Soft Chamois

Greige is my favorite color

Or at least, now it is. I am currently designing a Midtown Manhattan Apartment and in the paint selection part of the process and have found SO many beautiful neutrals to choose from. We are going for a soothing skyscraper aerie….cool grays in the living areas to go with the GORGEOUS marble kitchens and bathrooms, and smooth whispers of beige to inspire sweet dreams in the bedroom. These are the ones I am narrowing in on:

 

For the Living Room

I. Classic Gray

This color is part of the Classic Color Collection and I just keep coming back to it. It is timeless and elegant and the perfect grey for the clients’ bright south facing living room. Isn’t it just divine? I am told this has the slightest hint of lavender in it which would really be the only thing that would force me to put the kibosh on it for this particular project. But I’m holding out hope once we test it on the walls.

II. Athena 858

What is the difference between this color and the classic grey, you might ask? Good question. I’ll test this one and report back.

 

III. Pale Oak

Pale oak definitely has more beige in it and I am here for that. It’s so velvety and lush! This would free us up to use more taupe and warm woods in the decor too, (5 million swatches currently in consideration).

 

IV. Halo

Halo is part of the Off White color collection, and feels sophisticated and serene. I am not a massive fan of midcentury decor but this living room is really nailing it in my opinion. I could live in this beautiful room for sure!

For the Bedrooms

I. Edgecomb Grey

Edgecomb grey is a modern, organic neutral that is much beloved by designers. This one is really dependent on the light in the room as it can go more grey (see Image I below) or more beige (see Image II). For the bedrooms we are leaning toward more of a beige so we will have to test this one out, as the Master has south facing windows and the guest room has north facing ones.

 

II. Baby FAwn

Baby Fawn is another beautiful shade that really plays tricks on my eyes, as a number of images show it looking near identical to Edgecomb grey. I am told, however, that it has slightly warmer undertones that make it lean more beige, as in the below image.

III. Moonlight White

This color is part of the Off-White Color collection, offering subtle nuances of whites that suit tranquil, serene environments as well as creates color-enhancing accents for dynamic spaces. How stunning is this bedroom? I really, really love this color.

 

IV. Ashwood

This is described as a pale grey but see a lot more warmth in it. Here it is pictured in two different bedrooms.

V. Soft Chamois

This one is described as lying somewhere between gold and grey, and it exudes warmth and serenity. Definitely the cosiest of the bunch. I am really loving it displayed in the bedroom below with the ivory headboard and neutral rug.

 

There you have it, the finalists. These were narrowed down from a selection of hundreds,  so I feel pretty good about where we have landed. Next step is test mode! Can’t wait to see where we land. Which are your favorites?

xoxo

Miss Sheiky

Soft Chamois

Spotlight on: Pierre Fray

Today I’d like to share a glimpse of my favorite upholstery company. Like most of my fondest obsessions, I discovered Maison Pierre Fray on Instagram. The French House creates and manufactures fabrics, wallpapers, and custom made carpets and rugs that are wildly inventive and beautiful- drawing inspiration from sources as varied as the French 18th century, contemporary art, and various ethnic groups and traditions. Put simply, their upholstery is divine.

Today I’m  sharing my fave five from their beautiful selection. You can scan the rest of their offerings- and fall down the subsequent decorating rabbit hole- Here

 

Le Couple

(Print on Linen)

There is a scene in the film “What Dreams May Come” where Robin William’s character goes into the depths of hell to track down his wife and finds it full of drowning, writhing bodies. This print reminds me of that scene. You would think that would be a turnoff- but I like it. I’m imagining this on the ottoman in the dressing room of a repressed tech executive.

 

Street Dyptique

(Print on Cotton)

This design reproduces the work of young French artist Charles Pringuay, whose highly energetic artworks blend classical technique with street art. This print is just so ALIVE.  I’m loving it for Louis XV dining chairs gathered around a massive stone dining table in the soho loft of an Italian renaissance man. Or a single bergere in a room otherwise tastefully filled with various solids in light blues, whites, creams, and pops of red.

