30 August, 2010

The Duchess Admires . . .

The London Home of Sol and Heather Kerzner

Mr. and Mrs. Kerzner

Monday mornings being what they are (coffee, Advil, hair of the dog), it's rather nice to enjoy un peu de calme, un peu de luxe. Calm and luxury are in short supply in the Duchess's household; when they do appear, they're covered in Crayola and dog fur. All this is quite alright, but it would be nice, now and again, to live in a soothing, inspired interior like that found in the London home of hotel magnate Sol Kerzner and his wife Heather.

A Dale Chihuly chandelier presides over the Baccarat dining table, like exquisite jewelry on a beautiful woman. Stunning.

In a sitting area Saarinen abounds.

The light-filled living room is dominated by a B&B Italia sofa atop a Consuelo Castiglioni rug (with Kelly bag as accessory).

The Duchess loves the serenity of this color palette and the restrained tablescape. Take a deep breath and say, ahh!

Photographs copyright of Henry Bourne for Harper's Bazaar magazine, June 2008.

27 August, 2010

The Duchess Enjoyed . . .

A Week (or more) of Birthdays

The birthdays keep on coming in the Duchess's world. Monday saw Mummy celebrate another year; we're very lucky to have her! (Unlike the late Keith Moon, who for some stretch of years did share Mummy's birthday. Rest in peace Moon.)

The various birthday celebrations have occurred all over our fair city. On Saturday, we had a leisurely brunch at Dominick's. It was perfect. We handed over our paychecks and the libations kept on coming. Funny how that works. And the Duchess would expect nothing less from Dominick's, an establishment reliable for fuelling the Duchess and her cohort.

We also dined at the very lish and au courant Gjelina.

But last night's party was perhaps the most enjoyable (to date) of all. After wolfing down tacos al pastor at El Patio

a peppy cadre of us climbed a clandestine stairway into the club La Descarga, on a less-than-memorable strip of Western Avenue. La Descarga was fabulous. The drinks (one had better enjoy rum!) were fabulous. The energy was fabulous. The clientele was fabulous. No photographs. Just go and see for yourselves.

26 August, 2010

Drink Early, Drink Often

Tito's Vodka

We're gearing up for party time at the duchy in a major, major way, and the preparations alone are daunting enough to send the Duchess straight into the tentacles of the lunatic fringe. As fortune would have it though, her thoughtful and cosmopolitan friends (i.e., the Baron and Baroness) always come to her rescue.

Par example, yesterday the Duchess et le Baron delved deeply into a mentally taxing conversation regarding just what to serve on the vodka front. Several options were dismissed upon consideration as not quite the thing, and great confusion abounded until the mention of Tito's. Tito's vodka is domestically produced in Austin, Texas in a pot still by a young man of 45 years named Tito Beveridge (no, really). It's made of one hundred percent C-O-R-N, just like that delicious Kentucky mountain dew.

So drink often, and more importantly drink early. If you show up late to the duchy, the Tito's may be all gone by the time you arrive.

19 August, 2010

The Duchess Admires . . .

Artist Julie Mehretu

Excerpt (Suprematist Evasion), 2003

This morning while patiently waiting at the Enterprise Rent-A-Car at Sepulveda and Olympic Boulevards, the Duchess paged through a copy of the June/July 2010 edition of Uptown magazine. (Uptown is a terrific magazine that suffers terribly from lack of attention to its editorial content. But the Duchess digresses.) Uptown profiled Julie Mehretu, the Ethiopian-born, Detroit-raised 39 year-old art world sensation whose recent work Mural (see immediately below) -- her largest work to date -- was relatively recently installed in the lobby of the Goldman Sachs building.

Stadia I, 2004

A bit of the uproar surrounds the alleged $5 million price tag attached to Mural. When asked about her relationship to Goldman Sachs, Mehretu stayed (perhaps appropriately) mum, pointing out that her interest related "to the art, the painting, and to this possibility." And how!

Renegade Delirium, 2004

But Goldman Sachs doesn't have the monopoly on Ms. Mehretu at least. Her layered abstracts, inspired by an eighteen month stint in Berlin for a series of pieces commissioned by Deutsche Bank, are currently on view at the Guggenheim New York in an exhibit entitled "Grey Area" through October 6, 2010. Definitely a Duchess-worthy event.

