Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1 week to go...

...I have lots of lists with lots of things to do. But I have a show producer for the first time ever...and she is awesome, I can only begin to tell you how much she is doing. But more on that later, as right now I desperately need:
- 3 yds black silk chiffon
- 5 yds black light weave wool crepe
- 3 yds black cotton sheeting 300+ thread count
Ha! and none to be found in this cosmopolitan city of Austin , Texas.

A quick photo of my lists...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Break time/dance...

..so, last night I grabbed Aaron and we went to pick up awards at the Austin Chronicles' Best of Austin 2011 party. My shop has won "Best Window Display" for the 6th year in a row - and this year I had Aaron Flynn to help me pick up the slack when I was too busy, tired or out of the country. And I also won "Best Clothing Designer." Huh?

photos: Todd V. Wolfson

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


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Lettin' you down already...4 square.

...but it doesn't mean we haven't been working. With the onset of the beginning of the week: Monday was spent finishing up a dress for an Austin Monthly photo shoot. I have this "sick" desire to challenge myself by putting self-imposed parameters on my designs. So, on Monday, after 4 or 5 days of draping, hand basting and NO cutting of fabric - I finished a "party" dress for the shoot. The magazine had asked 3 Austin designers to come up with their version of a dress for the holiday season - as that whole concept basically means nothing to me, I set down some rules for myself and off I went.

It went something like this: my lovely friend, Gloria, in her quest to clean out her home, came to the atelier and gave me some beautiful fabric in varying colors, textures and weights. Among this fabric was a bolt of creme colored, ruddy raw silk from China in the 1970's. Wow, what a hand, and boy, does it drape when held on the bias. And the hue meshes perfectly with the wool yarns I bought from the Navajo weavers this summer. So the challenge: one small bolt of this silk was 28" wide and I had just enough to cut 4 squares of 28"x28" and away I went. First in muslin and then easily switching over to the silk, itself, I draped, pinned and basted - and never cut into ANY of the squares. That was my personal challenge: to use this fabric with its exquisite draping quality, to its fullest potential without ever picking up the scissors. And then to incorporate the yarn into the sleeves and seams. The entire dress was hand basted and then sewn (only on my old industrial with a straight stitch.) And if ever reconstructed - the pattern maker would find four perfect squares.

I had been so inspired by Madame Grès this summer - she would order her fabric in extra wide widths because she liked to avoid cutting into the cloth. She folded, pleated and stitched without often cutting. And then, recently I looked at an old book on Vionnet - the chapters were
divided into shapes. The basic simple pattern forms were decided upon, then folded - and of course, often hung on the bias - without using 10 or 20 cuts into a tailored piece. Her exquisite designs came from her knowledge of the fabric and how it took to the body.

So, that's what I have been up to - and that's what I am continuing to do. Four pieces will be presented in this collection - all constructed from four pieces of perfect squares. And will never see a pair of scissors.

A plus tard...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Countdown begins...

...I tend to do this before every show - lists, calendars, targets, lining up the interns and the stitchers. Checking on the machines to make sure we have enough for everyone: my 1917 industrial workhorse straight stitch Singer, my 25 yr old imported Husqvarna that runs best on the French system, my 15 yr old desperation Kenmore that has rarely failed me, and a newly acquired heavy duty Singer to sew through leather and layers.
Tonight we'll meet at Justine's...Erika - my lifesaving show director, Meghan - my UT assistant designer and Carlos & Amy - my interns. Looking at space, green room area, chair rental, music and most importantly lighting. Nessa from Jackson Ruiz will be in charge of hair and we're still waiting on booking the make-up. Models are almost all confirmed and range from the youngest neophyte: Juanita, to my dear, beautiful veterans: Eva, Summer and my muse: Samera. This will be my first solo show that I will do in years that won't be in my own space but Justine's offers a natural venue, a long runway of a pétanque court, with lovely overhanging trees and gravel to walk through. I have this image in my mind of the most wonderful lighting streaming through the trees with music playing as the models crunch through the gravel - their feet becoming covered in dust and the garments - in silk, yarn, muslin, lace, wool and leather- flowing along with them.

