Archive for the ‘On Style’ Category

4 Children, 3 dogs, 3 continents and everywhere a party…

Posted by Winifred on July 1st, 2014  •  No Comments »

Suriname, you know the country where our parents were born, where we lived for some years in our youth, and that we cannot ever stop bragging about, has been re-discovered by Surinamers who like our parents, moved to the Netherlands and raised children there, and by the Dutch who having lived side by side with Surinamers for decades, become curious and want to experience this culture for themselves. Many have built homes there and regular vacationers abound. The Dutch love the climate, the stunning rain forest, the cuisine of Indian, Indonesian, Chinese and Surinaams influences, the value of the Euro and traveling to a place where they can speak Dutch. We discussed with our mother the influx of Dutch tourists to Suriname once, and she remarked that she understood why they would find it attractive. Oen sab mek presirie, oen sab borie, oen sab libie.

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We know how to entertain, we know how to cook, we know how to live. There could be no better way to describe the Surinamer, and it best describes our own recollection of our youth. Our parents had 4 children, their first when our mother was 21. They had moved from Suriname to the Netherlands where the four of us were born. Later we lived for some time in Barcelona, and as they had wanted to expose us to our roots, we also returned to Suriname, then back to the Netherlands. What is striking about it all now, is the effortlessness with which they were able to camp and decamp from country to country, continent to continent, at their whim. And once we were planted anywhere, there was always fun to be had. Presirie.

Our parents knew how to live. Kids bathed and in pajamas before the guests arrived, a quick polite hello to aunts and uncles, then off to bed. But never immediately off to sleep. Out would come the Johnny Walker, the Bols genever, cigarettes, Lieve Hugo playing in the background, and endless talk and laughter. Ma loved to laugh! If they were not entertaining at home, we always enjoyed the ritual of watching her prepare for an evening out, behind her vanity. In Suriname, they loved to go to Torarica and meet up with their friends for dinner and dancing. But Surinamers are a family oriented people. We do most of our partying with family and Sunday gatherings were what we lived for because then the cousins gathered and we could have fun too.

In Rotterdam, we would visit with Tante Joke and Oom Charles. Their dutch row house was the hub for the family and as they ran their own bar on the ground floor, the hub for many Surinamers living in The Netherlands. We loved Sunday with Familie Doest. Surinamers do not entertain without food, and we do not nibble. We cook as if catering a wedding, full meals, several courses, dessert. Tante Joke made the best Chinese style chicken soup but our favorite was by far the blood sausage. Yes, that’s what we said, bloedworst blood sausage, cow’s blood made into sausage, the most flavorful, fois gras textured delicacy, spicy, and delicious. Only recently did we discover that Tante Joke did not make those. They came from Oom Max.

No attachment parenting, mind numbing routine or constant exhaustion. Children just added to the festivities and sense of community. What we regret about coming to America is the loss, hard and immediate, of that community. The loss of stories, connection, history. The end of laughter. Tante Joke and Oom Charles have passed now. We worry they may have taken our stories with them. It will fall on us to hold on to what is left of them, to try to recreate them. Ours will be different from theirs. Still filled with family, but a smaller family, more American friends than Surinamers. California, not Rotterdam. There will be guitar, scavenger hunts, dinners, no cold, flavorless nibbles. There will be laughter; like ma we laugh loud and often. Even among our American friends, we interject Surinaams – Mr. K has already learned some of ma’s favorite sayings. Our playlist though heavy on Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, The Police will always require Lieve Hugo, Kassav, Latinos. Our menu may have pom, pastei, pindasoep. But we look forward to surprising with dessert, already practicing Gail Monaghan’s Fané.

 

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Oen sab mek presirie, oen sab borie, oen sab libie. We can never recreate bloedworst at Family Doest’s in Rotterdam. But we will speak Surinaams, dance to Lieve Hugo, and laugh. Always louder than anyone else…

TOTAL TIME About 5 hours, including 4 hours’ freezing and prior day’s prep

INGREDIENTS

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons superfine sugar
Cooking-oil spray
3 pints vanilla ice cream, softened
5 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces hard white nougat, crushed into small pieces
3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) shaved bittersweet chocolate
PREPARATION

