I find home decorating to be total torture. The end result is often satisfying, but I am stupefied by the process. Everything I have learned about dressing myself has come through trial and error, but when it comes to dressing your home, mistakes are prohibitively expensive. The biggest mistake I made happened when we first moved to our apartment on the lower east side in 2001. I approached my whole house as I would an outfit, based almost entirely on where my color/print/trend tastes were at at that time. Although it took nearly two years to come together, I was pleased with the end result. For a few months. But as my fashion point of view moved on, my hot pink wall to wall rug and loud African prints began to shout all the wrong things at me. Finally, in the past year, I began to take steps towards trying again. My goal was to be way more classic, with a touch of earthiness. I toned the girliness way down, and added warmth to the more masculine colors with lots of texture - morrocan rugs, embroidered pillowcases, and fur pillows. I only got my bedroom done before deciding to live in England for a year, and abandoning the project all together, for now. Here's a peek at the result:
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Ever since I cut my long hair to shoulder length, it's been a total crapshoot as to how it dries naturally. The simple summer solution I've found is to wrap a headscarf around it while it's drying - it keeps the roots nice and flat and amps up the waves at the bottom. So just this past weekend, I walked out of my bedroom with my Chanel camellia print scarf tied in a do-rag on my head, when my tweenage daughter with much disdain in her voice said, "Ugh Mom, if you're going to wear that again at least let me make it look less nerdy." She pulled the scarf further back on my head to let more hair show, and loosened the front pieces to hang down over my face. I could see where she was going, and I did oblige her, but I had a whole other look in mind. From my point of view, no one ever did or will look more chic in a headscarf than Jackie O herself. Yes at first glance they make her look a bit too much like the verging-on-freakish Edie Beale (her Grey Gardens' cousin), but they also added the perfect touch of unexpected eccentricity to her otherwise exceedingly classic and tasteful looks. I expect it will take my daughter a few more years to understand that, if ever.
Friday, May 25, 2012
It seems like everyone in the fashion world is making classic espadrilles right now, but the only ones I want are handmade in Spain by Lika Mamika. The colors are perfection, and they come in novel materials like leather, suede, shearling and even fur-lined. The only question is: how many pairs to buy? I want them all.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
When I first saw red leather back on the runway at Balenciaga's pre-fall presentation, it looked fresh and intriguing, but the look was too literal 80's for me to really fall in love with. But then on Thakoon's fall runway, a more girly, ruched red leather dress came down the runway that really made me swoon. I am not a rocker chick by any stretch of the imagination, so this softer, more feminine version of red leather made me think I could actually wear it. I also love the photo of the model in a red leather pants with a striped sweater and navy overcoat - she almost makes them look preppy. While I love a girl (or a guy - yes you, Kanye) who can pull off a literal 80's outfit or a Balmain runway look, I am slightly more intrigued by red leather that takes the Michael Jackson/North Beach leather cliché in a new direction.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
My time in New York is dwindling down, as we are a month away from our year-long sabbatical in England. This week I am heading out to our beach house in Long Island to get it ready for our renters. One of the things I will miss most this coming year is the summer on the North Fork. There is no better mental separation from the work week than arriving at our house late on Friday night and walking down to the beach to hear the waves and see the moon shining on the water. Our house was built in 1949 by the Sardi family - yes, as in Sardi's restaurant. It is classic mid-century modern (with a few less charming 70's additions), but it is not fancy - just about every surface perpetually needs a new coat of paint, the bathrooms could easily benefit from renovation and we haven't gotten around to rebuilding the ugly brick staircase in the front yard. But in fact, it's the imperfections that make the house so easy to enjoy - kids can run through the house in sandy feet and plop down on the couch in wet bathing suits, and it forces me to not to put on my "creative director"cap and try to make everything look exactly as I would want it to. I hope I remember that when I am setting up home in England.
Monday, May 21, 2012
For the last three years my oldest childhood friend has rented "Grey Gardens," the East Hampton house featured in the inspired Albert Maysles documentary, and more recently in an HBO feature film, about Jackie O's eccentric relatives. The house has been restored to its laid back WASP-y charm with pastel walls, woven jute rugs and rooms full of chintz, and the stunning gardens are more beautiful and lovingly maintained than ever. But my favorite part is this less documented corner of the property where Edie Beale's dog is lovingly remembered. It makes me appreciate that, however wacky and out there the Beale's legacy became, at the heart of it they were still just a family who loved their dog.
Posted by Amanda Brooks at 11:37 AM
Friday, May 18, 2012
Donna Summer was a defining force in my childhood. Most Saturdays, around mid to late morning, my mom would pull out her favorite record and blast in through the house. We'd all bop around singing to the music as we did our chores or relaxed in our rooms, until a song would come on that we'd be so excited by that we might even meet in the front hall and have a little family dance off. For real. This was the 70's, and it was very hard to resist the energy of disco music. Abba and early Michael Jackson were two of my mom's favorites, but no one topped Donna Summer. She played that record over an over for months, even years, on end. I know every word to every song. And over the ensuing years nothing could bring back the memories of those happy family moments like a Donna Summer song.
Then in 2005 I was a mom myself to two young children, ages 2 and 4. I was thrilled and proud to be a mom but they were trying times as I was struggling to balance being a good wife, a good mother and a hard-working career girl. In the fall of that year, my husband and I were invited to a weekend of festivities in Milan to celebrate Dolce and Gabbana's 10th anniversary. We nearly didn't go as it meant missing our 2 year old's birthday, but we decided he would never know the difference if we celebrated it a few days later, and we felt it was important to get away and have some fun together. We were already having a great time at the big party when it was announced that the surprise guest would now be performing. I knew from the first few bars of music and before she even came out on stage that it was Donna Summer's Love to Love You Baby. I had never understood why people cried at concerts, but now I was bawling. I called my mom and made her listen to the first song with me over the phone. I danced and sang to every single word of every song until she was done. It was one of the best nights of my life. Donna Summer came back reappeared at just the right moment to remind me how to use music to have fun with my family and let off steam. I will miss her presence in this world.