My mind works like this when I design a collection. I design for now. I want the clothing to be present, not projected into 6 months from now. See a dress and wear it now, feel the cloth now, take it out of your closet as soon as there is a chill in the air or an evening of cocktails that calls.

But for now, it is hectic, it is energizing, it is a circus. It's the part I love best. It's the process.
I now challenge myself everyday until Tuesday, Nov 1st to write at least a paragraph and post a photo to document this crazy roller coaster:
today - a kid's birthday in a bouncy house this morning, a lunch with friends and roast lamb in a lovely backyard and tonight, the meeting with my crew...

À tout à l'heure...

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Yes, a new collection...save the date: Tuesday, the 1st of November, 2011 chez Justine's à 8pm.
Gail Chovan for blackmail boutique & atelier presents the latest collection 2011-12.

A trop bientôt ... much too soon and too much to do but we'll make it...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Desert Trunk Show...Marfa

GAIL CHOVAN for blackmail boutique & atelier
and 2ETN jewelry

A Desert Trunk Show
friday, 23rd september, 2011

413 South Alysford, Marfa, Texas

Please join us out in west Texas for the Fall Preview of "14.

photo by Leon Alesi

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Falling into fall...

...so, the summer was amazing, inspirational, quiet, thoughtful, lovely...I spent 7 weeks in Paris. I enjoyed teaching high school students from all over the world and wished that I had blogged more about our class time and excursions. For the most part, they were bright, interested and quote wordily. I took them to exhibits on Madame Grès and Hussein Chalayan and a retrospective on Yves Saint Laurent. We had a lovely shopping time at Colette followed by lunch at Angelina. We studied the history of fashion, conceptual design, draping, the Japanese and Belgians and did photo shoots. I am already planning for next summer.

Aside from teaching, Creed, Zelda and I had a perfect little apartment on the rue Saint Martin. I would take them to the Pompidou in the morning before it opened and they would run up and down the cobble stoned incline. On rainy days, we could ride the escalators in the museum and on sunny days we would leave our 'quartier' and travel around town to different parks and monuments - the twins always arguing as to whether we should take the bus or the métro. In the evening, a friend or two would stop by and we would share a cheap bottle of rosé. The one I preferred this summer was called "Mythique" and seemed quite referential.

Each day was filled with inspiration - a gravestone covered by moss at Père Lachaise, the swirl of red wine in the bottom of my glass, the rain sweeping through Beaubourg as we sought refuge in the terrace of a café. But now, here I am back in Austin. It has been three weeks since our return and I have already presented a 10 piece collection for the finale of the Austin Fashion Awards. I am rebranding Blackmail and expanding my work space. Next week, we'll head to Marfa where I'll have a trunk show at the lovely home of a friend and do a desert photo shoot of my fall designs thus far.

And then on Tuesday, November 1st, I will present 14. - my fall/winter 2011-12 collection. I design for the moment, I design for the time; not for the season to come, trends to follow, or for huge orders to be placed. I'll make one for the runway, and maybe another one or two for the show. I can make one in your size - just ask me.

See you this fall.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tumblr: STOP IT!

...well, I really don't hate Tumblr but I do hate how people use it. There has been this trend around for a while of posting photos - just cool photos, things people like, no words, no reasons, no descriptions, not even photos taken by the poster. They are usually photos found on the internet that people obviously like for one reason or another and want to share for whatever reason. There are entire blogs based on this. Entire magazines. Well, it pisses me off. I guess mostly because people are not giving reasons. There is an ingrained, unspoken and assumed "stamp of approval" without words. It's actually quite egotistical. "I like this, therefore you should." "I see validity in this, don't you?" But I want a conversation - is it the color? The beauty of the sunset? The shape of the clothing? The black and white starkness? The fragile patina of eroding paint?

I like photos, too. I like lots of things expressed by others in a visual medium. But recently I have realized why I need to describe what it is about something and why I like it. Zelda makes me open my eyes, my ears and my thoughts more and more each day. It's not good enough to just take a road trip with the twins and say "Hey, look at those cows!" I describe the shape, the color, how many there are, the sound they make, and the field they are standing in. If I see a cool building or a billboard or the bright red ball of the sun coming up this morning - it's too easy to say to Creed, "Wow, look at the sun." The dialogue is needed. Why is it different or interesting or beautiful? How does the color compare to something else in nature? How does it make him feel?

