Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Old acquaintance

Lillian Hellman photographed by Bill King for Blackglama.

The past, with its pleasures, its rewards, its foolishness, its punishments, is there for each of us forever, and it should be. - Lillian Hellman

As the black eyed peas finish cooking, I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of you the best for the coming new year. As I was saying to someone the other day... it hasn't quite turned out the way I had planned, but I have certainly enjoyed the journey. I was originally referring to my life, but it did strike me as rather apt for here as well.

Happy New Year

Now playing: The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

No particular reason

Other than, I find the current vogue for flooding the airwaves with disaster and horror films during the holidays completely unacceptable. I want happy. These make me happy, if not on the box then at the very least on the turntable. Crackling away in all their vinyl splendour. One would think that by now they would have found a way to build nostalgia into a CD. After all, turntables and all the paraphernalia do take up quite a bit of room.

Dr. Dolittle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1967 Film)

South Pacific (1958 Film Soundtrack)

The King and I (1956 Film Soundtrack)

Flower Drum Song (1961 Film Soundtrack)

Now playing: Richard Rodgers - A Hundred Million Miracles
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 29 December 2008

Swirls and twirls

Pomfret House, the Northamtonshire residence of long time antiques dealer Christopher Jones, and its drawing room. In November its contents went on the block at Christies, The Country House Sale: Pomfret House and Tetworth Hall.

Among the 280 lots were a selection of marble glazed pottery and agate ware. Agate ware is a mix varicoloured clay worked into an overall marbled effect, probably introduced about 1730 by Dr. Thomas Wedgwood of Rowley’s Pottery, Burslem. It was sometimes called solid agate to distinguish it from ware with glazed marbling. Below, are examples of both.

In the Neo-Classical style, each marbled with cream, ochre, brown and black striations, the upright leaf-capped handles issuing from stylized bearded masks, gadrooned rims and a fluted spreading foot.

Each oviform with cylindrical neck, applied with upright frond-scroll handles terminating in lion masks, marbled in brown and green clays.

In the Neo-Classical taste, sponged in purple, blue, yellow and green, each with bell-shaped cover, the shoulder applied with rams masks joined by bands of laurel garlands above stiff-leaves, an oval medallion to the front and back, the lower part with a stiff-leaf band and laurel knop, circular foot and square base.

With two mask handles and moulded borders.

Now playing: Ben Taylor Band - Time of the Season
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 26 December 2008

More ways to waste time

The Servant (1963)

Based on the short story by Robin Maugham, with screenplay written by Harold Pinter (1930 - 2008). Directed by Joseph Losey. Staring Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig, James Fox, and Catherine Lacey.

It is rare to find a film which is both elegant and tough; corrosive yet compassionate; visually exciting and yet meaningful; brilliant and profound. Rarer still is the film which deals with moral problems on any but a superficial level. And that is why The Servant is a masterpiece. - Alexander Walker, the noted Evening Standard film critic.

Now playing: Depeche Mode - Master And Servant
via FoxyTunes

Egregia cum laude

Eartha Mae Kitt (1927 – 2008)

I am learning all the time...The tombstone will be my diploma.

This is my life

Thursday, 25 December 2008

From our house...

to yours, a very merry Christmas.

Now playing: Elaine Paige - Walking in the Air
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

The Carol Burnett Show - Merry Christmas Mama

Now playing: Frank Sinatra - Christmas Dreaming
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Similar, but not quite the same

The founders of the beauty business were three self-styled czarinas who built their castles in New York City. Here, each professed to be very different from (and, of course, far superior to) her rivals. Actually, they bore such an extraordinary resemblance to one another that they might have emerged from a modern gothic novel, concocted by a singularly imaginative author. - taken from The Czarinas of Beauty by Stefan Kanfer.

The three were Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, and Estée Lauder. And, they were very similar in many respects. As Kanfer states, each was a short, hyper-ambitious, social-climbing saleswoman who loved wealth, invented her past, dumped her husband when he seemed a drag on her career, peddled emollients and powders that promised eternal youth, and dined out on her aphorisms.

