​Traditional Dinner Plates!

I believe that a hint of traditional items here and there works very well in a modern minimal home… They add interest and charm to any table!

I think that these traditional plates from Pottery Barn are just perfect for this season …

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…and just look at those Turkey salt and pepper shakers aren’t they just cute? They do so well with the dinner set! Don’t you think?

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Victoria

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The 2nd Season of Victoria has been released and I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to write about it!

It’s impeccably written and staged. Aimed at the same audiences that enjoyed Downton Abbey, and The Crown.

Victoria follows the young Queen from the time she becomes The Queen of England through her passionate courtship and marriage to Prince Albert. The TV series Victoria dramatizes the romance and reign of the girl behind the famous monarch. Jenna Coleman is absolutely perfect as Victoria, and there are strong supporting roles like Tom Hughes as Albert and Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne. I have to say that Rufus Sewell is superb in the role of Lord Melbourne. He managed to appear supremely noble, with just a hint of sadness and vulnerability lurking beneath the surface!

I’ve always been fascinated by the Victorian era and I love how the Queen and her Prince have changed the face of London to what we know it today! .. My favorite novels have been written in her era and yet I always imagined her as a sad lonely old woman!…..I guess it’s because she spent half her life in mourning the death of her beloved husband!

I can honestly say that this show made me look at her from a different light … I’ve gained a new admiration for the Queen! Here she’s been portrayed as an independent outspoken, and quite a determined young lady… Love that!

 

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The Queen’s links with Europe’s royal families earned her the nickname “The grandmother of Europe”! She and Prince Albert had 9 children, 4 boys, and 5 girls … They had 42 grandchildren, of whom 34 survived to adulthood. Their descendants include Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Harald V of Norway, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Margrethe II of Denmark, and Felipe VI of Spain.

 

 

 

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The Crown

Anyone who knows me knows that I love costume dramas…  So it comes as no surprise that I have been waiting for The New Netflix production to be released!…..Other than “Games of Throne” “Downton Abbey” has been my favorite TV costume dramas until now….  “The Crown” to me is just another level of entertainment! It’s my new addiction!

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  “Downton Abbey” was/is fun to watch but it is fiction, whereas “The Crown” is based on fact, with a far weightier dose of history and politics, including issues of constitutional duty and complex political issues. Writer Peter Morgan and the director Stephen Daldry — have succeeded in balancing the seriousness of intent against popular appeal, and for Netflix, which I think has already attracted a huge international audience!

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This is not the 1st time that Mr. Morgan, the creator of the show, has written about the Queen…. He actually has extensive experience writing about her. His 2006 film “The Queen,” won several Academy Award nominations and the best actress award went to Helen Mirren as the monarch, facing public reaction to the death of Princess Diana. Then in 2013 came his successful play, “The Audience,” also starring Helen Mirren and directed by Mr. Daldry, which swoops through some 60 years of the weekly meetings between Queen Elizabeth and her prime ministers. And actually this experience of writing “The Audience” gave him the idea for “The Crown.”

Part of the pleasures of watching “The Crown” is its ability to offer glimpses of life at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences (The furniture! The objects! The clothes! The jewels!). But it also offers a history lesson in world events, politics and the social manners and mores of postwar British society, seen through the prism of Elizabeth’s reign.

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For example, I was really surprised by the relationship between Winston Churchill and the young queen! I never thought the either one of them struggled in this relationship! Never thought that either one of them ever doubted themselves… until now!

I don’t want to say more and spoil it for those of you who haven’t watched it yet… but here are a few reviews I read about the series … Both +ve and -ve:

  • The New York Times says it is “just an orgy of sumptuous scenes and rich performances” in its Review: Netflix Does Queen Elizabeth II in ‘The Crown,’ No Expense Spared.
  • Vanity Fair’s review, The Crown Is Netflix’s Most Expensive Series to Date, and Worth It, says “A grand saga about the British royals begins with a sumptuous look at midcentury monarchy.”
  • USA Today gives The Crown 3-1/2 out of 4 stars in its piece titled Review: ‘The Crown’ is sumptuous miniseries with the stellar cast!
  • From the Maclean’s review by Patricia Treble, ‘The Crown’ on Netflix is riveting. And not completely true. “Unlike many so-called documentaries that are little more than rehashed tittle-tattle and gossip, The Crown’s fact-heavy fiction puts dramatic meat on much more substantial and accurate bones.“

Medici: Masters of Florence

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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 the show to be aired on 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 hate spoilers so I won’t mention anything about the plot, however, I thought of 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).

They 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 Medicies are remembered as somehow 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 have been lucky to have been to a few of their homes or rather palaces that have been converted to museums and I just can’t wait for the series to come out… I have a feeling that it won’t be a disappointment for those of us who love historical dramas!

