28 January 2010

Au Revoir

Tonight I'm Europe-bound by way of the Pittsburgh to Paris flight. (As a sort of last minute surprise, I am joining in the celebration for my grandmother's birthday.) I cannot express my excitement and support more that our city has direct access to Europe. And to be able to avoid JFK or Philly both exiting and entering the country is a huge plus.

We went to Paris after I graduated last Spring and timed our trip to fly on one of the first direct flights. It was positively lovely. I cannot wait to watch some of the new movies I missed in the theatres. Have a complimentary glass of wine or two. And of course, the courtesy publications are très chic: Air France's Madame magazine features style and events on a global level. (The online version is elegant and fun to peruse. There is a great article this month about French icon and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.) Even the items in the in-flight catalog are tempting, like the cute retro suitcase above, putting SkyMall to shame.

To have such accessibility to one of the most amazing cities on the planet is absolutely a highlight for Pittsburgh. It makes a long weekend in Paris a possibility. This might be one of the few occasions where I am hoping to get stranded on the way back home. Au Revoir!

26 January 2010

Beauty, Packaged with Love

One of the harder things to do when relocating is part ways with your hair stylist. I've finally found a salon here and become a repeat client. L'Azur is a full-service salon and spa on the corner of S. Aiken and Walnut in Shadyside. The salon is in an inviting setting (with its own parking!), and all the staff is just as pleasant. Owner (and Paris native and trained) Arnaud Haubert gave me the best haircut I've had in years, and he made sure I was absolutely happy with the results. I also regularly see Chrissy for a pedicure, and it is an hour of pure relaxation, topped with a complimentary espresso. The menu is on the pricier side, but the quality is worth it.

L'Azur is currently offering specials for Valentine's Day from now until the end of February. A one-hour Aveda facial, normally $85, is offered for a special price of $50. There are other special Valentine's packages, including pedicures, makeup application, and massage. Great gift to yourself or to your valentine. I am hoping my husband reads this post...

A Clear View of Penn Avenue

I've just penciled in Friday, February 5th to attend Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn. A monthly event sponsored by the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative, the studios and galleries on the strip of Penn between Friendship and Bloomfield are open in the evening to showcase art and the creative processes behind it.

Some highlights:

Dance Alloy Theatre is hosting a Celebration of the Next Generation, an open showcase of up-and-coming talent from the area schools. (Note: Dance Alloy has postponed the showcase due to the impending storm and will announce a new date once it has been scheduled.)

Pittsburgh Glass Center will be hosting a Behind The Lens look at their 10 year history.

The revitalization of this neighborhood is impressive and fast moving. There is so much excitement from those participating, and new galleries and eateries are opening faster than one can keep up!

24 January 2010

Joining the Band Wagon

It made a cameo appearance last Spring, and apparently it's back for an encore this season. The Marching Band jacket has evolved: it's cropped, fitted, kind of kitschic, and has a hint of military flair. Still, I can't help but think of the King of Pop or reminisce back to sitting on the bleachers watching my high school band perform.

My bet is that this is a trend that comes and goes by next season. I like the varied interpretations, and tend to prefer the ones that add extra elements to a chic blazer (in other words, no sequins or sparkle here.) The Balmain that started the whole craze retails for $10k (shown above).

I would rock the AKA New York version, available at Saks.

I like the scoop cut on Victoria's Secret's take (and it's $69.)

Perfectly Penhollows

Only 25 swatches and 6 months later, I have selected fabric for my dining chairs. I found the right pattern while stopping by Penhollows today: Lee Industries' Mallory Blue in linen.

It is a little softer and endearingly reminds me of my grandmother's Fluted Blue china pattern, and a little of Chinese porcelain.

And why I am even more excited about my find today: Penhollows is having a winter sale now through end of February. All of their fabrics, rugs, pillows and furniture are on sale: 40% off in stock items, and 25% off special order. They have a great collection of in-stock pieces (like the settee below) that I would love to take home.

22 January 2010

Sitting Pretty

I'm pretty certain that the wall of chairs on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art has inspired my further interest in chairs. Chair forms are influenced by not only style and period, but are truly designed for human interaction like no other piece of furniture. The New York Times featured an article about chair design in Styles that I bookmarked long ago.

A coffee table book pleasing both interior designers and industrial designers alike, Chairs is on my Amazon short list. Featuring 100 of author and antique expert Judith Miller's favorite chairs, each spread has a beautiful photograph of an iconic chair, its provenance and its impact in design and style.

Choosing the right chair involves careful consideration, especially for the dining room: style and formality, height in relation to the table, comfort, and of course, price. We worked backwards in selecting our dining table, since we were given beautiful chairs that appealed to our aesthetic.

A few of my top favorites chairs:

Louis XV Armchair
With the appropriate fabric, this classic chair can range from stuffy to edgy. We inherited one and I have been keeping my eye on fabrics for reupholstering (somewhere closer to the edgy side of the spectrum.)  Design*Sponge has a post on the chair with a variety of fabrics.

Ghost Chair
I love the formal structure with such a modern material like acrylic. Although I hear they're not the most comfortable for long periods. Perlora offers the chair from Kartell, in every (transparent) color, shown above. Image below is from House to Home, a great site for ideas.

Wishbone Chair
An icon of Danish design, this Y-chair complements a modern taste or enhances a casual look with its structure and woven rope seat.

Eames Walnut Stool
Versatile as extra seating or a table, I love the bold silhouette. It reminds me of a chess piece. Originally commissioned for the Time Life Building in 1960.

Perlora carries a substantial collection of classic and modern chairs and is having a large winter sale until end of January. Design with Reach is having a sale, and Room & Board has a great collection. How I wish those two would come to Pittsburgh...

20 January 2010

Send Me On My Way

An invigorating way to jump start resolutions and practice more yoga: Pittsburgh native and Rusted Root founder/drummer Jim Donovan is hosting a yoga meditation with chant and of course, drums, to celebrate the grand opening of Yoga Flow’s Shadyside location (above J.Crew on Walnut St.) Any level is welcome. Register for the workshop, held Friday, January 29th from 7 to 9:30pm.

Yoga Flow has studios in Aspinwall and Murrysville and offers heated Vinyasa. In honor of the new location opening in early February, it will offer free yoga for 4 weeks in Shadyside. It only takes 3 weeks to form a habit…

19 January 2010

A Real Gem

Alexis Bittar is one of my favorite contemporary jewelers. And now he even is more so: from now until Friday, 100% of online sales will directly go to Catholic Relief Services for earthquake victims in Haiti. (And some pieces are on sale!)

Click directly on image:

Love his lucite collection, especially the chunky cuffs. He reintroduced Lucite in a bold way with Michael Kors' Spring 2010 collection.

A selection of his pieces is available at Saks downtown.

Culture, Curators and Cocktails

The Carnegie Museum of Art hosts Culture Club, an evening of culture and conversation about current exhibitions, on the third Thursday of the month from 5:30 to 9pm. For $10, you gain admission with 2 glasses of wine and some light bites.

The next event is this Thursday, January 21st, focusing on a behind-the-scenes look at the installation and handling of art. If these walls could talk is moderated by Dan Byers, assistant curator of contemporary art, and Chris Craychee, supervisor.

Mark your calendars for the upcoming ones on February 18th, March 18th and April 15th. Unfortunately (and fortunately) I have my photography class on Thursdays for the rest of the semester so I'll be on hold until May. I attended Culture Club on a couple of occasions this fall and enjoyed the intimate perspective and company.

I finally had a chance this weekend to visit the newly opened Ailsa Mellon Bruce gallery and the inaugural exhibition Past Meets Present: Decorative Arts and Design at Carnegie Museum of Art. It is a must-see. The permanent collection, some pieces from the family's New York and Syosset homes and spanning two centuries, is arranged by time period and style. The French pieces and inlay work of some antiques are to die for.

The featured art deco and modern pieces are simply amazing, including a glass chair made by PPG and displayed at the 1939 World's Fair.

Wall of chairs in the first gallery, part of the rotating exhibits.

