Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From my grandma's closet...

When I was visiting my Grandma Angelina over Thanksgiving, she mentioned that she had two dresses for me. I immediately perked up.

My Grandma grew up in Brooklyn, then moved to Connecticut when she got married, in 1953. After the incredible choices New York had to offer, Connecticut seemed like a wasteland. Luckily, my grandma had a wonderful friend, Marie, who still lived in New York. Whenever Marie saw something my grandma might like– from china place-settings to bolts of tweed to a dress for an upcoming party– she would pick it up and ship it to my grandma. "Back then," she told me, "your size was your size."

This black dress was one of the things Marie picked out for my grandma. "I wore the dress to a party in the evening, under a tent, and it was the year Stephen was born, 1961," she wrote to me. I love the full skirt and the sheer sleeves. When I first tried it on, I didn't think it would fit! My grandma was so petite. And this was AFTER she had 3 kids! When I came downstairs to show my grandpa, he looked at my grandma and exclaimed, "You were that skinny!?" and we all burst out laughing. (They're always telling my sister and I that we need to eat more!)

My grandma didn't have the original belt anymore, which she told me was wide, so I used a satin sash from another dress and tied it into a big bow.

As my grandma expected, I paired it with wild heels. I thought these Prada platforms would be perfect.

The second dress she gave me is even more incredible. It was made for her, for her honeymoon, by my grandpa's sister, Marianne. Marianne worked as a seamstress at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. When my grandma got engaged, they looked at gowns in Henri Bendel for ideas, and then Marianne made one exactly how my grandma wanted! You can tell from just looking at this dress how talented she is. The covered buttons, the collar, the piping... everything is considered and executed so perfectly.

When I slipped this dress over my head, it fit me PERFECTLY. And isn't the color gorgeous! I don't have anything orange and now I'm wondering why. It's made of silk taffeta.

I really like vintage, but getting a piece passed down from a family member is just about as good as it gets, and getting something MADE by a family member is unreal. My grandma kept these dresses for over 50 years. She told me she couldn't bear to get rid of them or put them in the dress-up box. I'm so glad she didn't. They are treasures.

(All photos © Littlehouse of Style)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dear Alexander McQueen,

I know this dress is already on sale, but if you could knock off another, oh, two thousand or so, I would really appreciate it. You're the best!


(Funnel neck dress from

Monday, January 18, 2010

What's better than a magazine?

... a GIANT magazine, of course.

At 15" x 12", FutureClaw is over twice the size of the standard magazine. In a era when even The New York Times is shaving inches off its pages, it's refreshing to see such a massive periodical. Even most of my art books aren't this big! Reading a gigantic magazine is a completely new experience for me, and it's wonderful. FutureClaw also comes in a more portable size, but why would you watch a movie on your laptop when you can see it at an IMAX theater?

I guess the only downside is that it's a little big for subway reading, but then again, maybe people will appreciate not having to squint while they're reading over your shoulder...

(All magazine photos © Littlehouse of Style, interior shots from FutureClaw, issues #2 and #3)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

She's got Hosiery!

(Emilio Cavallini tights from Daffy's, Modern Vintage booties)

Patterned stockings are one of my favorite things. I wear them at least twice a week. I buy them for my mom and girlfriends. If I see a new and interesting pattern, I can't resist. For a few bucks, they're such a fun addition to your wardrobe. You can layer them over bright-colored tights, wear them with boots so only your knee is peeking out, or with a miniskirt if you're feeling bold. I get most of my hosiery at Daffy's in New York. I've gotten countless pairs of Emilio Cavallini tights there. And at around $7 a pop! (orig $20-30)

(Emilio Cavallini fishnets from Daffy's, Dries Van Noten boots)

(Emilio Cavallini tights from Daffy's, Kathryn Amberleigh booties)

(Zac Posen tights from Gilt Group, Proenza Schouler shoes)

And of course, who can forget leggings? I prefer these knitted footless tights to the plain cotton ones— they're a little more sophisticated and I love the subtle pattern.

(Footless tights from Daffy's, Finsk platform heels)

PS. Up until now, everything I've shot on this blog has been with my little Nikon point-and-shoot digital that's over 5 years old. I can trick it into doing great things, but it usually takes a tripod and a lot of time. Having worked with a film camera for many years, I've been yearning for the ability to set my aperture and F-stop and control the focus. In short, I'm dying for a digital SLR . . . So, trying to be a smart consumer, I rented one of the cameras I'm considering for the 3-day weekend. This is the first of the shots I've taken. So far, so good. I think any of the trouble I was having has to do with my mediocre camera skills and the fact that I was shooting with the timer— good thing I know Photoshop!

