Saturday, December 31, 2011

In My Life: Have a Happy New Year!

Taittinger Champagne created this ad in 1979 in honor of Princess Grace of Monaco.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year!  My boyfriend and I will be making French 75 champagne cocktails tonight to celebrate.  I highly recommend them -- not to mention it has a nice little story behind it.

Supposedly the drink was created by a World War I fighter pilot who wanted a little more kick to his champagne -- so he added gin and thus a very potent drink was born.  The pilot likened the feeling the drink gave him to being hit by a French 75mm field gun, hence the name.  It was apparently very popular among the American expats in Paris in the '20s, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway (and we all know both had a reputation for drinking).

Speaking from experience, be careful with this one -- it'll knock you on your ass!

French 75 Recipe
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) gin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) simple syrup
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) dry sparkling wine, such as brut Champagne, chilled

Friday, December 30, 2011

Design Inspiration: Julian Shulman

Spencer Residence, 1950, Santa Monica, CA (Architect: Richard Spencer)

I have in my mind many ideas of what my dream home would be and love all of the architectural blogs on Tumblr. Being the perpetual apartment dweller that I am, I tend to really get lost in the romance of a sprawling, modern home.  I invariably end up envisioning images I've seen by architectural photographer Julian Shulman, particularly the modern homes of Southern California, designed by such renowned architects as Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig, Richard Neutra and John Lautner.  Shulman's captures from the '50s are a favorite; I love the styles of both the people in the photographs and the homes themselves -- classic, clean and polished.  Case Study House #22 is a great representation of Shulman's work and aesthetic.

 Case Study House #22, 1960
Los Angeles, CA
(Architect: Pierre Koenig)

From the New York Times:
The vertiginous point of view contrasts sharply with the relaxed atmosphere of the house’s interior, testifying to the ability of the Modernist architect to transcend the limits of the natural world.
Shulman's career began in 1936, when he was asked by a friend to take photographs of a Hollywood home designed by Richard Neutra.  He took the photos with a Kodak Vest pocket camera and when Neutra saw them, he clearly recognized the talent and gave him his first assignments.

 Case Study House #21, 1958
Los Angeles, CA
(Architect: Pierre Koenig)


Case Study House #22, 1960
Los Angeles, CA
(Architect: Pierre Koenig)

Recreation Pavilion, Mirman Residence, 1959
Arcadia, CA
(Architects: Buff, Straub and Hensman)

Singleton House, 1960
Los Angeles, CA
(Architect: Richard Neutra)

Kaufmann House, 1947
Palm Springs, CA
(Architect: Richard Neutra)

Photo Sources:
Wirtz Gallery

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Music: Dream a Little Dream of Me

Top: Dear Creatures, Anna Sweater; Uke: Lanikai

"Dream a Little Dream" was published in 1931 and first recorded by Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra that same year.  It has been sung by a number of artists, from Cass Elliot of the Mamas & Papas, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.  The song's lyrics were written by Gus Kahn, with music by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt.  I've been toying around with my ukulele and thought it'd be a fun song to learn.


Through the Lens: Elliott Erwitt

Grace Kelly at her engagement party to Prince Rainier at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC, January, 1956.  Photo by Elliott Erwitt.

I really enjoy the work of photographer Elliott Erwitt, who at 82, is still hard at work, with everything from exhibitions to books and films.  Erwitt was mentored by the great Robert Capa (who eventually asked him to join Magnum Photos; he later became president in 1968).  He is best known for his black and white photography, and the whimsical and humorous nature of some of his photos.  Aside from his work with documentaries and every day photography, he has also taken portraits of such icons as Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.

An excerpt from an interview with Vanity Fair:

Can you talk about your experience being president at Magnum and how you were mentored by [Robert] Capa? I’m sure you’ve mentored a lot of young photographers—what do you look for in their work?
What I like in any -- young, old, middle-aged, doesn’t matter -- photographers is a sense that they are interested in the human comedy, you might say, [and] that the pictures are good technically—by that I mean, good composition, good content. Unfortunately, now taking pictures has become so easy that everyone on Earth who has a telephone is a photographer. Consequently the work is generally a bit shoddy, because it’s so easy.… Somehow Photoshop and the ease with which one can produce an image has degraded the quality of photography in general. Still, there are very good photographers among the masses.

Photo Source:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Music: The Ditty Bops

 The Ditty Bops: Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett

I've had a cheap-o ukulele for years now that would never stay in-tune, therefore I never really played it -- so for Christmas, my boyfriend completely surprised me and bought me one that is actually not a piece of crap.  I'm excited to get back into it and learn some songs.  I started with "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate," an old jazz song that was originally published in 1915 and has been sung by various artists, one of my favorite being the Ditty Bops.

The Ditty Bops are the very talented Los Angeles-based duo consisting of Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett.  I first heard of them when they played a live set for the KCRW program Morning Becomes Eclectic (you can watch it here!).  Their music is definitely influenced by musical eras past, from folk to ragtime and bluegrass.  Amanda plays the heck out of a ukulele.  I also very much like their playful look -- and also the fact that they once went on a cross-country tour by bicycle.

I'll probably be posting a video soon once I brush up and practice a bit more.  In the meantime, enjoy the Ditty Bops!

