Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Follow Me To Work - LA

Last August, while I was in New York, this post invited you to discover my itinerary to work. I'm in Los Angeles now and last week, I worked in Hollywood. Of course, in LA it's all about driving. Follow me!
When I get off the freeway, I love glimpsing at Dorca's - this tailor used the outside walls of her shop as an advertising billboard, with figures in a compellingly naive style. The other wall is all in Spanish, and prominently offers quiceañera gowns, to be worn to girls' lavish 15th birthday parties.

Los Angeles is a super multicultural city. After passing by the Latino tailor place, I stop at Sunset and La Brea for a Middle Eastern treat - Mashti Malone's ice creams in flavors such as rose water, saffron and (my favorite) orange blossom with pistachios, are irresistible.

A few blocks down, when I drive past the crazy Chinese theater, I know I almost reached my destination. While the tailor place and the ice-cream parlor are the real thing, the Chinese theater is gloriously fake, a crazy take on an imaginary Oriental style.

And for a good laugh on the way, there's always the "Let,s Relax" sign put up by someone who is obviously very confused about spelling and punctuation - who doesn't love a great typo?

At my desk - out of my Sesame Street tote come stumbling out a notepad I adorned with Ingres's superb portrait of Madame d'Haussonville, sharp pencils and, of course, an apple.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fashion Structures

To inaugurate the new Resnick pavilion, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art brings us Fashioning Fashion, an exploration of fabrics, cuts, trims etc. from the late 18th century to the 1910's. The exhibition is very poorly staged, compared to the recent fashion show about American women, at the Met, which featured settings and characters seemingly interacting. Here, each piece is displayed in a box, archive-style. What a lost opportunity!

Next week I will show you my favorite pieces, but in the meantime here are some dramatic fashion structures - various kinds of corsets and other "figure enhancing" devices that are tremendously architectural. By the way, the show also features padded jackets to make men's chests seem bulkier and "waist binders," also for men.
One fascinating phenomenon is how developments in technology allow fashion to be transformed - case in point, this metal panier that could be created thanks to breakthroughs in the use of steel.

Contrasting with all those metal structures, supreme designer Paul Poiret's exquisite 1915 brassière (below) offers another type of support altogether...

Monday, October 18, 2010

At Home

From top:
Fresh plums from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market...
A wonderfully warm 100% wool throw woven in Argentina, from luxurious brand Alta Pampa. So expensive but so worth it - as I may be moving very soon to a freezing cold place, I really need this...
Bill's Bees is a tiny local Los Angeles company that offers, in addition to honey, a few all-natural natural skincare products such as this magical almond-scented balm.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cat On A Ladder

Earlier this month, on the occasion of St Francis of Assisi's day, AUREA celebrated dogs; no sooner had I clicked Publish that guilt started gnawing at me - what about my feline friends? I envisioned a forest of revengeful claws looming in the distance. To make up for my oversight, here is a post devoted to Cats.
Above is a witty bowl (yes, a bowl can be witty) created from the wonderful Koide Studio (an Esty boutique). Kitty, kitty on the ladder, what are you looking at with such rapturous attention? Oh, I see, it's delicious goldfish...

And since we are on the subject of cats, I cannot not mention my sister's Petimoo, who lives the life of an Oriental princess at my sister's home in Dubai.
(Photo credit: Joren Scharn)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Art In LA

It's unfortunate that the image most people get of Los Angeles springs from shows such as Baywatch and 90210... Really, LA is a city that is rife with exciting exhibitions when it comes to art. Here are some shows I don't want to miss. UCLA's exotic Fowler Museum currently shows Korean funerary figures, wooden "dolls" that traditionally accompany the dead into their tombs and towards there hereafter. And the show is free! Also at UCLA (top picture), an upcoming dance performance by the Helios Theater.
Meanwhile at LACMA (LA County Museum of Art), the brand new red and white Resnick Pavilion, designed by Renzo Piano, offers Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915; I'm very eager to see those treasures.

Above are 2 irresistible ads for museums: with plenty of wit, the Getty Center parodies nutrition information boxes, while the Natural History Museum presents a toothy Angeleno.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Out Stealing Horses And A Scone

This seems to have become a recurrent type of posts on AUREA - snapshots of a book I'm reading and a scone or other delicious snack. Above, a macchiato and a corn-blueberry scone (at Groundwork, on Rose in Venice) await me together with Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses. In this novel, an elderly man, who lives with his dog Lyra in a remote cabin in the Norwegian wilderness, remembers his youth. The forests and the fjords are ever present, and if the weather is sometimes described in exquisite details, it is probably because in those parts of the world the climactic conditions mean life or death. Sometimes a couple of sentences stand out like Japanese haikus, terse and expressive - for instance, page 121:
A swan comes in to land. Soon there will be ice on the lake.
But mostly, it is a poignant coming of age story with echoes of Turgenev's splendid First Love - I can't say more without giving it away...

And speaking of harrowing literature, have you heard that a poem about Sylvia Plath's suicide, by Ted Hughes, was just found in his papers? It's extraordinary. Hear Jonathan Pryce read a passage from it.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Hot Chocolate

I usually don't love hot food, the kind that makes you weep and yearn for a fire hydrant while your lips triple in volume under the blaze. But lately I have become addicted to "hot" chocolate - the kind that includes chilis, in keeping with the ancient Mexican tradition.
The easiest one to find is Dagoba's Xocolatl, which leaves a teasing rasp in my throat and my tongue atingling. But my favorites are by Taza (with Guajillo chilis) and ChocoVivo. Both of these are made with stone-ground beans, a process that has been used in Mexico for over 2 millennia (read more about the process here). This makes for a rather grainy texture that takes some getting used to but once you're hooked, you really don't long anymore for the creamy texture of chocolates loaded with added cocoa butter.
Another bar from ChocoVivo that often buy at the Venice Farmers' Market, where these bars are sold, is the one with almonds and sea salt.
And because all these bars are so hot and spicy, I don't even feel like eating pound after pound to satisfy my cravings. A little chili goes a long way.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Let's Celebrate Dogs!

October 4, the feast of St Francis of Assisi, is the ideal day to celebrate animals. Last Sunday in LA and around the world, many churches organized pet blessings and I found this poster, spotted in hip Silverlake, absolutely irresistible.
Of course, some pets don't wait for this special occasion to step into a shrine. I remember with delight the arguments that Colette recreates in one of her masterpieces, La Maison de Claudine, as her very own mother, who adored animals, and the local priest quarrel about whether or not her faithful dog should be allowed to attend mass with her. As the mother has trained the pet to get up and sit down together with the congregation, she cannot see what the grumpy priest could possibly object to. Like most of Colette's writings, it is exquisitely written and amusing while still conveying a fearless sense of love.

Above: a baby dachshund I met in Santa Monica, an animal rescue USPS stamp, a Japanese book from the magical Kinokuniya Bookstore in Little Tokyo (crochet dachshunds? kawaii!)
But how can we celebrate dogs without Benjy, ask you. You have a point. Rejoice, as Benjy will soon be back on AUREA in his Oracle capacity, to answer a question from a fan... Woof!