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TWE DESIGN: Degas, Paris Fashion and Hat Exhibit Will Entertain and Inform

Degas Impressionism

Degas Impressionism

"The Millinery Shop" catalogue photo Legion of Honor

Courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

By Wendy Verlaine/August 17, 2017
Photos Wendy Verlaine (@Verlainechirps)

Have you ever put on a hat and marveled at the transformation? If you think hats are an incidental accessory, then surely the sumptuous Degas exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (through Sept. 24, 2017) will set you straight.

Degas is often associated with his ballet dancer paintings, and I was delighted to see work never before shown, and in context with a fashionable, turn of the century Paris. I found myself chatting with fellow women about hats from our past, and how those memories call up both humor and longing.

Sketch of Degas in Top Hat/Legion of Honor Museum, SF/Aug. 2017

Drawing of Degas in Top Hat, c. 1875

This exceptionally curated show of impressionist paintings and pastels, along with photographs and a running vintage video, is not only an homage to the millinery trade in Paris circa 1875 to 1914, but it includes the actual hats of this time period.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was deeply interested in the artistry and craft of women in the Paris millinery trade, as well as their plight of difficult working conditions. In the late 1890’s he produced a series of paintings and pastels featuring women absorbed in the creative activity of millinery.

Known to be enthralled every time he passed a Parisian high fashion millinery shop, it is easy to see how the mix of color, shape, textures and embellishments on hats led to Degas’ innovative uses of color and abstraction.

Born into a well-to-do family, he had a studio in close proximity to small independent millinery shops. He depicted the milliners’ skill, artistry and labor, and in this way, felt a kinship between their work and his. The impressionists visited the shops of the rue de la Paix often to view the hats by such prominent milliners as Caroline Reboux and Maison Virot, whose hats are featured in the show.

Row of hats at Degas exhibit Legion of Honor/Photo Courtesy of Wendy Verlaine

Bonnets from the mid 1800’s modestly
covered much of the face.

Paris in the mid 1800’s, considered the fashion capital at that time, had close to one thousand milliners. The varying hat designs and the role of the hat in society, which was de rigueur for both men and women, designated one’s wealth, social class, profession or marital status, as well as the wearers’ level of sophistication and taste. Over time millinery evolved from the individual artist working out of her home into an industry that employed hundreds of women.

Madame Georgette Hat, 1910, painted cotton flowers and leaves on wire frame/Photo: Courtesy Wendy Verlaine

Madame Georgette hat: Painted cotton flowers
and leaves on wire frame, 1910

Shopping, considered frivolous by some, came to be seen by most as an artistic endeavor for a woman, and a way to express her taste and independence. She enjoyed the inventive and personal aspect of designing her individuality. Degas focused his work on both consumers and laborers.

Camille Marchais Hand-Made Flower Hat at Legion of Honor Degas Exhibit/Photo: Courtesy Wendy Verlaine

Camille Marchais handmade flower hat: Life-like flowers
made her a celebrated designer

During the early 1880’s, masses of flowers appeared on spring and summer hats, and the show’s flowered examples are magnificent. A few women became fashion “super stars”, one of whom was Camille Marchais. She was renown for making artificial flowers, and had one of the most celebrated millinery shops in Paris. Her handmade flowers were so life-like they were hard to distinguish from living blossoms. Her skill made her the most sought after milliner of the day.

Tall Hat, 1884: Plaited Straw, silk velvet, cotton plain weave, metallic thread, artificial flowers at Legion of Honor, SF/Photo: Courtesy Wendy Verlaine

Tall hat: Plaited straw; silk velvet; cotton plain weave
with metallic thread and artificial flowers, 1884

By the late 1890’s there was large demand for picture hats with wide brims supporting a mass of colorful blooms. The large brimmed hats were made to be worn asymmetrically on the head with the flowers delicately framing the wearer’s face. Hats had wire foundations covered with tulle, lace or other transparent materials.

Madame Virot, another celebrated designer who began her career as a milliner assistant, established her own house around 1860. Empress Eugenie soon became a client, and established Virot as one of the most sought after designers in Paris. Preeminent couturiers used her designs to complement their collections.

