Friday, January 09, 2009

an imperfect duchess for the new world...

spring... is still a long way off but I'm dreaming of it, surrounded by winter-wonderland temperatures so cold I'm a human popsicle dipped in hot chocolate & wrapped up in fuschia, papaya, & citron cashmere finery (thank you J. Crew!). I am in love with the past few seasons J. Crew has done. Apparently they hired new CDs (Creative Directors) in recent years that are très talented. Talk about reviving a brand. Luscious colors and elegant, hip designs and prints have been taking this brand to a whole new level. You can't call J.Crew preppy anymore cause it's turned into something entirely new...very urban cool if you ask me.

Or perhaps I am already dreaming of warmer weather that leads us to tea parties Marie-Antoinette style because sometimes creating little joys or integrating small bursts of color into our lives are easy and simple ways to brighten our moods and our hopes during difficult times.

What's been inspiring me as of late is this kind of imperfect duchess style for the new millenia. Think floods of color like in the movie "Marie Antoinette" by Sofia Coppola. But think of it as if that same Marie Antoinette was lying on a second-hand seatte she got for free from a friend and covered it in luxe silk she got on sale at an obscure fabric store...
PHOTOS by the very talented: Jimmy Backius

Given our fragile times, I think we all need something happy. Something bright. Something that reminds us to still live well and keep our chins up because happiness gives strength, balance & energy through the storm. The television reflects gloom and doom which probably makes people so nervous we support our economy even less. I think everyone needs to be smart, serious, and take the appropriate measures to have safety nets and do what they can. But just giving yourself a warm meal, treating yourself to a single flower put in an empty soda bottle, or even just staring up at the sky for awhile and breathing in fresh air is modern luxury - redefined. Luxury should not be about $ but about taking good care of yourself. Treating yourself in simple, non-extravagent ways.  

There's a place for beauty and it's right now. Beauty can come from window shopping, drinking a cup of hot tea, trying an exotic fruit, or treating yourself to a new scarf. Even a luxurious bubble bath. Anything that draws a little joy or beauty into your life has deep meaning and purpose. Now more than ever.
The idea of being an imperfect duchess is finding luxury in treating yourself well, not in spending money.  Often when the world is chaotic, we deprive ourselves when we really should be taking care of ourselves and the quality of our lives & what we have now, not later. A little goes a long way to nourish our hearts, minds and spirits.
To see how beauty & color have their place in serious times, look at the La Fete de la Coleur ("The Festival of Color") organized this past Nov. 20th for UNICEF's Day of International Children's Rights. People were encouraged to participate by making donations, joining rallies, or painting themselves and loved ones in campaign colors of pink & orange. L'Express magazine joined forces with MAC Cosmetics to create special edition pink & orange make-up sets that were available at MAC kiosques around Paris. People were encouraged to place rose and tangerine palettes on their cheeks, hands, or have friends place them on each other...arms, joint participation & support for children around the world. Just what I mean. Exactly. Design and beauty have their place in this world. To inspire, to brighten, to bring hope and joy...and even to help.

So be an imperfect duchess. Don't feel guilty to buy a can of paint and finally paint your living room pink. Do what you can with what you have. Treating yourself will give you energy and warmth beyond measure during this wintery, cold, uncertain season. And that is something that money can't buy. -- STYLE NOMAD 01/10/2009

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