Sara Godwin

Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: An Exercise in the Unexpected

In Antiques, Baby Boomers, Luxury, San Francisco, Travel, Women's Travel on October 25, 2014 at 8:23 am
$350,000 worth of gold au natural

$350,000 worth of gold au natural

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Not all that glitters is gold, or silver, for that matter.  The proof is in this spectacular glass chaise brought from Paris by Steinitz (Steinitz@steinitz.fr)

Not all that glitters is gold, or silver, for that matter. The proof is in this spectacular glass chaise brought from Paris by Steinitz (Steinitz@steinitz.fr)

A cache of 19th century gold coins found buried in tin cans in the Sierras  by a couple out walking their dog.  The estimated value of the  stash: $10 million.

A cache of 19th century gold coins found buried in tin cans in the Sierras by a couple out walking their dog. The estimated value of the stash: $10 million.

San Francisco has three major social events in the Fall: Only one of them does not require a ball gown. That would be the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show in the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason, going on right now, and you’re invited. Designed as a fundraiser for Enterprise high school students, it draws everyone in San Francisco who has money or wishes they did. The antiques dealers come from all over the United States and many from Europe to create a brilliantly curated collection of some of the world’s rarest and most precious objects — and those objects always encompass an element of surprise.

The biggest buzz this year was an object that showed no artist’s vision and no craftsman’s skills; basically, it’s a lump. A brilliant lump, to be sure, but nonetheless, it’s a lump: A huge, shiny gold nugget weighing more than six pounds (the dealer let me hold it!) found recently in California’s Gold Country and valued at $350,000. It’s in the first booth on the right as you enter the show, and displayed with it are the uncirculated mint-condition 19th century gold coins found last year in a cache in the Sierra Nevada, the cache valued at $10,000, 000. And that’s just the start!

The show runs today and tomorrow, the cost is $15 per person (the catalog alone is worth the price of admission), and the variety of things to see that people hold precious will intrigue and fascinate you. The people-watching and street scene fashion is also fabulous. Coco Chanel would be proud. Go now.

Photos to follow, so keep checking back. I’ll be posting throughout the day.

A mystery menorah, believed to have been made in Eastern Europe over a century ago, no one seems to know when it got here or how it got from there to here. (danielsteinantiques .com)

A mystery menorah, believed to have been made in Eastern Europe over a century ago, no one seems to know when it got here or how it got from there to here. (danielsteinantiques
.com)

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The Insider’s San Francisco …

In Antiques, Baby Boomers, Grandparent, hummingbirds, Kids, Luxury, Parent, San Francisco, Travel, Women's Travel on April 23, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Take an extra day or two before and after your business trip and explore San Francisco, referred to by locals as ‘The City’ as though there were no other. And there isn’t, at least, not another city like San Francisco.  Here’s a collection of (mostly) free stuff to do that you really shouldn’t miss.

 

Wave Organ • The Wave Organ, a natural acoustic experience listening to the sound of San Francisco Bay, is located at the east end of the Marina jetty at San Francisco Marina behind the St.Francis Yacht Club. Built like a hobbit house with benches, the Wave Organ has quirky little nooks and crannies for listening to the sound of the water swirling in and out of   variously shaped pipes, pianissimo or allegro, echoed or amplified. Rhythmic, soothing, it’s a lovely place to just sit in the sun and let the seagulls provide the counter-point. It’s best at high tide, but barring that, try for sunset and watch the sun disappear into the Pacific Ocean behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

South Park • South Park is a little piece of Paris tucked between Second and Third Streets, not far from AT&T Park. The entire park is currently undergoing a major renovation that includes new trees, new turf, shiny new architecturally innovative play equipment , as well as new benches and picnic tables.  Word on the street is that the beautifully redesigned space will open to the public at the end of February, 2017.

Once the chain link fencing comes down, you can channel Cate Blanchett in ’Blue Jasmine’ by sitting on the bench where Jasmine quietly divorced reality at the end of the film. You’ll find that bench  at the end of the park closest to Second Street, across from the Mexican restaurant.

A small urban island of spreading trees, bright flowers, green grass, and sunny benches, filled with children playing and people walking dogs of every shape and size, it is reminiscent of the jewel-like parks that contribute so much of the charm of  Parisian neighborhoods.

The seriously Parisian part is at the hyper-trendy The Butler and The Chef bistro at the opposite end of the park, open only for breakfast and lunch. The French toast is made with brioche and the ham quiche has huge chunks of Parisian ham. Try not to swoon.