Of the three, it was Madame Rubinstein (December 25, 1871 – April 1, 1965) who possessed the most flair. Not only in business, but in every expression of her personal style. From her magnificent collection of jewels to her choice of interior decoration, she had that something extra the other two ladies lacked - an innate sense of grandeur.

She famously said, There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.
She was half right.

Graham Sutherland
Helena Rubinstein in a red-brocade Balenciaga gown, 1957
Helena Rubinstein Foundation

The foyer of Madame Rubinstein's salubrious apartment at 635 Park Avenue, designed by J. E. R. Carpenter.
The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter

Dining Room with Dali Mural
The image ran in the April 1948 House & Garden.
Conde Nast

Marie Laurencin
Helena Rubinstein wearing a yellow shawl, 1934
Helena Rubinstein Foundation

Helena Rubinstein: Over the Top

Now playing: Rufus Wainwright - Beauty Mark
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 22 December 2008

More ways to waste time

Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice sequence from Fantasia (1940).

The 1940 classic, Fantasia.

Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Sunday, 21 December 2008

More Berlin

Taschen's Berlin Style

The first edition cover of Christopher Isherwood's semi autobiographical novel that would become the basis for the play I Am a Camera (1951; film, 1955) and the musical Cabaret (1966; film, 1972).

Now playing: Liza Minnelli - Cabaret
via FoxyTunes

Send and give

Why don't you join ChristmaSee and send a video message for free. With every message 20 pence is donated to charity.

Now playing: Pearl Bailey - Hello Dolly
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 19 December 2008

A little more Hope

Table and vase by Charles Frederick Hancock
Ebony, rosewood, silver inlay and electroplated nickel silver (table) and silver, raised, with cast additions (vase)
English, 1850-51

This table and vase, shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851, show how Thomas Hope's designs continued to inspire designers and craftsmen even after his death. Formerly part of the collection of Purnell Bransby Purnell (1791-1866), a collector of classical antiquities.

Chair designed by Thomas Hope
Made by Edward & Roberts
Mahogany with inlaid decoration of brass and ebony
English, circa 1892

Thomas Hope: Regency Designer by David Watkin

To date the most comprehensive book on the life and work of Thomas Hope.

Now playing: Tasmin Archer - Sleeping Satellite
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Fall and switch

Sophia Loren

Princess Margaret

Allegra Caracciolo di Castagneto

Now playing: Galt MacDermot - Hair
via FoxyTunes

Speaking of Berlin

20 Reinhardstrasse

The newly added penthouse apartment of Christian Boros.

Boros Collection

The bunker was originally built in 1942 by Nazi architect Albert Speer as part of the Germania project. After the end of World War II, being in what would become the Soviet sector, the Russian army used it as a prison for captured German soldiers. After the fall of the Iron Curtain the building was used to store bananas, oranges, and other fruits imported from Cuba by East Germany. With the fall of the Wall, East Berlin became the centre of the city's party scene and The Bunker became one of the hottest places for wild techno raves and gay S&M parties. The last one being held in 1996. Since then, the bunker had stood empty.

In 2004 architects Jens Casper, Petra Petersson, and Andrew Strickland of the Berlin-based firm Realarchitektur began the renovation. This summer it opened to the public.

Now playing: Berlin - The Metro
via FoxyTunes

New romantics

Portrait by François Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard, 1802.

Portrait by Jacques-Louis David.

The récamier, named for the celebrated French beauty and social figure, Juliette Récamier (1777–1849), née Jeanne Françoise Julie Adelaïde Bernard. At 15 she married, in name only, Jacques Récamier, a wealthy, middle-aged banker some 30 years her senior. Her fashionable salon was, from the Consulate to the end of the July Monarchy, a gathering place for some of the most influential political and literary figures of the time. The most celebrated of her liaisons was that with Chateaubriand, to whom she devoted the latter part of her life. Mme. Récamier counted amongst her circle the very influential writer Mme de Staël and the literary critic Sainte-Beuve.

