Monday, April 30, 2012

Autobiography of a Fashion Designer Ralph Rucci





I've always admired the work of fashion designer Ralph Rucci, though sadly I don't own any of his clothing. His creations appeal to me because of their clean lines and architectural shapes, something that I think looks especially flattering on tall, thin women. But it's the details that Rucci uses to embellish his clothing that is equally as impressive, though perhaps embellish isn't the best word to use. The embroidery that appears on Rucci's clothing, for example, is done in such a way that it becomes part of the soul of the design rather than a mere decorative embellishment.

I first got a glimpse of the recently published book
Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Rucci on New York Social Diary. The idea of a book that explored both Rucci's home as well as his design atelier intrigued me. After all, having almost every facet of one's home photographed is really rather personal. Needless to say, when I was offered a review copy, I said yes. I'm so glad that I did, too, as the book is one of the more unique and captivating books that I've seen.

The first half of the book explores Rucci's home, what he calls his "sanctuary." The photos of his bookshelves, kitchen shelves, and artwork goes a long way in capturing both Rucci's sense of aesthetics as well as his intellectual side. Rucci seems to take a very artistic and philosophical approach to both collecting and decorating, something that can also be seen in his fashion collection as well.

But what the book's photos also do is to give the reader a sense of who Rucci is as a person. After reading the book, I know that he is devoted to his bulldog, Twombly, and that he is an ardent fan of Elsa Peretti's work. He has a passion not just for fashion, but for interior design as well, something that is evidenced by his impressive (and I really mean impressive) collection of design books. And I have to admit that I even got a little excited to see a shot inside one of his kitchen drawers where a set of Ricci Bamboo stainless flatware was stored, the same flatware that I use on a daily basis. What can I say? It's a bit of a thrill to know that someone like Ralph Rucci dines with the same flatware pattern that I do.

I've scanned a few photos of the book including some from the second half of the book that focuses on his design studio. As you can see, it's a unique book, one that is entirely fitting for a designer who has forged his own path in the fashion business. And if you have the opportunity to buy a copy for yourself, I highly recommend doing so. I have a feeling that I will be referring to this book time and time again.




Twombly bounding through the hall of Rucci's home.




A page of images from Rucci's kitchen, including the Ricci Bamboo flatware. (I've had it listed on my Amazon store for a while, so if you want to take another look at it, click here to visit my store.)




Books, books, books.




Detail shots of Rucci's designs show the incredible workmanship and artistry for which Rucci and his team are known.



An inspiration board in Rucci's office.



All photos from Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Rucci, Bauer and Dean Publishers, 2011; Baldomero Fernandez photographer.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Let's Talk Books

I want to invite all of you to join me in Atlanta for a talk that I'll be giving in May, "The Best Seller List: Books That No Designer Should Be Without". I will be speaking about the most inspiring design, architecture, entertaining, and lifestyle books that should be part of one's library. Is it any surprise to you that I chose books to be my topic?

Part of ADAC's annual
Design Defined event, the talk will take place on Tuesday, May 8 at 10am in ADAC's Presentation Room. There will be a light lunch to follow at the new Porcelanosa showroom.

Click here more information or to register for the event. I do hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In Sybil Connolly's House




The late fashion designer Sybil Connolly has long intrigued me. I first learned of her while employed by Tiffany & Co., with whom she collaborated on various tableware items including one of my favorite china patterns, Mrs. Delany's Flowers. A few of the Tiffany & Co. books also piqued my interest in her, especially those that showed glimpses of her Dublin home. But I have to say that I appreciate her even more now that I've read In an Irish House, a book written by Connolly that profiles some of the prettiest houses in Ireland including that of Connolly.

Connolly famously lived at 71 Merrion Square, Dublin in an 18th c. home that housed both her couture studio as well as her private home. (Connolly, by the way, opened the first couture studio in Ireland.) As you can see, the interiors were filled with all kinds of treasures from antique furniture to porcelain to floral wallpapers and fabrics. It's obvious after looking at the photos that Connolly not only had a love of pretty things but an appreciation for the past as well. A woman after my own heart.

Who knows? Maybe it's time for a Sybil Connolly revival. Actress Gillian Anderson recently wore a stunning vintage Connolly gown for the Bafta awards, something that will hopefully bring greater attention to the late designer.



The door leading to her Merrion Square home.



A view of Connolly's bedroom. The fruitwood daybed was early 19th c. French.



Connolly chose the wallpaper and fabric because they matched the pattern found on her antique Angoulême china, seen on the mantelpiece.



In addition to designing for Brunschwig & Fils and Tiffany & Co., Connolly also worked with Martex. The set of sheets is one of her designs.



A closer look at the Angoulême inspired wallpaper.




The drawing room. The chintz that covered the sofa and chairs was one of Connolly's designs for Brunschwig, a pattern inspired by the work of Mrs. Delany.



The sitting room in Connolly's mews house. The sofa's chintz was designed by Sybil Connolly for Robert Allen.




