October 23, 2014

Bag Lady

Yes, I am going to be a wee bit politically incorrect in this post, so don’t read any more if that might bother you.

I love handbags, and mourned the loss of my gorgeous bag after I was mugged earlier this year – I was more upset about losing the bag (but retaining all of its contents) than I was about getting mugged.

When I got back to Baltimore, I immediately called my friend Andrea and asked her if I could get a handbag from her collection. Of course, she kindly obliged me, and I picked up this bag, but in orange.IMG_9460[3]

As the months rolled into summer, I carried one of Bosom Buddy’s summer straw bags, and then recently changed back to the orange bag. Then Andrea told me that their warehouse where they’ve been for the past few years has gotten too small, and so they’ve rented another space. Rather than move everything, they’re having a sale!image

I’ve been helping Andrea evenings this week and will help out during the sale. I sent her this to convey my wishes…handbags

Yes, I know. Completely classless. But funny.

I picked up a few things that ought to tide me over the winter and my upcoming travels. In a few weeks, I have a very, very elegant black tie dinner, and I found the perfect evening bag to take with me. IMG_4982

I also picked up the earrings and bracelet on the left. Here’s the detail of the bag.IMG_4983

I am wearing a black cashmere sweater with a mink collar, so the old gold in the bag should be perfect. The skirt I am having made is a copy of a Balenciaga from the early 1960’s in a brown/black moiré silk taffeta. image

Back to the bags! Bosom Buddy Bags is having a sale this weekend in Baltimore only. On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning only. Cash and carry only. And in person only. I know… only, only, only!IMG_4978IMG_4977IMG_4979image

There are so many fun things that you’ll be able to finish your Christmas shopping in one fell swoop! Here are the details. BBB Sale 2 (2)

I hope to see you there!

October 21, 2014

The Decorators Club Lecture Series

Several of my New York friends are involved in the Decorators Club and each year, they host a series of lectures on the decorative arts. In fact, I saw Mitchell Owen speak on Ruby Ross Wood last year and it was excellent. Click here. I recently got the notice of their Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 lectures and they’re great!image

The upcoming series celebrates four 20th century creative talents who illustrated that design knows no bounds in “All the World’s a Stage…” in IV ActsDC Lectures FOR PRINT

Schedule of Lectures:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014    Joseph Urban: Architect of Dreams

Joseph Urban (1872-1933) was one of the most creative and prolific architects and designers of the early twentieth century.  He received his first architectural commission at age 19 when he was selected to design the new wing of the Abdin Palace in Cairo and designed buildings around the world from Esterhazy Castle in Hungary to Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach. imageHis work includes nearly two decades of spectacular Ziegfeld Follies productions, opulent sets for fifty-three Metropolitan Opera productions, Hollywood film design, hotel, nightclub, department store design, and book illustration.

John Loring is Design Director Emeritus of Tiffany & Co. after serving as its design director for thirty years. He is the author of twenty-two books on art and design including Joseph Urban (Harry N. Abrams, 2010).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014   Oliver Messel: In the Theater of Design

Oliver Messel (1904–1978) was one of England’s foremost designers of the twentieth century whose work spanned the worlds of stage design, film, and architecture. Born into a creative family of wealthy bankers, his career began in 1925 designing for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. imageRomanticism and eccentricity were hallmarks of Messel’s style. His sets were famed for their exquisite delicacy, impossible detail, subtlety of color, and inventive use of materials. From the 1930s to the postwar period, Messel explored the fields of interior design and architecture, eventually designing numerous houses built on the islands of Mustique and Barbados for the jet set of the 1960s and ‘70s, among them Antony Armstrong-Jones (Earl of Snowdon) and Princess Margaret.

Thomas Messel is the nephew of Oliver Messel and an acclaimed furniture designer. Messel edited Oliver Messel: In the Theatre of Design (Rizzoli, 2011), winner of the 2012 Spear’s Book Award.

Wednesday April 8, 2015   Christian Bérard, Artist, Set Designer and Fashion Illustrator

Christian “Bébé” Bérard (1902-1949) was an artist and designer at Paris’ epicenter of stage, fashion, and café society in the 1930s and 40s.  He invented sets and costumes for plays, movies and ballets for the Ballets Russes, Jean Cocteau (notably La Belle at La Bête),image Jean Genet, and others. His fashion illustrations were featured in the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and inspired the couture collections of designers including Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli and Nina Ricci. Bérard experimented with textile design and interior decoration (collaborating with Jean-Michel Frank and a devotee of Madeleine Castaing).

