29 October 2010

In the Mood (Fabrics)

In honor of the season finale of Project Runway, my friend David and I made a pilgrimage to Mood Fabrics.  After walking up and down 37th Street several times, we finally realized that Mood is not on street level, but located on the third floor.

An old school freight elevator complete with hand crank for the operator delivered us to fabric heaven where a paper Heidi Klum greeted us.

First on our list was finding and giving some love to Mood's mascot Swatch.

I don't want to say that fame and adoration have gone to Swatch's head, but it was surprisingly hard to pin him down and give him a good rub down.  Perhaps he was just having a Garbo day.

But there was more to our Mood mission than cornering Swatch and later Casanova (which was quite exciting).

David with Casanova

David and I had both been let in on the interior designer secret of sourcing fashion fabrics for soft furnishings.  In fact, David's bathroom was upholstered in an Oscar de la Renta polka dot silk by Miles Redd - and its origin?  Mood, of course! 

 Maybe it was emotional blackmail, but I had convinced David that he was going to eventually stain it and he should come to Mood with me to get extra yardage just in case.  We searched high and low and rejoiced when we saw this white and black number.  Luckily, a lovely sales lady informed us it was not Oscar, but something called Timani.  

I was on the prowl for some green velvet to upholster a decrepit Victorian wicker armchair (stay tuned) so we wandered downstairs into the upholstery section.

There was an attractive mohair for $100 a yard but I was looking for a steal.
After taking a time out (as Mood can be overwhelming with its enormous selection) and gazing into a bridal studio across the street, we looked at the fashion silks.

And there I found the most perfect $18 green silk velvet while David snapped up a cutting of Oscar pink taffeta to make into a pocket square which he wore the next evening to dashing effect.  Mission accomplished and, if we do say so ourselves, Mondo successful.

After Mood and Before Claudine
Mood Fabrics:  225 W 37th St, 3rd Floor between 7th and 8th Avenues
(212) 730-5003

27 October 2010

The World of Madeleine Castaing Launched and Set Sail

Last night friends, colleagues and family turned out to help me celebrate the publication of The World of Madeleine Castaing.   The Haughtons along with Bruce Addison, Maureen Footer and Charlotte Moss generously hosted the launch party which took place in the International Show's Glorious Food Cafe.

The hosts of the evening: Maureen Footer, Bruce Addison, and Charlotte Moss
Beth and her team from Potterton Books kept me on track...

...which I needed because it was too much fun talking to everyone...

...like the extremely stylish and renowned milliner Rod Keenan and connoisseur Philip Hewat-Jaboor
Pigs in blankets and miniature grilled cheese sandwiches from Glorious Food kept everyone happy as did the absolutely delicious and refreshing special cocktail of the evening, the Cointreau Blush, courtesy of Remy Cointreau.

  1. Put ice into a tall glass
  2. Add 30ml Cointreau
  3. Add 10ml Lime juice
  4. Top with 60ml Pink grapefruit
  5. Finish with 70ml Soda
  6. Stir well
  7. Add a lime wedge as a garnish

Thank you to everyone who came - it was thrilling meeting other kindred members of the cult of Castaing!  And a special thank you to Magda Grigorian and the International Show for a most splendid evening.

Originally posted on the International Show Blog.

21 October 2010

Peter Pennoyer Architects: A Modern Classic

One of the most exciting books to land on my lap this Fall is Peter Pennoyer Architects' new monograph.  If you have ever entertained the thought that Classicism is stodgy or  plain played out, this gorgeously illustrated tome will erase all such judgments.  

a model of the portico of Drumlin Hall
For over twenty-five years Pennoyer has allied himself to the Classical tradition.  And while he has made enormous contributions to the understanding and appreciation of historical iterations (he is the co-athor with Anne Walker of  several books including The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury  and serves as chair of the Institute of Classical Architecture's board), his work is very much in the forward-looking, experimental spirit of John Soane and David Adler.

PPA's work confirms without a doubt that Classicism can reflect the modern spirit and accomodate modern life beautifully, all the while remaining impervious to the shifting sands of fashion.  After all, while an interior may survive intact for a handful of years, a building stands for generations.

The book focuses on the firm's residential projects and is arranged by "apartments", "townhouses", and "country houses."  The photography - one of my obsessions - is excellent.  The rooms are lit to perfection, exquisitely illuminating their form and decoration .

