Friday, January 16, 2009

Everyday Life and Observations

In the 2nd season (i think) of the Cosby Show, there was an episode when Vanessa had a pimple on her forehead and the every fashionable Denise advised her to conceal it sartorially with a headband. I have been a devotee of headbands, turbans, and the like since. But my point is, she did not tell Vanessa or me that wearing headbands (or turbans worn low on the forehead for warmth rather than distinction) will GIVE you a pimple!
I will be glad when it warms up...
At least to the mid 50's so I can still wear a fur collar or scarf , but no overcoat.

Semper Chic!


Believe it or not, I am not what I would consider an avid reader. Maybe others would disagree. I am an avid "skimmer". I like to go to the library and check out tons of books and keep them for as long as I can- sometimes months- and constantly skim through them and get bits of information at a time. Which is why I don't read much fiction, because you can't jump in the middle of a story, but a biography, or a book on any particular subject (art, fashion, travel, entertaining, decor, even history), can be gleaned from at will. I guess I like to treat all books like reference books in that way.

Now, if I get really engrossed or intrigued or inquisitive, I will not stop reading and complete the entire or most of the piece in one sitting, whatever the topic. Which is another reason why I shy away from fiction because if I get hooked within the first 30 pages or so, I'm likely to do nothing else until I have finished or physically can't read anymore, then I go back to it as soon as my eyes and head have recovered.

Also, I feel my interests are too diverse, yet inter-related or overlapping , that I don't like and sometimes can't spend too much time on one topic, because my mind links that topic to something else and then I'm on to that. I usually come back to the original topic, but in the moment I must follow the train of thought to its terminal.
I am currently, actually reading "The History of Haute Couture, 1850-1950" by Diana de Marly. Its a very informative, interesting, in depth look at the end of historic costume and the beginnings of modern fashion as we know it. (those good fashion design students know the delineation between the two!) It starts just before Charles Worth in the mid 19th Century and it continues on up to Dior's New Look. I am so happy to finally be actually reading this book. I have done the skim several times before, and got a lot of good info and facts that I have retained to this day, but I really wanted to get the full picture of what was going on. I have read so much about Haute Couture and the entire fashion industry from WWII/The New Look thru today, and am well-versed in what was going on where, when, with whom, and why, but the period preceding WWII has always been a little more sketchy. I know the major figures and their contributions and what the general culture and style was of the times, but I never had a good grasp on the entire setting and happenings of the industry. That is what I am finally getting. Anyone familiar with me or who has visited the "About" section on the Charles Lord website ( knows that I am a "coutureophile" and anything dealing with current or past couture fascinates me to no end.

I like to read books like this first thing in the morning, before I get out of bed. It stirs my imagination and my creativity and helps me envision the things I want for myself and Charles Lord. I know Charles Lord is going to be a major couture house like Worth, Lanvin, Chanel, and Dior and so I am just studying up to make that happen!

I am also reading/skimming various works by Flaubert, including "Madame Bovary", "White Boy Shuffle" by a wonderful humor writer Paul Beatty, a book on the history of corsets by Valerie Steele, "Gatherings" by Marina Rust, and various short stories my Harlem Renaissance authors.

Semper Chic!

My Favorite Things

The song "I Loves You Porgy" :
I first discovered the song a year ago. I was listening to Diana Ross' Blue album, which is a jazz album covering songs popularly and previously recorded by Billie Holiday and was produced as a follow up to the Lady Sings The Blues soundtrack album, but was not released until 2006. Anyway, I kept repeating that one track over and over, because of the orchestration and the vocal delivery and the interesting lyrics. I just loved it. Well I recently got a Billie Holiday cd and a Nina Simone cd, and both have versions of "I Loves You Porgy". Well, they have a very different feel than Miss Ross'. Not better, just different and I feel truer sentimentality to what the song is about and what is going on in the plot of the American folkloric opera "Porgy and Bess" from which the song is derived. Diana's rendition is done with a big band sound and the tempo swings and is thus more ebullient, whereas Holiday's and Simone's versions are much simpler, yet still complex; they have more longing and passion and is tres distingue' .

ANYWAY, I started listening to Billie's version last week, and have played it at least once (usually more times) a day, everyday since. Its just such an evocative song. There are few songs, by few artists that move me the way this one does. I could listen to it forever.
I couldn't find Diana's version online for comparison, but here is Billie's and Nina's versions.

Monday, January 12, 2009


An ongoing list of my favorite words or phrases, either quoted from others or wholly/partial created by me...

Relating to or in the style of Madame Emma Bovary, the title character in the eponymous Flaubert novel.
ie, "Lounging in my caftan, talking on my rotary phone, I feel perfectly Bovarian!"

My new favorite phrases come from the 1949 film Madame Bovary, directed by Vincent Minnelli, staring Jennifer Jones.
The first one is " Is there something wrong with wanting things to be beautiful?"
The second is "Happiness, Fashion, and High Romance."

Quelle chic!

A still of Jennifer Jones as Emma Bovary surrounded by beaux at the ball, from the film Madame Bovary.

My Favorite Things

I decided to do more posts that allowed me to express myself without causing me to write 4 page essays! You know I can talk forever and have something witty and brilliant to say on almost every topic, so conciseness is an issue for that I am not overly eager to modify, but be able to use when necessary. Anyway, I figure this is one of many ways I can succinctly share my thoughts and feelings, but knowing me I will find a way to extol endlessly in this venue as well!
For some of you that already know me well, this ongoing list may not always surprise you, but hopefully entertain.

Rotary Phones:
I just got one. Not a regular black Bell desk phone. But a beautiful brass and marble table with the princess style receiver and rotary dial built in. I am a sucker for old-fashioned elegance and this table-phone reeks of it! Now I want a quill dip pen and ink well and parchment note pad to sit on the table to doodle and scribble messages on. I will try to take a picture of it and post it .

I also like the idea of having to be relatively stationary while using a rotary phone. Unlike a cordless house phone or a cell phone, you actually get to take time and focus on conversation. The fact that I have to practically sit at this phone, prepares me for the privilege of enjoying the pleasure of conversing with the person on the other end, whether it be brief or at length. It also allows me to think before I dial, if I really have the time or energy to engage in a lengthy conversation at the present time.

In all, its quaint and luxurious and I love it!

A New Friend

The highlight of my day today was talking to my new friend and fellow designer Aaron Potts of New York. He is terribly gifted and well accomplished in our field, and he is a fine human being indeed. He is a talented blogger as well, and I have enjoyed his delightful, diverse insights for some while now. If you haven't checked out his blog "Cultural Pie" (, I strongly recommend that you do. If you enjoy "Charles' Chic Chat", you will enjoy "Cultural Pie"!