Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Christmas

It's early Sunday morning, I am up to day 3 in bed with some obvious travel lergy and I leave for Oz on Tuesday (ears willing)!

Usually I look forward to going home for Christmas. It is a time of warmth - literally - laughter, friends, family and fun. This year looks a little different. I have a 90 year old father who will come out of hospital after a back op and will need 24 hour care, an 80 year old mother who is about to collapse from the sheer emotional weight of being the sole carer, and a darling friend and mother of two who faces the long and scary battle against an invasive breast cancer. How quickly life can change. I guess in light of all this I have a lot to be grateful for. And I really do.

As I look back on this year's blog, I realize that it has taken a back seat to my real life. So many wonderful and fulfilling things have happened this year that I have wanted to really 'live' life rather than ruminating on it. Plus of course, the work travel has been ridiculous. So next year I want to try and organize my time better so I am spending less time living out of a suitcase between travel overseas for work and across town to stay at my partner's place, and more time at this blog. We shall see.

In the meantime, I have a pile of books ready to take to Melbourne in the slim hope I will find time to swing in the hammock under a gum tree. This is where I wish I was a kindle lover, but sadly, I prefer to smell the ink on a new hardback! My pile includes the following, some old, some new:
  • A separate Peace: John Knowles
  • My sister my love: Joyce Carol Oates
  • the hare with the amber eyes: Edmund de Waal
  • The garden in the clouds: Antony Woodward
  • The pages: Murray Bail
I light candles on this page in thanks for a wonderful year and in thought to all those facing hardship, struggle and pain. Happy Christmas and may 2011 be an easier one for you. x

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Going Nuts for the Nutcracker

It's official. The US is obsessed with the Nutcracker. Every year at this time, there is some version of this beloved ballet playing somewhere around the country - from the heat of Hawaii to the potentially snowy Manhattan.

I remember the first time I saw the Nutcracker. I was 15 and my Dad took me to watch the Australian Ballet dance it in Melbourne. It was my first ever ballet and I was enchanted by the music, the fake snow - I had never seen real snow - and the costumes. I didn't love it enough to want to actually don a tutu myself, but it conjured up all that is good and sweet and fun about childhood.

The first Nutcracker was performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg in 1892. Tchaikovsky was commissioned to create a double-bill program including an opera and a ballet. The Nutcracker was an adaptation of E.T.A Hoffman's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

Original production, St Petersburg

Although the premier performance was not considered a success, through various iterations, it has continued to flourish up until today. And nowhere like in the US.

According to New York Times ballet critic Alistair Macaulay, the Nutcracker is loved nowhere else in the world like the US. The Russians have not  kept this ballet in their longstanding repertoire like they have with Giselle and Swan Lake. And Covent Garden declared a "Nutcracker-free" zone for 20 years. It is estimated that almost half the Nutcracker productions each year occur in the US.

This year, there are 3 companies in New York alone dancing different versions of the ballet. And don't think it is only performed in its original form. Apparently there is a Jewish Nutcracker, a production with a chinese dragon, another with hip hop and still another Lesbian/Gay Freedom and and Dance-Along Nutcracker in San Francisco! Take your pick. Whatever your taste, this ballet has become an American institution. Macaulay is so enamored with the ballet, he is running what he calls a "nutcracker marathon" this season, taking in 20 productions around the country.

For myself, I prefer the original Balanchine version. Tchaikovsky's score is partnered with all the Nutcracker wonders you know and love;  mischievous mice, marching toy soldiers, the Land of Sweets, a gorgeous big Christmas tree and of course, the Sugarplum Fairy. I look forward to being transported back to my childhood this Christmas.

Images: new york times

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I feel like my life is one large suitcase at the moment, albeit not a LV case! In the air again, this time to London.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bergdorf Windows 2010

Ahh Bergdorf. Your holiday window dressing is as exquisite as ever. Perhaps a little too detailed this year with the props taking over from the fashion, but a delight nevertheless.
The theme is "Wish you were here" and focuses on fantasy travel to far-flung places, in many an exotic mode of transport. From a caboose to Equus to a magnificent flying machine, these windows transport us not only into a world of heavenly fashion, but also to some fantastical destinations.

