Sunday, December 11, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor had a lot of jewels, doo dah, doo dah

Last weekend I made a quickie trip to Manhattan to view Elizabeth Taylor's mind-boggling collection of jewels, designer clothes, and all sorts of STUFF before they went on the auction block.  I think today is the last day of the exhibit, as a matter of fact.

At any rate, here is a brief writeup on the exhibit:

Originally, I was going to take my Mom with me for this exhibit. My friend Colleen was interested too and in fact I bought three tickets. My Mom didn't go, and it's a bummer because she would definitely have appreciated this. She's a decade younger than Liz Taylor and Liz was "the it girl" during my Mom's younger years. She even has a coat very similar to the one Liz wore in Butterfield 8 (and now I have it).

I had hoped to get up early enough to make it back down to City Bakery for a care package of their pretzel croissants. I was going to take a half dozen home with me. Alas, I woke up about the time I had hoped to be walking out the door. Plenty of time to make it to Christie's, but not enough to go down to 18th street and then back up to Rockefeller Center.

When we got to Christie's (across from the Rainbow Room entrance at Rockefeller Center) the line was already starting to form. We were third in line but it quickly grew behind us. One lady a few steps behind us was all dolled up like Liz Taylor in her middle years. Not the caftan years, a bit slimmer than that. Bouffant hairdo, lots of makeup, and wearing a sort of evening gown with a black "mink" coat. Visions of a Star Trek convention briefly passed before my eyes...

The exhibit starts with all of her jewelry boxes (or rather, all the ones they were auctioning, no doubt there were many more). A LOT of jewelry boxes. She was much loved by a lot of wealthy people! As we waited to go upstairs to the start of the main exhibit, there was a continuous loop playing of snippets of her movies and a few of her gowns were on display in the lobby. Keep in mind - Christie's used ALL of its display space for this exhibit. This was museum quality. Very well lit, well spaced, descriptions for everything (which of course it had to be, this is the exhibit before the actual auction).

The exhibit then started upstairs with her many different gowns and some recognizable clothes. For instance, they had the daisy applique "hot pants" ensemble she wore on the plane when visiting her first grandchild for the first time (age 39). Yes, Hot Pants Gramma. I saw the photo (online) and she even had white go-go boots for the trip. No, the go-go boots were not there.

They grouped her clothes together, for instance, one room was for the "caftan era". Yes, I know she was not in the best shape during this time, with many health issues and overweight. These caftans were just stunning, and made by a variety of designers. I'd be more than happy to wear many of them. Some of her clothes in this exhibit were in appallingly bad taste (even though very expensive and "camp"), but most of them were fabulous. One set was a layering of a dress and other items, all in different flower prints. And pleated, IIRC. Just, ugh. But that was the exception rather than the rule I'd say. Oh yeah, and the sequined jacket with her Cleopatra face in various angles all over the back of it. Not her finest hour (and I think that jacket was from a famous designer, too). They had her two wedding dresses to each marriage to Richard Burton, for instance. GOR-GEOUS. Just beautiful. I wonder, now that I think about it, if I saw anything from the Larry Fortensky years. Shudder.

There was a small room which was designed to look like a replica of her walk in closet for her handbags. SOME of her handbags, correction. Just how big was her house? or houses? Where did she put all this stuff? What if she wanted to wear a certain pair of shoes and it turned out to be at her one coastal house and she was at the house on the other coast? Awk-ward!

There was a huge pile of her Louis Vuitton luggage. Many of them had her special luggage tags: lavender, with the word MINE! on each one. Wouldn't her steamer trunk look lovely in the living room?

There was a collection of her Chanel items - handbags, belts and suits. There was the outfit she wore when she was awarded her OBE. Yes, the one she wore before the Queen. A lavender pantsuit. One room had an assembling of a handful of her director's chairs. OK, I WANT a director's chair that says Elizabeth Taylor! There was even one that said Richard Burton.

Her jewelry went on for room after room. Mostly (if not all) bespoke jewelry - don't forget that. Van Cleef and Arpels. Bvlgari. Boucheron. Cartier. This was absolutely jewels fit for royalty and it's utterly amazing that one person owned all of this. I have to ask - is there ANY celebrity today who even comes close to this? That kind of glamour has gone out of style with celebs, hasn't it? Or not? And no, I'm not referring to the Kardashians (shudder).   The friend who went with me has friends who work for auction houses and they told her that these jewels would disappear into the Persian Gulf, never to be seen again.  I believe it, once they get bid up, who else could afford them?

There was yet another room with her various artwork. A Van Gogh (Vue de l’Asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy) was my favorite. I hope it doesn't go to a private collection, never to be seen again.

And I have to point out that a portion of the proceeds is going to her charity, ETAF. This isn't all for her estate.