So, I think Tumblr lets people be lazy. People who spend time looking at other people's work...the photographer had a reason to take the photo, the photo is his or her words. They are not yours. Challenge yourself.

This morning as I drove the kids to school, I did it in an almost unconscious kind of way. Usually, Evan and I pull in Circle Drive and I get out and walk with each twin to their Kindergarten classroom while Evan waits in car. The children are used to it. Zelda knows the route to Casis and that curve into the drop-off driveway as well as she knows the hill of our street, the turn down our alley and the slant of our driveway. But this morning, Evan had an errand and I took the kids to school alone. I parked the car on a side street and then began walking them down the sidewalk, up the concrete steps and around the back of the school. Creed was thrilled. He recognized the route and could tell we were entering the school from a back door. And then I heard it: Zelda asking, "Mama, what are we doing?" Shit, I hadn't told her. It was the Tumblr photo. It was the assumption. It was a lack of words. It snapped in me - the beauty of words is just as important, strong and inviting as the beauty of the visual. Have we become more and more steeped in a lazy expression of another person's declaration of their "vision"? Does any of this make sense to anyone besides me? I would appreciate your thoughts...

P.S. Oh, and another thing I have a hard time with is blogs by people that post what they are wearing every day. It seems to be a twenty-something phenomenon. Yes, you are all "super cute" and clever stylists. Bravo. But now really kids, do we really care about how you put together your "vintage find" with last year's belt from a designer sale?
Can you tell I am in a snarky mood?

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Summer session " 3 week final project - finished photo shoots...

The students had essentially 3 days to put these shots together. In groups of anywhere from 3-5, they had a day to assign roles, a day to plan and scout locations and a day to shoot. It was the final project for the three week students - today we begin our final two weeks with the students that will be here for a total of 5 weeks.

So, my fair readers, I present you the Final Photo Shoot results from the 3 week Fashion & Design class of summer 2011:

photo by: Rebecca, Laura, Kaitlin & Carmen

photo by: Grace, Camille & Natasha

photo by: Caroline, Emily, Michelle & Cecilia

photo by: Emma, Julia, Dylan & Camille

photo by: Noah, Hannah, Sarah & Emma

photo by: Leah, Caroline, & Margaret

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Classe no. 9... Madame Grès...La Couture à L'Oeuvre

... I had already planned on seeing this exhibit but also on the advice on 2 woman that I highly respect, I quickly scheduled an excursion for a few of my fashion students who were able to fit it in at the last minute. In June, I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend and fashion co-conspirator - Elinor Berg (mom of my close friend Seth) - who said that after 10 days in Paris, the Madame Grès exhibit was positively the best thing she had seen there. Then, last week, I was lucky enough to coordinate a tea time with the lovely and erudite, Diane Pernet, the preeminent fashion blogger of Paris. If you don't already read A Shaded View on Fashion, you better start now. Anyway, she started off the conversation with her thoughts on seeing the Madame Grès exhibit and the beauty of the presentation of the couture displayed beside the sculpture of the Musée Bourdelle.

And they both were right. I went with Aaron, Jacob and 3 very wise students who chose to see this exhibit over a trip to Montmartre. Tucked away on a side street near the Tour Montparnasse sits the museum of the work of Antoine Bourdelle. While the Musée de Costume won't be ready with its renovations until 2012, they staged the Grès exhibit in this seductive spot. You enter into the main gallery, filled with huge works of sculpture and there sits, enclosed in a glass case, a perfectly seamless example of the work of Alix. Her pleats and folds echo the draping of the cut stone. And a few feet away, is an example of her toile - unfinished, pins exposed to the world to show her careful workmanship of exactedness - the edges raw, the pins placed carefully and the spaces of the pleats measured.

