For 4 years now, I have the privledge of an invitation to a Galette des Rois party. My hosts, Sara & Philippe, introduced me to the festival of Epiphany a with a delightful flaky pastry filled with frangipane that Sara, an accomplished pastry chef, lovingly creates every year. It has always been the celebration that I look forward to after the holidays to catch up with old friends and meet new friends. Last night’s celebration was exceptional.
Imagine my delight when I received my favorite interior magazine import, “World of Interiors” and this month’s issue features a history of Galette des Rois. Originally celebrated on the 6th of January, the Epiphany, or Festival of Kings symbolizes the 12 days of Christmas or the 12 days that it took the wise men to travel from Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. The King’s Cake season extends from the Epiphany to Mardi Gras day. This festival is also a touch pagan, originating from ancient winter-solstice celebrations when the return of Pheobus, or the sun, began and banquets, religious rites, and debauchery were held in his honor.
A “feve“, originally a broad bean (symbolic of an embryo, first sign of life after Winter, fertility, or new life) now a small trinket made from porcelain or plastic meant to represent the baby Jesus is hidden inside each cake. The cake is sliced, one piece for each guest plus one slice to represent the “share of God”, “share of the Virgin Mary”, or “share of the poor” was originally intended for the first poor person to arrive at the party. Whoever stumbles upon the feve is named King or Queen and gets to choose his/her consort.
There is a whole collectors market for the feves themselves in France. The porcelain feve began in the 19th century and came from Germany until World War I when Limoges took over production. Plastic feves came into favor in the 1940′s. Collectors of feves are known as fabophiles in France. A feve that dates before 1914 can fetch as much as 450 Euros!!! Today top bakeries commission famous designers to design feves for their cakes, Christian Lacroix among them! Fascinating!
Photos from “World of Interiors” January 2010 issue. “Bean Feast” article by Marie-France Boyer. Photography by Eric Morin.
I braved the crowds on December 27th at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to see the “Cartier in America” exhibit. Where to begin?
I was so inspired by the breadth of work on display and the intention and design exemplified within the pieces. It was wonderful to see how much thought went into different ways the pieces are worn. Many opulent diamond necklaces had large pendants that come off and can be worn as a brooch while the strands divide into two in order to be worn as bracelets.
Many inspiring pieces to behold…the mystery clocks, dozens of tiaras, tutti frutti necklaces, Grace Kelly’s engagement ring, Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond and ruby suite of jewelry…you really must see the exhibit in person.
A few standouts for me:
Evalyn Walsh McLean, ca 1932, wearing the Hope diamond with a diamond necklace and chain. Ok, so obviously the Hope diamond is AMAZING but I’m especially LOVING this entire get-up on Ms. Evalyn…she looks FIERCE and timeless too…this photo is 80+ years old and still relevant today.
The exquisite Hope diamond now on display at The Smithsonian. Cartier cleverly designed the different shaped diamonds to surround the Hope diamond in order to camouflage the irregular shape of the Hope diamond.
Maria Felix, Mexican film star wearing many of her specially commissioned pieces. I kind of love her…doesn’t she look like a BADa**? The rumor goes that she brought a baby crocodile to the Paris store as a model for the necklace.
Maria’s crocodile necklace could work as two brooches or as a necklace. I really love this concept of designing the pieces to break apart and serve multiple functions…so clever! One is set with yellow diamonds with rubies for eyes and the other is emeralds with ruby eyes…exquisite!
Ahh…are diamonds a girl’s best friend? Maybe not, but they sure don’t hurt! These pieces are more than diamonds…they are art, history, and originality all wrapped into one…
There are so many beautiful design books that have come out in the past year that I would love to have in my library. They would be a great gift for any design enthusiast. I think you might enjoy them!
There are lots of great holiday decor inspirations of all color ways in December’s Veranda Magazine.
In particular I am loving holiday in all shades of whites this year. The effects are natural, organic, and graphic.
This home in Dallas, Texas contains wonderful ideas for holiday greens and whites. The scale and proportion of the floral design are great.
You can create something similar at home by gathering vessels that you may already have.
I like to save glass containers from arrangements that are sent to me over the years. Add white orchids, cymbidiums, hellebores, and tulips with a mixture of evergreen sprigs and tea lights.
I also really love how full and luscious the mantle garland is. Take evergreen and generously add pinecones, large white blossoms and green berries. Gorgeous!
Floral design by Raegan McKinney of Todd Event Design, Interior Design by Vision Design, and Photography by Andrew Vracin.
The top motivator for my trip to New York this fall was to see the legendary Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park.
The Cloisters are made up of medieval French monasteries that were disassembled and reassembled in New York in the 30′s. The buliding houses great pieces of medieval art as well, including the significant series of tapestries depicting the capture of the unicorn. This project was made possible by Rockefeller. It is exquisite.
The grounds are also gorgeous and peaceful. The Cloisters are positioned at the top of a hill overlooking The Hudson River. As you look across the river, as far as you can see are trees with leaves that are turning red, amber, gold. My friend that accompanied me grew up in Staten Island and has lived in Manhattan for decades. This was her first trip to The Cloisters and she vows to return again soon.