I am so glad I went. This was the last chance to get even a glimpse of the life of one of Hollywood's legends - and I say that even though I'm not an E! watcher or a People magazine reader (OK, OK, except when the Sexiest Man Issue comes out). She had a hand in planning for this auction, and you felt somewhat like you were at her wake - but a happy wake, not one where everyone was sad and crying. A celebration of her life. She definitely Lived Life Large.

I only wish I could take a day off and head up to watch the actual auction. Talk about people watching extraordinaire.  I should have mentioned one thing I wish I did: I didn't step back from the exhibit and just watch. I was so intent on viewing everything, and reading various placards, that I didn't just stop and watch the people. Obviously I saw the people hovering near me, and heard snippets of conversations... but I should have stepped back and let the room flow around me for a while.

And there you have it! 

One photo from the weekend (none were allowed in the exhibit, of course):

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Charleston in B&W

I spent part of this week in the Low Country, visiting my house at the beach.  It's time to "winterize" which means turning the settings from AC to heat (with a low threshold of course - 50 degrees before the heat will come on.  Or would that be a high threshold?). 

Incidentally, while I was in Charleston I had lunch at a very fine restaurant quite by accident.  I called FIG during my commute to Charleston and they were closed for lunch but recommended Husk instead. 

Husk serves Low Country cuisine and it is all locally sourced. Sean Brock, the chef, won the James Beard "Best Chef Southeast" in 2010. The restaurant is housed in a beautiful Queen Anne building which was built in the late 1800s. Below is the link about Sean, but click around and look at the photos of this pretty building, too.

I found a NY Times article on Husk as well. What luck - I hadn't even heard of Husk just hours before I ate there.

At any rate, I spent the afternoon wandering around Charleston.  I have fifteen web-worthy photos from that day, of which five I mirrored in B&W.  Here they are:

And just one color one:

If you'd like to see all my photos from the week, here is the link:

Monday, October 10, 2011

15 photos from Annecy, the Haute Savoie, and Chamonix

I got home from France a month ago.  These are my favorite photos from the trip.  There is no donkey in these photos!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It has been too long...

Where did the summer go?  Has it really been 2.5 months since my last post?  Ouch.  I wonder if anyone who used to follow me will notice I posted a new photo today.

It has been a busy summer!  I got home from Norway in July and the summer flew until my trip to Annecy/Lyon/Paris in early September.  Heck, I left a MONTH ago on that trip!  How did your summer go?

I took this photo in the Opera Garnier (gift shop).  Love Repetto.  I hope my niece decides to dance, I will take her to Paris for her shoes.  I myself bought three pairs at their store on Rue de la Paix.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Norway... or Switzerland?

I'm so glad I finally visited Norway after putting off the trip for years.  Something else always came up.  "Next year", I'd say.  This was the year and Backroads was the host.  Hat tip to Matt and Lucia our fantastic fearless leaders (which I guess made the rest of us fearless followers). 

And now I know what I'll find there:  towering mountains cleaved by fjords; glaciers still crashing, slow motion, into the terrain; thundering waterfalls and shoe-soaking springs; ferries which dot the fjords and which are in turn dwarfed by the mountains - and don't forget all the sheep. Puffy clouds and blue skies, except when they are thick and heavy with rain or fog.   Tiny red (or yellow, or green) clapboard summer homes mirrored in the clear green fjords.  Ancient stave churches that were contemporaries of pre-Norman invasion England (!!) and, more recently, Victorian homes and English churches.  Words that look suspiciously close to German.  Friendly people with an enviable quality of life.  Summer sun that just won't quit (except when it's, um, raining, or foggy).  I am curious about the opposite effect of the midnight sun - now I'm thinking about a winter trip on the Hurtigruten to see the Northern Lights.  Ooh, wouldn't that be fun. 

Stunningly beautiful scenery and stunningly spendy costs.  900 NOK for cab fare between Oslo's airport and my hotel - each way!  That's an anecdote that is going to have legs.  Norway looks like Switzerland, kind of, but it's even more expensive.  No mean feat. 

I think I want to work for a Norwegian oil company - I met a guy on one of the flights who said employees get something like four weeks off for every two weeks you work. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011


And now, Norway.  Souvenirs, Vikings and Trolls.  Don't forget the rain...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Magpie Moments #3

Well, my weekly "feature" is somehow turning monthly...  and I see I lost a follower!  Bummer!

I have had two weeks of torture at work (EOQ panic) but now it's over and for my next trip I'm heading to the Land of the Midnight Sun.  (AKA the Land of Ice and Snow...)

Have a seat in these chairs below, and enjoy a few of the links I like this week.

Thank you, World!

I will see three new UNESCO sites!

Check out these beautiful and colorful photos!

Practical writing tips from famous authors

Jonathan Spira of Executive Road Warrior has asked me if I'd like to write an article for his online magazine.

