Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dressing the Home

New York is a buzz right now in preparation for Fashion Week which begins tomorrow so what better way to start things off than by letting you know about a new book that peaks into the homes of some of the most talented fashion designers. Dressing the Home: The Private Spaces of Top Fashion Designers by Marie Bariller and photographs by Guillaume de Laubier has already been out in France but will be available here in either March or June depending on which online book retailer you check, and is perfect for fashion lovers and design enthusiasts alike.

I am excited for this book because I love see how fashion designers interprete their fashion aesthetic and style into the interiors of their homes. Some of the designers include Christian Louboutin, Catherine Malandrino, Patrick Cox, Betsey Johnson, and Diane von Furstenberg, as well as Dolce & Gabbana, who wrote the foreword.

Now, I just wish I could just get over this stupid cold so I can enjoy all the fashion week parties!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Habitually Chic apologizes for the lack of posts recently but she has a cold. She will resume her normal posting schedule when she is no longer an "incubus of viral plague". Good news is that she's one stomach flu away from her goal weight! Just kidding!

Photograph Kleenex, 2006, by Abelardo Morell

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chic City Kitchen

I was going to call this post, Chic Country Kitchen but then I remembered that the husband and wife owner's Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch don't care for the connotation that the phrase "country kitchen" infers, especially since theirs is in a loft in downtown New York. Regardless of what they call it, it's one of my favorite kitchen designs. The forced cherry blossoms add to the beautiful ambiance and have me drooling as well. I also thought that Decorno might need a little inspiration after her "home of never ending projects" post today. You can read the entire article about this chic kitchen here.

1) The island: The marble top comes from a lithographer’s studio in Indiana and had to be craned in through the window. Standefer found the tree stump in a forest, and uses it as a cheese platter or fruit stand.

2) The Garland stove: A well-used workhorse that was inherited from the loft’s previous owner, an urban pioneer who’d been there since 1968 and also kept a giant loom on the premises. She’d cloistered her kitchen in a dark corner of the loft. They moved the stove—and everything else—out into the open.

I'm going to have to do another post about the owners and their design firm Roman & Williams because they have a really interesting back story. They started out as set designers for movies and then started to get interior design jobs after a few celebs who admired their work started to hire them. There also came a point where they couldn't stand to watch all their hard work destroyed at the end of a shoot. They recently finished the lobby renovation of the Royalton Hotel in New York and word is that they have quite a few more celebrity clients. Now, I just wish they would post some photos online so we can see what else they have been up to!

Chic Shoes by Carmen Ho

My post about Lyell got me thinking about other designers that I love and my new obsession with Carmen Ho shoes. According to her website, Carmen Ho was born in Hawaii, raised in Hong Kong and educated at MIT where she earned a degree in business and architecture. It was a love of structure that finally led her to designing shoes.

"Wanting to fuel her imagination to create unique shoes and to run her own company, Carmen, armed with business skills acquired from her investment banking days, enrolled in the prestigious Ars Sutoria footwear school in Milan. She then went on to work in a leading Italian shoe factory, where shoes for Christian Dior, Prada, Andrea Pfister, Rudolph Menudier, among others were produced, to gain hands-on experience in design and production."

"Her design philosophy is to celebrate thoughtful details, discreet sophistication, and comfortable fit. She combines her multi-cultural background with traditional Italian shoe-making techniques to create shoes that are laboriously and lovingly made." And I agree. Her shoes are interesting and unique, as well as comfortable. The company also incorporates "social consciousness" into it's business practices which is an added bonus. You can check them out in New York at Bergdorf Goodman and other stockists online. Your feet will thank you for it!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Habitually Chic Shop: Lyell

One of the best things about living in New York, is the access we have to so many talented young designers. One of my favorites is Lyell by Emma Fletcher. The clothes have a vintage feel and remind me of a little bit like Mayle. They both have cute little shops on Elizabeth Street. But unlike Mayle, which I can barely get my arm into, Lyell actually fits. The line is romantic but also modern and wearable. They are also having a sale so if there was ever a time to check them out, it's now! Oh, and I hear a line of shoes is in the works!

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Geography of Bliss

I have a list of things I have been meaning to write about but for some reason, I feel very uninspired today. Perhaps it's because it's the most depressing time of the year. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read yesterday's post. I will admit that I am already sick of winter. Right now, I am dreaming of moving to a warmer climate because I think that sunny weather would make me happy. Well, in the new book The Geography of Bliss, author Eric Weiner, travels the world in search of the happiest place on earth.

