30 April, 2010

The Duchess Waxes Nostalgic . . .

For Her Old Kentucky Home

Heavy sigh. Once again, that historic Kentucky holiday is upon us -- Derby weekend. The Duchess is quite certain that all of you are gearing up right now, and you're all probably several bloodies ahead of her, and you're dressesd to the nines, and you're off of work, and your friends and family are all in town, and you're laughing, sitting in the sun, and watching those gorgeous ponies run. But the Duchess would never be bitter, would she? No, no, no.

She'll simply take revenge. Quietly, without you even knowing it, the Duchess will score the ultimate coup. One day, we'll run into one another at Doll's Market -- the Duchess will be wearing sunglasses and a hat, buying Alka Seltzer, Stoned Wheat Thins and diet ginger ale. You'll do a double take. Could it be . . . the Duchess? Come home to the Bluegrass?

And what you won't have known is that the Duchess snapped up this tidy little English manor home within spitting distance of the River, where she has been hosting landmark fetes and galas -- and hasn't invited you.

To borrow from the Talking Heads, home is where the Duchess wants to be, and this must be the place. Cobble Court sits on a two and one half acre site in Glenview, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and named to the Historic District Country Estates of River Road by the National Trust of Historic Preservation and the National Park Service. Not good enough for you? It was designed by Frederick Morgan and sited on grounds custom created by the Olmstead Brothers of Boston themselves. Four bedrooms, four baths -- the perfect size for Duchess and sons, with room a plenty for Mummie.

The house is perfection. Might need a slight tweaking on the inside though. Of course, that's where Mummie comes in, but the Duchess is certain to call upon her suite of creative friends and confidantes to take this baby from peaked to perky.

Who among you shall it be? Tune in tomorrow for the Duchess's choice. And darlings, please. If you must leave the racetrack, for heaven's sake, leave the keys and take a horse!

4318 Glenview Avenue
Louisville Kentucky 40025
Listed at $2,390,000 (Californians that is not a typographical error)
MLS #1269313

28 April, 2010

The Duchess Enjoys . . .

Mark Hampton: An American Decorator, by Duane Hampton

In 1998, America lost one of its most renowned and adored decorators, Mark Hampton, Jr. Hampton, the legend of design studio Mark Hampton Inc., veteran of David Hicks and McMillen, and forever Renaissance man decorated the finest interiors across the country, from Denise and Prentiss Hale's Russian Hill apartment to the Hamptons rental of Susan and Carter Burden.

His beloved wife Duane (along with daughter Alexa) keep Hampton's torch burning brightly. Alexa is now the principal of Mark Hampton LLC, and a noted designer in her own right. Duane celebrates her late husband in a more intimate and literary way -- she has just published the spectacularly beautiful tome Mark Hampton: An American Decorator. All of his exquisite interiors, along with practical advice and amusing anecdotes, come together here.

Photograph courtesy of Architectural Digest

Today Mrs. Hampton sat sipping peach iced tea under an umbrella in the pea gravel-strewn courtyard of Hollyhock, Inc.'s new space on La Cienega. Gracious and charming, her filigreed signature upon the title page of each buyer's book, Mrs. Hampton represented class and dignity, serentiy and liveliness -- all Hampton hallmarks.

Photograph Courtesy of Architectural Digest

It was a very fine showing indeed, and the Duchess applauds Mrs. Hampton and her beautiful book. A fitting tribute to a loving husband, dear friend, and phenomenal decorator. Hampton lived by the rule applicable to us all: As an observer recalled of him, "His mind was as well furnished as his rooms."

26 April, 2010

The Duchess Decorates . . .

from the London estate of Mrs. Charles (Jayne) Wrightsman

For the entry hall, this Louis XVI console table would be perfect. It's been around since the 1770s, so certainly it should hold up to all the family traffic.

We'll need some light of course. Louis XVI-style ormolu-mounted porphyry urn.

Quite nice behind the master bed. Louis XIV-style wool and silk needlepoint six panel screen of the late 19th century.

Oh, the Duchess does hope the television will fit. Louis XVI ormolu-mounted mahogany armoire (one of a pair), circa 1780.

Too fresh for the mantle. Powder room appropriate picture. Portrait by Jean-Marc Winkler, 2002.