Day tripping

Full speed ahead

Ready for takeoff

Wish you were here

 And here's a video taking us behind-the-scenes of the making of the windows.

Images: bergdorf goodman

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I'm back in the air again, this time on my way to Tokyo and Seoul.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, it's that time of the year again to stuff the fatted bird, mash the sweet potato, bake the pumpkin pie and give thanks to all the wonderful things that life has offered us since last November.

Tomorrow we will be a motley crew celebrating this most American of holidays. The lunch table will include a Zimbabwean Jew, a German, some South 'Efricans', a pom, an aussie - me - and I think there is one token American for good measure! Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke really.

I am in charge of table decorations given my cooking is so inconsequential ( I mean, really, who knows how to make pumpkin ice cream?!). I'm thinking simple autumn colors seeing this city explodes into orange at this time of year. White tablecloth, natural colored linen napkins, clusters of mini, mini pumpkins along the centre of the table with votives in between. Then a huge vase of wonderfully colored autumn leaves and berries in rusts, yellows, reds and greens. Of course this will have to go once the guests sit down, but a good dramatic effect, don't you agree? Then of course, after a long and hearty lunch, I am going to request parlor games. I'm thinking charades, Pictionary and perhaps a round of Twister to really break down those international borders!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thank you to the turkey who so kindly donated his life for our pleasure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Off to Beijing for 5 days to launch some new products! Hopefully I will have time to see one of these.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Inner Illumination

"Music exists to elevate us as far as possible above everyday life"
Gabriel Faure

Have you ever had a transcendent moment when life is suspended and all that exists is the sound that surrounds you? I experienced that twice last night during a concert in the stunningly renovated Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Centre.

The White Light Festival is a new annual fall festival that according to its VP of programming, "explores music's unique power to illuminate an interior universe far larger and more fulfilling that the narrow strivings of our egos." It has provided 4 weeks of the most reflective and spiritual moments from different cultures and centuries. Judging by the near impossilbilty to get tickets, clearly these moments of mediation are needed for us frazzled New Yorkers! Last night focused on works by Bach and Arvo Part, sung by the Latvian National Choir and conducted by Tonju Kalijuste from Estonia.

I have been a huge admirer of Part's music for over a decade. Born and living in Estonia, his music has often been referred to as "mystical minimalism." He is a deeply religious man who often sets alot of his music to sacred texts, some of which include a Magnificat, Te Deum, Stabat Mater and De Profundis. He began composing in the 1950's and found his true compositional voice in the 70's when he introduced chant-like melodic phrases, heart wrenching and sometimes discordant harmonies and wonderful periods of silence. He relies on the power of the human voice to create different timbres, with a small string orchestra or organ to support but never detract or take over from the voices.

Last night the two Part pieces had their US debut. The first was Stabat Mater composed in 1985. The second was Adam's Lament, which was commissioned this year on the occasion of Part's 75th birthday. Deviating slightly from his usual Christian bent, Part created this piece with a ecumenical intent and an awareness that it would first be heard in Istanbul, still a predominantly muslim nation. "When composing this piece," he stated, "I only had one wish, and it was that the work should be something to address the Turkish culture. It must be something that connects us all together."

Part used a text written by the monk Silouan of Athos (1866 - 1938) as the basis for his lament. The versus combine the two concerns of Adam; losing the garden of Eden but more so the loss of God's love. It focuses on the suffering of humanity and a longing to reconcile wtih God. Part saw Adam, the first man, as symbolically joining two great religions, Christianity and Islam. "[Adam] is our common forefather. His name carries our human history and at the same time represents each one of us. He marked the tragedy of mankind; By committing a sin, he lost the love of God. And he is still suffering."

The composition was heard for the first time on June 7th 2010 in Hagia Irene, a formerly Eastern Orthodox church and now a museum in the Topkapi PAlace. The choir and orchestra were conducted by last night's conductor, Tonju Kalijuste.

