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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Off . . . and I'm Leaving, too!

For years , I've fooled myself into believing that I could quit collecting vintage textiles whenever I wanted. I promote the myth that I am in control. Even as my burgeoning collection of linens colonizes on the lounge, the dining table, my desk, and every inch of space in both my linen closet and coat closet, I refuse to admit I have a problem - it's for my business, I keep rationalizing. I feel a little bit like Markie Post or Meredith Baxter Birney in one of those Lifetime movies about the perils of addiction - "Unraveled: The LeAnn Stephenson Story"- in which I rob from the kids chore money fund and pawn my pancreas to get one more shopping fix.

Well, to thin my personal and professional collection of vintage textiles and other vintage goodies, every 6 months I participate in "Antiques Week" in the Round Top/Warrenton area as a dealer/merchant - wink, wink, nudge, nudge. This is the equivalent to taking a compulsive gambler to Vegas or similar to 'make your own pipe night' at the crack house. As I have said before, this event is just an "antique freak's" Mecca. There are fields and fields and dealer after dealer, offering vintage treasures and it's my own little slice of Prozac!

This Spring I will return to Vickie Davis' wonderful venue at "The Texas Rose Antique Show," located across from Marburger Farms, 2075 South State Highway 237. Your can find directions here. The show begins Saturday, March 28th and runs through April 4, 2009.

Perhaps you, some friends, my family, and maybe my accountant could come out and threaten some sort of intervention and help me accept the sobering reality that . . . I actually am a very sick woman!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mama Shelter

I've stopped my 'full-tilt-flail' to prepare for my upcoming antique show in Round Top/Warrenton, to check out a link sent to me by a favorite friend - and I'd like to share!

My existential hero, Philippe Starck, has done it again! The new hotel Mama Shelter, designed by Philippe Starck, is the latest favorite address for usually spendthrift travelers having to watch their expenses. While not exactly an exercise in deprivation, Mama Shelter comes with all the embellishments and Lucite you’d expect from Starck. It received the most avant-garde and innovative projects award by Travel & Leisure magazine. The hotel was also voted Best Large Hotel 2009, only six months after opening.

Created by the Trigano family, co-founders of Club Med, and French philosopher, Cyril Aouizerate, Mama Shelter was designed by Mr. STARCK and offers an eclectic and electric ambiance thanks to its friendly, warm and casual common areas.

Located in Paris, in the neighborhood of Saint Blaise, Mama Shelter reflects the rebel character and city life at a country pace.

According to it's website, the hotel welcomes travelers to its 172 rooms with many different style options. All rooms offer a sensual refuge with their five star bedding of 100% cotton satiny smooth sheets, a microwave oven, minibar, 24 inch IMAC, TV, radio, cd/dvd, Internet with free wi-fi, an office where you can work or write a love letter, and an elegant and functional bathroom. Some rooms have a large terrace and a view of the cosmopolitan districts of Ménilmontant and Belleville. Tragically hip? Yes, but comfy and welcoming to all at the same time.

Aaaah . . . . my tender constitution is all better, now - so, I can cancel the trip to the psycho-pharmacologist, because now I'm too blissed out to acknowledge the sobering reality that I'm 1 day away from packing up all my vintage goodies and leaving civilization for 14 days of the equivalent of a 'junkin-antiqueing' rave.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hotel Hip

I don't need a trip to my therapist to figure out why Austin has always made me feel a little, shall we say, inadequate. It's a city known for it's cosmopolitan and famously talented residents. It's a place populated by many tragically hip "it" girls and boys and those of us plain-old folks who walk around with more modest agendas and a more mundane knowledge of, for instance, the ins and outs of delivering the kids to school, the trick to finishing three loads of laundry in a matter of an hour and what makes for a winning science project. The first group won't let me into their club and the second won't let go of me. Despite the claim that I do, in fact, have this thing called "free will," I secretly fear that my destiny is predetermined. Any day now, the "Southern Lady" signal that is encoded in my DNA will kick in and guide me to live out the remaining years of my life informing others that it's bad manners to wear white shoes before Easter or to don velvet after February, or begin addressing everyone as Honey, Darlin' or "Sugah." Every excursion down to South Congress Avenue underscores the fact that the avant-garde style of my youth has flown the coop!

