Showing posts with label Vicki Archer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vicki Archer. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What The Heck


A video HERE made the rounds around Christmas. It showed a little boy unwrapping his Christmas gifts, which turned out to be a gift of books. The little kid had a meltdown screaming, "What the heck is that?" Apparently the tyke did not think books were a good Christmas gift.

Ever since I can remember I have asked for books as a gift on my birthday, or for Christmas, or Valentines Day, or a hostess gift, or just because I love books. I was an early and avid reader, escaping into my own world with a book in my hands from the daily commotion of living with a large family (I am the eldest of seven).

Reading also gave me an edge at school, and it opened my mind to the world.

Not much has changed in 56 years or so of reading. Books thrill me, keep me company, inform me, inspire me, entertain me, and are well, just me.

I have gotten some great books over the past year, and I share some of my faves in hopes that you will get to read them too.


Trica Guild "Colors, Patterns, and Space"

I cannot have too many oversize books on art, photography, and design. It seems like there are more than ever to choose from.

Caroline gave me the new Tricia Guild book, "Colors, Patterns, and Space", a book right up my color filled alley. It is chock filled with one extraordinary color combination after another, and the design style is uber high end shabby chic. I had a brief fever over the wallpaper shown in this book, quite ready to ask Jan in the UK to send me a few rolls.

The chaise in the guest room is a great place to read "The Fixer Upper"
Where do you like to read?


Many bloggers are fortunate enough to be sent books to read and review, sent by publicists who are savvy enough to recognize the ability of bloggers to get the word out about their author. One such book I got this past year is by Mary Kay Andrews called " The Fixer Upper".

It looked like chick-lit for decor lovers, with a dash of romance novel thrown in. I didn't have high hopes, but I did promise to read it. Well, I loved it! "The Fixer Upper" is a quick and entertaining read, and the interior design project the heroine tackles rings true. I think many of you will love it too.

Jack gave me "New York Private Parties Private Views", a perfect choice since I spent 15 years running my event design business in New York. There is a certain decorating and entertaining style in New York among the moneyed class that is intriguing and inspiring.

"New York Private Parties Private Views"


My sister-in-law Dina Kucera wrote the book, "Everything I Never Wanted To Be", that is getting quite a bit of critical praise. I'm hoping a movie deal is on the way. This is a book on a serious subject, told with humor and candor. The incidents in this book can happen to anyone's family, and reading this story can ease the stigma and shame. I am incredibly proud of Dina.

My morning read: "Everything I Never Wanted To Be"
When do you catch a read?

Alberto gave me "Designs on Film". I worked at The Museum of Modern Art (New York) in the Film Department for a few years of my youth. I went to film school, and most important I love movies, especially classic old ones.

When I first started this blog I wanted to do several posts on how the set decor in films has influenced decor in real life. It was very hard to find film stills (photographs) of sets, and I was not into pulling images off DVDs and videos. A couple of other bloggers venture into this territory, and do a terrific job of it, Linda from Surroundings, and Julia from Hooked on Houses.

"Designs on Film" is an exciting volume because art direction and set design as a serious subject matter has somehow been overlooked by film scholars. It is has many many wonderful photographs, and the author's connection to The Art Director's Guild is important. The text is fascinating, and back stories are as interesting as you knew they would be.

The subject matter is so vast and subjective, so of course there are things I would have liked to see more of, like the genre of of films that used Mid Century modern set design. I would love to see side by side examples and case histories of interior design work reflecting what is seen in movies and vice versa.

Nancy Meyers could produce a whole furniture line based on the set decor in her films and have a top seller. I think her sets have been reproduced in real life more than any other in film history.

Author Caty Whitlock does a fantastic job of expanding on her columns for Traditional Home magazine, which led to the publication of this wonderful and impressive book.


"Designs On Film"


Also in the stack of books I go through regularly are some favorites: One recent arrival is Vicki Archer's outstanding "French Essence" (for a really comprehensive look go to Joni at Cote de Texas). Vicki is a blog friend so her book is loved by me even more.

Also in the stack is Carla Coulson's latest book "Paris Tango". She is another blog friend, and this fabulous book is treasured. You can see more HERE

"Stealing Magnolias" by Debra Shriver had a juggernaut of a PR blitz by bloggers. More free copies of this book were generously sent out than any other book I can think of, and it paid off because the blog buzz on it was impressive. "Stealing Magnolias" is the best book of this type ever written about New Orleans and I was very proud to be part of the blog blitz HERE

"Details" by Lili Dialo is a book I want to love. Lili is a fellow stylist and her most famous work was featured in Domino. No one appreciates attention to detail more than I do (or you do). Styling is something I do everyday, personally and professionally. Anyone who gets a book deal is to be applauded. Lili has talent and chops, and a great career. All of this being said, I have to be honest in saying this book did not wow me. Lili writes like a college girl wearing her education on her sleeve, and somehow this is not charming, and oddly uninformative. The book is kind of like the fantasy volume every blogger would like to publish of the work on their blog. If you loved Domino, you will love this stylish book.

