Tory Burch’s Weekend Brunch

Croque Madame has always been one of my favorite comfort food. I have tried many recipes but this one from Tory Burch is my favorite and has become a staple in my kitchen the past few weeks. The only thing I do different is that I use smoked turkey instead of the ham!



I haven’t mastered this one yet…. but its so good…You must try them both.


Happy Weekend everyone!

Style Icon: Dürrüsehvar- The Ottoman Princess


Its not easy to portray simple, elegant, timeless, and regal style when wearing a traditional or should I say a national dress. Yet Durru Shehvar has somehow managed to pull all that in this one picture! This picture alone turned her to a style icon in my books! That necklace is beyond beautiful. Her makeup is perfection and her eyebrows are on point! Wish I knew what color her Sari was!

Born in Istanbul on January 26, 1914, she was the only daughter of Abdülmejid II, the last Sultan to rule over the Ottoman Empire. Growing up in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, the princess was exposed to a world of art and literature at an early age thanks to her father, a cultured man who spoke several languages including Turkish, Arabic, French and German. In addition to composing music, he was an accomplished painter, producing landscapes and scenes from Ottoman history, which in later years she went to great lengths to buy when they surfaced at auctions.

With the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, in 1924 the sultan and his family went into exile splitting their time between Paris and Nice in the South of France. She was soon sought by the Shah of Persia and King Fuad I of Egypt as a bride for their respective heirs, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and Farouk. But also vying for Dürrüsehvar’s hand was the Nizam of Hyderabad, who wanted her to marry his eldest son Azam Jah, Prince of Berar and heir apparent to the throne of Hyderabad. The Nizam won and in 1931, 18-year-old Dürrüsehvar married his son Azam Jah. `The wedding took place in the south of France, and their marriage was widely hailed as a “union of two great dynasties”.

After the honeymoon, the couple returned to Hyderabad, where they settled into the lakeside palace of Bella Vista. Already fluent in French, Turkish and English, the princess quickly learnt Urdu and took to wearing French chiffon saris embellished with Art Deco embroideries by the leading Paris couture houses of the day.

Her arrival in Hyderabad would also cause a seismic shift in the lives of local women, and it began with her efforts to end the practice of purdah. Until the reign of the seventh Nizam, the women of the royal family were never seen in public; that is until the princess moved to Hyderabad. In 1933, Dürrüsehvar became the first female member of the Nizam’s family to attend a tennis match where she presented the winning team with a silver cup. It would be the first of many public appearances including charity events, polo matches and state banquets. Over time she became a respected public figure who advocated for women’s rights and the education of young girls, establishing a junior college for women as well as a nursing school and hospital that still carry her name today.

In 1937, she traveled with her husband to England to attend the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Westminster Abbey. Although statuesque and regal in public, Dürrüsehvar was also intensely shy and private. Known for shunning publicity, she closely guarded her friendships, which included one with the noted fashion photographer Cecil Beaton and the famous actress Greta Garbo, who often referred to the princess as “our Turkish friend.”


A few years after the marriage, she realised her incompatibility with her husband, and left with her 2 children, Mukkaram Jah and Muffakham Jah, to London where she lived and visited Hyderabad occasionally. Her last public appearance was when she presided over the opening ceremony of the Nizam’s Silver Jubilee Museum in 2000…. She passed away in her London apartment on Queens Street in 2006 at the age of 92.



Medici: Masters of Florence


I love historical dramas and have been waiting impatiently for this TV series to air this autumn!.. It is airing in Rai1 on 17th of Oct and although the series is in English, it will air in Italian. So far no dates have been set for for the show to be aired in other networks!

Here are is the list of the incredible cast that you will see in the 8 episodes of season 1, the cast is composed by both Italian and American actors:

Dustin Hoffman – Giovanni de’ Medici
Richard Madden – Cosimo de’ Medici
Giorgio Caputo – Federigo Malavolti
Guido Caprino – Marco Bello
Stuart Martin – Lorenzo de’ Medici
Tatjana Nardone – Emilia
Annabel Scholey – Contessina de’ Bardi

I won’t spoil the series by giving you the plot however I thought giving you a small background or a history 101 on the family to help you know what the series is about!

The Medici family have played an important part or I should say helped shape the history of Florence, Italy, from the 15th to the early 18th century (during the Renaissance).

The Medicis built their fortune from banking activities, rose to become the rulers of Florence with political intrigues and then became one of the most powerful dynasties in Europe. In the Medici family tree, there were countless Cardinals, two Popes, two Queens of France, and seven Grand Dukes of Tuscany.

The Medici are remembered as very open-minded people, and as the greatest art collectors in history, who ignited the Florentine Renaissance: among the countless artists working for the family, across the generations, are the names of Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Giorgio Vasari, and Benvenuto Cellini.

