Archive for June, 2011

I remember well this handbag my mother is carrying. Visit Mom’s Closet for the story.

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Shirtwaist dress with matching fascinator.

I’ve been hit with Fascinator Fever … ever since I saw Kate’s feather fascinator back in March. What’s a girl to do? Make one for herself.

At Lacis in Berkeley, I purchased a small round form. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but over time and pondering I decided to cover the form with extra fabric from my custom-made shirtwaist dress.  I simply cut out a round swatch and handsewed it to the form. Initially I was going to embellish it with a bow of the same material, but my mother suggested white flower clips instead. (She even bought them for me. Thanks Mom!) They are embellishment enough and secure the form to my hair.

I wore it for the first time the other day and wow, it’s really comfortable. I know why Kate favors fascinators –  no fuss. Not like a hat, which can be troublesome in the wind, flatten hair, and/or cause a headache. 

How about you? Do you have Fascinator Fever? Leave a comment and do tell.

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That's me sporting my custom-made shirtwaist dress by Theresa LaQuey. Photo: James Young

Last October I had a brilliant idea while strolling Fabric Row in Philadelphia. Why not buy some fabric to take home and have a couple of dresses made? What a perfect memento of my visit to Philly.

So that’s what I did. I perused the family run shop Maxie’s Daughter on South 4th Street and chose two cotton fabrics – one with a violet color print and the other a brown/orange print. I knew I wanted shirtwaist dresses I could wear with sandals in the spring/summer and with tights in the autumn. 

The middle-aged salesladies from South Philly seemed more serious about the upcoming baseball playoffs than fabric. “We’re gonna beat you,” they teased. “OK,” I said. “I have no problem with that.”  Heck, I was a San Francisco visitor with absolutely no attachment to ballgames, I wasn’t going to argue with Phillies fans.

When I returned home, designer Theresa LaQuey sketched a retro shirtwaist dress with buttons down the front and a knee-length hem (very vintage nurses uniform). A few months later, voila … I had dresses that are well made and fit.

Wait, there’s more. As a Christmas surprise, my sweetie paid to have the dresses made. Now every time I wear them I think of my visit to Philly, those nice fabric shop ladies and my favorite guy. Now, those are dresses with a story.

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Paper birds by Aimee Baldwin.

In the last few years I have become fond of birds. I live in front of a hill full of springtime birds and what a treat it is to awake in the mornings listening to their melodious chatter. Last year when a set of wrens built a nest on my patio, I was forever perched at the window watching a family of four baby birds hatch, grow, and finally (sadly) fly away.

So, I was very excited when I found Berkeley artist Aimee Baldwin and her paper birds. Aimee creates all kinds of birds and their environs from a special crepe paper imported from Germany. She started her craft by making flowers with the paper and soon realized that its pliable quality would work well for birds. 

Since 2006 she’s been sculpting and showing her feathered friends at various fairs and galleries around the Bay Area. Aimee refers to her art as Vegan Taxidermy and says she’s inspired by her affection for nature and concern about habitat conservation.

Aimee’s entire bird collection is now on display at Castle in the Air in Berkeley. Included are owls, parakeets, hummingbirds, and more. Each is handcrafted without animal products and takes a week or so to complete. In addition to the crepe paper she uses salvaged white pellet foam, wire, acrylic paint, and glass. 

Paper Birds by Aimee Baldwin at Castle in the Air now through July 15th, 1805 4th Street, Berkeley. Many are for sale and the best part? They’re guaranteed not to fly the coop.

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Mom wearing outfit designed by Grandma Louise.

Mom, her stepfather, and her mother. Harrow, England, 1964.

I was sorting through family photos and found this one of my mother, her stepfather and her mother. My grandmother designed the outfit Mom is wearing. Read the story behind the outfit in Mom’s Closet – Family Affair.

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Vanessa Getty at the Swarovski opening reception in San Francisco. Photo: Drew Altizer.

San Francisco socialite, Vanessa Getty hosted an evening of sparkle recently at the opening reception for the new Swarovski shop in Union Square. In addition to being a local style maven,  Ms. Getty is a tireless fundraiser for animal welfare, a noble pursuit supported by the Swarkovski company.

Known for innovation in crystal cutting technology, Swarovski gave costume jewelry a little glamour for everyday women back in the late 1800s. In the 1930s, fashion designers such as Chanel, Balenciaga, and Schiaparelli all incorporated Swarovski crystals in their creations. By the 1950s, Hollywood caught on with costumers adding crystals to their designs and actresses sporting Swarovski jewelry to opening nights.

Swarvoski crystal jewelry. Photo: Drew Altizer.

Today Swarvoski is still a family owned business based in Austria and also a growing brand name with shops all around the world – three in San Francisco. In addition to jewelry and beads for fashions, they make animal figurines and home decor items. Swarovski Crystals remain a hit with designers – Armani, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Gucci are just a few who regularly use the sparkle stones in their designs.

My own experience with Swarovski dates back to the early 90s on a European tour. While in Austria, I picked up a Swarovski memento for my sister-in-law, Lori,  in the form of a crystal fish. Swarovski animal figurines were and still are quite collectible. I fell in love with the little fish for its faceted body and twisted frosted glass tail. What made it a perfect gift for Lori is that she’s a Pisces.

The new Swarovski shop is located at 295 Geary Street in downtown San Francisco.

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Catherine with an updo and William in tails. Courtesy of Getty Images.

I have been champing at the bit waiting for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to sport an updo. Finally, at the Epsom Derby this past Saturday the Duchess pulled back her (too) long hair into a chic chignon.

Since wind is ever-present at royal events, I have wondered why Catherine hasn’t just pulled her hair up. Beyond that, I knew an updo would be a good look for her and hey, I was right.

Dressed for a formal occasion, the royal family turned up at the Epsom Downs Racecourse outside London in support of the Queen and her colt, Carlton House. He lost … so what. (I don’t support horseracing.)

Catherine was pure elegance dressed in a cream springtime suit. She strolled in taupe pumps and carried a matching clutch. A taupe woven fascinator with a curlycue on top added a bit of whimsy.

In complete contrast to Catherine are Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were there too, looking … ah … well, like they usually do. (They remind me of the royals from the Georgian Period.)

The boys were dashing in top hats and tails and the Queen was pouty in pink after her colt came in third. Just goes to show, not even royalty get everything they want.

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