30 March, 2010

The Duchess Pretty Much Cannot Get Enough Of . . .

Oh, and readers? Do yourselves a favor and stop by Raffles L'Ermitage right down the street on Brighton. Terrific wines-by-the-glass list, satisfying munchies, and cozy nooks and crannies for tete-a-tetes on screenplays, Los Angeles real estate, and/or the night's festivies to come. Did the Duchess mention free valet?

The Duchess Recommends . . .

The Getty, International Silks and Woolens

Although it may appear as though all is quiet on the Western front, it has in fact been quite hectic of late. The Duchess does apologize for the delay in posting, but she has been so busy with a new endeavor (not yet ready for the unveiling) that it has taken up all of her "free" time. That, and she and the lords had an active weekend involving trips to the Getty (for a picnic with Baroness and family) and the Santa Monica Pier.

The highlight of the Duchess's weekend was a score of serious yardage of chintz from International Silks and Woolens. The selection there is absolutely beyond, the shopkeeps are incredibly pleasant and helpful, and the Duchess will most certainly return in the very near future. Thank you, International Silks!

The Duchess recommends . . .

International Silks and Woolens
8347 Beverly Boulevard (at the Kings Road)
Los Angeles, California 90048
tel. 323.653.6453

25 March, 2010

The Duchess Visits . . .

Harbinger, Almont Yard

The Duchess popped into Almont Yard recently (unfortunately didn't run into the Habitually Chic crew -- so sad!) to visit Nathan Turner's place, but found this gem of a shop instead. Harbinger is the retail side of Lucas Studio, Inc., a design firm founded by two veterans of Michael S. Smith, Inc., Joe Lucas and Parrish Chilcoat. Lucas Studio's web site, http://lucasstudioinc.com, features a voluminous portfolio of their work and it is really impressive. Fresh, young, transitional, but with a classic eye and timeless air.

Harbinger too offers goods with a similar style and mood. It's on the smallish side so there is not a massive inventory, but what they do carry is delightful.

A view of Harbinger from the Almont Yard.

Harbinger carries a handful of fabric lines, such as those by John Stefanidis (featured on the sofa below), as well as whimsical, colorful wallpaperings from desinger Katie Ridder, whom the Duchess loves. (As an aside, Katie Ridder was slated to decorate this year's Kips Bay Show House, but the opening for Kips Bay has been postponed until the fall.)

If you are in the market for a playful but classy slipper chair, Harbinger has this one in stock -- and it's on sale too! But the Duchess won't tell you for how much, oh no; dear readers, you should go see it -- and Harbinger -- with your own eyes.

24 March, 2010

The Duchess Considers . . .

"High Society," on The CW

Watching "High Society," the CW's new "reality" program, is for the Duchess much like horseback riding -- something that she desperately wants to do on a regular basis, but never really sets aside the time for. (How can she, when "Bored to Death" is on HBO re-runs, "How to Make It" is going gangbusters, and "Minute by Minute" by The Doobie Brothers (on vinyl!) is always calling her name?) But we simply must start.

"High Society" chronicles the rise and fall of Tinsley Randolph Mercer Mortimer (Lawrenceville, Columbia Univ.), a recent divorcee whose party-going ways facilitated the parting of ways with her socially entrenched better half, Topper Mortimer. Riding Tins's rollercoaster are her sister, Dabney Mercer, best friend (and lawyer?) Alexandra Osipow, the apparently deranged Jules Kirby and self-described "Page Six scandal boy" Paul Johnson Calderon.

A considerable amount of the storyline (to the extent there is one) focuses on Tinsley's move to "midtown Manhattan," a place where only worker bees and the Duchess courageously tread. Of course, you'd cry too if it happened to you -- leaving her perfectly appointed UES apartment, that is!

Photographs courtesy of House Beautiful via Habitually Chic

No doubt masterminded by her (soon-to-be) former mother-in-law, Ms. Senga Mortimer of House Beautiful magazine, Tins's apartment was quite simply classic and glamorous. It's too bad we cannot see it on the show, non?

22 March, 2010

The Duchess Pays a Visit . . .

Hollyhock, Maison Au Naturel 819

Hollyhock's Mrs. Walker's Sofa

The reconfiguration of the Duchess's parlor necessitated a weekend shopping trip to La Cienega Boulevard, home to many of Los Angeles's best design houses. The Duchess was very excited to peek into Hollyhock's brand new location on La Cienega, as it only recently moved from its long-standing Hilldale space. The new Hollyhock, formerly home to Jean de Merry, is gorgeous, with its old bank vault door and limestone courtyard. The cherry on top -- Ms. Suzanne Rheinstein was there herself on Saturday, arranging furniture and accessories with her right hand Priscilla. If only the Duchess could manage a redecoration process and still look as glamorous (and tiny!) as Ms. Suzanne.

18th Century Louis XV Painted Small Bombe Commode

For those of you who haven't paid a visit to Hollyhock, hurry over! Hollyhock stocks a well-curated assortment of pieces from other designers (lamps by Christopher Spitzmiller, furniture et al. from Bunny Williams's BeeLine Home, fabrics by Robert Kime, crystal from William Yeoward, and bits and bobs from maitre d'objets John Rosselli) as well as Ms. Suzanne's own furniture designs and fabric line, produced by Lee Jofa.