1.
The day before, prepare the meringue: preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on low speed. When soft peaks form, increase the speed and sprinkle in 3/4 cup of the sugar until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
2.
Spread meringue into a rough 1-inch layer on baking sheet. Bake until slightly sticky when pierced with a knife, about 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave meringue inside for a few hours to dry completely. Break into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
3.
Four hours before serving, assemble the fané: spray the inside of a 4-quart metal bowl with cooking spray and lay a large piece of plastic wrap against the inside of the bowl. Spread the ice cream evenly over the entire inside of bowl and plastic wrap. Cover and freeze.
4.
Two hours before serving, whip the cream. When it begins to thicken, add remaining sugar and the vanilla, then beat to soft peaks. Set aside 2 cups of the whipped cream and refrigerate. Fold nougat into remaining whipped cream, then add to the ice-cream-lined bowl. Cover and freeze.
5.
Just before serving, rewhip the reserved whipped cream to firm peaks. Turn the bowl out onto a platter, separating the plastic wrap from the bowl. Remove the plastic wrap. Cover the ice cream with whipped cream, followed by chunks of meringue. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Let soften a bit at the table before cutting into wedges.
YIELD Serves 10 to 12

Posted in : A Taste Refined, Music, On Style  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Golden Age of Travel

Posted by Winifred on June 27th, 2014  •  No Comments »

Though we plead guilty to the sin of on flight yoga attire, we are nostalgic for the Golden Age of air travel, particularly in the 1950s and 60s. We love the idea of an in flight show of gloves, hats, heels and dresses and the sky high club aspect of an open bar and cigarettes. And we had such plans for a tour on the Orient Express, which though still offering select legs of the 7 country Paris-Istanbul trip, is no longer in service. What we imagined was a cross-country treasure hunt ending on Safari in Tanzania, all, of course, with Globe Trotter luggage, Sylvain Le Guen hand fans and Perrin gloves.

The truth is, the Golden Age was not all glamorous. The chairs were not so plush, no on-flight entertainment, though we much prefer to read, and despite our semi-annual indulgence of an outfit paired Fantasia, we would never manage a 6 hour flight in a cloud of cigarettes and ash. We came close to experiencing Golden Age air travel glamour however, on an Emirates Airlines Airbus 380 from New York to Dubai. The flight attendants immaculate in their suits and full make-up, round the clock meals plated and served with silverware, seats upholstered to true transatlantic levels of comfort and service the likes of which we are too young to have ever previously seen.

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We did not know that the Emirates Business Class bar scene though rivaling that of 1950s as a gathering spot and unparalleled service, evidently outdoes the 50s in unbridled debauchery and scandal…But we digress,

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Luxury travel now is no longer confined to just the jets but extends to airport lounges as well – Dubai’s filled with Chanel, Escada, and Gucci retail experiences among others. We dare say that air travel of the past is now just that. The past. The future is substantially more glamorous; Our air travel wardrobe is too…

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Images Via NY Times, Ralph Lauren, Socorpos, Fast Company, Pinterest

Posted in : Head wear, In an Ideal World..., On Style, Travel, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Adrian

Posted by Winifred on June 25th, 2014  •  No Comments »

We’re having such a time reading about the work of interior designer Tony Duquette, his tutelage under Elsie de Wolfe, his many clients in Old Hollywood and his work with the costume designer Adrian. When Adrian left MGM to open his own Beverly Hills salon, it was Tony Duquette he turned to to create the interiors, advertising and displays.

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Adrian Salon Beverly Hills

 

With “amaze me” as his only directive,  Tony created dipped plaster elephants, plaster lace pagodas, plaster monkeys, bas reliefs and a scene of found objects. Only the artistry of Adrian’s gowns could withstand the dramatics of a Duquette staging. It was Adrian who created the look that would launch Jean Harlow as the original blonde bombshell. Harlow once said that without her hair color Hollywood would never know her name. We suspect those fitted silk gowns cut to accentuate always braless breasts and flow along every curve of her figure, also made her a star in films like Dinner at Eight and Hold Your Man.

We always did find her to have a funny looking face, and don’t much care for the extreme pencil thin eyebrows, even if it was the 1930s. We can’t imagine what her lover, William Powell faced first thing in the morning before they were painted on. Harlow surely slept in make-up…Nevertheless, we came to like her style and her attitude in films like Red Dust. But mostly we love her dresses. It’s what we adore about the 1930s. The decadence, the ultra feminine, the soft yet bold sexy. Though Adrian became better known for his stronger silhouettes created for Joan Crawford, particularly the padded shoulders, he knew how to tailor a dress to glorify any woman’s body and build character through costume.