• Budget time for great budget shopping at San Francisco’s best insider shopping destinations: The best consignment shop ever is Goodbyes (actually two shops across the street from each other) at 3464 Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights. Goodbyes carries popular brands (Gap, J.Jill, Chico), American designers (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Michael Kors), and the serious stuff: Chanel, Dior, and Armani as well as a wild variety of boots and shoes.  The vintage selections include designer purses, capes, coats,  and furs.  Meander down Sacramento Street wherever you will.   The shops are uniformly wonderful, offering everything from custom bathing suits  to hand-embroidered baby clothes to raincoats and warm sweaters for dogs.

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• Want more shopping?   Designer shops featuring everything from clothes to home furnishings, from antiques to boutiques, from sidewalk cafes to busy restaurants are found on Fillmore Street. Walk either direction from Sacramento and Fillmore. Union Street between Gough and Divisidero Streets is chock-full of art galleries, interior design shops, luxury day spas, and great local hangouts like Perry’s (1944 Union Street; 415/922-9022) or the Balboa Café (3199 Fillmore at Greenwich; 415/921-3944). Do a bit of time travel at  the 1861 Octagon House at  2645 Gough Street at Union Street  (415/441-7512). It’s only open on second Sundays, and second and third Thursdays of the month, from 12:noon to 3:pm, and the house is furnished in period antiques.  Don’t miss the charming park-like garden just behind the Octagon House;  It’s a great place to spot hummingbirds when the fuchsias are in bloom.

 

 

 

 

Xanadu• So far, you  haven’t hit a single chain or department store. For those, try Union Square, on Post and Geary Streets between Powell and Mason. Make it an authentically San Francisco experience by wandering down Maiden Lane on the east side of Union Square. Check out  the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in San Francisco at 140 Maiden Lane for a uniquely dramatic take on how commercial space should be designed.

• Just a couple of blocks off Union Square is a treasure house of rare books: Antiquarian book dealer Richard Haines’ bookshop, Argonaut (876 Sutter Street between Bush and Jones). Argonaut houses a superb collection rare books, maps, and ephemera of San Francisco and early California. Neat note: Argonaut was the inspiration for the bookstore in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’; as Hitchcock himself put it, “This is what a bookshop should be.” Give yourself ample time to browse; once you’re there, it’s hard to tear yourself away.

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• The hottest spot in town  is Valencia Street in the Mission District. It’s a wild and wonderful mix of hot new eateries, pop-up stores, funky second-hand shops (one of which shares space with a bike rental shop called Public), traditional Hispanic markets with outdoor produce displays featuring tropical fruits and vegetables , and the best hot chocolate place on the planet. Go to Dandelion (740 Valencia;415/349-0942), on Valencia between 18th and 19th Streets, and order the European hot chocolate.   

It’s a mouthful of ecstasy. Serious chocolate occurs in other forms as well, but the European hot chocolate qualifies as an epicurean epiphany. (Photo credit:  M. DeCoudreaux)

Scallop Chairs

 

• At the opposite end of Valencia is STUFF (up toward Market Street, at 150 Valencia Street; 415/864-2988), a huge antiques collective with three stories of, well, stuff, from mid-century furniture to name designer costume jewelry to Japanese fishing net floats to stainless steel plated custom office furniture to architectural artifacts, and this description barely scratches the surface. They always have coffee, and often have cookies or cake free for the nibbling. STUFF Jewelry

• Speaking of eating, San Francisco has some of this country’s best food, bar none. The James Beard Foundation recently named Chef Charles Phan’s Slanted Door Restaurant at the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street the best restaurant in America.

Use OpenTable.com (http://www.OpenTable.com) to book your table well in advance of arrival; reservations are notoriously hard to score.

For a local neighborhood feel, hit the 102-year-old landmark Swan Oyster Depot at 1517 Polk Street (Open 8:am – 5:30pm; 415/673 – 2757) on Russian Hill. Swan’s offers every type of oyster known to man as well as San Francisco’s native Dungeness crab, shrimp, and a superb clam chowder. Go early: There are only 20 stools at the bar. Lunchtime almost always has a line out the door, but it moves quickly.

• After decades at the corner of Valencia and Market Street, the immense art supplies shop called Flax (415/552-2355) has moved into space at Fort Mason. If you love paper, notebooks, journals, diaries, Filofax, Moleskine, sketch books, water colors, fountain pens, great pencils, and all the other tools and accoutrements of putting your heart on paper, you will fall hopelessly, helplessly in love at Flax. Click on the link for  their website at www.flaxart.com to see the scale of their offerings. If you’re smart,  you’ll take along two friends:  One  to hold your wallet, and the other to carry a crow bar to pry you out of there at closing time.