Despite my neuroses, I love Austin and all it has to offer culturally. Austin's music scene is legendary, especially since the 1987 launch of South by Southwest (SXSW), the wildly successful and internationally recognized music and media conference & festival. March marks the convergence of thousands of music, tech and movie fans and players upon Austin for the afore mentioned festival. I have selflessly decided that I can no longer cater to my ambivalence - the time has come for full disclosure.

In terms of hotels, I am totally obsessed with any venture that is associated with hotelier, Liz Lambert - in a totally "non-stalker-y" way, of course. Her lodging always possesses an indie-hip appeal, be it the vintage-swank glamour of the Hotel Saint Cecilia, the kitschy, industrial appeal of the Hotel San Jose', or the pronounced mid century swank of the "Belmont Hotel in Dallas. Lambert plans to continue with the development for El Cosmico, a modern hippie campground/hotel in Marfa, Texas, as well.

According to Lambert, the Hotel Saint Cecilia was named for the patron saint of poets and musicians. Located in the heart of Austin, the Hotel Saint Cecilia resides on the estate of an historic 1880 Victorian and features a seamless combination of antiques, pop modern furniture, and original artwork. With just 14 rooms scattered among the Victorian and modern bungalows, the hotel is a private haven situated just steps from South Congress and downtown Austin.

Lambert describes her latest incarnation as " . . . really regal with a lot of rock-n-roll thrown in." As noted in a story by Melanie Spencer of Austin American Statesman, Each room in the Hotel Saint Cecilia is equipped with a turntable for guest to enjoy the collection of vintage vinyl, like Lou Reed and The Doors. Lambert also plans on selling art supplies on site and has a collection of poetry books for guest to peruse. Interior appointments feature vintage and modern furniture, tile and dark wood floors, and is the only hotel in North America to feature luxurious Hästen beds.

With Liz's help, I have fired my crack team of psychoanalysts and managed to conquer most of my non-conformist fears. Thanks to Liz, I no longer suffer from glam-a-phobia (fear of being glamorous), posh-a-phobia (the fear of being swank and fashionable), and avant-garde-a-phobia (the fear of being extraordinary or colorful). Lastly, I find it comforting that Ms. Lambert, a native Odessan as am I, has significantly upped the "Cool factor" of Austin and the entire state for that matter!

Photographs courtesy Jackie Caradonio, more of her work can be viewed here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Deep in the 'Art' of Texas

Some people like to toss generalizations around about Texas. It has been suggested by many that, deep in the heart of Texas, lie a group of lowercase humanity that have a vast void when it comes to culture. A stereotypical jab may consist of images of a people with questionable dental hygiene habits, all of whom walk around dressed like they’re going to a rodeo with large turkey-platter-sized belt buckles attached to their equally large leather name tag belts. Further digs promote the myth that we all possess the uncanny ability to turn monosyllabic words into two syllable words - you know like "peyen" for pen , and "tiyen" for tin, etc. - or that we address our parental units as "Maw" and “Paw”, or that we refer to our cuisine as "vittles". Well kids, I am here to dispel those mis-perceptions with a “case in point”.

Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward performed at SXSW 2008 as She & Him.

Today kicks off South by Southwest. In March of 2008 The Wall Street Journal dubbed SXSW as ". . . a place where new bands come to get discovered, stars seek to burnish their indie credentials, and executives come to share ideas." The 10-day festival showcasing more than 1,800 musical acts of all genres from around the globe on over eighty stages in Austin, includes personal musical favorites like John and M. Ward, plus screenings of films like '500 Days of Summer', a film I can’t wait to see. Additionally, my new music video-crush, Oren Lavie’s video 'Her Morning Elegance', is on the list of films eligible for 2009 SXSW Film Awards in the Music Videos category. Austin’s own Octopus Project’s video, 'An Evening With Rthrtha', directed by Double Triple and Ryan Junell has made the list, as well. The music portion doesn't begin until the 18th, so you still have time to head South. Check out the SXSW ‘09 official website for last-minute deals on flights, places to crash, and tips on navigating your way through all the tragically hip, culturally advanced.

