Thank You, La Canadienne

OK. I have a confession to make.

I wore Uggs today.
They are the most hideous item in my closet, but also the warmest. They are like mini-ovens to put on your feet. And believe me, if you were out and about in downtown Chicago this morning...you would be wearing them as well. At least I didn't pay money for them - they were pilfered from a sibling's closet one chilly winter day like today (amusingly enough, they were my little brother's, who was 12 at the time, and he himself said good riddance to them!).

At least they're not pink - they're a respectable greige shade.

But my real excuse is that I was giving my secret weapons the day off.

Meet the Trinity, from La Canadienne.

They look like a perfectly adorable pair of dress boots, with all of the requisites - lovely black suede, unique styling (love those buckles!), round toes, and a tiny heel. But what you don't know is that they are lined with the softest, warmest polar fleece- and they are waterproof. Seriously waterproof. And so cute and comfortable and warm that I have been wearing them every day for the past two weeks.
Thus the day off.

Need I say more?

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Le Train Bleu

How happy I was to receive an e-mail last night from Le Train Bleu, one of my favorite online clothing retailers. It seems they have received a new shipment of inventory, including these treasures:

Nicholas K Merdock Cardigan

Uluru Amelie Cashmere Top

And some fabulous sale items:
One of my most coveted fall dresses, from Eventide is now marked down to $429, from $715.

Paala Theo Top, marked down to $169 from $242.

Uluru Fritzi Dress, marked down to $326 from $466.

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Recycle Much?

So, in the spirit of the whole global warming craze that's hit the country, I thought I'd join in and mention this adorable grocery bag that's available for preorder from Anya Hindmarch:

See, you can be stylish and environmentally conscious!
The kicker is the price - $10. What's not to love?

Preorder here.

This reminds me, I still need to rent An Inconvenient Truth.

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Get Me Some Hayden Harnett!

Can I just express my deepest, tenderest love and affection for the Steamer Satchel at Anthropologie?

I love the shade, which is this beautiful, indefinable smoky green hue. I also love the distinctive shape, and its size - it's a pretty roomy bag. Pretty much anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm the proverbial girl who likes her bags to hold everything but the kitchen sink (and sometimes even that!).

The Steamer Satchel is by one of my favorite new bag brands, Hayden Harnett. I saw one of their other bags, the Nico XX in this gorgeous lemon yellow and the leather was just to die for - it was soft as butter, no joke.


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Guerilla Girls, Take a Bow!

So this is where my inner art history geek comes out. An article has just been published in the New York Times by leading critic Holland Cotter on the subject of feminist art, which has finally, it seems, begun to infiltrate the big museums that have resisted women artists for so long.

Cotter writes that "such long-withheld recognition has been awaited with a mixture of resignation and impatient resentment. Everyone knows that our big museums are our most conservative cultural institutions. And feminism, routinely mocked by the public media for 35 years as indissolubly linked with radicalism and bad art, has been a hard sell."

As psyched as I am that women artists are becoming increasingly prominent in the art world, it becomes more and more apparent to me that putting together exhibitions, however well-intended, of solely women artists (such as Linda Nochlin and Ann Sutherland Harris's watershed 1976 exhibition, Women Artists, 1550 to 1950 at LACMA) serves only to pushed them further into their own niche. You see this with outsider art as well. It becomes regarded as separate from the mainstream...still marked by Otherness. Is that really what Nochlin and Harris wanted?

Not that the mainstream is always right. I much appreciated Cotter's comment that one issue that was barely addressed "was the reality that the canonization of feminist art by museums would probably suppress everything that had made the art radical."

We have a long ways to go towards reforming the canon, but it's clear that something has to be done.

Still, this is definitely a big step forward and I commend Holland Cotter for his great article.

By the way, if you're curious about the Guerilla Girls who are/were one rocking set of ladies, check out their Wikipedia in the previous link and their website.

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Julia Fullerton-Batten

Wow. Let me just take a moment to rave about Julia Fullerton-Batten's work.

She recently won the HSBC Foundation for Photography Prize, along with the also-deserving Matthew Pillsbury.

The sharp focus, intense detail, and sometimes disquieting subject matter of her photographs are very stunning and thought-provoking. It reminds me of Gregory Crewdson's similarly gorgeous and unsettling images of suburbia, but it's not overly referential. You could stare at her work for hours - each time I look at one of her photographs, I am struck by some sort of little revelation...the way light shines on a particular object, or a certain detail that pops out at me. There is something provocative about the lush surfaces that persist in her work.

Her new series is really extraordinary. It's called Teenage Stories and it depicts these teenage girls cavorting, Alice in Wonderland style, in tiny model villages and towering over mini highways. It really reminded me of the awkwardness of one's teenage years (still rather uncomfortably close) where you feel invariably out of place in your body. Conversely, it also recalls teenage bravado, those fabled days when you feel invincible.