The visitors bonus they never even mention? The Fort Mason location offers glorious views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and a very good chance to spot sea lions and harbor seals, not to mention seagulls and pelicans.  Just steps away from Flax, dine at Greens, the nationally recognized vegetarian restaurant. With a seat by the window, you can watch  yachts maneuver in and out of the San Francisco Marina, and container ships putting out to sea.

You are going to love discovering San Francisco!

Grandparent Alert: Make This Christmas Unforgettable

In Baby Boomers, Grandparent, Kids, New York, Parent, San Francisco, Travel, Women's Travel on November 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm
Ethereal stalagmites and stalagtites

Ethereal stalagmites and stalagtites

Magnificent limestone  formations at Blanchard's Springs Caverns

Magnificent limestone formations at Blanchard’s Springs Caverns

There’s a delightful way to make this year’s holidays a lot more fun. It does, however, require finding children to play with you. Grandchildren are ideal, but lacking those, your own kids, nieces, nephews, young cousins, or even the kids next door will do very nicely.

There are no shops to forage for gadgetry you’ve never heard of before, no online sites that swear they’ll deliver on time so you can stay up half the night wrapping things that arrived at the last possible moment, and no wrapping gifts in birthday paper because the Christmas wrap ran out. No, this year you’re going to give experiences the children will remember for the rest of their lives.

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Say you live within easy reach of San Francisco — and please note that even Los Angeles is only an hour away by plane.  Now would be a good time to schedule a shopping date with the parent of the chosen child.  Not for the parent, mind you; for you and the child.

One of the leading events of the San Francisco social season is the Nutcracker Ballet, and the stars of the show are not Clara, the Prince or the Sugar Plum Fairy.  No, the stars are the little girls who arrive in their prettiest frocks and shiniest shoes. That’s what the shopping expedition is all about.  Velvet and satin, lace collars and cuffs, wide sashes and petticoats, long skirts and pretty tights, these are the stuff of ‘remember-it-always’ Nutcrackers.  The shopping should end with a special treat for just the two of you: For example,  afternoon tea at the Sheraton Palace Hotel.  It’s the closest thing to ‘Eloise in the Palm Court at The Plaza’  left in America.

There are a number of lovely places in San Francisco to take children for afternoon tea during the holiday season.  Click here for an excellent list:

http://www.sfkids.org/Content.aspx?id=11394

For children six and under, buy tickets for a matinee performance.  Seven to eleven will do fine at an evening ballet.   Should you happen to have a young gentleman in your party, the dress is less formal: A good-looking sweater and pants that aren’t jeans with a pair of recently polished loafers  will do the trick (no, he can’t wear his favorite sneakers/high-tops. Whining is not an option).

Nutcracker performances start December 11, 2013 and continue through December 29th; Here’s the link for tickets:

http://www.sfballet.org/tickets/production/overview/nutcracker

Balcony  seating makes it easy for children to see the whole stage, and be sure to ask about booster seats for the littlest ones when you book.

The Nutcracker itself is always a delight. The San Francisco production has a Christmas tree that always draws gasps as it ‘grows’ magically and majestically, and the little ones dancing in the ballet commanding the stage is a delicious reversal of most children’s routine reality.  On one memorable occasion I took a five-year-old dressed in pale pink backstage to watch the dancers warm up before the show.  The Sugar Plum Fairy walked up to her wearing a green costume.  “That color,” she announced, pointing at the young lady’s pink frock, ‘That’s the color my costume should be.”  So saying, she smiled, pirouetted en pointe, and danced away.  If we hadn’t taken the five-year-old by the hand to go to our seats for the performance, she would be standing there still.   It’s not every day that the Sugar Plum Fairy thinks your dress is prettier than hers.

Winter sleigh rides through the orchards in Door County, Wisconsin

Should it happen that you are closer to Chicago than San Francisco,  an unforgettable Christmas treat may be found there, too. If you’ve never been to Door County, Wisconsin, go.  It’s about a two-hour drive through picture-perfect American pastoral, filled with well-tended farms and orchards that make it feel like you’re coming home even if you’ve lived in cities and suburbs  all your life.   Dress the kids warmly and sign up for a horse-drawn sleigh ride through snow-covered apple and cherry orchards.  This might well be the proper occasion for new caps, mittens, and mufflers of the soft, toasty sort.  When the sleigh ride’s over, the adults can warm up with spiced mulled wine while the children can wrap little hands around a cup of  hot cider or hot chocolate. All parties will enjoy a slice of fresh-baked cherry pie. Pick up packets of chocolate-covered dried cherries to pop in the mouths of all small persons present; it’ll make both of you very happy.

