Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I love my...

Louis Vuitton Vermont Avenue in Monogram Vernis.

This is a true "ladies' lunch handbag" and is perfect with a dress or suit, or out to dinner.

Bravo to Marc Jacobs for his superb tenure at LV, bringing such fun and elegance at the same time to this venerable old house.

Carrying on,

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Another year older. 'Nuff said.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Hardly the respite from winter's cold it usually represents, this year Spring arrives as an afterthought. Amidst the record-breaking March balmy temperatures and premature blooms and buds, we pause to embrace (anyway) what is always joyous: the renewal of nature and the coming of summer's long days.


Friday, March 16, 2012

I love my...

Valentina perfume by Valentino.

My typical light floral choices have been Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf, Caleche by Hermes, and the new one by Narciso Rodriguez. Tried this--it's brand new--and love it. The sensual combination of a lengthy list of notes--Calabrian bergamot, white Alba truffle, jasmine, Amalfi orange blossom, tuberose, wild strawberries, cedar and amber--is simply lovely.

The Telegraph has an interesting article about its creation.

What's nice about Neiman Marcus is that the fragrance counter will group similar scents together, so it makes it easy to locate choices that are sort of "same church, different pew."

Happy weekending,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Merci, Georges Perrier

M. Perrier has hung up his toque. The revered French chef, restaurant pioneer, author and influencer has officially left the kitchens of his many establishments, most notably Philadelphia's Le Bec-Fin, after a long career of food, feuds, and fiefdoms extraordinaires. Even the New York Times, somewhat out-of-town from their usual NYC dining reportage, marked the event as noteworthy.

The magnificent Le Bec-Fin, at its zenith

A visit to LBF was an almost indescribable experience, back in the day. Courses...too many to count...each one such a delight...all waiters in tuxedoes...wines with each course. And what happened was that the 80s became the 90s, and the 90s became the lackluster 2Ks... and along with the humorless decade, came a new era in dining aesceticism. Gone was the big expense account lunch and dinner that had been the backbone of the luxury meal economy. Out went quantity, traded in for the spare, three-course prix fixe focused on brevity and the time-is-money sensibility of the day's super-productive executive.

I recall a dinner there with a friend who was struggling with a life-threatening illness. We embraced each over-the-top plate as it appeared before us, each acutely aware that this meal would be the substitute for all the other meals we would not get to enjoy together. It was, indeed, a last supper of sorts, and no better place to have had it than LBF it its heyday. Out from the kitchen came le gastronome petit to accept the supplicating appreciation of the terribly discerning crowd of diners. An evening to remember.

M. Perrier had other establishments as well. His George's on the Main Line is one of our go-to spots, a bastion of lighter fare and a lighter life, a midday trip to Aix-en-Provence.

And his devotion to area philanthropy is also well-known. He was my Honorary Chair for Paoli Hospital's April in Paris Ball a few years back, and regaled me as my dinner partner with marvelous tales out of l'ecole from his years of cooking for everyone from Presidents to puppies. All in a Gallic accent as thick as a bechamel.

Another chef will take over, once the newly re-tooled LBF reopens. But it will never be quite the same.

Rouxing the day,

Photos courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I love my...

Celine Nano Luggage tote bag.

It's my go-to everyday bag due to the ease of getting into it and actually finding things.

Goes with instant classic.

Happy weekending,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Charm offensive

Years ago a political candidate got much mileage out of asking "Where's the beef?" Lately I have been asking myself a similar query, but with a more society-as-a-whole focus: "Where's the charm?"

Which then leads to the need to identify what "charm" actually is. When I was growing up, there was a great deal of store set by the charm factor. I was raised to be charming, by people who were also raised to be charming, by other charming people. Not in a false or ingratiating way, but in an authentic, natural-extension-of-your-personality sort of way. I always assumed (without actually thinking about it, and that is important), that it was the way to be, not to act.

By definition that would translate to possessing the quality of pleasing, fascinating, or attracting people, or delighting them greatly. This, as opposed to "casting a magical spell" over them, is what I am referencing.