(L-R) Ryan Figg, Toto Miranda, Josh Lambert and Yvonne Lambert of The Octopus Project

In closing, I’d really like to gloat a bit about the fact that Texas is, in fact, the perfect place to get your culture fix. Unfortunately, I haven't the time - my four-alarm chili is boiling over, my horse is double parked, and I’m late for the hoe-down!

Photos and graphics courtesy of SXSW, The Octopus Project, Oren Lavie

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Make Mine a Pink Martini

Morning - it’s your friendly, narcoleptic blogger here. Today I feel as though I have just eaten a rather large bowl of Captain Crunch that has been drenched with Ambien-laced milk. For the last three mornings I’ve waked and turned immediately to my husband and have said, “You know what I could go for? - A nap.” I realize I’m belaboring the "I don't care for daylight saving time" point here, . . . so I will move on.

This morning I would like to have a little session of show and tell. A long, lost dear friend and I have recently reconnected. We have been catching up with photos of spouses, kids and brief glimpses of the events that have shaped our lives over the last 20 years. We’ve been swapping favorite recording artists, comedians, books, websites and blogs. And if you would be so kind as to indulge a sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated woman, I’d like to share a wonderful group of artists that he has introduced to me. If you are already familiar . . . just humor me.

Pink Martini is the brainchild of classically trained pianist Thomas M. Lauderdale and vocalist China Forbes. This duo and the rest of the band members blend genres of music such as Latin, lounge, classical, and jazz. In trying to reflect the group's style and period-inspired content of their songs, many descriptives have been attached to their music like "vintage" or having the characteristics of a "little orchestra". Their songs' lyrics involve many different languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, and Modern Greek. According to Wikipedia, they were originally brought together to play political functions in Portland, Oregon, their home base. Pink Martini made its European debut at the Cannes Film Festival, and the group's debut album, Sympathique, was released on Pink Martini's own label, Heinz Records, in 1997. Over 1.3 million copies of the record have been sold worldwide. The song of the same name is also featured on Putumayo World Music "World Lounge" CD.

In October 2004, the group released its second album, Hang on Little Tomato. In the transition from its first to its second album, guest-singer Pepe Raphael left to concentrate on his other band, Pepe and the Bottle Blondes. Lead singer China Forbes continued to write songs with Lauderdale.

Pink Martini songs appear in such films as In the Cut, Nurse Betty, Josie and the Pussycats, Tortilla Soup, Shanghai Kiss and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and have been used on television shows such as Dead Like Me, The Sopranos and The West Wing.

If you're listening to the soundtrack on my blog, I've added many of their songs to my playlist. You can learn more about the group and get their concert dates on the official Pink Martini site. I think they are really groovy and my family and a few friends have made plans to attend their San Antonio, Texas concert date on May 15th at the Lila Cockrell Theater. Ticket info and purchases can be made here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Day Light Saving"

MY HUSBAND: You look tired. You know it’s really 5:30 in the morning - cuz of daylight savings

ME: bleary-eyed, blank, unblinking stare . . .

MY HUSBAND: your hair is kinda uncharacteristically (insert splayed finger motion above his head.) Have you had your Diet Dr. Pepper yet?

ME: small saliva thread dangling from the corner of my mouth like a cellophane noodle . . . blank, unblinking stare . . .

MY HUSBAND: Alrighty then . . . call you later . . . smooch on the forehead

. . . .AND SCENE.

Though Daylight Saving Time was common practice in the ancient world, Benjamin Franklin resurrected the idea in a 1784 satire. Franklin’s suggestion was simply that people should get up earlier in summer. He is often erroneously attributed as the inventor of modern DST, while William Willett, who was the first to propose it in 1907, is often ignored. Well, fella’s, I’m none too pleased with either of you at this moment in time!

I’ll gather my thoughts (and my saliva) and return with something wonderful and inspirational tomorrow morning . . .

Now I’m tired, please make it stop!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Design Heroes

This morning my head is full of a lot of different thoughts, like "what if someone made a romantic comedy starring Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street" . . . don't kid yourself, you would TOTALLY go see it!

Then, I ruminated quite awhile on the fear that I think I’m slowly becoming Liza Minnelli. I’m fairly sure that I’m going for the “All That Jazz” period, except without the bowler hat, fewer sequins, and an outfit that covers more of my girly bits - Oh, and a long cigarette holder might be involved as well.