Here are the basics:

Public Group Rides: 30 minutes long $8/person, kids under 2 years free

Private Rides (2-4 people): 30 minutes long $55

Click on http://www.orchardcountry.com/sleigh-rides/ and you’re half-way there. Check the website for dates and times.

Contact owner John Mayberry for reservations and additional information (920) 421-1152.
For dinner, have a fish boil.  Don’t ask;  just do it. The boil is spectacular, and the fish is remarkably good. It will make you grin, and the kids will never forget it.  Just for the record, it’s a reasonably healthy meal: The fish are fresh out of Lake Michigan, not breaded, not deep-fat fried, in fact, not fried at all.  The cooking  method is probably closer to poaching than anything else you’ve seen, but then, you’ve never seen anything else quite like this. Here are a couple of links that will make all things clear:

http://www.doorcountyfishboil.com

http://www.whitegullinn.com/dining/traditional-fish-boils.htm

You’ll want to spend at least one night, probably two, so take a look at these for cosy, comfortable, convenient accommodations:

http://www.thelandmarkresort.com

Landmark  Resort is located at 7643 Hillside Road, Egg Harbor, WI 54209; the phone number is 920/868-3205, toll-free is 800/273-7877.   Two-story two-bedroom suites with views of the lake are available;  It’s like having your own  Door County condo.   Tuck the children to sleep upstairs, and settle in for a very civilized glass of Door County wine before turning in yourself.

Also consider the Door County Lighthouse Inn Bed & Breakfast at 4639 Orchard Road, Egg Harbor, WI 54209; 920/868-9088 or 800/868-9088. Click here to see the website and book:

http://www.dclighthouseinn.com

Another option is the Eagle Harbor Inn at 9914 Water Street, Ephraim, WI 54211

920.854.2121    T. 800.324.5427

For reservations, click here: http://www.eagleharbor.com

The Cathedral Cavern has perfect acoustics. Filled with the soaring melodies of traditional Christmas carols, it's glorious.

The Cathedral Cavern has perfect acoustics.
Filled with the soaring melodies of traditional Christmas carols, it’s glorious.

America’s Heartland is a fine, big  place, and if Door County nudges up close to the northern limit of the Midwest, Blanchard’s Springs Caverns is more on the  southern side.  The Caverns are  120 miles northeast of Little Rock plus another 15 miles northwest of Mountain View.  It’s about two hours driving time from Little Rock to the Ozarks National Forest, and the Blanchard’s Springs Caverns are worth every scenic minute of it.

While the caverns had long been known to local people, the Cathedral Cavern was not discovered until 1963. At 1,150 feet long, 189 feet wide, and a ceiling  65 feet high,  the Cathedral Cavern is spectacular far beyond the ability of words to describe or photographs to portray.  Add to its stunning dimensions the  crystalline stalactites that hang down from the ceiling and the glistening stalagmites that stretch up heavenward from the floor of the cavern.  The Cathedral Cavern’s crowning glory is perfect acoustics, and that brings us to the annual “Caroling in the Caverns”.  All the joy and wonder of old-fashioned Christmas carols fill this ethereal space with the richness of song accompanied by string instruments.  Come in good voice: The best part of the concert is the sing-along.  Concerts commence on November 30th  at 4:30pm and December 1 at 4:30pm.  Shows are scheduled at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m on  Sunday, December 8th and 15th as well as  Saturday, December 21st and Sunday, December 22, 2013. Tickets are $20 per person, and all the concerts have sold out every year for the last ten years. Advance tickets are required so call the  Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-888-679-2859 for availability and to order tickets.  The caverns maintain a stable temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit all year round, and while you may still want a sweater or  jacket,  it’s not uncomfortably cold by most standards for Midwestern winters.

Should it happen that you live on the Eastern Seaboard,  the most delightful holiday thing to do is Nantucket’s Christmas Stroll Weekend.  This year is the Stroll’s 40th anniversary, and the theme is ‘A Victorian Christmas’.  When  whaling ended in the late 1900s, Nantucket Island went into a deep sleep longer than Rip Van Winkle’s famous nap.  The result is that Nantucket retained its  19th century architecture to a greater extent than any other single place in America.  Despite the island’s reputation as the most desirable summer destination on the East Coast,  much of it’s ‘lost in time’ ambiance can only be properly savored during the Nantucket Noel. Festivities start off on Friday, November 29th, when a crowd gathers at the top of Main Street at Main and Centre.  More than 100 beautifully lighted trees line the centuries-old cobblestoned street, and at the signal, all the trees light up at once in one gloriously magical moment.  Old-fashioned carols fill the air, led by the ‘Accidentals & Naturals’ choral group from Nantucket High.  Should you wish to join in, there’s an app for that:  Download Nantucket Arts App to your Smartphone for the lyrics.

