Emma: Clothes, Manners and Men

The Delights of Jane Austin’s World

She’s back and better than ever. Emma. Feisty, vain, elegant and well meaning she is one of literatures favorite busy bodies. If you are not familiar with the story, the young woman of Jane Austin’s collection of characters is known for her matchmaking skills that go woefully wrong. Not once. But several times. A defined social structure is important to the story, with each segment of society well displayed and the characters interacting between them creating both a flow and tension to the plot. All ends well; but on the way to a foregone conclusion, the characters are sharply drawn from Austin’s wellspring of experiences that continue to delight us. You cannot help but feel that she knew each of them very well. She was the quiet woman at the back of the sitting room watching carefully as her stylish relatives and betters interacted. Her wicked pen would finally gain some reputation while she was alive but sadly, she died before her great fame was achieved. Many consider her stories the greatest in the English language in novel format.

A backdrop for elegant clothes and furnishings: The English countryside

The views. The chairs. The warm fires. The windows looking out onto the garden; each express the experiences of the life led by the men and women of this period known as the Regency. The dinner parties alone give one pause, for the sheer amount of food consumed by candlelight. The Treats and Teas displayed should be of note to the London Hoteliers, who should use them as a theme; the set decorating crew and food stylists of the film, simply amazing.

The clothes; ah yes, the clothes. Scrumptious and delicious in their particular fussiness. Fabrics were all imported during this period. Cottons from India, silks from China, Italy or France and the wool manufactured in England. Each beautifully tailored into long coats, high waisted dresses and all with the deftness of a fairy like touch. The men are “beau brummel” rogues and the women feigned an almost biblical sense of purity in their carefully tailored coats and bonnets. The design team is to be commended for not only exquisite details but the particular (slight) exaggeration of some characters such as the parson, whose winged chasuble gave him a particular comic relief in the local parish. The hats, the ribbons the lace and other parts of the garments were made in England and represented the industry at home during the prosperous 19th century Industrial Revolution.

A word about the men’s styles:

Remember the suit? The famous English tailoring we have come to know was all invented during this period. The coats, vests and breeches (oh my) are all displayed in part of this film that gives Austin fans what they crave: romance, intrigue, luxe interiors and views as a backdrop for their beloved characters. Our heroic pair, Emma and Knightly are well matched for their wit and almost dangerously sensuous edginess. We can see the actors hold back their enjoyment of each other in their tightly wound scenes that take an acre of English gardens to finally resolve.

This version of the story has a certain comic and broader feel to it, with music playing a great part in the cadences of each scene. The lighting and interiors are a marvel giving us day and nights in the drawing rooms, hallways, dining and garden rooms of these stately English homes. Seeing how manners, feelings and intentions were so important for the period will be a marvel for the first time viewer. The truth of human experience is always well shown in an Austin story and this one has both fun and some seriousness of intention. Bravo. This one is on its way to some big awards at the Oscars and Golden Globes next year.

You can rent this movie and binge it or share on Amazon Prime with the whole family.

Oscar’s 2020: Bring it

At the epicenter of the earthquake known as the Oscars Red Carpet the awards season came to a close.   Tonight the gentlemen and ladies brought the awards to a great fashion finish. All season long nominees worked that carpet and so did the celebs (that’s you, Jaylo) who have collectively raised the bar. There was not a swan costume in sight, just extraordinary style moments. 

With costume designers completely out of the actress dressing business (except during a film or series) the fashion couture house has stepped into the breach and filled the gap. Unique collaborations have become the new way to appear in one-of-a-kind gowns that are never seen on the runway. Some designers featured were:

  • Versace
  • Chanel
  • Oscar De La Renta
  • Vera Wang
  • Dior
  • Siriano

Rebel Wilson, fresh off her turn as a kitty cat wore a gold number that was flattering and gorgeous, only to be outdone by her appearance as a cat, with James Corden.  The ladies who have been to this rodeo before brought it to the carpet, like Jane Fonda, Sigourney Weaver, Gina Davis all looking beautiful and stylish in Classical Hollywood looks.  Jane Fonda, wore a gown she has worn before in a nod to recycling.

What trends have shown up on the carpet for those of you who are counting?

  • Bodices and Corsets creating fitted and smooth looks
  • Trains that flow and swing or swish
  • High Low Hems (short in front, long in back)
  • Beaded Bodices and decorations (Laura Dern)
  • Jewels to Die For (everyone)
  • Huge Structured Skirts
  • Sleeves and off Shoulder Designs
  • Picture book necklines and sleeves
  • Pops of Winter Colors: Electric Blue, Pink, Green

Some of our favorites are pictured here with an entirely different story going on with those who simply thought they were at the wrong event.