Jared Goss is an independent scholar and former associate curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art.  He is the author of French Art Deco (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2014).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015   Tony Duquette: More is More

Tony Duquette (1914–1999) was an American artist and design legend known for his over-the-top style in interiors, jewelry, costumes, and set design. His clients included Elizabeth Arden, the Duchess of Windsor, and Herb Albert.  imageThe multi-talented Duquette designed sets for MGM musicals with Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli, and designed Tony Award–winning costumes for the original Broadway production of “Camelot” and was the first American to exhibit a one-man show at the Louvre in Paris.  Wilkinson will discuss Tony Duquette’s personal design philosophy and the artistic credo that inspired him to create his fanciful artwork, sculptures, jewelry, gardens and interiors.

Hutton Wilkinson is the owner, creative director and president of Tony Duquette Inc. where he continues the jewelry, interior design, and home furnishings business begun by Tony Duquette. He is the co-author of Tony Duquette (Abrams, 2007) and the author of More Is More: Tony Duquette (Abrams, 2009) and Tony Duquette Jewelry (Abrams, 2011).


To Order Tickets: www.thedecoratorsclub.com

The Decorators Club Education Fund, Inc. was established in 1960 to support interior design education. The fund sponsors an annual portfolio competition for students in six colleges in the New York metropolitan area that offer BFA programs in Interior Design. Awards in the form of monetary grants are made possible by proceeds from these lectures and the generous support of corporate sponsors, members, friends, and colleagues.

October 19, 2014

I’ll Take This: Regency Terrace in Brighton

As I was surfing through the real estate listings in the Guardian, this gorgeous Regency terrace house in Brighton, England caught my eye. When I clicked on the link, I was gob-smacked! What a stunning house in a near perfect location!

The house was built around 1820, probably as a spec property. It is has 180* views of the sea and encompasses more than 10,000 square feet on five levels. Members of London society came to Brighton for “the season” and this house was probably rented out to some of them. Over the next almost 200 years, it was home to members of the nobility, and even the Vanderbilt family. It was also used as a convalescent home after WWI.

Let’s take a look inside…

The house has been owned by the current family for 18 years and they completed a massive and sympathetic renovation. The house retains many of its original details, including the black and white marble floor and the architectural ornamentation in the reception hall.

The dining room is on the other side of the reception hall and features original plaster work on the ceiling and elaborately carved pelmets over the bow windows and a grand fireplace.
The south-west facing kitchen/breakfast room with 14 foot ceilings and intricate cornicing is the perfect place to watch the setting sun.
The stone cantilevered staircase with ornate cast iron balustrade creates an elegant center piece as it rises up through the floors with a magnificent central roof lantern which floods the staircase with natural light. The staircase also features original Lincrusta plaster work up to the
dado rail. On the first floor landing, ornate alabaster pillars support carved capitals and are surrounded with more ornate plaster ceilings.
On the other side of the landing is a double height library which can also be accessed from the second floor mezzanine level.
On the fourth floor, a large west facing sitting room gives access to the roof terrace with 180 degree far reaching views from Brighton Marina across to Worthing.

This amazing property can be yours for just £3,250,000, which is a bit more than $5 million. For more details, including the floorplans, please click here.

October 16, 2014


Do you know that October is Architecture Month? It used to be Architecture Week, but there were too many things to try and cram into one week, that gradually it was extended to a month… and even a week or so before and after!

Most major cities have a range of events around Archtober, and Baltimore is no exception. Baltimore actually launched our Architecture Month in late September with Léon Krier who discussed Design for Living. There are several interesting upcoming events, sponsored by the AIA Baltimore and Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

First is a forum on The History and Legacy of the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre on October 21. The Mechanic, as it is called, is a prime example of the Béton brut style of architecture that was very popular, especially in public buildings from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. It is often referred to as Brutalist architecture because of its hard unfinished concrete slab style, and lack of ornamentation. mechanic

I am not a fan of it, however, I do understand that that it needs to be part of the architectural vocabulary of a city. The Mechanic is in the process of being demolished for another project. It’s been sitting, unused, for more than ten years, doomed to failure by its poor acoustics, bad sightlines and small size. The event is free, but reservations are required.

Another Archtober event is Doors Open Baltimore, part of a world-wide open house program which will take place on October 25th. Doors Open Baltimore welcomes the public to tour buildings passed by regularly, but not often entered. This year’s theme is Industrial Baltimore, with more than 40 buildings across Baltimore open for visiting. imageThe website is fabulous, with gorgeous images of some of the buildings, loads of historical information about them and a map to each site. This is the first annual Doors Open and it’s something we’ve been trying to get off the ground ever since I did the one in London a few years ago (before blogging!).

