THE BEST FINDS OF 2013
As the year winds to a close, here are some of my favourite discoveries of 2013.
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, and a happy and safe New Year.
Looking forward to touching base again in 2014 with more inspiration, insights and a few exciting projects too.
FAVOURITE BEACHSIDE BAR
F Scott Fitzgerald's former villa on the French Riviera, which is now a glorious hotel called the Belle Rives. The leopard-print and geranium-red bar was perhaps the most beautiful space of all. Zelda would have loved it.
BEST BOOK BUYS
The Tailor's Girl, by Fiona McIntosh
A wonderful read about fashion, tailoring and London's Savile Row.
Garden People: The Photographs of Valerie Finnis, by Ursula Buchan
A photographic record of fashionable gardeners, from Vita Sackville-West to Nancy Lancaster.
The Flower of Empiree: An Amazonian Water Lily, The Quest to Make it Bloom, and the World it Created, by Tatiana Holway
A fascinating read about horticulture in Victorian times, which swings from adventurers in the tropics to the famed gardens of Kew, the 35,000-acre Chatsworth estate and the Crystal Palace, the enormous glass house built for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Virginia Woolf's Garden, by Caroline Zoob
A beautiful and unexpectedly moving biography of Virginia and Leonard Woolf's life at Monk House, filled with glorious photographs of their garden and exquisitely embroidered garden plans of each part of the estate. Written by the former tenant of Monk House, Caroline Zoob, who cared for Virginia's garden for more than a decade.
A companion to the recent exhibition held at Christian Dior's house and garden, which juxtaposes fashion and flowers in a truly captivating way.
CZ Guest: American Style Icon
A lovely look at the world's most glamorous gardener.
Fashion House, by Megan Hess
Kit Kemp: A Living Space
Encyclopaedia of Roses
Collette Dinnigan: Obsessive Creative
AND ONE MORE...
Kate Spade's new book, Things We Love, an illustrated guide to the colourful quirkiness of New York's most playful fashion brand.
MOST SURPRISING BOOKSHOP
The Strand New York
The Strand is full of bookish surprises, particularly the top floor, where you can find rare (and valuable) vintage fashion and architecture titles at low prices. It's where many New York stylists and merchandisers source the books that provide the backdrops to stores like Kate Spade and J. Crew. In 2013, The Strand extended its reach when it opened an outpost in the newly renovated Club Monaco store in the Flatiron District; offering more covetable first editions and sublime hard-to-find titles.
Potterton Books in London's Chelsea and Rizzoli in New York are also great places to find beautiful and unusual books for your library.
THE MOST GORGEOUS WALK IN THE WORLD
The walk around the spectacular peninsula of Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera, which begins at David Niven's pink villa (above), which Dodi supposedly bought as a hideaway from Diana, and continues onto the charming village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and its pretty beach Plage de Paloma, then onto the glamorous Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, before heading around the cape to Somerset Maugham's former home Villa Mauresque and finally to the staggeringly fabulous house and gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. (More images below.)
No wonder it's regarded as one of the most beautiful walks in the world.
FAVOURITE HOTEL OF 2013 (#1)
The Royal Riviera, Cap Ferrat
Where the service is so kind that you won't be able to believe a hotel could be so thoughtful.
FAVOURITE CITY OF 2013 (#1)
Charleston, South Carolina
No wonder there's a media buzz about it.
FAVOURITE NEW FLOWER
The Charles de Gaulle rose.
It's not only the perfect colour of mauve-pink, its scent is also intoxicating.
THE MOST WELCOME NEWS OF 2013
The French fashion house of Dior is to fund the restoration of Marie Antoinette's rustic hideaway at Versailles.
Such wonderful news Dior.
If only more French fashion houses took such initiatives.
MOST SUBLIME HIDEAWAY
Harbour Island, a tiny speck of style hidden away on the edge of the Bahamas.
FAVOURITE NEW PARIS RESTAURANT
Salon Pompadour at the Restaurant 1728, Paris.
MOST SURPRISING ACHIEVEMENT
My latest book Provence and the Cote d'Azur has already sold out in many bookstores in Melbourne, just two weeks after its release. (Avenue Bookstore has just ordered 30 more copies, if you'd like one. They're lovely for a gift, or a perfect if you're thinking of heading to Provence this year.)
Thank you so much to all of you who have bought it. I'm astounded and grateful.
(And for those who have emailed me regarding US pub dates, I believe it's being released in 2014.)
FAVOURITE NEW HOBBY
Everyone seems to be doing it. Some people are even going on watercolour holidays. (Wouldn't it be wonderful to do one on the French Riviera?)
Some of the best are by Paris Breakfast's blog (above).
Even Sibella Court's doing watercolours (above) in her usual stylish way.
(PS Congrats on your new baby Sibella.)
MOST GLORIOUS GARDEN OF 2013
HRH The Prince of Wales' and the Duchess of Cornwall's garden at Highgrove.
(And the Garden Tour people were wonderful too.)
BEST WAY TO CAPTURE YOUR HOUSE
Estate cartography and hand-made watercolour garden plans, such as these by Catherine O'Neill.
BEST PROPERTY OFFERED FOR SALE IN 2013
Tricia Guild's Tuscany estate.
FAVOURITE CITY OF 2013 (#2)
(If you've been watching American Horror Story with Jessica Lange, Angela Basset and Kathy Bates, the NoLa backdrop has been an added bonus.)
DESIGNER / BLOGGER TO WATCH
Sara Ruffin Costello, who moved from New York to New Orleans and then watched her career explode.
This is an example of her interior design work (above), but you can see more of her in the February 2014 issue of House Beautiful, where she appears as the Pop-Up Guest Editor.
EXCITING NEW HOTEL TO BOOKMARK FOR 2014
The Washington School House Hotel.
FAVOURITE NEW LONDON RESTAURANT
Aubaine in Mayfair.
So pretty that the food is almost an after-thought.
FAVOURITE HOTEL OF 2013 (#2)
Banke Hotel, Paris
MOST SURPRISING MOMENT OF 2013
In wrapping up the writing of the Picnic at Hanging Rock book (or the backstory behind the haunting story), we were touring Joan Lindsay's home, Mulberry Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula.
After the property manager and I had closed all the windows and blinds and locked all the doors, I paused in front of the house to take a quick photo on my iPhone. It was only when I arrived home and flicked through them that I noticed a pale face in the top window (above).
The mystery of Joan Lindsay and Picnic at Hanging Rock just deepens and deepens...
LOOKING FORWARD TO...
Gourmet Traveller January 2014 issue
Thank you GT for the lovely 6-page spread on my Provence book. And for being so lovely to deal with.
Can't wait to see this fabulous new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, the new Wes Anderson film that everyone's talking about. (And seemingly everyone is in!)
Wishing you all a wonderful break this Christmas and New Year holiday.
Thank you all for your kind words this year.