 

 

Soleil Noir

(Print on Linen & Cotton)

Doesn’t this one remind you of Maman, the sculpture by Louise Bourgeois? (See below)

 

I’m seeing it on the walls in the bedroom of an especially daring, bachelor of a certain age with a massive steel 4 poster bed and sumptuous Pratesi sheets. Handcuffs not included.

 

Garden Party

(Print on Linen & cotton)

This one is a little more bucolic and features cats and monkeys, living in harmony- which we know is fantastical because cats don’t live in harmony with anyone. At any rate I’m loving this for the window seat of a little girl’s room, framed in pink curtains tied back with green silk tassels.

 

La Smala

(embroidery)

Finally, we arrive at La Smala, a collaboration with the students of the School of Decorative Arts in Paris. La Smala portrays Native American characters in their own headdresses and clothing, with embroidery expertly deployed to emphasize certain components and bring the images into 3 dimensions. I am loving this for the Brooklyn brownstone foyer of a particularly woke couple (cough cough), so no one gets the wrong idea. Or for a midcentury daybed paired with camel leather sofa in the Flatiron loft of someone who implicitly trusts my sense of whimsy and promises to love it. Either or.

 

There is so much more to love from this truly exceptional house, I can’t wait to bring one of these fabrics to life. As ever – thank you for following along with what inspires and delights me.

xoxox

Miss Sheiky

Soft Chamois

Love & Marriage

Winston and Clementine Churchill

 

A friend of mine recently shared a 2014 article from the Atlantic,  How to Save Marriage in America, that I really enjoyed and promptly shared with my husband and a few others. The premise of the article is that college educated women are the most important drivers of the new model of marriage- one that has morphed from its reliance on traditional ideals (as they state it: he brings home the bacon and she cooks it) to a more equitable partnership built on family. “Unlike their European counterparts, increasingly ambivalent about marriage,”author Richard Reeves notes, “college graduates in the United States are reinventing marriage as a child-rearing machine for a post-feminist society and a knowledge economy. It’s working, too: Their marriages offer more satisfaction, last longer, and produce more successful children.” The crux of the article is that well educated Americans are waiting longer to get married, make more thoughtful decisions on their partners, are wealthier when they enter into said union,  experience romantic love with one another to boot, and then take the final step to become parents. “Money, Marriage, Maternity: in that order.” 

It is a fascinating look at the dissolution of a traditional marriage mold that doesn’t suit the demands of our increasingly demanding economy. Both parents bring home the bacon and share a value system that puts family first. These are couples who gladly spend the weekend at children’s activities as a departure from their office lives and a way to spend quality time with their most prized relations. But what perhaps goes unmentioned is the strength of the traditional marriage construct in these post-feminist marriages. Unrelated to the act of child rearing, many couples continue to divide the minutiae of marriage along traditional party lines, with a twist. I cook, he does the dishes. I do the laundry, he takes out the trash. I coordinate child care, he ensures those bills are paid, and promptly. The New York Times, rather humorously, touches on this in another (newer) article, titled “Taking Out the Trash? That’s Still a Man’s Job, Even for the Liberal Coastal Elite.”   But it’s a division of responsibility I hear time and again from fellow professional married women, And it seems to work well, or as well as it can, under the circumstances.

In the end, the negotiation of where time is devoted between a couple (your value system quote unquote), is one that continues to evolve. I am reminded of this 1970’s New York Magazine cover, which begs the question: “He Works, She Works, But How Does the House Work?” This might seem like a hilariously retro question, but it is a central one. Keeping the house might seem frivolous but where else are family lives built? 

