Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's a Toile world after all...

Mr. Peacock has always had an admiration and curiosity with toile de Jouy. Mention the words “toile de Jouy” and most people think of fabric decorated with pastoral scenes of shepherds, maidens, and sheep. Many toile fabrics do have idyllic pastoral scenes, however, there are many modern toiles that push the boundaries of the traditional themes. Toile de jouy originated in France in the 1700’s and literally means “cloth from Jouy-en-Josas,” a town in north-central France.

Above: Découper Toile wallpaper by Timourous Beasties.

I’ve tried to have “something” toile in each place I’ve lived, whether it was a fabric pillow, an upholstered piece of furniture, or a wallpapered wall.

Mr. Peacock especially likes very traditional toiles in contrast with mid-century/modern furnishings. I used the toile pattern, Hommage de l’Amérique a la France (America pays homage to France), originally from the late 1700’s (reprinted by Pierre Deux, although I'm not sure if they have it now) as the backdrop for my Saarinen dining table in my last apartment.The leftover wallpaper ended up covering a wall in my current bathroom.

These toile tiles would look amazing in my kitchen!

I'm still swooning over this amazing toile shirt by Etro, from a few years ago.

And I’m still flabbergasted by Mimi Kirchner’s amazing tattooed dolls, using various toile fabrics.

The Glasgow based design studio, Timourous Beasties, stock an amazing array of provocative toile fabrics and wallpapers (shown above—London Toile).

Their Glasgow Toile, at first glance (above), looks like one of the magnificent vistas portrayed on early 1800s Toile de Jouy wallpaper, but closer inspection reveals a contemporary Glasgow where crack addicts, prostitutes and the homeless are depicted against a forbidding backdrop of dilapidated tower blocks and scavenging seagulls.

This lovely Tribeca Toile wallpaper is by Paul Kohn Design.

Interior designer, Sheila Bridges, designed a wonderful Harlem Toile—celebrating Harlem, New York. She has many wonderful colors available in wallpaper, and now bedding!

Last fall, fashion designer Jeremy Scott partnered with the Schott NYC, known for classic American leather jackets, to create this limited edition leather toile jacket—a pastoral blue toile with troll dolls!

Above left to right: Detail of a lower part of a dress, c. 1750; Scénes chinoises (Chinese scenes), c.1780. Both toiles from the book—Printed French Fabrics.

My friend, John, turned me onto an amazing book called Printed French Fabrics. It is a must have addition for any toile afficando’s library! The author, Josette Brédif, thoroughly examines the history, process and social context of toile de jouy fabrics.

Mr. Peacock loves the clever wit of Historically Inaccurate's one-of-a-kind hand-embroidered toile pillows and cushions (thanks Kelly Jo). The clever pieces are made by the Queens, New York based artist, Richard Saja—check out his blog here. He is also busy preparing for his first solo exhibition at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont—May 17 to October 25, 2009. More information here.

A few years ago, I even made a pair of pants with toile. Here I am on a roof in San Francisco—holding a pal’s dog (left), and lounging in my toile pants at a bohemian friend’s house in Laurel Canyon (right).

Above: A friend gave me some Schumacher Circus Toile with clowns! I have it folded up and haven't decided what I'm going to use it for.

I find most people either love or hate toile de Jouy. The camp that falls into the hate category, however, I feel just haven't seen toile used in the right context. There's so many different toiles available right now!

Do you like toile?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Andreas Kronthaler—Dandy Designer

Mr. Andreas Kronthaler is the creative force and inspiration for Vivienne Westwood MAN, and he isn’t afraid to design and wear what suits his personality. Mr. Peacock would describe Mr. Kronthaler’s style as traditional, with a modern twist...and salutes this stylish peacock.

Andreas Kronthaler recently said, “Nobody can avoid tradition—but you should not confuse it with conservatism. You must interpret tradition, otherwise it is stale, dead and boring.”