Flower straw hat by Maison Virot, plaited over wire frame, silk artificial roses and ferns ca. 1900 at Legion of Honor/Photo: Courtesy Wendy Verlaine

Maison Virot flower straw hat: Plaited straw over wire frame,
silk velvet and artificial roses, leaves and ferns, c. 1900

Not all women had the luxury of working out of their homes. An entire millinery industry sprung up in the mid 1800’s, and women often worked long hours in precarious conditions. Arsenic was used to preserve bird specimens, and mercury was used to soften the fur or hair of animals used in many designs.

Degas was interested in working trades, and many of his paintings depict the fatiguing and difficult working conditions. Low wages often forced some women to resort to other means of income, even prostitution. By the 1890’s support for better working hours and improved wages for women in French industry began to increase.

Owl plumage used in hat decoration at Legion of Honor Degas exhibit SF/Photo: Courtesy Wendy Verlaine

“Owl Hat”: Various plumage used as exotic ornamentation

The Parisian hat industry also supported a massive international trade in exotic birds. France’s African colonies, Central and South America and Asia provided the feathers. The more exotic the feathers the more elevated the perception of the wearer’s social standing.

Plumage from French domestic birds, such as seagulls and owls, was also used. Some designs included whole stuffed birds or used wings and heads for ornamentation. This practice is thankfully illegal today.

During the 1870’s men’s style hats and dress wear, such as the bowler and riding clothes, began to change how women dressed. By the 1890’s women’s wardrobes took on more masculine style clothes and hats due to new forms of sporting activity such as cycling, riding or sailing. The straw boater was an example of a true unisex style, and was used for many outdoor activities.

Woman at dressing table with riding hat and outfit at Legion of Honor Degas exhibit, SF/Photo: Courtesy Wendy Verlaine

Woman at dressing table with
riding hat and outfit/Degas c. 1910

For those of us who love looking at hats, and are secretly hoping this Paris trend will resurrect, your wish may come true. Paris fashion week 2017’s autumn-winter show claimed hats to be this year’s biggest trend. The catwalk was charged with headgear of all types, from Dior’s leather berets to glittery beanies, gaucho hats, borsalinos and wildly plummed fascinators. This may be the year your hat yearnings and wishes will come true.

Degas, Impressionism and the Millinery Trade at the Legion of Honor (@LegionofHonor), San Francisco is currently running through to September 24, 2017.


Wendy Verlaine is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer, jewelry designer and owner of Wendy Verlaine Design. Formally a San Francisco gallerist, she continues to stay closely connected to the art world.



Design: Summer of Love – The de Young’s Exhibit of Unity, Activism and Change

Summer of Love

Summer of Love exhibit/PHoto: deYoung Museum

Photo: de Young Museum

By Wendy Verlaine/May 5, 2017
Photos by Wendy Verlaine

We can never go back, but San Francisco’s de Young Museum’s current “Summer of Love” exhibit (April 8 – August 20, 2017) allows us to do just that. For a couple of hours fashion, art, photography and music from the 1960’s thrusts us into a noisy and voluminous trip back to the counterculture revolution.

Summer of Love poster from deYoung Museum exhibit/We tend to import our prejudices into any art event, but this show is an exception. There is no mistaking the purpose and message of this circus of cultural and artistic eccentricity. At times it seems to pit the serious Vietnam anti-war movement against the flower child’s personal, internal rebellion. In many ways the two fueled one another’s revolution, and drew them together in a common cause.

The initiation into this arena of protest and social change was psychedelic experimentation, a new music sound and a fierce energy for a new world message. This defined San Francisco, and the Haight-Ashbury and North Beach districts were the hub of change. It proved to be far-reaching.

Rebellion became a visual language. The de Young’s display of counterculture fashion refreshes our memory of how a ferocious demonstration of color, design and craft was a major participant in the political narrative.

Bohemian chic, invented and crafted by Haight–Ashbury’s Linda Gravenites, became the fashion mode of the day. Jeanne Rose’s elaborate designs popularized the peasant dress, maxi skirts and vintage clothing. Janis Joplin’s 1968 quote to Vogue magazine sums up the serious workmanship on many of the pieces worn by the musicians:  “Gravenites turns them out slowly and turns them out well and only turns them out for those she likes.”

