Isabella Blow...a True Fashion Original

The wonderfully whimsical, gloriously eccentric Isabella Blow, brilliant fashion editrix and all around hat guru, has passed away at the age of 48. No woman could wear hats like Isabella; I think this photo, courtesy of WWD, attests to that, don't you think? I have always loved to sigh over her always astounding chapeaux. She unleashed design geniuses like Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen onto the fashion world, and was by all accounts a wonderfully warm and witty person. She will be missed.



Messy Fish

Irreverent and eminently collectible, these unique playthings from Messy Fish are not just for kids. They have a distinct design sensibility that is reflected in their handmade quality and creative use of color and pattern.
Thanks, Paolo!



Yup, I still heart NY

You know, just because a souvenir-like item is touristy doesn't mean it ought to be lacking in great design. You can show your love for a favorite city without sacrificing your aesthetic principles. Take NYC, for example. New York is one of my favorite cities to visit - in fact it is one of the most beloved in the world. Some past evidence of my NY love affair can be seen here, here, and here.

Gotham-themed souvenirs abound - conventional or otherwise. Let me point you towards a few of my personal favorites:

It may look like a toy but the New York City in a Bag set by Muji is not just for kids. I still regret not taking it home with me when it caught my fancy at the MOMA Design store.

My first introduction to Josef Frank came in Domino a year or so ago, in the form of his delightful Manhattan print. Get your own Manhattan tote at Svenskt Tenn.

Then there is the NYC Pentatray, new at Room and Board. Produced with the now iconic graphics of the subway system, these would make a playful and graphic accent to any home. Thanks to Christian Quilci for the heads up.

How great is this modern trompe l'oeil, the classic Happy to Serve You Cup produced in ceramic?

John Derian is a favorite, as always. I like to save the best for last. I love the nostalgia and collectible quality of his decoupage pieces - when I visited his wunderkammern-like store on the Lower East Side I was swooning like a lovestruck teenager. Apparently a proud New Yorker, Derian produced a series of paperweights with old maps of different neighborhoods. Here's the one of the West Village..my adopted NYC neighborhood ;)

I'll top this off with a wee wonderful clip from one of my favorite Sex and the City episodes ever...can you guess the ep title?
Ok, here's a big hint:

...yes, that is a plastic bag floating about in there!

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She Sells Sea Shells...

Here in Chicago, beach season seems to be swiftly arriving...and then departing again quite swiftly. I'm really very puzzled by this changeable weather but it seems to be stabilizing somewhat. Elsewhere, however, the world seems to be in the throes of late spring/early summer. So, I thought I'd share some lovely beach cover-ups I've found with you. Just so you can be prepared - there's no need not to look lovely walking home from Oak Street Beach even if you've got a pound of sand in your bikini bottom!

Topshop has got you covered with these gorgeous prints (and a nice neutral grey for good measure for the minimalists):

Love this vibrant print from J. Crew.

Also from J. Crew, this adorable tube dress comes in loads of colors.

This gorgeous and versatile sarong by Sylvie Cachay comes in several lovely prints.

A more laid-back rendition from Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Finally, we can't forget Anthropologie. I love this pretty bohemian cover-up by Lilka.

Wrapped Up in Books, part 2

As promised - admittedly a little late, but what can I say, midterms have finally caught up with me - today I'm going to strike the tip of the iceberg and talk a teeny bit about some of the book illustrations that have inspired me lately.

The idea for this post began with my recent discovery of BibliOdyssey, a fascinating blog which is a real visual treat. They track down all sorts of obscure books with the most extraordinary illustrations, on the widest range of subjects you could think of - three recent posts have highlighted humorously macabre anatomical sketches, hypothetical prehistoric landsapes, and satirical drawings by a female officer in the Royal Navy Service during World War II.

Some of my favorites culled from BibliOdyssey in no particular arrangement: