If I were a McQueen Princess-bride

Which, of course, I am not.  BUT, if I were, this would be my choice -- sans the wacky veil and awful Photoshopping job, of course.  Covered up enough for Westminster Abbey, surprising enough to be McQueen.  

My Kingdom for this juxtaposition of iconic McQueen looks!


God Save McQueen!

As you may have noticed, I love Alexander McQueen, and Sarah Burton has put out two beautiful collections since he passed away.  BUT...really, Kate?  You chose one of the. most. avant garde design houses in the world, and your wedding dress is a Grace Kelly redux?  Sigh.  

Well, I must say, she does look stunning.


A die-hard Urbanist's book recommendation: Triumph of the City, by Edward Glaeser

By urban economist extraordinaire and Harvard professor Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City is a triumph of urban discourse, tackling the ingredients of success that make cities endure and thrive in this age of seemingly unfettered sprawl in America and elsewhere.  From fast-paced New York, to intellectual Boston, to inexpensive Atlanta, to booming Mumbai, to teeming Kinshasa, Glaeser explores how cities are "our species' greatest invention" and our best hope for the future.  If you liked Freakonomics, you'll love Triumph of the City.
"Contrary to popular belief, cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in cultural and economic terms) places to live. New Yorkers, for instance, live longer than other Americans; heart disease and cancer rates are lower in Gotham than in the nation as a whole. More than half of America's income is earned in twenty-two metropolitan areas. And city dwellers use, on average, 40 percent less energy than suburbanites."

"If you live in a city, if you're planning on living in a city, if you ever lived in a city-this is a great book to read to give yourself a nice feeling of what you're accomplishing. It's a tremendous book."
-Jon Stewart, Host of The Daily Show

"If you would like to improve slums, turn poverty into prosperity, or get a grip on urban sprawl, read this thoughtful and thought-provoking book."
-Simon Johnson, author of 13 Bankers; professor of entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management

"At once polymathic and vibrant... Glaeser loves an argument, and he's a wonderful guide into one. Triumph of the City is bursting with insights and policy proposals to debate. You'll... walk away dazzled by the greatness of cities and fascinated by this writer's nimble mind."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Although liberally sprinkled with statistics, Triumph of the City is no dry work. Mr Glaeser writes lucidly and spares his readers the equations of his trade. This is popular economics of the best sort. Mr Glaeser clearly believes that hell isn't other people; heaven's more like it, for all our faults. He's right, and he says it well."
-The Economist


Help Japan, Buy Art (for $20. Really.)

All of the proceeds from the sale of this print and Shinjuku, 6:43, by Joseph O. Holmes, benefit Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund.

(limited editions × low prices) + the internet = art for everyone:
These prints are an offering of 20x200, a project of Jen Bekman Gallery in New York.  20x200 introduces at least two new offerings each week: one photo and one work on paper. Each work is released in 3 or 4 sizes, where the smallest size is released in editions of 200 (in the lowest price: $20).  They also offer 11"x14" editions of 500 for $50, 16"x20" editions of 20 for $200, 20"x24" editions of 50 for $500, 24"x30" editions of 10 for $1,000 and 30"x40" editions of 2 for $2,000.


WWRD: What would Rajo do...if he were asked to design Catherine Middleton's wedding gown?

Stylebible.ph asked top Manila designer Rajo Laurel for his 2 cents' worth in the whole Kate Middleton wedding frenzy.  This A-line gown with a batteau neckline and rose embroidery in silver thread is (a lot) more traditional than mine but, as usual, Rajo has put out a dreamy vision.


Flights of fancy

The last look from Lee Alexander McQueen's final collection (via style.com), and the image that set the direction for my entire wedding

I would much prefer people to think of my style as 'crazy' and 'over the top' rather than 'cookie-cutter'...or, that most mundane of all things, 'pretty' (YAWN).  This is why I loved Scott Schumann's take on the "inaccessibility" of fashion.  It's not about buying the particular pieces that walk down a runway...It's about elevating our personal style with the fantasies into which some of the most creative minds of our time are letting us peek.
"Some people have commented that they don't relate to the runways shots that I have posted on the blog during fashion week. They say they can't afford the clothes or the looks don't relate to their everyday lives.

I understand these comments but I challenge you to try and look at these runway shots in a new way.

Fendi, for example, was really about fantastic color combinations. Even if you didn't like the clothes you can focus on the color schemes. These suggestions of color can be used whether shopping Fendi, or Zara, or vintage."


Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal wedding invitation

Photo via brides.com

As we predicted in 'If it's good enough for the Queen of England', the invitation for Prince William's wedding to Catherine Middleton was printed using the most formal of printing methods: Engraving, traditionally a mainstay of royal and diplomatic correspondence. The royal stationery could be no less than the most classic, and appropriately so.  Finely engraved in black, Queen Elizabeth's seal in gold leaf is the prominent design element.