DetailJacky Sarti customized landlubber jeans...denim with cotton patches, ribbons. Made for Peter Kaukomen of Black Kangaroo

Jacky Sarti customized landlubber jeans of denim with appliquéd cotton patches, ribbons, cotton molas. Made for Peter Kaukonen of Black Kangaroo.

The detailed craftsmanship and lively mix of colors, patterns, textiles and heavy embroidery influenced Yves Saint Laurent, who elevated it to chic wear in the 1970’s.

Summer of Love exhibit deYoung Museum-Girgita Bjerke: Crochet wool wedding dress 1972

Girgita Bjerke: Crochet wool wedding dress/1972

Elaborately embroidered and appliquéd textiles and political buttons were found on everything from jeans to shoes to accessories. The primary cannon of fashion was to be individual, free, natural and optimistic.

Men's shirt: 1970 cottton denim with p;lastic and metal buttons, patches appliqué and embroidered at deYoung Museum Summer of Love exhibit/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Men’s shirt: 1970 cotton denim with plastic and metal buttons; patches of appliqué and embroidery

Sgoes from Summer of Love exhibit, deYoung Museum, San Fran/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Mickey McGowan appliquéd Chinese silk shoes with complex weaves, silk velvet and rubber soles.

Ideas borrowed from Art Nouveau, Eastern religion, and Native American traditions became icons of the era. These associations with history and philosophy suppressed conventional design and led to a world-wide fashion revolution.

Today the relevance of fashion from this period continues to be the language of mainstream designers under the trope of “bohemian chic.” The full version of rebellion went beyond fashion, and extended to art, music, poetry and prose. The draft loomed before all young men, and fueled an urgent need for change.

Summer of Love Jerry Garcia hat at deYoung Summer of Love exhibit/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Jerry Garcia’s “Captain Trips” hat. Hand-painted silk with ribbon and flag. Original Dunlap & Co. (est. 1883)

“The Trips Festival” of 1966 was the spring board of the revolution. This pivotal gathering unified political activists from Berkeley and the bohemians of Haight-Ashbury.

Leather coat at Summer of Love exhibit, deYoung Museum-SF/Photo Provided by Wendy Verlaine

Leather coat part of deYoung Summer of Love exhibit

“A gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In”, organized by activist Stewart Brand, promoter Bill Graham and author Ken Kesey and his cohorts – the merry pranksters – and composer and artist Ramon Sender, took place at the Longshoremen’s Hall on January 21 to 23, 1966.

Dazzling, theatrical effects with liquid light (a chemical mix allowing photographic printing on any surface using standard darkroom procedures) and slide shows, film projections, electronic sounds, rock groups, experimental theater and dance was the beginning of a firm platform for change. More than 3,000 people attended. It was a grand collaboration that forced everyone to question, reflect and be moved.

Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, Lenore Kandel, Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, and Alan Watts were a few of the luminaries who formed the philosophy of protest, peace and tolerance, ultimately shaping the tide of history. For many the message was the mantra — “Tune in, turn on, drop out” along with Ginsberg’s “We are all one, we are all one.”

Photographs throughout the show of Ginsberg, Kandel, Leary, Snyder, Watts and the city’s rock bands and concerts pull together a consecutive history of this era of change.

“The Summer of Love” exhibit does its best to resurrect this spectacle for us. There are two light shows to wander through, one of which encourages us to linger in a flashing room of colored lights with bean bag seating.

Moving from the light show one finds oneself in floor to ceiling replicas of 1960’s posters, with a large collection of original first editions under glass. These mass-produced posters were displayed everywhere in Haight-Ashbury and North Beach. Most famous were Print Mint and Friedman Enterprises, underground comic and poster publishers and retailers, where they were papered from floor to ceiling.

Summer of Love posters at deYoung Museum, San Francisco/Photo provided by Wendy Verlaine

Close to 25,000 posters sold every month . Many were commissioned by Bill Graham and Chet Helms, major music promoters.

