Monday, June 30

Style File - Kate Schelter

Style is a magic wand, and turns everything to gold that it touches - Logan Pearsall Smith

I am starting a new weekly series called Style File. One book I love is The Power of Style by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins. I read it all the time. The thing that strikes me most is that many of the women in the book, whom I adore, were propelled into the public eye not because they were great beauties, though many were, but rather they possessed an intrinsic uniqueness. I am wildly fascinated by people who follow their own style compass, and as a result, stand head and shoulders about the rest of the world.

One person who has amazing style, and is beauty too, is Kate Schelter. Kate is one of those special people who immediately captures my attention when I see her in photos. I am always fascinated by her exceptional and incomparable style, so it seemed only fitting to feature Kate for the first Style File profile.

Creative Director and founder of Kate Schelter LLC, a full-service agency based in New York City, Kate specializes in branding and image consulting for a very elite clientele. Clients include Zac Posen, Lucy Sykes, Hollywould, The Daily and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Kate's work has been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Oprah, E, Vogue and Elle.

How would you describe your own personal style?
I love to mix it up and I love dresses. I accessorize with unexpected pieces, the non "match-y" shoe, a great mixture of jewelry; all to tell my own story. I always start with one piece that inspires me (anything from a silk flower, a new heel, to a color in a dress) and I build upon that one element.

What are your favorite luxuries in life?
Down time with my family, snow days (really!), a house cleaner, eating at great restaurants, travel, watching Saturday Night Live with a great group of friends, fresh flowers...

What items are a must for air travel?
First class (if I'm lucky!!!), my inflatable neck pillow from Flight 001, ear plugs, eye mask and melatonin. I have a little kit I keep in my suitcase ready for last minute travel. I spend a lot of time on planes!

What accessories can you not live without?
High heels, vintage jewelry from House of Lavande, Ray Ban aviators, my perfume.

Which pair of shoes do you wear most?
Night: Manolo, Louboutin, Hollywould (the MOST comfortable shoes); Day - Converse all stars, Toms Shoes (in the summer)

How would you describe your morning routine?
Get out of bed and go! Wake up, walk my dog, Bear, breakfast, wash face with water, get dressed, work. (I shower at night.)

What are your must have beauty products?
Cetaphil face wash and body lotion, Bumble + Bumble gentle shampoo, YSL Touch Eclat, Darphin Baume Purifiant, Shu Uemura eye lash curler, Chanel red lipstick in Saturn, Bobbie Brown bronzer, and Kiehl's lip balm.

What is your all time favorite handbag?
My vintage Chanel pocket book, and my vintage Hermes briefcase. For summer: John Derian or LL Bean canvas tote.

What are your favorite indulgences?
Dining at my favorite restaurants with friends. Taxis when I wear heels.

What is your most prized possession?
My family, my dog, my wardrobe, my art collection (Damian Hirst + Hugo Guiness)

Who are your style icons?
Kate Moss, Yves Saint Laurent (RIP), Mariel Hemmingway (from "Manhattan"), Lisa Eisner, stylish NYC girls, my mom, the women in Slim Aarons's photos.

Thursday, June 26

Decorati Interview - Ernest de la Torre

I arrived in the States on Tuesday and have been enjoying the warm weather and time with my family. I recently completed my second interview for Decorati. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about the incredibly talented Ernest de la Torre. He is truly a man of many talents. Visit the Decorati website for more photos of his work. Once I have fully recovered from jet lag I will post again, and please forgive any typos.

Sunday, June 22

Elvis Costello + Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Just one more post before leaving...

Last night was one of the most enjoyable evenings in recent memory. Music legend Elvis Costello joined the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for a unique evening of orchestral music, including extracts from his first full scale classical work, Il Sogno. I’m certain that for most rational people, crossbreeding rock with classical music must seem like the ultimate bastardization, but then few artists have Costello's artistic intelligence and uncanny ability to create music that sounds exciting and new.

After intermission the crowd's excitement grew as Costello and long-time keyboardist Steve Nieve performed a few favorites from a long and illustrious repertoire. I especially liked his jazzy rendition of Watching the Detectives, definitely one of the highlights. Other favorties included—Veronica, Allison, Accidents Will Happen, Shipbuilding, She and God Give Me Strength. If you get the chance to see Costello perform his first full scale classical piece, book yourself a ticket. It really is a concert not to be missed.

