magic spells

{images: amethsyt crystal, rock salt, garlic ~  brazilian magic ~
 next to a pile of vintage sequin gowns at a fleamarket in sao paulo; 
(spotted a glass urn filled with rock salt & garlic in daslu)
white lace, rock crystals & cowie shells ~ a candomble priestess~ old tear sheet from brasil vogue}


~ rose gold ~

{ images from bohème style travels: a gold & rose ceiling in the Royal Palace of Madrid ~Palacio de Oriente~;
a pink rose & gold indian bangles on a mirror; a soft sunset during a flight to Brasil from NYC}

+ 2 links of luxury

Visionaire 37

Gypset Style by Julie Chaplin


~ pineapple tablescape ~

What is important is not how valuable or inexpensive your objects are, but the care and feeling with which you arrange them.” David Hicks (1929-1998)

We are in Rio De Janeiro renting a tiny apartment in Ipanema. Usually I travel nomad style with a few Moroccan textiles to style a temporary space but this time just opted to bring our own linens & towels. Rio has become terribly expensive, and we are on a tight budget.  I  love to buy flowers but I decided to be thrifty and buy edible fruit  instead  as  a way to decorate our table.  From a fruit vendor on the street corner, I picked up a couple of  pineapples with  wild dramatic spikes and tight green scales…Two clear glass cups become the pedestals. Out of almost nothing, I created a tablescape with tropical elegance. 

My inspiration to use pineapples for decoration came from Nancy Lancaster's famous yellow drawing room…where
{if one looks carefully you will see}a pair of pineapples on pedestals flanking  the tall paneled doors.

Christmas in Maine: I  place two pineapples on the serving table. A pair of green-glazed 'Japanese pillow' vases inherited from my grandmother become the pedestals. The pineapples rise splendidly above our traditional festoon of pine boughs and a roast goose surrounded by poached pears. At the time I naively thought placing this  tropical fruit on a New England holiday table was an original idea.

Back in  my Sao Paulo kitchen, my violet orchids are beginning to wilt  just as inflation rises. I replace the orchids with my  pineapples.  I  hang a  small gilded mirror ( from the bixiga flea market) above the wooden table and transform two tarnished brass candlesticks ( from a great aunt)  into  a pair of pedestals for the pineapples…Instantly my kitchen becomes grander.

Then possessed with an obscure curiosity about pineapple, I began to research the history of the plant. Turns out the pineapple plant originated in the Brazil- Paraguay region. Over centuries of migration, Indian tribes spread the fruit through Central America.   Columbus  is credited with 'discovering' the pineapple  in the Caribbean Islands . He brought it back to Spain and its' fame spread though Europe as a  rare luxury fruit.  Explorer Sir Walter Ralegh, wrote of “the great abundance of Pinas, the princesse of fruits that grow vnder the Sun” in his 1595 travelogue Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana.'Into the 1600s, the pineapple remained so uncommon and coveted a commodity that King Charles II of England posed for an official portrait in an act then symbolic of royal privilege"  receiving a pineapple as a gift'{via}Louis XV cultivated the pineapple plant in his gardens at Versailles. 

The pineapple became decorative-arts muse for colonial America. At elegant parties the pineapple starred in formal dinner table centerpieces. A hostess who could not afford to buy a pineapple from her confectioner  could rent a pineapple for her special party. Enchanted guests enjoyed looking at the pineapple and tasting  the exotic luxurious fruit. The coveted pineapple became a status symbol and inspired lace and crochet  patterns, stencils, wallpaper and damask designs, silver and ceramic art objects, bedposts, candelabras, chandeliers,  delicate painted decorations on plates, chairs and chests, etched glassware,  weathervanes, botanical drawings, and beautiful molds for ice creams and candies.

Style visionary Diana Vreeland visited Brazil in 1959  when she edited the fashion pages of Harpers Bazaar and the same year that the film Orfeu Negro, "Black Orpheus",  popularized Bossa Nova music . She was interviewed in Rio de Janerio by El Globo. She said that while flying over the Amazon Rain forest she imagined seeing huge crocodiles with orchids coming out of their mouth. She said this should be the symbol for Brazil. The crocodile representing the forest and its mysteries and dangers, the orchids representing delicate beauty of Brazil.

Prehaps the pineapple could be a similar symbol for Brazil with it's reptilian scales  that speak of the primitive history still alive  in the deep forests and it's sweet flavor representing the beauty here… 

Tomorrow we head back to Sao Paulo. I am packing the ripening pineapple in my wicker food basket. I will cut it up and marinate it  in sugar and rum for dessert.

