Design Lover: Alessandro Albrizzi Fireplace Tools

Baron Alessandro Albrizzi was part of the late 60s early 70s international jet set crowd who meandered between Venice, Rome, London and Palm Beach. Launching his first shop in 1968 at One Sloan Square in London, Albrizzi quickly went on to open many shops around the world.

Albrizzi's name became synonomous with cutting edge interior design. His trademark chrome and acrylic home furnishings were known for their sleek, clean, versatile shapes and took the form of desks, tables, stacking cubes and accessories like lucite backgammon sets and fireplace tools. In 1970, Vogue magazine declared Albrezzi's shop in New York's Carlyle Hotel the place, "where chic people of all ages seem to find the very thing for their own or their friends' houses."

Albrizzi's fireplace tools came in materials such as lucite and brass, steel travertine and rosewood, brass and wood and brass and black lacquer.

The Updo: 1979 vs 2009

1979 <------> 2009

Tricks to Improve Your Walk

Next time you walk by a window take a glance at your reflection. What do you see?
The way you carry yourself commands as much attention, if not more, as your presentation. Good posture will make you look more confident, it will gain you admiration and respect and your clothes will look better. Someone with droopy shoulders and their chin to their chest while walking does not present a confident, stable individual.

Tricks to improve your posture and your walk:
  1. Walk around your home with a book on your head. After doing it long enough you'll begin to feel an imaginary book there.
  2. Imagine you are tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets when you're walking or sitting. Don't be surprised if your collarbone cracks, that's good. You'll not only feel your breathing getting better as your chest rises but you'll also notice your stomach tightening. With clearer breathing comes relaxation. Take a deep breath through your nose and one more quick one when you think you can't breathe in anymore. Feel your chest expand and slowly let it out while counting to ten. You shouldn't finish before you reach ten.
  3. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your weight evenly balanced. Picture a big balloon poised over your head. The balloon is attached by strings just behind your ears. As the balloon begins to float upward it lifts your head raises your chin, pushes your shoulders back, tightens your stomach and draws your butt in.
  4. Imagine your mother repeating, in a stern voice, 'Shoulders back, stomach in, chest out' as you feel yourself slumping.
Practice either, or both, of these two famous walks at home and try them out next time you have to walk across a crowded room. It'll make you smile inside.

How to Wear Cuff Links

I recently had an interview with a gentleman who was wearing cuff links. He was fifteen minutes late but when I saw his cuff links my irritation waned. Cuff links are the epitome of male elegance.

I also find them a statement of individuality and confidence. It is known that a well dressed man can never have too many cuff links.

There are general rules for wearing cuff links:
  • bright stones, black pearls and diamonds are worn in the evening.
  • dull natural stones such as turquoise, onyx, or tigers eye are worn for day
  • simple gold and silver links are suitable for both - except for black tie when you choose from your evening sets.
  • they should match what you're wearing.
  • gold cuff links made to look like rough nuggets can appear expensive yet casual. See those by David Yurman.

Large links can look gaudy if worn the wrong way. If your links are large, go for an outfit that is simple to prevent yourself from looking like Ralph Furley. Cuff links are a great conversation starter among both sexes.

When do you wear cuff links?
Whenever you want to.

Where do you wear cuff links?
Wherever you want to.

Where do you find them?
The best cuff links are in vintage or antique shops.

How to Shop Thrift Stores

I had a budget of $90 and the task of finding my husband something to wear. Being an expert 'picker' and of a competitive spirit I set off to my local thrift store. I made one stop and this is what I found.


  1. military issue leather combat boots - $29.99
  2. jersey gunmetal wool cardigan with suede elbow patches - $6.99
  3. chainmail belt - $3.99
  4. vintage tee - $4.99
  5. viscose asphalt flat front tapered trousers - $9.99
  6. vintage tee honoring Tienanmen Square - $3.99


  1. Crocodile wool pullover - $5.99
  2. distressed denim - $6.99
  3. white tee - $3.99
  4. all leather loafers - $7.99
  5. wool work socks - $.99
  6. hand beaded leather belt - $3.99

Total: $89.88 (tax excluded)

Quote of the Week - Christian Dior

It is always better to err on the side of simplicity rather than be extravagant in your dressing. Christian Dior

Vintage Lotus


13 ways to be more Desireable

  1. open a bottle of champagne without making it pop
  2. iron your shirt
  3. polish your shoes
  4. get out of debt
  5. cigarette butts are litter
  6. daisies are not sexy
  7. paper napkins are not acceptable
  8. never show up at a dinner party empty handed
  9. tell someone they're flying low, have stuff in their teeth or have toilet paper on the bottom of their shoe
  10. Beethoven is sexy
  11. barter at the flea market
  12. never be the first to arrive and the last to leave
  13. seduce someone in the kitchen (learn from the kitchen scene in 9 1/2 Weeks)

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Design Lover: Pyrex 775X Flameware Coffee Percolator

Designed in 1952, the Pyrex 775X series of Flameware coffee percolators are an American mid-century icon. The percolators are made of glass and stainless steel and come in various sizes. The 775X percolator consists of a glass pot, glass cover, glass pump spindle tube, aluminum basket bottom and cover, and glass inner basket. A simple, beautiful and useful piece of design. Pictured above is my coveted 7759 B that I picked up at a charity shop in mint condition for $30. Don't be afraid to use your vintage Flameware percolator when you find it. **Note - your coffee will need to be ground extra coarse.

