29 September 2011


With the start of fall comes the changing of nail colours and the return of an old favourite—Wicked. This Essie polish has been around for a while and although there’s probably a ton of other, newer colours out there that I should try, I like Wicked and am quite happy with it. There is something about its darkness that seems to scream cold weather. And I also like to think it looks flapperish in a vamp sort of way. So this fall, it’s Wicked for me.

28 September 2011


I just learned that Diane Naegel, the creator of Zelda magazine, passed away on Sunday from breast cancer. She was only 31.

I didn’t know Diane but had read every issue of Zelda and liked it, a lot. For months I had thought about sending her an email to say how much I enjoyed Zelda but kept putting it off. Now I’ll never get the chance.

So often we plan to write to someone and never do because we think there's time, there's always tomorrow. I am certainly guilty of this. So my message is just do it, now. Grab your computer or a pen and paper and write to that person. It doesn’t have to be a huge tome; it can be as simple as telling a friend you're thinking about them or sending a quick note to someone to say “I liked what you wrote, shot, made, etc.” Trust me, the person will appreciate the message, and you’ll feel good about sharing.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to Zelda but if you’ve never seen it, visit the website. And if you want to read about Diane, there are some  lovely tributes to her over at Create! and  Thrifty Vintage Chic. Rest in Peace Diane.

Image from Diane's Pinterest board.

27 September 2011

Feast of San Gennaro

Every September New York's Little Italy is transformed into one huge street party with the Feast of San Gennaro. Lasting 11 days, it's the largest outdoor religious festival in the country. And this year marked its 85th anniversary.

The neighbourhood, once home to thousands of Italian immigrants, has seen an exodus out of the city in recent years by Italian Americans and has subsequently been largely swallowed up by Chinatown. Elements of its heritage can still be found though, whether it's in an 100 year old café or at a museum that celebrates a particular aspect of Italian culture.

The festival honours Saint Gennaro the patron saint of Naples. At the Most Precious Blood Church people were able to leave an offering or pick up one of the dozens of rosaries offered in myriad colours.

There were rides and games for children and musical performances for the crowds. There were also processions, contests, and a giant birthday cake. But one of the biggest draws was the food, much of which was served one way—fried.

Preparing the onions and peppers for the sausages. The smell was amazing but the smoke was enough to choke an elephant.

And whatever you do, if you go next year to the Feast of San Gennaro, don't forget the cannoli.

Photos by Michele.

26 September 2011

Dance all Night

My new dream outfit courtesy of the Museum of London. Look at that beading on the dress! Look at those shoes! Just add some silk stockings and red lipstick, and I'm good to go. A girl could dance all night in an ensemble like this.

Sadly, the dress and shoes aren't for sale but you can purchase a print of these and other images here.

23 September 2011

Fall is Here

Today marks the official start of my favourite season, fall. I shall have to get a new hat to celebrate; too bad I can't visit the Knox Hat Manufacturing Company to purchase one. I don't know what I like more about this ad from 1913—the outfit the woman is wearing (I'm going to assume/pretend it's fake fur) or the statement that the hats were sold in every important city in the world. And they were made in Brooklyn. Enjoy the weekend and the new season.

Image from the New York Public Library.

22 September 2011


Thanks to Joanna at A Cup of Jo, I found out about these darling velvet pumpkins at Terrain. Nice and weighty with a real pumpkin stem, mine just arrived today and looks lovely sitting on my table. And the colour matches my flat too. Now let fall begin.

You can get your own pumpkin here.

21 September 2011

Divorced, Beheaded, Died

I just started a new biography of Catherine of Aragon by Giles Tremlett. It's well-written and gives a lot of insight into what court life was like especially in Spain (something I knew little about). Reading the book also reminds me that a) in most accounts that I've read Catherine is unfairly overshadowed by Anne Boleyn, b) I am so happy not to have lived during that time (can you imagine the smell?), and c) I've always wanted that Henry VIII disappearing wives mug. Have you seen it? You fill it up with a hot beverage and the wives disappear. I don't know if it works very well and God knows I don't need another mug but I've always wanted one. I imagine pouring a big cup of coffee and chanting "divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived" as they disappear. Silly, I know, but very amusing nonetheless.

If you're interested, you can get one here.