Now playing: Édouard Lalo - Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21: III.
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

More ways to waste time

Born Armin Hagen Freiherr von Hoyningen-Huene, but better known as Peter Berlin. In 2005 filmmaker Jim Tushinski premiered his feature-length documentary That Man: Peter Berlin at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Lawrence Hellman, producer of That Man: Peter Berlin, talks to David Lamble of

Now playing: Soft Cell - Sex Dwarf
via FoxyTunes

Simply sweet

Champagne Sorbet by Simply Recipes

Take: dry champagne and half as much fresh pink grapefruit juice add simple syrup, grapefruit zest, a dash of lime juice and combine. Or, if that is too vague, one can quite easily follow the recipe at Simply Recipes.

Now playing: Frank Sinatra - The Lady is a Tramp
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A little Hope

Should I succeed in kindling for the arts a more intense and universal love, when comes the hour of death, I shall think I have not lived in vain.

So said Thomas Hope (1769-1831), the Dutch born designer, author and patron of the arts, who would become one of the greatest proponents of the Regency style in England.

In 1807 Hope bought The Deepdene, a country house in Surrey, which was destined to become one of the most inventive and arresting country houses of its time. The only surviving record of its splendour is a set of watercolours and drawings executed for a book that was never published.

The Deepdene, Surrey

Entrance Court, Looking Towards the Tower

Chimney Piece in the Library

The Small Drawing Room

Theatre of the Arts

Steps to the Conservatory

For John Britton, Illustrations of the Deepdene, Seat of T. Hope Esqre.
By William Henry Bartlett (1809-54)
Watercolour and pen and wash on paper

London Borough of Lambeth, Archives Department

Now playing: Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 15 December 2008

Dorothy's new look

Writer and collage artist Graham Rawle has visually reinterpreted the L. Frank Baum classic for a new generation.

Now playing: Judy Garland - Somewhere Over the Rainbow
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Natural devotion

This odd looking fruit, known as Buddha's Hand, is actually one of the oldest members of the citrus family. It is thought to resemble the fingers of Buddha, hence its name in Chinese, foshou, which has almost the same pronunciation as the words for blessings and longevity. Although it smells strongly of lemon, it has no pulp beneath its rind. Instead, Buddha's Hand is grown for its aromatic zest. Chinese and Japanese households use it as a natural air freshener, and it even has a place in Buddhistic ceremonies.

An elegant example of a Buddha's hand, the thumb and third finger making the gesture symbolic of imparting knowledge.

Buddha’s-Hand Citron, 1800s. China. Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Nephrite. The Avery Brundage Collection.

Ming Buddha's hand citron, 1368-1644.

Nephrite Buddha's hand citron, circa 1800-1900

Now playing: David Bowie - Buddha of Suburbia
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 12 December 2008

L'autre Barbara

L'aigle noir

Born Monique Andrée Serf (1930 – 1997), but simply known as Barbara. She belonged to the tradition of French singers such as Jacques Brel and Leo Ferre for whom music was, in part, a vehicle for poetry.

La dame brune - Barbara with Georges Moustaki

Look here...

Flessas at 1285 Madison Avenue, New York.

and you will find this.

A French tapestry executed after a carton by Raoul Dufy, entitled La Tour. It always has baffled me how most never seem to understand works like this - so sophisticated in its naivete.

Now playing: Barbara - Pénélope
via FoxyTunes

Paradise lost

I decided to sell everything because the collection doesn’t exist if he doesn’t exist, said Pierre Bergé regarding the sale of the collection that he and Yves Saint Laurent had amassed over the course of their long relationship.

On a telephone table in the library of the Rue de Babylone apartment: the couture house’s original logo, hand-lettered by graphic artist Cassandre, from 1961 (not for sale). The bleached-oak bookcases are by Jacques Grange.

The Treasures of Yves, Vanity Fair.

Yves Saint Laurent in the grand salon of his apartment on Rue de Babylone with model Sibyl Buck, October 27, 1995. They are surrounded by the Surrealist-period Léger painting The Black Profile (1928), sold by the artist’s widow, and Jean Dunand’s 1925 Art Deco brass-and-lacquer vase, among the treasures to be auctioned at the Grand Palais, in Paris, February 23 to 25.

The Things Yves Loved by Amy Fine Collins for Vanity Fair, January 2009.

Now playing: This Mortal Coil - Another Day
via FoxyTunes