How long do you think it will take before Philippe Stark comes out with his version

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Design Lover: Silvia Stave Modernist Cocktail Shaker

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John Cage: Renaissance Man

The works of John Cage gave artists the permission to do anything they will - to break down the old and construct the new. To Cage, knowledge was limitless. He is praised by critics as a pioneer of electronic music and one the most influential American composers of the 20th century. Below is a piece entitled Dream (1948), written during what some refer to as his phase of 'Oriental quiescence'.

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Design Lover: Silvia Stave Modernist Cocktail Shaker

The story behind a piece can greatly influence the value.

For over sixty years, design enthusiasts incorrectly attributed this modernist cocktail shaker to the head of the Bauhaus metal workshop, Marianne Brandt. However, the original drawing for the piece surfaced and was confirmed, shortly before her death in 1994, by Swedish designer Silvia Stave to be hers.The piece also appears in the original 1930 catalogue for C.G. Hallberg, Stave's employer.

Stave is noted for her assured, serene, unbroken, and undecorated designs. Confident in her talent and understanding of the art of silversmithing, Gustav Hallberg quickly promoted Stave to Director of Design for Hallberg's. She went on to win an award at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition.

In 1996, an original of the above cocktail shaker sold at auction for $11,675 (price adjusted to 2009 currency rate).

Silvia Stave's modernist cocktail shaker has been reintroduced by Alessi. Available online.

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10 Things You Should Know About Desert Boots

The inspiration
Chupple Sandal and WW II Dutch Army Boot
  1. the idea for the Desert Boot started taking shape during WWII when officers began having boots made for them in the markets of Cairo
  2. the comfort of the boot was inspired by the moldable leather chupple worn by Indian troops on the North West frontier and admired by Western officers from the Western Desert visiting Burma
  3. based loosely on the style of the Dutch voortrekker boot that was introduced to Western Desert warfare by the South Africa division of the Eighth Army
  4. created on the original army boot last (the original wooden form used to shape the shoe) that provided comfortable footwear to the Eighth Army
  5. created by Clarks in 1949 by bringing the moldability of the chupple together with the strength of the voortrekker boot and the comfort of the combat boot
  6. first Clarks shoe to be marketed in America
  7. over 12 million Clarks Desert Boots have been sold worldwide since their creation
  8. the boot was launched at the Chicago Shoe Fair in 1950
  9. construction of the Desert Boot has remained virtually unchanged since its inception
  10. the Desert Boot celebrates its 60th anniversary this year

The 1950s Reissue

6 Different Ways to Tie a Shoe

  • Classic crisscross - outside, inside, outside and tighten from the bottom
  • Combination crisscross - an easier version of the classic. Outside, outside, outside and tighten by pulling laces.

  • Spaced crisscross - X-pattern eyelets in the center.
  • Horizontal lacing - Bring one end straight up to the top of the eyelet, lacing the other end in the desired effect.

  • Zigzag - one end straight up to top of eyelet, but other end laces in a crisscross pattern.
  • Horizontal underlacing - outside down, inside up across, outside down.

  • Experiment on shoes or boots with any number of eyelets. Hint --> combat boots are fun.
  • Pull laces up so the longer end is on the right. When you tie your bow, twist the longer end twice around the first loop before pulling it through.
  • Cotton laces tie better.

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Vintage Missoni


Quote of the Week - Susan Sontag

Fashion becomes the discovery that anything is all right if worn by the right person. Susan Sontag

12 Do's and Don'ts for Dining Out

  1. start eating before anyone else is served.
  2. gesture with silverware.
  3. lie to the waiter saying everything is okay when it is not.
  4. snap your fingers for attention.
  5. order for your partner unless they have given you permission.
  6. lay anything on the table - including your phone.
  7. order a vodka paralyzer before dinner.
  8. talk to your menu - the waiter is beside you.
  9. wear your running shoes and distressed denim unless you're at a concession stand.
  10. get drunk.
  11. hold your cutlery in a death grip.
  12. settle for anything but the best.

