Taliesin West || Peeking Inside

Every single detail bears the signature of the landlord. Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the Sonoran desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Visiting FLW houses is always a pleasure, but walking inside his own home was a real privilege.

Taliesin West (where even coffee is part of the brand, bearing the distinctive stamp of honour)

January 31st, 2019

Saguaros & Rock Art

To most of the world, these prickly giants symbolize the American West. To me, they seem like a large family, gathered together after a long time of absence, merrily chatting away. Their posture, their gestures – expressive, daring, even obscene, the way they lean on each other; I feel at home among the Saguaros, never mind our differences (mainly in size).

We traveled a long way to meet them, because they gather exclusively only in small parts of the U.S. West; Tucson is one of their favourite spots, especially for the ”younger” among them.

Did you know that their branches begin to grow when saguaros reach 60 to 75 years of age? That is for those growing in the Saguaro National Park; in areas of lower precipitation, it may take up to 100 years before arms appear.

An adult saguaro is generally considered to be about 125 years of age. It may weigh 8 tons or more and be as tall as 50 feet. The average life span of a saguaro is probably 150 – 175 years of age. However, biologists believe that some plants may live over 200 years. The estimated number of saguaros in the Saguaro National Park is 1.8 million.

With such a long lifespan, it is only fitting that Saguaros would have chosen to gather here, in a land dotted with archeological sites spanning more than 8,000 years of prehistoric and historic-period occupation.

One of these prehistoric sites, accessible to visitors, is Signal Hill; a small hill with petroglyphs created by the prehistoric Hokoham people on the boulders that cover the hillside. Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ

January 29th, 2019

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

I love cacti. The way they grow to enormous heights in harsh environments where other plants simply dry up and die; the way they preserve water and keep the desert alive; and the way they bloom, producing some of the most beautiful flowers on the planet.

Whether in a ”controlled” habitat like the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or in the wild, cacti command respect and admiration in equal parts – and, come to think of it, they can also teach us a thing or two about the virtues of social distancing.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery & classes, natural history museum, and aquarium all at once, dedicated to the education, protection and conservation of nature in the Sonoran Desert Region.

The David Yetman West Trailhead leads to a 3,9 loop trail of moderate difficulty, with sweeping views of the desert – that is, if you start early enough to beat the heat.

January 27th, 2019

Fallingwater || The Masterpiece

It is said that Fallingwater is the most beautiful house in the world. Blending in yet somehow managing to stand out, it certainly is one of the most unique structures we have ever seen and, from all Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses, the one I would love to live in (if I could afford the millions necessary for its preservation).

Fallingwater was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2019.

September 3rd, 2018

Deep || Midnight || Blue

If I had to pick one from this plethora of extraordinary gowns, it would have to be this one; an eclectic combination of taffeta and lace, paired with leather biker trousers in Lee McQueen’s inimitable style.

House of Givenchy
Evening Ensemble, S/S 1999 by
Alexander McQueen (1969-2010)

Black silk taffeta, white duchesse satin, white cotton lace, white silk organza, black leather

From the Heavenly Bodies exhibiton, held @The Met in 2018

July 14th, 2018

Celebrating Bill Cunningham

… the legendary journalist, one of New York City’s most beloved photographers, who started his long career as a milliner.

At once elegant and whimsical, Cunningham’s hats were favoured by upscale clients who enjoyed wearing fashionable works of art. His beach hats were, in his words, ”a bit outrageous”. Woven raffia show-stoppers topped with cascading sprays of feathers or chiffon, the hats sported deep crowns created to to fit comfortably over the high-piled bouffant hairstyles of the early 1960s.

Cunningham opened his first millinery shop in a brownstone on East 52nd Street, where he cleaned for his landlords in exchange for living and work space. He then moved uptown o West 54th Street and to West 57th Street, before relocating to the Carnegie Hall Studios. In addition to hats, he also made muffs and masks, often of feathers. Cunningham regarded feathers as the ultimate ”objects of beauty”. 

Bill Cunningham is remembered today as a milliner, photojournalist and social anthropologist. His most treasured, life-long pursuit, however, was that of a loyal friend. Over the nearly seventy years he lived in New York, he touched a wide circle of friends with his energy, creativity, kindness and quiet humility. 