Stay with me, I’m getting there, HONESTLY!

That thought made me think "diva," which made me think of old Hollywood glamour-puss style, which is what I like to call my decorating style . . . glamour-puss diva. Aaaaah, FINALLY! the topic for today’s post - I would like to show a few glimpses of my home and highlight some of the designers that inspired my interior decor choices.

So here goes . . .

I'm a big fan of Philippe Starck. He creates glittery fantasy lands in his interior design. A few years ago I saw a photo of a restaurant he designed for Baccarat, called the Cristal Room. It is sumptuously appointed, what I like to call "Empire-chic," with a tufted ceiling and a black Baccarat chandelier hanging above a table that is surrounded by a gorgeous mixture of chairs. Baccarat’s slogan is “La beauté n’est pas raisonable” or "beauty is not reasonable!" I think he created a place to fit that slogan perfectly. So, to make a long story even longer, he and his Baccarat creation was the primary source of information for my home. In addition, Nanette Lepore's feminine flair that she exhibits in her retail boutiques is reflected in my home, too. Her pink wood floors, vintage chandeliers, and tufted banquettes really made me giggle. As a consequence, most of furniture in my home is tufted within an inch of it's life! She has been a long-time favorite of mine. She
uses a lot of tailoring touches - and I dig that. Then of course, there is Mr. Jonathan Adler and Ms. "Trina Turk. They appeal to me on so many levels, but, mostly because of their "make your own style" attitudes. They encourage having a home that’s
filled with stuff that has meaning to you - things that inspire you, things that make you happy - and I figured happy is always chic!

My sources . . .

Most of my furnishings and lighting are vintage finds that have been re-worked. Owning a vintage boutique kinda helps, because you can rationalize purchasing multiples of things like chandeliers or droves of chairs (I have a bit of chair fetish, I must admit ). I find things at flea markets, estate sales, thrift shops - I've even been known to take things from the curb (which used to be the bane of my children's existence, and now they can spot things before I can!) I love Craigslist and the CityWide Garage Sale here in Austin and Antiques Weekend that happens twice a year in the Warrenton - Round Top area of Texas. It is just an "antique freak's" Mecca. There are fields and fields and dealer after dealer offering vintage treasures. It's my little slice of Prozac!

Many things in my house are from my family. When my husband and I were first dating, he used to admire these three large European lounges that my Aunt and Uncle had in their den. So, when Scott would praise their comfort my Aunt would say, "When you ask LeAnn to marry you - I'll give them to you as a wedding present." At the time it kind of embarrassed me, but the prospect of owning those chairs eased the pain significantly. My Aunt was true to her word, of course, and they are now slip-covered in white twill and are in our den.

So, in conclusion ..... actually I have no closing thoughts, except to make a mental note to myself . . .stop mixing my multi-vitamins with my NyQuil. . . and I have decided to start saying my name is LeAnn with an "E."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Martha Stewart Unveiled on Pingg

If given the opportunity, I would lock myself in my bedroom for two days with nothing but a 6-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper, a copy of Martha Stewart Living, and my jammies. I love her - her magazines - her merchandise - her books - her unapproachable style! So, when offered the opportunity to write about the unveiling of the Martha Stewart Collection of invitations that she has designed exclusively for Pingg, I was beside myself.

Back in late October, the simplicity and class of Pingg caught the attention of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc (MSLO), who decided to invest and and enter into a commercial agreement with Pingg. Based in New York, Ping was co-founded in 2006 by brothers Lorien Gabel and Matt Harrop. Lorien and Matt are CEO and CTO respectively. Their third business venture together, Pingg is a new, free invitation creation and event management platform that lets design conscious hosts seamlessly create, send and manage stylish online and print invitations and event communications for personal and professional events. With stylish designs, integrated print, social networking features, customizable event web page and easy to use tools, Pingg is changing the way hosts create and plan their events on the web. For more information, visit their site.

Martha’s high energy just goes on ... and on and on and on ... I guess she managed to complete this project somewhere between knitting an ergonomic, bio fuel-powered vehicle, milking her zebras and wallpapering her chicken coop. This is said with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, of course!

Martha and her team of experts have created a truly unique collection of invitations and e-cards featuring iconic images from their extensive libraries. The collection is full of fun and elegant designs, perfect for every occasion, from baby showers to back yard Bar-B-Ques and everything in between!

