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Meeting Peter Dunham was one of the highlights of Kathryn M. Ireland’s Design Workshop.  I have adored his textiles and design for ages and was excited to see his showroom. He was lovely.

I think it’s very interesting that he downsized.  When I lived in Los Angeles, most of my peers in entertainment were all about getting to the next level.  You had to have the right address, the right car, and even if your house was perfect, the minute you could afford to (or not) you would upgrade to a bigger, better, house.

In this month’s issue of HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, there is a great interview (and slideshow) with Peter.  He talks about why he moved from a house that was 3,500 square-feet to an apartment that is only 550 square-feet.

Living in a tiny space forces you to edit.  You cannot surround yourself with just “stuff.”

There is some fantastic design advice for small spaces in the article.  You can read it HERE and check out more photos of his charming home.

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Today’s edition of Stylish Simplicity highlights the ERES bikini.

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Work it J.Lo 

Photo. Vogue June 2012

This French brand has some of the most beautiful bathing suits on the planet… classic and well made.

I never wore a bikini until I moved to Italy.  NEVER.  I grew up seeing magazine covers constantly saying, “Get A Beach Ready Body!” or tabloid headlines that screamed, “Worst Beach Bodies!”   In Los Angeles many of my colleagues gleefully ripped celebrities to shreds, calling them fat and what not.  Celebrities who were no larger than a size 4.

What’s the point of starving oneself for the season?  What happens once the summer is over, back to bad eating habits? I blame the Puritans for this madness.

The first time I went to the beach here I was stunned by the variety of shapes, sizes, and ages wearing bikinis and Speedos.  Italians were chilling, just doing their thing.  I stood out with my very sensible one-piece for a woman of a “certain age.”

How do my friends in Italy get ready for beach season?  They put on a bathing suit and go to the beach.

I’m not sure what made me decide to take the plunge and finally buy my first bikini.  In the fitting room, I told the saleslady there wasn’t enough coverage on top. She looked at me like I had two heads.   She said that’s the way a bikini was supposed to fit.  I was skeptical.

The day came when my Eres bikini and I went out in public.  The world didn’t stop spinning.   The Italians couldn’t care less.  The only reason I stood out is because I was one of the few people of color on the beach not selling a trinket.

Now my sensible one-pieces (which actually made me look heavier) are sitting at the back of my closet.  To me function is just as important as style.  A two-piece is more practical than a one-piece.

I wish I could go back and talk to my critical younger self. I’d tell her to get a grip, just go to the darn beach, and enjoy herself.

In 2011 the Italian fashion label Miu Miu started Women’s Tales, a series of short films about women directed by female directors from all over the world.

Their most recent short was directed by Ava DuVernay.  Ava won the best director award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Here is more information about Ava’s short from Miu Miu:

The Door, by Ava DuVernay, the fifth Miu Miu Women’s Tale, is a celebration of the transformative power of feminine bonds, and a symbolic story of life change. The symbolic centre of The Door is the front entrance of the protagonist’s home. As she opens it to greet a friend in the powerfully framed opening scenes, she is shrouded in an oblique sadness. “In the film, characters arrive at the door of a friend in need, bringing something of themselves,” explains director DuVernay. “Eventually, we witness our heroine ready to walk through the door on her own. The door in the film represents a pathway to who we are.” Clothing is also a symbol of renewal, each change of costume charting our heroine’s emergence from a chrysalis of sadness. In the final scenes, she takes off her ring, pulls on long, black leather gloves, and walks, transformed by the emotive power of the clothing, through the door.

Not a word was spoken, but Ava told a beautiful story.  For some reason, I didn’t recognize Gabrielle Union at first!

The Door combines three things I’m passionate about, dècor, film, and fashion. Several of the pieces in the short need to be in my closet and hello, that house!

I’ve seen many films with “a glass house in L.A.” set design but this one really captured that L.A. loneliness vibe.  I loved it.

Last month I attended Kathryn M. Ireland’s Interior Design Bootcamp in Los Angeles.

That would be Kathryn the internationally known designer, NOT Kathy the former SI cover model.  One Hollywood exec said to me, “I thought you were talking about the model the entire time.  Alas, now our conversation has become less interesting to me.”  Too funny.  Gotta love Hollywood.

It would be hard to describe a packed four day schedule in one short blog post.  Overall, it was fantastic experience.  I was very impressed by Kathryn and her team, Jen, Rebecca, and Francesca.  I learned a lot and enjoyed meeting my fellow bootcampers.