Saturday, June 21

Shopping on Saturday

I know that yesterday was to be my last post until next week, but I thought that I would do one more Shopping on Saturday before leaving town. I received an email yesterday from one of my wonderful contacts at VIVRE telling me more about their recent partnership with Decorati. Two of my favorite companies coming together is just too good not to mention.

VIVRE, the uber stylish mail-order magazine and online boutique, has recently announced an exciting affiliation with Decorati, the leading online resource for high-end furnishings. The collaboration aims to provide designers and design enthusiasts with greater access to luxury accessories, textiles, lighting, and furnishings all in one place. Simply divine!

Coral Trim Trinket Tray (Kenneth Jay Lane Home)
A little tray with a lot of style. A gold lined ‘catch-all’ inspired by the sea. $150.00

Almidi End Table (Casamidy)
A Vivre exclusive. Hand-cut glass and hand-hammered iron. The legs are modeled after eastern architecture including doorways and arches. $625.00

Wreath Candlestick Holder (Allegra Hicks)
A beautiful painted red bronze coral that casts an alluring shadow when lit. $385.00

Wednesday, June 18

Book Bargain

UPDATE - as of June 21 this book is now $50.00 - even better!

If you consider $75.00 a bargain, then Dior is the book to own. It normally retails for $250.00 so $175.00 off the list price seems like a pretty good deal to me. I drooled over this book at the V&A gift shop in March and vowed to add it to my collection.

The book itself is huge (nearly 400 pages) and the photos are extraordinary. The massive volume features Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Boehm, Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano. It carries a hefty price tag, but it truly is a fitting tribute to one of Europe's great fashion houses.

Tuesday, June 17

Profile: Me

I was asked by the lovely Katie, who writes Katiedid, to participate in a game of tag. I must say that it is far easier asking the questions of others!

1. What were you doing 10 years ago? Trying to juggle way too much. Thank God for Zoloft! I was living in Houston, where I was born and raised, working as the Associate Director of Development for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and volunteering for everyone and anyone who asked for my help. My husband was still in graduate school finishing his Ph.D. and we had a toddler running about.

2. Five items on your to-do list today.
• Start packing for Texas
• Send follow up emails for upcoming profiles
• Finish writing my article for Decorati
• Confirm seats for our flight
• Call the vet

3. Snacks I enjoy:
• Cashews
• Olives
• Hot Peppers
• Wasabi Peas
• Black Sesame Rice Crackers
• Does wine qualify?

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire? This is always a fun question.

• Travel would be high on the agenda, first class of course. Too bad the Concorde is only an icon of aviation history.
• Set up a family foundation and make large donations to my favourite charities, including autism and cancer research.
• Shop and design a dressing room to rival Aerin Lauder’s amazing closet. Gracie wallpaper is a must!
• Set up a trust fund for our son.
• Buy summer homes for my three sisters and my mom and dad.
• Hire a wine consultant to help me design and stock an amazing wine cellar that would include bottles of:

1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac
1945 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac (for good measure)
1990 Chateau Petrus Pomerol
2001 Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes
2002 Sloan Proprietary Red
2000 Chateau Cheval Blanc St. Emilion Grand Cru
2003 Sine Qua Non Syrah - The Inaugural
1994 Colgin Cabernet
2002 Comtes Lafon Montrachet
2002 & 2004 Swanson Alexis

5. Places I would live? Mallorca, Napa, Manhattan and France.

6. I am passing the challenge onto to anyone who has not been tagged. I love learning more about fellow bloggers.

Monday, June 16

California Cabernet Sauvignon

Over the weekend we had a celebratory dinner in honor of Father’s Day, a fantastic report card and our up coming 15th wedding anniversary. Dinner was filet mignon, asparagus and creamed potatoes followed by crème brûlée. It was so delicious, but without question the highlight of the dinner was the 2004 Alexis Estate Red. It is a big wine with tons of yummy dark berry flavors and an excellent structure. Alexis, from Swanson Vineyards, was exceptionally luscious and fitting for the occasion.