Martha is also now sharing her expert advice on Pingg! Her guide to party planning essentials can be found on our new ‘entertaining section’. Throughout the year, Martha and her editorial team will continue to add new ideas and tips, exclusively for us.

So, take a look at the new collection of invitations, peruse their new entertaining section, and take full advantage of all that Martha Stewart and Pingg has to offer!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Super gr-8888888-t wedding videos

I thought I would share a post that I recently made on my series of weekly posts called Vintage Wednesday.

I just . . . I wish so many things. I wish I had some sort of carbonated beverage in my hand right this minute. I wish I had my stimulus check already. I wish I had Gisele Bündchen's body. And, I wish I had thought of this idea for my wedding video. I know . . . I know . . . your asking, "What is 'vintage' about video? Well, read on you vintage vixens.

There is a growing trend in the wedding video industry these days, whereby, a couple's special day can be shot entirely on the timeless medium of Super 8mm film. Super 8 film stock offers the modern couple a distinctively vintage feel to their wedding videography. The grain in this film gives a warm, vintage, extra romantic quality that enhances the memory of your wedding and all the events that lead up to it. If a couple would like to present a more artful and nostalgic retelling of their wedding day, this may be just the thing. Subtle in its approach, most are set almost entirely to music, with some natural audio woven in from the ceremony and reception, can run anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. A combination of imagery, audio and music is carefully chosen to portray the styles and personalities of the bride and groom. These Super 8 films deliver an experience that transports anyone who views them back to all the emotions, rhythms and moods of that special day. And, these films seem to mean so much more than just conveying the chronology of the day's events, seeming more like the storytelling and cinematography you might find on the big screen.

More and more creative talent is popping up all over the country. As a matter of fact, I found some wonderful examples on Youtube and Vimeo.

Super 8 Film - Bridal Elegance - Jessica from Northernlight Filmworks on Vimeo.

This was a Bridal Elegance shoot that was done at the Ambassador House in Fishers, Indiana by Northernlight Filmworks. They shot this video with Super 8 film utilizing color and black and white stock.

Another Super 8 film I found on Youtube is the Parisian wedding of Stuart and Michelle. It was shot in color and black and white super 8 film by Olivier Lalin. It opens with a misty shot of the Eiffel Tower set to Edith Piafs' vintage tune, La Vie En Rose.

The a husband and wife team of Artifact Documentaries is another great resource, with lots of information on their blog. When I was researching this post I was so pleased to find Life Stage Videography's blog that suggested several questions that a couple should ask when considering such an investment. And, an investment it is. Costs begin around $1,700. So, make sure and ask things like: How will my movie sound? How do you handle lighting? How do you vary your shots? How do you plan to tell the story of my day? How long will it take to get my finished movie? Are you ‘preferred’ by the other companies I’ve hired? May I see other clients’ movies and read what they had to say about you? How do you get your shots without being ‘in the way’? Why are your services more expensive/less expensive than other companies? What do you do to make sure our movie is unique to our personalities?

In conclusion, as with all your choices, make sure that this one reflects you and your groom and have a gr-8888-t wedding day. See what I just did there . . . I used 8 instead of "-eat" - Ha! I slay me! See you next "Vintage Wednesday!"

LeAnn Stephenson is an Austin-based vintage collector and textile enthusiast and founder of The Vintage Laundry and stocks an online Etsy store, as well as writing a blog called The Vintage Laundress.

Get the Look

Yesterday I received a lovely email from Kristen at Pretty Little World Fashion. She was alerting me to the fact that she had made a post that featured one of my re-worked vintage chairs on her blog. I really enjoyed looking through her other posts - you should stop by and take a look.

She was an English Lit. major in college and got her Master's degree with a focus in Creative Writing, although the dream of owning her own clothing store remained strong. To make that dream come to fruition, she began on Etsy as a buyer and then opened her own store as a way to sell some of the vintage collection that she'd accumulated. Her Etsy store Pretty Little World is the sister store of The Invisible Circus, which stocks a myriad of handmade goods and supplies.

Thanks for the feature on Danish Modern finds on Etsy, Kristen! I'm so pleased to have found your blog and your Etsy stores.