Goodnight to The Duchess

Very sad to learn of the passing of The Duchess of Alba.


If you know my work, you know I’ve done quite a bit of peerage research over the years. She was the most titled aristocrat alive, and at the time had “the most expensive wedding in the world”. In fact, here are all her official titles, I think….

Doña Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y Silva
…XVIII Duchess of Alba de Tormes
XI Duchess of Berwick
XVIII Duchess of Hijar
XI Duchess of Liria and Jerica
III Duchess of Arjona
XVIII Countess of Lerin
XVIII Constable of Navarre and Eibar
XIV Countess-Duchess of Olivares
XVI Marchioness of El Carpio
XVII Countess of Aranda
XXII Countess of Lemos
XIX Countess of Miranda del Castañar
XVII Countess of Monterrey
XX Countess of Osorno
XVIII Countess of Palma del Rio
XX Marchioness of Moya
XVII Marchioness of Orani
XI Marchioness of Osera
XVII Marchioness of San Leonardo
XIX Marchioness of Sarria
XI Marchioness of Tarazona
XVII Marchioness of Valdunquillo
XVI Marchioness of Villanueva del Rio
XX Marchioness of Villanueva del Fresno
IX Marchioness of Almenara
XVI Marchioness of La Algaba
XIV Marchioness of Barcarrota
XVIII Marchioness of Castaneda
XIX Marchioness of Coria
XIV Marchioness of Eliche
XVIII Marchioness of Mirallo
XX Marchioness of la Mota
XIX Countess of Andrade
XVI Countess of Ayala
XX Countess of Villalba
XIV Countess of Casarrubios del Monte
XIV Countess of Fuentes de Valdepero
XI Countess of Fuentidueña
XVII Countess of Galve
XVIII Countess of Gelves
XXIV Countess of Ribadeo
XI Countess of Santa Cruz de la Sierra
XXIII Countess of San Esteban de Gormaz
XI Viscountess of la Calzada
29th Lady of Moguer
Constable of Aragon
Marshal of Castilla
Can you imagine all of that being announced by a herald as she entered the room of a ball or royal function?
Goodnight La Duquesa.

Summertime Snaps

Working on this girl, and she’s annoying me…


New book and print collection from my husband


tea towels of Elizabethan kitties! From my pal KB


In a summer funk, but still trying to do something


Space girl in a cup dress of sorts. My fashion illustration students were totally weirded out…


Also! Framed and Unframed portraits for sale direct here. I got some beauties!

Trench Coats, Book Covers, and Portraits in L.A.

I am featured on The Style Letters, all about spring wardrobe choices  — it finally is looking like spring — and my love of trench coats. Also the story of my new Dolce & Gabbana trench.

My husband, Ben Vendetta, has his debut novel coming out later this year. He can’t decide on a cover, so he is asking people to vote for their favorite over here at the Elephant Stone site. It takes place in 1985 and there are slutty goths, stupid jocks, thrills, pills, and Bobby Gillespie! So based on that, go over and select your favorite design!

I couldn’t go, but family and friends took some photos from the reception at WWA Gallery for “Eye Candy” in L.A., the show is up now, so go check it! Cartwheel did a little recap as well.

See, no more sad posts about my health or videos of my family that make people cry (sorry about that).

Portrait of a Roitfeld

I came across the blog I Want To Be A Roitfeld while I was going stir crazy, unable to move for almost 2 months in bed with nothing but a laptop, percocet, and a tube draining blood out of my thigh. I was so happy this blog existed! It was while Carine Roitfeld was still the head honcho at Vogue Paris and I loved that she had a passion for leopard print and minimalist living. One day I’ll have a clutter free apartment like hers — one day!

So I was delighted to be asked to contribute a small portrait of Carine for the blog this week. Taking a mental inventory of her look from her days with Tom Ford to more recent, I did a little oil on paper illustration that to me was boiled down her essence — leopard print included! I didn’t want to use a photo reference, so I tried as much as I could to draw her from memory. You can see it here.

In the meantime, Kellina de Boer’s blog has expanded to include other darlings of fashion like Emmanuelle Alt and Giovanna Battaglia!

By the way, the book Irreverent is available for pre-order, and is on my Amazon wish list (ahem, AHEM.)

Sensory Overload Work Environment

I pull photos from magazines and books for various colors, textures, poses, inspiration, and such for my art — I have for years. It has gotten to the point where the catalog of touchstones has gotten out of control.

What I used to do was plaster said images over the walls of my studio so I’d never forget. Being that I’m the ‘anti-hoarder’ and hate clutter, I developed a strict regiment of taking the images I wanted and 3-hole punching them into a large binder. This works to a point, but over 15 year have gotten ridiculous to flip through. When I get good books or expensive Italian fashion  magazines, I keep them intact, and so, the bulk of paper gets stacked high in the studio.