Visual Vamp stacks the books


So what the heck!!!! Books! Tell us what you're reading, and where you read, and when you make time for it. You know we want to know...

Visual Vamp: Saarinen side table stacked with books

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stealing Magnolias


Here's the deal. I get an e-mail one morning asking me if I have read the new book Stealing Magnolias Tales From A New Orleans Courtyard, by Debra Shriver HERE
I answer, no, but I would love to.
The reply comes back: Where can we send you a book?


The French Quarter home of Debra Shriver
All the interior images are of her home via House Beautiful


Sometimes bloggers get asked to read and review books, and I just love to do this. So the next day via Fedex this lovely book appears on my doorstep. It's a luscious coffee table size book, with a retail price of $60. It is published by Glitterati and it's about New Orleans. I am in heaven.



As I leaf through the beautiful pages, I am sure I have seen some of these images before, and lo and behold they are different versions of an editorial in House Beautiful entitled "A Fabulously Feminine New Orleans home" HERE

The silhouettes on the shelves are of Debra and her husband
They had them made by a street artist in Paris


The interior design is by Hal Williamson, and the fabulously feminine owner of the home is described but never named. Now I know who she is! It's Debra Shriver the author of Stealing Magnolias.



As much as I love the editorial in House Beautiful, I love this book a zillion times more!


Debra and I share similarities. We are both New Yorkers who love New Orleans, and who now call it home. She lives in the French Quarter, and I lived in the French Quarter for the first fourteen months of my new life in New Orleans. She is a high powered business woman who has pretty much given up that life for New Orleans, and I was a high octane business woman who left New York and ended up finding my soul and self again in New Orleans. The back cover author photo shows a smiling blond, and ahem, I am a blond who smiles. Where does she end and where do I begin?



Seriously, Stealing Magnolias is a book I wish I had written about New Orleans, and perhaps it is the book I have been dreaming of doing. It is a wonderful gumbo of a book, combining interior design, cooking, New Orleans history, local customs, and all the wonderful things that make a powerful mojo voodoo charm that has made many a person move here and get lost in the layers that make up New Orleans.


image via Debra Shriver

Debra makes the Paris connection to New Orleans come alive in the most charming ways. She talks about day to day Parisian life style quirks commonly shared by the inhabitants of Nouvelle Orleans. Her home has trinkets and treasures brought back from Paris, fitting in perfectly in her French Quarter digs .

image via Debra Shriver


There is wonderful amount of information about the back stories and customs here in New Orleans that are just priceless. Debra's writing style is enticing and she draws you in with one heady description after another.


image via Debra Shriver


There is "Proust" style questionnaire like the one found at the back of Vanity Fair magazine that would be fun for you to take.


image via Debra Shriver



Here are my answers:

  • Occupation: Stylist, decorator, blogger, writer, tango dancer and tango teacher
  • The best thing about the city (New Orleans) is: The people, the music, the food, the style
  • My favorite meal: Oysters
  • My favorite (New Orleans) cocktail: Kumquat Champagne Cocktail
  • New Orleans is the only place in the world where: People say hello to you on the street
  • My favorite neighborhood: Every neighborhood in New Orleans, grand or humble has its beauty
  • The city's most marked characteristics are: The pursuit of pleasure
  • My favorite New Orleanian is: Miss Anne
  • If I had one free hour (in New Orleans) I would spend it: At Galatoires
  • My one New Orleans obsession is: Its beauty
  • I knew the spell of the city had been cast upon me when: New Orleans chose me to live here, by making the choice and transition effortless.


image via Debra Shriver



Buy this book. For yourself. For a friend. It is just one of those stunning volumes that come along once in awhile. Debra uses the best of the best writers and photographers and artists to enhance her book.


image via Debra Shriver



I have about every pretty picture book ever written about New Orleans and Stealing Magnolias stands out and above them all.


image via Debra Shriver


I plan to get several copies to give out as gifts, especially to people who still sometimes ask me why on earth I would want to live in New Orleans.


image via Debra Shriver


Stealing Magnolias is the book I wanted Vicki Archer and Carla Coulson to do, a sort of My French Life In New Orleans HERE
I wanted to co-write it with them.
I thank Debra Shriver for putting her New Orleans book first on her to-do list.


image via Debra Shriver


Meet Debra Shriver at a book signing and reading of Stealing Magnolias on November 27, 1 - 3 PM, at Garden District Books, 2727 Prytania Street, New Orleans. Tell her the Vamp sent you.


Friday, May 15, 2009

My New Orleans French Life


I have been in New Orleans for nearly ten years, and I am still enchanted.
One of the first things that captivated me was the relationship of New Orleans with so many French things.
Of course French history runs deep here, and after 300 years you still see little pieces of France in everyday life.
I would love for Vicki Archer and Carla Coulson to come to New Orleans and do a book about us, perhaps another version of their fabulous book "My French Life".


The city was originally laid out on the French plan, a grid of streets that still exists in the French Quarter. At one point all the houses faced the Mississippi River. But after a few major fires, and a change in governments, the houses were built with the fronts facing the street.