In the end, marriage as a construct might be evolving but the benefits a good marriage confers on its participants, and especially their children, appears undeniable. And with that – I am reminded of Sir Winston’s reflection that“My ability to persuade my wife to marry me was quite my most brilliant achievement…” Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person of eight to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. And yet despite his myriad achievements, however, his 56 year relationship with his wife Clementine, one that bore 5 children, was his most revered.

In a letter that Winston penned to Clementine in 1935, twenty-seven years into their marriage, he said this:

“Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and to millions tragic and terrible years?”

Soft Chamois

Back on the Wagon

Mmmm breakast.

The weather is getting warmer, I am rapidly approaching the end of what is a socially acceptable amount of time spent in hibernation from society, and we happen to have a number of social events coming up that I am too vain to look awful for- so it’s time I joined the land of the (healthy) living again . On the same token, I’m not a masochist. Healthy living to me means a lot of long walks, a few short runs, and the addition of green smoothies to my repertoire.

On the latter point, I’ve been looking to expand my repertoire of green smoothie recipes. Our tried and true recipe is this one:

1 bag spinach

1 half container Vanilla greek yoghurt

2 bananas

1 very healthy spoonful of peanut butter

1 equally healthy spoonful of coconut oil

A splash of almond or soy milk

And we love it! But it tastes almost too good to be good for you. So I’m looking to try some recipes that taste a little bit worse. Hahah. In all seriousness, I feel like variety is important here. So I rounded up a few additional recipes that looked delicious!

Spinach & Orange Smoothie

Via . I often crave orange juice in the morning so this would be a super refreshing antidote to that. Plus it’s super simple! I also love that this recipe came from a website called Sassy Moms. I rest my case.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 navel orange, peeled
  • 1/2 banana, peeled
  • 1 cup tightly packed organic spinach
  • 1/4 cup coconut water, adjusted as desired
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, optional
  • Ice

Spinach Detox

Via.  This one is full of Vitamin C and anti-inflammatories, plus an additional dose of caffeine which is always welcome in the old system.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green tea, chilled
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 cup loosely packed organic baby kale (or another baby green)
  • 1 cup cucumber
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 avocado

Kale Pina colada

Finally, this kale pina colada recipe really spoke to me. It sounds  delushous and nutrushous.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 large hand-fulls (~50 g) kale ~the leaves of about 8 stalks
  • 1/3 c (~80 g) pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 (~50 g) ripe avocado
  • 1 scoop protein powder (i used vanilla)
  • 1 c ice cubes

I’ll report back when my clothes are falling off of me and/or I get my modeling contract. In the meantime, try these out and let me know what you think! xoxo

Miss Sheiky

Soft Chamois

Design Spotlight: Cathy Kincaid

Today I wanted to share the gorgeous work of my favorite Interior Designer, Cathy Kincaid.

Kincaid is a Dallas based designer with unmatched elegance, and a talent for executing traditional style that channels a sense of the fresh and exotic. Her dexterous use of color is another hallmark, in a style that manages both abundance and restraint in equal measure.

This home in the Highland Park area of Dallas is breathtaking. The Gracie Wallpaper is beyond stunning and I have a special fondness for the sofa as we have the same one in our own living room! This room is layered with beautiful objects but the overall effect remains clear and bright.

 

Don’t you just die?

 

Moving onto a dining space. Look at the incredible Zuber wallpaper below. It’s like eating dinner in the middle of a very chic forest, where only chic animals live. Ha.

 

This bedroom below, from the same Highland Park property referenced above is also divine. Though her signature colors veer toward blues and whites, I love her use of natural cream and green hues in this room. Twin beds can still be incredibly chic!

 

I filed away the below image because of the exquisite grey on the walls. It is such a beautiful shade, isn’t it?

 

The abundant trellises in the sitting room below again play with the concept of bringing the outdoors in, to stunning effect. The detailed moldings on the ceilings and the gorgeous paned doors and door frames elevate the room to another height entirely.

