Wednesday, November 27, 2013


"Anyone can find a husband if they wear a Philip Treacy hat."  -- Isabella Blow

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Throngs of Tourists

The other day I was running errands in the Westminster area of London, and I was irritated at having to wade through throngs of tourists.  The taxis and their incessant honking -- at seemingly no one or everyone -- only exacerbated my mood.  I started walking over Westminster Bridge to the south side of the Thames.  Then I looked back at the tourists.  They were staring up at Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and the London Eye -- and they were in awe.  They were click-click-clicking away at their cameras, taking pictures to capture those London landmarks, their smiles, that awe.  I smiled to myself, and I thought how fortunate I am to be here, to travel, to see the world.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

English Country House Tour!

A couple of weeks ago I decided to visit a slew of English country estates.  England is a veritable treasure trove of these types of houses, and so I was thrilled to see several country houses before most of them closed their doors for the winter season.  Below are some of my favorites!

Burghley House -- William Cecil, who was the principal secretary and Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, built Burghley House in the Lincolnshire area to display his power and wealth.  The house is a prime example of Elizabethan architecture with its symmetrical design and its many towers and gables.

One of my favorite pieces in this house was the marquetry cabinet below.  It is one of the first pieces of marquetry ever made, likely for King Louis XIV of France.  The detailed ivory design of jasmine flowers was exquisite!

Harewood House -- I travelled up to Leeds in beautiful Yorkshire to see Harewood House.  The house was far enough away from the Leeds train station that I decided it would be best to take a local bus out to the house.  I clearly looked like a tourist, because essentially everyone on the bus told me when I needed to get off of the bus to get to the house.

Queen Elizabeth's aunt; Mary, the Princess Royal; was the chatelaine of Harewood House from 1929-1947 during her marriage to the 6th Earl of Harewood.  When I was walking through one of the rooms, the House's curator was giving a talk about the Lady Canning Games Table in the house.  Lady Charlotte Canning was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria and a skilled watercolors painter.  She created a chess board where every other square was a mini watercolor painting of a place in India (where she had lived).  The watercolor chess board and the rest of of Lady Canning's watercolor paintings were bequeathed to the 6th Earl of Harewood.  Queen Elizabeth's nephew; David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley; is the owner of Linley which is bespoke furniture company.  When he heard about this watercolor chessboard, he created a games table around it out of English walnut and presented it to the 6th Earl.  The games table is incredibly beautiful, and the history behind it quite meaningful -- but unfortunately, no pictures were allowed!

Sandringham -- Unlike Buckingham Palace, Sandringham is a Royal residence that is owned by the Queen personally, instead of the state.  I was thrilled to be able to spend an afternoon there.  In the Norfolk area of England, the estate grounds are full of pine trees, flowers and lakes.  

When I walked into the house, it was immediately clear that this truly was a personal residence.  The house has only one dining room, in which all meals are served.  At lunch and dinner, menus are placed at each person's seat -- and the courses are listed out in French!  Breakfast, on the other hand, is served buffet style every morning.  Oh, and there are no soup spoons or fish forks -- because they are considered "new money" inventions - ha!

Monday, November 18, 2013


Betty Halbreich, personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, explains her policy regarding taking on new clients, "I don't take the second wife if I've dressed the first one, and I don't take the mistress."

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square

When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favor of the war effort, he simply replied, "Then what are we fighting for?"

Monday, November 11, 2013

The White Cliffs of Dover

I have loved England, dearly and deeply,
Since that first morning, shining and pure,
The white cliffs of Dover I saw rising steeply
Out of the sea that once made her secure.
I had no thought then of husband or lover,
I was a traveller, the guest of a week;
Yet when they pointed 'the white cliffs of Dover,'
Startled I found there were tears on my cheek.
I have loved England, and still as a stranger,
Here is my home and I still am alone.
Now in her hour of trial and danger,
Only the English are really her own.

-- Alice Duer Miller, excerpt from The White Cliffs

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fashion in Motion

The other night I had so much fun attending another Fashion in Motion event at the V&A.  The runway show was put on by fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto.  I had never heard of him before, and I'm not particularly familiar with Japanese fashion.  But I thought it would be neat to check out something new.
The show began with techo-like music in the background with a live flute playing and the fashion designer himself doing a mixture of living singing and chanting.  All the while models walked down the runway, expressionless.  The effect was haunting.

Midway through the show, the above model walked out, slowly dancing.  She stopped at the end of the catwalk and danced languidly for two or three minutes, while models continued coming up and down the runway.  The music became quieter and all the attention was on the dancing model.

When the model stopped dancing, there was an outburst of cheerful music and models began coming down the runway skipping, doing cartwheels and dancing happily.  The colorful clothes mixing with references to traditional Japanese clothes heightened the effect.

I particularly liked the above dress from Yamamoto's collection.  One of the first types of art I fell in love with was Japanese woodblock printing at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., and I loved seeing Yamamoto's references to artists such as Hasui and Hiroshige as seen in the above dress.