Lago di Como brings to mind images of grand villas rising from the lake, parasol pines spreading their canopies above verdant gardens and red tiled roofs everywhere. Pictured here is the dreamy Villa del Balbianello, exquisite enough for James Bond in Casino Royale. We had taken a vacation in Switzerland, the last stop being one night in Lake Como. I loved being a tourist, an off duty buyer, enjoying the excursion boat tour of the lake ("....and to your right, the villa with the green shutters... is George Cluny's home..") as well as walking the steep stone steps of the idyllic, (but crowded) Italian fairy tale town of Bellagio. Wandering around during our hour long stop I spotted some beautiful silk shawls in a shop window. Little did I know that I was in the European epicenter of silk production and weaving. During the 18th century, silk was the largest export of Lombardy, with many mills near the lake. A fine silk textile tradition continues to this day. I quickly snapped up a number of pieces for the store, now long gone, but plan on bringing in a new assortment of these beautiful textiles this fall!
I love the earthy and elegant muted tans, blush and nudes of the textiles above - a palette echoed in many of the dresses featured in "Manus x Machina" (Hand and Machine), the Costume Institute's Spring 2016 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Like many, I (mistakenly) believed that Haute Couture was the epitome of high fashion because it was all executed by hand for a specific client. This exhibit showcases the fact that both highly sophisticated machine work as well as hand work goes into the creation of these otherworldly dresses. Pictured here is a fitted, yet frothy dress of lace and tulle from the House of Givenchy, Autumn/Winter 2011/12. There are a bevy of festive, fascinating ensembles from many different eras organized by technique: Plissè (Pleating), Dentellerie (Lacework), Plumasserie (Featherwork) - etcetera - the online overview is an interesting glimpse of the show from the comfort of your home
We are blessed with so many splendid beaches in California. Up and down the coast there are a myriad of coves and expanses; small beaches and large. Pictured here is Dillon Beach in Marin County located near the mouth of Tomales Bay. Tomales Bay is home to a thriving oyster industry - take time out to enjoy the fruits of the sea at Hog Island Oyster and either stay at a private residence in Dillon Beach or nearby Olema and dine enjoying the old world chic of the Sir and Star at The Olema. Then there's the miles of pristine coast at Point Reyes National Seashore to explore and the drive on Highway 1 through Bolinas to enjoy. Nearby, don't miss the Audubon Canyon Ranch where the snowy egrets nest en masse - a magnificent sight to witness