 

I’ve had the below image also bookmarked for ages. I love the interplay of pattern on the ground and bright white spaces as the room gains height, as well as the subtle pops of red in the largely blue and white interior. We have a similar rug in our living room and I absolutely adore it.

 

Below, the insanely gorgeous orangerie she designed at a client’s home in Highland Park. The space, by Dallas architect J. Wilson Fuqua, was based on the 17th century orangeries on the grounds of Versailles. Cathy’s interior is crisp and classic, injecting the space with comfort while maintaining focus on the lush greenery beckoning from outside.

 

“I love the value of ‘the mix,’ Cathy says of her interiors.  “It is the one aspect of design that I adhere to—the old with the new, the ornate with the simple, the refined with the rustic. This approach expresses the personality of the client and charms their guests.” And with that, I leave you with my favorite room, possibly of all time. A Turkish inspired dining room that perfectly bridges the Middle East (faded oriental rugs, Mother-of-pearl bone inlay mirrors), the far east (in its abundance use of Chinoiserie), and western design (in the shapely chairs and crisp linens).

 

Cathy’s work is the ultimate study in contrasts – formal and comfortable, pattern and monochrome, crisp and lush. You can see more of her portfolio here if you’d like to explore more. All images above via Veranda and House Beautiful.

May your Mondays be filled with beauty, wherever the eye lands.

xoxox

Miss Sheiky

 

Soft Chamois

Five Things

This week, amid mounting political chaos, there were also great bearers of hope, wonder, awe and appreciation- on a national and a personal scale. I see it fitting to end the week with a recollection of those moments. Herewith, my Friday five.

 

I. The Inimitable Life of Stephen Hawking

This obituary of Stephen Hawking in the New York Times is soaring and beautiful, just like it’s subject. I read it end to end at 3 am and it captivated me more than any obituary has. What a tremendous man Stephen Hawking was. I feel fortunate to have shared this earth with his brilliance.

An excerpt below, recounting Hawking’s fearlessness – both physically and mentally.

“Asked why he took such risks, Dr. Hawking said, “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

His own spirit left many in awe.

“What a triumph his life has been,” said Martin Rees, a Cambridge University cosmologist, the astronomer royal of England and Dr. Hawking’s longtime colleague. “His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more, around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds — a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination.”

 

II. The Students of #Enough

Students participate in a march in support of the National School Walkout in the Queens borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

I was running errands in downtown Brooklyn Wednesday when I ran into a massive walkout of Brooklyn high school students that stretched a 2 block length of Fulton Street and its width in entirety. “Guns in school? We say No! NRA has Got to Go”, they chanted, marching with determination and purpose. They brought the street to a halt, and in that moment put all of us adults- going about our lives, heads down- to shame. The New York Times summarized their actions thus:

“A month ago, hundreds of teenagers ran for their lives from the hallways and classrooms of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and staff had been shot to death.

On Wednesday, driven by the conviction that they should never have to run from guns again, they walked.

So did their peers. In New York City, in Chicago, in Atlanta and Santa Monica; at Columbine High School and in Newtown, Conn.; and in many more cities and towns, students left school by the hundreds and the thousands at 10 a.m., sometimes in defiance of school authorities, who seemed divided and even flummoxed about how to handle their emptying classrooms.”

Watching this movement take shape has been an incredible reminder of the power of our youth and their ability to effectively organize. They are eloquent defenders of their right to learn in peace, and have exhibited immense courage. They remind us that it is never too late to channel the idealism and energy of our youth, and speak truth to power when it is sorely needed. What a beautiful generation that has arisen out of the ashes of millennial life. If you’d like to support efforts to end gun violence, you may donate to Everytown.org here.

 

III. Baby Smiles

Onward to more personal sources of awe. And I apologize in advance if you thought, rightfully, that perhaps I’d steer clear of child related topics after my magnum opus on parenthood last week. (Speaking of which, thank you so much for your beautiful words and responses to that post. They warmed my heart immensely).