Born Adrian Adolph Greenberg, the designer became known as Adrian during his career creating costumes for MGM film studios in the 1930s and 1940s. Adrian created costumes for over 200 films, many that we have loved. Dinner at Eight, The Great Ziegfeld, Grand Hotel, Marie Antoinette, Mata Hari, The Philadelphia Story, The Women.  Too many to name, but classic film lovers will not have missed his work.

We thought we would take a detour from our readings on Duquette and celebrate the glamour and design in film costumed by Adrian

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Greta GarboMata Hari , 1931

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Jean HarlowDinner at Eight, 1933

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Joan Crawford Grand Hotel,  1932

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Katherine Hepburn The Philadelphia Story, 1940

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Jeanette MacDonaldThe Firefly, 1937

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Norma ShearerMarie Antoinette, 1938

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Hedy LamarrThe Great Ziegfeld, 1936

Posted in : Classic Films, Head wear, On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should TCM still show films with blackface?

Posted by Winifred on June 19th, 2014  •  No Comments »

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We love William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series and are always pleased when we run across an episode on TCM. As Mr. K has recently started to enjoy the work of William Powell, we thought we would introduce him to the series as well, inviting him to join us for Shadow of the Thin Man. It was mere seconds in when we lost him. All it took to ruin Mr. K’s rare interest in a classic film was the appearance of Louise Beavers as the Charles’ maid, wide eyed with open mouth as she struggles to pronounce the word telepathy. This is a frequent routine for us in our efforts to bring Mr. K into our love for classic film. Mr. K starts off open, is soon offended with the appearance of a black actor in a subservient role, and closes the door on TCM until we slowly, weeks or months later can lure him back with the proper star, story or action, preferably along the lines of Bullitt.

A few days after Mr. K sulked through The Thin Man, we saw Barry Cunningham question with disgust why TCM (the Turner Classic Movie Channel) continues to broadcast films depicting blackface. Mr. K understood the question – he would just as soon scrub a number of titles from TCM’s lineup and not just those showing blackface. We no more enjoy Louise Beavers’ eyes popping out of her head than Mr. K does. We just finally experienced an exquisite moment of elegance with Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Belle, an image of a black woman still so rare in media, some 80 years after The Thin Man. We too would prefer to not, each time we turn to TCM, be confronted with only the most racist, unflattering imagery of black men and women, or feel the greatest regret that the 1930s and 40s had no black Gene Tierney, Carol Lombard, or Bette Davis.

Barry Cunningham offers that TCM at least start with a warning label to films depicting blackface, allowing parents, for instance, to determine if such imagery is something they would allow their children to see. We second that, but also wonder if this label would not be appropriate for just about every film with a black cast member say, pre-1970? Let’s look at In The Heat Of The Night. How hard is it to stomach the gallant, debonair, gem that is Sidney Poitier being called “boy” throughout the film? Would a warning label be placed on that? And if Mr. K had his way and we scrubbed TCM’s lineup clean of such offending films, would In The Heat Of The Night, an important film in the history of Black Hollywood, not be one to be edited out?

We have previously written about the difficulty of loving the early 20th century and the disappointments that come with that for a black woman. But we persist in these films because after we close our eyes for the humiliation of actresses like Louise Beavers, we are left with film that is beautiful, that is art, that shows Myrna Loy making 3 outfit changes within a day, that tells of the social norms of that time, the language, the mannerisms. We get a view of history. We saw Barry Cunningham scoff at this concept a bit, and we do not blame him. But as an immigrant we truly appreciate the opportunity to look back.

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We want to know even the unpleasant parts of America. Fortunately on TCM they are served with a side of refinement and style we wished had better endured. We want to know that in 1929 Nina Mae McKinney starred in Hallelujah, the first sound film with an all black cast. We can see for ourselves that despite all efforts to deglamourize her, Nina Mae would have outDietriched Dietrich, outlgamoured Lombard, outposed Garbo.

We would certainly have appreciated a warning for Showboat, letting us know Irene Dunne, who we had just enjoyed in several films including A Guy Named Joe, was going to appear in blackface. Shame on Irene Dunne, but thank you TCM for airing the film and her dirty laundry in effect. Had it not been for TCM, we might not have known and would foolishly have given her a place not deserved. The upside was not missing the opportunity to enjoy the voice of Paul Robeson.