Property from the Collection of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman: The London Residence
Sotheby's New York
Session 1: Wednesday, April 28, 10:00 am EST, Lots 1-174
Session 2: Wednesday, April 28, 2:00 pm EST, Lots 175-367

Mr. and Mrs. Charles (Jayne) Wrightsman assembled one of the greatest collections of French eighteenth century furniture and decorations. It has been twenty-six years since the last Sotheby's auction of Wrightsman belongings from their Palm Beach estate. The Duchess, were she you, readers, certainly would not miss this opportunity to purchase a little piece of history from the Wrightsman estate.

The Duchess Reads . . .

April has been an active reading month for the Duchess, and as she promised to provide reviews on books mentioned previously here, she seizes this opportunity to offer her thoughts on the books she has just read, in hopes you will do the same.

"This is Where I Leave You" by Jonathan Tropper is an amusing family tragi-comedy centered on seven days of shiva in the wake of the patriarch's death. A collection of disaffected, misfit siblings and their midlife crises, entertainingly narrated by the cuckolded, unemployed, middle brother Judd, serve as caricatures of our own problems and complicated relationships. It was witty, fresh and lively, with enough pathos to be touching. The Duchess recommends.

The Duchess wishes she hadn't read "An Inconvenient Woman" by Dominick Dunne just so she could anticipate reading it all over again (which she very well may do nonetheless). Adore this book. The sharply observed mannerisms and modus operandi of society Los Angelenos (as opposed to Hollywood people, we'll get to them in a bit) make this quasi-noir thriller crackle and pop. The late Dunne was high society's keenest chronicler, and he was in top form here. The Duchess very highly recommends.

"Elements of Style" by Wendy Wasserstein. This was the book equivalent of Bazaar magazine's "A Fashionable Life" column -- fluffy, but still a fun and easy read.

"Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann. Amazing. An absolutely amazing book. "Let the Great World Spin" won the National Book Award in 2009, and for many a very good reason. This was a profound and moving novel, complex but nimble; in some ways a paean to the city of New York but really more significant than that -- McCann, without judgment or sentimentality, probes the lives of a broad swath of society's individuals (each in the first person) in what the Duchess perceives to be an effort at illuminating their interconnectedness, and sameness. It's very simply a novel about human nature, and one beautifully executed.

And last, but most certainly not least -- "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again" by Julia Phillips. This book is one of the Duchess's most loved in years. Not that it was spectacularly well-written, to the contrary. The narrative, especially at the book's end, was choppy and inelegant at times. The Duchess chalks much of that up to a poor editing job, but even so. No, what the Duchess loved about this book was its raw honesty. Its acknowledgment of personal failure, and ultimately, its inability to escape those vices that led to the author's downfall. In some ways the book is sensational, of course. It points fingers, it gets angry and irrational. But all of that is so deeply felt, and so real. The protagonist was perfect because she was imperfect, deeply flawed and hindered by her own humanness. At the same time, she never lost hope, and she never stopped trying to improve or better her situation. It's a book about men and women, about the casting couch, about the power imbalance that ever was and ever shall be. It's perfectly relatable -- the legal version would be "You'll Never Drink Starbucks in This Town Again." It's courageous. If only everyone could chronicle their lives in such a remarkably frank, embittered, nostalgic, grand, dreamy, romantic way, well, wouldn't we all have truly lived? Brava, Julia.

25 April, 2010

The Duchess Dreams . . .

of Art and New Orleans

All artwork and images by Amanda Talley

How the Duchess longs for a vacation! This time last year she was packing up for France, but this year? Courtesy of dear old Uncle Sam (not the Duchess's brother, the other one), the Duchess is all dressed up with nowhere to go. A girl can dream, though, can she not?

Now that all that silly football hysteria has worn off, the Duchess's first destination shall be New Orleans. New Orleans is experiencing a pop culture revival of sorts, what with hell freezing over and and the airing of much-hyped-about David Simon/HBO series "Treme" (that's "Tre-may" to you, Uncle Sam -- we're quite sure you don't know your Nawlins' geography). So the Duchess, in all her naivete, will cruise down to that old Crescent City and exercise her parlez-vous, s'il vous plait. And even if you don't.

First stop, Studio Amanda Talley. Ms. Talley (besides being young, gorgeous and well-educated, thus we hate her already, don't we, readers?) is a gifted artist with an emerging national profile, particularly within the design/decorating community. Being such addicts for composition, symmetry, color synergy, and well, beauty, Ms. Talley's works strike a chord among us. They are feminine, to be sure, but neither frilly nor romantic; they are abstract and modern without feeling cold, harsh or unemotional. The Duchess loves them, and she isn't alone.