The artist Julie Mehretu

16 August, 2010

The Duchess Recommends . . .

Birthday Gifts for Mummy

Last week ushered in a wave of births (welcome, KN) and birthdays, and with them the inevitable confusion surrounding welcome and appropriate gifts. The Duchess herself anticipates the very near celebration of her own Mummy's birthday, and in so doing deliberates the merits of a handful of darling prezzies.

The Duchess is crazy for Kate Spade's Hopper dot mini vase (shown above, available at www.katespade.com). Stuffed with a fistful of tulips or peonies, it would make a lovely brunch centerpiece too.

For the entertaining mummy, may the Duchess suggest a set of four of these daffodil glasses by New Arcadia (for sale at Barneys (you know where that is), or on sale at www.vivre.com)? Perfect for discreetly sipping that post-tennis gin and tonic . . . .

A woman of any age would adore this paisley print scarf by Chan Luu from Calypso. It's a year-round staple for chilly Los Angeles nights and a nice improvement over a basic white shirt.

A favorite Los Angeles paperie is Sugar Paper (located next to Clementine on Ensley Avenue in Westwood). Among a million other adorable things they sell this Audrey Desk Calendar with stand, very lovely for mummy's office.

And finally, who could resist a piece of jewelry from the extremely talented and oft-photographed Temple St. Clair Carr? No one but the paying party. Luckily Ms. Carr will debut a line of jewelry, all priced at under $50 (including the necklace above), for Target beginning on August 29. If only Mummy's birthday were a little later in the month! (And may the Duchess recommend the real thing for a new mummy?)

08 August, 2010

The Kids are All Right
A Film by Lisa Cholodenko

For a while now, there has been talk of "The Kids Are All Right," the newest film by Lisa Cholodenko (late of "Laurel Canyon" (the Duchess took her place)). The Duchess at last carved out a few hours for a Saturday matinee to see about what there is all this fuss.

"Kids" rests on a clever concept. Two women, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), each became pregnant using sperm from an anonymous donor. Their children, now teenagers, seek to know their sperm donor/biological father (Mark Ruffalo), and this innocent curiosity catalyzes the family drama that ensues. It's rather a fresh premise.

The exposition of the premise, however, is rather less fresh; in the Duchess's view, it's a bit stale. Both halves of the couple embodied by Ms. Bening and Ms. Moore tend too much in the direction of caricature: Ms. Moore's vintage tee-shirt-wearing, tattoo-bearing, "Right On"-assuring, composting, green tea-drinking, fledgling landscape designer self contains no contradictions; she suffers no consequences for her actions, even those that are scripted to pollute the family pool (because, after all, the kids will be "all right" in the end). She's an innocent dreamer bumbling through the midlife years.

As the film nears to its close, she shares with the audience (and her on-screen family) her newly acquired revelations: that marriage is a marathon, that sometimes we hurt most the people we love most. It would have been more interesting if Ms. Moore acted with intentionality, or even a malicious dose of selfishness, in so doing.

Ms. Bening handles her role as control-freak, uptight doctor Nic with more depth and creativity. It's a well-acted part. Ms. Bening's audience vacillates between liking and disliking (perhaps even loving and hating) her character throughout the movie. She is easier to relate to, at least for the Duchess, who especially identifies with the Type A, workaholic, endlessly nagging version of Mother that Ms. Bening's Nic presents. The most incredible aspect of the movie is that her character entertains less sympathy from the family than any others. If she were a man (a husband, that is), she would be lauded and revered for her strenuous work ethic and family management skills, and also for her sensitivity and efforts to communicate with and govern her teenaged children. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman being a man.

The actual kids, Joni and Laser (played beautifully by Mia Wasikowski and Josh Hutcherson), are practically flawless. There are one or two incidents of extremely minor rebellion (Joni rides on Mark Ruffalo's motorcycle; she drinks at a party), but on the whole they are completely well-adjusted, well-educated, emotionally stable and self-secure. They live a life of almost extreme privilege, to be sure, at least by 2010 standards (nicely appointed Venice home, check; Volvo station wagon, check; stay-at-home mom, check; physician other mom, check; endless supply of Converse all stars, check). And this privilege insulates them from a lot of the physical and emotional trauma suffered by their less well-off peers. So it is the adults in the movie who may be seen as the true "kids", acting out their frustrations and disappointments in traditionally childish ways.