20 September 2011

The Whistleblower

Based on a true account, The Whistleblower is the story of a Nebraska police officer, Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz), who takes a short-term job with a security firm to act as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. Soon after she arrives, she helps a local Muslim woman take her claims of domestic violence by her husband before a judge, something that had never been done before. This brings Kathryn to the attention of Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave) who invites her to work with the Women’s Right and Gender Unit at the United Nations. Kathryn soon uncovers a sex trafficking operation with deep ties to the security firm and the UN itself. When she realizes that the peacekeepers are doing anything but protecting the innocent and that the officials are unwilling to do anything about it, she becomes a whistleblower and outs the people involved.

Director Larysa Kondracki wants the audience to understand the horror of sex trafficking, and the brutality that these women encounter is brought home in the film. Young women, most from the former Soviet Union, are lured away from home with promises of jobs working in hotels. Once they cross the border, their passports are taken away, and they are forced to work off their “debt” in clubs that are nothing more than brothels where they are subjected to rape and horrific physical abuse and treated worse than animals. One of the story lines in the film focuses on what happens to one Ukranian girl in particular and the devastated mother she leaves behind. Her story will bring you to tears.

Although the film feels uneven at times (Kathryn's family situation and romance with a fellow peacekeeper never seem fully fleshed out) it builds slowly to a burning rage. When you think that things can’t get worse for these poor women, they do. Weisz, a favourite of mine, is great as Kathryn. In one pivotal scene that is literally a life or death situation, the sheer agony and frustration that play across her face is heartbreaking. 

What I liked about this film is that it showed how one woman with quiet determination and an unwavering belief in her convictions can stand up and give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. Please see it if you can.
Photo from Samuel Goldwyn.

19 September 2011

In the Gallery

After a year of renovations, the National Academy Museum and School celebrated its reopening this weekend with free admission and classes. Having never been, I decided to visit.

Founded in 1825, the National Academy includes a museum, art school, and artists and architects association, something akin to the Royal Academy in London. Housed in a beautiful Beaux-Arts style building on Fifth Avenue, the museum is not large—its exhibits are on view in small rooms on the upper floors of the building. While the main exhibit, "Will Barnet at 100," wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I quite enjoyed “An American Collection,” which showed off 120 paintings from the museum’s collection in a salon-style display, which I adore. Some of the paintings on the crowded walls that caught my eye were "Magnolia Blossom" by John La Farge, "Croquet Player" by Winslow Homer, and "The Conversation" by Abraham Leon Kroll. The man painting in the middle of the room only added to the atmosphere.

To find out more about the National Academy, visit here.

Photo by Michele.

16 September 2011

On the Runway

Ralph Lauren's Spring 2012 Ready to Wear collection, which debuted at New York Fashion Week, included more than just a nod to the 1920s. The runway was filled with cloches, drop-waist dresses, intricate beading, and fringed shawls. There were also some slinky satin numbers that recalled the 1930s. And it was all gorgeous.

To check out more images from the show, visit here.

15 September 2011

Bring Back Hats

New York Fashion Week ends tonight. And while the designers showed off their latest collections, I really wish one of them had campaigned to get women to wear hats again. I don't mean during the winter when it's snowing but all the time— big, glorious hats like the one above. I would love to own that hat. Isn't it lovely? I don't know what colour it was but I like to think it was a silky black. With a hat like that you just know you would feel confident wherever you went. So please, someone, bring back hats.

Image from the New York Public Library.

14 September 2011

The City in Colour

"Golden Gate Bridge-Marin End" (1938)

How is it I'm just now finding out about Charles Weever Cushman? An amateur photographer, he took more than 14,000 photos over a period of 30 years beginning in the late 1930s. Among the photos are your requisite scenic shots as well as images of street scenes and everyday people. What makes these so remarkable is that he shot them on Kodachrome, an expensive colour film that was normally used by professionals. Accustomed to seeing the past in black and white, images such as these allow us to see history in a whole new light. The image above, taken just one year after the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, is striking because of the red car. It also reminds us that not all cars back then were black.

"Stores near corner of Broome St. and Baruch Place, Lower East Side, NYC." (1941)

Or take this street scene from New York's Lower East Side. I've done all of the Tenement Museum tours and read countless accounts of the area but seeing the neighbourhood in colour, and especially the people, allows me to imagine what it was like to live there a bit more than before (note: except for the signage, a lot of the buildings in his New York shots look pretty much the same today).