The Duchess picked up a copy of Bunny Williams's Point of View while sweating over that tidy little bombe commode. Hollyhock supplies all of the Los Angeles design community with decorator tomes and handbooks on interiors, gardens and architecture.
June Street Chair

The Duchess and Ms. Suzanne have a lot in common. For example, it was recently reported that Ms. Suzanne has never met a green she didn't like. The Duchess couldn't agree more, and Hollyhock's June Street Chair slipped in a divine green paisley doesn't disappoint. Elegant slipcovering is one of Ms. Suzanne's signatures, and many of her own designs are dressed accordingly, including the Edwardian Chair (below).
Edwardian Chair

Dear readers, get thee to Hollyhock!
927 N. La Cienega Boulevard
West Hollywood, California 90068

The Duchess also popped into the new home of Maison au Naturel 819, formerly of the Pacific Design Center. Maison is helmed by decorating legend Dan Marty, who was also minding the shop on Saturday (assisted by his beautifu dog Sam). Mr. Marty's aesthetic is a very naturalistic, serene and organic one but infused with a lot of worldly influences. All those grainsack pillows and industrial tables one sees at Restoration Hardware? Mr. Marty pioneered that look a long time ago. But his designs and offerings remain fresh as he refines that aesthetic.

Here's an installation view from Maison's old space in the PDC. A perfectly executed, traditional man's bedroom.

Maison Au Naturel from Pacific Design Center

A much-copied look.

Maison Au Naturel from Pacific Design Center

Love this Hampstead trunk for storing old magazines, winter blankets, party supplies, or as an occasional table/ottoman.

Hampstead Trunk
Those grainsack pillows the Duchess was telling you about? Mr. Marty executes them in the most lovely way.
Grainsack Pillow with Laurel Design
These Laurel dining chairs were used by Mr. Marty himself in his home's dining room, in that glorious persimmon color.
Laurel Dining Chairs

Maison sells off the floor, sells Farrow & Ball paint, and has an inspired collection of accessories, textiles, art and antiques. But don't take the Duchess's word for it, go see for yourself.

Maison au Naturel 819
819 N. La Cienega Boulevard
West Hollywood, California 90069
(Web site under construction)

18 March, 2010

The Duchess Considers . . .

The "Oscar" Curse, and Then Some

All Hollywood is abuzz with news of the recent (or not-so-recent) marital trauma suffered by both Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes (above) and Sandra Bullock and Jesse James. Just the other day the Duchess commented on the appeal of Mr. James, someone who -- until today! -- appeared to be comfortable with the limelight accorded to his wife, and someone who -- until today! -- appeared to be able to allow his wife full-blown, international success while still retaining his masculine confidence. Not so, the gossipmongers say, as the tabloids pronounce him guilty-as-charged on suspicion of infidelity.
From this . . .

to this. Eww.

The Duchess will reserve judgment against Mr. James until Ms. Bullock herself speaks out (although the Dowager Duchess confirmed in a pre-highlights call to the Duchess that Mr. James issued an apology via MSNBC -- really? Really? No black anemones, no Van Cleef and Arpels? MSNBC? The Duke better be paying attention (yet again) -- MSNBC is no venue in which to prostrate yourself and declare your undying and singular love for the Duchess. Flowers, diamonds, endless apologies and perhaps a lesser known but no less lovely Gauguin might (MIGHT) do the trick if you slip up, buddy.)

The Oscar curse, as it is known, rears its ugly head about once per annum, or at least since women have been winning a handful of awards. Kathryn Bigelow made it out alive before her big success earlier this month. Thank God too. If the Duchess sees one more reference to "Na'vi blue" she is going to retch her Nick and Stef's out.

Of course, it isn't always for the worse. Halle Berry, in the parlance of Candace Bushnell, clearly traded up.

Halle Berry and Eric Benet

Halle Berry and the Sexiest Man Alive

Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe split up after she won her Best Actress Oscar. The Duchess thinks both of them fared better the second time around, although sadly Ms. Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal also called it quits (word on the street is that he's hot for the delectable Rachel McAdams (Ryan Gosling can't you work it out?????)), and Ryan Phillippe couldn't keep his Y chromosome in check long enough to hold on to the stunning, talented (and very sexy) Abbie Cornish. Y chromosome strikes again.

As the Four Tops sang, "It's the Same Old Song," and it really breaks the Duchess up to hear it. All these beautiful, talented women with their seemingly supportive husbands/partners hit the success jackpot and their relationships fall apart. Women have been wearing "Na'vi blue" for centuries and still keeping their vows, so why not the men? Besides the simple truth that Y follows X (it's a fact, dear readers, so please accept it!), there is a practical reason why society references the anonymous power structure as "The Man" -- but if you are reading the Duchess, you already know what that is.

Lots of love, dear readers. And keep those Y chromosomes in check!

17 March, 2010

The Duchess Recommends . . .