A marvelous, inspirational show of couture... room upon room of the work of Madame Grès: one lone beautiful dress form was set up, dramatically lit in Bourdelle's small apartment, others were set in glass cases in his atelier. There were sketches, fabric swatches and colored illustrations of her years of work. 80 modèles were displayed either on forms or lying flat. She preferred to not have to cut fabric and had her cloth special ordered in extraordinarily widths so she could drape and pleat without interruption. That was just one of many things that I learned that day:

I want this to be my atelier...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Class No.8...séance de photo de la mode & YSL

...so, last week was Fashion History. We ended up with a quiz - one class did well, the other class - not so much. We also had the opportunity to visit the Foundation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent. The was a small but very strong show based on his revolutionary 1960's boutique "Rive Gauche." The premis was to bring couture to the streets of Paris. To produce clothes that weren't limited to the wealthiest of women - although they were still fairly expensive (!) The exhibit was loosely set up like his original Rive Gauche boutique, with racks of clothing, a colorful red palette and hanging Noguchi lamps. Even the life-sized painting of Yves that appeared in the original shop, greeted you as you entered the 2 small rooms. There was a charming video interview with e couturier and I was pleasantly surprised that the students walked away with a lasting impression. On camera, when asked about the future of fashion, YSL responded: "I don't think about the future, I design in the present."

Despite the nasty, pouring rain, all of my students made it there and the excursion seemed to be a success.

As for this week - once again we are plagued by less than perfect weather. I, for one, adore the cool and drizzly afternoons but they don't lend themselves to much besides classroom work. On Monday, we discussed fashion photography and different approaches. I, then, arbitrarily divided them into teams of 3-5 where they would choose the photographer (some students are also taking photography), the model, the stylist and creative director. On Tuesday, we went over historic aspects of clothing design that affect contemporary design. They had a few more minutes to plan their shoot locations - one constraint was that it had to be within a short distance of the classroom. One class had some success yesterday and the other class will shoot today. The results ...soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On the back streets of Montmartre...

...a shop window of color as I was winding my way to the fabric markets.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

lundi, Class No. 2...Qu'est-ce qu'on a vu dans la rue?

...so this time, I didn't forget my one million photocopies at the copy shop.
Started the class with our ongoing challenge: Qu'est-ce qu'on as vu dans la rue?
It's our ongoing assignment of style watching - What did we see in the street? in the shops? in the métro?on the bus? Style is everywhere - with each day, the students become more observant and open to all kinds of discussion.
Still doing a quick survey of Parisian Fashion History...moved on from Rose Bertin & les sans-culottes to the 1800's and the invention of the sewing machine, Charles Frederic Worth and his Maison de Couture to Paul Poiret.

What were the major contributions of Paul Poiret to fashion history? Did you know that Poiret was fired from the Maison de Worth by the couturier's sons? Did you know that they both married shop girls and used as their muses and models?

Enough of class, I left the classroom and decided to walk from just beyond the Pantheon down rue Saint Jacques to the Seine. There I crossed the river and walked before Notre Dame. At one point, I was doing my Parisian/big city walk: head down, determined, weaving in and out of tourists who were either lost or taking their time. I can do it perfectly - obviously without even giving it a second thought. And then as I crossed back across the Seine, where rue Saint Jacques actually sides up next to the Tour, I saw the sky - a beautiful blue with puffy white clouds. I stopped and cursed myself. Fucking cancer made me do crazy things and now it was going to make me slow down. It's so beautiful here - I take it all in like a big drink of waterr. I promise to walk more slowly with my head in the clouds instead of buried in my footsteps...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Class No. 1...

...took place on Friday. Of course, I am very prepared: syllabus - check, lessons plans for the first 3 week session - check, contact with the excursion director - check, adresse of the Sorbonne building where I'll be teaching - check....

Laurent suggests that I take the 86 bus - Oh, it will drop you right in front - ha! Not only did it take me 35 minutes to even find the street, I didn't have the classroom number. But alas, I arrived in plenty of time, started to arrange my desk and suddenly realize that I had left the 60 photocopies of the introductory survey and history of Rose Bertin at the photocopy shop all the way back in the 11eme. Merde.