I was lucky enough to catch her exhibition, A Picture of Health at the National Portrait Gallery in London this summer. I remember thinking, 'who is this woman?' I meant to go look her up as soon as I got to a reliable internet connection where I wasn't being being charged £5 an hour. But the excitement of my lengthy trip took over, and, well, I forgot. Until now!

Thanks, MAO, for reminding me.

Anyhow, I strongly encourage you to vist her website. There is lots to look at. There are other things I could talk about but I think I'll leave that for another post.

Bag Lust

OK, I have to say, bags are my weakness...

and I've been obsessing over this one for weeks now. At least I'm rather justified, as Jessica over at Shiny Squirrel has the hots for it as well.

Oh Anna Corinna, why dost thou tempt me?

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Once more, with feeling, Leonardo...

Check out 14 from the Gallery of the Absurd's latest masterpiece, courtesy of Leopold Da Vinnie! I love this website; it never fails to make me giggle. I think that this piece speaks for itself. 14 is great at distilling the big celebrity brouhaha of the moment...and making us laugh at ourselves for fueling the fire of celebrity culture with our US Weekly binges and hourly Perez Hilton check-ins.
This particular oeuvre is referring to that latest tidbit suggesting that "Tom Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology." A scary thought indeed.

A few other recent favorites of mine:

David Banda starring as Hollywood's Hottest Accessory!

and this pre-Shiloh gem,

which got 14 featured in the NYTimes! Too bad their offspring turned out to be just about the cutest baby ever. At least they seem happy!

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These Boots are Made for Walking, Yadda Yadda

Sorry about the lame title. I couldn't help myself!

School's pretty hectic right now, as midterms are starting up next week, so I'm not sure how my posting schedule is going to be until the weekend. I'm going to make it my goal to post at least once every night, so we'll see how that goes.

This is going to be short, but sweet. I just wanted to share my love for these absolutely fabulous Bandi boots from Chie Mihara.

I saw them at Bloomies (on Michigan Ave.) a few weeks ago and I just about died. They look like they're tailor made for me! They come in black (but also a fun teal color which seems to be cropping up a lot in my wardrobe lately), the heel isn't prohibitively high, and the design is this absolutely fabulous tongue-in-cheek vintage style, which references those boots so popular around the turn of the century whose buttons needed to be done up with a special hook.

Just like my Samantha doll wore, but a bit hipper and more grown-up. Not to mention user-friendly.

Of course, I very sadly set them back down again when I saw the price on the sole...they were over $400. But as my mom wisely said, "Just wait and they'll go on sale eventually." Well, a girl can hope, right? In fact they're on sale at the Chie Mihara online store, but the price is not much better at 287 euros.
So, all I can do is wait...and hope.

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Fornasetti on the cheap

So I was browsing around Etsy recently and found this very cool shop, Monkeyshines. They specialize "in salvaging one of a kind ephemera from critically damaged vintage books." Anyhow, I just got my hands on this fantastic pocket mirror.

Does it ring a bell?

How about now?

If I had to name my favorite designer...I'd have to say it's Piero Fornasetti. There is something elusive and whimsical about his work which charms me every time I see it. My parents are fans as well and I grew up with some Fornasetti pieces, so I suppose there's a nostalgic aspect to it as well. I've always coveted their Architettura lamp.

Now, of course, I have my very own Fornasetti piece. I sort of collect Swatch watches (I have about 6 and I'm planning on getting more) and last year I found this great Dutch website, where you can buy Swatch editions from all the way back in the eighties. Here's my newest discovery:
Baiser d'Antan from the fall 1992 collection. There's a different Fornasetti design in black and white, called Glance which I will definitely be purchasing at a later date, but the former was more to my taste.

I'm sure you'll be hearing more about my Fornasetti obsession in later posts. If you're interested, there's a lovely little book by Assouline featuring an interview by Philippe Starck of Fornasetti fils, Barnabas, who is carrying the family torch now that Piero has passed away.

I sort of have this dream to collect his Julia plates, which are all variations on a 19th c. portrait of Lina Cavallari, and have a whole wall just covered in them. They sell for $100 and up, so maybe if I win the lottery it will happen.

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Couture Bonanza, and an Ode to Riccardo Tisci

You may be aware that Spring 2007 Couture week in Paris has just ended. There are plenty of reviews of the collections floating around but I thought I would just put in my two cents.
Hands down, my favorite was Riccardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy. His past couple of ready-to-wear collections for the line have been rather shaky, but he seems to be finding his footing.
I loved the dreamy, slightly gothic, sophisticated aesthetic of this collection. It reminded me, a bit, of Olivier Theyskens' past collections for Rochas which contained a similar darkly romantic mood.
To wit:

I love the unexpected shock of yellow, à la tarte au citron in this otherwise moody collection.

And those hats! They may be a bit more difficult to swallow than Balenciaga's fabulous riding caps but they certainly are something.

None of the other collections really appealed to me as a consumer, except, as in the case of Galliano for Dior, for their artistic/aesthetic beauty.