Homage to Yves Klein Blue: from art to fashion

Originally uploaded by scalleja
Blue Monochrome
Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962) 1961.  "Monochrome abstraction—the use of one color over an entire canvas—has been a strategy adopted by many painters wishing to challenge expectations of what an image can and should represent. Klein worked with a chemist to develop his own particular brand of blue, called International Klein Blue, and adopted this hue as a means of evoking the immateriality and boundlessness of his own particular utopian vision of the world."
Blue.  Period., The Queen of Gems (2011) 
click image to enlarge

In my favorite combination, with coral and a geometric print at 
Rag & Bone Fall 2011 (via style.com

Glamour in blue, Diane Von Furstenburg Fall 2011 (via style.com

A look from Thakoon Fall 2011 (via style.com)


5 Questions with...Ellen Black Invites & Stationery: Brides.com

click image to enlarge

As a follow-up to my post about engraved stationery,  a short excerpt from 5 Questions with... Ellen Black Invites & Stationery: Brides.com.  The Lehr & Black co-owner and stationer to the stars shares her best advice:
What is your favorite new invitation trend?
I love the idea of going back to engraving. Even though I love letterpress, engraving has a more modern feel while being clean and crisp. It is all about being simple while incorporating unique details.
Most couples choose fine engraving for classic invitations. That said, many brides drawn to the high quality papers and the engraving process also want something non-traditional. Use an unusual type-style, create a custom design (this invitation's main card is watermarked with an artist's sketch of the Cathedral where the ceremony will be), or select a custom ink color. This suite features a modern type in Yves Klein blue with a monogram in gold leaf. 

click image to enlarge
It is easy to tell whether a piece of stationery has been engraved (rather than thermographed -- the somewhat less crisp imitation). On the reverse of the lower card in the image above (and the card at far left in the image below), the tell-tale "bruise", caused by the pressure from the press, can be seen.  Also, thermographed text is shiny, while engraved text is more subtle and matte, even in gold leaf.
click image to enlarge


Tribal takeover

A stylized, custom silk in coral and Yves Klein blue shot with gold threads, hand-crafted in the traditional weaving style of the Bontoc tribe of the Philippines. Based on the ikat technique of resist-dyeing the warp thread before weaving, geometric motifs of stripes, triangles and arrows are incorporated in brightly colored panels of cloth.

Marchesa Resort 2011 goes tribal with stripes, triangles, and arrows 
(via style.com)

A look from Missoni Spring 2011 (via style.com)

Perpetually cool Proenza Schouler, Pre-Fall 2011 (via style.com)

A Bontoc weaver carrying on a centuries-old tradition, made new again by the world's top designers.


From the Queen of Gems, a recipe for Galette des Rois

The galette des rois, a traditional French pastry served during the Epiphany (The Feast of the Three Kings).  A tiny ceramic toy (big enough not to swallow!) is baked into the galette.  In the old days, a dried fava bean was used, so to this day the favor is still called la feve.  The galette is cut into as many slices as people in the party, and everyone picks 1 piece of galette.  The one who discovers the toy is made the 'King (or Queen) of the day' and wears a paper crown. He or she then picks a Queen/King by putting the toy in another's glass.  Tradition says that the next party should be at the king's expense. 

Cook time: 45 minutes

  • For the pastry: 1 or 2 packages (17.3-ounce) store-bought puff pastry sheets.  If frozen, thaw in refrigerator.
  • Frangipane cream for the filling, enough for 2 galettes:
    • 1 cup soft butter
    • 1 cup ground blanched almonds
    • 4 tablespoons flour
    • 3 eggs
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1 pinch salt
    • Powdered sugar, for dusting
    • Egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With an electric beater, mix all the ingredients for the frangipane cream, until blended. On a slightly floured cold surface, cut 2 circles the size of dinner plates out of the puff pastry. Put one of them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush one inch around the edge of the circle with egg wash (beaten egg yolk). Spread half of the frangipane cream on the center and place the second circle on top matching the edges of the circles. Press all around the edges to glue them together. Press softly in the center to evenly spread the filling. If making 2 galettes, use remaining cream and follow the same method for preparation. 

Decorate the galette with a fork, press edges together all around -- no pricking. With the point of a knife, make any kind of design, being careful not to go all the way through the puff pastry. Brush the surface with egg wash, without getting any on the sides. 

Bake the galette in the center of a preheated 450-degree oven for 15 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar and bake until golden brown. Serve warm with a gold paper crown on top. 


Cornucopia of color

Sarees that are a feast for the eyes, courtesy of my dear friend and long-time roommate.

Intricate details make it difficult to look away from this cobalt creation. 

Graceful seafoam green.

These call to mind the spices of India.


