30 July, 2010

Drink Early, Drink Often

The Michelada

The New York Times Style magazine, T, recently paid very great homage to that most drinkable of drinks, the michelada. The Duchess herself is newly converted to this magnificent cocktail, persuaded as she was one hot early summer's day at none other than the Getty Center, by none other than the Baroness herself. Armed with several bottles of icy cold Coronas, some margarita salt, tomato juice, hot sauce (Tapatio?) and ice (forgive the Duchess for misremembering the details of the ingredients; it was a hot early summer's day fueled by micheladas!), the Baroness ever so discreetly whipped up one of the tastiest and most refreshing bevvys the Duchess has enjoyed in quite some time.

The michelada is widely open to interpretation; get down the basics (listed above) in some capacity or another and one is well on her way to a tall glass of chilled bliss. T does promote the incorporation of a few dashes of Maggi Seasoning, but really, the elementary version of the michelada (not including it) should suit you just fine.

Without further ado, the michelada (with some help from T magazine, but significantly dumbed down):

-- tall glass
-- ice
-- cold beer (any lighter beer works; of course one may rely on Corona or Tecate)
-- hot sauce (dash)
-- juice of one lime (per drink)
-- visibly moderate amount of tomato juice (just eyeball it to taste)

Put some ice in the glass (or plastic cup, who really cares?). Cut lime, and use to moisten rim of glass/cup. Salt rim of glass/cup. Squeeze in lime. Add beer and tomato juice to suit fancy, plus dash of hot sauce. Drink to excess.

Perhaps the Duchess can drown a michelada or two this weekend while soaking up the sun and submerging herself into "Citrus County", the latest novel from John Brandon. Cheers!

Photograph at top courtesy of the New York Times

28 July, 2010

The Duchess Announces . . .

Deborah Needleman at the WSJ!

Apparently the Wall Street Journal is glamming up its act a bit by promoting Deborah Needleman of Domino fame to be the new editor-in-chief of its glossy magazine WSJ. The Duchess (among many, many others) still doesn't understand why Domino was shuttered (something to do with business, we suppose, but who cares about all that?); but she certainly is delighted that the talents of Ms. Needleman are being capitalized upon.

The Duchess has high hopes that Ms. Needleman will breathe fresh life into the Journal's semi-monthly magazine, and that it will feature brave, youthful interiors like the ones routinely championed at Domino:

(Please remind the Duchess who designed this room.)

Johnson Hartig's Hancock Park living room

A bedroom decorated by Miles Redd

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by my love Michael Bargo

and the Holy Shit How Did He Do It? apartment of Nick Olsen.

Perhaps its time to finally take a subscription!

(Cheers and thanks to Irene for keeping the Duchess updated!)

27 July, 2010

The Duchess Considers . . .

"Take Ivy"

It seems as if the entire earth awaits with baited breath the re-release of "Take Ivy", a volume of photographs originally commissioned by Kensuke Ishizu to document the all-American Ivy League style of the 1960s (1965, to be exact). "Take Ivy" has been an exquisitely rare possession for several decades now, but its United States reprint (in English, no less!) will no doubt flood the market (at least a certain demographic thereof).

The blogosphere, for lack of a better term, has been hyping up "Take Ivy" for over a year now: on The Trad, for example, "Take Ivy" made an appearance as early as late 2008. But "Take Ivy" frenzy has reached new and unforeseen heights. And now of course discerning types can purchase a copy of their very own on none other than the J. Crew Web site.

As J. Crew wisely markets, "Take Ivy" is a men's accessory, and offers nothing of note to the typical red-blooded American female (at least, to this one). No provocative would-be heroes of fantasy, and (as there are of course no women in the photographs) no style pointers. The latter deficiency the Duchess considers here.

Because what is Ivy Style as it translates to the female form and spirit? Yes, we've all read "The Official Preppy Handbook" and purchased our Shetland sweaters from the Andover Shop, but androgynous dress has its limits, particularly among women of a certain age or figure. In other words, how does a woman capture the essence of Ivy Style without obliterating her feminine mystique?

W Magazine, July 2010

With the right set of legs, a touch of schoolgirl always works (especially dowdied up a bit with flats, as shown above in this month's edition of W Magazine (newly edited by Stefano Tonchi)). There's a shelf life on this look though, ladies, although the Duchess will solve that little problem (see photographs below).

The insanely mysterious vixen Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn) of "Twin Peaks" completely epitomizes the dare-to-never bare conservatism emblematic of Ivy Style while simultaneously channeling witchy strength and carnal vulnerability. Quite well done. Smarts and perfect eyebrows never go out of style.

The ever reliable Jackie O. presents the ideal Ivy Style uniform. No makeup; easy hair; flat sandals; navy!; khaki skirt; Gucci bag. An effortless kit for the double-X chromo of any age, 9 to 99.