* Note: the above is not a picture of MY baby. It is just A baby, and an exceptionally adorable one at that.

Somewhere between their first 6 and 12 weeks of life, babies start to smile in earnest (versus a reflux smile that everyone was very quick to point out WASN’T REAL). Via Parents: “Your baby’s first real smile says a lot about his development. It’s a sign his vision has improved and he is able to recognize your face. His brain and nervous system have matured enough to eliminate reflex smiles, and he’s now aware that smiling is a way for him to connect with others. Your little one is also beginning to realize his feelings matter and have a direct effect on the people around him. He’ll smile to express pleasure, excitement, contentment, and happiness.”

Our child started smiling these last few weeks, and it has been my absolute favorite development. It is so sweet and wondrous to see your child’s first smile, and every time she does it is a surprise and a delight! My favorite development of the last week for sure.

 

IV. The Best Banana Bread

On cold winter days, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I love to cook, the room happens to get exceptional sunlight, and since I’m on leave, I find joy in serving up exceptionally delicious meals for the whole household. Not to mention, the beauty of providing sustenance for the baby has been that I literally get to eat whatever on earth that I want and the calories magically get transferred to her.

It’s beautiful. God is a woman after all. I always had a sneaking suspicion.

Anyway, this recipe for Banana Bread (with the additional of copious chocolate and peanut butter chips) has been on constant rotation in our home.  It takes just minutes to conjure, and having a loaf ever present on the kitchen counter says home like nothing else can. Try it. You’ll see.

 

V. LOVE

Do you guys watch Love, on Netflix? It’s such a delightfully funny show. The acting, story lines, characters, and settings are all so wonderful. I won’t ruin it with my amateur review (“it’s about a couple? In LA? and their friends?), but it’s the greatest. I look forward to my husband getting home all day- not because I love him or anything, but because we get to watch Love (JUST KIDDING BABE). That’s how into it I am. Watch it and let me know what you think. It’s a perfect activity for the 500th winter weekend of this season.

Wishing you all a wonderful and uplifting weekend!

xxx

Miss Sheiky

Soft Chamois

new life (who dis)

This time my extended absence is wholly justified… You see, at the end of January, my husband and I brought a new baby girl into the world. The last 6 weeks have been both a massive blur and the first time in my life, since childhood, where I have truly lived every moment.

Having a baby is incredible. I’m not sure I heard that much from people going in, quite the contrary actually. More than anything, we were given multiple warnings about how our lives would change: we’d never be able to go out again, we would lose our sense of spontaneity, I might all of a sudden be obese (this was a very real fear), we might never sleep again, I might come down with depression, my husband and I might divorce, in short- life with a baby was made out to be pretty terrible. On account of that, I spent the final weeks leading up to her arrival in a state of mild panic. One night, I cried, convinced that I might not have a motherly instinct after all, and what if I didn’t love her like she deserved to be loved? I wasn’t cut out for this- no, no, take me back please.

Then one Monday in January at 6 am we made our way to Mount Sinai for her scheduled delivery. I cried through multiple attempts to get the IV in, I cried when I had to leave my husband and make my way into the OR alone for what amounted to a 15 minute separation from him, I shook in terror on the surgical table wondering what on earth would happen. And then, between the talk of planned vacations and light hearted medical directives, they called the time, “8:40 a.m.” and I knew she had been born. And then I heard her cry. And it was the most unbelievable, utterly magical, insane moment of my entire life. The carried her past me and I thought surely I had gone to heaven- her perfect complexion, framed with a full head of dark brown fluff, her piercing blue eyes, her tiny little frame. My husband was beside himself. For the umpteenth time that morning, I erupted in tears.

