27 October, 2010

The Duchess is Excited!

John Robshaw at Hollywood @ Home

The Duchess is looking tres forward to tonight's event at http://www.hollywoodathome.com/ featuring the textile designer John Robshaw.  Mr. Robshaw's Asian-inspired textile designs grace a staggering array of products, from bedding, to baby blankets, to curtains, to tabletop, to stationery and much, much more.  Mr. Robshaw appears to be in nearly everyone's home these days:

A beach house designed by Sara Gilbane

Bedding featured in Elle Decor

Pillows in the home of artist Mark Welch, from Australian Vogue (via Moodboard)

The Duchess is certain he would look terrific in your home, too.  

Hollywood @ Home
724 N La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90069

5 pm until 8 pm Pacific
light cocktails (yippee!)

The Duchess Adores . . .

Robert Evans at Woodland

T Magazine features the sentimental story of Robert Evans, film producer extraordinaire (and previous recipient of the Duchess's attention) and his beloved home, Woodland.  Located in Beverly Hills, the French-style (or Hollywood Regency) house has played a prominent role in Evans's life -- he has worked from a home office at Woodland for many years, wooed several of his wives and other paramours there, and has entertained grandly and with lots of derring-do within its walls.  His Woodland tennis matches are legendary, and the home represents the best of what is now perhaps forgotten Hollywood glamour:  quality over quantity; hefty doses of flash and beauty; secrecy; and fun. 

And for your viewing pleasure, readers, Mr. Evans himself narrates the story of his most legendary romance with Woodland. 


25 October, 2010

The Duchess Reads . . .

"Freedom," by Jonathan Franzen
It is widely known by now that the most anticipated, the most lauded, and perhaps the most commonly purchased book of the year (at least until the release of Keith Richards's memoir, "Life") is by Jonathan Franzen, that boy-wonder of contemporary fiction whose immediately previous novel, "The Corrections", practically set the rest of the 9/11 world on fire.  With "Freedom", Mr. Franzen places his worn finger on the pulse of a maturing (though no less mature) world; that finger relievingly scratches an itch for realistic exploration of human nature, and irritatingly pokes us where it hurts most. 

"Freedom" centers its own develpment on the trajectory of growth of the Berglund family.  Like all families, the Berglund one can be schematically characterized as a tree:  In its youth, a strong, united trunk whose rings represent solid years of growth and connectivity; in its maturation, a fractured bevy of limbs remotely conjoined to a rotting foundation; its color and pattern deciduously falling to the ground ascatter.

To the Duchess's mind, at least, this is the essence of "Freedom":  the tragedy of the family, and the destructiveness of the bonds created out of that primal emotional ooze.  For all of our self-assertions and our efforts at independence, we are but manque-dreamers.  We exercise the intoxicating freedoms of adulthood -- the ability to marry, the ability to enjoy unfettered access to sex (at least some of us), and the ability to avail ourselves of education and paying jobs (and let us not forget the nectar of Dionysus) -- only to bind ourselves ever more completely to the countervailing interests of others (our spouses, our children, our friends, our coworkers).  And we find, as we go along, that Freedom is unattainable, holy grail that it is.  Or rather, that its attainability is relegated to that vast, labrynthine landscape between our ears.  And we are mere pawns to the enslaving forces of government, capitalism, Freudian compulsions, and . . . .  Well, Freudian compulsions pretty much sums it up. 

There is no need to delve deeply into the plotline of "Freedom".  That was explicated sufficiently in Mr. Sam Tanenhaus's review (Mr. Tanenhaus is The Editor of The Book Review), which was glowing and deferential besides.  Not a knock at all.  The book is entitled to its fair share of glowing deference.  But not for the reasons, necessarily, enumerated by Mr. Tanenhaus.  [NB:  Perhaps the TLS got it right.  For what it's worth, "Freedom" is very American in its flavor and thus its rendering may be difficult to digest across the Pond.]

