Monday, 23 June 2014

Enjoying Art at London's Auction Houses

London has some of the best museums in the world.
It equally attracts a lot of tourists that 
visit solely on this attraction alone.

It gets so crowded with tour and school groups side by side with regular visitors and locals trying to enjoy the art.

So a local and insider tip to any Londoners and tourists 
out there is to go and visit the leading auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's.

Before any auction held, the items to go under the hammer are displayed for at least a few days before the day of the sale.

Renoir's artistic version of "Look but don't touch."

Several times a year there are world class and museum pieces that go on sale.
These works of art rarely come up for sale so they group them in one or two sales a year.

This is an iconic piece from Monet that would not be out of place at any Parisian Museum or the National Gallery.  
But at an estimated price of £20 - 30 million pounds 
(not necessarily the same as the price it will be sold at), 
the sad truth is that this painting will not be able to be viewed again for most of us.

The buyers are usually billionaires who purchase for private residential viewing or as part of a special investment.  Or it might be sold to a private hedge fund who displays it in a board room which is also difficult to access for the general public.

Who would you guess sketched this below?

It was by Monet. 
I was a bit surprised when I went up close to see who it was by.  

But this sort of "unfinished" piece or 
less dramatic pieces don't get shown in most museums.
The reason is because a lot of museums just don't have the space so they have to make decisions to give the public the best curated art which means this level of art is stored in vaults below.

I know that £50 - 70k is a lot of money but for most museums this wouldn't make the cut for a general exhibition so I appreciate having the opportunity to see other works by Monet other than what he has become "branded" for.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

I finally used some of my good things but...

If I didn't make an effort to get out I could easily just stay at home and never leave the comfort of my three block radius.

But I worry I could easily become a female carmudgeon so 
I try and vary the places I frequent.
Ironically, it sometimes makes me feel even older...

My friend and I decided to have a coffee here.
Which place below you say?

The cafe in question was the "Attendant" which is a converted Victorian men's loo.
The Attendant
I had friends who rented just around the corner at Hanson Street twenty years ago.
Hanson Street
 When my friends lived here, it was NOT considered a chic area and there were definitely no coffee shops like this.
This area was not proudly referred to as Fitzrovia back then.

So I arrived being reminded of the passage of time by the gentrification of the area and this edifice which is normally well avoided by most being my destination...

I read the signs carefully
 before I gingerly headed down the stairs.
 The rope bannisters were a good sign.
 The fake grass wasn't.
 And I looked around.
 Mind you the place has a capacity of about 20 people max.

I had been inspired by Lady Sarah in London and 
her fashion and handbag anthology posts. 
So I decided to start using some of the nicer bags in my closet that tend to get neglected.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

June 2014 Potpourri Post Part 2

A trip to the Wallace Collection is a nice place to wander through while having a chat with a friend on a rainy London day.  
This museum gets forgotten among the heavyweights of the 
British Musuem and National Gallery 
but it is perfect for a little cultural injection.

It used to be a private home so is a perfect backdrop for many of the grand objets d'arts the collection houses.  It also is a popular venue for private and corporate parties.

They have something for everyone.
 Don't let the Game of thrones extra throw you.

They also happen to a sizable collection of the Sevres porcelain outside Versailles that was commissioned by Louis XV and 
his mistress madame de Pompadour.
I can't get over the still vibrant blue and
 the ever stylish design below.

But not only do they have precious items but the rooms themselves are a pleasure to pass through.
I think all the rooms with the silk walls are perfect.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Wedding Dress Exhibition 1775 - 2014 at the V&A

I went to the  exhibition at the V&A today called the 

The V & A seem to consistently be setting a high standard to rival the Met in fashion history.
They have had recent successes with their past fashion themed shows and are continuing in that vein with this and another fashion themed exhibition showing about the glamour of Italian fashion.

It spanned two hundred years of wedding dresses and had a comprehensive selection.

Dita Von Teese's Vivienne Westwood dress when she married the Manson bloke. Very Scarlett O'Hara coming down those stairs.

There is a saying that a dress maketh a woman but dresses hung on mannequins disproved that theory.
Hence I will try and show you the picture of the woman showing the same dress where possible.

This was one of the other rare colored wedding dresses.
Apparently wearing a colored dress was considered more appropriate for older brides. But did you know that the custom of white wedding dresses only dates as far back as Queen Victoria?
She started the fashion when she wore white lace to her wedding.

A statement wedding dress with the longest train in the exhibition was the following.

While I appreciated the workmanship and detail the dress seemed to be more of a conduit to convey the bride's status.

Can you guess which bride wore this wedding dress?

I was a bit surprised that it was worn by her as well.
Not that I know what I expected from her but it wasn't that memorable for even a devourer of pop culture not to recall...

Most of you should be able to guess the one this belongs to.

Just a postscript...
The shoes were Linda Bennett for LK Bennett.
I had to double check at the exhibition and they did seem to make a point of it too...

This dress is not very photogenic because up close the colors are nuanced and delicate.

No photographs were allowed in the exhibition so most of these photos were courtesy of the museum.
So these are some highlights.

A piece from the 90's.

An example of a wedding dress from the 1700's.
I did wonder if anyone honestly replied when the bride asked if her hips looked big in that dress.

And one by a modern popular designer Jenny Packham.

But my favorite dress of all was this wedding dress which was designed the the American designer that has an exhibition in New York at present.  It was made by Charles James.


It is deceptively simple.

But then you turn around and there is a detail that would be considered avant garde even now.

But upon closer inspection, 
you can see the clever cuts, darts, and stitching.
He put the darts slightly lower than the bust line and that seemed to create a smooth flow of the bust to the waistline.

Apologies for the crude explanation but all I know how to sew is a hole in a sock.
But he knew what he was doing.

There are no pictures I could find but I did find a link to the video news reel of her wedding.
It seemed a merry affair with her bridesmaid wearing a scarlet dress!  Even if you are not interested or don't like the dress, 
the video clip is a charming in many other aspects.
Please view the link here.

If you are in London or plan to be, then I must encourage you to visit and there is plenty of time as it ends March 2015.  
However, if you can't make it then please click on this link and 
browse through the items individually.

Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, 9 June 2014

June 2014 Insta Post Part 1

Still hectic but I have a feeling that if I don't continue this is how bloggers think they will rest and stop all together so I am plogging on. ( that's plodding on and blogging )

When I came back to London, I found that Hyde Park and changed in the 3 weeks I was away.
The pedal boats were out but then so was all the algae.
There are times when the algae can really stink so they tend to have to cull it about twice a year.

London really gets into the spirit of the Chelsea flower show and a lot of stores do their own displays.
No one will convince me to wear socks with heels.
Not even Karl who designed this all in one bootie Chanel contraption for those who are into this trend.
I love recycled wellies.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Best of Living Magazine May and June 2014

Something to browse for the weekend and the summer in fact.

I notice everyone is getting in the mood and getting fresh flowers to decorate nightstands and tables.

As flowers are so expensive, I always ask florists tips on how to make them last longer.  They mumble and then give me a plastic tube with something that says "flower extender".
At one very short stage in my life I tried to be like Martha. 
I actually put water in the freezer to get it slushy 
so the cold would refresh the stems and petals.

But this is the official stance from Martha.

I never knew about putting a pin through the stem.
I might do a comparative test to prove it.

Of all the various tips I have heard with flowers, 
I have never heard of anything involved with fire.