I haven't read the book yet because if I bought it, that would be breaking one of my New Year's resolutions (you know, the one about finishing one book before I start another) so I'm curious if anyone else has read it and what they thought. It seems to be getting great reviews. I am very interested in reading more about the Danes who are the happiest due partly to their lack of materialism. Might be a book that should be required reading for all status conscious Americans. Myself included!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Worst Day of the Year?

According to a story on MSNBC, a UK psychologist has calculated that today, January 24th, is the most depressing day of the year. Apparently, it has to do with the cold and dreary weather and holiday debt. I guess the good news is that it can only get better from here!

So, if you are in need of something to cheer you up tonight, you can always head on over to the Elliott Puckette opening at The Paul Kasmin Gallery. Her new work looks to be mostly black and white and she is also experimenting with collage. If that doesn't work, you could always book a trip to the Caribbean. If anyone has any other ideas to beat the winter blues, let me know!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The House that Perfume Built

Not only were we rewarded this month by the beautiful profile of Francois Halard's home in Vogue, but of Frederic Malle's home in Men's Vogue photographed by Francois Halard, mais bien sur! The surprising part is that the Malle family lives on the Upper East of New York and not Paris! They decided to move here in 2005 and into a 3,000 square-foot triplex. Obviously, Frederic's perfume business is doing very well!

I love the mix of bright colors on the walls that set off the fabulous art and photography collection. I also don't think most people would pair bright blue walls with a red sofa but it all works. The photograph of the woman above is by Suzanne Lafont and the hand below is by John Coplan.

I always love peeking into home owned by Europeans. It always looks as if much of their furniture may have been inherited and the objects collected over a lifetime of travels around the world yet et it is also a place where modern objects feel at home. For example, a Jeff Wall lightbox and Arne Jacobsen Egg chair share space with a Veronese painting and a honeycomb bookcase by Sean Yoo.

The bedroom below incorporates an African wool bedspread and an eighteenth-century leather chair with a fabulously worn seat and more amazing art.

I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for Frederic Malle in the neighborhood or perhaps I should keep my nose open. I can imagine that he's probably the best smelling man in New York.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Does Robert Burke Owe Someone a Commission?

I was checking out Fashion Week Daily as I do everyday and came across the most interesting story below.

BURKE'S NEW PERCH: While juggling trips to Milan, Florence, Dubai, Qatar, South Korea, and Paris, where he is attending a few couture shows this week in between business meetings, Robert Burke managed to squeeze in selling his Murray Hill apartment. Not that it was ever on the market to begin with. "This realtor called me a few months ago saying her client saw the pictures of my apartment from Elle Décor posted on a design blog," Burke said. "She said, 'my client really, really wants to buy your apartment.'" Figuring he would never hear from her or the client again, the shrewd luxury consultant surreptitiously made an offer that was well beyond what would've been the appraised value.

Lo and behold, the realtor called back and said his client had agreed to the amount. Both parties signed the deal on Thursday. So now, upon his return from Paris, Burke, and his Steven Klein photographs, will be temporarily living out of a hotel until his new apartment--a full floor-through loft on Park Avenue South just north of Gramercy Park that's double the size of his old pad and comes with a rooftop terrace--is finished being renovated. "I'm going to have to get all new furniture now," he laughed. "This new place is more modern compared to my old place, which was classic--but not wound-up classic."

Now, I'm not exactly sure on which design blog they saw Robert Burke's apartment but I did profile it in it's entirety this past September in my post entitled Man About Town so it could have been mine. And in which case, I think I am entitled to a little commission on this deal. Don't you?! What do you say Mr. Burke? How about a little something for me?

Perfume by Kilian

It's hard not to think someone would be successful when their family's last name makes up the H in LVMH but Kilian Hennessy has worked hard and paid his dues and now has a wonderful new fragrance collection to show for it called By Kilian. He became interested in fragrance while studying at the Sorbonne and took classes at the Cinquieme Sens, a fragrance school in Paris, and later interned at Firmenich, a fragrance house where he trained with the best noses. Later, he went on to create and market scents for major fashion houses. It was only last year that he decided he wanted to create his own scent using the highest standards of the craft and "to put perfume back on a pedestal."

His collection of six scents is darkly romantic and has been deeply influenced by his love of literature. The packaging is beautiful as well. Each bottle is nestled in it's own handsome wooden box that actually locks with a key. Of course, this is not without expense. The perfume retails for $250 but later you can just pick up a refill for $95. Bergdorf's carries the Kilian line and so of course I had to peruse the collection and they all smell heavenly. According to Hennessy, "perfume should either be a shield, to create an environment of ease, or else a weapon of seduction." Sounds like my favorite, Liaisons Dangereuses might be of the latter persuasion. Check them out for yourself at Bergdorf Goodman or Aedes de Venustas.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Women Then and Now

The movie The Women from 1939 is a bit of a cult classic in New York. Based on the 1936 play by Clare Boothe Luce, it follows the lives of a group of backstabbing, gossipy, spoiled New York socialites. Many fashion designers have admitted to watching it for inspiration so when I heard they were planning a modern remake, I was curious as to how they were going to do it considering that most of the movie centers on the characters traveling to Reno for divorces, which is no longer necessary in this day and age. But then I just read in Vanity Fair that the women in the new movie would be traveling to a "ashram-style retreat." Perfect! I can't believe it didn't think of that. Below is a photo of the new A-list cast.

