27 July 2016

down in Mexico: Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter

A new book, CASA MEXICO At Home in Merida and the Yucatan is captivating. Beautiful light plays with world class photographer Tim Street-Porter's camera inspiring some of the most engaging and evocative interior design photographs I've seen in some time. The interiors discovered and profiled in the book by Street-Porter and writer Annie Kelly are at once elegant, modern and ancient.

Houses in the region's capital Merida and beyond have been taken up and revitalized by artists and tastemakers, providing the beautiful spaces in CASA MEXICO. Lush nature unites with neutral colors placed on period furniture, while color at times vivid, seems muted by soaring ceilings.

Here are some of my favorite rooms in the book, along with a few great Mexican women who seem to inhabit the same spirit.

The diva of international cinema Mexican-born Maria Felix as painted by Bridget Trichenor in “Domadora de Quimeras” would have been right at home in this room. Once owned by sixteenth-century priests. now called Casa de los Frailes, the sala is decorated with antiques, stacks and stacks of books, modern art, and a wonderful old map of the Yucatan.

It's just as easy to envision the glamorous Felix lounging in this sala at Casa Serrano Willson.

The Loggia at Los Almendros "The Almonds" has been decorated by Arturo Pani, and owned by famed producer- screenwriter Manuel Barbachano Ponce. Ponce directed the ultra-glamorous Delores del Rio who I can just imagine coming in from a swim, feet padding on the cool marble floors.

For a sensualist, there is Coqui Coqui. I can't imagine the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo staying anywhere else but this one bedroom hotel in Merida.

The most striking structure in the book is the studio of Mexican artist and sculptor Javier Marin, designed by his architect brother Arcadio Marin. Its serenity is evident from Street-Porter's roof top camera view. Called Plante Matilde, whether it is the structure or its surroundings or both, there is a holiness in evidence here, I can only imagine standing in its rooms.

Plante Matilde seems a place where Mexican Baroque poet Juana Inez de la Cruz, nun, and extraordinarily, sixteenth-century feminist, could work and study.

CASA MEXICO opens fifteen homes wide, and in doing so had me going further afield to investigate the region. Isn't that in a sense what any great book does? It should take us beyond its pages, opening our eyes and minds to unknown people places things.

all photographs are by Tim Street-Porter and provided to me by Rizzoli (with my thanks)

05 July 2016

little or nothing

it's a lean summer on the pages of little augury. after much ado-I am in the final stages of THE book. Yes Virginia, there really is a book.
things crawl, and then they fly (time is flying) !

there are occasional looks into something other than How They Decorated, but at a minimum.
brief glimpses of the other side of things.

this did catch my eye. this fabric, so pretty, it was once in Clarence House's fabric line and made some of the prettiest chairs, (and no I don't have a picture). Now it's a suit, a dress from Schiaparelli Couture Fall 2016. Either way it's heavenly.

these irresistible imperiously large photographs are from Vogue, here

13 June 2016

When I have fears...Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be 
   Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, 
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery, 
   Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; 
When I behold, upon the night’s starred face, 
   Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, 
And think that I may never live to trace 
   Their shadows with the magic hand of chance; 
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, 
   That I shall never look upon thee more, 
Never have relish in the faery power 
   Of unreflecting love—then on the shore 
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think 
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink. -John Keats

Robert Rauschenberg canvas

08 June 2016

CHIC is where BONNIE CASHIN found it...

Stephanie Lake and Bonnie Cashin were lucky enough to form a rare bond, and for anyone that has encountered that special person though decades may separate them in age, they're simpatico.
It's a gift. Bonnie Cashin referred to Lake as her little sister, and together Cashin, years after her death, and her sister collaborate in introducing the timeless Cashin to today's fashion tribes.

Author Stephanie Lake writes she was determined “…to redress historical neglect of her career.” That she's done, with her in depth look, textbook weight & almost 300 page book about all American, and Original Bonnie Cashin. Lake inherited Cashin's personal archives-over 300 images of drawings, photos, garments, and fashion ephemera fill Chic is Where You Find It.

Fashion independent, American Modernist, Cashin was a true Original. Page after page of Bonnie Cashin Chic is Where You Find It attests to all that. Every personal photograph, sketch, chunky tweed, toggle. and fringe -all speak to Cashin's ease, done with an eye for just what modern American women wanted then, and still do. There was restraint, coupled with swish, sophistication to the max, yet so brilliantly idiosyncratic, Cashin still surprises with her unerring eye. Her pieces are coveted, for me not so much that I didn't hesitate to pass on a smart Bonnie Cashin butternut squash colored nubby tweed coat trimmed out in matching leather with her signature toggles to my niece when she was living on the West Coast. It's still in flawless condition-which attests to the quality of Cashin.

Quirky, and beautiful, Bonnie Cashin
 at her country house wearing a Korean scholar's hat, ca 1958
I think more clearly with something on my head. -BC

Cashin's T-square Coat, ca. 1963, with her signature leather trim and hardware.

Mass conformity in the name of Fashion is a complete bore. -BC

Bonnie Cashin's noted "firsts" include layering, and silhouettes women today can not get enough of- ponchos, tunics, and kimonos.

Bonnie Cashin is to layering what Thomas Edison is to electricity- Eleanor Lambert

I love anything you can fling around you. -BC
(oh yes, Bonnie)

Fine Feathers
Cashin's 1968 turkey feather bolero with jersey and leather

Nature is a most wonderful designer. -BC

The book is loaded with Bonnie's own words-quotes that keep the reader fascinated with Cashin the designer-the woman-and the intellect. She is without a doubt- spot on. Her sketches are wonderfully modern, her handwritten notes, scattered throughout the book, reveal the depth of her thoughtful design process. She brought every aspect of her life into her work.  Lifestyle-much loved in design and fashion magazines today, is apparent from photographs of Bonnie and her rooms. Cashin was one of the first in American fashion to embrace that too.

CHIC, Lake's book, immerses readers into Cashin's world, in-depth, and it is infinitely satisfying. Her habit of writing famous inspirational quotations, her "graffitti hallway" speaks to me. Over time it would be a fascinating road map to what I'm tuned into at the moment.

Colorful patches of color, scrawled in black marker with the words of my "intellectual heroes," I would have to include Cashin's Chic is where you find it.

“I worship at the altar of Bonnie Cashin”—Jonathan Adler
(move over Jonathan, you have new acolytes wanting to pay their respects..)

© Bonnie Cashin Chic is Where You Find It by Stephanie Lake, Rizzoli New York, 2016. Images, may not be reproduced in any way without written permission from the publisher.


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