{images: b
ontanical painting of a pineapple from Christopher Jacob Trew’s Plantae Selectae (Nuremberg, 1750-73),  illustrated by Georg Dionysius Ehret {via}; Nancy Lancaster's  yellow drawing room 1959 {via}; the re-creation of the yellow drawing room with real pineapples painted gold placed on a candelabras in World of Interiors, December issue, 2010}

~ Rio fashion story ~

On a Thursday morning in Ipanema: I take my two and half year old daughter, Priscilla,  to the 'Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz' park,  then we go to a cafe nearby for my espresso and her suco de laranja & pão de queijo.
Afterwards we duck into a  boutique -  a sleek air-conditioned space with two discrete levels of chic Rio-style fashions and many mirrors. I browse for ideas for my own little vanity project - personal couture in Brazil (I have an excellent steamstress in Sao Paulo who can copy clothes).   Priscilla also enjoys looking at the high heels,  jewels and dresses.  We left after admiring a handbag of fine suede scales with a  gold chain,  a black silk skirt with shot through with subtle rainbow stripes, tiny bits of gold and a flowing belt,  and a sheer pink dress with ruffled pastel roses, Priscilla's 'favorite' .

Then we go back out onto the street.
 I  have to stay outside for two more hours while my husband uses our tiny temporary apartment as his  'office'.
Barely a two meters away from the boutique I spotted a whore's shoe abandoned on the sidewalk… 
A sharp pointed steel stiletto heel with front platform rise made out of shiny fake wood.  The toe thong  formed by a narrow strip of leather; the insole made from padded cream-colored satin. It felt like the essence of Rio- seductive and a bit dangerous.

Style visionary Diana Vreeland visited Brazil in 1959  when she edited the fashion pages of Harpers Bazaar and the same year that the film Orfeu Negro ("Black Orpheus") poplarized Bossa Nova music . She was interviewed in Rio de Janerio by El Globo. She said that while flying over the Amazon Rain forest she imagined seeing huge crocodiles with orchids coming out of their mouth. She said this should be the symbol for Brazil or  else a 'beautiful sexy burnette' translated in Portuguese as "uma morena bonita e sensual" This whore's  high heel embodied both of DV's symbols. 

I hesitated twice before picking up the scratched steel stiletto. Then turned my head to see if anyone was looking…a man came by and seemed to offer it to me as if I had dropped it. I quickly picked it up and tossed it into the bottom of basket of the Maclaren .
'How perfect' I thought.. I will bring it back to that tiny apartment and perhaps it can be amusing for my husband  to look at  while he is writing his article about music in Rio's favelas.

Priscilla had spotted the shoe too and immediately she wanted to play with it.
She wanted to come out of her carriage so  I unstrapped her. She wasted no time in putting the shoe on. She managed to actually hobble along the bumpy mosaic sidewalk wearing the single towering heel. 

Still an hour and a half to go…I decided to not to put her back in the carriage but to let her walk all the way home. 

We got off the main drag and into the beautiful tree lined streets  with huge tropical plants growing in contained openings in the sidewalk. The dirty whore's shoe became her baby 'boneca'-doll. 
 She placed it  every platforms and step we passed. She put the shoe in-between the iron gates that protect most apartment buildings.   To her delight the rubber bottom lining of the shoe started to peel off. She stopped to give  the whore's shoe a pretend diaper change. 
The insole of the shoe also started to peel open. She stopped to feed the whore' s shoe some feijão e arroz, then she wrapped the shoe up in paper towel ' blanket' to have a nap. 

I started to notice  looks from mothers on the street bringing their children home from school. I finally wrestled the shoe from her & tossed it back under the carriage. As soon as we get home, I give Priscilla a bath.

We forgot about the shoe until the evening. On our way to dinner I pulled it out of the baby carriage to show my husband. He said 'throw it away'. When Priscilla turned her head, I discretely tossed the single stiletto into a tropical sidewalk garden.

{images: Harper's Bazaar cover 1959;
Giusseppe Zanotto gold stiletto sandals discovered via this is glamorous;
Rio Crocodillo"Tropicalismo" Wallpaper by Lenny Kravitz & Flavor Paper}

{SR's original research about Diana Vreeland in Brazil is from DV's archives at the New York Public Library Humanties and Social Sciences Manuscripts and Archives Division}