Big Statements at the Oscars
The Many Shades of Black & Navy
Neutrals in Gold

The Roar of the Greasepaint, the smash of the Crowd

Sag Awards in LA Red Carpet Musings: Hollywood is out in their finest threads and dazzling sparkles.   

The SAG awards was in fact the first big awards show we did, back when it was just a baby awards show.  Everyone thought we were nuts to do it, but here we are today one of the audience favorites celebrating the actors and their year of highs and lows.  So, with the clothes playing a major part in the fun, here’s below a few crowd snaps (*thank you to Darci Scanlon, event Production designer & gal in the gallery) who furnished these ‘street photos’ for us.  More about Darci, a bit later.   Now, to the fashions!


Wow, Cynthia Erivo basically won the carpet. Her Schiaparelli gown was stunning, powerful, sexy and made the statement that she is ‘here to stay, thank you, very much’.  And speaking of (wow) some of the ladies learned their lessons from the GOLDEN GLOBES (*Jaylo, that’s you dearest) who (if you were lately under a rock) wore the largest Christmas Wrap bow ever seen on the carpet. I am sure that those “Valentino” people had a blast making that bow and wanted to see how large it could get (meow) telling poor Jaylo it was the height of fashion (Twitter told her  “NO” ) thus, no need for me, to go on.  Jaylo responded, with a black strapless gown (whew) was both elegant and sexy.  She’s really getting that she is a superstar, so why not ‘ultra elegance’ instead as Queen of a road show?  Renee (bless her) had the 1950s sculptured strapless on “A La Judy” and it was a fitting tribute. She is super petite; her small frame was not engulfed by the dress though her hair was a bit ‘unexplained’.  The Duchess’ can get away with a messy bun, but few can measure up to her example. Renee always looks great in a Chignon, or French updo a better choice for her.

Tops in my book is Zoe Kravitz who having just been married in Paris over the holidays has taken vintage GIVENCHY “A La Audrey” to heart.  She has made it new and modern again. Her salmon toned silk dress will revive and modernize many trends in the industry. I hope the gloves were made of kid leather (*not easy to know that from a distance) were a bit over the top for California (*yes, Mrs. Clooney) but nevertheless the look was a game changer for Zoe.

Charlize Theron took on the super simple and sexy athletic look almost wearing a yoga top and slit front skirt that was truly a surprise and a trend of things to come. How far can a couture house go towards “athleisure” looks?  Jennifer Aniston, a true LA beach girl wore what we all could fantasize about; if we threw on a gown and headed to the beach (sounds sorta casual) but the results was a 1930’s style Harlow gown that really looked elegant and unfussy. Sophie Turner is enjoying her reign as the ‘corset queen’ in a hot pink number that was belted and reminiscent of the sort of Gaultier gown worn by Madonna.  She is certainly on the right track. She is a warrior, and it suits her. There was some hot pink, black, silver and even that royal blue showing up on the carpet. There were a few pantsuits and mixes of the two (some better than others) and apparently an entire spring garden of puffs and clouds ( I personally think are just silly in January).  Many are Oscar(tm)  hopefuls, so let’s see if this high level of couture and red carpet savvy will continue.


Editor’s Note: All photos used with courtesy of Darcy Scanlin and must be licensed for further use.  Ms. Scanlin’s photo backdrop for the awards was designed by her and her team, bravo.  See our Instagram feed for more of those fun photos @artificeworld




Rose Intense Limited Edition Collection: Romance is in the Air at DIPTYQUE

“What’s in a Name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.    William Shakespeare


The Rose Fragrance collection from “DIPTYQUE” the French fragrance company blooms this Valentines Day for a brief and glorious time. If you have never considered a rose fragrance before, this is your moment. The signature DIPTYQUE candles are presented in elegant containers in shades of purple and pink and orange and pink rose designs. One fragrance is called “Centifolia” and the other scent “Damascena”. The first is a sweet garden rose with a final note of newly mown grass reminiscent from a garden in the south of France; the second rose is more exotic with a hint of sweet spice incense. Evocative of love, passion and romance to inspire your Valentine’s Day gift giving or for anyone you wish to celebrate with the eternal rose.  

The ROSE COLLECTION: Ultimate Interpretation of the Rose

Layering fragrances and placing candles in the perfect location in your home immediately turns a room into a luxurious and elegant space. Lighting and romance go together and a candle creates a calming and sensual space for you and your partner and is the first step to igniting your own romance.  A quiet moment for yourself is also the perfect time to light a candle and there are fragrance moods to appeal to both men and women in their extensive collection.  To fully experience this I suggest you stop into a DIPTYQUE boutique near you; smell and experience and see the options like gift sets  that allow you to fully experience the range.  The collection has a wide range of ways you can experience the rose scents: a drawer liner, a closet sachet, facial oil, hair oil mist, scent compact, body lotion and candles for home and travel. 

