Monday, April 30, 2012

Beautifully Gawdy Gaudi: La Sagrada Familia

Traveling to Barcelona for business, and specifically busying myself with the drama and intrigue of a liver disease medical conference, I mostly saw the beautiful and the raw sites of the city from the intestinal confines of a speeding taxi. An avid admirer of architecture, I was advised by many to attempt to visit at least one Gaudi piece, so, on my free Saturday afternoon, I sauntered with my colleague Sallie to the infamous and exquisitely bodacious cathedral La Sagrada Familia.

Walking through the large, thick doors into the atrium, then moving slowly into the wide, open, lofty congregation area, I almost stopped breathing; the tranquil bombardment of light and structural detail, of meticulous craftsmanship and an aura of silent spiritual worship, was truly daunting. Bending my neck backward in a nearly futile attempt to absorb as much of the ceiling as possible, I was in utter awe of the tessellating pattern of acute angles, sharp and harsh, yet delicate. Unlike many traditional Gothic cathedrals and Byzantine basilicas,  whose caverns are visually stunning, but dark like the hidden bowels of some creature, the exceptional high ceilings and interplay of colored and clear light in this space created a soft brilliance.

From the main tourist entrance, the massive body of the building is decorated with sculpture scenes, sliced from stone. As with the ceiling, the figures have a fascinating geometric quality to them, angular and strong, which juxtaposes with an equally compelling organic quality and a warm humanity in their expressions and movements. Mischievously crouching demons, warriors preparing for battle, followers and believers who adorn their visage with the beauty of their fear and sadness. It is as though they live, and merely choose to suspend their activity, their visible motion through the quotidian. Evolved from the rock, the mineral composites of their being, these figures almost appear as though they were discovered, just so, among the quarry of other rocks and boulders.

Not exactly marring the beauty of the building, though certainly obscuring it, much of the outer building is clothed in scaffolding and construction debris. The cathedral is still in progress, over one hundred years after its inception and conception. Continual growth and change seems appropriate for a design that draws so much inspiration from organic elements.

Carved into the heavy door, this geometry and linearity of this supine figure mirror.

Fragrant and vibrant lavender scattered throughout the gardens at the foot of this stunning monument; the perfume permeating from the blooms was heavenly.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Outfit for a Thursday: Polka Dots on Dots

This week has been one inflicted with serious jet-lag; obviously, this made my already tormented reluctance to abandon the haven of my bed each morning that much more potent. Nevertheless, with the glorious and almost shamefully beautiful aid of early morning caffeinated coffee, I assembled this outfit, pulling together an older cardigan, one that has been neglected and that I had nearly forgotten, with this new cream silk skirt that had yet to be worn. Although I succeeded in rousing the filmmaker, also less than perky from a project he worked on this past week, and had some photographs captured, I have not had an opportunity, really, to write anything notable, or not, until now: babysitting a blissfully sleeping beauteous baby. Spending hours on a plane, then hours working frantically in a foreign city, and again spending hours on a plane to return home, seems to leave me quite dotty, so, manifesting the sentiment physically only seemed appropriate in the moment.

For awhile, nearly every article of clothing in many mainstream franchise stores seemed to have these large floral embellishments; perhaps the ancestry can be traced to those early days of Sex and the City fictional, iconic demigod Carrie Bradshaw, with her floral brooches. No matter, it never quite seemed to meld with my tastes, but, somehow, seeped into my closet regardless. Black flowers have always been appealing to me; it has been awhile since I have seen one in the flesh, but black irises are a particular favorite.

This photograph does not quite do this tight cream silk pencil skirt justice; it is such a phenomenal and natural classic, for work, but just for feminine life, that I am mildly appalled at myself for keeping it hidden and sedated for so long.

Nothing alleviates and allays the fatigue associated with international travel like large faux pearls; if only this sarcasm were true, I would be golden. For now, the placebo effect and my deliriously exhausted delusions should suffice.

I wore these patent leather red pumps in Rome, and these black sheer polka dot tights while in Barcelona; when worn in tandem, it is as though I have generated a modern and professional Betty Boop. With plain black and other neutrals like this cream, particularly, the texture of the tights and the pop of cherry color are a wonderful flair, almost enough to wake me from my zombie daze.

Saturday evening babysitting soundtrack: After Hours at Minton's Thelonius Monk

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feigning Tiger Eyes

While I was in Rome, meandering the streets on Palm Sunday and perusing various wares, much of it typical tourist junk but amusing to shop through nonetheless, I found this large striated stone. I always admire stone pendants and had just been making a comment to my colleagues about how much I wanted a long chain necklace. As it turns out, I could purchase the pendant alone, and was able to pair it with a long silver chain I already owned. The gray, black, cream, and browns intermingling across the surface of this piece create a rather versatile statement, which can be paired with nearly any color; however, with the length of the chain, I must pay a bit of diligence to what types of necklines I pair the necklace with.