I find something like this origami-influenced piece gorgeous, but I could never imagine wearing it. That's always been my idea of couture - it's wearable art for the few. You have to be rich enough, and poised enough, to pull it off. It's often mocked by people who don't realize that couture gowns will never be hanging on a rack at Barney's...while a select few still do purchase couture, most designers usually take the opportunity to use this dying art to showcase their virtuoso skills - and to engage in flights of fancy that might be seen, in distilled form, in future RTW collections.
Similar sentiments are suggested in the always astute Cathy Horyn's article for the NYT:

She called Tisci's effort "immature"...which I have to agree with, I think he still has a ways to go in comparison to the other designers, but aesthetically it was still my favorite.

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The Illusionist

I recently rented The Illusionist on Netflix.

I really liked it. I thought the acting was excellent (incidentally, I saw Rufus Sewell onstage this summer in London, in Tom Stoppard's oustanding, masterful Rock and Roll and he was amazingly good), and enjoyed the storyline as well. Jessica Biel's performance was a pleasant surprise, and the male cast members (Sewell, Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti) were great. I'm usually quite skeptical about "twist" endings which have cropped up at an alarming rate in recent years, but this one actually took me by surprise - and, more importantly, it made me smile.
The art direction was really well done, in my opinion. The movie had a very particular "feel" to it, and while the costume and sets placed it at the turn of the century, it had a certain otherworldly, ethereal quality that I quite liked.
In particular, my eyes were drawn to this shot in a hunting lodge:

Perhaps it's a bit difficult to make out, but look at all of those antlers! They form a fantastic canopy in this hallway.
Jamie Gray of Domino's Daily Dose blog noted on December 18th that "antlers are over, but..."
Well, I agree with the but! Antlers may be over, but I still find them quirky, in that neo-traditional sense that I love.

One of my fave design blogs, Shelterrific made a post on the same subject a few weeks ago.

According to Domino and Design*Sponge, cuckoo clocks are the new antlers. I love these versions at Urban:

Crazy Big Cuckoo Clock

Cuckoo Clock (in several colors).

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Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, redux!

I'm not sure how widely known this is (I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere) but a few weeks ago I was very excited to find Albertus Seba's massively priced and sized cult coffee table book, Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, which normally retails for about $200, in a reduced form at a Barnes and Noble store, for $29.99!

Get it while you can...

Silhouette Fever

Right now I'm loving silhouettes, of all sorts (not just of the head variety). There is something about their stark simplicity that I find really lovely and elegant. The silhouette look has a rather romantic, gothic quality that's very much in vogue right now. What started my obsession was Laura Yaggy's apartment featured in Domino in December 2005. I loved her whole apartment, really, it was totally my aesthetic. She has a huge collection of silhouettes of all sorts, displayed throughout her charming apartment.

Speaking of gothic and romantic, I do hope you've been watching the BBC's stupendous rendition of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Part I aired last week and the penultimate bit will be on tomorrow night at 8:00, courtesy of Masterpiece Theatre. I felt that they really did justice to the book, which was one of my favorites as a young girl. I will admit to cheating - last Sunday eve I was so enthralled that I hopped on to YouTube and spent hours watching rather grainy clips of the second half! For example... [WARNING - spoiler alert!]

Anyhow, here are a few things I've been drooling over:

I love these Thomas Paul plates at ELSEWARES, I've been mooning over them since November. You can't beat the price ($28 for the set of four!).

Another Thomas Paul piece with a lighter feel at Bluefly.

Larchbed linens at CB2.
These are great. The teal shade adds an element of fun. I just wish they had them for twin beds as well. I have the dubious fortune of a doll-sized bedroom - if I had a queen or even full sized bed there wouldn't be any floor space to speak of.

Twig table runner, also from CB2. There is also a set of placemats for the ridiculously cheap price of $3.95 each. I like the clean, almost zen feel.

I'm in the market for a lampshade, and I love the texture of this flocked one. It also comes in a delightful sunny yellow! From Urban Outfitters.

Of course, you can't do a discussion of this style without a bit of John Derian. This one's a paperweight with a vintage silhouette.

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May I Introduce...

So. Where to begin.
I've recently (within the past six months) discovered the thriving blogosphere. It swiftly became an addiction. I have loved reading the thoughts and inspirations of creative people living interesting lives. And my wallet bemoans the fact that I have loved finding new ways to spend my money, courtesy of the fashion and design bloggers. Thus...the creation of my own blog was perhaps inevitable. I've always enjoyed expressing myself via the written word. Whether or not others will enjoy reading what I have to say is another question altogether!

As for me, I'm Blythe, a 21-year-old art history major...you may be hearing more about that and my future plans. Within this blog, I propose to discuss a variety of things which get me going: travel, design, art, fashion, and literature being a few examples. A typical post may be a discussion of a book I am reading, a pair of shoes I am dying to buy, or a review of a museum exhibition. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. I will enjoy reading your comments, suggestions, and points of view, and hope the feeling will be mutual.

La vie en rose...looking at life through rose-colored glasses. Sounds nice, right? Welcome to my vie en rose, where you can read about things that tickle me pink: art, design, fashion, literature and more.