Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Heart A Photo Shoot!

I pitched a story over a year ago to a local magazine. The editor came over to my house, and was very sweet and interested. But nothing happened. We exchanged a few cordial e-mails, and later I sent her some photos of my Holly Golightly Christmas tree along with wishes for a Merry Christmas. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I have been to this rodeo before regarding editorial.
This past Monday she called, and offered a story about the decor in my house. Uh, I said, alot has changed. While she was on the phone, I directed her to the blog so she could have a look. She was game, and arranged the shoot for this past Friday. So much happened from last Monday to this past Friday, with all of our thoughts now focused on getting the hell out of Dodge. But we decided to carry on.
So here's a sneak peek. I took these photos.
I don't know when the magazine is going to publish the story and photos we did on Friday. The "boss" took the computer server somewhere north for safety, and had the entire staff take their computers out of the office, and sent them all off to get out of New Orleans safely on Friday. Who knows when work will resume. But I don't care, because I know it's in the can, and if I waited this long, a little more won't kill me (oh how I sound like my mother...)
The photo shoot was fabulous. We shot the living room, a dining room set up, my closet, the master bedroom, my Gris Gris altar, and even a bit of the kitchen, and seven of my favorite things, and a portrait of moi which I begged them to Photoshop with mercy and a heavy air brush. If they do not do this, I will publish the other picture I took of them. Aw, what am I saying? These women couldn't look bad no matter what.
Special heartfelt thanks to Jack and Caroline at Perch, who added a few very special things. I just have to buy these perfect pillows...

Tabletop Fun

It was the morning of the photo shoot. I set the table the night before. The editor asked me to set the table in the dining room. It's been a long time since she's seen the house. There is no dining room anymore. It's now my office.When we do a formal sit down (as opposed to eating in the kitchen ), I use the dance parlor. I drag in the 60 inch round folding table, and set up dinner in there. It works out great because it's adjacent to the living room, so both rooms become one giant hang.
I took these photos before the photographer and the editor came over. And then I took a few more when they left.
The tabletop is an after dinner dessert presentation - New Orleans style. I didn't want to do a dinner setting per se, but rather something specific to New Orleans entertaining.
I used my collection of Cafe Brulot cups, Carnival plates, and French crawfish plates. I included Tiffany champagne flutes. The copper piece is a Brulot pot. The vintage white cake stand is from my friend Sabina. There's also sterling demi tasse spoons from Michael Pelkey, and an antique silver ladle from eBay. The strawberries are in an antique white ironstone mini tureen.
The tablecloths are custom made for the wedding I did for Dick Jenrette, eons ago. The gianormous hurricane candle holders are from Restoration Hardware. The hubs made the over size "votive" candles inside the hurricanes.
All in all it was fun to set this table, and more fun to eat the cake after the photo shoot.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