So, winging it, it was. First class had 10 fairly interested ( notice I didn't say interesting) high school students. One cute little gay boy. The rest: girls from the US, Madrid and Puerto Rico. The 2nd class had 14 with not a single guy and several thoroughly disaffected girls from NYC and LA. Apparently both classes will be filled with 15 each, starting tomorrow.

So, first days topics: intro to course, expectations, final project, and then dove into the topic of style. Where do these kids come from? What infuences their style? Do they know who and why they fired John Galliano?

Then historically, we started with Louis XIV, went quickly to Louis XVI, related Marie Antoinette & Rose Bertin (charting her rise from shop girl to Queen's couturière) to the movie made by Sophia Coppola and moved on to first les sans-culottes - relating fashion or clothing styles to politics and society - and then on to
Les Incroyables. Did they know that John Galliano's graduate show from Central Saint Martins was based on Les Incroyables? Breathe...

Devoir: purchase their style cahier where each day they will record "Qu'est-ce qu'on a vu dans la rue?"...their trendspotting revue.
A demain...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

L'entrée des Fournisseurs...

...certainly isn't an inexpensive "mercerie" but it certainly is one of the prettier ones in a lovely shaded courtyard in the Marais. I love to buy silk velvet ribbon here in all colors, strange buttons and lace trim from various parts of France.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Paris...on est là!

For those of you that follow my recently sparsely updated blog, I will quickly bring you up to date. I am currently in Paris for the summer with my twins and my assistant Gillian as I prepare to start teaching a course in "Fashion & Design". I applied for this job during the spring and surprisingly enough, I was hired. I am really looking forward to teaching these high school students from various countries that come to this program of French immersion and have the opportunity to take enrichment courses in several different domains including Global Politics, Drawing, Architecture and Fashion among others. The students live in a large dormitory/hotel in the 15eme while they'll be taking their courses at the Sorbonne. It's so nice to say that I'll finally be teaching at the Sorbonne after all my years of academics here.

Classes start on Friday and I'll have students for 3 weeks and 5 weeks. I've handed in my syllabus and meet with the director on Tuesday to go over lesson plans. I have several excursions for the students, including museum exhibits, a visit to an atelier and picking through the fabric markets.

So, I have decided to use this blog to document my summer of teaching in Paris and fashion discoveries and experiences. Of course I have 2 other blogs (doesn't everyone?)
Daily life and other dalliances will be chronicled in: www.toxotwins.blogspot.com
And bien sûr, the writing of the book, La Petite Zelda goes to Paris in www.lapetitezelda.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Sche Report...

...many thanks to the Sche Report for a great report on the South Congress block and Blackmail...

Follow this link to her blog and here's some info about Margaret:

"Margaret Sche, based in Los Angeles, assists Global retailers, designers and manufacturers in developing niche markets through creative direction, business strategy and market forecasting.

Referencing the runways of Paris and the streets of Tokyo, Margaret’s passion lies in what’s next on the fashion radar. Her vision in global trend-spotting covers influencers worldwide from Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London and Japan.

With 15 years of work in the fashion industry, Margaret Sche has partnered with global-influencer brands such as Forever 21, Tommy Hilfiger,The Sak and American Rag. Her Fashion Styling images created for advertising, editorials and celebrities have appeared in publications such as In Style,Vanity Fair, Surface, Teen Vogue and Nylon. Her contribution to FOAM magazine as a Fashion Editor led Margaret into freelance fashion writing and market coverage reporting for various online resources. Most recently, she was head of Fashion Direction for Forever 21, where her merchandising vision influenced the global retail market and contributed to the company’s increase in earnings.

From creating Visual Merchandising concepts to shopping the marketplace for the newest trends, Margaret offers retailers, designers and manufactures an entire portfolio of services including: product development strategy, niche market planning, trend forecasting, branding and visual concept styling for runway, store design, look-books and advertising."

For more information, visit www.margaretsche.com

Friday, June 24, 2011

A gift on my doorstep...

...arriving at my atelier this morning, I found this lovely gift that had been dropped through my door. What a wonderful way to start the day!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This house is a dress...

...not only does it have shingles of fabric, but it has texture, form, depth, folds and personality. I like this site: inhabitat.com and I like this house:

...maybe not to live in but to appreciate and explore. Go and see this lovely article about The Little Dutch "Herenhuis" by Tafline Laylin.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unicorns & sticks...