Messages of social and political demands targeted military personnel, and concerts benefited environment issues and civil and women’s rights. The bright neon colors and patterns of rock posters were often meant as a visual representation of an LSD trip. They drew inspiration from the Art Nouveau period, but because they borrowed from Surrealism to Pop and Op art, this movement is defined as postmodern.

Bonnie Maclean Poster: Yardbirds, The Doors, James Cotton Blues Band, Richie Havens 1967

Bonnie Maclean poster: Yardbirds, The Doors, James Cotton Blues Band, Richie Havens/1967

An added stimulation in this expansive exhibit is sound. One can hear a mix of “echoes” from Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead, Santana and Sons of Champlin among others.

The Summer of Love was far more than a riotous, playful upheaval. The de Young Museum’s exhibit reminds us that the government policies we value today resulted from the interventions of fifty years ago. We still have the power to resist and promote social justice and inclusiveness, and to exercise our first amendment rights.

This message resonates profoundly today, as seen in the massive women’s march and our current activist activities, such as “Resist”, “Indivisible” and “Sister District.” It is a hard-won wisdom that can easily be swept away.

“The Summer of Love” runs from April 8 – August 20, 2017 at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco


Wendy Verlaine photo

Wendy Verlaine is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer, jewelry designer and owner of Wendy Verlaine Design. Formally a San Francisco gallerist, she continues to stay closely connected to the art world.





TWE DESIGN: Linda Hamilton’s Nomad Chic Boutique Discovers Artisans Worldwide

Linda Hamilton, founder Nomad Chic/Photo from Linda

Linda Hamilton

By Wendy Verlaine (@Verlainechirps)/May 19, 2016

Fashion and design are at the center of art and culture in today’s world. Just ask Linda Hamilton, owner of Nomad Chic located in both Sonoma, California and in Todos Santos, Baja California. Her search for beautifully imagined and handmade clothing, accessories and home items from around the world keeps her continuously interested in how fashion and design evolve, and how they are a reflection of cultural, social and aesthetic values.

“It all starts with the artist. I believe in helping artisans, especially young designers. I also strive to support women in business.” –Linda Hamilton

When I first happened upon Hamilton’s boutique, I was compelled to enter. This special shop, just in the heart of the vineyard landscape, fit seamlessly into its lush setting. It is not unlike an artisan’s gallery. The clothing, accessories, textiles and items for the home all spoke of intention.

Her selections emphasize why fashion and interior design, even though they occupy a major position in our culture’s economy – and due to this are often looked down upon as an important area of the world of art – cannot be thought of as trivial.

Linda Hamilton's Nomad Chic boutique, Sonoma

Nomad Chic opens to gardens and cafe./Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Hamilton explains, “It all starts with the artist. I believe in helping artisans, especially young designers. I also strive to support women in business. For example, my Tanzania friend, who is one of my accessory sources, offers abused women the skills and training needed to survive and thrive.She collaborates with Maasai women to produce and market high-end beaded jewelry using traditional techniques. By bringing these products to international markets, the beading traditions are preserved. This process also helps to sustain the women and their families economically…”

Interior Linda Hamilton Nomad Chic boutique

Interior of Nomad Chic./Photo: Linda Hamilton

Hamilton also promotes designers from Australia, Bali and Mexico. “I have put on runway shows not just to show fashion, but to also introduce customers to the artist and vice versa. The artist becomes part of the exchange. All of this is complicit in the designer’s success story. These artists extend their success to those in their own communities.”

The majority of her designers are single mothers or artists in need of the first helping hand. Her customers learn about the stories behind the artists, and join in her spirit of women helping women.

Cultural influences from around the world, along with her love of travel, led to Linda’s study of art, design and architecture at the California College of the Arts.

She began her working career as an incentive trip planner for major corporations. She has lived in Bali, Mexico and London. It is easy to see how Linda’s past has influenced her fashion and design choices. Travel challenges us to think about what is beautiful and to abandon prejudices. We widen our scope of acceptability which, in turn, changes us.

Linda does not define travel as escapism, but as inspiration. Time spent in Bali encouraged her love of …“minimalism, free form and the spirit of Zen. I wanted to share my discoveries, and that is why I created Nomad Chic.”

I love bringing interesting designers from various cultures to those of us who may not be able to travel, or may just not know where to find them. I also work with local California artists.