Anne McNally is perhaps the Duchess's most idealized fashion icon. The hair is terrific, the no-makeup makeup flawless. She's very chic but covered, with an all-American ease (jersey skirt) but with touches of glamour (fur collar and cuffs). She wears blue jeans with the same cache as a ball gown. Her look is unique and she isn't trying too hard (again, the very worst). A very modern Ivy Style.

The Duchess is a bit turned off by the "Take Ivy" fervor. Because we have reached a point where pursuit of a look conveying a lifestyle of privilege and leisure seems more costume-y than effortless, more stylized than natural. Because its authenticity is put-upon; because it's imitation without wit. And perhaps because it is undemocratic in the extreme. There is nothing stylish about that.

23 July, 2010

The Duchess Presents . . .

A Bit of Weekend Eye-Candy

This month's Vogue heralds "The Return of Cleavage." Really? Had it ever gone away? And if it did, by some godforsaken chance, did we ever want it to? Vogue, of course, considers the "return of cleavage" on the runway, and in the fall campaign advertisements, where there has been a true dearth of cleavage and any other heraldry of the true female form.

Since the Duchess is restrained in her editorial license from presenting copious examples of parfait poitrines for her readers' viewing pleasure, she thus considers another currently prevalent and hotly discussed "it girl" feature -- the diastema (otherwise known as "gap teeth").

Now some, even in the Duchess's close quarters, would debate the beauty merits of a fulsome spread right smack in the middle of the smacker, but the Duchess couldn't love it more. It's cheeky and fun, and adds a big dollop of adorable to what would otherwise be a generically sexy face. Take Lara Stone, for example (second photo from top). Quite lovely of course but without her diastema she wouldn't stand out from the crowd, you see, and she certainly wouldn't be the most in-demand model in the business today (which she is).

Of course, we all know that diastemas have been around for ages, what with the likes of Lauren Hutton (photo at bottom), Brigitte Bardot (photo immediately above), and Vanessa Paradis (photo third from top) all parading around with their God given whistles. But today's most fabulous girls -- luscious Lara Stone, and gorgeous Georgia May Jagger (photo at "Tops") -- are making everything old seem new again. Ah, youth!

Bon weekend, loveys. And please don't mind the gap. Leave that to the Duchess.

The Duchess Adores . . .

3.1 Phillip Lim

The Duchess was very pleased to learn that her exquisitely turned out friends over at the 3.1 Phillip Lim store on North Robertson are tracking her movements. The Duchess (and the Empress T.) have been huge Phillip Lim fans for years, and each season his designs demonstrate ever more glamour and sophistication. The fall/winter 2010 collection is perhaps his best yet.

The Phillip Lim woman is modern and mysterious; she's sexy and smart; a bit insouciant. The clothes are accordingly comfortable and easy, and made to wear with (almost) equal emphasis in the boardroom and the bedroom (though in those private chambers they aren't destined to last long). There are lots and lots of fabulous suits, pants, and blouses, simultaneously classic and chic.

The Duchess herself placed an order a few months back for a lishy pair of black pants with suspenders (yet to be seen, wink wink!), but perhaps she should reconsider: aren't these coppery beauties evocative of those tangerine stunners worn by Ms. Tilda in "I Am Love"?

Very Tom Ford for Gucci meets The Row.

A perfectly executed evening look, for a Duchess of any age.

Get thee to Phillip Lim!

3.1 Phillip Lim
631 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, California 90069

22 July, 2010

The Duchess Quite Fancies . . .

The Work of David Netto

This week's Style Compass on 1stdibs features none other than that preppy bon vivant of design, David Netto. Mr. Netto, though currently a Los Angeleno, brings a predominantly East Coast style to bear on all of his interiors, even his spot-on California mid-century homes. This is quite a feat.

Mr. Netto's Yankee refinement and politesse characterize the way he designs, on an aesthetic level, and the way he conducts business, on the personal level. He is as perfectly at home (and on top of his game!) redecorating the boudoir of a young woman for Teen Vogue (see photo at top) as he is an elegant Park Avenue family abode.

In the Duchess's opinion, he does bedrooms expertly, and this is a rarer strength than one may think. Many designers today fall back on formula when it comes to bedroom space, but all of Mr. Netto's bedrooms are uniquely suited to the individual client, and perfectly appointed. The above photograph of his own former bedroom at Washington Square (with a 401k's worth of Zuber paper) has been reproduced so many times it is now in the collective subconscious of design aficionados across the globe. (The Duchess remembers when it was originally published (in the late House and Garden, perhaps?) several years ago now; the bed, the wallpaper, the exposed television (quelle horreur) were all a revelation, and very new. You'll see those elements everywhere today.)