Old Hollywood was for black actors an unbearable time and continuing to show these films is a reminder of a great shame that should not be forgotten. In a small way we feel that not suppressing these works also honors those who had this shame to bear. We quietly do so every time we tune in…

Posted in : Classic Films, In an Ideal World..., On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reaching for the Moon…

Posted by Winifred on May 30th, 2014  •  No Comments »

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For fans of design, we rather belatedly came across a lovely little treat in the way of the film, Reaching for the Moon, based on Carmen L. de Oliveira’s book Rare and Commonplaces Flowers. The film is about the life of American Poet Elizabeth Bishop, and specifically, the 15 years she spent in Brazil beginning in the 1950s. The film imagines her life in Brazil and is lush with 1950s fashion, dinner parties with politicians, artists, designers and of course great architecture, as Elizabeth meets and falls in love with Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares.

Brilliant views of Samambia, outside of Rio, by Cinematographer Mauro Pinheiro Jr., as well as the Oscar Niemeyer designed house as a stand in for the one Lota designed herself, are worth the time spent on the film alone. There is also marvelously imagined interior design for the Niemeyer home as well as Lota’s apartment in the city. And then, of course, there is the story, Elizabeth making what was to be a short trip to Brazil to visit her college friend, Mary, who is in a long term relationship with Lota. Though they initially clashed, Lota soon falls for Elizabeth and Mary is out.

But Lota, a lesbian in 1950s Brazil and a self trained architect is quite used to having what she wants. What she wants is for Mary to stay and adopt a child while she proceeds to also have a relationship with Elizabeth. No room for the conventional in this story. The three live together somewhat harmoniously for 15 years, during which time Elizabeth writes poetry, wins a Pulitzer Prize and deals with severe alcoholism. There is plenty of melodrama and sad backstory, but the film was quite beautiful to us, both for all of its glamour, as well as the pacing and formidable acting of Miranda Otto as Elizabeth. With generous layering of Ms. Bishop’s poetry throughout the story, the film is feels like a tiny hideaway for artists and enthusiasts of all kinds.

A bit like knowing something chocolate and rich is awaiting us, we look forward to indulging ourselves again and hope to inspire you to do the same, by leaving you with this…

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One Art
BY ELIZABETH BISHOP

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Posted in : Dimensions, On Style, Travel  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mad Men, a kind of an ending…

Posted by Winifred on May 26th, 2014  •  No Comments »

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It was a short season that took us through many turns, mercifully landing the way the viewers really needed it to. What we love about classic films is an opportunity to see how history was experienced by those living it. They may not be the exact, but they are close interpretations of a way of life and a way of thought that is clarifying. Mad Men does this too. Who knew, for instance, the amount of skepticism and dread even, that American people felt over the mission to the moon? The uncertainty that the astronauts would even make it there.

Even office politics – was there really that lack of subtlety in the way a Jim Cutler tries to edge out Don Draper? Immediately after discovering Bert Cooper’s death? And how we gasped when Pete Campbell said of Peggy’s Burger Chef presentation, “she’s as good as any woman in here….” What does always amuse us is how badly the institution of marriage fared even during a time when it was an assumed rite of passage. Even in the 1930s the assessment had already been made that women marry in the hopes a man will change and men marry in the hopes nothing will. Pete Campbell calling marriage a racket after Don admits to the failure of his second, was expected then.

We couldn’t be more pleased it has finally happened. Is it possible we can have the last season entirely without Megan or will we have to endure more of her distance and cruelty even once she and Don have agreed to separate? We hope to be spared.

Peggy’s pitch to Burger Chef was a masterpiece, Don’s masterpiece, but still delivered with a confidence and poetry we have not experienced from her. How could we have found it in ourselves, we wondered, to deliver such a pitch, when it was so personal? The Burger Chef table, where everyone can go is the one she needs most, because she has no where and no one. Especially referencing her 10 year old neighbor who had just told her he was moving. We really interpreted her tears upon the news as her losing the safest and easiest relationship she has been able to have with the opposite sex. The only one in which she could be herself and be accepted and not be hurt.

Masterful was Roger taking a leadership role, no longer content to just live a hippie life of orgies. He gave us what we needed most, the return of he and Don at the helm, as he arranges a buyout that will offer the partners money, autonomy and a new direction. The boys are back and we suspect so are a few more moves that will redeem them both as we are forced to say goodbye.

