28 September, 2010

The Duchess Recommends . . .

Jordan Cappella Design

This weekend the Duchess had the great pleasure of having brunch with Jordan Cappella, a Venice Beach-based Renaissance man.  A furniture designer and interior decorator, Jordan cut his teeth at Tod's and Hogan, then re-located to Los Angeles (via Sydney) to launch his namesake furniture and home fragrance lines. 

Being the lovey that he is, Jordan brought us each one of his Keandre candles.  Keandre is made with all natural biodegradable ingredients that are non-GMO and pesticide free.  The candle is made from 100% certified natural coconut fruit wax which is completely sustainable.  USDA Organic, Kosher, etc. etc. etc.  Keandre smells very fresh and yummy besides . . .

Jordan Cappella candles available at RK Apothecary, 2443 Main Street, Santa Monica, and at http://www.jordancappella.com/

27 September, 2010

The Duchess Wasn't Invited . . .

Big turnout on Saturday to fete the "unmasking" of LACMA's new Lynda and Stewart Resnick Pavilion, designed by Renzo Piano.  The Duchess understands from news reports (as she was not in attendance herself -- but at quite a fantastic alternative) that the opening gala garnered more than $5 million to benefit LACMA.  This is in addition, of course, to the $45 million already given by the Resnicks to build and support their new namesake, which will open to the public (that means you and me) on Saturday, October 2.

In true Hollywood fashion, a who's who of film and television personalities came to support the Resnicks and to cheer their generous donation.  Doesn't Jaclyn Smith look great?  (The Duchess didn't see this fab frock among her wares at K-Mart.  There are a few pieces worth checking out, though.) 

 Olivia Wilde
 Jaclyn Smith
 Kim Kardashian
Nicole Richie

There was not much press coverage of the exhibits being featured in the new Resnick Pavilion, but those will include (for now) "Olmec:  Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico" (giant basalt carvings), "Eye for the Sensual:  Selections from the Resnick Collection" (European paintings and sculptures from the Resnicks' own collection), and "Fashioning Fashion:  European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915".  This last exhibit, per the New York Times, will run through April 3 and will feature LACMA's "newly acquired, and reportedly groundbreaking, trove of European clothing."  Not to be missed. 

Photographs courtesy of WireImage via FabSugar, except photograph of Resnick Pavilion, taken from the Huffington Post and copyright LACMA.

22 September, 2010

The Duchess Rather Likes . . .

The New Town & Country

Oh, yes.  Since House Beautiful alum Stephen Drucker took the reins at Town & Country, he has breathed new, fresh life into that old but dear glossy.  Although he's missed (by the Duchess, at least) at his old publication, the Duchess is confident he will work wonders in his new milieu.

This is proven already by the most recent edition of T&C, "T&C Goes to L.A.!"  And how!  Just like the terrific C Magazine (the Duchess's absolute favorite), the rest of the world seems to be catching on to just how many treasures there are for readers to explore in our practically perfect hometown. 

One such treasure, perhaps overlooked until now, is the terrific shop Coleen & Company.  Ms. Coleen Rider sets out to do just what she proposes:  selling antique and vintage items with flair!  Though Recessionista-chic precludes the Duchess from scooping up Coleen's entire stock, there's no reason why you readers shouldn't.  Even T&C sees the genius in Coleen, featuring in its fabulous L.A. edition her genius Tole Tent Lanterns, handpainted in California, available in standard and custom sizes and any color of Benjamin Moore paint.  Smart, elegant additions to any room in any home.

Visit her at Coleen & Company, for a tole tent lantern or other goody of your choice.

The Duchess is grateful to Joni Webb at Cote de Texas for photo of Tole Tent Lanterns in situ.

21 September, 2010

The Duchess Remembers . . .

Alexander Lee McQueen

Los Angeles is beseiged by autumnal gloom:  the canyons are foggy; the beaches socked in.  Scarves and cardigans come out of the closet, followed closely by endless pairs of identical black tights.  It's weather befitting a somber mood.

How appropriate, then, that this dismal spell falls on us along with news of yesterday's service memorializing the life and work of Alexander Lee McQueen, the British fashion designer, at nowhere other than St. Paul's Cathedral.  Befittingly held in the midst of London's fashion week, a "who's who" of industry insiders (Suzy Menkes, Anna Wintour) and designer's muses (Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and the inimitable Daphne Guinness) came to pay last respects.  Some of these ladies carry on with the spirit of McQueen with their outrageous, inspired style.  See for yourselves below.

Photo of Daphne Guinness, top, by Tim Rooke / Rex / Rex USA, via http://www.style.com/.
Photos of Naomi Campbell and Stella McCartney, by EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga, via http://www.monstersandcritics.com/.  

20 September, 2010

The Duchess Recommends . . .

"The Town"

After at least several torturous days of anticipation, the Duchess and Senator at last made it out of the house and into the movie theater to see "The Town", Ben Affleck's new star/directorial vehicle and a pretty enjoyable flick besides.  "The Town" entertained the Duchess to such an extent that she was able to overlook -- almost -- its less-than-stellar bits (of which there were a handful but none so glaring as to ruin the picture).   