To me, the charm recipe has been equal parts a healthy desire to please, lovely manners which strive to put others at ease and at comfort, along with a dab of that X-factor of "personality."

I am fortunate to have many friends who are from the South, and I can attest to the perceived fact that there is something to the expression "Southern charm." Both men and women from Virginia, the Carolinas and their neighboring states seem to ooze charm, confidently, effortlessly, with nary a self-conscious bone in their well-clad bodies. Is it innate in the DNA of those who hail from south of the Mason-Dixon? Is it a cultural inheritance, reinforced by modeled behavior and communities? Is it valued more in educational setting and families...including sororities whose sisterhoods claim charm as a Greek point of character?

Or is charm now an anachronism, headed the way of the classic charm bracelet? (And I'm not talking about those Italian charm bracelets or Pandoras here.)

I still wear my charm bracelets, the favorite of which was handed down to me by a relative whose husband was a romantic with a direct line to Caldwell's jeweler ( a now-defunct but long-heralded citadel of style here in Philadelphia).

The bracelet, circa 1950's...

Uncle Dick's love for Aunt Betty is evident....not in the abundance of charms (because he thought too many was "gaudy"), but in the superlative quality and size of the charms themselves (most measured 1 1/2" to 2" in length, all in 18k, with sapphires, diamonds and rubies). There was the horse shoe studded with rubies, reminiscent of their stable, Uncle Dick's Navy Cross, the now-out-of-favor St. Christopher's medal with sapphires, a working whistle--a tribute to Lauren Bacall's famous "You know how to whistle, don't you?" line to Bogie. Each charm was engraved "Dick to Betty" along with the date of the occasion.

The "lovebirds" charm...

When I wear this bracelet, the tinkle of the charms transports me to my childhood, reviving the chic presence of Aunt Betty in her pale blue cashmere cardigan, silk blouse and matching pale blue swing skirt...her black hair in a simple chignon, the nascent whiff of Caron's Bellodgia...

Most of all, the bracelet is a tactile and tacit reminder of the charm of its first owner, her roots deep in Maryland history: her soft drawl, her sweet laugh, her lively eyes, her flawless manners that somehow were not stiff and formal, but borne out of an organic ability to make everything more beautiful in her relationships and her surroundings. There was a small sadness to her charm as well; she was childless, and she and Dick treasured me as their "borrowed" child.

In this modern day of short time, short attention spans and tempers, I pause to reflect...

Charmed, I'm sure,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In like a lion

Lee Radziwill, lionizing

A new month turnover today...and an unpredictable, often cruel month March can sometimes be here in the northeast. The unusually mild winter is giving way to a mild, damp gateway to spring. But beware--our worst snow storms have occurred during these same four weeks.

The old saw "March comes in like a lion but goes out like a lamb" intrigues me. The phrase has its origins with the constellations Leo the Lion, and Aries the ram or lamb. It has to do with the relative positions of these constellations in the sky at the beginning and end of the month. English playwright John Fletcher wrote in 1624, "I would chuse March, for I would come in like a Lion...But you'd go out like a Lamb when you went to hanging." In 1670, English writer John Ray observed that "March...comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb." On our side of the pond, the phrase "March came in like a lion" appears in the Ames Almanack in 1740, and none other than John Adams wrote in 1788 that "The month comes in like a lion, and according to the farmer's proverb it must go out like a lamb."

Herewith, some lions here that I adore, no matter what part of March they appear.

A prone pair in bronze, slumbering languidly on a bookshelf...

A doorknocker, awaiting a visitor to engage...

A David Webb cuff, sadly not part of my collection, but available on ebay...

A David Webb "doorknocker" necklace and bracelet from the early 1970s...

I await the season of the lamb, shepherding in the Easter season once March has turned.

If I'm lyin',

About Me

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Living well is the best revenge...and a choice we make every day. Join me as I celebrate the bounty of beauty in all its forms: fashion, homestyle, accessories and everyday I juggle the roles of Mommy, wife, daughter, dog mommy, creative director, Zumba instructor, volunteer...all with more than a passing glance backward to an old-school, classic time when style was a way of life