I can’t wait for the series to come out and I know that it won’t be a disappointment for those of us who love historical dramas!

A Modern Homage to Classics

It isn’t easy to mix… but when its done right it some how looks so easy on the eyes… I love  what they have done with this apartment… they have mixed classical elements, design pieces and contemporary materials with luxurious details, with a masterful minimalist approach. The colors and textures are relaxing yet sophisticated ! What do you think?


Images via  Guilherme Torres

Book of the Week: The Sultan and the Queen-The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam.

18brotton-master768Murad III, left, Elizabeth I, right. Credit Ullstein Bild, via Getty Images (left); The Print Collector/Getty Images (right)

Jerry Brotton, a professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary University of London, is the author of the forthcoming “The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam.” A dear friend of mine sent me a summery of the forthcoming book that the Prof. Brotton has written…. I have copy pasted what he wrote as I thought that I simply couldn’t put it any better… I have pre ordered my hard copy, its coming out on the 20th of this month yay!

“Britain is divided as never before. The country has turned its back on Europe, and its female ruler has her sights set on trade with the East. As much as this sounds like Britain today, it also describes the country in the 16th century, during the golden age of its most famous monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

One of the more surprising aspects of Elizabethan England is that its foreign and economic policy was driven by a close alliance with the Islamic world, a fact conveniently ignored today by those pushing the populist rhetoric of national sovereignty.

From the moment of her accession to the throne in 1558, Elizabeth began seeking diplomatic, commercial and military ties with Muslim rulers in Iran, Turkey and Morocco — and with good reasons. In 1570, when it became clear that Protestant England would not return to the Catholic faith, the pope excommunicated Elizabeth and called for her to be stripped of her crown. Soon, the might of Catholic Spain was against her, an invasion imminent. English merchants were prohibited from trading with the rich markets of the Spanish Netherlands. Economic and political isolation threatened to destroy the newly Protestant country.

Elizabeth responded by reaching out to the Islamic world. Spain’s only rival was the Ottoman Empire, ruled by Sultan Murad III, which stretched from North Africa through Eastern Europe to the Indian Ocean. The Ottomans had been fighting the Hapsburgs for decades, conquering parts of Hungary. Elizabeth hoped that an alliance with the sultan would provide much needed relief from Spanish military aggression, and enable her merchants to tap into the lucrative markets of the East. For good measure she also reached out to the Ottomans’ rivals, the shah of Persia and the ruler of Morocco.

The trouble was that the Muslim empires were far more powerful than Elizabeth’s little island nation floating in the soggy mists off Europe. Elizabeth wanted to explore new trade alliances, but couldn’t afford to finance them. Her response was to exploit an obscure commercial innovation — joint stock companies — introduced by her sister, Mary Tudor.

The companies were commercial associations jointly owned by shareholders. The capital was used to fund the costs of commercial voyages, and the profits — or losses — would also be shared. Elizabeth enthusiastically backed the Muscovy Company, which traded with Persia, and went on to inspire the formation of the Turkey Company, which traded with the Ottomans, and the East India Company, which would eventually conquer India.

In the 1580s she signed commercial agreements with the Ottomans that would last over 300 years, granting her merchants free commercial access to Ottoman lands. She made a similar alliance with Morocco, with the tacit promise of military support against Spain.

As money poured in, Elizabeth began writing letters to her Muslim counterparts, extolling the benefits of reciprocal trade. She wrote as a supplicant, calling Murad “the most mighty ruler of the kingdom of Turkey, sole and above all, and most sovereign monarch of the East Empire.” She also played on their mutual hostility to Catholicism, describing herself as “the most invincible and most mighty defender of the Christian faith against all kind of idolatries.” Like Muslims, Protestants rejected the worship of icons, and celebrated the unmediated word of God, while Catholics favored priestly intercession. She deftly exploited the Catholic conflation of Protestants and Muslims as two sides of the same heretical coin.

The ploy worked. Thousands of English traders crossed many of today’s no-go regions, like Aleppo in Syria, and Mosul in Iraq. They were far safer than they would have been on an equivalent journey through Catholic Europe, where they risked falling into the hands of the Inquisition.

The Ottoman authorities saw their ability to absorb people of all faiths as a sign of power, not weakness, and observed the Protestant-Catholic conflicts of the time with detached bemusement. Some Englishmen even converted to Islam. A few, like Samson Rowlie, a Norfolk merchant who became Hassan Aga, chief treasurer to Algiers, were forced. Others did so of their own volition, perhaps seeing Islam as a better bet than the precarious new Protestant faith.