Fabulous fabrics...part 2

An essential component that makes the bespoke clothing experience so special is the ability to choose fabrics that speak to you.  Italian mills are known for a variety of exceptional shirting fabrics, including 2-ply, Egyptian, or Sea Island 120's or 140's cotton.
There is an almost unlimited number of possible combinations for the main shirt and accent fabrics on the inside collar, cuffs, or elsewhere.

Photo credit: Tyra Bleek Photography

Providing a Virtual Appointment Service via webcam for clients not in the Boston area, 9Tailors offers a dazzling array of fabrics and shirt features to help create your ideal shirt, ranging from the subtle to the bold, the minimalist to the daring!


If it ain't bespoke...part 2

A moderately wide cutaway collar looks both elegant and formal.  The generous gap displays both narrow and fairly thick necktie knots to full advantage.

Photo credit: Tyra Bleek Photography

 The devil is in the details.
The tab collar pictured here appears to its best advantage when combined with a very narrow necktie worn in a small knot.

Photos courtesy of 9Tailors, custom clothiers with a studio in Boston.  During private appointments, a Style Consultant will encourage clients to make the most critical decisions (collar shape! cuff style! monogramming!) about how they want their clothes to look, feel, function and fit. Custom pieces reflect personal style, complement body shape and skin tone and broaden the options for beautiful, personal, and unique clothing. 


Fabulous fabrics, part 1

 Hand-loomed fabric from pineapple leaf fibers, used for the dress shirts ('barong Tagalog') of the Philippines.  

 With the numbers of artisan piƱa weavers in the Philippines dwindling, the delicate cloth is used only for very formal events.


For Valentine's Day, and every other day

Tiny Prints greeting cards for special moments (or for no reason at all).  The ability to personalize for every friend and every occasion brings hand-written notes back to life.  In this age of Facebook, IMs, e-mail, tweets (and, yes, even blogs!), plush paper and personally written messages make a charming mailbox surprise! (click image to enlarge)


Gone fishing!

Taking a posting break for Valentine's Day weekend -- but do read through what's here so far, and I encourage you comment, follow, or subscribe!  TQoG will be back in a few, and would love to hear your thoughts on how to bring you better and more beautiful things...every day.


If it ain't Bespoke...fix it.

 9Tailors bespoke dress shirt, combining old-world custom tailoring techniques with a modern selection of fabrics, cuts and detailing.  No two people are alike, why should your shirts be? (click image to enlarge)


A McQueen Wedding Moodboard [Updated]

From top left, clockwise: Manila Cathedral at night, Alexander McQueen tartan-accented outfits, McQueen Fall 2010 gown, ikat print fabrics, Dior Spring/Summer 2011 look, Maynila Ballroom, Manila Hotel lobby, bouquet of white phalaenopsis orchids. (click image to enlarge)

UPDATE: Could Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton really be tapped to create (one of) Catherine Middleton's wedding dresses?  If commanded by the Queen of England, this Queen of Gems certainly would not be averse to sharing her McQueen wedding moodboard...


If it's good enough for the Queen of England

NO, not Tiffany's...but the most formal of printing methods: Engraving, traditionally a mainstay of royal and diplomatic correspondence.  Text is etched onto a copper plate, which is then coated with ink and wiped clean, leaving the ink only in the indentations. 

Soft, high-quality cotton paper is pressed hard against the plate, causing it to deform into the etchings. The result is raised, crisp text, with warmth and a sumptuous tactile quality that cannot be achieved with flat printing.

It is easy to tell whether a piece of stationery has been engraved (rather than thermographed -- the somewhat less crisp imitation). Simply turn it over. If there is a tell-tale "bruise", caused by the pressure from the press, it is engraved.  Another way to tell is to look at the letters closely -- thermographed text is shiny, while engraved text is more subtle and matte.


Beautiful Beantown

I ♥ Boston 'T' map by Boston artist Netta Kies...this 5-color print celebrates one of the fastest ways to get around in the Birthplace of America.

To Urbanists such as myself, transit-orientedness is the hallmark of a well-designed city (and is also an easy way to reduce your environmental footprint!).  


MiniMaximalism, defined

 For the avant-garde bride who demands the uncommon in every detail...

...punctuate a modern ensemble with a soaring, but clean-lined, sculptural headpiece.  
Photos courtesy of


Couture Rajo Laurel -- So much more than a fluffy white dress

Bespoke bridal design from the Project Runway Philippines head judge and internationally-celebrated fashion designer.  Having an extremely specific and non-negotiable vision of the dress, and having tried on dozens of gowns in bridal salons without finding anything that even came close, going custom was a necessity.  Of course, the one-of-a-kind aspect is the icing on the cake.  

Because making an exit is just as important. 

Sketches courtesy of Rajo Laurel


Christian Dior -- Vintage, but who can even tell?

The great advantage of having a mother with a Dior collection spanning 40 years? I never have to go shopping.
 Temples intricately adorned with the interlacing lines and sensual curves of the iconic Dior Cannage pattern -- a true showcase for the eyes.

Utterly timeless.