  1. give compliments where compliments are due.
  2. fill out the comment form - management really does read them.
  3. keep your voice down.
  4. use your napkin often.
  5. send your wine back if it is unacceptable.
  6. tip 20%. More if the service is outstanding. The waiter has to share that tip with the bartender, bussers, host, kitchen staff, floor supervisor and management.
  7. break off a small piece of bread, butter it and eat it. Don't butter the whole thing at once.
  8. look the waiter in the eye.
  9. place your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down. When you're finished your meal use your napkin, fold it loosely and place it on the table.
  10. pull the chair out for your female date, wait until she's seated then sit down. If this is too old fashioned for you at least wait until she takes her seat before you sit down. If you're out on business wait for the women to be seated then take your seat.
  11. rise to shake someone's hand if you are introduced.
  12. get your bearings straight on manoeuvring a typical table setting.

Design Lover: Harry Bertoia Bird Chair

Harry Bertoia won his first award (a scholarship) in 1932 at the age of seventeen. Yet another scholarship followed which enabled him to study at Eliel Saarinen's design school, the Cranbrook Academy of Art. The accolades continued throughout Bertoia's career. He was awarded the American "Designer of the Year" (1955), a Certificate of Merit, from the American Institute of Architects, the AIA Craftsmanship Award (1956), the Gold Medal from the Architectural League of New York (1955-56) , the Design Center Stuttgart Award from West Germany (1962), the Fine Arts Medal from the Pennsylvania Association of the American Institute of Architects (1963), the AIA's Critic's Award (1968), and an honorary doctorate from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1976).

Bertoia worked briefly with Charles and Ray Eames and collaborated with Florence and Hans Knoll. It was while working with the Knoll's that Bertoia developed the iconic Bird chair and ottoman. Made from molded chromium-plated steel wire, the chairs are still being made and marketed by Knoll today. There are variations on the basic model but the original design has not changed much. Like all classics, it is what it has always been.

Bertoia Bird Chair: 40.25" H x 38.5" x 33" D
Bertoia Ottoman: 14.5" x 23.5" W x 17.25" D
Available online at Knoll.

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How to Paint Your Front Door

Next to the mantle piece, the front door is probably one of the most popular backdrops for family photos. It is also the first impression your home makes on visitors and passersby. I like to think of the front door as the gate keeper that both guards and greets. Sprucing up your front door can be an economical way to add some zest to your home or, don't make me say it -> curb appeal.
Some things to consider when planning for your front door redo:
  • give your door its own special character such as, but not limited to, a contrasting colored trim, French tile numbers, or a brass lion's head knocker
  • bushes, plants or vines such as honeysuckle not only add a welcoming scent but also soften any imposing lines leading to your door
  • your door should be of the same period or style as your home
  • if your front door is actually on the side or around the back, a path, canopy or entrance courtyard indicate this is the way to the main entrance
  • your front door is an extension of you and your family. It welcomes visitors into the home you've created out of a house.
A selection of front doors from Vancouver's West End:

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1989 Went back to the future with Nissan Figaro

I grew up in a body shop. My father restored Camaros, Corvettes, T-Birds, 57 Chevys, you name it. When we spotted this car we were both curious. Initially, we thought it was a vintage Italian model but the rear brake light and window markings convinced us otherwise.
Nissan Figaros were a limited edition coupe (20,000) produced for Japan's domestic market in 1991. The Figaro came in four 'jewel' colors, each representing a season. The model here is Emerald Green (Spring). The other 'jewel' colors were Pale Aqua, Lapis Grey and Topaz Mist (the rarest).
The Figaro was designed by Shoji Takahashi for the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show under the slogan 'Back to the Future'.
As for speed, let's say the Figaro is a perfect car for motoring around the city. Fuel economy 7.4 L/100 km. Fuel capacity 40 L (11 US gal.; 9 imp gal). 3 speed automatic transmission.
A sliding soft top is standard on the Figaro, as is extremely water repellent paint and white leather interior.
Eric Clapton's Figaro is for sale.

For more information on the Figaro check:
Figaro Cars Are Us
Figaro Owners' Site

Versace Men 1992


Quote of the Week - Christian Dior

Individuality will be always one of the conditions of real elegance.
Christian Dior

How to Choose Eye Glass Frames for Your Face Shape

Eye glasses have been a celebrated fashion accessory for men since the late 1950s - think of iconic photos of Yves Saint Laurent, Buddy Holly, Woody Allen or John Lennon. As of late, the trend in eyeglasses has moved from the inconspicuous frameless glasses to the obvious, bold frames with oversize lenses. There are wire frames and heavy frames in oval, round, hexagonal, octagonal, square or what have you. Find a pair that proportionally suits your face, like you would a hat, and the frame will flatter your positive facial features. Think of the image or look you want to create for yourself.
  • Round face - angular frames
  • Square face - long narrow frames
  • Diamond face - wide wire frames
  • Oval face - you're perfect go for anything
  • Large face - large frames
  • Small face - small frames
  • Large nose - heavy dark frames
  • Dark circles/wrinkles - heavy substantial frames

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Vintage Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent

check check one

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