No, "Freedom" engages in the usual liberal post-modern polemics expected of Book Review cover material:  Franzen hyphenates "bush-league" for a reason (it did not go unnoticed, Sir), and sends up even as he embraces the peroxided, Parliament-smoking, freewheeling single mother living next to the Berglunds in suburban St. Paul (it did not go unnoticed, Sir).  The "progressives" engage in mountaintop removal coal-mining; the rock stars turn down opportunities to sleep with teenaged girls; and the beautiful Jewish daughters of wealthy families go to Duke.  Accurate?  Of course.  But To Hell With All That.  Franzen's dead-on politico-cultural caricatures are no match for his dead-on observations of the frustration and heartbreak of family life.

Yes, the Duchess is aware of its joys.  Things begin beautifully early.  An ecologically-minded family man settles down with an athletic, energetic and devoted wife and would-be mother:  they spawn intelligent and endearing children.  Sounds familiar, does it not?  But things unravel, as they necessarily do when near-perfection is our starting point.  The women begin to hunt the men rabidly, and indefatigably; affairs run rampant; passive-aggression sets in like a cancer.  Eventually, we're left to review the dreams and aspirations of our former selves, and to compare them to our current situations.  Our adult children are distant.  We've compromised our morals.  Dark pockets of secrecy emerge between us and our spouses, like mud puddles after a rain.  All the things we strove for, and never attained, haunt us endlessly.  Til human voices wake us and we drown indeed.

For all of its realism "Freedom" isn't quite so depressing as the thoughts provoked by its reading.  (Perhaps that's because a good half of the cast of characters are tied to the apron strings of the pharmaceutical companies; we can't even obtain Freedom from our Celexa, our Valium, our Lexapro (and let's not even discuss our Sauvignon Blanc).)  Rather one may take an optimist's view of things.  When mired in our own muck, we always may rely on the giants of contemporary fiction to universalize our experiences, and to remind us that whatever brand of Freedom we choose, there are many, many others in the checkout line with us. 

Does Franzen capitalize on the self-indulgent depression of the upwardly mobile middle class, with our Volvos, and our assistants, and our gym memberships, and our credit cards, and our rambling Victorian renovations?  He does.  But he chastises while he sympathizes, giving us just enough sugar to make the medicine go down.

And so the Duchess recommends "Freedom", and Mr. Franzen apart from it all.  We're of the same mind when it comes to certain things.  This past February, Mr. Franzen contributed to The Guardian what he believed were ten serious rules to abide by for aspiring writers.  To wit,

#4.    Write in the third person unless a ­really distinctive first-person voice ­offers itself irresistibly.
#10.  You have to love before you can be relentless.

22 October, 2010

Drink Early, Drink Often

Dark 'n' Stormy

News certainly travels fast.  Word has it that the libation of choice for this handsome devil

is the Bermudan cocktail Dark 'n' Stormy.  This simple fact is enough to catalyze the masses into a Ralph's run for rum and ginger beer.  To wit:

2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal rum
About 4 ounces Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer (or other ginger beer)
Lime slice, for garnish (optional).
Fill a highball glass with ice and add the rum. Top with the ginger beer and garnish with the lime slice.

It's five o'clock somewhere, people.  Bottoms up.

21 October, 2010

The Duchess Anticipates . . .

Suzanne Tucker at One Kings Lane

SO exciting that one of this Saturday's Tastemaker Tag Sales at One Kings Lane will feature the gifted Suzanne Tucker.  Ms. Tucker is a San Francisco-based designer who, together with her partner Timothy Marks, established the firm Tucker & Marks, Inc.  The Duchess cannot wait to see which of Suzanne's wares will be up for grabs on Saturday.  Perhaps with a purchase or two the Duchess could refurbish along the following lines? 

All photographs from the portfolio of Tucker & Marks, Inc

20 October, 2010

The Duchess Applauds . . .

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard

On Monday, October 18, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard received the Andrew Martin Interior Designer of the Year Award at the Pacific Design Center.  The award is a magnificent honor, duly recognizing the versatililty, artistry, and skill of Mr. Lawrence-Bullard, one of the premier decorators to the stars (notable clients include Cher, Cheryl Tiegs, Elton John, Ellen Pompeo and Allen Ivery, and Eva Mendes, among others). 