On Tuesday, I paired the new necklace with one of my favorite silk dresses, one that unfortunately finds itself hiding in my closet much too frequently: an Amanda Uprichard piece emblazoned with a tiger face pattern. Crouching, much like a large predatory cat, covert and silent, the pattern pounces; it is almost startling, at first being camouflaged so well, as though it were just random lines splattered.

Thursday evening soundtrack: "Wham City" Dan Deacon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, I have not become so wonderfully unhinged that my mind is operating at least two full seasons early, rather, I have become frantically panicked at the lovely but daunting and stressful prospect of relaxing by some body of water, either superficial or natural, in a bathing suit. While there are few things I love more than the beach, the tranquil repetition of white noise waves pounding the surf, waxing and waning in a beautifully cyclic perpetual motion, perfect for dosing and dreaming and reading, my recent travel and general tense lifestyle, both of which foster wine-guzzling and chocolate-consuming and other such debauched habits, has paid a heavy toll on my hips and thighs. Off to the gym!

(image taken from EHB)

Super Fine Shoes and Superfine

After returning from my vacation in Paris, before whisking away again across the Atlantic to Barcelona for my conference, I spent the weekend visiting my family in the city. My mother and father had journeyed up north from Baltimore, staying in an apartment in Carroll Gardens, which they had also sub-let last summer, so I was able to squeeze some great, quality reunion time in just two days.

Since my father decided to head back home on Saturday morning, Saturday night was just the ladies; David graciously offered to watch the baby, so we were free and on the loose. Before heading out for drinks and dinner at an eccentric and always delicious and comfortable local joint, Superfine, we snapped this beauty. Elizabeth and I have a longstanding, perpetually escalating joke about the various frivolous posts young girls do on various social networking sites, particularly the one that need not be named. Mainly, the shoes in a circle photograph never ceases to be hilarious. Here, we thought our rather neutral and definitively flat loafers and clogs definitely needed to be captured and memorialized, for all of our favorite friends and casual acquaintances to admire. Ten dollars to whomever can guess which are mine; free hint: they were purchased in Paris.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday Stroll

Between the pet cheetah, surely only superficially tame and domesticated, muscles thin and taunt, prepared to pounce or stalk or lunge at any moment of surprise, the beautifully sturdy and sophisticated pumps, and the what I believe to be some type of whole fox stole, fur carcasses artfully cured and draped, I do certainly wish I could swap lives, or at least, for a few moments, temporal-spatial coordinates and realities with Phyllis Gordon.

(image taken from Retronaut)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sangria Compliments

Unfortunately, journeying to Barcelona for business, specifically a large and bustling medical conference humming with various pharmaceutical executives and aggrandizingly important physicians, actually translates to an almost nauseating experience of frustration, within the confines of yet another labyrinth conference center. Thankfully, in this case, even the large central conference center, often the most mundane area of any town, was an exemplar of fascinating contemporary Spanish architecture. Besides, the medical conference did exert laudable effort in the distribution of free food; European frozen novelties, developed without the addition of accessory and disgusting gum for an undesirable texture, are nothing to be sneered at.

Anyway, alas, my trip here to Barcelona, unlike my veritable vacation to Paris, left little time to shop for Italian leather shoes or other frivolities. Tonight was my last night, and I made the pitiful realization that I had not purchased a single item, valuable and interesting or kitschy and touristy or otherwise, to commemorate my trip to, what I presume to be, an incredible and rich city. Mildly facetious, I have embarked on sufficient taxi rides and strolled enough through the narrow streets to understand the beauty and unique culture of this foreign city. Tonight, just before dinner with my esteemed colleagues, and fellow embezzlers of red wine, I also made the realization that I had not sampled any local sangria. While I would have preferred an experience in a tiny street square or a patio outdoors somewhere, I finally ordered a nightcap sangria, which seems an oxymoron of sorts, in the lobby of the business hotel near the conference center, a place of both convenience and delightful service to our generally rambunctiously tame evening ways. As a token of good faith, for our loyalty to the hotel bar this past week and the promise of future, lucrative business, I was gifted the sangria glass by the mostly bilingual waiter. Provided it does not smash in between my various layers of suits, or is confiscated by some bitter security personnel who have little better to do in the airport, it will make a fine piece of memorabilia. 