It is difficult to describe how the experience has been, but I will try. People say it is a love that you didn’t know you had, and that is 100% accurate. It is an addictive type of love, a heretofore unattainable high. When they put her little body on my chest in the recovery room, I was beside myself. She was in there, this whole time? This angel’s spirit made tangible in the flesh. I guess I knew that there had been a physical being in there- there were kicks and turns that I felt, and sometimes saw, occur. But it was wholly impossible to link those movements to this little being in reality- it all felt like an illusion. It is an active type of love, one that impels you to do things you never believed possible- including yes, rising out of bed at ungodly hours to attend to her. But it is also one that forces, in that instant, a new hierarchy of the important things in life- one that places her so far above anything else that I previously cared about so as to render the rest near obsolete. We had only been in the hospital for a day or so before I was asking my husband if he was keen on having another.

I don’t know where the days go. We are fortunate enough to have full time help; and yet, I can’t tear myself away from her. She is the most poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of time; I see it in every ounce she gains and every changing facial expression she makes. And suddenly, tearing away for this dinner or that somewhere seems like an utter waste of time. I know I will feel differently as time goes on, and that this is largely the effect of some evolutionary instinct that would impel even the most scatter brained human to take care of her offspring- but nonetheless- I have wholly welcomed the change of pace. For someone who always had to have a full calendar- a trip always on the horizon and some perfect hotel chosen to stay in in that picture perfect locale, it is a wonder of the largest order that some of my greatest joys can be found in the most mundane moments at home.

I’d be remiss not to mention what it means to create one’s own family. Again, this is surely nothing new to anyone who has had children before- but it was and is a revelation to me. When I married M, I knew of course that he would be the father of my children. But I didn’t know how tremendously he would rise to the occasion. I have found in this experience a new well of love for him too, that I didn’t know had been there. The long and short of it is that over the course of a marriage you are able to see so many different sides of a person, and this one of M’s has been so defining of the strength of his character. It’s brought me so much joy. Now, more than ever, I realize how grateful I am to have found him. And how lucky our daughter is too- to have a father like I have in mine.

In some ways, having finally experienced all of this- I find myself wishing I had known it all sooner. If only I’d known how much I’d enjoy marriage, and parenthood, perhaps I would have embarked on it sooner. Or perhaps, it was the prolonged and exciting (sometimes tortuous) journey there that has made the destination all the sweeter. How is one to know why life unfolds the way it does. What I do feel now is that I have tapped into my reason for existence in a very real way. I was telling a good friend the other day that motherhood is one of the rare roles in my life that rewards tenderness. My desire to achieve career wise had made made me such a hardened person, and I hadn’t even realized that until I took an extended absence from the daily battle. That lesson has been eye opening- how can I go back, knowing what I know now of the person I actually am, and reconcile it with the person I was? Luckily, I won’t have that decision forced on me for yet a while. But it has been on my mind all the same.

Until then, I plan to return here more often, having thus emerged from the 6 week fog. Hello world. Is it me you’re looking for?

Ever yours,

Miss Sheiky

 

 

Soft Chamois

Movies of the Moment: I Tonya

I Tonya

Rounding out films that are still out in theatres, I’d be extremely remiss not to comment on I, Tonya. For those of you living under a boulder (I kid), I, Tonya recounts the story of Tonya Harding, at one time one of the best figure skaters in the world ( to note: the first American woman to land the notoriously difficult triple axel jump), who weathered unimaginable scandal on account of the 1994 attack on her teammate Nancy Kerrigan. I remember this story so vividly from my childhood- growing up in the midwest, the Winter Olympics were a huge event for us and my family and I watched the figure skating championships near religiously. When this story line unfolded we, like the rest of America, were enraptured in it. And yet, there were so many details of the story that I was too young to absorb, or too naive to realize that I had internalized as fact. In this respect, I, Tonya serves as a redemption tale for someone who became, during my childhood, a caricature of the evil villain writ large.