English aristocrats delighted in the silks and spices of the east, but the Turks and Moroccans were decidedly less interested in English wool. What they needed were weapons. In a poignant act of religious retribution, Elizabeth stripped the metal from deconsecrated Catholic churches and melted their bells to make munitions that were then shipped out to Turkey, proving that shady Western arms sales go back much further than the Iran-contra affair. The queen encouraged similar deals with Morocco, selling weapons and buying saltpeter, the essential ingredient in gunpowder, and sugar, heralding a lasting craving and turning Elizabeth’s own teeth an infamous black.

The sugar, silks, carpets and spices transformed what the English ate, how they decorated their homes and how they dressed. Words such as “candy” and “turquoise” (from “Turkish stone”) became commonplace. Even Shakespeare got in on the act, writing “Othello” shortly after the first Moroccan ambassador’s six-month visit.

Despite the commercial success of the joint stock companies, the British economy was unable to sustain its reliance on far-flung trade. Immediately following Elizabeth’s death in 1603, the new king, James I, signed a peace treaty with Spain, ending England’s exile.

Elizabeth’s Islamic policy held off a Catholic invasion, transformed English taste and established a new model for joint stock investment that would eventually finance the Virginia Company, which founded the first permanent North American colony.

It turns out that Islam, in all its manifestations — imperial, military and commercial — played an important part in the story of England. Today, when anti-Muslim rhetoric inflames political discourse, it is useful to remember that our pasts are more entangled than is often appreciated”.


Velvets Are Back!

I am thrilled that the 90s velvet trend is back! I felt so nostalgic when I saw all the FW collections… I loved this trend back in the 90s…. I still remember Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s long black velvet gloves she wore with her Yohji Yamamoto dress like it was yesterday!

Designers like Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren (below), Valentino and many more, have included velvet in their Fall/Winter collections. I honestly haven’t seen this much velvet since the 90s… I’m loving it! I’m loving the wide range of colours and the wide range in designs from those extra wide pants to the victorian style dresses ….

There are many dos and don’ts on the net of how to wear velvets… None really make much sense to me… One particular “don’ts” that I’ve been reading everywhere and that made no sense to me at all is Don’t wear velvet on velvet!… I personally think that velvet on velvet can look great if done right! I’m on the hunt now for the perfect velvet heels to wear with a a matching colour velvet dress! Those Gianvito Rossi signature heels in velvet are one of my favorite out there!


 I just wanna run in those heels!

Christian Marclay’s Fondue


Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay who has won many prizes (which includes The Golden Lion for the best artist at the Illuminations exhibition at the 54th Venice Biennale) has a great fondue recipe ..  My close friends and family love fondue so I thought of trying this one out with them and find out if his fondue is as good as his work!!!

(Serves four)
1 garlic clove peeled and crushed, to rub the fondue pot
1 tbs cornstarch
300ml white dry wine, such as Fendant from the Valais region
400g Gruyère, grated
400g Vacherin Fribourgeois, cut into pieces
black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
small glass of kirsch
loaf of bread (700g) cut in cubes

Crush and rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic clove, then discard. Dissolve the cornstarch in the white wine, and mix until boiling on stove. Slowly add the cheeses and melt slowly on a low flame while continuously stirring with a wooden spatula. Season with pepper and nutmeg and add the kirsch. As soon as the mix becomes creamy, put it on the table heater just before it boils. Maintain the fondue at the same temperature on the heater. Stir in the pieces of bread and eat. Diners should keep stirring the pot regularly to maintain the unctuous texture.

Note: Don’t forget to rub your caquelon with garlic.

Movie Wardrobe: The Thomas Crown Affair

There are many movies out there that inspire us in terms of fashion and/or interior design…. So I thought I’d start a new segment in my blog about movie wardrobes that I love and that have influenced my taste and style through out the years…

I’ll start this segment with one of my favorite movie wardrobes from the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair  which was designed by Kate Harrington. I loved Rene Russo ’s lead character, Catherine Banning’s wardrobe. The wardrobe was so impeccable and still relevant today, despite the fact that it was done 17 years ago.

 Harrington was hired with only two months “to pull the clothes together,” which left no room for her to create anything from scratch: not a sketch, a pattern, or garment. She settled on a wardrobe for Russo’s character from the 1997 Celine F/W collection by Michael Kors (one of Russo’s suggestions) and a few Halston creations.

Harrington’s approach was like doing a magazine spread. “That’s how I saw it. I’d just act like I was doing an entire Vanity Fair issue, cover to cover, only with Pierce and Rene.”  I’ve learnt many lessons from Kate Harrington’s approach for this movie. Here are a few “lessons” worth thinking about:


1. You don’t have to have a colorful wardrobe to make a variety of looks. Rene’s character in this movie rarely wore the same thing twice even though she wore a lot of the same neutral colors like  cream, camel, grey and black. She never looked boring because she mixed and matched her neutrals all the time.