Aside from fashion, her mix of home accessories and furniture pieces – often designed by Hamilton and made by artisans – encourages personal creativity when designing a living space.

Linda Hamilton's home in Todos

Linda’s home in Todos Santos/Photo: Linda Hamilton

Her home in Todos Santos is an example of her love of architecture, the comfort and beauty nature offers and her preference for minimalism. When I asked about balancing trends with style, Hamilton believes that allowing her customers to choose “from all over the world” supports individualism. Trends employ quick change, but the artisan supports a deliberate, slow fashion mindset.

My interest in Hamilton’s support of the artisan reminded me that it is the artist who is often first to spark a trend. They are inspired by what is happening everywhere–in the streets, small neighborhoods and boroughs. Current fashion modifies and exploits the street artist’s ideas.

Linda Hamilton designed chair at Nomad Chic

Handmade chair discovered by Linda Hamilton

As a result, dressing is responsible for reflections of social change, and an awareness of cultures outside of our own. Trends make these ideas available.

They are a commentary on our time, just as other forms of art are. They can be revolutionary, controversial, liberating or entertainment.

Hamilton’s choices allow us to play with the first edition of an artisan’s idea, often before it becomes a trend. She happily admits her fifteen-year-old daughter keeps her up on what is current, and she combines the best of trends with the unexpected.

When selecting clothing and accessories, we become artists with the act of choosing from our own closets. Selecting a handmade necklace, bracelet or ring and mixing it with a t-shirt and jeans is an artistic decision. The art of what we wear is as revealing a portrait of who we are as what we say or do.

I asked Hamilton what is next for her. “There are so many possibilities. I would love to expand my business in pop-up locations around the world. It might be in a hotel in Mexico City, or a resort town that reaches many international travelers.”

I can see putting together travel excursions for vacationers who want to explore places they never could find on their own.There may be buying trips with groups, too.

Her Nomad Chic location in Sonoma is a world-renowned destination for fine food and wine. Promoting a new chef with a ‘chef’s night’ dinner at Nomad Chic is another exciting Linda idea.

She adds, “Perhaps my boutique can be used as a space for an artist salon, a place to discover a writer or painter.” When I asked Linda Hamilton what her greatest challenge is, she laughed. “Time. I need more time!”

Nomad Chic logo





TWE DESIGN: A Grand Salute to Fashion Icon Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta de Young exhibit/Photo: Wendy Verlailne

By Wendy Verlaine/March 23, 2016

Oscar de la Renta! Just saying the name elevates my vision of the art of dressing well. He is fashion royalty, and I was not going to miss a “runway show” of fashion history that celebrates creativity, craftsmanship, individuality and the working life of a celebrated artist.

Is a fashion designer an artist? This question is a constant debate among curators, art dealers, collectors and artists, some of whom scoff at a “fashion show in a museum.”

San Francisco’s de Young Museum’s Oscar de la Renta retrospective supports a convincing “YES”! De la Renta is a genius at observing, absorbing and interpreting, and these tools define an artist. This show celebrates his craftsmanship, invention and love of beauty.

Yellow wool dress by Oscar de la Renta with plastic and crystal covered coat/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Yellow wool dress enhanced with plastic and crystal covered coat.

Murals, lighting, running wall videos, mirrors and clever themes brought ohs and ahs from visitors. The exhibition design is by Kevin Daly Architects in collaboration with the House of de la Renta and the designer’s family.

Room after room increased my appetite for the exotic. It is not unlike a walk through a beautiful dream as one drifts from one theme to another of spectacular surprise. The visual stories follow his early career—Spanish, Eastern, Russian and his garden interpretations. It ends with ball gowns and red carpet celebrity wear.

Dresses by Oscar de la Renta/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Beaded silks, sculptured taffeta and silk velvet are de la Renta’s trademark.

Oscar de la Renta culled from diverse cultures, art and a wide knowledge of world history. This resulted in designs heavily embellished with Chinese embroideries, ikat patterns, Russian fur, Spanish brocades and jewels.

Oscar de la Renta dress at de Young Museum/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Jagged black mirrors are a stark backdrop to these finely crafted gowns.