The Duchess loves this apartment kitchen. Like the Duchess these people obviously have to "make do" with lots of style in very little space. Mr. Netto's casual blend of pavers, off-the-shelf appliances, botanical prints and a water bowl for Fido hit the mark for easy, elegant living. His work never conveys a sense of trying too hard (the worst).

A colorful, lively and traditional tablescape, styled by Mr. Netto.

Bedroom on the Upper East Side, clinically depressing (only because the Duchess doesn't live in it).

What a pleasure to see today: traditional interiors with an abundance of chic simple and absolutely no pomp and circumstance. The Duchess quite fancies Mr. Netto, and she is certain that you will too. Read on: visit Mr. Netto over on 1stdibs or his own online address, David Netto Design.

All Photos Courtesy of David Netto Designs

20 July, 2010

The Duchess Reads, and Often Recommends . . .

The summer reading season has long been upon us, but for some reason or another the Duchess -- her nose buried in at least three terrific books at present, and sometimes one or two more to boot -- is making little progress on the road to actual completion. With one gravely disappointing exception, the Duchess remains suspended in the throes of her novels and memoirs, seemingly never to finish. Could it be that this time, real life is much more compelling?

Perhaps. Though Martin Amis and his "The Pregnant Widow" give the Duchess reason to question her own question. Martin's book is wonderful; deserves a separate posting; and will receive same. In the meantime please do pick up a copy and read to your heart's content.

Whilst traveling through the San Francisco Bay Lady K. presented the Duchess with Jeannette Walls's memoir, "The Glass Castle" (paperback), which recounts the fantastical childhood and upbringing of the author and her three siblings by her romantic, nomadic, and quite deranged parents, and the story of her transcendance into maturity both in spite of and because of "her raising" (as the royal family would say). The Duchess is enjoying this one every morning over copious amounts of cafe.

In "Losing Mum and Pup" (also in paperback), neo-con heir Christopher Buckley commemorates the lives and deaths of his parents, William F. and Pat Buckley,and his relationships with them and theirs with one another. The Duchess finds it touching, and funny, and relishes the memory of Pat Buckley's over-the-topness tinged with savoir-faire.

You may decline to read Fitzgerald's stories about Pat Hobby, his man in Los Angeles in the 1940s. These extremely short stories, written for Esquire magazine about a failed screenwriter, attempt droll but achieve ennui.

Last but certainly not least the Duchess has at her bedside (inspired by Mr. Amis, of course) "Our Mutual Friend" by Mr. Dickens, his final book. "Our Mutual Friend" is destined to see much of the States as it accompanies the Duchess on a cross-country flight to an East Coast reprieve (yes, a vacation!). It promises an excellent literary adventure, even if grammatically incorrect.

Oh, and the Duchess is enjoying the new incarnation of "Town & Country", edited by former "House Beautiful" EIC Stephen Drucker. Very nicely done so far . . . .

15 July, 2010

The Duchess Strongly Suggests . . .

The Heavy, Fitz and the Tantrums at the Hammer Museum (UCLA)

Too bad the Duchess cannot make it tonight to what will be a fabulous performance by The Heavy and her beloved Fitz and the Tantrums at the Hammer Museum. The best part is it's absolutely free!


Relevant details presented without further ado (from the Hammer Museum Web site):

The Hammer courtyard turns electric in July when Also I Like to Rock returns for a series of free concerts featuring today’s top emerging bands. Presented in partnership with KCRW 89.9 FM and curated by Buzz Bands LA, two bands per night will perform with KCRW DJs spinning before and between sets. Galleries are open until 9pm.

DJ: Garth Trinidad

The Heavy – Fresh off touring with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, this aptly named U.K. quartet trades in a fiery stew of soul, funk, reggae and blues — taking, as singer Kelvin Swaby says, “everything America has thrown at us … and giving it a British twist.” If you’ve heard the Heavy’s single “How You Like Me Now?” you’ve felt the intensity.

Fitz & the Tantrums - Motown’s golden age springs to life with vital, new energy in the music of the sharp-dressed Los Angeles sextet. They’re proof positive that fun, funky blue-eyed soul will never go out of style.

ALL HAMMER PUBLIC PROGRAMS ARE FREE. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Hammer members receive priority seating, subject to availability. Reservations not accepted, RSVPs not required.

Easy parking is available under the museum for $3 after 6:00pm.

13 July, 2010

The Duchess Reads . . .

The Duchess very perkily awaits this fall's promising arrival of a cornucopia of design and decorating tomes. First up and not to be missed: Bunny Williams's Scrapbook for Living (pre-order at Abrams books).

Also on the list: "At Home with Town & Country" (the magazine, that is).