Officially, Christmas Stroll Weekend is December 6th through 8th, but  the annual Christmas House Tour, a self-guided walk through elegantly decorated homes and inns from 19th century seafarer’s cottages to magnificent mansions, is on Friday, December 5th. Most of the homes feature home-baked Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, and eggnog as well as beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, and garlands galore.

Santa himself  arrives Saturday, December 6th,  delivered to the island by the Coast Guard whence he and Mrs. Claus are formally escorted up Long Wharf  by the Town Crier to his own very special conveyance (details are still very hush-hush, but already creating  much curiosity and considerable buzz).  Led by a bell-ringers and a brass quintet, Santa parades up Main Street, across Centre Street, and into the century-old  Jared Coffin House. There he bends an ear close to hear exactly what  eager children most hope to find under their very own Christmas tree.

Santa on Cutter

Throughout the Christmas Stroll Weekend singers in Victorian dress, children caroling, and teen choirs will fill the air with the familiar holiday melodies,  the Magical Talking Tree will hold forth at the top of Main Street,   and young performers from DanceWorks will dance in the streets.

Holiday craft markets, and a variety of exhibits  and performances  all enhance the feeling and flavor of Christmas.  To cap it all off (all puns intended) there’s a Victorian Costume Contest on Main Street at 1:45PM, with ribbons handed out by Nantucket’s famous Victorian Carolers.
The 20th Annual Festival of Trees runs throughout December at the Whaling Museum, and it’s a destination all by itself .
Upon arrival  on  island, go  to the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, located at Zero Main Street, second floor (above the Cape Cod Five Bank) to pick up a copy of the 2013 Official Stroll Program, available starting in late November.
Here’s the link:

For accommodations, check the Nantucket Visitors Bureau first; Here’s the link:

http://www.nantucket-ma.gov/Pages/NantucketMA_Visitor/StrollWeekend.pdf

Many hotels, inns, and bed & breakfasts are already booked, so if you can’t find anything there, try Vacation Rentals by Owner (http://VRBO.com), and search for Nantucket.  Look for houses listed as ‘Nantucket Town’ on the link below:

http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/massachusetts/nantucket-island

It’s easy to get to Nantucket by air from  Boston’s Logan Airport, and there are some New York connections, including Manhattan, as well.  Check the schedule for Cape Air here:

https://www.capeair.com/where_we_fly/new_england.html

The ferry is a fun ride all by itself. The regular ferry and the high-speed ferry both run from Hyannis to Nantucket.  It’s $69 round-trip for adults, $36 round-trip for children 5 to 12, and younger children ride free. The schedule for the Steamship Authority is here:

https://www1.steamshipauthority.com/writable/versioned_downloadable_schedules/path/2013_high-speed_sched_page.pdf

Make this Christmas unforgettable for the children you love — and you’ll find that you love it, too.  Love is never a one-way street, especially during the holidays.

Fashion Forward Fall Fun: Donna Karan & Saks 5th Avenue

In Baby Boomers, New York, San Francisco, Travel, Uncategorized, Women's Travel on October 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm

The invitation offered a champagne lunch with a peek/pique preview of Donna Karan’s Fall Collection at Saks 5th Avenue in San Francisco.  We turned up right on time, taking seats in the front row, “we” being myself, my friend who lived in Paris for many years,  and her ’14 going on 20′ daughter,  tall, slim, beautiful, and bilingual.

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Flutes of champagne appeared on silver trays , as did bite-sized beef sliders,  remoulade  rounds,  vegetarian wraps, and similar dainties.  I attend a lot of events that provide what used to be called hors d’oeuvres ( a friend of mine translates that as ‘hours of work’) in lieu of the complications of a sit-down meal. I know there are many considerations that go into catering for an unknown quantity of people you don’t know whose tastes/food issues/allergies one cannot know, but I do wish that  the criteria for the selection of the menu included ‘easy to eat in public.’  The ladies who lunch — and go to fashion shows — bonded over wry grimaces while fishing bits and crumbs out of their fashionably-attired laps.