Meanwhile, we will live our own 60s life, our vintage fashion life, our glamorous life…

Posted in : Classic Films, On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , ,

Things to look forward to for Summer…

Posted by Winifred on May 21st, 2014  •  No Comments »

Unlike most here on the East, we never complained during the long Winter. There was that one day when the puddles of melted snow almost sank our Fiorentini and Baker biker boots and had our poor toes, though not wet, quite frozen. But for the rest we paid it no never mind. We can always stay in sweaters and coats, ear muffs, and woven hats. Besides, what is more romantic than being wrapped around Mr. K while watching glorious fat snow flakes floating down on a sea of blanketed trees and roofs? We can stay entirely in the moment, even when that moments stretches on for months.

But when the sun begins to shine and warm balmy days finally happen, we really light up. We waste no time becoming ever present on the roof deck, finding the open air and sunlight compatible to most anything we might do in a day; meditation, guitar sessions, reading, stretching, cocktails, all meals, even sleeping.

We’ll use Memorial Day Weekend to start off a long delicious season of communing with nature…

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Working on our a mixologist credentials and

earning reasons to own a

Buster and Punch Rockstar Bar,

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We will start with

Whiskey Ginger’s,

sipping them overlooking the city,

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They will give us the courage to rock out

as if we were Nik West,

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In a jumpsuit of course,

we might need another,

like this one by Maria Grachvogel,

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We really never stop wearing a scarf, in Winter under a fedora,

in Summer tied through our hair,

nonchalantly falling over our shoulders,

at least thats how Diana and we do…

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But the most heavenly of all,

is lounging languorous and sweet,

basking with contentment and harmony,

in all of our blessings,

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A refined, passionate, meditative peace

that sings,

can you feel the brand new day?

Images Via ShrimptonCouture, BusterandPunch, NYTimes, Pinterest

Posted in : A Taste Refined, Classic Films, Dimensions, Looks we Love, Objects of Our Desire, On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mad Men, twists, turns and slight relief…

Posted by Winifred on May 12th, 2014  •  No Comments »

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So this is what it was like around the late 60s. Change, experimentation, resistance and a fight for things to stay the same. It was well reflected in last night’s episode of Mad Men. We can’t decide if this environment would lead us to choose the alternate realities offered by LSD, or force us to stay completely sober so as not to be blind sided by all the strange fast moving projectiles being hurled from all around.

Megan and Don’s relationship went so headspinningly fast from divorce, to making up, to her being jealous over a pregnant niece whom she quickly pays off to disappear, to surprising Don with a threesome. {Quick aside, this very plain, very dirty, very unappealing girl, was hardly enough to make us believe Megan’s jealousy. We really needed her to be much more Robing Wright in Forrest Gump to make it work.} We feel much like Don, we want off this bumpy road that is Megan’s unhappiness. We want badly for this mismatch to end but we know the producers want us to pay for reveling in Don’s misbehaving. Somehow Megan’s control of him feels far more egregious than any of his play…

Mercifully, the threesome marks a turn in the rise of Don – his return to work having been an excruciating dismantling of the king. A minor victory was scored with Phillip Morris as he cleverly interrupted a secret meeting to convince them he’s still their guy even after he betrayed them in the past. Phillip Morris seems convinced, and we are also relieved to believe once again.

We wish for Peggy, before the show ends, to experience some minor lift in her life. From the flowers she mistakenly thought were from Ted to her painful relationship with her new boss, to somehow being chosen to watch Ginsberg unravel before her very eyes. Her only solace and companionship now, the son of an unhappy upstairs tenant. Peggy can bear all disappointment, slights, disregard and oppression, but Ginsberg coming to her apartment on a Saturday and then assaulting her, required for us a much bigger reaction, even from as restrained a character as her. We saw her collapse previously, we suspect Ginsberg offering up to her his nipple may be the final straw. Toward renewal we hope, not her undoing…

Is Betty really so bad? Did she not handle it gracefully and with style when her son gave away her sandwich on the school field trip she attended with him? Going a whole afternoon with no opportunity to eat would surely present to us absolute cause for a complete meltdown, especially since we would not have cigarettes to back it up. Yes, we know mothers should not have meltdowns, but it was quite hurtful and we suffered her pain. Recently we watched a neighbor’s son berate her and the doorman for 10 minutes for allowing him to miss his school bus. We can only imagine what she would think of Betty’s suggestion that motherhood was her prize, no job, or other accomplishments needed. Who can fault Betty for slowly, but always regally, cracking at the seams at the sudden realization that maybe this isn’t so…

We don’t like Lou, and know we are not meant to. We choose not to spend too much time discussing him. It’s our review, we focus on the parts of the show that appeal to us, not those that make us turn away. We enjoyed watching him be mocked. We hope he continues to be unmasked, unclothed and revealed for the weak and irrelevant being he is.

