Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Garden & Design Books For Your Christmas Wish List


The pub date for this much-anticipated book about one of London's most legendary style icons keeps changing, but latest news has its release date as Dec 1. The book, which is certain to be as flamboyant as its subject matter, is both celebration of Anouska Hempel's (Lady Weinberg's) design achievements and an intimate insight into her world and life. The book is divided into thirteen chapters, and includes insights into the interiors and gardens of her country home Cole Park, her yacht 'Beluga', her hotels – including Blakes in South Kensington – plus dozens of other interiors, architecture and garden projects.

There's a wonderful slideshow of her country home Cole Park in the inimitable Archi Digest (here), from which these images are taken.

Cole Park is renowned for its gardens, which feature dozens of clipped topiary and box shrubs, creating a fiercely architectural look.

Anouska's bedroom at Cole Park is partly decorated in hessian, or burlap, which shows the designer has a quiet sense of humour beneath her carefully controlled facade.

An interior view of Hempel's yacht 'Beluga', which is part pirate ship, part floating Louis Vuitton trunk.

Written by Marcus Binney.
Published by Thames & Hudson.
December 2014. 
 $54 (Amazon)


It's only just been published but already Stuart Rattle's book is causing great excitement among gardeners, designers, bloggers and book lovers. Produced as a tribute to Rattle after he passed away last year, it's a beautiful look at his much-loved garden and home at Musk Farm, and his unique style of decorating and design, which won him so many fans over the decades.
A true gentleman, Stuart's legacy lives on in this stunning title.

Published by Lantern/Penguin. 
October 2014.
Foreword by Paul Bangay.
Photography by Earl Carter and Simon Griffiths.


England does country houses – and country house gardens – like no other nation on earth, and this elegant title takes us behind the grand gates to see inside dozens of beautifully designed garden spaces.With chapters on perennial favourites such as Hidcote, Kifsgate and other gorgeous English gardens, it would make a lovely Christmas gift for those who love – and frequent – these inspirational places. It's already become a bestseller on Amazon. There's a lovely article on the book here

Written by George Plumptre.
Published by Frances Lincoln.
October 2014.
$25 (Amazon)


Another garden lover, New York designer Robert Couturier is almost as well known for his grand country garden in Connecticut as he is for his urban interiors in Manhattan. With a preface by Carolyne Roehm and photos by Tim Street-Porter, this book is just as sophisticated as its subject matter.

Published by Rizzoli. October 2014.


Oh, how I would have loved to have written this book, but Jackie Bennett has done a much better job! Featuring writers' garden far and wide, including Virginia Woolf's charming home, it's a delightful look at how literary inspiration can often stem (sorry for the pun) from cultivating a garden. Jackie is the former editor of the Garden Design Journal and a regular writer for The English Garden magazine, and has done a superb job of capturing the connection between writing and horticulture. There's a great Q&A interview here.

Published by Frances Lincoln.
November 2014

And a few more beautiful recommendations for the Christmas stocking...

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Quiet Return of Bold Colour...

Giambattista Valli.
(Via Giambattista Valli's Instagram)

Maison Valentino.

Manuel Canovas, Paris.

Bhangarh, India.

Giambattista Valli. 
(Via Giambattista Valli's Instagram)

Giambattista Valli. 
(Via Giambattista Valli's Instagram)

Anna Spiro.
(Published this month.)

Sujan Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur.
(Opening next month.)

Sujan Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur.
(Opening next month.)

Sujan Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur.
(Opening next month.)

Hamish Bowles, World of Interiors.
(November 2014 issue.)

More beautiful photos here.)

Hamish Bowles, World of Interiors.
(November 2014 issue.)

Hamish Bowles, World of Interiors.
(November 2014 issue.)

Hamish at Cecil Beaton's former home, Reddish House.
(Via Hamish's Instagam)

The Boathouse, Sydney.

The Boathouse, Sydney.

Watt 1875, London.

Designers Guild, London

Herm├Ęs, France.

The Exhibitionist Hotel, London
(Opening this month)

My new book. (Still a WIP.)

Friday, October 3, 2014

News, Shoes, Dior and More...


