Thursday, February 28, 2013

Valentine's Day Hearts and Scents

I know Valentine's Day was two weeks ago, but I wanted to show you this beautiful heart pendant that hubby Matt designed and made for me out of stainless and bronze. I love the light whimsical look and when I wore it to work the next day, I received many compliments, amazement from people who don't know Matt's work and recognition from people who do. "You are so lucky to be married to an artist who makes things for you!" they all exclaim. And yes, I am.

It was also lucky for me that Matt used the last drop of his favorite scent the week before Valentine's. It gave me the perfect idea for a gift and a great excuse to shop at one of my favorite San Francisco boutiques, Jacqueline Perfumery. Jacqueline's is classic, elegant and old-school, just like the proprietor, Monsieur Andre. The shop doesn't have a website, but here is the Yelp link. If you scan the reviews, you'll see they go from five stars to zero stars. I agree with the five stars. The zero stars are the people who don't understand that as a customer you have to play by the rules of sometimes gruff Andre. When you enter the shop, you are entering his world and it's important to be extra polite and patient and follow his lead until he warms up to you. As soon as he does, he is generous with his knowledge and very helpful.

The shop has been downtown on Geary near the corner of Grant for as long as I can remember and I've lived in San Francisco since 1981. About six years ago, I was shopping for a new scent for Matt and I consulted with Andre. He asked what scents Matt liked, I answered Fendi Uomo (what he wore on our first date, but is now discontinued). Monsieur pulled Azzaro pour Homme off the shelf and gave me a spritz. I instantly loved it and knew Matt would too. Andre explained they were both a fougere. When I asked what that meant he said "fern". Which I didn't quite understand, so I've been doing some research.

Lately I been referring to this book, Perfumes: the A-Z Guide,  and having a great time with it. I'll write more about it in another post. More than 1800 perfumes are reviewed by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. Their writing is poetic, personal, practical and very witty and fun to read. Turin gives Azzaro pour Homme five out of five stars. Introduced in 1978, he describes ApH as "affable, slightly vulgar, completely unpretentious and overall just delicious." And he lists it as one of the top ten best masculine fragrances. And when I smell it on Matt, I have to agree.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fine Feathered Trend

I just saw the above photos and caption in The New York Times and I thought "Of course feathers are a trend. Of course they are on the London runway!" A couple months ago, my Aunt Mary Ellen in New Orleans was telling me about her lifelong love of wearing feathers. And as always, when it comes to style, Mary Ellen is so right. She told me about the parties she attended, making a sensation wearing glamorous and elegant feather boas with the "couture" dresses her mother made. More about that here.

She said she would send me what feathers survived Katrina and the Louisiana humidity. A week later I received a shoebox-size package in the mail from her. The box was so light I thought it might be empty. After carefully slicing through the tape and lifting the lid, I found this beautiful, delicate light lavender ostrich feather boa.

I'm wearing the boa right now as I write this. It's delicate yet impactful; it's elegant yet jazzy; it's enticing with lots of fluttery movement in the slightest breeze and it's rather cozy around my neck. I love it! I recommend getting at least one and wearing it to your next party. The trick is to find a rich full boa and not a cheap skimpy one. I just did a quick search for "vintage feather boa" and quite a few very nice ones popped up. Or, if you would like to add feather trim to something, Mary Ellen's favorite place for notions is M&J Trimming in New York. And I just saw that Mood Fabrics, where Project Runway contestants shop, has a good selection of feathers.

Ready for an evening out, Aunt Mary Ellen poses with one of her fabulous boas.

A page torn from Town & Country that Mary Ellen sent with the lavender boa.
Yes! Love those feathers. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Galeria Treasures

Rocio at the Mercado de Artesanias wearing Jose-designed earrings, necklace and bracelet. 

I can't resist, I hope you don't mind, but here's one more story about beautiful things made in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. Pictured above is the lovely Rocio, one half of a designing couple. Her husband, Jose, began creating this particular line of jewelry only six months ago, but he's so prolific he's filled a shop in the center of town and a stall in the Artist's Market.

Part of the magic and excitement of the Artisan's Market is finding the treasures among the usual and expected items. And one of the joys is that there are so many treasures, they're not hard to find! During our last trip in January, on one of my nearly-daily runs through the market, this display of jewelry caught my eye. When I stepped into the stall for a closer look, I met the very friendly and charming Rocio and Jose. Most of the designs have a hip repurposed industrial feel but some incorporate precious antique milagro hearts from Rocio's grandmother's collection. I tried on a little bit of everything, finally deciding on a necklace.

They gave me their card and invited me to visit their shop in the center of town. I recognized the style of the card as that of an artist Matt and I met in San Miguel a couple years ago, El Pinche Grabador. We went to one of his openings and really liked his work. Rocio said that the card was indeed designed by him and in fact they were good friends. Such is the sublime serendipity of San Miguel, where there is two degrees of separation, at most.

Jose in his shop

When I stopped by Galeria Treasures, Jose and I had a fun chat about what inspires him. As a kid, he loved looking at his mother's fashion magazines. He liked the beautiful women, of course, but was also drawn to fashion, realizing that dressing well was very important. He's been making jewelry of various styles and materials for over twenty years. But he's passionate about his current line, combining rubber and brass parts.

This necklace, earrings and bracelets could easily fit in with the jewelry sold at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art shop. Made of rubber, brass and steel, the well-made designs are bold, original and contemporary. Jose says he was inspired by the energy of crop circles and imagining what their messages and complex meanings may be.

No deep meaning here, but these Mexican beer bottle cap bracelets are funky and fabulous. 
On our next visit, I think I need to get one of these.

The necklace I selected and have worn many times since. It brings me good luck!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Flores de muchos colores y mas

Matt and I recently returned from a short but very sweet one-week trip to San Miguel de Allende, MX. We have a casa there and since we go often, I sometimes wonder "Have I seen it all? Have I done it all?" And the answer is always a resounding no. Every trip we meet new people all busily creating and exploring something stylish and artistic.

Yaruke, at Hernandez Macias #93

On my walk from our casa to the center of town, I came across this shop. The facade was so rustic and charming, I had to step in.  And there I found many beautiful scarves, satin flowers, necklaces and handpainted nichos. And I met the warm and friendly owner and artist, Yolanda Varela.

Yolanda with her richly painted nichos. 

Yolanda has been painting nichos (tin shadow-boxes traditionally with religious references, but now with culture icons) for fifteen years.  I was entranced by Yolanda's creations, the only challenge is how to choose? I'm planning to collect a few on our next trip to hang in our casa.

Sitting in the airy studio area at the back of the shop, Ma. de Los Angeles Sanchez Arredondo (beautiful name!), works with Yolanda making the flowers and attaching them to clips and scarves. The flowers measure about three inches across and are an easy accessory with stylish impact. One or more can be clipped on a jacket lapel, in the V of a v-neck tee or in your hair. I bought a bunch for gifts and the green one above for myself and wore it nearly everyday, adding jazzy whimsy to my outfit. They're not available online, so I'll have to wait for my next visit to buy more. They would make great little place card holder/party favors for a luncheon with girlfriends.

Elegant and festive shawls feature the satin flowers. So many colors and designs, it's hard to choose.  But I managed to select a couple!

This shawl would be gorgeous at a summer wedding. 

This view is looking from the back of the shop to the front.
 On every wall and shelf is a new treasure.  The satin flowers of Yaruka are unique and I love knowing the women who make them. When I wear one in San Francisco, it reminds me of San Miguel. And when someone comments on it, I get a chance to tell a story about this rich and wonderful place.