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Maria Callas The Exhibition

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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 about the international tour yet but I’ll add it at the bottom of this post as soon as I find some!

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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.

Here’s 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 that’s 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 meters (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.

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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.

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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 on this occasion she wasn’t required to sing. Piero Tosi’s magnificent costume for the film is part of the exhibition, so is the 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 on 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.

Ralph Lauren’s The Polo Bar brownie

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There’s no doubt that Ralph Lauren is an arbiter of classic American style, and now the same can be said about classic American cuisine, too. Since opening The Polo Bar in New York City at the end of 2014, Lauren has been responsible for one of the hottest tables in NY. Many of the restaurant’s comforting yet elevated dishes have been vetted by the designer himself. The restaurant’s eponymous brownie is quite popular. Made with decadent Valrhona chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, it embodies the wholesome yet indulgent ethos that the iconic designer stands for… I wanted to share this recipe because my kids love brownies and we make them for school sales all the time…. I haven’t tried this one yet but I can’t wait to do so soon… let me know if anyone of you out there tries this one out 😉

Ingredients (serves 12)
680g Valrhona Caraibe 66 percent chocolate
340g butter
1,020g brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
10 eggs
90g Valrhona cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
255g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
350g walnut halves, cut into 4 pieces
200g Valrhona 70 per cent chocolate, chopped

Method
In a bain-marie, melt the Caraibe chocolate and butter. Keep it over hot water until ready to use. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the melted chocolate mixture with brown sugar – the mixture will look separated. Mixing on medium speed, add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, slowly, to emulsify. It will still look separated. As you add the last egg, the mixture will all of a sudden turn into a beautiful, smooth and shiny mix. Mix for a further 90 seconds. This last bit of mixing adds some volume to the eggs, which assists in developing the beautiful crackly crust that is the hallmark of an awesome brownie. Add the cocoa powder, salt, flour and baking powder, mixing by hand until almost combined. Stir in the walnuts and chopped chocolate just to combine. Bake at 160°C for 45 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool completely. When cold, cut them into 7cm x 7cm squares. To serve, warm the brownie in the oven for 4 minutes, then dust lightly with icing sugar. Place in the center of a small plate. Add a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, decorate with chocolate curls and serve with warm chocolate sauce.

SJP at the 2013 BAFTA Awards

I am so glad that Sarah Jessica Parker was the presenter for the this year’s BAFTA ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London.

She was super super chic (as usual) in an Elie Saab jumpsuit, Jean-Michel Cazabat shoes, FL rings, earrings, and necklaceFenton bracelets, a Jaeger le Coultre watch, and VBH bag…. loved the whole mix.

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Best Dressed At The SAG Awards 2013

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Marion Cotillard looked stunning on the red carpet in a blue and white Dior Haute Couture silk gown at this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. I love how the central ruffle of the bottom part of the gown ended just high enough so that we could catch a glimpse of her classic black pumps. Her make-up and sleek hairstyle complemented her sophisticated look…. This is the french style at its best… J’adore!

Playing Dress up!

NewYork-based photographer Tricia Messeroux takes the cutest pictures of kids…. Her style or should I say specialty lies in taking pictures of kids dressed as celebrities!!!…. This year she recreated shots from the Golden Globes red carpet…. Check out her website Toddle Wood for more cute pictures… But not before checking out my favorite pictures from the Golden Globes!!!

taylor-swift-golden-globesTaylor Swift  and mini me in a Donna Karan Atelier gown

george-clooney-stacy-keibler-golden-globesGeoanne-hathaway-golden-globesrge Clooney and Stacy Keibler in Armani

Anne Hathaway in Chanel

lucy-liu-golden-globesLast but not least Lucy Liu in a Carolina Herrera gown… This one is my favorite … I love the mini-me version of Lucy and think that she is just adorable… What about you? Who do you think looks better… the celebrities or the kids?

Golden Globes 2013

I love award season… love everything about it … especially The Fashion and Glamour part of it… I must say that there were a lot of “Blaa” dresses on the red carpet, and a lot of actresses wore the same style gowns that they usually wear…. However, there were 3 outfits that I felt were fashion forward and inspiring:

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The Alexander McQueen gown that Kate Hudson wore just took my breath away….she looked like a modern Goddess!!! I just wish that she brushed her hair backward or something so that the embroidery would stand out more!

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 I don’t think that I have ever seen Amy Poehler look this good before!!!. She looked ultra chic and modern in that Stella McCartney suit and her Chopard necklace was just stunning.

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Julianne Moore won a Golden Globe for her role in Game Change…. I would have given her an award just for wearing that beautiful minimalist, monochrome Tom Ford gown!!!