Wedding Attire

Ah, spring. It appears it has finally arrived in Los Angeles. And it brings with it the lush promise of upcoming weddings, school vacations, and -- most importantly -- polo matches. On the subject of weddings, yesterday the Countess consulted with the Duchess concerning options for a flower girl dress for her darling daughter. A stranger to the bride herself, the Duchess makes the following recommendations, depending, of course, on the bride's cup of tea.

The "More is More" Bride

D&G Silk Dress

This silk dress from D&G is gorgeous. The plentiful silk rosettes, full skirt and demure sleeves make this dress an ideal choice for the classic but discerning bride.

The Duchess also likes this Deco dress from Crewcuts, J. Crew's kid sister. Very nice for a rehearsal dinner.

The Duchess swoons for this Let Them Eat Cake Dress. The print is so unexpected, it's very romantic but still sweet and youthful, and certainly could be worn again.

The Beachy Bride

The Josephine dress from Baby CZ would be great at a casual affair on a Caribbean beach.

As would this Halabaloo dress, with its darling candy stripes.

The Euro Bride

The Euro Bride most likely will marry in a church, in an historic and deeply traditional ceremony. She will appropriately cover up, as should her attendants and flower girls. These Italian dresses from Anichini inspire the Duchess to dream about Lake Como nuptials, some combination of the Michael Corleone/Appolonia (Godfather I) and Phillip Radziwill/Devon Schuster (Vogue magazine) ceremonies of Sicily and Gstaad, respectively.

The Country Club Bride

Bridal teas, chicken salad and hydrangeas, the Country Club bride knows thee well. She prefers something tasteful, classic, with clean lines and only a hint of color. The Ashby dress from Baby CZ, with its navy trim, would be lovely at the morning-after brunch.

This Spot dress in gold from Marie Chantal is divine. Marie Chantal has adorably complimentary gold ballet flats to match, and with the headband -- to die for!

Smitherman and Barnwell makes absolutely fabulous dresses (though none in the Duchess's size, sadly). The Country Club Bride would love this pink champagne-colored shantung beauty. Timeless.

The Boheme Bride

Near and dear to the Duchess's heart, the Boheme Bride, with her devil-may-care attitude, her YSL Le Smoking, perhaps a Philip Treacy hat tilted just so, and her penchant for strutting down the aisle (solo, bien sur) to some Blood, Sweat and Tears. Surely she would love this Little Marc Jacobs dress? Very Laurel Canyon.

For the moody, baroque (East Coast?) Boheme Bride, the Duchess presents this Smitherman and Barnwell frock in mustard, with cinnamon flowers at the waist and shoulder. Just restrained enough to be flower girl-appropriate but way out in color palette. An autumn wedding outdoors in Vermont, perhaps? Crazy for this completely fresh look.

And finally, for the Boheme (read: rehab) Bride, may the Duchess suggest this acid green dress showered in drippy, bright florals? It's a strong contender for the Duchess's favorite among the lot (perhaps edged out ever so slightly by that precious little D&G, above), and the Duchess certainly would wear it NOW.

Bonne chance, Countess! Luckily your daughter is so gorgeous she would be divine in a paper bag, but what fun would that be for Mommie to buy?

16 March, 2010

The Duchess Considers . . .

Cocktail Tables
Maison Jansen Table, at Maison Schembri (through 1stdibs)

In order to "drink early and drink often," one must have handy a steady cocktail table. The Duchess, in perpetual redecoration mode, has cleared a spot in her parlor for a brand new one -- but which should she choose? Oh yes, one enjoys pride of place already, a gigantic, tufted and upholstered ottoman large enough to hold the Duchess's collection of children, crumbs and crayon marks. But where might one set down a libation among those Legos and gangly limbs? Impossible. So the Duchess hunts for a new, improved and mostly adults-only cocktail table at that treasure trove of lore, 1stdibs.

The frontrunner to date is this Jansen stunner from Maison Schembri (just a hop and skip away on North La Cienega!). Of course it requires an in-person inspection and small personal injury settlement, but until then the Duchess will dream.

This circular, glass-topped, bronze-based beauty from Mecox Gardens (also on North La Cienega, and filled to the brim with Absolutely Gorgeous Things) would be terrific atop a C.Z. Guest-inspired leopard print carpet, carrying a messy bunch of orchids and tea cups.
For the Duchess's manor this Jean Marc Fray table might be just the right size. She adores the two tiers -- bottom shelf perfect for stacks of books, magazines, and other bits and bobs, top shelf exactly that.
Not quite the Duchess's style but an incredibly unique statement piece. If this were a civilized society, and people were still allowed to smoke indoors, wouldn't the recess in this table from Hilary Batstone be ideal as an ashtray?

From Flessas Design, this green and gilt table is lovely.
East & Orient's orange tole table is petite but packs a wallop with that bright tangy color. Tres festive for a party, as very likely lightweight and moveable.
Finally, from Downtown, is this iron and eglomise giant. The detailing is divine, very Tony Duquette, very neo-baroque Hollywood manse-worthy.

All available at www.1stdibs.com. No driving required, so tip your glasses and shop to your heart's content.


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