Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life on the farm: The fog

In England, the fog is one of the the first signs that autumn is coming. This year it started in the beginning of September, so early in the morning that you could easily miss it if you slept in. The first time I saw it, while looking out my bedroom window at the crack of dawn, it took my eyes a minute to adjust to the fact that it wasn't water flooding the valley below us. Now that I've seen the fog on quite a few mornings, I have noticed that it starts as a thick, flat blanket deep in the valley with the hills rising up through it like the humps of a sea monster. Then it makes its way through the fields, thinning out as it spreads. Eventually, as the sun shines through, the fog becomes lighter and lighter until it floats up into the sky, leaving a clear day in it's wake.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I ♥ Your American Style: Lauren Bacall

You may feel that you never have to see another picture of Lauren Bacall in your life, but I for one never get tired of looking at her. Most actresses of her generation were dressed by costume designers and film studios in a glamorous yet cliché "movie star" kind of way, and her on set and promotional photographs convey that. But I am most interested in her more candid, personal photos, especially the ones with her children. Her style is chic and fashionable, but so timeless. To me she epitomises classic American style and beauty.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Coming full circle

As Oprah would say, and I do love her (still), I recently had a "full circle moment."

When I was working for Patrick Demarchelier in my late teens and early 20's, I was never not completely in awe of the people we photographed. There were the obvious ones - like Madonna, Janet Jackson, Warren Beatty and every single supermodel under the sun, but even the lesser known ones - whether it be a 90-year-old sculptor, a newly crowned basketball star, or an aboriginal child - captured my interest. They all had a reason to be there being shot by one the greatest photographers in the world. It may have been their beauty, their accomplishment or their unique character, but all of them had something that was remarkable about them.

So there I was this past spring having just made the very difficult decision to leave Barneys - and for the first time in a very long time, I felt undefined by my job. I was free. I could be anyone I wanted to be. The choice was mine. Never did I think that in this moment of indecision my chance to be one of those people photographed by Patrick Demarchelier would finally come.

I got the call from Doug Lloyd an art director who was putting together real women to be featured in Bottega Veneta's new jewellery book, and he and Patrick wanted me to be in it. I was delighted.

When the day came I went back to the same studio I had worked in 16 years before, and everything was pretty much the same. I sat in the same hair and makeup chairs in front of the same mirror with the huge lightbulbs surrounding it (that I used to stare into to sneak a peak at the reflection of whatever important person was occupying it that day). And when I walked onto the set, Patrick and I had the giggles for quite some time. Patrick sarcastically asked me if I wanted to load the film or adjust the lights before we began. And in typical Patrick fashion, the whole shoot was over in about 3 minutes.

Did I feel important that day? Not really. I felt empowered that I had been chosen in my own right, not because I was representing a company I worked for. But oddly I felt much like my 22 year old self - lucky to be there, happy for the experience.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Travel: Roman Holiday

Apart from a manic work trip here and there, I haven't been to Rome as a tourist since I was 22 years old. Back then, I went with my friend Alex, and it was so hot that our cassette tapes melted on our windshield and our budget was so tight that we could only afford a youth hostel with shared bathrooms and no air conditioning. We literally ran through all the cultural destinations so we could spend time drooling in the more climatically desirable Prada shop and licking gelato near the Trevi fountain. Then we got the hell out of there. Clearly it wasn't the greatest trip. In the years following I always heard what a great city Rome was, so I knew one day I'd have to go back and pay it a proper visit. That chance came when I received an invitation for my friend Rachel Feinstein's opening at Gagosian in Rome. Christopher and I had been hoping for a weekend alone somewhere beautiful and inspiring, and this gave us the perfect excuse. Here are my highlights:

The view from the top of the Spanish steps.

Gorgeous Rachel, posing in front of one of her mirror paintings at Gagosian.

Me, Rachel and Yvonne Force. We became close friends when we all gave birth to sons within a few months of each other. There is nothing more bonding than raising children together, but its nice that we all share our love of art and fashion as well.

Yvonne, in floor length Fendi sequins climbing the steps of the Brazilian embassy for a dinner in Rachel's honor.

The ceiling of Villa Borghese. Is it horrible to say that I liked this better than the Sistine Chapel? It was less restored, and therefore more believable.

The view of the garden from Villa Borghese. I just love all the symmetry.

On our way to Villa Borghese, we were running late for our scheduled tour and the taxi driver dropped us on the wrong side of the park. Thinking we'd most likely miss the tour, we started running through the park when we saw a rickshaw. The lovely Colombian driver picked us up and got us there just in time.

You might think this is totally disgusting, but it was my favorite thing I ate in Rome. It's puntarella salad with anchovy sauce. I had it three times in three days. I can't say that the taste of anchovies doesn't remind me of cat food, but I love it nonetheless.

The incredible ruins right in the center of the city. When I was on hurried work trips to Rome in recent years, I would drive by these ruins in a taxi with no time to look at them properly, so it was a relief to finally be able to enjoy them.

I had been to the Colosseum before but my husband had not, so I was excited to see it with him. The scale of it is daunting and overwhelming but awe-inspiring all the same. Being in it reminds me of walking around a Richard Serra sculpture.

My favorite perspective from inside the Colosseum.

On the second night we were in Rome, Christopher and I were planning to have a quiet dinner until we were invited to a party Tod's owner Diego Della Valle was giving in honor of Suzy Menkes, the fashion critic for the International Herald Tribune. It was at Palazzo Sacchetti, an incredible private home that only opens to the public once or twice a year, if that. I love this red leather door at the entrance.

This detail inside of Palazzo Sacchetti killed me. I love how the tromp l'oeil painting extends over the radiator.

A charming arrangement of roses in the ladies's powder room.

I am not a huge fan of tapestries, but I love this one with the crest.

In the ladies room there was this cheeky embroidered lady on the wall. The guard told me her tongue sticking out was a sign of good luck.

Jean Paul Gaultier sitting at our table. I had never seen him in the flesh before, and I was honored to meet him.

Our artist posse playing tourists (headsets and all) at the entrance to the Vatican.

You're not supposed to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel, but I couldn't resist a discreet iPhone shot of the iconic Creation of Adam. My husband yelled at me first, and then the guard.

The incredible inside of St Peter's Basilica.

My last view of Rome before jumping in a cab to the train station.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I ♥ Your Style: Gaia Repossi

Gaia Repossi's classic minimalist style is a personal favorite of mine. It might be the fact that she owns all the Celine pieces I covet, or that she knows how to wear it in a way that is down to earth, yet just fashion-forward enough. There is also her timeless and natural feline-like beauty and the contrasting tomboy-like way she puts herself together. And then there is the jewelry she designs for her family's jewelry company Repossi, which has become the fashion world's favorite. I would buy every piece of her Berbere collection if I could. Keep on eye on her - she's going to be around for a while.