There were only seven of us.  Six were in different stages of our careers. One bootcamper had a new house.  For her it was a good opportunity to see how a designer works.  Some bootcampers had degrees in Interior Design and their own showrooms, while others were self taught and just starting out.  It was a great mix.

If you watch the show MILLION DOLLAR DECORATORS or have read anything about Kathryn you know that along with being a talented textiles and interior designer, she’s a fantastic host.  We met some heavy hitters in the business and it says something about Kathryn that everyone she introduced us to was warm, and down-to-earth.

The workshop was organized (binders, books, baked goods!)  We received excellent nuts and bolts information and advice about the business of design.   There were guest speakers who talked about the state of the industry, branding, product development, publicity, and social media.

We also visited several high profile showrooms with Kathryn, like Lucca, Nathan Turner, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Peter Dunham, Christopher Farr, Jasper, Pat McGann, etc.

Martyn’s was our last showroom stop. He had drinks and quips for us.

There was down time too (and plenty of wine with meals). We went on a hike in Will Rogers State Park with sick views of the Pacific.  It wasn’t mandatory but a nice way to kick off a long day.  That day we visited  Kathryn’s print shop.  She opened it in Los Angeles instead of outsourcing the work.  The time it takes to hand print fabric is no joke and that’s why it’s expensive.

We worked on our mood/presentation boards for our projects with input from Kathryn and her team.  I wanted to pull my hair out as I tried to draw my floor plans by hand. Luckily for me, one of my fellow bootcampers was a kitchen and bath designer.  She talked me down off the ledge.

I can’t really say which highlight (there were many) of the workshop was my favorite.  I can say I returned to Rome feeling excited about the future and inspired.

For more information about future Bootcamps, check out Kathryn’s WEBSITE.

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Finally, my jet lag is over.

My trip to Los Angeles was fantastic.  Those who know me or read my former blog know how I feel about the City of Angeles.  However, this trip was different.

Kathryn M. Ireland’s Design Bootcamp had a lot to do with my positive experience.  I will post about that later.

While I was in L.A. I met up with two friend friends/colleagues at Farmshop located in the Brentwood Country Mart.

I was a little early so I stopped by what seemed to be a lovely stationary store.   Once I was inside, I almost lost my mind.  It was Sugar Paper!  I’ve read about this store many times but never had a chance to visit it.

Remembering my luggage restrictions (and my budget), I limited myself to just two items.  It was very difficult.

 

Stationary from Sugar Paper

Founded in 2003 by graphic designers Chelsea Shukov and Jamie Grobecker, Sugar Paper makes beautiful letter-pressed stationary.   I love their stylish designs.

There’s something really special about handwritten notes.   It’s so rare to receive one these these days.  Everything is online.

Check out Sugar Paper’s portfolio HERE.

 

 

 

 

The Bravo show recently started playing in Italy on SKY Cable, channel 124 on Thursday nights.

I read about the show before it premiered in the States. Many wondered if a show with decorating budgets in the millions would appeal to the public during a recession.

I think they picked a great “cast.”  Some of the decorators’ comments had me on the floor.

“Decorating is totally delicious.”  I agree Mr. Bullard.

“Sometimes, I think my job is more important than the President of the United States.”  “That goes without saying.”  I can’t figure out if Jeffrey Alan Marks is just playing to the camera. (A friend who’s a set designer said he is.  She adores him and said he’s very talented).

“I have clients all over the world and I don’t get out of bed for less than a million dollars.”  Do your thing Ms. Ireland.

All reality shows have a villain, but this one (so far) doesn’t seem to have one.  The designers all know each other.   Some are closer than others, but it’s nice to see a lack of back stabbing in such a competitive field.

A few of the clients don’t come across as well.  Like the one woman who said upon meeting Kathryn that she had a MBA and a law degree so how hard could interior design be?  She quickly changed her mind after spending over $500,000 shopping in Europe only to realize she had no idea where to put anything.

Bullard client Joe Francis, the CEO of that wonderful contribution to society “Girls Gone Wild”, has a 13 million dollar estate in Mexico. The way he spoke to his household staff was out of control.  Perhaps he forgot the cameras were rolling?  Did he think was okay to use that tone because they’re Mexican?  I had some L.A. flashbacks listening to him treat people like dirt.  Like the Countess from RHONYC said, “Money can’t buy you class.”

What do you think of Million Dollar Decorators?

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