A handful of images from Mr. Lawrence-Bullard's own portfolio evidence his mastery of style, scale, color and spirit. 
A graphic living room.

A whimsical tented bedroom.

A serene, elegant dining room (love those globes!).

An orientalist library/sitting room. 

A coastal dining area.

For those of us mere mortals whose interiors the work of Mr. Lawrence-Bullard will never grace, a slice of his divinity is available for a reasonable number of quid through his candle line.  A selection is available at design mecca Hollywood at Home.  

Spice Bazaar (the Duchess's choice).



Congratulations to Mr. Lawrence-Bullard on his accomplishments.

19 October, 2010

The Duchess Shops . . .

For Wedding China

Tablescape by Marchesa, House Beautiful

A recent spate of engagements and nuptials has sent the Duchess running to Geary's, and to Michael C. Fina, and to Bloomingdale's and even reliable old Belk's to view the china patterns coveted by her sweet and love-smitten friends.  In so browsing the Duchess fantasized about losing all of her own china in an earthquake (don't worry Mummy, it was just a passing fancy) and starting anew.  So many beautiful patterns from which to choose.

Marchesa designer (and new mummy) Georgina Chapman with co-designer Keren Craig have created a divine Tiffany blue and chocolate pattern for Lenox called, befittingly, "Palatial Garden." 

Marchesa "Palatial Garden" Coffee Mug (Bloomingdales)

A bit too romantic, perhaps.  There's always the classic Chateaubriand Blue, from Bernardaud.
at Michael C. Fina, and Geary's

Or the luxurious and boheme Olde Avesbury from Royal Crown Derby.

Jaune de Chrome's Cream Scale porcelain is masculine enough to suit one's husband's tastes.  Quite modern too, and not too distracting from the meal at hand.

But oh, the Duchess would die for a set of Oriente Italiano by Ginori.  It's extremely feminine, extremely extravagant, and extremely desirable.  Maybe next time.

The Duchess Considers . . .

Starbucks Via Flavored Coffee

Today's post-lunch-at-Tavern cappuccino was tasty enough, but left a little to be desired.  Perhaps it was the skim milk (or the service . . . .)?  In any event, a nice alternative to the calorie-fueled afternoon latte drink is Starbucks new Via flavored coffees.  The mocha is delish!  Given the Duchess's inability to throw even a very lightweight stone and hit a coffee shop over here in West Los Angeles, a stash of these in the office drawer might just solve the problem.

Photograph courtesy of http://www.starbucksmelody.com/

15 October, 2010

The Duchess Nests . . .

On an average Southern California weekend, we Los Angelenos may be found soaking in the rays on the outdoor patio at Chateau Marmont; hiking up the sun-drenched hills of Runyon Canyon; or casually tossing the pigskin in our front or back yards.  Rare is the grey and dreary day, but when it rears its rainy head, we hardly know what to do with ourselves.  Luckily for the Duchess, there is plenty of nesting to be done.  This overcast and drizzling weekend is certain to bring out her inner Martha Stewart.

Step One:  Light up a roaring fire.  Better yet, have someone more equipped handle this job.  Perhaps the Duchess can demonstrate her involvement by investing in one of these copper pots for fireside tinder organization.  

(Pottery Barn)

Step Two:  Pick up Ina Garten's new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa:  How Easy is That? at local Borders or Barnes & Noble.  Actually buy two copies, one for the Duchess and one for beautiful neighbor (also an impressively good cook).  Attempt to eat only a few turkey meatballs, instead of entire dish.


Step Three:  Complete closet makeover with enormous donation to Goodwill and a handful more of John Derian's Marble Bins, available at http://www.target.com/.  These are perfect for stowing handbags and sweaters.
Step Four:  While purchasing John Derian Marble Bins, scoop up several more bushels of Caldrea dish soaps and countertop cleansers.  Caldrea makes the absolute best-smelling home cleaning products in the business.  The Duchess is obsessed with the line Caldrea produced for Target:  luxury at a much lower price.  Makes cleaning even more fun than the Duchess could possibly imagine.  