DIPTYQUE began as a shop on Paris’ Left Bank at 34 Boulevard St. Germaine. Originating in 1961 a trio of an interior designer, a theatrical director and a painter took their artistic curiosity and ideas about interior design, art and travel to create ‘the bazar’ that inspired the first DYPTIQUE candle, the 34 Signature fragrance now the centerpiece of the 34 Collection. The French have always been wonderful at the art of living that goes back to the days of the palace of Versailles and its influence on fashion, furnishings, food and fragrance that captured the imagination of the world. As a boutique fragrance company that emerged in 1960s Left  Bank Paris the founders revolutionized the boutique fragrance world. If you request a gift set at a boutique they can also personalize a boxed set for your Valentine.  When you see the delightful colors and ribbons its (almost) like a trip to Paris so what could be better?

To discover more more about DIPTYQUE see their website at: http://www.diptyqueparis.com.

Tales from a Fragrance Addict

The world of perfumes is ever changing, with scents being created every day around the world and the boutique fragrance world taking on the major names. A new twist in the world of chemical replacements, make world of fragrance much more complex. Perfume lovers are a unique bunch; they are passionate about fragrances and the news and rumors about them; is something going to be discontinued, re-formulated, or newly released or a revived classic?

It all began when my father made his trips to Paris and not always with mom, so he would always come home with her favorites plus some new ones for her to try out.  This started with her love of CHANEL No. 5 and also the House of Guerlain.  I recently inherited a bottle of JOY Body Oil, something that today would not be possible to formulate.  This began my own passion with fragrances as I began to smell those real French perfumes at a young age.

I am a fragrance person and I prefer the lighter, more floral and unforgettable fragrances that simply don’t give themselves away. This list is not filled with trends, but fragrances that people often stop me in the street, or in a shop and ask me “what are you wearing? That’s when I know that I am on the right track.

Here my list of favorites to help you shop for the summer season. 


Engish Rose by India Hicks

A new and greener version of a rose fragrance this one starts the summer off with a lovely scent of not just rose, but the new mown grass next to the flower beds. Rose can often be just too much, but this one is the type of rose that one might see climbing up a garden trellis, or gathered in a shady flowerbed next to a brick wall in the garden of an English country house. Just take your little park chair out and breath it in. You will be transported. It comes in all sorts of forms so you can indulge in a variety of ways.

Available at: http://www.indiahicks.com/rep/pikkea

Top Note: Rose & Peony. Mid Note: Jasmine Mist. Color: Greens & Mist

Santa Maria Novella, has created a fragrance that is decidedly floral but also has that scent of the summer night somewhere in south. I picture myself sitting on a porch drinking a mint julep with this one. Its called Acqua di Colonia Caprifoglio, which translates as “Foliage of Capri” and it definitely has that fantasy island feeling or a vacation in a bottle, you choose. The top notes are floral, but the green notes come up right way giving you that fresh mown grass feeling. Find this at: buysmnovella.com

Eu de Calandre by Paco Rabanne

What happens when a futuristic designer who predicted just about every fashionable trend in the last 30 years invents a perfume? I started wearing after crossing the English Channel from London and discovering that the designer was the coolest (and still is) couture designer in Paris. The fragrance is not big seller as it was when it was introduced in the 1970’s. What does it smell like? Its very complex and not for the faint hearted but its a modern take on a floral fragrance with a hint of spice. I had to go all the way to Paris to get a bottle, directly from the boutique on Rue Cambon recently but then I discovered it is in several online boutiques. (*yikes, at 50% off the price!) and while it may seem obscure, its still a ground-breaking fragrance that delights. http://www.overstock.com

Wild Spider Lily by India Hicks

This unique flower, growing like it does out of the sand in the Bahamas might sound like its a heavy or exotic summer fragrance but no; its light and engaging with a hint of passion to it. It starts out like a floral then morphs into something rather quiet, and deeper in tone just like the flower itself. The lily has gone native in this version of a fragrance you might think is a bit fussy, but its not.

Top Note: Orange Blossom Tea Mid Note: Orange flower, Honeysuckle, Jasmine with Sandalwood, Musk, Vanilla Crystals.


Nuit de Tuberose by ARTISAN perfumes

This one is indeed, as it says, a trip to Hawaii and back again. Its Tuberose with a Capital “T” and when you want to knock someone out with how romantic you are this is the one. Sometimes I mix this with the CAPRI FOGLIO and it gets great results. L’Artisan perfumes are now quite established but when there was no such thing as a boutique fragrance they basically invented the idea. They recently re-designed the bottles, so if you find the older bottle with the gold top, don’t worry, it will take a while for those to go out of circulation. You can pay top dollar at a beauty apothecary, but there are always a few bottles of their top sellers at Overstock.com.

(*editor’s note: The INDIA HICKS FRAGRANCES are sold via my own website so I include them here for convenience and to answer questions I have been receiving about them).