It’s been a difficult season; we just can’t imagine on what satisfactory notes this show will come to an end…

Posted in : Beauty, On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Orange Chiffon Cake paired with Old Hollywood Glamour

Posted by Winifred on May 11th, 2014  •  No Comments »

Oh, we had been absolutely spent! Days of fighting with interior designer, Billy Haines, over 100-year old hand painted Chinese wall coverings and the specific velvet drapings for our vanity. We had almost completed handwritten notes inviting friends to our new Roland E. Coate designed home, when we ran out of our Mrs. John L. Strong stationery. We had yet to receive our custom made Ferragamo sandals and the recent fitting for the Robert Piguet gown in which to float around from room to room, air kissing our Hollywood friends, did not help us with our most important decision…would we wear a turban or was the over the shoulder draping dramatic enough?

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The party was all we could do from falling into a slump. We had just met with executives at MGM to discuss the part of Nora on ‘The Thin Man’ series. W.S. Van Dyke wanted William Powell to play the part of Nick, the glamorous socialite Nora’s husband, and for the couple to have an affectionate banter and friendship style of marriage. We were thrilled to have an opportunity to play opposite William Powell, but in the end, contractual agreements prevented us from taking on the role. We had already been fitted by costume designer Edith Head for a film noir. The part of Nora went to Myrna Loy. The studio system be damned!

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The only thing to do was to swing our Figoni et Falaschi Talbot-Lago T150-C by Hollywood and Vine and take our regular table at the Brown Derby.

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It was certainly not quiet or peaceful, what one would expect we would need after such harrowing days. But the Brown Derby was home; there was comfort in the food, the service and in being seen in our freshly curled hair. Carole was there with Clark. We never much liked her in a hat. We made sure to confirm attending each other’s party, but do hope she won’t serve us dinner on the floor this time…

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Kay Francis was there and oh, was she dressed! We already had some of her Orry-Kelly gowns made.

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Dietrich was there, in a veil, distant eyes, with a cigarette working over beef stew. We stopped by to make fun of her for the nightclub number in Blond Venus. She seemed sufficiently shamed for the ape costume and blond afro.

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Then we sat down for a Cobb salad. Bob Cobb always made sure to save us a generous piece of orange chiffon cake. Clark and we finished off the last of it. Cary, Myrna and Ava had to settle for the grapefruit cake. Our stomachs full and banter had, we braced ourselves for the next task – unearthing our Globe-Trotter trunks.

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The Mister and we are sailing off for the Island of Guidecca for a languorous stay at Casa Frollo. We have sent the recipe for chiffon cake ahead…

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Orange Chiffon Cake
From Lost Desserts By Gail Monaghan

For the orange chiffon cake:
2 1/4 cups of cake flour
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
5 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whites – at room temperature
1/2 cup of canola oil
3 tablespoons of orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar

For the orange icing:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons orange juice
Grated zest of 2 large oranges
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together the flour, superfine sugar, baking powder, and salt onto parchment paper or into a medium size mixing bowl. Then sift again.

In another large glass bowl, vigorously whisk the 5 egg yolks, oil, orange zest, vanilla, and 3/4 cup of water until smooth. About 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the flour mixture and whisk to just combine.

Using the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the 8 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until very soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar and increase the speed to high. Beat until peaks are stiff but not dry.

Using a rubber spatula, fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the remaining egg whites and fold together until just combined, but completely incorporated. Scrape batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube or angel food cake pan with a removable bottom. Smooth the top and bake in the lower third of the oven; check after 30 minutes, if the cake is browning too quickly, lightly rest a piece of foil over it. Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Remove from oven and cool upside down on built in prongs or a bottle (wine bottle works well) – with the bottle neck through the hole, until completely cool – about 1 1/2 hours.