Created in a limited edition of 10, Carnegie Museum of Art was the first museum in America to acquire the iconic Lockheed Lounge. Madonna made the iconic chair famous in one of her fabulous videos in the 1980s. (The one Madonna sat on for 15 seconds went for over $1.6 million at auction last year.)

Top image of CMOA courtesy of flickr.com/randeclip.

18 January 2010

Grey Gardens to Golden Globes

After any awards show, I would always look forward to work the next day. There were occasions when our jewelry collection would be on the red carpet so I would be confirming details with the press. But even more so, I looked forward to a what-they-wore discussion with my colleague, a style arbiter (and sartorialist feature) in her own right.

The Golden Globes red carpet had substance (in layers and layers of ruffles) but was lacking style. Jewelry was kept to a minimum-- diamond drops and studs and no necklaces. See Vogue's top ten, and the New York Times slideshow separates it by color palette. The best recap is usually Kat Giantis' pithy observations in Undressed.

Drew Barrymore's pale Atelier Versace gown was my favorite until she turned to the right. The crystal embellishments looked appropriately gathered at the shoulder, but the sleek silhouette was disrupted by the clump at the hip. A smaller-scale brooch would have worked better, or an encrusted bracelet in lieu of the crystal porcupine.  It's so big, it's become an armrest!

On a more interesting note, Drew won a globe for the HBO remake of Grey Gardens as Little Edie.  Apparently, it tells the entire backstory to what was captured in the original documentary.

I watched the Maysles' film in its entirety a few weeks ago and now truly understand, paradoxically, the meanings of insanity and style. To learn about both films and whatever happened to the Beales' and their house, this blog captures it all.

16 January 2010

It's All in the Details

A store that has risen in my ratings of personal favorites is Restoration Hardware. I suppose this makes me officially an adult. (Of all the recent milestones, becoming a homeowner is the one that made me realize I've reached adulthood.)

So naturally, in the past six months, we've found ourselves going to Mt. Lebanon Galleria on several occasions, and ordering from RH online. Our latest shipment just arrived: glass knobs for our dining room built-ins. They replace brass handles, and accidentally perfectly match our chandelier. It is amazing what a difference the little details make.

On a side note, I love the Mission house numbers. Perfect for the Craftsman style homes throughout Pittsburgh.

The Turkish Bath Towels are worth the splurge. They are plush and heavy, absorbant, and stay soft after many washes.

A great piece of advice I received when creating my wedding registry was to be sure I put lamps on the list. We are now properly lit in every room, but if not, I would love any of the RH lamps.

15 January 2010

Helping Haiti

The images of Haiti after the country’s worst natural disaster are incomprehensible. Fortunately, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS), located on a former banana plantation in Artibonite Valley northwest of Port-au-Prince, was left unscathed and now is beyond capacity with wounded survivors.

HAS has a direct relationship to Pittsburgh: a legacy of Larry and Gwen Mellon, it has become a model for healthcare in impoverished countries. HAS’ office for development and financing is managed in Pittsburgh. A Post-Gazette writer published a book about the Mellon's inspirational story, and Gwen Mellon eventually wrote an autobiography in her later years. A blog about HAS’ triage efforts was started this week.

The Friends of HAS, located on Reynolds St. in Point Breeze, "expands awareness of the culture and art of the Haitian people and of their need for health services, economic development and improved environmental conditions... and implements projects in support of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer's mission." See the collection of beautiful paintings and objects by Haitian artists through their online gallery.

Friends of HAS is collecting donations to help with relief efforts for the hospital. Other local charities accepting donations for earthquake victims are listed here.

12 January 2010

Holy Cowl

Another resolution of mine is to learn how to knit. Properly. So that something wearable comes out of it. My German mother has taught me how to knit and purl continental style countless times, but my patience for not walking out with a gorgeous scarf an hour later makes me throw my hands up and resign to the fact that my future children will just have to wear what their talented grandmother makes.

I have, however, become my mother's creative director. I find fabulous knittable accessories, she searches for a pattern and voila! I now have stylish cowls for every day of the week. A few patterns she's found and I've been wearing around wintery Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh has a fabulous LYS (local yarn store): Knit One in Squirrel Hill. They carry a large selection of truly lovely yarn, including chunky Blue Sky alpaca yarn, perfect for cowls. They also offer lessons: special private sessions, including luxury cowl, and beginner knitting classes on Sunday afternoons.