The wine got me to thinking about our very memorable honeymoon spent touring Napa and Sonoma during the summer of 1993. A few favorites included Oakville Grocery, Ravenswood, Domaine Chandon and The Hess Collection.

Napa Valley is unquestionably America's reigning region for Cabernet Sauvignon. In terms of quality, production and reputation, this is California's world-class wine. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to enjoy some incredible California wines, including a 1999 Opus One, Spottswoode Estate and Stag's Leap Cask 23.

In my opinion, Swanson’s Alexis wine is a wonderful example of a great California Cabernet Sauvignon and easily ranks up there with some of the very best I have had the pleasure of enjoying. It is also an Oakville Cab—ground zero for Napa Cabernet. Year after year Oakville produces some of the most incredible wines in the valley. One wine I am still waiting to taste is Caymus Special Selection.

If you are looking for a great summertime read, pick up a copy of Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine, a great retelling of the 1976 Paris Tasting. Another book that I still love and adore is my well-worn copy of Lee Bailey's California Country Wine Cooking. It’s a great book and it can be purchased for as little as five cents on Amazon.

I do wish it were easier to get California wines in Scotland. Any personal favorites? Do tell!

Sunday, June 15

Happy Father's Day

Florida 1973. My father holding my sister as I prepare to jump.

Happy Father's Day to all fathers, especially my own. I am blessed to have a wonderful, caring and generous father. Likewise, I think our son has a pretty incredible dad as well. Love to both of you.

Saturday, June 14

Shopping on Saturday

Isn't great when you find lovely antiques sold by people who are equally lovely. This is certainly the case with Adams and Comer Ltd, a fantastic online shop owned by Isibelle Comer and Audrey Adams. Not only do they carry beautiful lamps, chandeliers and tables, but their prices are very reasonable. Their first famous client was none other than the distinguished Mr. Albert Hadley. From there, their clientele list has grown to include Martha Stewart, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Eric Cohler, Robert Stern, Marietta Gomez and President and Senator Clinton. Very impressive.

A pair of wonderful handmade seashell lamps. Loaded with shells and personality. These would look so great in a beach house or a cottage by the shore. Price $1,250

1800s Red Chinese bench. Straight, architectural lines and beautiful red lacquer. Price $1,375

Stunning pale amber 1960s Italian Murano chandelier. Price

Wednesday, June 11

Book Bargain

It’s not a $15.00 book, but at $28.00 it is still a bargain. Straight from the pages of the well-loved (and now defunct) House & Garden, The Well Lived Life marked its centennial celebration with photos of interiors and entertaining over the last century.

The Well Lived Life
includes photos from legendary photographers Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, John Rawlings, Andre Kertesz, Lord Snowdon, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Ezra Stoller and George Hoyningen-Huene.

My guess is that this book will only gain in value in the years to come. I am amazed at the worth of a few similar books in my collection that are now considered collectors items. Of course I could be wrong, but you will still own a beautiful book.

Tuesday, June 10

Sex and the City + The Rug Company

If you are a regular reader of All the Best then you know that I have a soft spot for the creative duo Christopher and Suzanne Sharp, owners of The Rug Company. When I was last in London I got a personal tour of the store from the lovely Susanna Joicey-Cecil, complete with a cup of tea. And it seems that I am not alone in my admiration; Sex And The City set designer Lydia Marks turned to the most fashionable brand in British home accessories to create a few amazing interiors.

Echoing the theme of love, Lydia gives prime positioning to the “Love Too” wallhanging designed by Paul Smith for The Rug Company in Carrie’s apartment. The lucky Ms. Bradshaw got not one, but two gorgeous creations for her big screen makeover. The beautiful “Overleaf” rug designed by Marni for The Rug Company adorns the floor at the foot of the bed.

Sexy Samantha livens up her LA love nest with the striking “Chiesa Yellow” rug designed by Suzanne Sharp at The Rug Company. The luxurious hand-knotted Tibetan wool rug is the perfect setting for the romantic champagne and caviar session. Other pieces including Suzanne Sharp’s “Palazzo” and “Flake” can be seen online at The Rug Company.

