Saturday, February 25, 2012

San Miguel de Allende, Part Uno

La Parroquia, the seventeenth century gothic church that faces El Jardin, the central plaza. 

I've been traveling to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with my family for over twenty years. It's a beautiful 500-year-old colonial town in the center of Mexico. There is a special feeling in this town that has a strong pull on the people who visit. It's not unusual for a visitor to decide after only a couple of days that they want to buy a place and move here permanently. San Miguel has an endlessly fascinating multinational mix of antique and contemporary style. In 2005, Matt and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to buy a piece of property here. We designed a casa, had it built (based on only a handshake with the local contractor) and we've spent the last couple of years designing and decorating the interior and the garden. We only get here for short visits a few times a year, so it's been slowly coming together. A great lesson for me to relax and enjoy the creative process. Poco a poco. 

Taking advantage of the President's Day holiday, we booked a red-eye flight for an eight-day visit. We landed at the Benito Juarez International Airport at 5:30 am last Saturday. We grabbed our bags, went through Immigration and Customs and caught the first bus to Queretero, a town an hour away from SMA. The buses in Mexico are great. The first class bus has super comfortable seats and this one was showing a Woody Allen movie, "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger." The first of many culture quirks and mixes that I love to encounter in Mexico. 

Tio Lucas,  where Matt and I dined deliciously on Saturday, our first night. 

Entering Tio Lucas.

On Sunday, Matt and I walked to El Jardin, where everyone gathers nightly for community, fun and listening to strolling Mariachis. This night was Cascaronazos, the celebration before Ash Wednesday. Kids were going crazy, smashing each other on the heads with hollowed out eggs filled with confetti and gold and silver powder. Gringos were not immune. We got smashed a few times too!

Funny when you go on vacation and you're staying at your own casa, you do the most prosaic chores. But in San Miguel, even the chores are an adventure in language and meeting people. On Monday we took a taxi to Vivero Primavera, a beautiful nursery, to buy plants for our garden.

Mucho colores!

Endless varieties of cactus and succulents. 

Beautiful flowers everywhere. 

A sea of fantastic pots. 

On Monday night we had a great Italian dinner and live music at Mama Mia's. It was a packed house to see and hear local favorite musicians, Willie and Lobo. 


The interior of Mama Mia
Stayed tuned! More to come!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Window Licking

I did a little window shopping today on Union Square, or "window licking", the english translation of the vivid french expression -- "la faire de lecher la vitrine".  I probably can't afford what I see or even if I could, I'm not sure I would want to spend the multi-thousands to own it. But that's what's so democratic about shop windows, it's free to look, get inspiration and study the trends in colors, styles and textures.

Chanel today with a retro feel. Still true to black and white, the quilted bag, the camelia and the saucy boater hat. Very Mademoiselle Chanel and very Deauville.

Something about these Chanel mannequins looks oddly old-fashioned. Maybe it's the realistic heads with long hair and the make-up. All the other shop windows had abstracted heads, or no heads at all. 

Hermes always has artful windows. 
This time the theme is folded paper origami horses and geometric shapes. 

Colorful classic Hermes enamel bracelets.

Hermes dressage saddle on an amazing paper horse.

A simple black Hermes shift looks elegant with beautiful accessories and a hit of color. 

Prada is showing florals and pastel colors with a hint of grey to make them more complex and interesting. Miuccia Prada described her Spring 2012 collection as "Sweetness".

Nice mix of blues and a surprising green shoe. 

The Marc Jacobs window on Maiden Lane. Pitch fork?

Now that he has our attention...the Marc Jacobs' window has a county fair theme, complete with a full-size cow. And they're having a good ol' timey contest. Guess the number of blue mints in the giant milk bottle and win a $10,000 gift certificate to the store. Winner to be announced March 3rd*!

*(The results, 74,352 mints. Correctly guessed by "a guy who works down the street". I was only off by 25,000).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Trina, I Beg to Differ

Trina Turk speaking at the Design San Francisco conference.

Interviewed by Erin Feher at the Design San Francisco 2012 event last week, Trina Turk was asked how she balances her life and multi-million dollar design business. She exclaimed, "Balance? I have no balance in my life! Everything I do are things I do for work -- looking at architecture, going to films, museums, house tours and vintage clothing shopping. Everything I do is somehow related to my work. There is no difference between work and play for me."

"There is no difference between work and play for me." I wrote down those words as Trina said them, thinking I'd like to tattoo them in my heart. Isn't that the ultimate balance? Where all endeavors, activities, work and creative pursuits come together in a harmonious, energy-generating and sustaining cosmic song that plays daily in the background of one's life. At least that's how I like to imagine it. 

Interviewer Erin Feher, Executive Editor of Californa Home+Design, wearing a TT dress.

Trina Turk, whose eponymous clothing line packs a powerful punch of Palm Springsy prints and bright colors, is a walking brand. And I mean that as a huge compliment. She wears her designs and she wears them well. With shops in places like LA, Palm Springs, New York and Bal Harbour, Trina has both coasts covered. At one point she dabbled with her fabrics making pillows for display props in the stores. They sold so quickly, she ventured into interior design with Trina Turk Residential, opening a shop with home furnishings in Palm Springs. And she's also has a line of indoor-outdoor fabric with
F. Schumacher.

Trina says she designs her clothing for a flattering fit on different body types and sizes. I don't have anything by Trina (yet) but my friend Debra who does agrees. Trina describes the traits of her customer: she's not a wallflower, she's practical, she's outgoing, likes color and likes the casual sophisticated style of cocktails by the pool mid century. 

When asked who would be the one person she would like to work with if she could, Trina instantly responded, "Rudi Gernreich. He was known for designing the topless bathing suit. But more than that, he did modern, simple graphic clothing that anyone could wear. He was not elitist." 

In 1964, Gernreich designed the monokini,
modeled by his muse Peggy Moffitt (with a cool Vidal Sassoon haircut).
Photo by William Claxton.

For a new source of inspiration, Trina mentioned a recently published book "Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960's by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. In 1960, LA was an art desert and suddenly a group of artists like Ed Ruscha, David Hockney, Judy Chicago and John Baldessari came together and made art happen. The book is described as "snappy and gossipy" and a "page-turner." I think I know one thing that Mr. Matt's getting for his Leap Year birthday.

Photographer: Julius Shulman, Architect: Albert Frey, Raymond Loewy House, 1947
Modern archival print from vintage negative. Palm Springs Art Museum.

Ask the question Trina asked herself which started a fashion design empire: "What would I wear to a party here?"