As mentioned briefly in previous posts (ever so briefly, for fear of boring people), I've been busy writing and designing the next Paris book, due to to be published by my lovely publishers MUP in April 2015. My apologies if you've emailed and I've not replied: the book is now behind deadline and that's never professional, so it's become a priority. But it's coming along – albeit in fits and starts – and all remaining emails will be returned this weekend!

If you've thought about writing your own book, be it on Paris or another subject, I'll do a post on pitching ideas and designing mock-ups next week. You do have a better chance with a publisher if you can do a 10-page mock-up: publishers – like most people in this Instagram age – now think in images.

Publishers are inundated with proposals, but there are ways around the fray!


For those who love both books and Dioresque glamour and grandeur, a new title by the New York-based Pointed Leaf Press offers wonderful insights into this legendary French fashion house.

Monsieur Dior: Once Upon A Time is an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the ten years Christian Dior ran his esteemed label, and includes some beautiful images of both his designs and the models (mannequins) and society names who paraded them.

Author Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni interviewed dozens of people who had a direct relationship with the designer such as Olivia de Havilland, John Fairchild, Pierre Cardin, and many others, including his vendeuses, clients, models, and muses. 

It's a lovely look at the flip side of the fashion business.

Published by Pointed Leaf Press in October.


There has been much talk in the media lately about shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo's latest offering to its clients – customised designs. The Ferragamo heel, particularly the Vara (shown), has been a staple in many stylish wardrobes for years, but the designs can sometimes feel a little... dowagerish. Well, now you can 'Amal' them up a little with your own personalised take on the classic lines. 

Stripes... polka dots... juxtaposing tones. Ferragamo doesn't mind. They'll even do a little plaque with your initials on the sole. 

The service is now available in the Sydney boutique and many other stores.
It's a great idea if you want your own unique design – or create something special for a wedding or another event.


Pointed Leaf Press has also brought out a new book that fabric and passementarie fans will love. It's called The French Ribbon and it celebrates France’s deep-rooted tradition of ribbon-making from the time when ribbons were used to express individuality and style in both dress and everyday life. 

There are ribbons made from cotton, silk, satin and velvet, as well as metallic threads and other materials. It's an unusual subject to produce a book about, but with increasing numbers of fabric, textile, and fashion lovers out there, it's certain to be popular. 

Published October 2014.


Do you use Luxe Guides? I do. They're easy enough to slip into your handbag and read on the plane. The copy can be catty –  some narratives sound like they're written by a funny gay friend after a G&T or three – and some of the places are a bit too cool and edgy (cool doesn't always = the best), but their researchers are pretty much on the ball when it comes to knowing their destinations.

Well, former Lonely Planet publisher Simon Westcott has recently bought the company from founder Grant Thatcher (who's since retired to England), and the former has plans for digital expansion. Westcott was involved with Mr and Mrs Smith (another stylish guidebook company), but bowed out when he bought Luxe. Will be interesting to see where the brand goes, digitally speaking...

The problem with guidebooks is finding one you like. I find Luxe's font is slightly too small to read. Some friends use marked-up Google Maps; others rely on crowd sourcing (Trip Advisor, etc). I like the tips in the Financial Review newspaper,  The Australian, Conde Nast's Traveler or New York Times' T magazine, but the best bet is to find someone whose aesthetic you like and mine them for info. (I have a couple of lovely friends who travel a lot and are generous with their insights.) Frommer's was also good before Google all-but-destroyed it, while foreign correspondents and well-travelled friends like to call on Bradt's.


Finally, the LVMH Group, which owns Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Guerlain, Bulgari and many more high-end fashion companies, is reportedly looking to purchase Amanresorts International. 

Widely regarded as having some of the world's most beautiful hotels (George and Amal were married at Aman Canal Grande Venice), Aman properties have always been noted for their architecture (Ed Tuttle's designs have their own followers) as much as their prices ($1000/n). LVMH has only just started expanding into the hotel market with two small properties, but this acquisition would push them into the big time. It makes you wonder if LVMH will subtly decorate the Aman interiors with their own products? Vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunks in the luxury safari tents? Guerlain fragrances offered in gift shops? 

Could be LVMH's idea of cross-pollinisation...?

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