We've all been there, of course. At that point when our personal, individual desires conflict with the needs and expectations of the group. And we have all (please let's be honest, friends) at times given in to those personal, individual desires, shutting down our otherwise reliable cerebral cortices in order to satisfy our demanding ids and egos. In the two hours the film has to develop a cast of characters, a plot line, and a very angsty soundtrack, it actually does explore this tension between individual and group interests in a subtle, and telling way. For instance, Jules indulges her carnal desires to near-catastrophe; she endures little in the way of judgment from her children and her wife, or from the filmmaker herself. Mark Ruffalo's sperm donor father Paul, on the other hand, ultimately suffers open retribution for his efforts to satisfy his own wants and needs and for seemingly ignoring the best interests of the family (not his own).

Now, look. The kids are all right. They aren't bad; they aren't great either. They aren't outrageously funny, or heartbreaking (forgive the Duchess, A. O. Scott), or even too original. But they do provide us with an opportunity to consider the nature and responsibility of love and family, and the growing complications surrounding those landmark institutions. And that's more than all right with the Duchess.

06 August, 2010

The Duchess Observes . . .

Dennis Hopper Double Standard
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Yesterday the Duchess et al. traipsed downtown for a viciously good lunch at the venerable Philippe and to pay a visit to the Dennis Hopper Double Standard exhibit at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary building, which is located conveniently near Hama Sushi and the courthouses (for jury duty breaks, one may suppose).

As all of us now know, rather sadly, Dennis Hopper passed away at his home in Venice (Los Angeles) on May 29, 2010, only a few short weeks before MOCA opened its retrospective on Hopper's entire visual arts career. The MOCA exhibit features Hopper's sculptures, films (fine art and commercial), photographs and paintings.

Tuesday Weld!

The exhibit was curated by Julian Schnabel, artist and friend to Hopper. As a result, the display reads as a tribute rather than a critically culled collection of works; but all of this is fine. It is Hollywood after all, and Hopper was one of our most iconic and beloved screen actors. It's fitting that a show of his works at the Geffen Contemporary reflects a hefty dose of adoration, and fondness.

Jane Fonda with Bow and Arrow

Not that Hopper's works aren't deserving, at least some of them. Though the Duchess cared little for his paintings, both his sculptural work and especially his photographs capture and convey a strong sense of the romanticized, dystopic Hollywood scene of the 1960s. The outsized La Salsa man (at bottom) shares visual space with a posse of Hells Angels -- and there is nothing incongruent about it. For the Duchess at least, it is a perfectly normal part of the day first to be accosted by garish and obtrusive gas station signs, and then to be mesmerized and charmed by the latest Hollywood star or starlet making his or her way to the choicest table, sans reservation.

Hopper isolated and presented this uniquely Los Angeleno element as the key theme in many of his pieces. And if for that reason only, the Double Standard exhibit is worth a visit. The Duchess wasn't disappointed.

Dennis Hopper Double Standard
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Now through September 26, 2010

05 August, 2010

The Duchess Strongly Suggests . . .

Peter Dunham Textiles at One Kings Lane

Around these parts, we're extremely fond of Peter Dunham, one of the city's most iconic designers. The master of sophisticated, cool casual style, Peter's talents are in demand not just in the fabled hills and canyons of Los Angeles but around the world. Peter's own peripatetic upbringing (raised in France, summered in Spain, educated in England) informs his aesthetic and heavily influences his own designs.

This Saturday One King's Lane will feature Peter's textiles in its weekly Tastemaker Tag Sale, and the Duchess desperately hopes she is nimble enough to scoop up one or two or twenty. She presents below a few select examples to whet your appetites too.

Peter's now-famous Fig Leaf print




Starstruck (don't you know that you are?)

Of course, Peter's textiles (along with accessories, furniture, lighting, etc.) are all available at his store, Hollywood at Home, 724 N. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90069.


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