Photos courtesy Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema
©2008 New Line Cinema

Monday, June 9

Profile: Katie Lee Joel

This past Friday I had the pleasure of speaking with Katie Lee Joel. I have been suffering from closet envy from the moment I laid eyes on Katie’s amazing closet featured in Town and Country this past March. I was struck not only by her natural beauty, but her impeccable taste. Being a Southerner, I was curious to find out more about this captivating foodie and West Virginia native. Like many I have been anxiously awaiting her new book The Comfort Table.

When it comes to cookbooks I have more than I actually need and I tend to be quite picky. I want a cookbook that is pleasing to the eye, easy to read and bursting with wonderful recipes. The Comfort Table delivers on all three merits but the real bonus is Katie. Not only is she a lovely person, she is also down-to-earth and talented to boot.

I especially applaud her message of conscious consumption and emphasis on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, which Katie describes as "being aware of what you eat and how it affects not only your own body but ultimately everyone around you and future generations to come."

Katie developed a passion for food at an early age, "I was raised in my grandmother's kitchen and I come from a family of great cooks.” After graduating with a degree in English and journalism from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she moved to the Hamptons to work as the house fishmonger for Jeff and Eddy’s and began writing for Hamptons magazine.

Designer Nate Berkus and architect Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami used gold-leaf to transform a 105 sq. ft. vestibule between the master bedroom and bath. Town & Country March 2008/ Photograph by Miki Duisterhof.

As much as I adore this book, I had to ask about the incredible Nate Berkus. Katie enlisted Nate to oversee the decoration of the West Village home she shares with her husband Billy Joel. Of course I wanted to know if Nate is as adorable in person as he is on television. “Absolutely!” she said, “Even more so in person!”

The two became fast friends during the redecorating process and Nate gives her book a resounding endorsement. "I have had more home cooked meals around Katie's table than anywhere else in recent years...and each evening, whether two friends or ten, is filled with warmth, laughter, and of course, incredible food. Southern comfort in the heart of the city...don't turn down an invitation if you ever have the chance." If I get an invitation from Katie I promise I won’t turn it down.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project
Two people, actually. My friend, author Kathy Freston, and my yoga teacher, Nicole Nichols. Kathy is very spiritual and a strict vegan and Nicole is very insightful and spiritual as well. I'd like to explore the mind-body connection of food with the two of them together. I find different types of diets very interesting and I like the challenge of developing recipes around their requirements.

What is your favorite food memory?
Weekend breakfasts at my grandparents' home were always special. Everyone would sit around the kitchen table and talk and eat for hours. Whenever I make a batch of my grandmother’s biscuits, my mind goes right back to those mornings.

How would you describe the perfect dinner party
I don't think there's really such thing as a "perfect" dinner party because something is always bound to be a little different than expected. But that's what keeps it interesting and fun. It's all about how you handle the situations thrown at you.

My best dinner parties include diverse groups of friends. I love bringing together my friends who don't know each other and watching them connect. Other key elements include great food and music, and most importantly, a relaxed atmosphere.

What drives your desire for conscious consumption?
Conscious consumption is being aware of where your food comes from and how it was raised, and ultimately how it affects not only your own body, but future generations as well. I love my comfort foods, but to be truly comforted by my food, I must know where it comes from first.

What is your most prized possession?
Our home. We worked really hard to make it just the way we like it and it's so comfortable. Dorothy said it best – “There's no place like home.”

What is the one thing in life you can't live without
I absolutely couldn't live without my dogs, Fionula and Sabrina. They are both pugs and are like two little comedians.

What food trends have outlived their shelf life?
I'm really tired of truffled-everything. Don't get me wrong, I think truffle oil has its place, but I think it's terribly over-used and can be quite over-powering.

What in your opinion is the perfect comfort food
Fried chicken, without a doubt. I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
I'd love to meet Alice Waters. I think she is one of the greatest food revolutionaries of our time and I'd love the opportunity to spend a day with her going to farm stands and cooking a meal.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I'm kind of messy in the kitchen. I really don't like to do dishes, so I usually leave a big pile in the sink and deal with it the next day.