El Greco, Diego Velazquez, court costumes and royal armor influences show up early in his career in the 1960s at the couture house of Balenciaga in Madrid.

Travel to Russia and the film Dr. Zhivago erupted into de la Renta’s heavily beaded brocades and exotic fur trims. A bullfight in Andalusia would give birth to contrasting reds, chartreuse, heavily beaded brocades, inventive accessories and bolero jackets worn over the unexpected.

Oscar de la Renta polero jacket worn over costume/Photo; Wendy Verlaine

Brocade and dangling elements embellish a fitted evening jacket.

This extravagance earned him the Coty Award in 1967, which, in turn, led to his influential folkloric designs which trickled down to flower children, revolutionaries and the Beatles.

De la Renta was a lifelong gardener, and his gardens at his homes in the Dominican Republic and Kent, Connecticut are known worldwide. A looping video of his garden in Connecticut is a glorious backdrop in the garden room to his floral-printed silk taffetas and appliquéd flowers.

Oscar de la Renta dresses from retrospective at de Young/Photo: Wendy Verlaine

Dresses in the garden room are a mix of Marie Antoinette and fresh blooms.

The colors, textures and scents from his garden bloomed into a collection of 18th Century Marie Antoinette-like elegance. His fabrics are flowing, brilliantly colored canvasses. He defined romanticism.

He uprooted traditional ideas of beauty in his 2011 collection. His playful nod to the irreverent juxtaposed formal evening dress with punk hairstyles.

Oscar de la Renta designs at de Young retrospective/Photo;: Wendy Verlaine

Punk hair styles are a nod to mixing trends with glamour.

Abreast of changing trends, he was not afraid to embrace movements by paring shocking, exaggerated trends with an unexpected twist of elegance.  A looping video of his runway-themed shows illustrates his attention to street fashion and how he transforms current statements into his de la Renta signature style.

I entered this show with one raised, slightly skeptical eyebrow. Was I reviewing an exhibit that highlighted the division between me and the world of celebrities, presidential wives and the upper one percent? I exited the show with wide-eye pleasure. I can’t believe what I just saw!

The Oscar de la Renta retrospective will run from March 12th – May 30th at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.


Photos: Wendy Verlaine

TWE FUN STUFF: Festive Footwear for 2015

Festive Footwwear 2015/UGG

By Pamela Burke/December 30, 2014

We couldn’t resist our annual visit to a fashion square again just before the New Year Rings Out the Old Shoes and Rings in the New. Were there new shapes and colors to be had? And, are the towering stilettos still holding their own? A trip to Nordstrom gave us some clues.

We soon would find out that anything goes now, particularly if it’s in silver or has a cozy lining.

And, it’s an added plus if it has a touch of sparkly like this UGG Australia “Azalea Charm” boot above. In this year’s edition, we’re seeing bits of flashy glimmer on the side initials. And, don’t they look warm and inviting!

Michael Kors jewelled shoes at Nordstrom

But if it’s glimmer and fancy you are after, feast your eyes on these Michael Kors “Jayden Espadrille Wedgies” with crystal  embellishments. They come in silver and gold as you can see.

The bejewelled look gives them an air of elegance that could make any outfit shine.

If you are intending to spend a night on the town, these below might do. This Sam Edelman”Hampton” sandal has that same silvery look but in a snakeskin print with emerald-cut crystals AND a back zip.  If you are up for a 4 1/2 inch stiletto, these could fit the bill.

Sam Edelman "Hampton" Snakesskin Print Caged Sandal/Nordstrom

If this silver-grey stylish look is not for you, and you’d like something that would pop and be a reminder that spring is coming, feast your eye on these laced-up, open-toe Daylitte pumps by Steve Madden.  They kept motioning us back to take another glance. With their bright palette of pinks and blues AND the zip entry in the back, they had no equal.

Daylitte zipper lace up pink fabric shoe in Nordstrom

If you’re not looking for a fancy night out but just something comfy but with a little pizazz, view these Steve Madden “Resolvve Sneaker Boots” that cost under $100.  They’re jazzy and look as if they could be worn to a ballgame, for a long walk, or give a frock a splash of fancy.