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The Fall Collection was notable for elegant dresses and a series of mix-and-match pieces in New York colors — black and a rich dark brown.  Karan doesn’t sketch; she drapes.  Her designs are realized as she wraps fabric around a fitting model to get the line she likes.  The goal is to make the client look taller and slimmer without heavy construction or foundations.  Many of the dresses were elaborately draped to minimize the midriff, waist,  and hips, with a long fluid line leading to a swaying asymmetrical hem.  Her ‘cold shoulder’ top is as well-bred and sexy as a woman who drops her eyes demurely on meeting  an interested glance; the moderator pointed out that shoulders do not generally gain weight in an unbecoming manner.  DK’s body pants are carefully seamed both for a slim line and for comfort.  Indeed,  comfortable would be a fair description of  most of the pieces despite the fact that fashion and comfort have a long tradition of not being seen in the same room at the same time.   Lambskin collars framed the face and  turtlenecks covered the neck in a manner that would have delighted Nora Ephron — her last book was titled ‘I Hate My Neck’.

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Favorite pieces included a lambskin three-quarter length coat with a fur-lined hood — the lamb treated to look like a gorgeous fur, leather from the shoulder through the torso, with a six-inch edging of the same fur-look at the hem.   The look is rich, luxurious fur; the reality is politically correct.

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The show lasted an hour and ended on a high note: a showing of vintage celebrity red carpet dresses.  The Paris contingent yearned for a magnificent burgundy-colored silk gown with a sweeping half-train while the teen longed for a cream-colored leather dress decorated with a silver floral pattern that on closer inspection turned out to be made of 3-inch safety pins.

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The photos here are all the work of the teen — Alessandra Rio, working her first assignment.  To see the 2013 Donna Karan Fall Collection,  please go the Donna Karan website at:

http://DonnaKaran.com

Start the Year Right with the Perfect Travel Wardrobe

In Baby Boomers, New York, San Francisco, Travel on December 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Life is easier when the clothes you need for travel are already in your closet.  The after-Christmas sales are looming large on the horizon, so now is the time to put together your shopping list for the savvy   traveler ‘I can pack in less than an hour’  wardrobe.

Vermette panorama

The Core:

Women: A pair of stretch blue jeans;  a black T-shirt; a black turtleneck sweater;  a blazer; good-looking oxfords and/or riding boots.

Women can add two black skirts, one long, one not, and one pair of black, one pair of  gray tailored pants.  Next pick out a couple of tank tops, one white, one red.  Last are the shoes: one pair of black flats, one pair of black pumps, and one pair of  walking shoes.

Men should have a pair of fitted jeans; a black T-shirt; a black turtleneck sweater;  a tweed jacket (with or without leather elbow patches) and/or a navy blue blazer; black loafers and/or low-cut boots.

Men will want to add a white T-shirt, a red polo shirt, a black crew-neck sweater , one permanent-press oxford-cloth blue long-sleeved shirt, two pair of wool slacks, one gray, one black,  and a bomber jacket or black ski  jacket. For shoes, toss in a pair of loafers, a pair of low-cut boots, and a pair of clean running shoes.

The rest is all accessories. A black-and-white  muffler, a bright red scarf,  black gloves, and a great hat.  For jewelry, all men need is an easy-to-read watch. Women should have the easy-to-read watch plus a pair of pearl studs, a rope of pearls or a gold necklace.  Make it all costume jewelry, please — it looks great, and it will save you a world of worry.   The idea is to look terrific, not to set yourself up as a mark for a grab-and-run robbery.  For a purse, carry a lightweight tote, big enough for your laptop or tablet, your cell phone, wallet/passport, and cosmetics. For men, a good-looking courier’s bag or lap-top carrier will serve the same purpose. A small collapsible umbrella in solid black, bright red,  or a zebra-stripe pattern will ward off wind and rain, and look stylish while it’s doing it.

That’s a little more than a dozen  items plus accessories, and it will all fit easily into a carry-on.  You will probably want some underwear: lingerie and pantyhose or briefs and white T-shirts. Roll them up as small as you can, and tuck them in the toes of your shoes.

A pea-coat or bomber jacket finishes your look, and keeps you warm, too.

How many outfits can you get out of this collection?  It’s pretty amazing.  Here’s a quick list:

For women to travel in:

1. Jeans, black turtleneck sweater, red scarf,  bomber jacket, and boots.

2. Black slacks, black turtleneck sweater,  hounds-tooth scarf, pea coat, and black-and-white oxfords.

For men to travel in:

1. Jeans, red polo shirt, black crew-neck sweater, red muffler, black ski jacket, and black loafers.

2. Gray slacks, black turtleneck sweater, black-and-white muffler, tweed jacket, and low-cut boots.

For casual meetings, women can have a pulled-together look by combining a black mid-length skirt, white tank top,  a chunky gold chain, black-and-white muffler, blazer,  and black pumps.   For coffee with friends, try gray tailored pants, a black turtleneck sweater , the bomber jacket, and black flats.  Lunch with your parents? Black slacks, red tank top, red scarf, pea coat, and boots.  Just out for a walk?   Jeans, a black T-shirt, bomber jacket, and oxfords. Dinner with somebody special? Long black skirt,  black turtleneck,  pearl earrings and the rope of pearls, black-and-white muffler, blazer, and black  pumps.