We drove in late last night. It was a perfect ride. The roads were full, but all the traffic was moving at a good clip. We were headed towards Baton Rouge, ending up in Greenwell Springs at the home of Vicky and Steve.
We didn't know what to expect. Vicky and Steve are a very nice couple we coached for their first dance of their wedding which happened a few weeks ago. We taught them a beautiful tango choreography, and enjoyed the weeks of lessons with them. The four of us became very fond of each other. They had invited us to their home in connection with coming to Baton Rouge to do some tango dancing. We never dreamed we would be visiting them as evacuees.
Their home is a lovely Acadian style house. It is on a huge bit of land, in a very pretty country setting. Believe it or not, we have never spent time in the Louisiana countryside since we moved to New Orleans eight years ago.
Out back, they have a terrific deck and patio. This little house is what Vicky calls her Redneck Fountain! It's a false front built on the front of the fence. I just love the screen door, and the tin roof with the"rain" running off of it into the pond. You walk across the little bridge to the porch. There are hooks to hang a porch swing. I want the hubs to build me one like this in New Orleans!
The horse trailer and truck are so country. The Mercedes is a loaner to us from Jessica and Jon who evacuated to Natchez. Our old BMW is having AC issues, and our mechanic didn't get it fixed in time for us to leave when we wanted to. The Benz was a solid, cool ride (thanks J & J!).
But the coolest ride is in the garage - his and hers Harleys!
Of course there a couple of dogs, a sweet Rottie named Rhoda, and a crazy bitch, a breed called a Blue Heeler (a herding dog), named Sobe.
Sobe is playing ball with Vicky's daughter Stephanie, a beautiful young lady who graciously welcomed us last night while Steve and Vicky were away securing their houseboat.
Here's crazy Sobe. She's sweet, but she's unpredictable. She might think Cholo is a snack food.
'Fraidy Cat Cholo is checking the girls out behind the fence. Sobe is checking out her afternoon snack.
But wait - there's one more critter here. Do you see him standing behind the fence?
He's Vicky's horse Tyler! A sweet, sweet boy. Cholo never saw a horse before, except when he watches the Animal Planet channel with me.
This is Tyler's beautiful barn. There's an upstairs that Steve and Vicky hope to turn into a tangeria, a tango dance hall so to speak. I can hardly wait!
This is the barn across the street at the neighbors. This area has alot of horses and cattle. And we are only twenty minutes from the capital, Baton Rouge. The whole area is rich in Acadian architecture. It is far more French here than in New Orleans.
I love the fences that cut across all the properties.
And now for some afternoon activity! I asked Steve if he would take me for a ride on his Harley! I haven't been riding for at least ten years! They tricked me out in motorcycle gear. I had to borrow some sneakers from Vicky. I don't own one pair of sneakers! I brought my flip flops and a two pairs of cute ballet flats (one leopard print, the other lime green with gold buckles and peep toes), and of course a couple of pairs of tango shoes (you never know). BTW Vicky is an excellent rider, but I rode with Steve.
Oh mama! Am I ever happy, happy, happy. The three of us took a long ride along curving roads, over bayous and through the woods, seeing horse farms, and cattle ranches. The air smelled of fresh mowed grass, and some sweet wood burning, and we just filled our lungs with clean country air and oxygen. We were thankful to be out on this sunny day before the coming storm.
We're all glued to the weather channel. Greenwell Springs will get a beating too, though it's inland enough to make us feel a little safer. It's nice to be with friends, cooking, hanging out, riding motorcycles, walking Cholo on this huge property, killing time as pleasantly as possible while we wait this thing out.
Our prayers are with everyone up and down the Gulf Coast.
The electricity will inevitability go out when the storm comes our way, so I am taking advantage of having the inter net while I can.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Weekend - Peace Out

Well we're hitting the road. The hubs does not want to wait for the dreaded contra flow. Gustavo, in any of his hideous forms, is not due around here until Tuesday, but we're heading out late tonight. There is some happy news. A very nice local magazine is doing a photo shoot of my decor today. So I'm fluffing and primping, and very happy in spite of having to leave.
We're not going far, but to dear friends just up the road in Baton Rouge, where we'll camp out on air mattresses for the weekend. We'll make an adventure out of it! I hope this one won't keep us away from our home for four months, like the last one did.
To all my friends, especially those in NOLA, please stay in touch. I'm taking my laptop Barbie with me. To everyone who lives along the Gulf coast, I'm lighting candles for you all too. When we get through with Gustavo, Hanna is coming along to keep us all tingling.
And oh yeah, today is the third anniversary of Katrina. Peace out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Always In Style - Loulou de la Falaise

I'm up early this morning, watching the weather news. Gustavo seems to be turning a little away, but that doesn't mean anything yet. Jittery and flipping channels, I found Loulou de Falaise this morning on television.Bonjour Loulou! Fashion icon. Former model. Muse, BFF, and business associate of Yves St. Laurent. An original woman with impeccable style. Designer. Wife and ex wife. Mother. French. Titled family.She has parlayed her personal style into various collections of accessories that one can find here and there at special boutiques. She presents the epitome of French style, the perfect mix of the bohemian with the lady.

She met Yves St. Laurent in the late 1960's. She was introduced to him by a mutual friend, and she said that they just clicked from the start. This very well known and widely published photo shows her and Yves with fellow model Betty Catroux in 1969 when Yves opened his Rive Gauche boutique in Paris. Loulou was already piling on the accessories in her own wardrobe, with a signature personal style...
...which was translated into accessories for YSL collections from 1970 until she retired from his firm in 2003. It was then that she started her own line. She and Yves remained life long friends until his death this past year.
A total free spirit, as we all were at that time. This photo might not happen in today's climate of "political correctness", but back then we all experimented. And yes I have some photos of myself in the same vein. After all I made spending money as an artist model while I was in art school. Loulou has been said to have been the inspiration behind the tuxedo for women and see through blouses, that YSL designed, and a style that we all copied and wore.
We loved bohemian culture, whether it being a broke ass art school girl making caftans out of Indian bedspreads, and piling on the bangles and beads, or being from the privileged classes such as Lee Radziwell, who is sitting in her circa 1970 room completely covered in haute Indian bed spread fabric.
However, nudity and bohemian life has been going on among artists and free spirits since the beginning of time. Henri Matisse loved to mix pattern, and the reclining naked or semi nude woman, the odalisque, couldn't be a more classic image.
Loulou has been living in the same Paris flat (as she calls it) for the past thirty years. She says her street has changed very little in that time, and in fact, Paris itself changes very little. I think Paris always remains fabulous.
High style and bohemian furnishing collide and mix in the most delightful way in her Paris apartment. I love the grand chandelier juxtaposed with the more humble things (like the radiator).