Steps Five through at least Ten:  Consume copious amounts of Huntington Sauvignon Blanc while by fireside, while eating turkey meatballs, while cleaning closet, and while obsessively scrubbing kitchen.  Yes, the recession continues to haunt us, but at $5.00 per bottle at your local Bristol Farms (and it's seriously that good!), you can rest easy knowing that you're sparing your wallet and supporting the higher education of Kenyan children (it's true).
Eat, drink, and be merry readers, for tomorrow will soon be Monday yet again. 

14 October, 2010

Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2010

The 2010 Kips Bay Decorator Show House opened to the public this morning.  The show house, a limestone townhome on the Upper East Side, is available to buyers for a cool $28.8 million, but we commonfolk may view its interiors for the price of a mere $30.00 ticket (now through November 11).

The New York Times Home & Garden section provided extensive coverage of the 2010 Show House in today's edition:  you can view those photographs here.   

The Duchess liked the kitchen by Eve Robinson, and of course the entry by Katie Ridder.  But none of the 2010 Show House rooms made her heart sing like these terrific rooms of yore, from show houses previous.

Mario Buatta, 2006 (House Beautiful)

Bunny Williams, 2009 (Raeanne Giovanni-Inoue) 

Philip Gorrivan, 2008 (House Beautiful)

Charlotte Moss, 2006 (House Beautiful)

12 October, 2010

The Duchess Anticipates . . .

L.A. Modern Auctions 50th Auction
Previews October 9 through October 16
Auction, October 17 at 12 pm Pacific

This Sunday, JS, the Senator and the Duchess (or some combination thereof) will endure the sweat-wrenching Valley temperatures and head over to Van Nuys for the 50th L.A. Modern Auction, which promises to be a very grand time.  Lots include fantastic mid-century furniture exemplars (Gehry and Edward Wormsley, for example), terrific pottery and copious fine art. 

Roy Lichtenstein 

John Baldessari

Gehry's freaky little Snake lamp

David Hockney, a tidy pool print estimated to garner $25,000 to $30,000.

Please join!  Take a peek at the other available lots here . . . .

11 October, 2010

The Duchess Dines . . .

Dine L.A. Week, October 10 through October 15

It 's the second installment of Dine L.A. week, a semi-annual summit promoted by Discover Los Angeles for which hundreds of local restaurants seek to bring in customers, new and old alike, with tempting prix fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner.  Last week, we stopped in at Lucques for an aperitif before hopping over to LEADAPRON; beware, diners, Lucques's prix fixe is only available for lunch, but Mr. Chow has a very yummy spread for supper.

The Duchess wants to take advantage of the wallet-friendly menus and pay a visit to Waterloo & City before Dine L.A. week expires.  The Washington Boulevard gastropub is just about the only hip new resto within striking distance of the Duchess, and it's garnering very good reviews

Hit the Duchess up if you're in for a little Culver City rendezvous.  Hurry now, while supplies last . . .

07 October, 2010

The Duchess Likes it on the Floor.

Morton Bartlett, "Model Children," at LEADAPRON

The Duchess is tres excited for her date tonight with the adorable JS at LEADAPRON, the fine art, photography and rare books purveyor nestled in the heart of Melrose Place.  LEADAPRON shows photographs of the works of Morton Bartlett, the adopted and only child of a Boston Brahmin couple who was educated at Harvard and went on to an illustrous career as a sculptor of anatomically correct children.  Yes indeed.  A linear trajectory if the Duchess has ever seen one.

 Bartlett created a "fantasy family" of these sculpted children, meticulously dressing and posing them in a variety of staged scenarios mimicking everyday life.  Reading a book, playing with puppy, in the garden. 

Only after his death in 1992 and the dissolution of his estate did Bartlett gain notoriety as a modern-day Lewis Carroll.  A show of large format original prints of his work will be shown starting tonight (opening from 7 pm to 9 pm) at LEADAPRON, 8445 Melrose Place, Los Angeles, California 90069. 


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