May 28, 2008

*** UPDATED*** Coming Attractions

Tonight is the lecture on Maison Jansen at Evergreen House in Baltimore. I am really looking forward to hearing James Archer Abbott, Curator of Evergreen talk about this incredible design firm. Click here to read a piece about Maison Jansen and Abbott's book on 1st Dibs. Depending on how long the lecture lasts, I will try and write up a piece about it when I get home. I will also share comments on Abbott's book with you.

In June, I might have convinced a friend in England to write about a day at the races. But these are not just any races, they're the Royal Ascot races, dating back to 1768. Royal Ascot is an internationally renowned sporting and social occasion, where tradition, pageantry, fashion and style all meet in a glorious setting. One of the most famous Ascot images is that of Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady" in her gorgeous black and white dress. Cecil Beaton designed the Ascot sets and costumes for the movie. This year's races are in mid-June, so stay tuned.

UPDATE: I got to Evergreen a little early, since you never know what rush hour traffic will bring. I had a nice conversation with James Archer Abbott, the lecturer and author of two Maison Jansen books, including the simply gorgeous Jansen Furniture, which other bloggers have written about.

I bought both of his books, which I could justify since I rarely pay for books, courtesy of Book Thing. Mr. Abbott kindly signed and dated them for me. He's working on a new book, this time about Baltimorean, decorator Billy Baldwin and I can't wait until he finishes that one!
Mr. Abbott was a terrific lecturer, smart, funny and very informative. He illustrated his lecture with some incredible pictures from his books, and had great stories to tell about the firm, meeting Stephane Boudin and some of Jansen's clients. I took lots of notes and when I decipher my writing and distill my thoughts, I will share them with you.


  1. I'm so excited that you get to attend this lecture. Can't wait to hear all about it. Have fun!

  2. like peak, i can't wait to hear your report back on the lecture! have fun!

  3. Oh you are lucky! Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

    The Ascot idea sounds fun too.

  4. Lots of good things in the works--looking forward to your review of the lecture, and the Royal Ascot piece sounds great.

  5. In Houston, the author was unable to attend - so the editor, Mitchell Owens - who works for Elle Decor, stepped in for him. It was a great evening too. I wonder if the slide show was the same? Inside the Loop blogger and I had a great time that night too! Glad you got to go.

  6. I can't wait to hear more about the lecture!!

  7. Now that sounds like a fine afternoon! I'll look forward to your report.

    And here's hoping about the piece on Royal Ascot... always wanted to go, but finding a vintage suit of morning clothes or a stroller in my size isn't that easy... And a Treacy hat for Mrs. E. might doom the budget...

  8. Isn't Mister Abbott rather young? Boudin died in 1967, so could he possibly have met him?

  9. Anon... I thought that was what he said, but I will have to check my notes. I know he spoke about going to the atelier when they were trying to keep it as a going concern, and how it changed hands several times in the last years of its "life".

    As for young? That's a state of mind!

  10. Sneek peaks of the books! Show us something!

  11. Thanks for sharing a little more Meg. The Baldwin book should be great. Is he also working on something on Ruby Ross Wood?

  12. Oh, I wish I had known about this lecture earlier. I would have driven up from Washington. I can't wait to read your thoughts and see the photographs (you always do great pics.)

    As for Beaton, he knew the wisdom of black and white on a color screen. The eye gloms right on it and makes the wearer the center of action.

    Let me tell you a funny story. You may know it. When they were filming Myra Breckenridge starring Mae West, Raquel Welch and others, Mae West made a huge stink that she be the only star allowed to wear white or black, for just the reasons I cited above--she didn't want Raquel (more beautiful/youthful) outshining her. Raquel got her own back, when she had outfits made up in the palest shades of blue (almost white, but contractually obedient.)Of such things are movies made.

    Another thing about Beaton's Ascot costumes, and I remember this particularly when reading about another Hollywood designer, Adrian, and his work on Pride and Prejudice (the 1940 version.) He made the costumes not historically accurate nor necessarily pretty, but rather for the camera--knowing how it would "read" on film. Beaton understood that, as well. If you study the costumes in My Fair Lady, he's not missed a trick: black and white and things that will "pop" on film.

  13. WC... sorry you didn't know! I think that if you look on my Evergreen House posts, there's a link to the House and you can sign up for their e-newsletter.

    And thanks for the compliment on my pix. I didn't take any inside last night, it's against the rules there (wink, wink).

  14. sounds like a fab lecture! looking forward to hearing more when you have a chance...

    and meg, could i ask you a favor? could you please refrain from phrases like "I rarely pay for books, courtesy of Book Thing", as i'm so jealous of your Book Thing that my head just might explode.




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