dark stories.

On a lighter note, in closing, we have a very surreal photo of the ├╝ber glamorous actress Anita Ekberg from 1955, sitting in possibly the strangest chair we have ever seen. We wish we had been at that costume party!