(All hosiery photos © Littlehouse of Style)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A little Aldridge to brighten your day...

(Home Works, Vogue Italia, 2008)

(Spot the Fake, New York Magazine, 2006)

I think the gateway drug to fashion is photography. Long before I fell for Mme Grès, Alexander McQueen, and Prada; I was in love with Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, and David LaChapelle.

(Le Manage Enchante, Numéro, 2007)

One of the latest photographers to join my lineup of favorites is Miles Aldridge. I went to one of his gallery shows back in June and loved the vivid and electrifying images. He's like Newton on neon! 

(Bang! Bang! Numéro, 2008)

(Minuit, Paradis, 2007)

(The Vagaries of Fashion, Vogue Italia, 2007)

(Just Married, Vogue Pelle, 2008)

The gallery show was in conjunction with the release of Aldridge's latest book, Pictures for Photographers. It's a gorgeous oversized art book that's printed on 2 kinds of paper. The printing quality is exquisite and the images sparkle. The first half of the book contains Aldridge's sketches for his photos. It's so interesting to see how he essentially storyboards his shoots before he gets out the camera. Do any other photographers do that?

(The Last Range of Colours, Vogue Italia, 2007)

(Lip Synch, The Face, 2001)

(Red Marks, Vogue Italia, 2003)

(Casting Couch, Vogue Italia, 2006)

(Bigfoot Lives, New York Times Magazine, 2006)

Do these look familiar...?

(All images © Miles Aldridge)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We shall walk in velvet shoes

I do a lot of my shopping based on having a hunch. If I find a pair of shoes that are beautiful, well-made, and reasonably priced, I usually pick them up, even if I don't recognize the brand. You don't need to see a price-tag or a label to tell the difference between a $100 bottle of wine and Franzia.

When I get home, I Google my new purchase. What's the designer's background? What year and season is the piece from? Did I get a good deal? Even when I do know the brand, I like to find out a little more.

In need of some retail therapy on Thursday, I headed down to Century 21 on my lunch break. I found these cute Jil Sander pumps for $99.99 (orig $520). I've never had velvet shoes before and hit the internet to find out how to care for them (no water!)

A few entries down on my search, I came across this:

Velvet Shoes
Elinor Wylie (1885-1928)

Let us walk in the white snow

In a soundless space;

With footsteps quiet and slow,

At a tranquil pace,

Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,

And you in wool,

White as white cow's milk,

More beautiful

Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town

In a windless peace;

We shall step upon white down,

Upon silver fleece,

Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:

Wherever we go

Silence will fall like dews

On white silence below.

We shall walk in the snow.

Although a poem about velvet shoes was not the purpose of my Google search, I'm so glad I came across it. Now, whenever I put these shoes on, I'll think of the luxurious experience of stepping into a fresh snowscape.

(Velvet shoes photos: © Littlehouse of Style)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Humorous Haute

Over the years, I've collected a rather large (and heavy) stack of auction house catalogs. There are bins of them at The Strand Bookstore, and at $3 or so they are a great alternative to expensive art books. The reproductions are high quality and there are succinct descriptions explaining the significance of each piece. And didn't you always want to know how much your favorite Warhol might fetch at auction?

I picked up the above Phillips catalog a while back because of the bizarre image on the cover (and the Warhols inside... Estimate of $5000-7000 for his portrait of Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland, signed and numbered).

When I opened the catalog, I was surprised to find the cover image was not some strange photograph for sale, but an actual coat. I couldn't help smiling at the furry bears circling the collar.

In the lot description, the designer, Franco Moschino, is quoted, "I think fashion is something you can laugh about, but in the end, it's the most difficult thing to laugh at because people take it so seriously."

Of all the Vogues and photography exhibits I've seen throughout my life, I can recall many coats, gowns, and shoes that were romantic or sophisticated or bold, but only a few that were humorous. I guess wearing or designing a funny dress is more difficult than it seems... Is the person wearing those insane shoes to be funny or serious? It reminds me of the awkwardness that occurs each Halloween when we compliment a costume that is not really a costume.

However, those few pieces that made me chuckle have really stuck in my mind. For example, this dress, with its skirt made of bras. When I finally located it in one of my books, I checked the credit and discovered it was a Moschino creation as well.

(Franco Moschino Teddy Bear Coat, 1988, Phillips Catalog, December 2 2006, New York; Moschino bra dress, 1994, at The Museum at FIT, photo by Irving Solero, from Fashion, Italian Style, Valerie Steele, 2003)