And yet, I, Tonya isn’t a tale of redemption at all. It is, at its core, a really excruciating account of a life of poverty of violence- first of the parental variety, then the marital variety- and finally of the societal variety. And I found the consistent and raw abuse almost too much to handle. There was no tempering of her suffering when she grew up, moved out of her home, or left her husband. Rather, she is consistently and brutally punished every step of the way despite her boundless work ethic and pursuit of something better. Given that, I found it really hard to reconcile this movie as a comedy (despite it’s comedic elements- brought to the fore by an incredible cast of characters as they adopt their respective characters with undeniable gusto). Pictured below, Allison Janney in the role she was born to play, as Tony Hardings abusive mother.

 

Despite finding the violence near unbearable, the movie is extremely well done – and my husband and friends absolutely loved it. It has taken distance from some of the more difficult scenes for me to embrace just how genius this movie is but all the same, I’ve come around. And like Lady Bird below, it is another example of a film that plays exquisitely to the 90’s/2000s nostalgia that is swallowing pop culture whole at the moment (perhaps a testament to the fact that we would all rather escape to the scandals of our childhoods then live the scandals of the moment, which feel too heavy to bear). Margot Robbie as Tonya, Allison Janney as LaVona Harding, Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly, and Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn are all absolutely exceptional in their respective roles.

It’s worth noting that watching this movie prompted me to also watch the  2 hour ABC special: Truth and Lies, the Tonya Harding Story last week and it was insane to learn how accurate the events of the movie are. I recommend watching the special as well if you can’t get enough of early 90’s figure skaters, because honestly, who can? Not I.

I Tonya- Violent, insane, well-executed, funny, and tragic. A little like the woman herself.

 

 

Soft Chamois

Movies of the Moment- Lady Bird

In the next installment of our film series is the exquisite coming of age story, Lady Bird. Written and directed by the brilliant Greta Gerwig, (who also wrote Frances Ha- one of my favorite independent movies of recent years) Lady Bird tells the story of a young woman in Sacramento dealing with trials of family, relationships and friendships during her final year of high school. The film takes place in 2002/2003, and the walk down early 2000s memory lane is but one of many wonderfully enjoyable things about this film.

Lady Bird, is, at its core, a movie about relationships. In the male-female relationship category, we are treated to a range of beautifully accurate snapshots of Lady Bird with the men in her life, whether the tender relationship between father and daughter, the fraught relationship of sister and brother, or the tortured relationships she has with her two boyfriends in the film (played exquisitely by Lucas Hedges and Timothy Chalamet). Pictured below, “nice” boyfriend Danny O’Neill with Lady Bird in one of my favorite scenes from the film.

But where the movie really shines is in the accuracy of the female relationships that it portrays- whether between Lady Bird and her best friend (the utterly delightful Beanie Feldstein, pictured below), or with her difficult mother, played to an absolute T by Laurie Metcalf. You can always tell the difference between a female and a male writer via the complexity and beauty of the female relationships, and this is where Gerwig really shines. Lady Bird is alternately cruel and imminently supportive of her best friend, and theirs is the love upon which the movie is built. It’s a great testament to female friendships, which don’t always get their due in film.

Her relationship with her mother, on the other hand, brought back memories of every squabble I ever had with my own mother as a teenager, as filtered through an even starker lens. As I stare down the impending birth of my own daughter, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I can nurture that relationship and correct for those inevitable differences of opinion. The excruciating part about watching Lady Bird and her mother’s relationship play out, from the vantage point of being both no longer a teenager and not yet a middle aged adult, is that one is left feeling tortured for both of them. And that is why Gerwig again is so brilliant- her characters are multi dimensional- at once cruel and selfish and at other turns nurturing and sympathetic.

All in, I couldn’t recommend Lady Bird highly enough. And in case you are wondering, my husband loved it just as much. It is a wonderfully written and directed film that does a remarkable job of conveying the teenage experience in a way that is delicate and humorous. I hope that she wins all of the awards for this one- and it goes without saying that I can’t wait to see what Gerwig does next.

