books

favourite shop: dille & kamille, brussels

When Mr. A and I visited Brussels recently we came across the loveliest shop. Dille & Kamille was just steps from our hotel and I was so happy to have found it.

Of course I knew immediately upon seeing the exterior that I had to go in. Love a black and white striped awning. At first I thought it was a garden or flower shop.

The displays of neatly arranged plants on either side of the entry created a warm welcome.

This cluster of heather and sedum was so simple yet so striking. Made a note to myself to get some heather when I got home. And I did.

Inside, we discovered Dille & Kamille is much more than a garden shop. It's kitchen, bath, gourmet, utility, linens, and books and so much more. All of the goods and displays have the aesthetic of simplicity and abundance, quality and utility. My favourite.

This mountain of gorgeous market baskets caught my eye first. I want to live in a world where all the food from the market is carried home in one or two of these on a bicycle, not in a tumble of black logo-emblazoned cotton totes shoved in the trunk...sigh.

There were more lovely plants inside and they made me fantasize for a moment that maybe I should really try to keep some alive at home once I got back. I am actually trying.

The wall o' brushes for everything you could ever want a brush for was also dreamy. Yes, I find a wall o' brushes dreamy. I swooned over just such a wall at the store Manufactum in Frankfurt last year and stocked up then, otherwise a few of these beauties would have def come home with me.

More amazing scrubbing things and oh my goodness look at the blocks of soap!

Any wooden cutting board or charcuterie board you could ever want. It's here.

Also, wall o' beautiful tea. Yum.

Wall o' cookbooks. Also -- some great apron action in the forground there.

Wall o' beautiful table linens. 

Turns out there are 25 locations of this fantastic home goods shop across Belgium and The Netherlands. If you will be in either of these regions and this is your thing, I highly recommend Dille & Kamille. It's just so truly lovely and a great spot to pickup gifts to bring home. Check them out at Dille & Kamille.

rest in peace lillian bassman

 

The world lost a great talent today. Photographer Lillian Bassman passed away at the age of 94.

I was so thrilled to have the chance to interview her about 12 years ago. Her work was truly the convergence of art and commerce: Fashion photography to sell and promote garments that seem an afterthought at best and are utterly undistinguishable at times. It's an observation made by National Post writer Nathalie Atkinson, who just reviewed Bassman's latest book, Lillian Bassman Lingerie, in the Saturday paper. It's an observation also made by editors at Harper's Bazaar when Bassman was shooting for the magazine in the '50s and '60s – and the fodder for many disagreements, as she told me. As a longtime magazine editor I considered Bassman's story a cautionary tale. I imagine the editors with advertisers breathing down their long fashionable necks, "Who is this you have photographing my dress. I can't even see it in the photo. How is my customer supposed to recognize it and find it at Saks?" And yet then there is the work – the utterly breathtaking work. Sometimes the art must come first, the commerce will take care of itself.

Bassman's art began with obviously incredible skill communicating with extraordinary models. I don't forget their role. She mastered light to get a shot, but the click of the shutter was far from being the completion of her task. Through darkroom manipulation and, later, Photoshop, Bassman explored every nuance of light, shadow, fabric, shape.

One of the stories Lillian Bassman told me that stuck with me over the years is that the rule of publishing at the time dictated that any model being photographed in lingerie, or any state of undress should have her face partially obscured in the interest of modesty. Look again at these photos. It's fascinating to do so once you know this. I recalled this story reading a post Jane Flanagan did a while back on Faceless photos. They are so dreamy and often a bit sad. And a variation on this idea, I also find Jen Gotch's defaced self portraits haunting.

But back to Lillian Bassman. I leave you with just a few of my favourites from her vast body of work. I just hope someday to own one. Someday.

I turned a version of the one above (notice how the model's neck is extended and chin up in mine) into a silhouette for my former apartment (displayed it with a famous Man Ray portrait of Coco Chanel that also got the silhouette treatment) PS. UGH, I friggin' hate that this was shot with the lamp on - forgive me Lillian Bassman!:

A postcard of this one – the promo for the exhibit which was the occasion for my interview with her – lived on my mantel for a time (notice that the image is flipped for the postcard):

rest in peace Lillian Bassman. Thank you for your art.