The Duchess is certain that the talented, perspicacious Ms. Talley will be the ideal dining companion and tour guide. And perhaps, if the Duchess is on her best behavior, she can persuade Ms. Talley to part with one of her amazing artworks to anchor the Duchess's new home? Darling, let's talk!

Thus the Duchess recommends . . .

Amanda Stone Talley
Studio Amanda Talley
First at Magazine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

23 April, 2010

The Duchess Attends . . .

"Rooms to Inspire," Los Angeles Antiques Show

Yesterday afternoon the Duchess dropped in at Hollywood at Home for a book signing with Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter who have just published a new tome in their "Rooms to Inspire" series, "Rooms to Inspire in the City." The book features the homes of, among others, Peter Dunham (of H@H) and David Cruz of Blackman Cruz, and that of the delicious Tamara Mellon, decorated by Martyn Lawrence-Bullard.

Mr. Lawrence-Bullard is everywhere these days. He designed the entry tent for the Los Angeles Antiques Show, and he was on hand Wednesday evening for its fabulous preview party benefitting P.S. Arts. (The food was yummy and the wine was quite good.) The Duchess congratulated Mr. Lawrence-Bullard on his May Elle Decor cover (featuring the home of Ellen Pompeo) and his C Magazine spread showing the home of Cheryl Tiegs (also with photography by Mr. Street-Porter). Great photography, great work.

The Antiques Show provided the perfect combination of the Duchess's interests -- art, antiques, conversation and drink. The Duchess will not recap the evening's exhibitors and highlights (certain to be covered in full and splendidly by others). The Duchess will mention, however, that she would have preferred to see more local, Los Angeles area-based antiques dealers and arts purveyors. For example, the legendary Joel Chen. Mr. Chen has over 50,000 square feet of filled-to-the-gills antiques right here in Los Angeles, perfect for oohing and aahing over in person. Here are a few Duchess-worthy pieces at Empress-worthy prices:

19th Century Georgian Style Secretary

19th Century French Bureauplat

Diego Giacomett "Le Chat Maitre d'Hotel" (in bronze)

Perhaps next year.

20 April, 2010

The Duchess Dines . . .


This past weekend saw the coming and going of Coachella and of her beloved alma mater's reunion, but the Duchess skipped out on both. Last night, however, she more than made up for those passed-over parties, indulging in a scrumptious dinner with the Earl of Greenwich at Cecconi's.

One could barely see by the time we finally sat at table, it was so late; Mr. Obama is in town, resulting in the very inconvenient closure of Wilshire Boulevard, the Duchess's main thoroughfare. But no matter. As usual, the food (washed down with healthy doses of Pimm's and Sauvignon Blanc) was yummy, and the company and conversation were even better. A perfect night.

Oh, but not a perfect morning. Two coffees and two ginger ales have done nothing to ease the Duchess's discomfort. Oy. Time to crawl back under the covers and turn on a little Old Crow Medicine Show, who played on Saturday at Coachella, but who have been playing for years in the Duchess's home. Corn liquor, indeed.

18 April, 2010

The Duchess Decides . . .

Farrow and Ball

A terrifically fun, but terribly exhausting, weekend! It all began on Friday with a seemingly endless stream of cocktails and appetizers at the famed Il Moro with a handful of royal consorts, and from there . . . well, the Duchess isn't quite certain what happened next. All she knows is that Saturday involved another seemingly endless stream, this time of antiques and paint colors.

As we all know the duchy is relocating to Sycamore Square in the coming days and the Duchess is practically apoplectic over certain crucial decor decisions. One, the dining room table. Massive, obviously, but Art Deco blonde burled walnut or a 1920s painted Italian? This is the kind of question currently keeping the Duchess up past her bedtime. (She is not complaining, of course.)

The second pressing question involves selection of paint colors for the Duchess's new digs. After burying herself in a Farrow and Ball fan deck . . .

she believes she has decided on the perfect hues to complement her, and her interior. ("Parma Gray" and "Pink Ground", anyone?)

Farrow and Ball, of course, is the British maker of fine paints in sumptuous colors that is the favorite of many a decorator, including John Fowler himself, after whom a paint is named ("Fowler Pink"). "Card Room Green", "Off White", and "Old White" were selected to cover the walls of historic Long Room at Lord's Cricket Ground, top, and also by paint specialist Charles Hesp in restoring part of the drum at St. Paul's Cathedral (below). Good enough for the Holy See is good enough for me.