Since I now have a studio for the first time since college, I think I’m going to have to start plastering the walls again. As much as I love them to be bare and white — it ain’t working. My books I’m still good at keep half at home and half in-studio; being that my studio gets dusty and dirty thanks to the industrial environment. I’ve been looking at studios and offices of some fashion personalities I enjoy….

I was once so tidy that this Cecil Beaton style “throw the crap on the carpet to loom over” worked, but no longer.

I’d love to have a curved desk, like this Lagerfeld one. It would solve so many problems! Good thing I don’t have the budget to buy as many books as he does — can you imagine? He has floors of the stuff, not including his apartment!

At least Nigella Lawson’s library is somewhat contained. We had a library growing up as a kid — so this looks normal to me…

Carmel Snow resorted to laying out everything on the floor too. Well, her desk is AWFUL! If my desk looked like that, I’d die — a Dorothy Draper nightmare it is. As much as I’d like to, concrete dusty floors in my studio won’t allow me to leave tear sheets on the ground when I need them…

Here’s a rare occasion Helena Rubenstein’s workspace looks…well, sedate…

In the end, I think — dare I say it — Diana Vreeland has the right idea. I’m just going to tape all my tear sheets up as I did in my studio at CalArts…

Although this does take away from space to hang my art up, I need it, I can’t flip through books and binders every time I must find an image I vaguely remember from a photo shoot or painting from a bazillion years ago because it might have a necklace design, fold of fabric, or position of a thumb I need.

The Table Setting

My husband and I will be co-hosting a New Year’s Eve party with several other couples next week. This will be my first time hosting anything NYE related; I have in the past usually ended up at a bar, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Beach, someone’s house, had only a few friends over, or set off fireworks with punk squatters in an alley behind Hollywood Blvd. I’m sure there have been other scenarios that I just don’t recall.

So, I’ve been looking at party and table settings for inspiration. I came across some rather nice ones I thought I’d share. Makes me wish I used my good china and crystal more (I’ve yet to ever get proper flatware).

Here’s a Tony Duquette…

If I had servants, I’d do breakfast like this…

Helena Rubenstein, a rather understated setting considering her usual tastes…

Another Duquette…

Sparse, and shabby chic a bit…

Elsie de Wolfe. Hmm, dunno about this Elsie…

A cupcakes and champagne party dessert buffet…

Something a little rustic…

A very fancy TV dinner for two…

A still from one of my favorite movies,”Vatel” about an event planner to the French aristocracy who must throw together the most spectacular “low-key weekend in the country” for the king. If you’ve ever enjoyed period costume films and like entertaining, this movie is for you…

Sweatpants in Public: It Happened

Ladies & Gentlemen, I, went out in public…in sweatpants. Now before you FREAK OUT and think the world is coming to an end or the sky will start falling, I just have to say, they are clean and fancy Juicy Couture knock-offs where it at least looks like I *tried*. I still hold true to my belief that sweatpants and pajama bottoms in public are what’s wrong with America.

If you ever see me outside in pajama bottoms you SHOULD freak out and start looting immediately!

The best part was that I unexpectedly tagged along to a meeting at a fashion design school. There I was, sweatpants, Asics tiger shoes, a faux metal t-shirt (see, I didn’t have an authentic Iron Maiden shirt, but a joke one!), a European motorcycle jacket, and leaning on my cane. I must have been a sight — especially when I told them I exhibited and taught fashion illustration!

Now I have to make up for this tomorrow by wearing something fancy. Good God, I cannot wait until I’m able to wear high heels again. Question: over-the-knee boots, a good buy? Or a fad that will look dated and dumb in 2-3 years? I keep trying to find a flat pair that don’t look equestrian or like Nazi standard issue. Discuss!

Random Things Of Beauty

In no particular order…

Cire Trudon bust candles. They come in black too!

A skull candle by D.L. and Co. He has so many great designs, how could anyone actually light a match and melt them?

I’ve been on a decorative masking and duct tape kick. The shop Nothing Elegant on Etsy has many cool designs.

These wall hooks are handy, and classy!

The entire Chanel Haute Couture fall and winter 2010/11 collection. You can watch the whole show here. So sad Kaaarl will be retiring in a few years.

I’m still coveting this Botero sculpture I saw during Art Basel Miami. Funny since I’ve never really thought much about his work before.

Men’s shoes from Barker Black, oh-so fancy, dark, and gorgeous.

Dutch still life paintings from the 1600s. They can border on being ghastly, or fabulous. I can’t decide which. Wouldn’t it be great if people started setting their tables for meals all haphazard like this?

Bed Crowns. I think some feathers on top wouldn’t be bad either. Only drawback would be having to clean the drapery on a constant basis.

Jessica Joslin “taxidermy” and other sculptures. She was doing the steam punk thing before it was a craze, or had a name.

I’d love to get enough china for 6 from Beat Up Creations, they are funny and so proper.