Cannot wait for "At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past" by Suzanne Rheinstein (of our very own Hollyhock), with photos by the marvelously talented Pieter Estersohn and foreword by Margaret Russell (despite all the magazine shake-ups lately, still Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decor!).

And let us not forget "Timeless Elegance: The Houses of David Easton" with a foreword by His Holiness Albert Hadley (the very definition of timeless!).

And one would think, with the ingenuity, cleverness and comfort embodied by the work of the terrific Peter Dunham (featured prom. in this month's "Angeleno" magazine is Peter's backyard playground for grown-ups), that he should be signing a book deal sometime very, very soon, no?

12 July, 2010

The Duchess Roasts . . .

House Cafe

There are so many fine restaurants, of different cuisines and different expenses, all over our fair city. In Little Tokyo we have Hama Sushi; on the edge of Chinatown we have Philippe's; on Bunker Hill we have Nick & Stef's and Patina. In Silver Lake we have Forage and Cliff's Edge. In Los Feliz we have Little Dom's and Yuca's. We have The Hungry Cat, Hatfield's, Lucques, Matsuhisa, Jar, Spago, Joe's (in Venice), and don't get the Duchess started on the Mozza empire. A truly endless array of muy lishy options.

It is all the more devastating, then, when one dines out at a reportedly terrific new Los Angeles restaurant and has a completely disastrous experience. The Duchess does regret having to speak the truth of the matter this time, but her Friday night dinner at House Cafe (company excluded) was the worst taken in a mighty long time.

The food is fine. It isn't spectacular. It's a bit cheaper than some of the big name restaurants in the Beverly Boulevard corridor (a la Jar, or Angelini Osteria) but certainly not appreciably less expensive (if at all) than the marvelous Terroni just down the street. We got off on the wrong foot with House Cafe. Our initial order, a $40 bottle of middling Sauvignon Blanc, had turned in its bottle. Then we had to repeat our orders, some of our dishes came out completely wrong (no, no, no, we said "carnitas", not "short ribs!"), and all of them came out very, very late.

In a seemingly oxymoronic way, the service was both slow and intrusive. Dear waiter, please save the audition for your auditions, should you get any (heaven forbid). We just want to eat!

And the ultimate face-slap: no smoking on the patio. Please, then, explain the point of having a patio at all. Do non-smoking LA diners really want to sit within spitting distance of the Beverly Boulevard asphalt (right in front of the valet, no less) under steamy, sweaty heat lamps just in order to (attempt to) enjoy their meals?

No more House for the Duchess. She'd rather stay at Home.

09 July, 2010

The Duchess In Love.

You've all heard the rumours by now. The Duchess? In a relationship? In love? Could it really be so?

It's true. The Duchess is completely, totally, head over heels in love, and this time it's for good. Who could have incited such passion in the Duchess?

None other than The Rutles, of course. The wit, humour, ingenuity and sheer fun of the Prefab Four have sent the Duchess well over the moon. Don't know The Rutles? But you must . . .

Rooftop Concert for "Let it Rut"

The Rutles are a Beatles parody group conceived and created by Monty Python-ites Eric Idle and Neil Innes (the latter of whom wrote all of the songs for the group's Beatles' pastiche). Eric Idle stars as Dirk McQuigley (styled after Paul McCartney); Neil Innes plays Ron Nasty (the John Lennon character). Rounding out the group are Rikki Fataar as Stig O'Hara (ala George Harrison, who himself makes a guest appearance in the 1978 mockumentary "All You Need Is Cash") and the legendary session drummer John Halsey as Barrington Womble MBE, or Barry Wom for short (in the role of Ringo Starr).

The Cover of "Shabby Road"

"All You Need Is Cash" follows the trajectory of The Rutles as an upstart Liverpudlian rock band making its way to fame and fortune, and eventually demise, from the Cavern nightclub in Liverpool to the studio on Shabby Road. The Rutles rocket to stardom on the strength of their songwriting and production, on their savoir faire and their spinal tap into the zeitgeist of the times.

The most attractive quality possessed by the Rutles, of course, is their sheer genius. Neil Innes's soundtrack to "All You Need Is Cash" (featuring such highlights as "Goose Step Mama", "Ouch!" (a spoof on "Help!"), "It's Looking Good", "Piggy in the Middle" (the Duchess's personal favorite), and the legendary "Cheese and Onions") is beyond, beyond, beyond brilliant.

Not to be overlooked, of course, are Mick Jagger's contributions to the mockumentary as an interviewee being questioned on the impact of the Rutles. When asked why the Rutles broke up, he had this to say:

QUESTION: Why do you think the Rutles broke up?

MICK: Why do I think they did? Why did the Rutles break up? Women. Just women getting in the way. Cherchez la femme you know.

QUESTION: Do you think they'll ever get back together again?

MICK: I hope not.

The Duchess in love. Courtesy of il senatore.


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