In other news we have quite the week ahead of us, don't we, readers? The Los Angeles Antiques Show kicks off this Wednesday with its gala event benefitting P.S. Arts, and then we face a veritable parade of book signings, mini-fetes, et cetera et cetera. More to come later, for now the Duchess is off to bed. Sweetest dreams, darlings!

17 April, 2010

The Duchess Hunts . . .

Salterini Wrought Iron Furniture

Maurizio Tempestini Patio Set at Red

Another gorgeous Southern California day, with clear skies spared thus far from the spouting ash plume of the infamous Icelandic volcanic eruption. The perfect day to loll about in the sun, quaffing Pimm's or Lillet (blanc, bien sur), and reading about the latest Wall Street scandal (it's a good one this time!).

But ah, the Duchess lacks the perfect outdoor equipment necessary for her aims, so today she is on the hunt for a bit of Salterini. Who, dear readers, you may ask? Mr. Salterini was an Italian immigrant who manufactured fanciful and rich wrought iron furniture from 1928 to 1953, and his pieces are coveted still today. Here are a few of the Duchess's loves from one-stop shop 1stdibs.

Wrought Iron Garden Set at Lost City Arts

"Montego" Garden Set at JF Chen

Iron Table and Chairs from a Southampton Estate at Eclectiques

Vintage Iron Chaise at Regan and Smith

So follow the Duchess's lead, readers, and snap up some Salterini. It's certainly worth the investment, and your tan will thank you.

16 April, 2010

The Duchess Anticipates . . .

Kendall Wilkinson, Joe Nye

One King's Lane's second Tastemaker Tag Sale begins bright and early tomorrow, and will feature pieces from the shop of San Francisco designer Kendall Wilkinson. Ms. Wilkinson brings feminine grace and youthful flair to traditionally anchored Bay Area interiors. On 1stdibs, where readers may preview her wares, she offers a collection of BeeLine Home (by Bunny Williams) as well as other antique, vintage and custom-designed furniture and objects.

The Duchess presents some interiors decorated by Ms. Wilkinson to whet your appetite for the Saturday sale.

Having fully devoured "The Great Lady Decorators," "Sister Parish Designs," and this month's Vogue, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest and House Beautiful, the Duchess this weekend will be picking up some new (very exciting!) reading, "Flair" by her beloved Joe Nye. Hollyhock has stacks of copies -- do pick up one or two.

15 April, 2010

The Duchess Adores . . .

Hollywood at Home!

Photo courtesy of Stylebeat

God, the Duchess loves the boys over at Hollywood at Home. Today was fantastic, started out with a lovely visit with her friend Jason over at H@H. Had to return some fabric samples but ended up getting a parking ticket over all the fun we were having. It was worth it!

Marisa Marcantonio over at Stylebeat did a fantastic feature on the new Hollywood at Home space on La Cienega, recently relocated from Almont Yard. Peter Dunham's textile collection (in addition to those of Lisa Fine, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Jed Johnson, etc.) is divinely displayed in this new space. Divine. Peter, the peripatetic collector/designer/savant, has curated a terrific collection of pieces for his shop, and even more may be found on 1stdibs.com. For example, the Duchess found a screen on 1stdibs about which she inquired, only to find (today of all days) that Peter will be using it in an installation at the Hollyhock window for the Legends of La Cienega Celebrate Hollywood weekend of May 6 through May 8. Ms. Suzanne, stealing the Duchess's thunder . . . and appropriately so, the Duchess must concede.

Peter's flagship textile, if you will, is his colorful, graphic and iconic "Fig Leaf" (shown above in Original on White), but he has an eclectic vision that is displayed by the breadth and depth of his creations. The Duchess was so very pleased to see Hollywood at Home in Elle Decor; a worthy shout-out for sure.

Personally, the Duchess loves this Kashmir Paisley in the Blue/Pink colorway, just perfect for coordinating with her new upholstery. She also adores the Starburst pattern (East colorway, but many more available) below.

Come out to Hollywood at Home for the book signing of Annie Kelly's new Rooms to Inspire, co-hosted with Martyn Lawrence-Bullard himself, on April 22. Mr. Lawrence-Bullard is a very busy man these days: his interior design for the home of Ellen Pompeo and Chris Ivery was featured in this month's Elle Decor (and made the cover, no less!) and he also designed the entrance tent for the Los Angeles Antiques Show (preview party next Wednesday) -- see you all there!


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