(image taken from Fine Web Stores)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Polka Dots and the Liver

Attending a large, international medical conference in a European city is always a fascinating bit of sartorial observation; there is the complete style spectrum, from smart pumps and beautifully tailored pencil skirts, silk blouses, on woman of pert and pleasant frames, to bulky and loose collared shirts, hanging out and below the belly, hair disheveled and in disarray. In the case of hepatologists and gastroenterologists, the juxtaposition of complete sophistication with utter mess is hilarious. Today, I decided to wear some black sheer polka dot tights, a choice a bit more on the fringe in terms of what is, perhaps, expected or ubiquitous, however, they were a brilliant pairing with my sleek dress and suit jacket. They may have garnered a few more stares, though, hopefully, they were admiring rather than admonishing.

(image taken from Lockerz)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Long Hair Lusting, or, Busy Before Barcelona

Before I departed for Barcelona, I had intended to squeeze a hair appointment into my schedule; unfortunately, long hours, a beautiful weekend with my family, and a marathon of packing, complete with trying on various permutations and shopping for a new jacket. Thankfully, in a gracious and generous and rare bounty of bodacious beauty from the hair goddesses, my blunt bangs are brushing elegantly to the side, their potentially awkward length avoiding my eyes and not obscuring any of my vision. Despite watching numerous tutorial vignettes online, I still cannot quite create luscious braids, but, for once, my hair is staying fairly straight. Hotel hair dryers are notoriously weak and modest, especially in a slightly pathetic joint in the crustier and more eccentric neighborhoods of town, but, again, for once, my bathroom appliances are working in my favor. I will relish in this all now, because back on the East Coast, the humidity is already saturating the air, destroying well-styled looks instantaneously.

(image taken from The Pursuit Aesthetic)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Busy in Barcelona

Mere days after returning from my business romp in Rome and pleasant perambulation of Paris, I was off and traveling again; now, I find myself in Barcelona. Once again, this is a business call: I am here for an annual medical conference, specifically exploring the ever faceted and fascinating array of liver diseases. Thoroughly exhausted from my scrunched and squashed journey over here, my brain feeling as though the skull encapsulating it tightens like a vise, I have little poignancy or inspiration to offer at this moment, visually or verbally, other than to note that I wish it were warm enough, and my industry daring enough, to embrace the suit jacket and accompanying shorts. Also, European coffee, I thank you and I adore you.

(images taken from The Pursuit Aesthetic)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Outfit for a Thursday: Red Silk

For much of winter, I was in quite the neutral automatic setting, instinctively, continually, donning either gray or black, occasionally navy. Despite sitting in my closet like an emblazoned and wild beacon, sultry and alluring, I had nearly forgotten about this fiery red silk skirt. The pattern connotes the wanton brush strokes of many Impressionist and early Modernist, as though depictions of certain famed evening skies were transformed to flames. I love this skirt and especially love it paired with stripes.

Red, white, and blue nearly always carry with the combination an inevitable weight of patriotic pride; in this case, with the competing yet complementary patterns, the association dissipates.

This necklace is actually a vintage belt, discovered, transposed in purpose, and purchased at a vintage meets modern boutique in Ithaca called Petrune. Like my silk skirt, it is a piece that I adore, yet, frequently neglect. The nautical hardware elements pair well with the traditional navy and red stripe.

Unlike the skirt and belt become necklace, these simple gold post earrings, beautiful spheres, are a recent discovery and one that has morphed into an immediate obsession. They have been laying silent and forlorn in the cavern of one of my jewelry boxes for years, at least, or so I imagine; to be honest, I have no idea where I even obtained these. I believe they were a somewhat random gift from a rather distant relative, who, during an occasion of familial obligation, noticed my penchant for things bygone and old. The pea size is ideal, especially when coupling the earrings with a more boastful necklace; they are complete simple elegance and I am thankful they were not discarded over the years.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Original Banana Republic

(image taken from Wax Wane)
(image taken from The Abandoned Republic)

My sister Elizabeth shared this story with me this morning; while I had never heard the true history of the Banana Republic brand before, I had always supposed that it, like many niche brands, had started as an entrepreneurial, possibly family endeavor. I was completely surprised to discover, as the article bluntly but accurately states, how absolutely cool the foundational philosophies and aesthetics to the brand were, and how estranged the current image and culture is from its origin. While the hyperbolic shift in the style of clothing and wares following the corporate engulf of the budding brand is unfortunate, and drastic, it is also expected; trends are inherently ephemeral. After reading the story, I am much disappointed in the loss of the dedication and fastidious, meticulous attention to the brand: the design of the stores, the creation of a truly unique and individual catalogue, and the care taken to ensure the attitude and exuberance exuded in the entire shopping experience mirrored the fervor and passion for adventure and new experiences within the founders.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Decadence on a Dime: Weleda Hand Cream