Photo Source:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Style Inspiration: Headbands

Brigitte Bardot from the 1963 film Contempt (Le mepris)

I'm definitely a fan of headbands -- it's amazing the number of options that are out there.  I mostly prefer the classic and simple styles from the '50s and '60s, as worn by such icons as Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn and Catherine Deneuve.  (Side note: The fact that two of the aforementioned ladies are both featured with adorable animals in the photos below is purely coincidental.)

In contrast, I also like headbands from the '20s and '30s, with the details and decadence.

Photo Sources:
Arcade Card Beauties
Time Machine to the Twenties

Monday, December 19, 2011

Style Inspiration: Statement Earrings

Catherine Deneuve wearing Man Ray's lampshade earrings, 1966.

I like a great statement earring, from the chandelier style to the bohemian feather -- or the gold spiral lampshade earrings Catherine Deneuve is wearing above, created by artist and photographer Man Ray (who I previously wrote about here).  Man Ray wasn't the only artist who dabbled in jewelry -- so did Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Georges Braque.

The January 2012 issue of Vogue has a great six-page spread featuring some pretty marvelous earrings. They truly are works of art.  I particularly like bold and colorful designs of the '60s and '70s, as seen in the inspiration board.

 Photo Sources:
The Jewelry Loupe
The Fashion Spot
Sensational Sharon Tate
Skorver1 @ Flickriver
Bitching and Junk Food

Friday, December 16, 2011

Style Inspiration: Polka Dots

Actress Rose Byrne looks cute and chic in a polka dot blouse.

Rose Byrne looked adorable in polka dots at the Cinema Society and Giorgio Armani's screening of "Albert Nobbs," at the Museum of Modern Art earlier this week.  On another note, I've noticed that she's one of the few women who can successfully pull off that haircut.

I always associate polka dots with the '50s and '60s, for a number of reasons: '50s pinups in polka dots, Lucille Ball, Brian Hyland's 1960s chart topper "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," and generally, the fashion trends of those times.  Yet, polka dots had been around way before then, having gained popularity in the mid-19th century.  It derives its name from the polka dance, which was popular at the same time but not really related to the fashion.

From Vogue Italia:
Everything started with a dance, that spread in Europe and in the United States from Czechoslovakia. It was in vogue until the end of the 19th century, just the time to launch the polka dot pattern. In the Thirties this pattern became trendy on silhouettes, on fluttering chiffons and silks: tiny polka dots appeared mostly on black or blue fabrics.  The trend became huge in the Fifties, especially in white and red.  This was the era of pin ups: totally feminine, apparently na├»ve, definitely seductive.
The trend is still very relevant and popular today.  Here's some inspiration:

Antique Trader
Vogue Italia
Socialite Life
T Magazine
New Dress a Day

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Through the Lens: Lee Miller

Lee Miller in her days as a fashion model.  She once graced the cover of Vogue.

While browsing Powell's Books in Portland, I came across a book about the remarkable Lee Miller, who was an American photographer, muse, fashion model and war correspondent.  She was the only woman to work as a combat photographer in the Second World War.

Miller led an interesting life, having been both in front of the lens and behind it. Early in her life, she influenced the work of Surrealist artist Man Ray, as he influenced hers -- they were lovers who met in Paris in the '20s, and their subsequent breakup in the '30s shaped some of his most memorable works.  Some other notable claims to fame include being the first person to ever appear in a Kotex ad (she had posed for stock photos for Edward Steichen, and he sold them to Kotex -- Miller was horrified), and David E. Schmeran's photograph taken of her sitting in a bathtub at Hitler's abandoned apartment in Munich in 1945.  Her coverage of the war included the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.  It's difficult to fathom the things she had seen -- upon her return to Britain, she suffered from post-traumatic stress.

In the later years of her life, Miller battled depression and alcoholism and was withdrawn.  It wasn't until after her death in 1977 that her only child, Antony Penrose, discovered what kind of remarkable life his mother had lived, as she never really shared her work.
...after Miller died, Penrose’s wife Suzanna was rummaging through the attic when she came upon some notebooks. “You better have a look at these,” she told her husband. He opened one and began to read his mother’s notes from the war. Then he found boxes and boxes — a roomful, in fact — of her prints and negatives. Slowly, he unwove the fantastic puzzle of his mother’s life.  How could he not have known? “When Lee closed something, she closed it,” he said firmly. “I knew she was handy with a camera when I was little — but that was about it. She never talked about the war.” (Source)
 You can view Miller's incredible work here.


Lee Miller Archives
The Guardian

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Through the Lens: Carey Mulligan in W

Carey Mulligan, photographed by Michael Thompson wearing Louis Vuitton’s white embroidered silk organza collar and leather dress.

Just got back from a trip to Portland and had a great time.  Highlights: Hiking up Multnomah Falls, breakfast at Pine State Biscuits, dinner at Little Bird Bistro, hot toddies at Clyde Common and the rare books room at Powell's (including this wonderful gem about Emilio Pucci).

More to come, but in the meantime, I wanted to post these lovely pictures of Carey Mulligan from the January 2012 issue of W magazine, in which she promotes her new film Shame (dying to see this!).  The first photo (seen above) has a very '60s sensibility to me, with her slicked hair and long, Twiggy-esque lashes.

Mulligan drew comparisons to Audrey Hepburn in her breakout role in 2009's An Education -- I honestly feel like there could never be a "new Audrey" or "next Audrey," but she definitely has the same sort of elegance, composure and charm reminiscent of actresses of the past.

Photo Sources:
W Magazine
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