An orange tree is perfectly evocative of our golden state. California is so fertile and full of life, nurturing thousands of acres of citrus, particularly here in Santa Barbara County. I'm reminded of an amazing dessert I just had in Marrakech. It was striking, simple and delicious - pealed and sliced oranges, beautifully arranged on a plate with a light dusting of cinnamon on top; an unexpected and refreshing closure to the meal. Closer to home, I recall another sunny dish. Years ago I lived in San Francisco. Since I rarely watched tv I didn't bother getting cable so I had just a few stations to chose from. Once in a blue moon I'd watch Chinese opera, but one particular evening I tuned into an obscure cooking show. The host talked luxuriantly about how to create an "Insalata de Soleil" - he instructed his viewers to choose any fruits available in the colors of the sun - think yellow, orange, coral and red...I think he combined mangos, oranges, papaya and pineapple - but any combo would do. This golden hillside in Montecito is further inspiration. Adding a few freshly washed edible nasturtium blossoms to the salad would bring a whole new dimension to "Insalata de Soleil."
Pack your bags for a "vacances sur la côté", a "holiday on
the coast". Whatever seaside town you visit, a simple wardrobe
of snappy stripes, timeless navy and bright white will take you
from day to evening in impeccable style.
Take a cue from the French Navy and make
your own waves this summer!
- Astier de Villatte Marseille Candle 85.
- Stripe sailor t-shirt 78.
- Cashmere tassel poncho 295.
- White banded sun hat 125.
- Suede lariat with baroque pearl necklace 295.
- Navy trouser pant 145.
- Moc croc leather tote 395.
- Handmade leather sandal 145.
- Astier de Villatte Höedic Candle 85.
There are a wide array of incredibly picturesque seaside towns and cities on the coasts of France. Each is the expression of the people, commerce and resources particular to that area. On the "côté ouest" is the harbor of Honfleur (pictured above), an ancient port town in Normandy near the English Channel. The architecture is enchanting, many buildings are constructed in half timber, or the native slate. On the "côté sud", Marseille is situated on the Mediterranean Sea. Founded in 600 BC as a Grecian colony, it has always been an epicenter of maritime trade and commerce, with diverse influences from all over the vast region. Pictured here is the interior of "Notre Dame de la Garde" a 19th century Roman Byzantine Basilica which rises skyward on the highest hill in the city. With a commanding 360 degree view of the sea and city, La Garde (The Guard), has been an observation post since Roman times. Years later, a small Christian chapel was built there, where from time immemorial, fisherman, sailors and families have prayed for safe voyages. To honor the miracles of safe passage, centuries of seamen have created ex-votos to display in the church; either miniature boats to suspend from the ceiling, or paintings or plaques to hang on the walls to commemorate their salvation from the sea. "if you want to learn to pray, go to sea" is a well known maxim in Marseille. This basilica is a stunning homage to fortitude, faith, family and fraternity.
For many years I'd imagined what St. Tropez might be like. Growing up with "Bain de Soleil for the St. Tropez tan" ringing in my ears, I imagined a lovely seaside place with bronzed, beautiful people. Later I'd learned St. Tropez was overrun with party boats and glitz, so I stayed away, preferring to keep my rose colored fantasy of this imagined village intact in my mind. But two years ago friends fell in love with the village, bought a home there, encouraged me to visit, and I did. I was immediately smitten. Yes the massive yachts are still in the harbor, but not far away the small fishing boats bob in front of the pastel hued buildings on the quay. Steps off the busy port are precious lanes and shaded alleys colored in the palest hues of rosé, butter, griege, ivory and moss - the colors are exquisite, the old buildings drip with flowering vines - it's all beyond charming. There is both a simplicity and old world sophistication that is utterly beguiling. Take a cue from the village palette, and enjoy a cool glass of Côtes de Provence Rosé and dream!
I don't think there's ever been a time I've been in Paris and not visited Palais-Royal. Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall I'm always beguiled by this 17th century palace and garden, built originally for Cardinal Richelieu in 1639. Each season holds a special beauty and enchantment. For much of the year you can have an aperitif or dine outside breathing in and soaking up the "je ne sais quoi" of Paris. Or in winter, you can cozy up inside and admire the crisp rigor of the bare, pruned lime and chestnut tree allées. Before long the roses are in full bloom and people lounge around the fountain. After all my racing around working, there's nothing I love more than a slow saunter through the colonnades, window shopping at Didier Ludot, Serge Lutens, Maison de Vacances - just a few of the stunning boutiques lining the arcades. For a casual lunch, I love the vegetarian plate at Villalys. For an extravagant lunch, dine where Colette did at Le Grand Véfour. You will find yourself swept back to a more grand and gracious time in the blink of an eye.
I've traveled near and far, yet until recently, hadn't visited the native home of my ancestors. Ireland had been on my radar for years, but it wasn't until this past September my husband and I took a holiday there with the SB Museum of Art. What made the trip titled "The Emerald Isle, Land of Saints & Scholars" so memorable was the fact that we were visiting and staying in private homes and castles, having tea and supper with people who care passionately for their ancestral homes, the legacy of their history, and the future of their country. Highlights included dinner with Lord Erne at Crom Castle,(staying in the room Prince Charles once did), wine with Madame Fitzgerald at Glin Castle, dinner at the magnificent Abbeyleix House with John O'Connell, (the go-to designer for restoration) and several nights at Ballyfin. Like every place in the world, the history and stories are rich, complex and fascinating, shared with irrepressible charm by Marianne Gorman. The memories of these people, the luxuriant green landscapes dotted with windswept castles and wooly sheep will long dance in my mind and heart. (Pictured above, a place for repose at Lough Erne, the Nature Reserve at Crom Castle managed by the National Trust.)