Frequently, hand creams, lip balms, and other ostentatiously essential cosmetic curiosities get lost in the busy bowels of my large business purses, and sometimes even in the more discrete abdomens of my vintage clutches. I am always pleasantly surprised and delighted when I excavate some such specimen. Today, I discovered, or rather re-discovered, a tube of Weleda Wild Rose hand cream; despite the decline of winter into spring, my skin typically remains dry and this salve is true savior. While the rose tinted perfume of this cream is powerful, it, thankfully, is not at all pungent; so many lotions daunt and taunt the olfactory senses, to the point where they negate any moisturizing qualities they may have. Simple and beautiful and potent fragrance combined with an equally beautiful and potent mollifying effect for weary hands, this is a great product to have, and to keep track of.

(image taken from Drug Store)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Outfit for a Tuesday: And the Beat Goes On

Today was my first day back in the office after my professional then personal glorious hiatus; after vacationing in the romantic and idyllic gray Paris, it was, admittedly, a tad disappointing to find that little had changed in the frantic hustle at work. I was thankful, though, that I had chosen to disconnect completely while away, ignoring the surprisingly scant smattering of emails that trickled through during my absence. At first, my deductive reaction was that I am not integral to the mechanics of the team; the immediate deluge of demands this morning assured me, for better or worse, that this is indeed not the case.

I have had this silk camisole blouse from Anthropologie for awhile now, since the early autumn, and had nearly forgotten about it. With the cream, sort of shapeless open cardigan, I had originally intended to leave it open, but then decided to tie a cinch at the waist, to give more structure to the look, as the shawl cardigan now meets where the pleated navy skirt begins. In a moment of spontaneous symmetry, the tie nearly parallels the ruffle flair of the camisole.

I bought this thick ivory bakelite bangle on Saturday morning, during my excursion to the infamous and historic markets of Saint-Ouen in northern Paris. The markets, the oldest in Paris, feature the most beautiful exemplars of art deco furniture and the most wildly opulent and luxurious pieces of designer costume jewelry I have ever seen in my entire life. Obviously, most of these items of utter design arousal were beyond my meager price range, however, this bangle was a rather good deal. The delightful shopkeeper, a quirky older woman who displayed her eccentric wares proudly, spoke French with me and, she claims, mistook me for a Parisian; despite her rather generous deceit, she was too kind.

This stylized navy, spring weight trench has a rather narrow window of when it is in season and fresh; the sun shone brightly this morning, but there was a mild chill, so I took advantage of the opportunity.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Zou Bisou Bisou Peek-a-Boo, or, Who are you, Megan Draper?

(image taken from Amoeba)

(image taken from Half-Time Hennessy)

(image taken from Emerald Scarab)

Perhaps this proverbial ship has already set sail, smooth and sure along the undulating sea, however, I can attribute my lack of timeliness to my recent meanderings in Rome and Paris: a public, rehearsed coquettish French-inspired, by way of Quebec, pseudo-burlesque dance? Madame Megan Draper, what other sultry skills of seduction and feminine charm will you reveal this season?

At the conclusion of the fourth season of the esteemed series, an ending warranting an array of sentiments from shock to anger to confusion, the creators left the audience in a whirl with this sudden engagement twist, the elusive and eloquent and occasionally conniving, occasionally oblivious Don Draper to marry his completely strange and random, though beautiful, receptionist. Fortuitously, consenting to contractual agreements with the actors brought the series to an extreme hiatus, quite convenient, giving the writers and all time to develop a character for this woman. So far, I am nonchalantly ambivalent; while I adore her edgy style, a soliloquy of Mod sophistication with a bit of French funk, the professional dimension to her arc seems lackluster, especially when trying to emerge from the towering shadows of such faceted fictional women as Joan Harris, originally Holloway, and Peggy Olson. Also, completely superficially, though, meticulous attention to detail can surely elevate a good television show to a magnificent one, I cannot stand her Parisian French accent; I want to her speak as though she is Canadian, Quebecoise, stretch her vowels in that almost disgusting way that resembles a pretentious duck.

I own a vintage costume rhinestone choker necklace, which I already have spent innumerable hours divining how I can emulate this demurely alluring look; alas, the main attraction, a wonderful black mini-dress, is what I lack. New item for obsession.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Packing on Trend, Encore: French Stripes

Vacationing in Paris without the quintessential black and white striped blouse seemed wrong, so I made sure to squeeze this tried and true boat neck tee shirt into my plump suitcase. While here, I found an edgy vintage boutique in Montmartre, where I found the black and white small polka dot scarf, which was an immediate and obvious pairing with the shirt.