Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bold Stripes

I had mixed impressions about Raf Simon's Spring-Summer 2015 Haute Couture Collection. Call me a classicist and a lover of true couture especially when it features extraordinary embroidery work, which the collection did have in small amounts. However, the plastic raincoats and mod, halluciniagenic patterned body suits didn't quite cut it for me when it comes to beautiful couture. But I tend to be a traditionalist though overall I was intrigued and inspired by the collections modernity and innovativeness. However, the striped dresses really stood out for me. They were the perfect marriage of taking modernist patterns and colors and mixing them with timeless and pretty silhouettes. And the knee and thigh high boots added another unexpected edge. I have always loved stripes and the boldness of these brought to mind a few of my favorite modernist painters such as Kenneth Noland, Wyeth Alexander, Richard Diebenkorn and Josef Albers. Raf Simons is truly brilliant though. He is taking fashion into a new era while respecting and celebrating Haute Couture and simply beautiful clothes. His debut collection for Dior was extraordinary and had me gasping! See here. 



Kenneth Noland



Kenneth Noland



Wyeth Alexander



Richard Diebenkorn



Richard Diebenkorn



Wyeth Alexander



Kenneth Noland



Josef Albers


Monday, January 26, 2015

In a Moroccan Mood

I have always been intrigued by the exoticism and mystery of Morocco. My mind has been filled with images of the jewel like colors found in the architecture and interiors, the heady scents of jasmine and orange blossoms, the frenzied crowds in the Medina and Souks and of course the flavors of tagine, couscous, pastilla, preserved lemons and bright and delicious salads. 

So when David and I were trying to decide on where to go for our next big trip it didn't take us long to decide on Morocco. After traveling in Europe, which we love of course, we concluded that we wanted to experience something entirely different. Something that would capture and inspire our imaginations and provide us with experiences unlike any we have ever known. 

We are beginning our journey in Marrakech, where we are staying at the El Fenn.  After several days there we will continue on to Fez and the Hotel Sahrai. One cannot think of Morocco without conjuring up images of the private worlds of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in Marrakech and Tangier. Magical worlds created in collaboration with Bill Willis, Madison Cox and of course Jacques Grange. The first place on my list to visit in Marrakech is the Majorelle Gardens where I cannot wait to take in the lushness of the gardens and the vibrant colors of the Villa itself. 

I would love to hear any suggestions on must see's, must reads, shopping and restaurants as we continue our preparations for our upcoming trip.


Villa Oasis, Marrakech






Photos - Marianne Hass



Photos - Bill Willis






Photos - Marianne Haas

Jardin Majorelle



Villa Mabrouka, Tangier







Photos - Nicolas Matheus

















Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beacon of Beauty

Located off of the southwestern coast of France at the mouth of the Gironde river, stands an extraordinary and most unusual lighthouse with a fascinating history. Begun in 1584 by French architect and builder, Louis de Foix, the lighthouse was built in the French Renaissance style with style references to the Pharos at Alexandria and the lantern turret at Chambord. The tower would serve as lighthouse, chapel and royal residence for Henry III. During the long construction, De Foix disappeared under mysterious circumstances. His son Pierre took over the project, but he too abandoned the project in 1606 due to depleted funds.  

Pierre's foreman, Francois Beusher, eventually took over the project and construction resumed with the tower finally being completed in 1610-1611. The tower was originally surrounded by a small island that also included the original 15th century octagonal watchtower along with a chapel and a few homes for the pilots and local fisherman. By the time Beusher's lighthouse was complete, little remained of the island.  

Crowning the top of the original lighthouse, was a domed cupola where wood fires were burnt every night for the passing ships. But the burning of wood since 1612 eventually injured the stonework to the extent that the cupola had to be removed and the burning of wood was replaced by coal. Mariners complained that the illumination was too low and visibility very poor. So in 1788 the revolutionary architect, Joseph Tuelière, was called in to redesign the failing lighthouse. 

Tulière removed the upper portion of the Renaissance building and replaced it with a taller tower that was built in a somber neoclassical style, which was appropriate for the time. What we see today in a somewhat bizarre combination of De Foix's  tower and Teulière's tall, white lighthouse starting from the closed balustrade just above the ionic pilasters. 

Although it is rather difficult to get to the lighthouse is still in continual use and is frequently visited by adventuress tourists who can reach the lighthouse during low tide or by boat. 




A current view of the Cordouan Lighthouse 


An antique colored etching showing the early 17th Century Renaissance design by architect Louis de Foix


Section through the previous 17th century design


An even more colorful and exuberant colored etching by Chatillon. Note the French merchant or war ships and the surrounding island that was eventually washed away by the relentless waves of the sea. 



The 1790 design of the Cordouan Lighthouse by architect, Joseph Teulière


Section through the 1790 design


Looking down through Teulière's spiral staircase into the original 16th century tower


The Kings room on the second floor of the original tower. 

Photographer - Jacques Dirand
World of Interiors -1992


Another view of the Kings rooms, where the busts of monarchs originally stood before the revolution. 

Photographer - Jacques Dirand
World of Interiors -1992


The original chapel, which features a 17th century coffered ceiling and a bust of Louis de Foix

Photographer - Jacques Dirand
World of Interiors -1992


Friday, January 9, 2015

The Art of the Vignette

I learned many things from working with both Thomas Pheasant and Steven Volpe but one of the most important lessons that I took from both is approaching the design of the room through the lens of a photographer and the composition of an artist. A room should tell a story, and the vignettes become the mise en scène for capturing the essence and overall mood of the room. There is an art to creating the vignette, creating a connection between disparate objects and furniture and playing with scale and evoking a sense of drama and excitement. I think the master of the vignette was the great David Hicks, who always created the perfect tableaux. Hope you enjoy the vignettes that inspire me.


Thomas Pheasant from Simply Serene


Robert Couturier


Alexandre Biaggi


Atelier A.M.


Daniel Romualdez


David Giesman


David Hicks


David Hicks


Howard Slatkin for Deeda Blair


James Huniford


Jean Louis Deniot



Jed Johnson for Andy Warhol


Karl Lagerfeld


Lorenzo Castillo


Lorenzo Castillo


Lorenzo Castillo


Luis Bustamante


Madison Cox


Mark Cunningham


Mark Cunningham


Yours Truly


Michael Smith


Pierre Passabon


Raji Radhakrishnan


Sandra Nunnerly


Lorenzo Castillo


Steven Volpe


Steven Volpe




Thierry Despont


Thierry Despont


Veere Grenney


via The Fuller View


Yves Gastou


Michael Smith