Whether he is attending a social event or hanging out with his wife, this peacock icon is dressed to please himself—well, maybe his wife too.

Andreas is a scarf aficionado, and frequently wears them—either draped around his neck, as ascots or as a head coverings. Mr. Peacock loves the paisley scarf he's wearing! (above)

Mr. Kronthaler has been married to the doyenne of British street style, Vivienne Westwood, since 1992. He is 25 year years younger than her. They met when she was teaching design in Vienna in 1988—he was her student and she hired him on the spot. Ms. Westwood thought he was the most talented person she ever met, and has said they’re perfectly matched.

Their relationship, however, is unconventional in many ways. Kronthaler is bisexual and Westwood has often said sex is overrated. She told the Telegraph last year, “'I've never been interested—I've never worried what he's up to or anything. I let him go—not let him, I mean he goes on holiday by himself. And he'll change his clothes two or three times a day, even on the beach...”

Above left to right: A black moment in the 90's—and clean shaven; a portrait by Annie Leibowitz.

Admittedly, their relationship is unique, but it is obvious that Andreas and Vivienne have an incredible passion for style and fashion.

In 1993, his wife named her trademark ‘MacAndreas’ tartan after him.

Andreas Kronthaler is on the Spring 2009 cover of 10 Men magazine, and a fantastic feature story of him wearing an array of Vivienne Westwood pieces (see photo above).

Above left to right: Pamela Anderson, posing with Vivienne and Andreas; and in the recent ad campaign for Vivienne Westwood MAN.

Andreas said in 10 Men, “Wearing good clothes, I always think, makes the day better; you live a good life. It helps you. And I think, especially when you are depressed or down, dress up!” Mr. Peacock agrees, especially in these troubled times, to wear things that reflect your personality and that make you feel good. Thank you Andreas Kronthaler for being an inspiration!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It’s all Black & White

(click image above to enlarge)

You know by now that Mr. Peacock has a weakness for anything black & white. Don’t get me wrong, I love color, but there is something alluring about the crisp pairing of black & white...

1) A blend of Peruvian Pima and Viscose make this graphic Stripes T-shirt soft, thin, and just slightly sheer. The stripes have a Constructivist feel to Mr. Peacock. Order one here.

2) A Rod Keenan hat never disappoints, and this Black & White Trilby Hat is no exception. More information here.

3) Mr. Peacock loves the Guido Crepax surreal-erotic comic art, featuring the character, Valentina (at right), used as black & white graphics on this Lacquered Italian Cabinet. This piece reminds me of Fornasetti, but a bit edgier and pop. More information here.

4) This cotton Schoolboy Style Blazer, in black with white piping, could easily become your favorite spring item in your wardrobe. Buy one here.

5) Black & white leather get mixed up and graphic on this chic Raf Simons Bowling Style Bag. More information here.

6) This Tableau Tablecloth is decorated, using a photogram technique, with the silhouettes of the aftermath of a dinner party. Order one here.

7) This Bow Tie Wallet (at right) is like an exquisite piece of oragami. Each wallet is hand made in London by craftsmen using russet leather and flash spun high density polyethylene—which give this wallet a paper-like tactility. Buy one here.

What's your favorite black & white item in your house or wardrobe?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Room of the Month—Mr. Peacock

Here’s a peek at Mr. Peacock from the monthly feature, The Room, in the upcoming May 2009 issue of the San Francisco lifestyle magazine, 7x7.