With both cars packed, we headed south to escape the horrific fires and unbearable conditions in our beloved Montecito. We gave ourself the gift of fresh air and sunshine, momentary relief and rest. While keeping abreast of the news, the "Serenity Prayer" was on autoplay in my mind and heart. Even so, I needed to be distracted, bathed in beauty and light. In LA, there is no better place to find that than the Getty Center. Almost floating, like a cubist cloud above the 405, acres of travertine and staircases, outdoor rooms, gardens, sculpture and art (plus an extraordinary dinning room with views to the sea), this gleaming oasis lifted my heart for several good hours. Naturally, I visited the Wright S. Ludington marbles on loan while our own Santa Barbara Museum of Art is undergoing renovation. I grew up with that collection and somehow it was comforting to visit these figures, all of us, temporary refugees from home.
Warm colors in luxurious tones and textures will keep winter at bay and inspire dreams of exotic destinations
1 Marrakech Signature Candle made in US $42.00
2 Antelope suede shawls from Italy $895
3 Quartz, baroque pearl and brass bead jewelry $95-395.00
4 Suede fringe drawstring purse from Marrakech $395
5 Two tone scarf from Paris $95
6 Silk velvet ikat pillows from Istanbul $245
The shades above evoke the warmth of a dessert landscape and sun swept sand dunes. Closer to the city, these varied and rich earth tones create the beautiful exterior colorations of buildings in the ancient city of Marrakech. Inside, the central courtyards and gardens offer lush contrast and cool relief. The vibrant city sounds disappear and there is calm, a three dimensional balm for the senses, a dedicated place for tea, reflection, an engrossing book. Marrakesh is a veritable mecca of exquisite, small hotels known as riads, with extraordinary architecture and decor, impeccable service and beautiful meals. Some of my favorites include Dar Housnia, pictured above, L'Hotel, pictured here, Riad Camilia and Talla 12. We just received two giant crates of decorative hand carved tent posts, decorative pots, rafia placemats and more; create your own oasis wherever you call home.
Come fall and winter, at home or abroad, there are several clothing accessories you will never find me without:
- An angora beret - they travel well and instantly provide warmth and style.
- A cashmere poncho whether I wear it as such, as a scarf or lay it on my lap.
- A lightweight purse that also acts as a tote for the inevitable things I find during the course of my day. 1/2/3 ready to go in style!
This stunning apartment building was my home away from home for a couple of nights on my most recent buying trip to Paris. My dear friends and hosts epitomize artistic flair and Parisian chic, qualities I aspire to! With balcony views over Jardin du Luxembourg, and beyond to Sacre Coeur, this perch above La Closerie des Lilas, exudes the joie de vivre of Montparnasse. During the 10's, 20's and 30's this area was the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris. Hemingway, Cocteau and Picasso were part of a dynamic, international crowd who created iconic works of literature and art of the 20th century. Several of the cafes they gathered in still exist and have an authentic charm not to be missed. Closer to the river, La Societe, pictured above, interior by Christian Liaigre, is a contemporary brasserie to enjoy as well.
Step into Fall with style! Our simple, striking, versatile collection includes a luxuriously soft tasseled cashmere poncho, a sumptuous leather tote, a luminous baroque peal necklace all handcrafted in Italy, topped off with our best selling straw hat from South America.
Santa Barbara is a blessed place in the world with dramatic mountains gently tumbling down through oak and sycamore trees onto soft beaches with cool blue seas. In addition to our extraordinary topography and Mediterranean climate, we have a plethora of architectural gems that meld beautifully into this landscape. We see the Spanish/Moorish vernacular in the stately COURT HOUSE, EL PASEOand ARLINGTON THEATRE.
Pictured here is a portion of the interior courtyard at El Paseo. Long ago there were charming boutiques here, followed by private offices. Today the area is alive once again with beautiful tasting rooms open to passers by bringing life and joy to this magical area. Stop into my favorite MARGERUM WINE COMPANY for outstanding CA wines made with the finesse of European traditions, the best of both worlds. Cheers!
One can almost imagine the nonchalant figures pictured here, breaking their plaster confines and reclining casually on the chaise and chairs pictured above.
Places of reflection and relaxation are always welcome and necessary for me, especially during a buying trip, a balm for all I see and must sort through, a breath from the thought processes that go into selecting things for the store.
A moment of quiet can be found in a museum, a garden, or a quiet corner of a hotel. Last spring I saw mention of a Balenciaga exhibit being held at Musee Bourdelle, in Paris. I was not familiar with the institution, so it was all the more a treat to savor Christóbal's "L'Oeuvre au Noir" in situ with huge sculptures, artwork and studies created by another great artist, Antoine Bourdelle. Monsieur Bourdelle was a pioneer of monumental sculpture and an influential teacher to many artists. What is now a museum was once his home, studio and garden, an unexpected oasis in Montparnasse!