Soft Chamois

Movies of the Moment – The Post

We’ve been trying to watch as many movies as possible lately, mainly because other parents feel it necessary to frequently and relentlessly fearmonger us with comments like “You’ll never be able to watch a movie again.” Any excuse to plant ourselves in front of a screen in the name of living our best lives is A-OK with us, and I have to say we’ve caught some stellar films so far on account of it. Virtually every movie out right now is best in class due to it being award season, but I wanted to recount a few this week that we’ve particularly enjoyed, kicking off with Steven Spielberg’s The Post.

 

The Post

Directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. I could probably end the review right there and that would be enough to impel you to see the film. But this is an important movie to watch in this moment of history, so a little more detail is due.

First, a brief history lesson. The story of the Post is the story of the Pentagon Papers, officially titled “United States- Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense.” The papers, in essence, detailed scathing truths about the U.S.’ involvement in Vietnam. One, that the Johnson Administration “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress.” And two, that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scope of its actions in the Vietnam War with the bombings of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, none of which were reported in the mainstream media. The papers were released by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study, and were first brought to light by the New York Times , for which the NYT was served an injunction by the U.S. attorney general. For his disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property, but the charges were later dismissed after prosecutors investigating the Watergate Scandal discovered that the staff members in the Nixon White House had ordered the so-called White House Plumbers to engage in unlawful efforts to discredit Ellsberg. The Post is about the moment that the Washington Post enters  the fray on the heels of the NYT, to publish the remaining papers, exposing a massive cover up of government secrets regarding the US’ involvement in Vietnam that spans 3 decades and 4 U.S. Presidents.

These themes- of thankless wars entered into on lies, of presidential administrations lying to and denigrating the mainstream media, of leakers willing to face imprisonment to share the truth with the public, then outed as traitors; and the importance of a free press- are top of mind for anyone who has lived through the Iraq War as well as the first year of the Trump administration. And it is toward the latter, in so many ways, that this film is a direct and unapologetic response. While the film regrettably trades in some of the more poignant historical lessons regarding U.S. involvement in Vietnam for high drama, it’s focus on the necessity of a free and respected press for the perpetuation of democracy is a huge one. For the magnitude of that lesson alone, I suspect it will win plenty of awards.

But there are also a number of moments and details that more subtly appeal to the senses. For one, Katherine Graham (played by the glorious Meryl Streep) plays the first female publisher of a major American Newspaper. Anyone who has ever been the only woman in a room full of men can identify with the shot of her entering a room full of bankers at a meeting during which they will set the IPO price for the Washington Post. In it, Streep is surrounded by a swarm of men in dark suits, and while they tangentially acknowledge her presence (despite her ostensibly being the most important person in the room), the scene only reinforces how invisible and insignificant they deem her to be. I wanted so badly for her to bust their chops as only a woman can, but I was reminded only of the times and how many women like her had to fight to get one word in edgewise, so that I could get in 100. It was a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come.

The story of the Post, then, is also one about a woman finding her voice, and blazing a heretofore uncharted trail. It is Graham who has the final word on whether to publish, and despite the risk to her career, company, and family’s inheritance, she makes the honorable choice.

On a visual level, it is also rich with gorgeous details showcasing the Georgetown homes of the 1970s Washington elite, and the incredible wardrobes of their inhabitants. My absolute favorite scene on this front is the one below, wherein Graham dons a glorious caftan while hosting a party in the garden of her Georgetown home. Just LOOK at that caftan and that hair. She is everything I have ever wanted to be. The intricate wood panelling in her study and the abundance of classic furniture only add to the sumptuousness of the sets.

 

Overall the Post does a tremendous job balancing beautiful period details and high drama with critical themes for the moment. More than anything, it serves a sobering warning that despite our perceived societal progress (and the passing of some 50 years), we currently face staggeringly similar threats to the freedom of our press and society at large. It is a warning that we should be keen to heed and address head on, if we are indeed to survive.