I’m really hooting it up here on my sofa! The numbers on the photo correspond to text on the 7x7 website (and layout in the upcoming May issue), click here to read the full copy.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve moved many times over the years, and I never had a “real” sofa. I would usually have a large table with chairs in my living room—easier to move than a large sofa, and great for large dinners. People didn’t like coming over to my place, because there wasn’t anywhere comfortable to hang out. A friend in the furniture biz convinced me (with a great price too) that it was time to get a nice, adult sofa. Well, being a Gemini, I had a difficult time deciding and committing to a single sofa style. The sofas that were visually appealing were unfortunately terribly uncomfortable—and visa versa. Many of the sofas that were super comfortable, looked like an upholstered beached whale, with piles of pillows. I even went to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (the amazing furniture fair in Milano) on my quest to find the ultimate sofa with perfect form and function. I did find two comfy and nice looking chairs in Milano, and was ready to order them, however, they didn't meet the fire codes (or something problematic) in California and it would have turned into a big project to get them here...

Above: I like the look of this IKEA "Karlstad" sofa. It would look great with a patterned slipcover!

In the meantime, another pal told me to just get a cheap IKEA sofa as a temporary solution, and then get rid of it when I decide on my “permanent” sofa. I took his advice, but wasn’t too crazy about the shape and silhouette of the IKEA "Nikkala" sofa I selected (now discontinued)—but it was super comfortable, and not too bulky. When it was delivered, however, I was taken aback by the tyvek used as upholstery fabric under the white cotton slipcover, and thought that it wouldn't be very durable.

Above: I like this black on white stylized peacock fabric at IKEA. It also comes in the reverse—white on black fabric. I think it would look interesting on a sofa.

Well seven years later, I still have the $400 sofa from IKEA, and the foam is just as firm as it was the day I purchased it. I’m shocked tooI think they have a 10 year guarantee on the sofas. I was never a couch potato in my life, but I have to admit, I’ve taken many naps and lounged on this inexpensive comfortable sofa.

After 7x7 Magazine heard my sofa testimonial, they asked me if I would share my tips on how I styled my own IKEA sofa on video for their website. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the darn video to embed here on the blog, but you can watch it here. The photos (above and below) are stills from the video by Jason Jurgens.

I’m sill on the hunt for the sofa with “perfect” form and function, but until I find it—I’ll keep making different slipcovers for my comfy “vintage” IKEA couch.

I want to thank all of the folks at 7x7 Magazine (including the editor of my piece, Leilani Labong; the photographer, Joe Budd; and the videographer Jason Jurgens) for doing such a great job, and making me feel at ease. And also, thanks to the folks at IKEA for being so accommodating for Mr. Peacock. Thank You!

What kind of sofa do you have—do you love it? Is it comfortable, or just look good—or both?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rebellious Luxury—James 3.0

James Schenck (aka James 3.0) is a modern peacock that appreciates soft t-shirts and meaningful accessories. He’s the co-founder/creative for You Macbeth+A Disgrace to the Royal Crown, a lifestyle brand of jewelry, with a sub-line of t-shirts (please note website should be back up soon). The philosophy of You Macbeth is rebellious luxury.

This gentleman majored in Sociology at Vassar, and minored in Fine Arts. James and his best pal at Vassar, began making rings for themselves—because they couldn’t find ones that had style and meaning. Their jewelry collection includes limited edition Insignia rings and their signature double finger rings (see above). These striking rings are handcrafted, and as James says, “...Appeal to people as a type of modern-day talisman.”

In addition to being an entrepreneur, this gentleman peacock is also a talented painter and blogger. His blog, Blending Reality, addresses style and trends he spots while criss-crossing the globe from LA, Ohio, Philly, NYC and Tokyo. James also aspires to work in fashion media.

Above: A peek at James's desk.

Mr. Peacock: How would you describe your own style?
James Schenck: I like to think that it is "academic luxury," with a good sense of humor. I really like the idea of ageless fun. What inspired me in elementary school still inspires me: book covers on science text books, art class, dioramas, recess, birthday cupcakes during class, paper crowns...but now refined. I also think comfort is key.

Above: Citizens of Humanity jeans, Dior shirt, vintage sweater and bow tie.