Coffee Tables Books That Do and Don’t Deliver

I’ve had my eye on this new puppy, being that fits in perfectly with my art and design coffee table book addiction in subject matter and so forth. But until I can thumb through it, I am wary. What if it doesn’t live up to my standards? Granted my standards might not be everyone’s, but I expect a bang for my buck.

As an artist I expect good photos — lots of photos, but the writing has to be there too. Here are books from my collection I think were worth it, and some that fell flat in my expectations.

Happy Times. Oh Lee, you gloss over everything and the photos aren’t even that good or well produced. The only thing cute is the illustrations from the book you did with Jackie.

The Fashion Book. Odd choices of photos to represent various brands, models, and designers. Maybe the reproduction rights for certain photos were too much, but really, it tends to bore except for a few highlights here and there.

Dictator Style. Small, bad photo reproductions, and not enough of a visual sampling considering the subject matter.

Bright Young Things. You wonder why some of these people were chosen, let alone many photos don’t even show off their pad. There are a few good ones here and there, but it is spotty.  The profile on Serena Alschul, for instance, just shows her in front of a concrete wall because her apartment hadn’t even been finished yet!

A Privileged Life. Jayne Wrightsman is referred to as Jane — enough said.

Pad Parties. This one falls flat and has a bunch of things you’d probably never get around to actually doing, as opposed to the first book, where there was something for everyone.

Books that DO deliver…

Galliano. Need I say more? A good overview of his process, inspirations, important collections from school onward + part bio and philosophies behind staying true to the Dior tradition.

Over The Top. Just get it, even if you’ve never cared for her style or heard of her in the first place, just get it! Jewels, interiors, art collections, and old beauty treatments in gorgeous photos.

Design: Intelligence made visible. The motherload for any designer no matter what the product.

In the Kennedy Style. A good range of photos; Tish Baldrige writing in her usual style of name dropping that manages to be fun; anecdotes about various events, and recipes you can actually make at home that are easy.

100 Years of Fashion Illustration. Every kind you can imagine from every time period. A thick book with good reproductions.

Pad. A fun peek into various homes of L.A. creatives, it has resources and DIY projects as well. It makes me wanna do more stuff to my apartment every time I flip through it.

The Marchesa Casati. I talked about this before, but it’s a very comprehensive memoir and photo book of her and the art she commissioned from the days before she became what she was, and the inspiration she left after her death for designers of all kinds. The authors were clearly very passionate about this subject.

Favorite Things I Dig

I’m currently working on a portrait that isn’t being nice to me, while also planning out some new paintings that are going to be a departure from my usual work, so in the meantime — besides beating to death the exhibitions coming up — I thought I’d share with you the material objects I’m diggin’ on lately!

My Frieling French Press. I ditched the drip coffee maker because it took up too much room and would always get gross. This is not only pretty, but keeps coffee warm for quite a long time. Oh yeah, the coffee tastes better too!

Fresh Sugar lip treatment. I have a bad habit of chewing on my lips, also, they get dry and gross during winter. I’ve been slathering this stuff on like crazy and love it. It helps to have the tint for me as well, being that my lips naturally do not have pigment. I think I bleached them out by starting to wear lipstick at age 12!

Yves Saint Laurent mascara. Got to admit, I didn’t like it at first, but I had to get used to it and now dig this quite a bit. I never buy mascara that is this expensive usually so maybe that’s why I was a little “eh” at first. I got it in dark brown and find it stays on forever and makes my bitty lashes look not so bitty. I hear the chic French girls use it, and that was all I needed.

My Filofax! Okay so that isn’t really new, I’ve had a few models since 1999, but I finally settled on the Slimline model in camel. According to The Telegraph sales are up, which is no surprise to me really. I get made fun of for being old school, but I find I am way more organized than anyone I know with smart phones and such;  it always seems they have to be reminded of dates and times for appointments and events on a constant basis. Not only do I never have to worry about the battery dying, but I don’t poke around writing stuff down while I drive — unlike some of you texting and driving jerks!

After Inked tattoo lotion. My husband started getting tattoos a few years back and I saw an ad for this stuff. He’s had some large areas filled in black so I thought I’d order it and try it out as it says it is good for old tattoos (mine is ancient). It acts almost like a varnish, especially for the older tattoos, bringing the color back a bit, and it smells puuurty. I’ve actually used it as a hand lotion sometimes and it works for that too!

The Marchesa Casati: Portraits of a Muse One of the newer books about her, and it makes a fabulous coffee table book for your guests who do not know who she is. If you are like me and you like tales of eccentrics who had too much money, fashion, and art, well go get yourself a copy of this bad boy.

Purex 3-in-1 Sheets. Yeah you didn’t think I would make a list without throwing in something practical, did you? I am an artist and a Cleveland housewife after all! Even my husband studied these things and found them fascinating. I hate doing laundry and jugs of detergent + softener are heavy; this takes care of everything — everything! I’m lazy, so there.