And for those without patience or not seeking a new hobby, there's always Etsy.

10 January 2010

Living Green

Our kitchen is black and white with brushed steel accents. And green started to appear organically: a couple friends gave me potted plants that now sit on the windowsill of our nook. Over the holidays, we found ourselves adding to the collection during a trip to Roxanne's Dried Flowers in the Strip District. Blink and you'll almost miss the storefront while navigating the sidewalk on Penn Avenue; stop before hitting 21st Street and step inside to gaze at the tall white walls filled with beautifully dried arrangements and botanical prints.

I had my eye on a botanical print there for months and scored it during the after holiday sale. (After seeing the same print on a favorite decor blog, I knew I had to have it--the print on the right).

Most of the greenery at Roxanne's is smaller and perfect for a mantle or shelf. If you're like me and afraid of caring for any sort of living object, the dried topiaries would add the same element without the maintenance. We took a little more risk and bought a few cacti in pretty blue pots, and I'm happy to report they're alive and well.

Part of my inspiration to add to the green collection was from Rita Konig's style post in T Magazine; living greens not only create a more inviting element, but the variety of shapes and textures bring a verdant look to get through the winter months.

07 January 2010

Ballet for the Heart

My favorite class to take at New York Sports Club was the NYC Ballet Workout, a joint collaboration between my gym and the ballet. It offered strength training and flexibility with an exercise routine of ballet positions that I hadn't practiced since childhood. We definitely would sweat, but it was balanced by the classical music and graceful moves led by our instructor, a professional ballerina. The class was so successful that two subsequent workout DVDs have been released.

When I read in the Post-Gazette that Bodiography Contemporary Ballet in Squirrel Hill was offering a new Ballet Workout course, I jeté at the chance. Also led by a ballerina, this class is definitely more of a workout involving a mat, weights and a balance ball, and aerobic exercise of ballet positions to fast-paced music. I can feel the strain in my abs today from last night's class.

Owner Maria Caruso's bio and mission are inspiring; she founded Bodiography to celebrate a healthy physique and teach classic ballet technique with educational excellence. (Teachers must have a 4-year degree, and Caruso herself has a master's.) The ballet company's next public performance is Heart in February at the Byham Theatre, inspired by heart transplant patients at UPMC.

05 January 2010

Hear it here

Here are a few upcoming performances on my radar:

Brandi Carlile
Monday, January 25 @ Mr. Smalls Theatre, Millvale
Tickets start at $20.
This sultry singer was brought to attention for her hit The Story on Grey's Anatomy.

Ben Folds with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, February 13 @ Heinz Hall
Tickets start at $35
The witty singer/songwriter/pianist has performed with orchestras all over the globe.

The Verve Pipe
Saturday, February 20 @ Club Cafe
Tickets start at $18
I'm pretty sure my husband thinks Bittersweet Symphony is one of the greatest songs of all time.

Michael Buble
Wednesday, March 17 @ Petersen Events Center, Pitt
Tickets start at $50
In full disclosure, I admit I fall for his dreamy voice. Although, I am more familiar with his remakes.

David Gray
Tuesday March 30 @ Benedum Center
Tickets start at $38
Love The One I Love.

Sunday, April 11 @ Carnegie Music Hall
Tickets start at $30, available this Saturday.
Die Besten band of the year, according to Rolling Stone Germany. Hear them on NPR.

04 January 2010

Patterns to Pine for

Apparently it was 8 degrees today. Combined with the fact that it has snowed for the nth day in a row, I will be window shopping from my desktop, thankyouverymuch.

I love playing with the interactive search tools on Etsy almost as much as finding handmade accessories for my house. My last great find was a pair of pillows handmade with Schumacher fabric. Any of these would positively dress up a living room instantly. (Very similar to Pieces...)

Wisteria has been on my radar lately. I'd really like this chair for my living room.

Ballard Designs has never looked better, especially the wallpaper collection. I take it has a lot to do with their creative director, whose home was recently featured in House Beautiful.

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