MP: How old were you when you realized you were a peacock
James: I was always interested in the presentation of the self. I was really insecure all the way until college. Once I started studying sociology, I was able to understand myself in a greater picture. It wasn't until the end of my freshman year, at Vassar, when I switched from an observer of style to an experimenter of my own.

Above: Treasures on top of the dresser.

MP: What's your favorite item in your wardrobe?
James: Ugh. So many. Too many. I don't really shop now—I hunt. I watch and wait until I find an article that makes me swoon. I only wear what I love and what makes me feel great. I think that is most important.

Above: A contrast of colors and patterns in James's bedroom, with one of his paintings above the bed.

I never understood what dressing with confidence meant. Then I just started wearing things for the hell of it—because I loved it. Everything in your wardrobe should be your favorite. Once you don't like it, get rid of it.

Above: Animal lover wearing American Apparel deep V, strong and rich jeans, and Bally shoes.

MP: Do you have a particular item of clothing you're obsessed with?
James: It used to be t-shirts, I was obsessed with finding soft ones. Then I became an underwear guy. I liked having silly pairs. Then tank tops. I suppose I still love a good tank top. Looking around, I seem to have more belts and scarves than anything else...haha. I think it is because they are easy to try on. I hate trying things on.

Above left to right: James with his nephew and niece, wearing a Balenciaga bomber, scarf from Barney's, Levis, and a vintage belt; puppy love.

MP: Do you wear vintage clothes or only "new" clothes?
James: VINTAGE!!!

MP: Do you make any of your clothes?
James: I wish. I do have a few t-shirts from my line, You Macbeth.

Above: A tableau on the nightstand of James 3.0.

MP: Who is your ultimate style icon?
James: Hmm. Dolly Parton is amazing (see above). I like her attitude towards her look. I also think Jude Law (see below—from Dior and Dunhill ad campaigns) always looks effortless.

MP: Do you have a favorite menswear designer or brand?
James: I try not to stay too loyal to one. I think that makes you look like a poser. Saying that, there are a few stores I always have to check out.

Above left to right: AA thermal, Alpha cashmere hat; a hipster look with a friend's glasses.

MP: Any menswear trends you adore? or abhor?
James: I am just happy that menswear seems to be moving at a steady clip now. I feel like it used to be so one note for so long, and then one big shift with little variety between—there was no experimentation or alternatives. Now there are several movements that all dialogue (dandy, hipster, rocker, frat bro-keeping metro alive, futurists, hippies...) Menswear is an exciting environment. Yeah, there is some dogma, but for the most part, I love it.

MP: Any movie, book or song that changed your life?
James: Ayn Rand'sThe Fountainhead.

MP: Do you wear jewelry?
James: I always wear my You Macbeth double finger rings (see below)!!!

MP: Tote bag, satchel or messenger bag?

MP: Do you prefer facial hair or clean shaven?
James: Facial Hair. I'm lazy.

Above: A childhood rock collection arranged at the foot of James's bed.

MP: What would be your dream purchase right now?
James: A Yacht...haha...I'd wear the F* out of it.

MP: Morning dove or night owl?
James: Night Dove.

Above: James's coffee table—Mr. Peacock loves the tureen of crayons, and the latch hook rug tapestry of a hot air balloon, in the background!

MP: What are your favorite fashion magazines?
James: Dutch was the most amazing magazine....I'm so sad it is gone. 10men, Vman, Arena Homme +, BUCK is new and AMAZING, Fantastic Man, among others...