Her bathroom is fantastic, a mix of mosaic and color and mirror that conjure up Morocco.
She's always collected vast amounts of jewelry, and I love how it's displayed - the colors against the blue tiles looks so painterly.
She decorates her home by layering smalls, that really become the jewelry for the body of her home.

Now dear Loulou is moving onto to her later years. She's 62. She still looks great. Slim and willowy. Her new chapter in life has her moving onto another business venture. This past Spring, she started selling a new line she has designed for Home Shopping Network (HSN).
So this morning, while I was flipping channels, I came across Loulou hawking her wares. It's odd. She has so much class and breeding and talent, and here she is on HSN. She seems a little disconnected and displaced. Is it any wonder? The rah- rah HSN girl host had so much excess nervous energy trying to compensate for Loulou's inability to rise to the chore of being an American pitchman (woman). Loulou has a high voice, a little wavery like a sweet old lady, with a continental accent, with a soft British undertone. I was mesmerized.
The merchandise is a diluted version of the great de la Falaise style. Lots of haute hippie jewelry, scarves, long poncho type shawls, flowing pants, long sweaters, ruffle trimmed sweaters, cute shoes, luxe looking hand bags... The palette is as pale and wispy as Loulou herself is. Her fashion advice is timeless: Pair the basics with great accessories. She has a few British references in her work, like the fox, and the wolf logo she uses. After all she was married to a Brit, Desmond FitGerald, 29th Knight of Glin.
I really like the collection of 9 bangles - 9 is a lucky number for Loulou. I also love the little bootie. Loulou was wearing the poncho, with a pair of calf hair ballet flats in this fuscia, a pair of black flowing pants, a black sweater trimmed in the fuscia, the bangles, and a a few necklaces, all from her HSN collection. On her it looked ravishing. The HSN models and host looked like horses in costumes - they just don't have the elan to work it.
You can get this terrific calf hair purse and all the other things at HSN HERE

Photo research: Thanks to This Is Glamorous, Style Court, The Daily Mail, and HSN

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Overscale Lanterns

Using a hanging lantern in place of a chandelier has been going on for some time. It's a lighting option that is here to stay. What makes it look fresh and updated (even when you use an antique lantern) is the scale. The lantern needs to be big.Whether it's in a traditional setting or a modern setting, it works if it's big.
It can be fussy or lean, distressed or clean, a single lamp or a caged chandelier - anything goes has long as it's big.
Many folks are using outside lanterns inside the house. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I thinks these are too small, and hung way too close to the ceiling. BTW most of these photos are from Joni at Cote de Texas. She has the most amazing archive of everything! So when I was looking for inspiration for big lanterns, Joni was my source (as ever).
My darling old little chandy has done many years of beautiful service. This one came from the French Quarter home of my friend Miss Anne.
The beautiful little light bulbs came from my interior designer friend Michael Pelkey. When we visited him in his home in Key West a couple of years ago, I was fascinated with these little bulbs. He seemed to think they were common and easy to get, but I had never seen them before, so he gave me seven. They have a soft rubbery feel to them, and are only about 10 watts each.
But now with the living room project underway, I wanted an overscale lantern instead of the sweet little chandy. I found this one, and thought it would look great.
I love the size of it of course. And I like the antique bronze finish too. It's new and not an antique or vintage piece, but I think it fits in nicely.
The hubs wired her up for me. The instructions said no dimmer switch should be used! Say what!!! So I called an 800 number, a help line, and the guy told me that it was just a disclaimer. The thing is to look at the package the dimmer comes in. It tells what the maximum wattage is. Most are good up to 600 watts, and darling no light in my house would ever be that bright! But the guy said alot of idiots exceed the wattage limit on the dimmers, and end up with an electrical fire!!! So read the box, and keep the watts low girls. This lantern is actually a cage for a six light chandy, and I use 25 watt bulbs at the most. So I was good to go, and I got the hubs put the dimmer switch in too.
So remember, when it comes to lanterns, size really does matter!!!