Spring Fling: Color, Fashion & Art
Last week, I was on vacation in The Netherlands, and I toured the De Pont Museum in Tilburg – a small museum of contemporary art housed in an old woolen mill. The minute I saw the current balloon exhibition by artist Katharina Grosse, something told me that I had seen this before. I had – I simply could not figure it out until I was back at work and saw our spring silk collection in gorgeous coral and cobalt. The colors are so refreshing for spring. I was also flipping through a Pucci book from Taschen looking for a caftan idea and came across another pop of color. Seeing both displays of brilliant orbs reminded me – once again – that inspiration comes from anywhere and anyone.
Lush Life: Relaxing in the Snow
Ever have one of those days? With snow still on the ground and more on the way, all I can think about is green grass in my backyard. I would even welcome a weed as long as it signaled spring. So I turned up my playlist (really loud in the car) and one of my favorite tunes blared: Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn. It is fascinating and complex: mournful, uplifting, so lyrical – the song fit my mood perfectly as I wait for spring. I read Strayhorn’s biography several years ago by David Hajdu and learned that he wrote Lush Life when he was 16. Amazing talent. No wonder Strayhorn went on to be Duke Ellington’s right-hand man for songwriting and composition. When I get home, I am going to don my silk pajamas, turn up the speakers and listen to the entire Lush Life: The Billy Strayhorn Songbook again … until the snow melts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp1vytLd9HA - Marian McPartland and Billy Taylor remember Strayhorn
Inspiration is Everywhere - Even in the Trash
When we started Sophia Graydon, we found inspiration for our collection in vintage fashion mags, menswear, old patterns, runway shows, a passing comment, a favorite book, and more. We still gather bits and scraps from daily life to constantly fill up our junkyard of ideas.
This past weekend, I attended a new show at the Walker Art Center that takes trash collection to a new level of artistic expression. Artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’ exhibit, Autoconstruccion uses only found objects. “I use materials people think of garbage,” says Cruzvillegas of Mexico City, “and give them a new use by revealing instead of hiding their nature.” Over the past 10 years, Cruzvillegas has become recognized as a key figure in the international art scene. He believes that everything is possible when you work with what you find. “It’s a way of life. Improvisation and testing all kinds of combinations according to specific needs are rules of autoconstruccion, rules that provide absolute freedom … it’s the most authentic type of creativity, because it blooms in the most adverse circumstances.”
Early this morning I made my way around Lake Harriet in the middle of a snowstorm. All the frosty elements of a winter day were swirling – snow, sleet, wind (I needed one more layer and a facemask). Yet it is the beginning of March, and I am dreaming of bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses – all those beautiful bundles of energy are patiently waiting for spring. Even the small patch of Lily of the Valleys by my back door crossed my mind. So I had to share with you a sign of spring. Officially, it starts later this month. Unofficially, I am already in my yard looking for the first flowers to appear.
Sit Close, Sit Always Together
I was thinking of the power of love when I received an email from my mother a few days ago. My father passed away late last summer after being married for 58+ years. Today my mother remains healthy, vibrant and oftentimes lonely for her long-time lover. She wrote an email about her empty chairs. Everywhere she goes she has an empty seat next to her – in the car, in bed, in the golf cart, at restaurants, in a plane, at church, next to the computer desk. Her email reminded me that love is quite simple, isn’t it? Being present. Nearby. Within reach. Today, as Cupid draws his bow, pull up your chair to the one you love.
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Sophia Graydon.
Happiness in a Box
This past weekend, I attended an entrepreneurship summit hosted by Credit Suisse. One of the speakers was Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. WOW – what an incredible story of passion, peril and incredible success. Tony shared many stories of how he helped Zappos shift its brand promise in 1999 from “largest selection of shoes,” to its current promise of “delivering happiness.” Today, Zappos has more than $1 billion in annual revenues and was recently acquired by amazon.com. Believe me, a new pair of shoes does bring pleasure, yet being part of something with a higher purpose – something bigger than yourself – results in the long-lasting happiness. I was reminded of this approach to life as I read his book, Delivering Happiness: a Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, on my flight home. The book gave me much to consider as we continue on our journey with Sophia Graydon and being part of something bigger – which for me, is returning luxury apparel manufacturing to the US. I would like to leave you with this quote from his book – a comment someone whispered in Tony’s ear at the end of a party: “Envision, create and believe in your own universe.”
Polka Dots are Easy to Love
That’s why we created two fun and gorgeous silk pajama sets – a very sexy caftan and a full-length pajama set. Both are made in a luxurious French black silk with a rich pink floral Chinoiserie trim.
How did these simple, playful dots earn its moniker of Polka? According to a story on Slate, “the English term polka dot stems from an extended craze for polka music and dancing that swept across Europe in the 1840s and 1860s. “ As the Polka came to the U.S. and evolved into a popular dance for weddings and parties, the upbeat, playful music was somehow paired with the simple dot. And the name, Polka Dot stuck. Flaunt showcases many wonderful images of the evolution of the classic circle - from Minny Mouse’s skirt to the “itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini” to the work of Japanese artist, Yayoi Kasama. In every interpretation, the Polka Dot remains a classic fashion statement.
Double-Faced Silk Satin
Coral Short Sleeve Pajama Shirt, Boxer and Double-Faced Silk Satin Robe
One of the best parts of my job at Sophia Graydon is helping select fabrics. And one of the most beautiful fabrics that we use for our sleep and loungewear is our Double-Faced Silk Satin. For Spring 2013, we are offering gorgeous Short Robes in White and Coral in this (dare I say incredible) Double-Faced Silk Satin.
Not only does this heavier, more luxurious Silk Satin sew beautifully, it also wears beautifully and should last a lifetime with appropriate care.
Silk charmeuse is often called the Queen of Fabrics because of its luster, satiny hand feel and beautiful drape. One of the most exotic natural fibers, silk has an ancient and fascinating past. According to legend, a cocoon dropped from a Mulberry tree into a cup of hot tea belonging to the young wife of the Yellow Emperor about 27th Century BCE. She discovered that as the cocoon unraveled in the hot water, she could wrap the silk threads around her finger. What began as a happy accident turned into a global luxury fabric trade. Today, China remains the largest producer of silk thread and fabric.
Perhaps China’s rich history has been on my mind lately because I finally toured the Chinese Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts this past Sunday. Amazing. Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China (259-210 BCE) built an entire funerary pavilion with more than 7000 life-sized figures of warriors, horses, chariots, water birds and more. Perhaps the most beautiful artistry, for me, was how the various warriors, cavalrymen and generals all had different types of braids in their hair. The weaves were intricate and exotic. I highly recommend you visit before the show closes in late January.