Another fun event, and one I was proud to be a part of, was the Architecture Seen photo contest. This year’s theme was Entryways, and it was very broadly interpreted. One thread running through all of the images, was that they had to be taken in Baltimore.image Some of the entries were simply stunning and we had a hard time judging them. My fellow judges and I never came to blows, but there was some lively discussion. I was the rank amateur of the group, but I managed to hold my own! Please join us on November 4th at 750 E. Pratt St, Sky Lobby Conference Center for the official announcement of the prize winning entries. If you’re in Baltimore, the top photos from the contest will be on display at Miss Shirley’s Cafe Roland Park location from October 20-31st.

Check with your local chapter of the AIA or Architecture Foundation, and see what they have planned for Archtober!

October 14, 2014

Some Ruin P*rn

(* is so that I don’t get blocked, but you know what I mean…)

During lunch, I try and get out of the office, either to take a walk, or just drive around the area near my office. It’s an area that’s often over-looked, because, it’s where much of The Wire took place, and probably isn’t the safest area in the city. But I am driving around in broad daylight, with the windows up and the car doors locked.

Anyway… as I was exploring this week, and looking for another old abandoned mansion, I came across this mansion. sellers1

It literally stopped me in my tracks. I jammed on the brakes and pulled over to take some pictures of it. It just broke my heart because I could still see that it had, once upon a time, been a beautiful classically built house. And now it was sitting, broken and abandoned, just falling apart. The red and white X on the door indicates that the interior is in such condition that the fire department should not enter the house. IMG_4682

It’s a huge house, this is the side view, and had so much architectural detail on it. From the corbels to the dentil moulding on the roofline, to the gracious proportions, it had once been an elegant home.IMG_4685

When I got back to the office, I did some research and found that it had been called the “Sellers Mansion”, named after Matthew Sellers, the President of the Northern Central Railway and his son, also Matthew Bacon Sellers, who was an aeronautical inventor who laid the ground work for what we know today as NASA. He is also believed to have flown before the Wright Brothers (who had better PR). The younger Matthew’s brother and sister lived in the house for many years, and from 1930 until their deaths in the 1950’s, never left the house.  sellers2

My friends at Baltimore Heritage have this to say about the house:

Its carved stone lintels, patterned slate roof, original roof cresting, and its two classically detailed porticoes (one of which still retains its elegantly carved wooden columns and capitals) identified this household as one of taste and affluence.

There is evidence that the house once had an Italianate cupola above the mansard roof, which was probably used to help with the ventilation.

After the deaths of the siblings, the house changed owners a few times, but went through a major restoration in the 1960’s. The house was eventually purchased by a local church, who planned to convert it into apartments. There is already a hideous mid-60’s high-rise apartment house immediately adjacent to this house. imageHowever, the church has basically let the Sellers Mansion fall into ruin, with no consequences, other than public shaming. The “development corp” which they set up to convert the building is no longer in existence. image

Although I love looking at these wonderful old buildings and have a deep appreciation for what they once were, I think that it’s borderline criminal when people let them fall into this kind of condition. Especially a church, which exists for the greater good.

October 12, 2014

#ThisIsBaltimore (Late Again!)

I was just asked to give a lecture in the spring, and the topic is Baltimore, of course. The last lecture I did for this group was “Baltimore: It’s Not Just The Wire”, but I didn’t want to repeat that exactly. So we tossed around some ideas, and decided to combine the Baltimore lecture with another one I gave called “The Quest for Inspiring Design”. We need a title for the lecture, so I tossed it to my creative and funny friends on Facebook.

Our friend Adam suggested “#ThisisBaltimore: An Amateur's view of Architecture in Baltimore”. It’s good because it combines the hashtag I’ve been using on Instagram and the fact that I am not a professional architect.

Pride of Baltimore II leaving the Inner Harbourinstagram

My hilarious friend-since-prep-school, Randy suggested this title “IONIC, DORIAN, and CORINTHIAN LEATHER: Is there a connection between columns and Ricardo Montalbán in the study of architecture?” I am fairly certain that’s not going to make the final cut.

The anonymous Washington Cube suggested “Oh Say Can You See... Baltimore Through A Baltimorean's Eyes.”

I was so proud of Baltimore’s celebration for Star-Spangled 200! Everyone did an amazing job.image

The fabulous Karen Carroll, former editor of the late, great Southern Accents suggested “A bird's eye view of Baltimore architecture” with that being a play on our two major sports teams, the Orioles and the Ravens.