So many buildings are Paris inspired. Like the Pontalba Apartments that are modeled after the Place de Voges, built by a woman in the 1800's, the Baroness Pontalba.

Across the street is the oldest coffee stand in The USA, Cafe Du Monde, famous for beignets and Cafe Au Lait.


New Orleans is one of the few cities in the USA to have a French Consul living and working here. This is the French Consul's home in The Garden District.


The French Consul and his family live here. It's a lovely old house, but the public rooms are in dire need of redecorating. I think an important site like this should have the best New Orleans has to offer. There are so many gorgeous French antiques here, and designers who would be proud to lend a hand.

I would love to organize an effort to do a show house at the residence of the French Consul, with all the furnishings donated by the people of New Orleans.



One of the only standing buildings left that was built by the original French regime, is The Ursuline Convent. It's front still faces the River.



The classic proportions of the architecture and French style gardens truly look Parisian.


Of course St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square is about as French as you can get.


The Cathedral is flanked on one side by The Cabildo and on the other side by The Presbytere on Jackson Square, which is a classic European arrangement.


The French Market has been in existence since the beginnings of New Orleans, and this little archway is very much like a mini-me Arc de Triomphe.


The Napoleon House is called so, because the owner had prepared it for Napoleon for the Emperor's planned escape from his exile and imprisonment. Sadly The Little Emperor never made it, but he is fondly remembered in New Orleans.


New Orleans has a tremendous gilded statue of Joan of Arc.


This is an old court building that could be a Hausmann style building in Paris.


And of course the fleur de lis is everywhere here.


We also have The Degas House, where the artist and his family lived.


One of my favorite restaurants is La Crepe Nanou, Uptown New Orleans, but so very Parisian.


There are many French restaurants and bakeries, and La Boulangerie is one of the best.


So how about it Vicki and Carla? I know you'll have a great time in New Orleans, and make a wonderful book about it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Non French Life



While so many of you are going to the beach, or travelling elsewhere for your Summer vacation, we are staying at home. We travel most of the year for our work as traveling tango teachers, and though it's not exactly a vacation, it certainly fulfills the travel quota for wanderlust. We also live in a warm place, where Summer comes early and stays long, which kind of dulls the urge to run off somewhere else warm.
Ever since childhood, my vacation consisted of reading good books. Summer vacation, when school was out, was my favorite time of year to go to the library, choose my books, and then curl up inside or outside and read the Summer away.
"My French Life" by Vicki Archer (and photographs by Carla Coulson) was the darling book of all the girly lifestyle and decor bloggers last Summer. I picked it up again, and read it again, and really enjoyed it again. It's part coffee table book and part story telling book. I love the feel of it - when you remove the dust jacket you see a reproduction of an old quilt, and the book cover and back is actually quilted, and feels soft and squishy. It's a nice little detail.
Vicki Archer and her family are Australian, but now live full time in France and England (London). She is a traveler, and along the way she found her dream French farm house, and convinced her family to buy it and fix it up. Of course it was a ruin, and of course she found all the perfect work men and women to help her make it the picture of charm and perfection she shares with us in the book.
The stories are charming and the photos are pretty. Vicky takes us from Paris to the French country side. She shares her shopping haunts, as she looks for furnishings for her home.
She shares her family's love for the French lifestyle, very much involved with enjoying nature, enjoying food and markets, enjoying small town and big city life, and most of all enjoying each other.
I have been to France a few times, and I love Paris, and I love the French - they truly put style into life in every way. It is every girl's dream to own a farm house like Vicki's. While it may not become a reality for most of us, it is so pleasant to look through the pages of this book, into the perfect French farm house lifestyle as realized by ex-pats who can afford it.

Lavender and olive trees on the property
How perfect!


Window boxes in Paris
I know exactly where this is!

One of my favorite stories has to do with Vicki and her Hermes bag (purse) going through security at the Paris airport. Like many non native speakers, she gets flustered with the language when she's under pressure. A stern looking security guard demanded to know whose bag (the Hermes) was coming down the conveyor belt, and at first Vicki didn't understand, and when she did, she felt panic, as if she had done something wrong. The guard ended up flashing a smile, and complimenting her on her beautiful Hermes bag. You have to love a man who loves a Kelly Birkin!
So, here I am, an arm chair traveller this Summer. Plane tickets cost too much. On time flights vanish as Summer thunderstorms erupt. Gas for the car costs too much. Food costs too much.
So we hunker down in our pretty New Orleans house, and I cook my favorite French woman's lunches, and if it's nice I'll set a pretty table outside in the yard, and we'll sip an aperitif of Kir or Lillet, and toast the wonderful Summer.
I've posted alot of photos from the book for you. You can also go to Vicki's web site www.vickiarcher.com There's not much there, just a few photos from the book, but it's still worth looking at. I wish she had a blog! If you don't have this book, treat yourself and get it HERE

The dining room....


...where meals are shared and savored.


Vicki's living room - stone floors, stone mantle,
perfect comfort and symmetry