It works just as well for men.   For a casual meeting: Black slacks, white T-shirt, black turtleneck, black-and-white houndstooth muffler, ski jacket, and low-cut boots.  For a more formal meeting: Gray slacks, blue oxford cloth shirt,  black crew-neck sweater, navy blue blazer,  and loafers.  Lunch with friends: Jeans; red polo shirt; black crew-neck sweater; red muffler; ski jacket; and boots. For a brisk walk on a cold day: Jeans, black T-shirt; black turtleneck sweater;  houndstooth muffler;  ski jacket; and  sneakers. Taking your parents to dinner: Gray slacks; white T-shirt; black turtleneck sweater; black-and-white houndstooth muffler; tweed jacket, and loafers.

That’s five outfits plus the one you traveled in, for six, all together.  These are clothes you can wear in New York, San Francisco, London, Paris or Rome, and fit right in. Best of all, these are all pieces that are as useful at home as on the road.

Pick out the best fabrics you can afford, make sure everything fits well, and don’t buy anything unless it’s comfortable.  Nothing is  a good  buy if you never wear it. Natural fabrics generally look and wear best: Cotton, silk, wool, and cashmere all qualify. Blends of these fabrics also look great. They can all be hand-washed with  mild soap in cold water, and hung or laid flat to dry. In a pinch, ask the hotel housekeeper to toss them in the dryer on the  ‘cool’ or ‘delicate’ setting.  The exception is jeans.  Buy jeans in a stretch blend fabric.  They’ll fit better, be more comfortable on a long flight, and are less likely to be baggy at the knees when you arrive.  Most important, you’ll  be ready to go anywhere anytime, just in case someone you love should happen to call from Paris and say, “Come at once!’

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San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: See-Worthy Antiques

In Antiques, Baby Boomers, San Francisco, Travel on October 25, 2012 at 10:43 pm

What do you do when the opening Gala party for the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show you’ve been working on for a year suddenly collides with the San Francisco Giants first game of  baseball’s World Series? Simple: Set up a huge flat-screen television tuned to the game in the Pavilion lecture hall  (CHECK),  tell the the caterer to show up with a mini-hot dog stand, complete with condiments  (CHECK), organize the roving waiters to offer a small-scale version of Playland’s iconic It’s-Its (CHECK), and somehow reconcile yourself to the fact that some of San Francisco’s most elegantly-attired antiques cognoscenti are going to be sporting black-and-orange baseball caps  (SIGH).  It worked.  It was a huge hit with the Gala-goers; and when the Giants won the game (Sandoval hit THREE home runs!), the roar of the crowd could be heard all along the  waterfront from Fort Mason to the Marina Green.

The women were stylish, the men were debonair,  and the buzz was electric.  Diane B. Wilsey and Diane Keaton were both observed deeply engaged in separate conversations as I wandered through the Pavilion with Ben Marks, Senior Editor at CollectorsWeekly.com.  Collectors were deeply engaged in conversations with the dealers and fellow collectors. Still others in attendance were deeply engaged in the caviar, oysters on the half-shell, mounds of shrimp, three sorts of pasta,  specifically, variations on a theme of ricotta ravioli, baby lamb chops, smoked salmon,  and more.  Then there were the desserts:  doll-size blueberry tartlets, chocolate pots de creme, fresh raspberries and strawberries, and a choice of tortes.  It was perfectly possible to eat an entirely healthy, green-based meal, but I sincerely hope no one did. This was a night for delicious indulgence.  Not incidentally, every penny raised by the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show goes to support Enterprise for High School Students, which teaches youngsters everything they need to know to get and keep a job, and then offers a job board as well.  In hard-pressed times, there is no more useful service.

Drawing dealers from New York, Paris, and London as well as the Bay Area, the wealth of offerings ranges far and wide. Steinitz/32 (77 rue de Faubourg St. Honore, Paris) , one of France’s leading dealers in 17th and 18th century antiques has framed his space in English boiserie recently purchased from the Huntington Library collection, then filled the space with pieces that would be treasures in any home in any country in any century. The marriage casque of book-matched tortoiseshell, pewter, and brass that I mentioned yesterday is one; a superb architect’s desk that opens up like a flower with a drafting board and shelves and multiple moving parts is another.  This is the sort of space that requires the  judicious use of a handkerchief to remain within the boundaries of socially acceptable.  One really ought not to breathe heavily and drool, however much one admires such splendid things.