If you go, there is a charming restaurant in the park called New Leaf…great spot for snacks, lunch, tea, etc. If you are in the area, you’ve got to check out The Cloisters.
Last weekend I visited the Chelsea Markets and The High Line for the first time. They are both truly wonderful examples of re-purposing industrial spaces that became obsolete for delightful public spaces for all to enjoy.
The Chelsea Markets were once the National Biscuit Company complex begun in 1890. These ovens once baked Saltines and Oreo cookies. Over the last decade the complex has been redeveloped into food markets, local bakeries and coffee brewers, high-end clothing samples sales, and restaurants. I particularly enjoyed how festively the markets were decorated for Halloween.
I just loved all of the complex pumpkin carvings, the zydeco musicians, and skulls hanging from the rafters.
After our twirl through the markets we strolled The High Line which is an impressive transformation of outdoor space.
Originally built in 1930 to remove dangerous trains from the streets by lifting the track 30 feet in the air, the final trains ran in the 1980′s. A community based non-profit group partnered with the City of New York to save The High Line from demolition and preserve the structure as a public park space.
Section 1 opened to the public in June of this year with the rest slated for 2010. I found the landscaping of grasses, benches, and trees a modern and unique interpretation of what a public space in the 21st century should be. The High Line design is led by James Corner Field Operations, with Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
For more information, wonderful blog, and visitor’s pictures visit http://www.thehighline.org/
So, I couldn’t go all the way to Texas without purchasing a few treasures for myself. That would be next to impossible!
Clients often ask me how I shop flea markets and antique sales. There are no right or wrong ways to do it. I can only speak for myself. Beforehand I prepare by making a list of items that I am looking for and taking measurements, samples of paint and fabrics with me, budget, etc.
Of course, you must also have an open mind to the treasures that jump out at you that you never realized you always wanted! Case in point, the German beer finish display cabinet. It is perfect for my small collection of vintage Halloween decorations and toys. If you look closely at the front window, you can make out a Gothic “B” for BOO!
I also could not resist Mr. Wonderful, the well-loved horse pull toy. He has a fantastic look…just the right amount of wear. His coloring is perfect…neutral, organic, authentic…I know that he is going to be a marvelous addition to my eclectic interior.
The most exciting purchase, and piece that was actually on my list, is the Swedish clock. I instantly loved this particular one, over all others. The graphics and hands of the face spoke to me, as did the simplicity of the curved lines and ornamentation (which I feel are just the right amount). I’m so excited to see this beauty in my home against my mirrored column…I feel this will be a nice juxtaposition of periods and materials.
Now, to wait for the shippers to deliver my treasures…2-8 weeks! But, I’m patient and keeping my fingers crossed that they arrive in good shape. It was a fruitful trip!
Wednesday brought the opening of the Round Top Antiques Show. We always start with the “Big Red Barn” which opens at 9:00am. We lined up at 8:30am and by 8:50am, here was the crowd behind us…Lining up is really a hoot. You get to chat and acquaint yourselves with your “neighbors”. It was so interesting to hear what each shopper comes for…for one it is a collection of antique bears, for another Navajo jewelry. I was shopping for furniture with my client so we all felt confident that we weren’t racing each other for merchandise!
What’s so nice about the Red Barn is that it is AIR CONDITIONED, which is much appreciated. Oh, and there is INDOOR PLUMBING. This is a dream for antiques week. Beyond that the merchandise available is varied and wonderful.
Here is a sampling of some whimsical booths. I’m such a sucker for vintage Halloween and Christmas ornaments and I just couldn’t resist snapping a shot of these charming toy trucks. They have a great look and were displayed so wonderfully. Of course, my favorite vendor was Love Train and wouldn’t you know they were in the only non air conditioned tent at the Red Barn. Bummer. I don’t have any photos of their terrific wares because I unfortunately couldn’t multi-task…too hot. But the loot we found there included a fantastic pink and green French advertisement.
I’ve just returned from the Marburger Farms Fall Antiques Show, what a whirlwind. I often have people ask me what I do there and what is it like…so I captured moments throughout my trip which I’ll be posting in the upcoming days.
The lineup of shoppers wait for the 10am early opening on Tuesday. The tents are roped off and savvy hunters try to steal a peak into the tents of their favorite dealer…the excitement builds…the whistle blows and they’re off!
I captured a few booths that had great “curb appeal”. Many of these dealers are truly artists with their displays. I just love the graphic quality of these pieces and presentations….
More adventures of fall antiquing to come!
PS – I almost forgot to mention the shopping conditions…hot, muggy, port-o-potties…need I say more? It is not for the weak!
I saw Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds this Labor Day Weekend. It was fabulous. The acting was the best I’ve seen in a long time, what a cast!
I really appreciated seeing a movie set in France with an international cast in which the characters actually speak the language that they would speak. Great use of subtitles. Some of the elements that I expected; Tarantino’s wit, tension building, and typical violence were all there.
What surpassed my expectations; what a feast for the eyes the set and costume design were. I loved the female character’s outfits, set textiles, and even serving pieces used in the dining scenes. Well done! Can’t wait to see it again.