....I have brought my last window display into the shop. So, the unicorn lives on a platform and the sticks are with a leather evening gown.
Tomorrow is a photo shoot of some new designs and I am about to unleash another secret weapon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Working for my living...

... finishing 6 pieces for a photo shoot.
... finishing 2 custom pieces for clients.
... washing fabric to prep for designs.
... changing the boutique window.
... finding a apartment in Paris.
... writing the curriculum for the summer course that I am teaching in Paris.
... dealing with realtors and attorneys about relocating the preschool.
... planning a preschool fundraiser.
... scheduling a head CT for Creed and immunizations for both twins.
... organizing and raising funds for the Kickstarter project "La Petite Zelda goes to Paris."
... working on the story arc for the La Petite Z book project.
... shit...and I don't even get a paycheck.


photos by: Amanda Elmore

Monday, April 11, 2011

I like her name...

...Lisa Black is an artist in Auckland, New Zealand. She takes an interesting approach to combining nature to technology...organic to mechanical...Her work seems sublime and quietly beautiful.

All photos are from her website: Lisablackcreations.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is my brain...

...like a Jeffrey Stockbridge photo...clear, yet disheveled, battered, messy, beautiful, crumbling and evocative - with the sun shining through... what does your brain look like?

43rd and Haverford no. 1, 2008
Archival Pigment Print
30 x 38.5"
Edition of 5 and 10

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Comme des boutiques...

..." And then, since it’s a business, we have to be able to get back the initial investment, whether it’s ours or whether it’s the partner’s, in as short a time as possible. So I don’t like to use expensive materials. I take care to make costs reasonable. It’s very similar to the way I make clothes. I give myself limits, not only financial limits but I also limit my method of expression, and from within those limits I try to come up with something new and interesting.”
- Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garcons

Re-thinking, re-designing, evolving and re-working...coming up on a year since we transformed the retail shop of Blackmail into Blackmail Boutique & Atelier. Since then, we have re-fashioned our workspace several times: making sure we have the room and temperament to calmly create and then, display my designs. Retail is difficult - no one goes into it to become rich, although many neophytes carry in that illusion which quickly evaporates. Buy low, sell high, turn over quickly and skim off a bit of the profit into savings while every other penny goes back into the business. And as much as I would like to paint the front of my shop in matte black, put up a doorbell and cloister myself inside, there is a NEW retail mindset beckoning that can be combined with a consciousness of collecting the non-disposable item...focusing on timeless as opposed to ephemeral.

The question is how to create the environment? I toy daily with that challenge and Evan helps me immensely to focus on what he sees as the obvious: display carefully and thoughtfully, less is more, a gallery/museum where clients can gaze and question.

So, we're starting now. Yesterday, the platforms were delivered. It's just the beginning of the "vitrines" - our displays that will speak. Yesterday, we put clothing on the dress forms and positioned them near the door. Yesterday, customers came in and touched them; literally, climbed onto the stages and pawed them. It seemed odd to me - not that my designs are so precious, but that people were that bold. I am trying to decide how to handle this, accept it. If they did it yesterday, it's sure to continue when the risers are painted and the displays are set. Should I appreciate this? Should I be offended? Is it raw? Is it real? Is it true?

It's just the beginning...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Orb...oh, my, lace...

...new work by the amazing Darla Teagarden featuring the Dentelle evening gown that I designed for the 13 years collection...

*all photos courtesy of Darla Teagarden.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Someone likes me, she really likes me..

...I imagine all creatives have those days. And yesterday was one of them. Aaron and I were talking about painting the entire front of the store black and installing that doorbell. People were wandering in and out, not getting off their cellphones, not acknowledging our greetings...and then she appeared. A dimnuitive, well put together woman. I offered her information - she said she was just "soaking it in, having been here before."