"Three bums from South Ferry flophouses. At Battery Park NYC." (1941)

It's hard not to love an image whose description includes the words "bums" and "flophouses." What faces these men have. I wonder what they were talking about or if any of them had any idea that by the end of the year the country would be at war.

Cushman left his collection to his alma mater, Indiana University, and the University Archives has a great website where you can see more of the images and read up on Cushman's life. Please check it out.

13 September 2011

On the Cliffs

"On the Cliffs" Dame Laura Knight (1917)

Discovered this painting on the Persephone Post blog. I love it—the colours, the setting, the two women. It reminds me of a trip that a friend and I made to Cornwall a few years ago. I was inspired, of all things, by an Emma Bridgewater National Trust mug that depicted a Cornwall scene with the words "A Bracing Walk Along the Cliffs" and by the viewing of one too many BBC productions. For months I talked about wanting to take my own bracing walk along the cliffs before I found myself on a two week holiday in Cornwall. 

One day during the trip I finally got the chance to take my walk along the cliffs outside St. Ives. The view was lovely, and I took a bunch of photos including the one above, which reminded me of an old man in profile.

But the thing is, I’m not really an outdoorsy person (except for gardening). The walk, which started off pleasantly enough, ended with us going off the path and tramping through bracken and gorse and getting covered in mud. In my mind, I had envisioned looking like the two women in the painting but ended up looking like the photo above (I know it only shows my shoes but you get the picture). So much for romanticizing the great outdoors. Still, I loved the trip and Cornwall and would like to visit again. Although recently I've been thinking of Wuthering Heights and tramping across the moors...

Photos by Michele

12 September 2011


The recent opening of a New York branch of the French pastry shop Ladurée had me venturing up to the East Side this weekend to purchase some of their famed macarons. Ladurée, which began as a Parisian bakery in 1862, is credited with creating the macaron that we all have come to love—two small round cakes filled with a soft filling of deliciousness.

The crowds at the Madison Avenue location have been large and so I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived to find the line was not spilling out onto the street.

The shop is adorable. With pale green walls, old portraits, bottles of fragrances, and candles it’s almost like stepping into an 18th-century boudoir.

The inevitable problem with shops like these is I immediately want to buy everything—the candles, the bags, the chocolates. But I refrained. I was there for one thing and one thing only—macarons. 

Rows and rows of macarons, flown in from France, greet you when you reach the counter. It's an extremely hard decision to make but I settled on a decorative purple box of eight—four caramel à la fleur de sel (my favourite), one citron, one fleur d'orange, one chocolat, and one pistache whose green seems to match the walls. I waited until I was back home to have one and they are incredible. Crunchy and soft at the same time and extremely sweet. Well worth a trip uptown for a special treat or gift.

Photos by

09 September 2011

My New Boyfriend

I came across this photo of two members of the Columbia University football team dressed in their practice gear circa 1898. Check out the guy on the right. I think I’ve just found my new daguerreotype boyfriend (and I don’t even like football).

Photo from the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

08 September 2011

100 Years of Style

Watch this darling video that illustrates 100 years of fashion in just 100 seconds. Created to advertise the opening of a new shopping center in East London, it's a great piece of marketing. I, of course, love the dresses from the 1920s and 30s but also quite like the WWII-era pants and hairscarf as well as the 1950s rolled jeans with blazer (an outfit that I wore just the other day).

07 September 2011

Take a Walk on the High Line

On Labor Day I took a walk on the High Line. A former elevated rail line, the High Line is a park unlike any other where people can wander and explore way above the city streets. Originally running from Gansevoort to 20th Street, a new expansion that opened in June now extends the park to 30th Street. I've visited the High Line before but this time I went to check out the new section.

The new expansion includes more flowers and some denser plantings. There is also a much needed swath of grass and bleacher style seating along with art installations and gourmet ice cream carts.

One of the beauties of the High Line is being able to see up close the evidence of New York's history from cool modern buildings to fading advertisements on brick warehouses.

The High Line also offers great views whether it's looking out across the city or watching the action down on the streets below. So the next time you're in Chelsea, make sure to check it out.

Photos by Michele.


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