Steve Madden resolvve silver boot with zipper

We leave you with this “Classic Short Sparkles” UGG that always catches our eye. In fact, we featured it in last year’s survey.  We just spied it again, and the good news is that it’s now on sale.

Red Glittery UGG at Nordstrom

The color is still sensational and the price recommends it. It’s down from $189 to $127. Now that’s the way to start the New Year! Everything old can truly be new again.

Happy 2015! Find a favorite pair of shoes, fancy or comfy, and celebrate!


TWE FUN STUFF: Spring Style with Orange Polka Dots and Zebras

Peach top with polka dots and zebra/Anthropologie 3/14

By Pamela Burke/March 26, 2014

“The color orange radiates warmth and happiness, combining the physical energy and stimulation of red with the cheerfulness of yellow.”

We call it a shopping blitz. All of a sudden we want a fix of fashion and to find out if there are new creations that will wow us; what colors are the newest rage; and whether there is a unique piece of clothing that will cause the wallet to open.

Peach Top/AnthropologieToday’s blitz was at one of our favorite stores, Anthropologie, where we know we will usually find something that speaks to us.

Screaming from a distance was the sweet white shirt with orange polka dots and zebra that you see above.

There was just something about the design and the way the zebra appeared nonchalantly among the dots. We knew we had to have it.

As we looked around the store, we noticed the shades of peach and orange popping out everywhere. Are these the new colors of spring?  From jackets to shorts to books to pottery, you couldn’t miss the bright citrus colors.

Take a look at the nifty orange jacket with front zip pockets above. There was something cozy, soft and casual about it that was very alluring.

Could it be worn over that zebra with dots top?  Hmmm. 

Orange Dress/Anthropologie

Not that far away lurked a silky orange shift, again soft and flowing.

The wonder of Anthropologie is that in addition to its nifty clothes, it has an eclectic collection of eye-catching items from all over the world.

A jeweled clutch in peach was particularly stylish, which was right next to a book that fit in to the decor perfectly.
Grace Coddington Book--Anthropologie



I’d been meaning to get Grace Coddington’s Grace, A Memoir for months now (orange cover).

It’s the story of the model-turned-editor of Vogue who became an international icon.

She would be a fascinating interview for TWE and would certainly understand the wonder of color.

 We can’t close our quick survey without mentioning the faux hot air balloons in the window, fitting in perfectly with the spring atmosphere inside. From top to bottom, this store has an aura of creativity that we just love. And, of course, now we can’t live without the new palette we’ve been introduced to. Vive l’orange!

Anthropologie's balloonsHot air balloon display by Shane Majors, Display Coordinator, Anthropologie-Scottsdale

Oh, and that peachy purse

Peach Purse/Anthropologie


FUN STUFF: Eye-Popping Footwear for the Holidays

Pink Sequin Australian UGGS

UGG Australia ‘Classic Short Sparkle’ Boot

Story and Photos By Pamela Burke/December 20, 2013

It’s been too long since our last holiday shoe survey so we needed to crawl the mall in search of this season’s trends in fancy footwear. Would it be shoes with sparkles? Towering heels? No heels? What about flats? After a few hours perusing the stores, we can confidently say all of the above.

One style did seem to dominate. There were UGGs galore. Just look at this array at Dillards!

Plain, fancy, suede, gold, silver, with and without shimmering sequins…every possible style was on display.


The UGGs above just holler “try me on.” They all looked soooo cozy and warm for those snowy days. We salivated most for the “Bailey Bow” boots in purple reign as its called, shown below at Nordstrom with matching ribbons in the back. Now that’s stylin’!

Christmas Shoe in Nordstrom 2013

UGG Australia ‘Bailey Bow’ Boot

As we wandered, we were hoping we could find something less boot-like and more partyish. Then we digressed and spied some fancy slippers that looked all soft and snugly.  Seems like you don’t have to go to a party to feel like the bell of the ball. Take a look at these “Quinn” Ballet Slippers from Michael Kors.

Ballet Slipper Michael Kors Nordstrom 2013

Michael Kors ‘Quinn’ Ballet Slippers

For those of you in warmer climates who are looking for a little bling in a flip-flop and for possible party wear, we ogled these “Cha Cha” FitFlop low wedge knockouts in passion fruit, bronze and black.