I can't find a recording online of Adam's Lament for you to listen to. But if you want to be transported to an other-worldly agony and despair and at the same time be wrapped in the exquisite sound of the human voice, please go and buy it. Meanwhile, I have embedded the Stabat Mater to tempt you!

images: ltc4940, all the cool spots,  panoramio, history for kids, 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pearly Whites

I went to the Dentist today (no, that is not my mouth above!) Normally this is an appointment of dread, but I have to admit I really like my dentist. He is a handsome New Yorker in his early 50's, tall, with George Clooney hair and a healthy laissez faire attitude when it comes to work versus play. He has a dental nurse who has the most magical hands. She rubs numbing gel onto my gums and no matter how long since I last flossed, the cleaning process is almost pain free. And her finale is a lovely cold spray of bicarb soda to make sure my ivories are sparkling white and super smooth.

All this made me realize how obsessed New Yorkers are with teeth. Almost to the point of derision. My insurance company actually gives me a hefty discount if I visit the dentist twice a year. Every second ad on TV and in magazines is for Crest whitening strips.

And every other ad is for invisalign braces.

In most neighborhoods there is a teeth whitening salon.

And even Anna Wintour commented on how bad Sienna Miller's teeth were when she was choosing the front cover for her famous September issue (New Yorkers are notoriously critical of english teeth).

According to the American Dental Association, in 2007, Americans spent $95.2 billion on dental care. Now I'm not good with numbers, but I am sure that is larger than some small country's economy. So now I keep thinking: are my teeth white enough and straight enough? Certainly not if I look too hard at America's perfectly perfect news presenters - and I swear they look like this on TV as well as in photos:

Courtney Friel, Fox 

Laurie Dhue, Fox

Alina Cho, CNN

Kiran Chetry, CNN

Katie Couric, CBS

I guess if I had the time I could always use the crest strips, sleep wtih Invisalign and schedule regular appointments at 'Brite Smile' (in betwen the manicures, hair, waxing and whatever else New York women do to stay looking perfect). Or I could just enjoy my grey-haired dentist twice a year and hope that the bicarb soda in Colgate keeps the dreaded yellow at bay. At a minimum I might look like a real person.

images: (1) best teeth whitening systems, (2) low price for home, (3) whistler dental, (4) woodfield, (5) Vogue, (6 - 7) fox, (8-9) CNN,  (10) media bistro

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Girl on the Block

Move over Christian, Manolo and Pierre. There is a new girl in town and she is going to knock your soles off.

Charlotte Olympia Dellal is a name that has been growing momentum for some time now. Her wonderfully quirky shoe label, Charlotte Olympia, is appearing on the perfectly pedicured feet of many a celebrity, It Girl and all those in between. I'm officially obsessed.

Olivia Palermo


street chic

Charlotte is no stranger to celebrity-dom herself. Born into prominent London It-Family, the Dellals, her sister Alice is a model and her younger brother Alex is dating Monaco beauty Charlotte Casiraghi. Her wedding last June was attended by the likes of Margherita Missoni, Vito Schnabel and Tatiana Santo Domingo.

Charlotte started her shoe line in 2006. Inspired by the glamor of the 1940's and 50's, her shoes make bold statements with blocks of color, vertiginous, decorated heels and her signature leopard print. And every sole features her spiders web logo.

Her inspiration for the fall collection was stain glass windows.  And every pair of colored shoes come with a matching pair of colored stockings. How old school and brilliant is that!

images: (1, 5) harpers bazaar, (2) brigadier, (3) orange, (4) everyone loves fashion,  (5) talk shoes, (6,7) a woman and her shoes, (8,9) shoe goddess

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Colors

Last weekend I went to the Catskills to catch the tail end of the fall foilage. "Leaf peeping" they call it here.

We were probably there a week too late, but there were still some gorgeous colors. There is nothing more beautiful than a clear blue sky, crisp air, the smell of damp earth and the autumn hues.