Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dreamy dollhouse miniatures

The photo above doesn't depict a real castle, amazingly, but rather the world's most famous dollhouse, that of the late Queen Mary, the wife of King George V. Finished in 1924, it has running water and electricity, not to mention a child's fantasy of miniature furnishings, many of them Windsor Castle items scaled to 1/12 their original size. 
Perhaps you can't welcome visitors to a dollhouse complete with tiny oil paintings of royal ancestors, but modern miniatures still offer more than a teensy bit of glamor. Take, for example, this amazing Ladurée bakery crafted by the owner of Mitzi's Minitatures ( Macaroons, tea cups, tiny Ladurée boxes; it looks like the original in Paris! 
Craving one of Ladurée's St. Honoré cakes topped with red currants? You'll consume no calories with a 1/12th scale miniature version from the Paris Miniatures shop at 
The shop also makes teeny tiny Ladurée macaroons. 
Decadent food is so visually arresting in miniatures. Take, for example, the mini oysters, shrimp and ice by Diana Paone. Her work is sold at
Of course, a stylish dollhouse needs some stylish furniture. How about a mini mid-century modern mirror from Dollhouse Cafe? It is made of gilt wood, as were the original, life-size mirrors. At
And what chic dollhouse would be without a miniature Syroco convex bullseye Federal style mirror? J'adore! Also at
Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Edith Head!

Edith Head, the American costume designer who won eight Academy Awards, sagely said, “A dress should be tight enough to show you're a woman and loose enough to prove you're a lady.” Born October 28, 1897, she would have been 116 years old today and Google's Doodle celebrated that fact. 
 Head was the brains behind such stunners as the white gown Elizabeth Taylor wore in "A Place in the Sun."
She also designed this amazing confection for Grace Kelly for "To Catch a Thief", the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 
Another gown from "To Catch a Thief." 
Some of Head's best work was seen in her collaborations with Hitchcock, includling such films as "The Birds", "Vertigo" and "Rear Window." Love this look on Kim Novak in "Vertigo." 

Edith was known for her trademark look of round glasses and bluntly cut bangs. Years ago I attended an Edith Head retrospective in New York City where I met Lauren Bacall and Tippi Hedren and during which Roddy McDowall stepped on the hem of my vintage pink evening gown. Ah, youth. It was one of the best nights of my career; I wrote about it for In Style magazine. Thanks for the memories and the magic, Edith.
Monday, September 30, 2013

Lucite and Bakelite

I have yet to meet an “ite” I did not like. I love Lucite and Bakelite jewelry, having amassed a small collection of each. My fascination with Bakelite began with some bracelets I bought in New York City, including the Art Deco style shown here. The public’s fascination with Bakelite began in 1907, when Bakelite helped usher in what is known, among chemists, as the Polymer Age or the Age of Plastics.  
Here is another Art Deco bracelet I own; note the faux bamboo styling. Bamboo was all the rage in the 1930s, due in part to its popular use in the Hollywood Regency style of home decor. On the heels of Bakelite, in 1931, the clear, manmade synthetic we call Lucite was developed by DuPont. Around the same time the Rohm & Haas Chemical Company also discovered this chemical compound and called it Plexiglas. While Plexiglas had broader commercial success, Lucite is what we talk about when referring to vintage jewelry and, in 1952, handbags. 
One of my favorite kinds of Lucite is that which includes tiny particles inside; it is called “confetti Lucite.” Here is a set of confetti Lucite bracelet and earrings, currently offered at for $75; the pieces contain tiny seashells and gold confetti. 
This bathing beauty brooch made of silver glitter confetti Lucite is now available at for $75. And I want it. 
This pair of vintage 1950s glitter confetti Lucite screw earrings is currently for sale on Ebay. Confetti Lucite was hugely popular in the 1950s and that makes sense: It surely seems definitive of the decade of full skirts, big cars and exuberance of all stripes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lady Duff Gordon, Titanic survivor, designer

She was saucy and blithe. But aside from her personality quirks, Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon (1863 – 1935), made gorgeous Edwardian gowns. She also survived the Titanic’s sinking.
I discovered Gordon after reading “Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World.” In 1894, after a series of unfortunate financial events, Gordon was forced to raise herself out of genteel poverty by designing and selling dresses. (Photo above is a 1917 Lucille evening gown made of silk and cotton).
And what gowns! Sold out of Maison Lucile in the Mayfair area of London, these romantic confections were known for details such as silk roses and ribbons. Her company label was called Lucile Ltd., and it eventually had branches in New York, Paris and Chicago.
Actresses, society women, titled ladies and royalty wore Lucile gowns. These included Lily Elsie, shown here in a costume designed by Gordon for a 1909 play called "The Dollar Princess." 
This gown is from the Spring 1913 collection (gown is at the V&A Museum).
The Lucile “Personality Dresses” were a smash hit and included “Happiness,” as seen in this photo (the dress is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art). From the Fall 1916 collection, this gown is made of silk taffeta, satin, tulle, and chiffon with lace, lace insets and appliqué, ribbons, and silk flowers. 
At the end of her life, Gordon was virtually penniless; her granddaughter said she had to take the bus to cocktail parties. But who cares? She was still invited to those cocktail parties and I’ll bet guests swarmed her to hear tales of her storied life.