2. You must play with textures and materials. For example Rene wore a cashmere turtle neck with a leather skirt…. and I love the look above where she stayed within a colour scheme but added interest by mixing 3 textures  cashmere, fur, and leather.


3. Invest in classic cuts because they will never go out of style.  All her clothes are in classic silhouettes – that sequenced black dress, the turtleneck sweaters, the mandarin collar on her gown, that stunning biker cut leather jacket and the list can go on! .. Her wardrobe was full of items that are a must in every wardrobe and that have stood the test of time.


4. Always add a touch of “cool” to your look!. Rene’s character always looked cool even though she always wore very classic clothes…  Like those cool aviator sunglasses with her conservative turtleneck and skirt, those unexpected earrings with a traditional gown, and that bustier over a classic white shirt (above).



Maria Callas The Exhibition


The Exhibition is the first major exhibition dedicated to the greatest soprano of all time Maria Callas. Curated by Massimiliano Capella, the presentation marks the 40th anniversary of the death La Divina. It includes costumes and props jewelry, Private clothes, especially those by Biki, the Milanese stylist who fashioned the ‘Callas look’ during the Milan years, as well as several opera costumes; there are personal treasures and stage jewellery; hats, wigs and glasses; telegrams, letters, newspaper articles and photographs illustrating the successes, the scandals, and her loves.

The exhibition is on display until September 18, 2016 in Verona and will soon begin its international tour, from Athens to New York, from Paris to Mexico City…. I don’t have information of the international tour yet but I’ll add it at the bottom of this post as soon as I find some!


The Curator Massimiliano Capella has used 2200 mannequins and has divided the exhibition into fourteen sections starting with America and Greece and ends in a small dark room with a video of Callas’s ashes being scattered on the Aegean Sea.


Heres a quick background of her life for those of you who are interested:

I’m going to start from her “Milan years” because to me thats where she rose and gave her greatest performances and, of course, it was at La Scala where she recorded many of the EMI recordings. On 17 September 1947 Callas had auditioned for La Scala with Casta Diva and O Patria mia, but the Artistic Director, Mario Labroca, didn’t think she was suitable. However, a substitution for Renata Tebaldi on 12 April 1950 in Aida launched a relationship that would continue for more than a decade. Between 1950 and 1962 she would sing 23 different operas, appearing on the Milanese stage 181 times.

Although critics and public were mostly enthusiastic about her vocal performances between 1947 and 1953, comments about her physical aspect were less favourable. Although she was quite tall at 1.73 metres (5’ 8”) she weighed almost 100 kilos (220 lbs); quite a large girl. In 1952 a tactless critic wrote, “It was impossible to distinguish between the elephants’ feet and those of Aida.”

So between the summer of 1952 and the spring of 1954 she lost 35 kilos, and in doing so – with the help of Biki – transformed herself into a style icon. Many of her outfits are reunited for the Callas exhibition. (The iconic portrait by Jerry Tiffany in New York for EMI in 1958 demonstrates how the transformation was complete).

In 1952 she made her debut at the Royal Opera House in London as Norma. London would later be the place of her last appearance in a complete opera, in 1965, and one of the dates of her final concert tour with Giuseppe di Stefano in 1973. But London was to also be the setting for a famous… infamous encounter.


In 1959, when Callas was one of the core members of the international jet set, a party was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel after the opening of Medea at Covent Garden on 17 June 1959. The event was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel after the opening of Medea at Covent Garden on 17 June 1959. The event was hosted by Aristotle Onassis. the picture above was taken at the event!!!! The next month Callas and her husband were already guests aboard his yacht Christina and the fatal relationship began.


Her relationship with Onassis ended in 1968 when he left her for Jacqueline Kennedy.


In 1969 she did interpret one of her opera characters again for Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film of Medea; though in this occasion she wasn’t required to sing. Piero Tosi’s magnificent costume for the film is part of the exhibition, as is favourite black leather jacket that Callas wore during this period. Various documents on show illustrate the intimate nature of the friendship between the director and his leading lady.

The final rooms contain some of her hats, bags, shoes, turbans and other accessories which Biki so carefully labelled in the early years to help her young protégé coordinate the right hat with the right gown. Biki continued to dress her when she lived in Paris, as well as Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Hérmes and Alexander for her wigs.

In the early ‘70s she appeared at Juilliard for the legendary workshops, directed I Vespri Siciliani together with Di Stefano in Turin, and Di Stefano convinced her to join him in an around-the-world concert tour which finished in 1974.

27 November 1973: Maria Callas gives a farewell concert at the Royal Festival Hall.

In 1975, Onassis died in a Paris hospital, a few months later Pasolini’s murdered body was found on the beach at Ostia near Rome, and the following year saw the death of another friend and mentor Luchino Visconti, who once said that he’d only started directing opera because of Callas.

She died of a heart attack on 16 September 1977. She was 53.