To unmold, slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan, pressing the knife against the pan to avoid tearing the cake. Use the knife to detach the cake from the center tube: pull the tube upward to remove the cake from the pan side. Slide the knife under the cake to detach it from the bottom. Invert and let the cake drop onto your hand or a serving platter.

For the icing, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and sir in the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, zest and salt. Turn the heat down as low as possible and return the saucepan to the heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and beat (briefly for a pourable glaze or several minutes for a spreadable icing). You can place the sauce pan in a larger pan of ice water to speed the process. Stir in the vanilla and drizzle the glaze over or spread the icing on the cake. Let set before serving.

Images Via Pinterest, Heatherhomemade

Posted in : A Taste Refined, Classic Films, Looks we Love, On Style, Travel, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2014 Academy Awards Red Carpet

Posted by Winifred on March 3rd, 2014  •  No Comments »

The Awards for film pretty much landed where everyone thought they might, but the awards for fashion really didn’t. Other than Sandra Bullock who has not made a single misstep in over a year, we were rather surprised at who gave us outstanding red carpet style. We love surprises, don’t you?

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Sandra’s gown did not seem signature Alexander McQueen to us, but it certainly fit in draping, color and flattering design. Sometimes a strapless dress ends up rather plain or even unflattering. Starting with the lines from the heart shaped bustier, everything flowed smoothly with this dress. The pleating gathered at the waist was not too busy, the skirt giving proper shape while still full. We do think there are more creative interpretations of 1940s noir hair styles, but Sandra’s hair does give perfect length, volume, gloss, full curls. Her make-up was perfection, we are especially and always a fan of a nude lip…

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Emma Watson had already warned us not to underestimate her in Christian Dior at the Emmys and we were glad to be put on notice. This was again a surprise in coming from Vera Wang, but it is precisely how we love to see someone doing things differently. The knit but shimmery sporty top with the more dramatic skirt – sort of mermaid but not in that tacky prom style, extreme way – this was extremely elegant, feminine but with a bit of danger to it. A red lip complimented the dark attire perfectly, though we feel the sleeveless top would have benefitted from loose hair, instead of a ponytail…

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We noticed that not every photo gallery was able to capture the unusual color of Amy Adams Gucci gown and that’s a shame, because that was a significant part of its magnificence. It was also about the lines, once again, strapless can easily veer toward the unflattering, and the folds of extra fabric nicely circumvented that. We adore a column skirt with only the back giving us a glimpse of the dramatic with a bit of a train. We also adore the hair, the very clean make-up and lack of adornments. The dress does all the work and leaves little need for distractions…

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Badgley Mischka had quite a presence on the red carpet, and managed to do something different for each of its stars. Alfre Woodard just makes us giddy inside with her ability to maintain her sexy. This dress while celebrating her voluptuous breasts, still gives us a bit of restraint. And the fit and draping just highlights her sensuousness effortlessly, not in that embarrassing way when someone tries too hard. It makes us feel like dancing to know that mystery and sensuality only improve with age…

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It made us sad to not be able to celebrate Lupita Nyong’o’s Prada dress. There were a number of things that went wrong with the look starting with the hair, the headband, the color and the cut of the dress that were only highlighted by what went right with Kate Hudson’s. When daring to wear a deep plunging neckline, it really is preferable that the wearer not be bony in the chest. Flat chested, absolutely, bony, absolutely not. Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace wears the deep plunge in the way we prefer. Then stuns with the cutout back. The gathers at the waist, not too busy, the skirt mermaid but softly so. The pearlescent color also softened the look which lends elegance to exposing a lot of skin. Devastating really. Hair, make-up, soft, mere supporting actors to the star that is this dress. How it should be…

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But the winner is….Kelly Osbourne in Badgley Mischka. Forget everything else. In an ideal world the umbrella would have been of a different color and yet, it only added to the look. What we’re learning is that Badgley Mischka gives good body, but Kelly’s clearly can hold its own. The flow of this gown, the fabric, the color, the softness, the smoothness, the elegance, the simplicity. And then the beaded overlay. Proportion is everything isn’t it? Just the right amount of spectacular that doesn’t overwhelm. The waves of her hair and yes, even the color. We feel that the execution here was the only example of flawless. There was also an authenticity to it, that extra something that came strictly from Kelly, that completed this look for us. This was our stand out look even before we had finished seeing everything. We knew immediately that we would not see better. We were right…

Images Via Fabsugar

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