And then as she was leaving, she quietly approached me and explained that she had worked in traveling theatre for many years. She was a costumer, a designer and worked with the clothing of many, many designers. She considered herself a conceptual designer. And then she said it: "Your work is genius." She thought it was beautiful and intelligent and very, very good. Quite taken aback, by the combination of her quiet demeanor and her seriousness, I thanked her and said how nice that was to hear - sweet, even. Ack ! I used that "S" word. And she responded: "No! I am not sweet, nor am I nice. Really, I am not. I just like to tell the truth..."


Monday, February 21, 2011

Field trip with Skulls...

...my friend Alton teases me about skulls. But, I have always been and still am a sucker for the macabre: skulls, spiders, bones, taxidermy...but all of the most luxurious kind. So, when I walked into Grange Hall in Dallas on the recommendation of my creative soul sister, Pamela Tuohy of 2ETN jewelry, I was in heaven. It was a quick scan and I felt at home. With Evan and the twins napping in the car before our next stop I perused the the delicately edited selection of curiousities, jewelry and art pieces and fell in love with many. The environment felt neither trendy nor too precious. It felt lovely and calm with inviting vitrines and exquisite displays and merchandising. The selection is not for everyone and I am sure - not unlike my shop -they get the misunderstanders, the questionable gawkers and the just plain "don't get its."

photos from the Urban Flower Grange Hall website

It's a wickedly delightful combination of precise buying on the level of the famed Parisian clothing boutiques: L'Eclaireur - but for gifts, combined with the curiousness of the taxidermied animals of Deyrolle, and augmented by the collector's feel of Sir John Soane's Museum in London. I want my clothing on their dress forms as art, draped in their selected bijoux.

So, now when people ask me, what is there do see in Dallas?...I can tell them...plus, they sell my absolute favorite scent of a brown candle from the Hotel Costes.

Don't miss this jewel.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spelling it out...

...a mission statement
a message
a public declaration...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Feeling: moved by the Medieval...

... I love The Cloisters - a separate collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, way up in northern Manhattan, on the A train at 190th Street. There is something about the serenity of the gardens and the buildings that draws me in - feels so otherworldly. One breathes the air of the monastic life yet is overwhelmed by the color and beauty of the tapestries and sculpture.
I am finding inspiration in the Medieval right now...not so much about the stark dress, yet the composition of colors, the delicate features of the artistry without the flesh of the Renaissance. There is something basic and pure, yet lyrical. So when I draw on this inspiration, its not about Van Eyck-like dresses and velvets with long sleeves and draping vestments (although he is actually more late-Medieval, I just love this painting.) I am layering color, patch-working grasses, tress, and unicorns...imagining the dense throbbing of Gregorian chants. I guess you'll have to wait and see what I come up with...

But an aside: I was probably around 13, the first time I ever visited the Cloisters. I had amazing art teachers in Middle School and they took us everywhere. Even at that age, I felt like an old soul looking for the stone walls and silence of a Medieval cathedral. I was by myself, all knee length hair and adolescent gawkiness and was approached by a man. He complemented me on my beautiful tresses and compared me to a woman in the tapestries and we talked art. It was until much later that I realized that would never be allowed to happen to a pre-teenager today. And that's probably a good thing...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Patinate, to patinate, patination...

I struggle with reading William Gibson, but plow through because the little jewels stop me in my tracks and I read them over and over...amazing...

..."Everything they were wearing, he decided, qualified as what she'd call 'iconic', but had originally become that way through its ability to gracefully patinate. She was big on patination. That was how quality wore in, she said, as opposed to out. Distressing, on the other hand, was the faking of patination, and was actually a way of concealing a lack of quality."

- William Gibson, Zero History

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Klein blue...

...it's in my thoughts, in the thoughts of a friend/collaborator, in a book that I am reading...there's even an Australian punk band named after the color...

French artist, Yves Klein, a postmodernist, sometimes neo-Dadaist, started painting monochromes in the late 1940's..
"From the reactions of the audience, [Klein] realized that...viewers thought his various, uniformly colored canvases amounted to a new kind of bright, abstract interior decoration. Shocked at this misunderstanding, Klein knew a further and decisive step in the direction of monochrome art would have to be taken...From that time onwards he would concentrate on one single, primary color alone: blue."

He went on to produce art in many forms but I adored his devotion to a single color. It's on my mind...