Although I am a little freaked out that the O’s lost their first two games, they’ve had a great season. orioles game

Mike suggested the alliterative title of “Charming Places in Charming Spaces - A Laypersons' Guide to Baltimore's Bounty of Beautiful Buildings.” I am not 100% certain I could say this without sounding like I have a mouthful of marbles!

It’s amazing buildings like this one, in a marginal neighbourhood, that I want to show to people.image

This is the building you can see to the right of the one above. It’s gorgeous.image

And this is across the street. I adore the columns! This is where the famous art-collecting Cone Sisters lived. image

Stephanie Lowder, PR person extraordinaire, suggested a few including “No Art Degree, No Problem” and “Architecture for You and Me”. Good ones, because the lecture is supposed to bring architectural appreciation to non-architects.

This is the sweetest little pocket park. I am not sure what the statue is, but a friend-of-a-friend has taken it upon himself to make sure there are flowers and the park is kept clean. image

There were several other suggestions, all riffs on the ones above, as well as some that made no sense at all.

150-foot clock tower at Mount Royal Station, now part of the Maryland Institute College of Art or MICAimage

If you have any suggestions, please add them below! The lecture’s not until the spring of 2015, but I need to get some information to them shortly.

October 9, 2014

Some Sales

This is the time of year that you can find great tag sales and it’s fun to take advantage of them. I’ve culled some of the best of these to share with you, whether you’re in Baltimore or somewhere else.

First up, if you’re anywhere close to Salisbury, Connecticut this weekend, my friend and tastemaker, Pete Hathaway, is having a tent sale. Sale2Along with Pete will be the fabulous Hunter Bee which I had the chance to visit last year, Nest, which is also in Millerton, NY, a charming little town, and others. imageKnowing Pete, as I do, this is going to be a stellar sale and you should go… and then tell me all about it so I can be jealous.

In Baltimore, my friends Billy and Patrick are having their semi-annual sale. image

Billy is antiques dealer, and in his travels, he attends a number of auctions. With some of these auctions, you buy a box lot for just one thing in it. The other pieces may be perfect, but if they’re not what you want… So these are Billy’s left-overs. You might remember that I bought these fabulous candle-holders at the sale in the spring. image

I ended up spray-painting them black and giving them to my friend Andrea.  Here’s the link to the listing for Billy’s sale.

For those who are prone to planning ahead, there’s this sale!sale1

Yes, that’s right. Treillage, Holland & Sherry, Chelsea Editions and Vaughn! I don’t have a link to this yet, but I can’t even imaging how fabulous this is going to be!

Be sure to check your local Craigslist, neighbourhood listserv and lamp-posts for information about local sales!

October 7, 2014

Signed and Booked

I have always loved reading mystery books, ever since I was a child reading Nancy Drew and even the Hardy Boys. And that love didn’t change when I got older. I have always liked to read an author’s whole catalogue and when I discovered the Dick Francis books, I realized they combined several things that I love: mysteries, horse racing and England. Dick Francis was the Queen Mother’s steeplechase jockey and retired from racing to write books. He has since died, but his son Felix, who had helped him with the books, took over, writing as Dick Francis. damage (2)

Felix is in Baltimore for a few days, and my friends at Halcyon House Antiques held an English Drinks Party and Book Signing for Felix, which I was pleased to be invited to join. Dick Francis’s DAMAGE, by Felix Francis has just been released today, so it was extra special to be able to get the book on its release date! It’s also the 50th book that the Francis’s have written, so that’s quite an accomplishment.IMG_4527

Felix brought along copies of the covers of all 50 books, which have been done and redone over time, moving from very modern graphics, to the more realistic cover of his newest book. If you look closely below, you can see several of the older titles arranged on the mantel and the newest book on the desk.IMG_4521

Since this was an English drinks party, we had a pitcher full of Pims and some noshes for everyone!IMG_4516

Felix was charming and gave a nice background chat to the crowd and then spent the next hour or more signing books for everyone… and several books for a number of the guests!IMG_4553IMG_4561

He was also very kind about posing with the guests, many of whom were from the local hunts, or were riders themselves. IMG_4563

As usual, the flowers at Halcyon House Antiques were gorgeous and from the gardens that I’ve written about several times previously. IMG_4520IMG_4559IMG_4580

It was such fun to meet Felix and have the chance to tell him how much pleasure these books have brought to me, and many others, over so many years! He’s on a cross-country tour now, so check his Facebook page to see where he’ll be next. And if you’re looking for a great Christmas present, Halcyon House has a dozen or so signed copies of DAMAGE for sale.