Anyone who's seen the trailer knows the premise of "The Town" -- Ben Affleck and company are bad boy Boston townies well-skilled in the art of the bank heist.  Pressured varyingly by community, family, and economics, the Gang of Four robbers who pull off the key thievery do so with aplomb, and no remorse.  Except of course for Affleck, whose dissatisfaction with the life of crime comes to the fore aided by the sensitive and unfailingly forgiving character played by British actress Rebecca Hall, Claire Keesey.  Claire, an unwilling participant in the film's first robbery as an assistant manager of a Boston bank, becomes the object of Affleck's Doug MacRay's affection after he assumes responsibility for tracking her post-crime and ensuring that she doesn't remember anything about the masked robbers, and doesn't go to the Feds (reduced to lone soldier Don Draper (aka Jon Hamm)).  

Crime being what it is, violent and debilitating repercussions abound for Affleck, Hall and the entire cast of characters, rounded out by luscious Blake Lively, steely Chris Cooper (in the role of MacRay pere), and the craggy but exciting Pete Postlethwaite.  Perhaps predictably the best performance in the film is given by the brilliant Jeremy Renner (of "The Hurt Locker" fame).  He's spectacular.

"The Town" was well-reviewed by the New York Times, thus the Duchess will not revisit some of its musings here, although in her own words.  She will say that despite a "we've seen this before" plot, "The Town" is well worth a visit to your local Arclight Cinema. 

10 September, 2010

The Duchess Will Miss . . .

Fashion's Night Out

While the rest of the world apparently celebrates the annual heralding of Fashion's Night Out and related festivities and naughty-doing, the Duchess labors through the fine print high above the bustle of Olympic Boulevard.  Here's hoping that all of you partake of the goodies of the night's events, with more complete coverage to follow next week. 

09 September, 2010

The Duchess Fondly Remembers . . .

The Labor Day Weekend
(Warning of Potentially Offensive Language Below)

If some of you are wondering what has become of the Duchess of late, please know nothing has afflicted her more serious than considerable confusion over the new blogger composition tools, mixed with a heavy dose of laziness.  It was the Labor Day weekend most recently, after all, and now the New Year . . . . 

This time last week the Duchess salivated with anticipation for the upcoming holiday weekend (three days!), the bounty of beautiful weather and a slew of interesting new reads.  Current issues of Town & Country and Vanity Fair were disposed of quickly, leaving the Duchess to pursue a denser text -- Jonathan Franzen's compelling new tome "Freedom". 

But the Duchess's pursuit of "Freedom" was thwarted.  This is a common happening.

The interfering party?  Robert Evans.  His memoir, "The Kid Stays in the Picture", is the quintessential expose of behind-the-scenes Hollywood wrangling at its most glamorous and magical, and the Duchess hasn't put it down.  Although it may not best "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again" in depth, "The Kid" is a mesmerizing chronicle of the ups and downs of our town's producer of legends (both cinematic and otherwise); its honesty is impossible to gauge but its frankness is palpable.  The book inspires as a classic tale of luck, circumstance, and moxie all coalescing at the right times to create an amazing, storied -- but imperfect -- life. 

What the Duchess loves most about Evans is his apparent commitment to being true to himself, regardless of the fallout.  His need to live consistently with his own feelings, thoughts and convictions causes him as much pain and loss as it brings joy and gain.  It isn't a salvo.  But it makes Evans authentic, a true original.  This state of mind seems to be much harder to come by in these days.  Why might that be?  When Evans was making movies, he worked from his home, nearly round the clock.  Although he entertained at home (both friends and business colleagues), a demanding case of sciatica coupled with the demands of his career prevented him from being distracted by the (non-trade) news of the day, from fleeting relationships, from inconsistent and shallow connections.  Evans wasn't sidelined.  And he wasn't holding up the lens of the lives of others to look at his own.  He makes comparisons between his luck and the luck of his buddies and contemporaries, sure (Ovitz, Nicholson, Beatty, Diller, Kissinger); but he appreciates those (mostly) men for their own accomplishments, and doesn't regret they are not his own. 

It's challenging today when we're flooded by a constant spew of media, in all forms (yes, Facebook, that includes you); seemingly endless traffic and streams of commerce; and a heavily prevalent popular culture to get in there, be different, be difficult, be unlikeable.  All these pressures have the added effect of making us want to be more interconnected, and to create communities to fill the vacuums left by our own peripatetic and/or upwardly mobile lifestyles.  But Evans is an inspiring reminder that the best lived life comes first with knowing oneself, and then acting accordingly.  The rest of the world be damned.

Or, as Evans so delicately states:  Fuck 'em.  Fuck 'em all. 

03 September, 2010

The Duchess Anticipates . . .

The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue

Some pleasures are so simple, and so innocent. And some are deeply, deeply guilty. And though the Duchess succumbs to many guilty pleasures, the guiltiest -- and perhaps most satisfying -- pleasure of all is her committed devotion, no, obsession with the hirsute hero Michael McDonald.

Michael McDonald, along with mon objet d'amour, Donald Fagen, will be playing (with Boz Scaggs too) as the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue at the Greek Theatre on September 29. Just to whet your little appetites, the Duchess presents . . .

Happy weekend. Enjoy each and every minute by minute.

02 September, 2010

The Duchess Considers . . .

Michael S. Smith for the Oval Office

The New York Times recently covered the redecoration of the Oval Office by California-based decorator Michael S. Smith. The room, rather appropriately, has its strengths and weaknesses. The Duchess will leave it at that but presents the photographs here for your consideration too.

Photographs by Doug Mills for The New York Times.


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