The funny thing about the original movie was how modern the women seemed. You see them exercising and taking care of themselves just like today's New York socialites. Pretty funny then that they are remaking a movie that was already ahead of it's time. My suggestion is that you rent the original before you see the remake this fall.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

David Jimenez Does It Again!

Kansas City non-professional interior designing wizard, David Jimenez, has been at it again. This time it's at his vacation home in Palm Springs where he has gone wild with color and pattern. He also has an amazing new website where you can check out more photos of his interiors and event designs. It's a good thing he's still working at Hallmark and hasn't decided to go professional because if he had, he'd surely give a lot of interior designers a run for their money! Enjoy!

Chic Pencil Cups

I came across the photo of Peter Som in his office above and thought it was very clever that he had used old Diptyque candle jars to hold his colored pencils. Then I saw he photo of Alexander Wang's New York apartment in the February issue of Domino and on his desk was an old Diptyque candle jar holding pens and scissors. Do all fashion designers think alike? Regardless, it's a fun way to reuse something that would otherwise be thrown away. Just clean out the old wax first so you don't ruin your pencils by freezing the jar or soaking it in hot water. Then enjoy your chic new pencil cup!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Apartment and Photos by François Halard

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I love the photography of François Halard so I was very excited when I opened my February 2008 issue of Vogue to find the most amazing article about his home in Arles, France and his loft in New York, with photography of course by Monsieur Halard. I've posted a few of his New York apartment photos here and I don't think they will ruin anything for you since there are many more in the magazine.

The loft was designed in a former warehouse by his nephew Bastien Halard who is an architect and it's apparent that creativity runs in the family. The new space was designed to look old with a patina of age and to be an extension of his home in Arles. I love the mix of objects including an African mask on the faux plaster mantel above. You can just imagine François Halard collecting amazing souvenirs on his travels to photograph the most beautiful interiors of the world.

In the dining room, the tabletop is placed on two plaster column planters from the thirties and the wood chandelier is copied from the original in Halard's home in Arles. I also love how he mixes modern photography, not all his own, into every room, including the kitchen below.

The article was a wonderful surprise and so interesting to read. Definitely pick up a copy of the new Vogue and I guarantee that you will be just as in awe as I was!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Love Walking Through Your Front Door

I went onto Nate Berkus' website yesterday to look for photos of his West Village apartment for inspiration for Black gloss trim, his turned out to be blue-black. Anyway, while there I stumbled onto his portfolio for his interior design firm, Nate Berkus Associates, and all I could think was wow! When you think of Nate Berkus, you immediately think of him making over tired and sad spaces for maximum impact on The Oprah Show but what I saw was simple yet elegant, refined yet comfortable and sophisticated but not stuffy.

My litmus test of a great interior designer is if I could see myself moving into their finished design and being completely at home without making any changes and Nate Berkus passed my test. One of the quotes says, love walking through your front door and I would love to walk through the front door of any of his designs.

This photo above is one of my favorites. I wish I knew where all the homes were located but to me, this is the perfect look for a more sophisticated beach house. Not every weekend getaway home needs to be super casual, especially if that's not the way you usually live your life.

This is a detail from the room above and I am in love with those chairs. I wish I could find something similar at the flea market so I could upholster it in a similar fabric.
I think one of the reasons that I'm drawn to Nate's work is that he doesn't seem to use a lot of bright colors or patterns. It's funny that I love looking at fun prints and crazy patterns but in my own home, I like calm and soothing tones. I think it's one of the results of living in a crazy city. When you come home, you want a sanctuary of peace.
Nate may not use a lot of pattern but he does use a lot of great textures and color combinations. There are a lot of colors in the room above but it's still harmonious and soothing.
Great artwork also seems to be a Nate Berkus hallmark. Who knows if he or his clients picked it out, it all seems to flow beautifully into his designs. I love the gallery walls he creates.
The porcelain Nymphenburg rhino on the mantel above looks like the one Nate has on his desk in his New York apartment. I wonder if it's a coincidence or if they borrowed it for the photo shoot.
When you think of beige, you usually think boring but there is nothing boring about the room above. Again, it's the use of textures and tones that keeps it interesting.
The bedroom above and the bathroom below I think are from a private home but they have the look of a fine French hotel like the Ritz in Paris. That bed is to die for and so is the chandelier above the bathtub. Amazing!