 

designers i admire: jeffrey bilhuber

You guys! I'm back and I'm so appalled to see that it has been officially more than a month since my last post. I think that might be a neglect record. More on me and my blog another day. But for now I must share the reason I've been compelled back to this space: Jeffrey Bilhuber. That's him sitting on the awesomesauce rope stool above. Mr. B is a superstar designer as I'm sure you know. I have all three of his books and love them all for different reasons. Defining Luxury is like a decorating masterclass. The details, the details, the details - not a one missed. His latest, The Way Home, is all about high-style places looking all loose and louche - such inspiration for my styling eye. In a nutshell, here are the things I love about Jeffrey Bilhuber and his design work.

Mr. B never met a wood floor that he didn't want to paint. I so agree. 

In this room I adore the upholstered walls -- always covet upholstered walls. To me they are ultimate decorator luxury. I also love how the sofa is custom made to fill the entire length of this room and how it's layered in front of packed bookshelves. This rooms conjures thoughts of Sunday afternoon napping en famille - one of my favourite pastimes.

Jeffrey Bilhuber uses curtain rods that turn a corner back to the wall. I so much prefer this look. I find finials entirely too fussy and I love the finished look of the drapes wrapping around to meet the wall. 

He uses wicker and rattan furniture in any room in the house. It's such an old school gesture. Love.

He is the owner of a charming little cottage in an East Coast seaside town...just like someone else I know.

He's known for his sophisticated chock-full of decorating urban spaces, but he does country in such a pared down unpretentious way. Just perfect.

There are so many more things I like about his work. These are the biggies. Check him out at bilhuber.com or see the slide show of his adorable Nantucket cottage at architecturaldigest.com.

club monaco bloor st.

I am left pondering one question after my visit to the revamped Club Monaco store on Bloor St. in Toronto yesterday -- When can I move in? The store is staggeringly gorgeous. It is a miracle I made it out of there without spending a dime. Come for a tour.

Love this simple exterior seasonal decor. The majestic evergreen in its many varieties and sizes. You could easily adapt this idea at home in a front porch on a smaller scale. 

The entrance vestibule. Again, a beautiful display that you could replicate at home to store firewood. Though you don't need a woodburning fireplace to do this -- looks great on it's own, no? And again, the colour and fragrance of real natural evergreens. A warm welcome.

How do I love this? Let me count the ways: palette, architecture, chairs, square wreaths, mirror, fireplace fender, antlers in the fireplace, tile on the fireplace surround, carpet, cut log display...pretty much love everything about this. 

A closer look at the fireplace. Just love that fender and its little feet.

Such a very pretty play between the millwork and paint colours, warm antique brass and artwork.

Beautiful integration of rustic antiques for display.

Supercool display idea - books!

Another fireplace, another cool pile of books. I want that firescreen.

More architectural eye candy.

Sadly I could not fit this massively long tufted bench in my bag. Methinks it's a John Derian piece by Cisco Brothers. I'm a fan.

Um, hello, panelled wall, artwork, layering, gallery lighting, bell jar fixture, paint colour. All gorgeous.

Next time I visit I might just curl up in one of those armchairs with the fur throw and a book and see how long they let me stay.

 

wisdom, sister, albert, mita, susan and libby

 the brooke astor library designed by albery hadley. illustration by mita corsini bland from the book Sister Parish Design by susan bartlett carter & libby cameron.

Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. He who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for he will find her sitting at his gates. To fix one's thought on her is perfect understanding, and he who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.

Do you love these words as much as I do? I have been reading them over and over and over since the weekend. I heard them on Sunday at mass. That's right, mass. Catholic mass. Some Sundays I go. Last Sunday this was the first reading of the mass, from the Book of Wisdom 6:12-16. I particularly like how Wisdom is given the feminine pronoun. Go back and read that first sentence again: "radiant...unfading...easily discerned by those who love her...found by those who seek her." I mean come on -- aren't you loving this? I knew I wanted to share these words with you. Aren't we all looking for her?

So I got to thinking hmmm, what image should I use to illustrate this thought. To me wisdom = books = library. It just happens that I am currently reading this book:

It is filled with wisdom from the greatest design minds, from Sister Parish herself, to Albert Hadley, Bunny Williams, Miles Redd and many many more. It's a wonderful package of inspiration. And the room illustrations are so pretty and done by Mita Corsini Bland, who just happens to be the wife of Gerald Bland, the subject of an earlier blog post.  

It's funny how the world works: I was looking for wisdom and inspiration, so I picked up this book, then heard that reading, then wrote this and immediately thought of that room in this book...full circle.

On my to do list: making myself worthy and keeping an eye out for her on my path. Wisdom.