New-York Historical Society acquired a number of objects, personal correspondence, ephemera, and photographs reflecting the life and work of Bill Cunningham, including his bike, camera and iconic blue jacket. They were all on display between June and September 2018.

New-York Historical Society

June 23rd, 2018

Walk this Way

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Walk This Way…

… was an exhibition of footwear from the vast Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, on show at the New-York Historical Society between April-October 2018. Over a 100 pairs of these (mostly) wearable artworks were on display and I was in shoe heaven, barely able to restrain myself from trying them on – and walking away.

Scroll down and tell me you wouldn’t…

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Sharon Von Senden, Jewels at Work – Swarovski crystals, stained glass, vintage stones
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Robert Steele, Corrugated Curves, Cardboard
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Unidentified maker, open-toe mules, ca. 1950s – Leather, plexiglas, rhinestone, elastic Spring-o-lator. These shoes  belonged to Ginger Rogers
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Unidentified maker, Mary Jane shoes, ca. 1926 – Silk and metallic patterned fabric, embossed metal buttons

”Mary Jane” was originally a character in a popular newspaper strip, Buster Brown. In 1904, the Brown Shoe Company licenced her image to market children’s shoes. Eventually, any shoe with a chunky low heel and a strap across the instep became know as a ”Mary Jane”.

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Terry de Havilland, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede, leather
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David Evins, Column-heel pumps, ca. 1970 – Plastic
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Unidentified maker, Pumps, late 1920s – Silk, leather
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Unidentified maker, Laced pumps, 1910 – Silk brocade, laces
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Peal & Co., Buttoned boots, ca. 1920 (left) & Lace-up boots by an unidentified maker, ca. 1910-20 (right)
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Unidentified maker from China, Ankle-strap sandals, ca. 1930s – Silk, kid leather, embroidery
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Delman Shoes, Peep-toe evening shoes, ca. 1935 – Leather and mesh net
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Fenton Footwear, T-strap pumps, ca. 1937 – Velveteen, leather
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Unidentified maker, Buttoned boots, 1870s
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Unidentified maker, Lace-up boots, ca. 1900 – Silk and silk brocade
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Fenton Last, Open-toe slingback sandals, late 1970s – Leather, silk
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Knight Shoe Ltd., Lace-up boots, 1910-15 – Leather, canvas, laces
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C. P. Ford & Co., High-top shoes, 1905-10 from Rochester, New York – Leather, buttons
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Krohn-Fechheimer & Co., Red Cross Noiseless shoes, ca. 1918, Leather
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Enzo of Roma, Thong sandals, 1960s – Leather, synthetic
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The Chelsea Cobbler, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede
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Frank Brothers, T-strap shoes, ca. 1930 – Silk satin, kid leather, mother-of-pearl button
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Unidentified maker, T-strap evening sandals, ca. 1940s – Leather, silk, rhinestones
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Herbert Levine Inc., Kabuki platform shoes, 1964 – Suede, wood
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Robert Tabor, Cabfab – Acrylic, vinyl, rhinestones
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The Red Carpet
Unidentified maker, Stilted bath clogs (qabâqib), 19th century. Ottoman, possibly Syrian – Wood, inlaid mother-of-pearl

Women throughout the Islamic Middle East wore stilted wooden bath clogs such as these for over four centuries. An adaptation of ancient Roman shoes called sculponea, qabâqib were similarly associated with bathing and bath houses. Nineteenth-century European orientalists considered these highly desirable collectibles, symbolizing an imagined ”Eastern” exoticism and eroticism.

Freed of London, Toe shoes, 1994-95 – Silk, canvas, leather

The ballerina Heather Watts wore this pair of pointe shoes on January 15, 1995 for her farewell performance as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, which she joined in 1970. Watts afterwards told the New York Times, ”I need to live in new shoes.”

Gregg Barnes, designer. T.O. Dey, maker. ”Kinky boots” ca. 2013, from New York City. Paten metallic leathers, rubber, fabric, metal

”The sex is in the heel / Fierce as you can make it / The sex is the appeal”, sings Lola, the drag queen at the heart of the musical Kinky Boots. The hit Broadway show is based on the true story of a struggling shoe factory that survived by producing high-heeled fetish footwear in men’s sizes.

New-York Historical Society, New York City

June 23rd, 2018