Thursday, June 5

Cabo San Lucas

One of my favorite pastimes, among many, is researching hotels, villas and holiday destinations. I know that I have mentioned before that I am highly affected by my surrounds. The last thing I want is to be stuck in less than pleasant accommodations while on holiday. I am not one of those people who claim the room is only for sleeping and it doesn’t matter—it matters!

Last summer we spent two weeks in Spain. The first week we were in Barcelona staying with friends and the second week we rented a villa in old town Pollenca on the island of Mallorca. After our stay at Casa Romana, I mentioned in my blog post, I had been converted to the world of self-catering. Of course, for short stays, I continue to seek out unique hotels. But for long-term holidays I want to live like a local in a foreign country, not a mere visitor.

Unfortunately, work schedules this summer will prohibit another two-week vacation, at least for my husband. Instead, my son and I will be heading to the States for seven weeks, with my husband joining us at the end of the summer. All things being equal, and apart from being away from my husband, I am thrilled that I will be spending time with my family. However, a change to our summer schedule doesn’t preclude me from researching beautiful destinations to add to my ever growing list.

Having been born and raised in Texas I am no stranger to Mexico, at least parts of the country. The one place I have not been to is Cabo San Lucas. Yesterday I found the most wonderful website and have noted several villas in my travel journal. Villa Luca, a stunning home in the Pedregal area of Cabo San Lucas, located at Land’s End in Baja California Sur, Mexico, was too beautiful not to share. I have been suffering a summertime cold this week. What I wouldn’t give to be lying on that sun-soaked terrace, gazing out over the infinity pool and watching the waves right now.

Tuesday, June 3

Another book bargain

I have found another book bargain! The beautiful, oversized book Bunny Williams' Point of View is listed for $15.00 (retail price $60). Hopefully the price will stay at $15.00!!

I posted a link to Poolside with Slim Aaron's last week, another $15.00 bargain, but the price went up later in the day. I know that many of you were able to snag it at a good price. Poolside is now listed at $18.75, still a good deal. Does anyone know why amazon changes their prices so frequently? Supply and demand, I suppose.

Monday, June 2

Yves Saint Laurent 1936 - 2008

I was saddened to hear the news of Yves Saint Laurent’s death this morning. Earlier in the year I read The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris by Alicia Drake, a fascinating look at Yves’ vulnerabilities and genius.

A shy and lonely child, Saint Laurent became fascinated by clothes at a very early age. The son of a wealthy businessman, he moved to Paris from French Algeria and began his career working under Christian Dior. In 1957 when Dior died, Yves was given the task of resurrecting the failing fashion house. True to character, Yves took on the task with great drive and energy, bringing the house back from financial ruin.

French fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent poses in the atelier of the House of Christian Dior, Paris, France, 1958. (Photo Getty Images)

Saint Laurent left the fashion world briefly in 1960 when drafted into the military, but was given a medical discharge after one year due to a nervous condition. It was during this tumultuous time Yves was released from Dior, allowing him to strike out on his own. In 1962, he started his eponymous fashion house, designing both couture and pret-a-porter collections. Yves, along with Pierre Berge, his long time business partner and former romantic partner, opened a string of boutiques (Rive Gauche) that featured his ready-to-wear looks.

Catherine Deneuve and Yves Saint-Laurent, 1966 (Getty Images)

Perhaps the most celebrated Saint Laurent look was "Le Smoking," a loose, sexy tuxedo for women—androgynous, alluring and often worn without a bra. For many Le smoking defined late 1960s and '70s women's fashion. “Coco Chanel freed women,” Berge told France-Info radio, “but Yves Saint Laurent empowered them.”

September 1969: French designer Yves Saint-Laurent poses with two fashion models, Betty Calroux (left) and Loulou de la Falaise, outside Rive Gauche, his new London boutique. (Photo by John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

In the 1980s and '90s, Saint Laurent continued to design important collections and remained popular with brand loyalists. In 1999, Gucci Group, purchased Saint Laurent's business for $1 billion. However, three years later, after reported disputes with the then-creative director of Gucci, Tom Ford, Saint Laurent retired with a memorable runway show that featured 300 of his best looks. Ford replaced Saint Laurent as creative director the same year and then left Gucci in 2004. Yves Saint Laurent is now headed by Stefano Pilati. Au revoir Yves.