Connolly's charming kitchen with its 19th c. blue and white Delft tile.



A linen cupboard filled with Porthault linen as well as Connolly's homemade potpourri.



All images from In an Irish House.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Cool Garden Stool




I've always liked those ceramic cushion garden stools (or garden seats, if you prefer), but I never thought too much about them until a few months ago when I came across a photo of one in Tatler magazine. What especially caught my eye was the stool's gray color, something that is unique for this type of garden stool. As it turns out, the stool featured in Tatler is part of the Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam collection. You can see their white version, above. The stool, which retails for £950, is Italian made and can be ordered in a variety of colors as well as your choice of a shiny or matte finish. Pretty nifty, huh?

I had a devil of a time trying to find photos of interiors where this kind of garden seat was used and only managed to come up with a few photos. It seems that Madeleine Castaing was a fan of these garden stools as they appear in a few different photos of her work. By the way, the garden stool, which does double duty as a sturdy side table, works well both outdoors and inside the home as well. In fact, Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen like to use them in their clients' bathrooms where I can imagine they get put to good use by holding towels, candles, or other bathroom necessities.

For more information on the stool above, please visit the
Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam website or email sales@nicholashaslam.com.




An exuberant late 1960s interior with a pair of what appears to be plaid ceramic cushion garden stools.



Madeleine Castaing used a blue and white version at the foot of the guest bed at her home, Lèves.



An Alexandre Serebriakoff rendering of Castaing's stand at the 1948 Salon des Antiquaires. You can see the cushion garden stool at the right.


1960s interior photo from HOUSE & GARDEN'S COMPLETE GUIDE TO INTERIOR DECORATION - SEVENTH EDITION; the Castaing images from The World of Madeleine Castaing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Houses of Veranda




It's hard to believe that Veranda magazine is twenty five years old. For many of those years, Veranda was a Southern magazine based in Atlanta. Before too long, though, word spread beyond the region about the elegant magazine, and people from outside of the South fell captive to its charm just as we had. Veranda began to feature homes from all over the country and overseas as well. Who doesn't remember those glorious homes in France, Belgium, and Sweden that have graced the pages of Veranda? While Veranda has changed through the years, one thing has remained constant: the kindness and graciousness of founder and former editor-in-chief Lisa Newsom. Lisa really is as nice as they come, something which makes her well-earned success that much more deserving.

As many of you probably know, Lisa recently finished her book,
The Houses of Veranda, set to be released on May 1. I received my review copy last week, and reading it brought back so many nice memories of both old and more recent issues of the magazine. The book profiles some of the more memorable homes that have been featured in the magazine, though as Lisa mentions in the book's introduction, narrowing down the selection was difficult. The book is divided into chapters on classic houses, modern houses, romantic houses, and artful retreats. I'm sure you'll remember many of the selected homes including those designed by Axel Vervoordt, Dan Carithers, Babs Watkins, and John Saladino.

The book is a wonderful tribute to the first twenty five years of the magazine's history as well as to the hard work of Lisa Newsom and her team of editors. And now under the editorship of Dara Caponigro, Veranda is poised for twenty five more years of beautiful interiors.



The Belgian castle of Axel and May Vervoordt




A house designed Mary Douglas Drysdale




Piero Castellin Baldissera's Tuscan farmhouse.




A Park Avenue apartment designed by David Kleinberg and architect Peter Pennoyer.




The North Carolina mountain house of Hal Ainsworth and Winton Noah.


All photos from The Houses of Veranda by Lisa Newsom; Hearst Books, 2012.

Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Atlanta Decorators' Show House Part II





And now, the second floor of the 42nd annual Atlanta Decorators' Show House. I want to mention that there is a third floor full of rooms, but because I was so busy talking and socializing with people, I completely forgot to go up there. If you attend the show house, don't forget to hit the third floor to see rooms by Barbara Heath and Tim Green of The Mercantile, Bryan Alan Kirkland Designs, Caroline McLean Tolleson, and Kellie Griffin.







The Guest Bedroom by Courtney Giles Decker of Courtney Giles Interiors.








The Lounge by Jimmy Stanton of Stanton Home Furnishings




The Nursery by Musso Design Group






The Guest Retreat by Christy Dillard Kratzer and Heidi Pierce of Dillard Pierce Design Associates








The Master Bedroom by Barbara Westbrook and Kim Winkler of Westbrook Interiors








The Ladies' Dressing Room and Bathroom was designed by Maria Nutt of McLaurin Interiors. Design Galleria did the cabinetry and architectural trim, part of their new collection that makes its debut here at the show house. You can see the mirrored insets that can be added to the trim; that's green hydrangea that is reflected in the inset.











Debbie Weitz, Kent Drotor, and Jessica Brummett of B.D. Jeffries designed the Gazebo. I couldn't resist snapping a shot of the goldfish swimming around amongst the selenite logs.


All photos the copyright of The Peak of Chic