Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Channeling Chanel

 “Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.”

-Coco Chanel

A structured jacket works best with flowing pants. (Chanel was the first fashionable woman to wear trousers!)
Chanel: Runway - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring / Summer 2013
Chanel loved black with pearls or little white collars and cuffs reminiscent of a French school girl's uniform. These from the 2013 Chanel runway collection.

Black and white striped duster worn over slender white jeans and a cropped white tee shirt. (This look could be pulled off by anyone using a man's striped shirt in place of the designer duster.)
From the 2014 Paris runways


A must when wearing black and white: Bright red lips!

Chanel ballet flats: When you want to step out in style!

Two outstanding books about Chanel:
"Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life", by Justine Picardie (2011). Comprehensive look at her life from abject poverty to the exalted rank of couture's High Priestess.
"Chanel: Collections and Creations" by Daniel Bott (2007). The House of Chanel opened its archives to Bott and the book contains photographs published nowhere else.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


What more could one ask? Light, simplicity, comfort. A welcome start to a new day.

One of my favorite blogs is Thomas Murphy's "BLOODANDCHAMPAGNE." Murphy scours blogs from around the world to post real rooms lived in by real people. Here are a few of his posts featuring black and white rooms....naturally.

A streamlined, contemporary dining room. Food and people are the only other 'ingredients' needed.

Here, the black and white square tiles on the floor play out the geometric theme of the rectangular windows, shutters and blank picture frame.

Another black and white tile floor, this one the main decorative feature in an otherwise spare and simple dining nook.

Another black and white tile floor, this one in small squares for a small space. The white subway tile back-splash plays out the tile theme.

The warmth of the wood floors enhances the white Arne Jacobson chairs and black Parsons-style dining table. All three are backdrops to the view from the balcony beyond.

A grand Parisian salon is even more beautiful left free of decorative embellishments. A chair for contemplating the city beyond and a few potted plants to bring a touch of the outdoors inside are all the elements needed.

Thomas Murphy's blog is a visual feast of contemporary style from around the world. Check it out!


Japanese Ink Brush Painting

History of Sumi-e

The 2000 year-old art form of Japanese brush painting is spiritually rooted in Zen Buddhism. Sumi-e's earliest practitioners were highly disciplined monks trained in the art of concentration, clarity, and simplicity. These early Zen Masters dedicated themselves to the art form with spiritual intensity through long years of serious reflection and strict discipline. Respect for Sumi-e's demands shaped their aesthetic direction.

Japanese Early 19th century -The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
19th century Japanese Ink Brush Painting (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Pair of cranes

Early 16th century ink brush landscape by Kangaku Shinso (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Calligraphy 月 "moon" by Hiroyuki NAKAJIMA, Japan

Hiroyuki Naka-Jima, Japan



Japanese Ink Paintings from the Gitter-Yelen Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Japanese ink brush painting (The Fine Arts Museum of Boston)

painted daffodils by Sania Pell
Ink brush painting on cartridge paper by artist Sania Pell

For instructions and the history of Japanese ink brush painting, the best book by far is "Japanese Ink Painting: The Art of Sumi-e" by Naomi Okamoto (1996).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kintsugi: A Beautiful Second Life


Kintsugi—the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a lacquer resin sprinkled with powered gold. The idea behind it is that the piece becomes more beautiful and valuable because it has been broken and has a history.

Kintsugi is the Japanese translation "to patch with gold". The technique is used to mend broken ceramic or china vessels and transform them into works of art. 

Japanese ceramic gold repair
mending pottery using gold or silver lacquer: Kintsugi

Various adhesives and epoxies are used to join the broken pieces together, then a thin line of metal is applied over the mend. While gold is the metal most often used, silver, brass, bronze or copper is also used. The metal application can be rubbed into a high gloss or left matte, depending on personal preference.

The essential point is that the "mend" or "patch" is meant to show. But more importantly, the application of a precious metal enhances the piece, emphasizing the fact that "broken and repaired" is worthy of admiration. This aesthetic relates to the idea of Wabi-Sabi...beauty in imperfect items.


One of the best Kintsugi repair and restoration studios in the U.S. is Lakeside Pottery out of Stamford, Connecticut.

Japanese sake cup

Friday, August 29, 2014

Black and Silver, a winning combo

Flame Game Dress - Black
Black halter dress (Nasty Gal)
Matte metal cuff bracelet (Fantasy Jewelry)

The All-Time Classic Black Sheath

  One shoulder sheath (Calvin Klein)

Black knit dress with sheer sleeves (Knitted Bliss)

Silver Color Collar Necklace
Sterling silver collar

Sterling silver bar necklace (Polyvore)

"Link" necklace in silver (Simon Sebbag Design)