The PPA team is incredibly talented and typical of Pennoyer's style, full credit is given to the in-house design team of each project, as well to the associated interior designers and landscape architects, including Jeffrey Bilhuber, Thomas Jayne, and Victoria Hagan.  (Sidenote: it's interesting to consider the architecture of each room separate from the decorative overlay given by each designer.)

Rating: a full five exclamation points  - an absolute must for any serious design library

Join me in line this evening at Archivia Books where Peter will be signing copies from 6 p.m. onwards.

All photographs from Peter Pennoyer Architects: Apartments, Townhouses, and Country Houses by Anne Walker

Join me all week at the International Show Blog.

Behind the Scenes of the International Show

 For the next several days, I will be blogging New York's glamorous International Show.  I hope you'll join me here.

Tonight is the International Show's preview benefit party before the official opening Friday morning. Plenty of satin, sequins, and stones will be strolling through the aisles at what is one of the premiere society events of the Fall. (Click here for ticket information.)

Galerie Lefebvre assessing the lighting

But just a mere 24 hours before, the Armory was a construction zone, with carpeting still being rolled out over the worn wood floor boards, dealers standing on 12 ft ladders to perfect their lighting, and others taking a break after a long day of unpacking, installing, and refining.

A naked jewel case waiting to be dressed at Sandra Cronan, Ltd.

Ginger Ale and Polish - essential tools of the trade at The Silver Fund

Lacquer, ceramics, and tool boxes at Bernd Goeckler's stand

A well-deserved break: Il Quadrifoglio and Foster-Gwin

18 October 2010

Living with Castaing: Irene Lievoux

Busts of Josephine and the Duchesse de Berry watch over the Grand Salon
One of Mme Castaing's most faithful clients was Irene Lievoux.  The pair traveled to England, the United States and Italy together on shopping trips during which Lievoux was thoroughly inducted into the high priestess' style.  While Castaing offered her advice freely to Lievoux on the decoration of her neoclassical chateau de Vauboyen (which MC claimed to have once tried to buy for herself), most of the rooms were done by Lievoux herself a la Castaing. 

My friend John Woodrow Kelley shared this article with me from a 1987 issue of Vogue Decoration dedicated to Le Goût Russe which showcases White Russian Mme Lievoux's Paris flat.   

Red, blue and green - MC's favorite colors - dominate and each reminded Lievoux of her native land.  Red evoked the work krasnie "meaning both red and pretty", blue the color of the eyes of the Prince Youssoupov, and green the domes of Orthodox churches.

Castaing's fourth favorite color was black, which she boldly used as her neutral as David Netto points out here, where he further dissects le style Castaing.

Photos by Pascal Chevalier

04 October 2010

Living with Castaing: John Woodrow Kelley

Madeleine Castaing has inspired so many people and what I find fascinating is how different all these people are and how each one resonates to something quite different.  Charlotte Moss brought to life MC's retailing skills, Jacques Grange gave me an entirely new lens when he said it was all about architecture, and my new friend John Woodrow Kelley, a classicist through and through, surprised me completely.

The Allegory of Classical Architecture, 1998, by John Woodrow Kelley
After training as an architect, John continued on to become a painter whose work is a contemporary interpretation of the Classical tradition.  It can be no coincidence that he hails from Tennessee, whose capital Nashville is home to the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon in the world. 

MC's bath in her Paris apartment
 When John heard of my MC book, he didn't enthuse over the coffered vaulting above her bath reminiscent of the Baths of Caracalla or some such Classical detail. No - what John astonished me by saying was that Madeleine Castaing gave us permission to be romantic!  Indeed the creation of a mood, of atmosphere, is just as important in the experience of a space as pleasing proportions and scale are.  So for those of you who think Classicism or Classical architects are hardened to the possibilities of the picturesque, think again.

John found this pair of lamps complete with Coolie shades a la Castaing at a flea market

A mantelpiece arrangement in Castaing's rue Jacob shop - in the center is a photograph of a young Madeleine looking adoringly at her husband Marcellin; photo by Jean-Francois Jussaud 

Click here to visit John's Brooklyn residence courtesy of New York Social Diary.

A view of John's sitting room where he is magically able to arrange 6 people for dinner around the center table

Top photo with John sitting next to a Castaing blue shade found at Just Shades and bottom photo by Jeff Hirsch courtesy of nysocialdiary.com