Some great ideas for charity.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Magpie Moments, #2

I said this would be a new weekly feature.  Sigh.  I did make it ONE week...  and now I'm late with the second one.  First came the visit with family over a long Memorial Day weekend.  My niece and nephew are 5 and 7, respectively and I want to have memories with them when they are little.  Now that I am back home again, I'm in a big fat hurry to 1.  cobble together a 160 page photo book, complete with text, in only THREE months and 2.  get back in the saddle of training for my first century ride...  neither of which are leaving me a lot of free time.

So without further ado, here are some links I've liked in the past few weeks.  This week they are all about Paris. 

But first, a photo from the Memorial Day weekend.  Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Not a photo from Paris, I have plenty of time and material for that later!

A poignant post.. a reality that is coming to an end...

I found a cool website on Paris writers.

I like her creativity with photography, and her series of Parisian colors.

An eerie tale; could it be true?

I wish I had half of her talent!

I plan to see this movie as soon as it comes to town.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A pretty hike in Switzerland

Last summer in July I took my parents to Italy and Switzerland.  During our stay in Switzerland we stayed in Wengen which is in the Bernese Oberland. 

We visited the Jungfraujoch early one morning and on the way back down to Wengen I departed from the train to hike the rest of the way.  The trails are well marked and it was a beautiful day for hiking - sunny and pleasantly warm.  The walk was maybe an hour, tops.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Magpie Moments

I follow many blogs and when I returned home from my week abroad I had well over 1000 new blog posts waiting for me...  so hard to keep up!  As quickly as I read through them, many more multiply in their place.

While I have your attention, do you like the new name above?  I am going to try (try hard, I promise) to make this a weekly feature and I tried to think of something catchy.  It went from Blogging Bijoux Found (which isn't too bad I suppose) to Sparkly Bits (also not bad?) and the sparkly made me think of Magpie which made me think of the name.  Feel free to comment.  My previous post similar to this I called "This week I love" which sounds too gooey.  My hope is that you might start to follow some of these blogs which I enjoy - or just get a kick out of the randomness of it all. 

Here are a few (only a few, alas) which have caught my eye in the past week. I would love to put up many more but I meant to post this on the past Friday (my planned day for this) and here it is Monday. I know, I said I would try really hard and here I'm already late for my debut.

Here they are.  Oh wait, a photo first, gotta have a photo!  I took the below in Pisaq, Peru in November 2010. 

Follow these for a healthy happy life.
I love lists, don't you?

I find this blog to be very inspiring on a few levels.  Her first book is Number 2 on the WSJ list of books!  Her name is Holly Becker and the book is called Decorate (decor8)
Check out her bad self!

What iPad apps do you favor?
Having just bought an iPad last month, I am collecting cool apps

If you need a Tuscany fix:
Will location-scout for food...

Living the dream!  Check these guys out, I am so very very jealous.  Very.
Now why didn't I think of this first?

I will close with exhibits currently showing in Paris.  I saw the Caillebotte exhibit...  and the pre-Raphaelites when they were in Washington DC.  I dragged myself past the Hotel de Ville exhibit, too tired to wait in line for an hour (plus it was almost closing time by the time I got there...). I dearly wish I had seen the Chagall exhibit, because while in Amsterdam I bought an original lithograph of a study from a stained glass window Chagall made...  from a collector's studio. 
Is there another guerilla vacation in my near future?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Visiting the Jordaan (Amsterdam)

I am spending the morning sorting photos and bouncing back and forth between my photo albums.  I love the finished product but reviewing the hundreds if not thousands of photos is very time consuming!

I spent a morning last month walking in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam.  Looks like they like red as much as the Parisians.  This home was owned, once upon a time, by Pieter Adriaenszoon Raep (also known as P.A. Turnip). 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shake your groove thang

More from my recent visit to Paris.  We are no longer in the 2ieme arrondissement, we have skipped up to Montmartre.  I spent the entire day with a guide, Michael Osman, who is now a friend!  We had a fantastic day.  I saw the below outfit on a mannequin at the very start of our walk through Montmartre.  Where fabric stores and naughty clubs collide. 

I took a second photo of this where I stepped back for more details.  The better to see the hot pink boa.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Bourse

More of my May 1 walk in the 2d Arrondissement.

Not exactly a red balloon...

But the next best thing.  Near Rue Reaumur, 2d Arrondissement, Paris.

On May 1 (the French labor day) I walked from Rue Montorgueil to the Opera Garnier.  I spied this along my path. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Red Hat Society (a teaser...)

I visited Keukenhof on Monday of last week (end of April)... and in the queue to get tickets were ladies from Belgium who were members of the Red Hat Society!  I happen to like the combination of Red and Purple (and Orange and Pink while we are at it...) so here are two photos.  The first, some tulips I stumbled across, and second, the ladies of the Red Hats!  My Mom is a Red Hat so I had to take their photo...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where is this?

I will give one hint (for now):  I just got back from Paris.

Where am I?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Holland: glorious spring!

It's midnight and I wanted to get to sleep by 10 PM because I have another full day tomorrow.

Here are some photos and I'll fill in the details later.

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