Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

High Glamour in the Garden (and Elsewhere)

I mentioned the inimitable New York fashion designer Ralph Rucci here last month {link}, so it's wonderful to see that Architectural Digest has published a feature on him. {link} 

Architects Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozerski of Bonetti/Kozerski Studio have just completed a studio redesign of Mr Rucci's atelier, ingeniously moving the workroom to the front of the warehouse space so the first thing one sees from the lobby is the bright area filled with white-coated artisans working at cutting tables, sewing machines or fascinating patterns and toiles. 

As an interior design concept, it's as remarkable, as delightful and as memorable as one of Mr Rucci's creations.

While Mr Rucci prefers to stay very much under the radar, his sublime creations are worn by some of the most beautiful women in Hollywood and high society. His clothes are architectural but still sensual, and minimalist but still full of maximum impact. There's  a lovely video of the collections and also his new-look atelier here – {link}  

Both are online now at Architectural Digest –

Also in the latest Archi Digest is a fascinating story on Pierre Bergé's Normandy retreat. Mr Bergé's was the lifelong partner of the late Yves Saint Laurent and is still living his life with the same grace and style.

It's a shame there aren't more photos of the regenerated gardens, overseen by landscape designer Madison Cox, but it's still an intriguing peek into Pierre Bergé's private domain.

While we're on the subject of horticulture and hemlines, a beautiful exhibition has just opened at the Garden History Museum in London called Fashion and Gardens. 

The exhibition is divided into three themes: Gardens into Fashion, Fashions into the Garden, and Colour Theory, all of which celebrate the relationship between garden and clothing design. Curated by Nicola Shulman (who's bringing this little place to life), it's worth visiting if you're in London early this year. (Open until late April.) {link}

The BBC did an interview with Ms Shulman here. Surprisingly funny.

And if you're heading to London for the Chelsea Flower Show in May, be sure to pop by Marylyn Abbott's tiny but exquisite Topiarist's Garden in the Artisan Garden area. Marylyn was the designer behind the famous Australian garden Kennerton Green before moving to England to work her horticultural magic on West Green House in Hampshire. (Which sadly suffered damage in the recent storms.) 

The Topiarist’s Garden is based on an original concept by Marylyn Abbott for a garden at the bothy at West Green House. The garden was designed to be a reflection of what Marylyn calls "topia opera”, filled with eclectic topiary designs and charming perennials – "a fantasy of formality"! {link here}

And if you should be in New York before mid-April, don't miss the new exhibition at FIT's Museum called Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s. 

It reveals the grand transformation that took place in women’s and men’s fashion in the 1930s, not only in Hollywood but also in New York, London and indeed places such as Cuba and Shanghai.  It's at FIT's Special Exhibitions Gallery from now until April 19. I can't wait to see it. {[link} 

Lastly, I hope you'll forgive the intermittent posts here. Instagramming would be easier, but sadly I don't have time at the moment (and everyone else posts such lovely photos anyway). So I'll try to post here a few times a month. For all of those lovely people who said they're no longer receiving posts by subscription, I apologise; I suspect it's to do with Google's changes last year.

As compensation, we're frantically working on a new online magazine, which I've mentioned briefly in the past, and that will probably take the place of these posts – and will be emailed out (free) to subscribers. It's shaping up to be beautiful! I'm sure you'll all like it.

This year is shaping up to be a big year of work. I've just finished designing the new New York book (above and below) and am now going to try and tie up loose ends on some other projects (including the Picnic book, which Australian Story are interested in covering), before heading straight into an exciting new publishing project about Paris.

The new Paris book will features Hermès, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Cocteau, Chanel and many others, so hopefully I can do it justice. 

There are always going to be critics, detractors and other deterrents in the world but if there's one thing I learned from 2013 it's the importance of remaining gracious, dignified and kind. And making your own work, life and relationships the most meaningful and fulfilling they can be. Let everyone else live their own lives. As Diana Vreeland said: "There's only one very good life and that's the life you know you want and you make yourself!"

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Inspiring Instagrams and Other Splendid Sites

If you're feeling uninspired, or would like to bookmark some lovely sites, here are a few that are becoming hugely popular – and for good reason: they're witty, insightful, inspirational, colourful and usually full of interesting glimpses of people's lives.

Robert Couturier's Instagram

A peek into the designer's magnificent home and life.

David Lauren's Instagram 

(Yes, from that family)

This is Glamorous' Tumblr

Online magazine Gardenista

The Style Saloniste

Amanda Brooks' Instagram

The official Hermès Paris Instagram 

An inside look at fashion shoots, upcoming pieces and typically bold accessories.

Pigotts' Instagram

One of my favourite Sydney stores. Nan's taste is impeccable, as is her sister Janie's.
And I love it how they mix images from the store with personal photos from their life and travels. (Look at this glamorous old shot from Lake Como. The gentleman in the suit looks like something from a Merchant Ivory film. Clearly they all dress up to go out to dinner in Bellagio.)

Jasper Conran's Instagram

Mrs Lilien

A gorgeous blog.

The style section of London's FT 

Just splendid, as the sartorially obsessed Londoners would say.

FT also has a great section called How To Spend It, which, thankfully, isn't just for the cashed-up class. Their Gardens and Books sections are particularly good, as are ther  columnists.

And lastly, sometimes a peek at the 'celebrity Instagrams' can unearth some amazing gems. 

Here's Mr Floyd on what appears to be a private plane with a huge and noticeably clean wad of cash beside him, calmly reading the paper...

So many questions, so little time...

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