It’s your standard casual flipflop but all gussied up. 

If you really want to be comfortable and aren’t looking for the towering heel, these might just fit the bill for dressy occasions and not.

FitFlop Cha Cha Sandal Nordstrom 2013 Holiday

Pink FitFLop Cha Cha Sandal 2013

Now if you’re wanting something a bit higher, really higher—a fancy shoe on six-inch stilts—we found one that might delight. For sheer glamour and simple elegance, it’s Shiekh’s rhinestone-encrusted tower with gold-tone sole and wrapped heel.

Shiekh 6 inch holiday heel 2013

Shiekh Six-Inch Stepping Out Shoe

And last but not least we did spot one rather sporty shoe that stood out in the crowd. You might not wear a pair to a fancy soiree (or maybe you would) but they also could be just the ticket for a shopping tour or athletic outing.

Behold this sassy sneaker below by Michael Kors!

It’s a pretty fancy “urban” high-top with side zipper and chain-link laces and definitely eye-popping in the fire engine red.

Michael Kors sneaker at Dillards, 2013 Holiday

Michael Kors Urban High Top

We began our survey with a bold boot and end now with a shiny sneaker…these two took the prize for pizazz and just pure fun! Have you seen any shoes that made you smile, salivate or just plain stare? If so, send us a photo at thewomenseye (at) gmail (dot) com. We’re always looking for showstopping design!


TWE FUN STUFF: The Wacky Basketry of Fiber Artist Emily Dvorin

Emily Dvorin, sculptural fiber artist

UPDATE 9/18/16: We ran into Emily at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival with loads of new baskets. Look at the one she was working on made out of coffee pods! This woman is soooo creative!

Emily Dvorin, basket weaver/Photo: P. Burke

By Pamela Burke/October 2, 2013

When I think of baskets—and I’ve always loved them—I think of the wonderfully woven, deep containers that you can put anywhere and stuff anything into.  Recently TWE ran into objects that were called baskets but that added a new perspective to the definition.


“Big Fat Hairy Deal”

We found these non-traditional containers at the Mill Valley Art Festival in northern California. Using materials from the hardware store, cable ties and other found objects, scuptural fiber artist Emily Dvorin has fashioned the most whimsical and imaginative art pieces.  She claims almost anything can be used to make them.  Think curlers, paintbrushes, wooden spools, plastic forks, tees, and whatever else is in the kitchen sink.

Emily says she’s trying to change the definition of the word basket.  They are “transordinary” vessels she engineers with color and texture.  She also loves the unexpected ingredients she finds to make them.  Take a look below at what she fashioned with brightly colored pencils, adding a few neon cable ties for support, a little bit of sass and voilá!


“Caught Doing Good”

And what about those toy parts lying around the house accomplishing nothing? These can be priceless materials for a new arrangement. Below she’s taken plastic leftovers and structured yet another colorful piece of quirky art.  Recognize any of these items?


“Well Loved”

People don’t seem to know what to make out of her objet as they are so far beyond the concept of what we know as baskets. Some may call this a craft rather than art.  Emily’s response: “I dance on the cusp of fine art and fine craft.”

Emily obviously loves junk and thinks we take for granted what we throw away. Shaping these odds and ends into something new and fabulous is her challenge.  In case you think some of these designs are wacky, she does teach a course called “Wacky Basketry.”


“Frizzle Frazzle”

Whatever genre these creations are, we love their artistry and spunk. So as you peer at your surroundings, take a longer look and see what might work as a reassembled object. Emily makes good use of vegetable bags and toothbrushes—simple items whose life can be short. And don’t forget to eyeball musical instruments.  She once created a basket using felt hammers from a piano.

Feast your eyes on “Spun,” one of Emily’s favorite pieces, made with slinkies and cable ties. If you look closely you’ll see the precompressed springs that formally brought great joy as they maneuvered  down steps.  Bravo to Emily for coming up with such an imaginative use of a classic child’s toy! Take a look at more of her fun creations here.

Emily Dvorin's sculptural basketry, SPUN


Basket photos by Pamela Burke; remaining photos from Emily Dvorin