And if his great designs and friendship with Oprah weren't reason enough to want to hate Nate, he's also dating the hottest shoe designer around, Brian Atwood. Brian not only designs his own eponymous line but he was also just tapped to turn around Bally, and if anyone can do it, he can. Talk about a designing duo. I look forward to seeing what these two have up their sleeves next!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ahoy Matey! There Be Pirates Ahead!

As a jaded New Yorker, my sense of price can sometimes be skewed. I'm constantly surrounded my expensive stores and objects but today I almost fell off my chair when I found out that Red Beard's Revenge Pirate Ship Playhouse available from Posh Tots and seen on costs $52,000! Yes, I said $52,000!

It is handcrafted and made to order, I'll give them that. And I guess if you are a billionaire and your children already have everything they could ever desire, why not buy them their own pirate ship. It is pretty cool. But the rest of me can't help but think that this thing costs more than most cars! What ever happened to creating a make believe pirate ship with a cardboard box and an old sheet?

It's things like this, in addition to sitting around in front of video games and the computer, that make me worry about the youth of America. What do you think? Is it fabulous or freaky?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Style and Comfort?

Get in line now ladies, Diane von Furstenberg is set to launch her first line of shoes next month. After her daughter suffered from back problems and was forced to wear ugly orthopedic shoes, DVF made it her mission to create stylish and comfortable shoes.

"I wanted to create power shoes for the woman on-the-go and on her feet," said von Furstenberg. "My shoes are not just pretty accessories; they are functional and serve a purpose. Women on-the-go need power, comfort, and fashion."

The collection will consist of 12 looks of heels and flats and will range in price from $195 to $350. Much less than Christian Louboutin and also more modern. My favorite pair are called the CEO, a leather platform slingback with a chunky heel that I spied in the February issue of Harper's Bazaar. I will definitely be stalking my favorite stores until I find them! Happy Shopping!


I always look forward to when The Sartorialist goes to Florence to cover the men's collections for his blog and I love drooling of the well dressed European men who are almost always much more debonair than their American counterparts. I mean where else can a man wear wear a coat ever his shoulders and not only look hot but also not get made fun of by other men? Only in Italy my friends. Only in Italy. I think I might have to move there!

What's Mine Could Be Yours!

When I mentioned in my New Year's post that I was going to start selling some of my possessions on eBay, a few people asked if I would let them know because they said they would be interesting in purchasing my "castoffs." I originally thought this would be some sort of conflict of interest since I wouldn't be selling fabulous furniture like Maison21, I'd probably be selling clothes I wore once. But then I decided to sell some of my design books that I know some of you might be interested in acquiring which is when I changed my mind and thought it might not be a bad idea after all. If you are interested in buying David Hicks On Bathrooms or David Hicks On Home Decorations, click on their titles and you will be redirected to eBay. From there you can check out my other items up for sale. Happy Bidding!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bourgeois Bohemian = Bobo

One of the newest hot spots in New York right now is a little gem of a restaurant called Bobo. I've been hearing about it everywhere and even the February 2008 issue of Domino has given them a shout out. (Don't worry, my post won't ruin it for you. They use different photos.) It's comfortable and homey restaurants and that was the point. Owner Carlos Suarez intended the Pan-European cuisine to be served in an intimate setting that conjures an old-world dinner party in what he calls “a fantasy apartment in Paris or Rome.”

When Suarez dreamed up Bobo, he wanted to avoid the “large, impersonal restaurants” he says were cropping up in the meatpacking district. So he rented a U-Haul and drove it upstate every weekend for months. “We’d come back with truckloads of goodies,” he says, and among them were six yellow French country chairs that he purchased at a Saugerties antique store for $50 to $75 each.

The restaurant’s designer was his cousin Dolores Suarez who along with her friend Caroline Grant founded the design firm Dekar in 2000 and also decorated the Zagats’ apartment. "They upholstered the chairs with a floral-print, stain-resistant material and painted them black. Now they’re tucked under a copper chef’s table purchased from Odegard, under a spider chandelier possibly salvaged from a bank. Not all of Bobo’s chairs came cheap though, when he ran out of money to buy more, Suarez brought in some from his apartment!"

Sadly, I've hear rumors that the food might not live up to the decor's "promises of a magnificent dinner." So perhaps one should go in with low food expectations and just check out the fabulous design details that will definitely leave you inspired. By the way, don't forget to take a trip to the loo to check out the Cowtan & Tout Calliope wallpaper!