When Mr. Peacock first saw the sublime double finger ring collection from You Macbeth, he immediately thought of his favorite high school English teacher, Mrs. Ghering. She was obsessed with Emily Dickinson, and only wore white—always white slacks, white turtlenecks, white ponchos, clear plastic mules and a perfectly coiffed platinum white wig. I digress and mention this because she always wore vintage Native American turquoise jewelry, including a stunning double finger ring (with a single band) with a large, flat turquoise stone (about 2.5 “ in diameter) resting on top. I had an entire semester of Shakespeare with Mrs. Ghering, and she would dramatically read passages aloud of, you guessed it, Macbeth. Mr. Peacock’s eyes were always fixated on Mrs. Ghering’s unique double finger ring. She was so chic and eccentric, and would have loved the unique lifestyle accessories of You Macbeth...and so does Mr. Peacock! He also admires the style of James 3.0. Be sure to stop by his blog, Blending Reality, and get a glimpse into the creative and keen eye of this modern peacock. Thanks James 3.0!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Orange Julius at the Mall

In 1966, a brand new mall opened less than a mile from my house. The mall was named, Villa Italia, and it heralded a new age of indoor retail for the fast growing suburb where my family resided—at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The developer of the mall, or “The Villa,“ as my family called it, used the Galleria in Milan for inspiration. I've been to the Galleria Vittorio in Milan, and believe me, Villa Italia was not anything like that shopping mall. The Villa had faux terrazzo and cobble stone floors, a variety of columns, lots of arches, and statues of Roman figures sprinkled throughout the development. For a kid, the grand scale of the mall combined with the old school Caesars Palace styling seemed very glamorous. When it was snowing in December, my mom would take me to visit Santa.

Above: A press photo from the opening day of Villa Italia, 1966. There's a Roman statue stuck on top of a Corinthian column in the background.

On hot summer days my mom would let me walk by myself to The Villa (aerial view at right), and it always seemed so far, because you had to walk up and down a large hill—but was actually just blocks from our house. Nowadays, I don’t think parents would let their kids at that age walk to a mall by themselves, but it seemed very safe at that time in the quiet suburbs of Colorado. I would frequently go by myself, but sometimes I would meet friends and hang out. I would spend hours at Bauble Mart (the bead shop), Land & Sea (seashells and rocks), and The Villa pet shop (looking at fish and parakeets). The day usually included a pit-stop at Taco House (I think it was $1.25 for three cheese enchiladas), and if I had any money leftover—a refreshing Orange Julius drink.

Above: A few vintage photos of Orange Julius shops—but not at Villa Italia.

The Orange Julius at The Villa was like a small snack bar you would find on a 1960’s Southern California beach, with large bins of fresh oranges. It didn’t seem like a huge corporate chain to me as a child. Our local newspaper, had a weekly insert for children called, The Mini-Page, which had news articles, games, puzzles and recipes. I was so excited when they ran a recipe for an “Orange Julius Frappe” that you could make in a blender with frozen orange juice. I still make it sometimes, when the weather is super hot and in the 90’s—like the past couple days.

I haven’t been to an Orange Julius since then, but I’m sure it wouldn’t taste the same as it did during my childhood. I think the original Orange Julius beverage had an egg or egg white in it to make it extra creamy and frothy. Here’s my simplified version of an Orange Julius drink.

Mr. Peacock’s Easy Orange Frappe
Makes 2 servings
This ridiculously easy recipe can be very satisfying when the temperature is hot.

1 1/2 cups of milk (I used low fat milk)
1/2 cup of cold water
¼ cup of frozen orange/pineapple juice concentrate—do not dilute
pinch of salt (important, it intensifies the flavor)
A few ice cubes
Optional: scoop of ice cream, a spoon of protein powder, a spoon of sugar—if you like it really sweet

Place all ingredients in the blender. Blend on the highest speed for about 3-5 minutes, until it is super frothy. Pour into glasses and serve immediately. Enjoy!

As a child and teenager, I had so much fun at The Villa. Many of my friends (and myself) worked at various shops at this “Roman” themed mall, at some point during our teenage years. Villa Italia mall thrived for over thirty years, but was demolished in 2002. A new faux urban village, with commercial and residential spaces, was built in its place—and used as a model for other faux urban villages in the USA. I wonder if teenagers hang out at this “urban village,” or stay home on their computers. Where did you hang out as a teenager?