Striking a different note entirely are the adjacent spaces, Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques/18 and Obsolete/40.  American Antiques/18  (www.jeffbridgman.com)   specializes in beautifully framed American flags with widely  varying numbers of stars and stripes.  There is also a  flag of the California Republic, complete with grizzly bear, and others equally effective at bringing our history home. Next door, Obsolete/40 (www.obsoleteinc.com) specializes in the whimsical, with a mechanical cow that captured my heart, and and an equally charming little gray elephant that appears to be emphatically shaking its head “NO”.  (Whether or not you view this as a commentary on the upcoming elections depends entirely on your politics.)

From London, John Jaffa/44 (www.antique-enamels.co.uk) has brought a writer’s travel box, filled with inkwells, letter openers,  and a wax seal .  By comparison with how badly I want this, Jimmy Carter knows absolutely nothing about lusting in one’s heart .  Jaffa also has dozens of  exquisite enamel  Faberge boxes by  as well as delicately contrived silver ‘vinaigrettes’ to carry my lady’s smelling salts should a tight corset, a crowd, or close weather indicate an impending swoon. Spencer Marks/13 (www.spencermarks.com) from Southampton, Massachusetts also has ‘vinagrettes’ along with a full canteen of Tiffany’s ‘American Chrysanthemum’ sterling silver in immaculate condition.

Just for pure fun, take a look at American Garage/8 (www.americangarageantiques.com).  Looking for wonderful wooden signs ?  They’re here.  Always wanted to pull the lever to order a steamship ‘full steam ahead’?  It’s here.  Have a pool house that needs decorating with vintage wool bathing costumes?  They’re all right here.

There’s more, of course, much more.  That’s the reason that you need to go to the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason between now and Sunday, October 28, 2012 to see the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show for yourself.  It’s open daily from 10:30 am to 7:pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 112 noon to 5:pm Sunday.   Tickets are $20 at the door and children under 12 are free.   The Lectures tent will be used for a really good series of lectures, so check those out in your program when you arrive. You can check on the World Series scores on your iPhone or just ask any passing stranger.

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: Objects of Desire For Which You’ll Probably Need A Handkerchief

In Antiques, San Francisco, Travel on October 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Just got back from the first Press Preview of the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show which opens tomorrow, Thursday, October 25, 2012  at  Fort Mason Festival Pavilion at 10:30 am sharp. Be there when the doors open, and don’t forget your handkerchief: The exquisite,  intricately-worked objets are pretty much guaranteed to make you drool.  Centered around a nautical theme, the variety alone is enough to turn your head inside-out.  The lenders displays range from whale’s tooth scrimshaw to antique Canton porcelain bowls memorializing a shipwreck, with depictions of a three-masted sailing ship, both pre-and-post tempest.  There are children’s motorboat pond sailers and a massive ship’s model that anyone ever intrigued by the mystique of  sea-faring would cheerfully do despicable things to possess.  And all this is before you get to the dealers, who have come from seven different countries to tempt, and I must say, they have done a splendid job of doing so.  I found myself lured even by things in which I have never before so much as expressed an interest.

The first display is of an armada of 120 ships,  deconstructed and reconstructed, in obsessive detail. It is perfectly possible to lose yourself — and all sense of time — examining the hulls, sails, rigging, sheets, hatches and more than there is time for me to describe or you to read.  First displayed in Venice, California, they drew crowds day and night, with children as fascinated as their parents.  Across the center aisle, Nicholas Brawer  (28 East 72nd Street at Madison Avenue, NYC; 212/772-2664/

http://www.nicholasbrawer.com)  will turn your head around 180 degrees with fully restored stainless steel and brass Nikon Japanese Naval binoculars dating from World War II.  They are beautiful even if they were not functional, and, as it happens. they are.  No home with a view of the Bay should be without one of these; it will make everything else in your living fade to insignificance. With the America’s Cup looming large on the horizon, what further justification, what additional incentive,  could one possibly require?

There is more, much more, but I must shower and change to be back in time for the show’s Preview Gala tonight.  I’ve solemnly sworn not to post any photos until after 1o:pm tonight, so check in for the review of the Preview Gala and photos tomorrow.  The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show runs from Thursday, October 25th to Sunday, October 28th, so don’t miss it. Tomorrow: The French book-matched tortoise-shell and brass marriage casque dating from the reign of King Louis XVI at Steinitz/Booth 32, the mechanical cow at Obsolete/Booth 40, and the vintage wool bathing costumes at American Garage/Booth 8.