May 7, 2013


The Row F/W 2013 Presentation Courtesy of Bureau Betak (the best example of style informing every aspect of life in a long time)

I don’t know what fashion writing needs, frankly. It’s not one of my main concerns. I think writing just needs better writers, period. - Guy Trebay from Fashion Projects #4

The last few months have been frenetic, however it was not lost on me that this little space recently turned two years old. Two years may not seem like a long time, but it amazes me to see how far this blog has come. When I first started Un Petit Bijou, I couldn’t have imagined that I would love it so much. As I plan for a new season, it’s clear that carving out some time for writing and my thoughts is essential. I feel better when I have time to indulge in something creative for myself. 

Ever the perfectionist, when I started Un Petit Bijou my goal was to challenge myself. Beautifully crafted and succinct sentences excite me just as much as gorgeous clothing. At times, it feels like the well-crafted sentence is a lost art. Gloriously crafted prose may not be what the majority of readers look to in blogs, but it’s what I do. I write about what I know, which in my mind is where good writing comes from. 

Sharing stories on design and craft inspires me. It means so much to me when readers graciously mention that they learned something from my little space. At their best, this is what blogs should be. I feel privileged to be a part of a community of inspiring, talented, women (and a few enlightened men too) who enjoy engaging in thoughtful commentary and reading about fashion. 

I’m very fortunate to have an outlet to share my passion. I have an unabashed reverence for cut, proportion, precise tailoring, textiles, and drape. Writing about style has further heightened my awareness of my aesthetic. There’s something about putting all of the nuances of my style down on paper that brings clarity of vision. 

In short, thank you for the continual support. 

Here’s to many more years of blogging! 

PS- A few smart pieces on fashion criticism from the always reliable Fashion Projects. The interview with Judith Thurman is pure brilliance.

March 26, 2013

Sophie Gimbel- Fashioning American Couture

Hand-embellished evening dress with cap sleeves, 1953

"It's all too much, and that's where the loveliness - the couture moment - begins. The clothes are extravagant and unreal, but they don't seem camp. They don't seem artificial or out of this world, just symbolic of a common human hope that the world could be something other than it is - younger and more musical and less exhausting and better lit. It proposed that the little moments of seduction on which, when we look back, so much of our life depends, could unfold as formally as they deserve to, and all dressed up…

Couture is a romantic cartoon. It's a caricature of the romantic impulse, with a cartoon's exaggerations but a cartoon's energy and lighthearted poetry too. The thing you feel in a couture moment isn't 'What a wonderful dress' or, as you do with higher kinds of art, 'What a good place the world is,' but, more simply, 'I'm in love.'" Adam Gopnik from Paris to the Moon. 

Evening dress with pin tucks set into "hand-span", waist, 1952

If you read this blog, then you know that there is a special place in my heart for achingly beautiful things and the craftsmen (and women) and artisans who pour themselves into their creations. And if we’re talking about lovely things, surely couture with its singular vision tops the list. Couture is just breathtaking with its precision, beautifully resolved ideas, sets, lighting, and those fabrics. For the longest time, I couldn’t even begin to explain it. It’s simply what I know. 

And then, the lovely Hannah Rose introduced me to this brilliant quote that made it all make sense…

Evening dress stiffened with horsehair and tulle, 1960
Evening dress in Indian sari fabric, 1963
I relish the opportunity to learn about the art of couture by visiting ateliers and designer studios. When I travel, such visits are always high on my list of priorities. Yet, there’s nothing like indulging my love of couture in my own city. On a cold winter afternoon, the gentleman and I ducked into the Aronson Gallery at Parsons to see Sophie Gimbel Fashioning American Couture. Having the quiet, sun lit gallery all do ourselves was the perfect way to spend a snowy afternoon.

"Harlequinade" velvet/satin dress with net overlays, 1963
Sophie Gimbel’s voice was integral in establishing a distinct fashion identity in the US. During the 1950s and 1960s American department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue would send their buyers to Paris to have choice styles produced in the US. It always gets me to find a licensed couture copy of an Elsa Schiaparelli or Dior piece for resale. As the head custom designer at Saks' Salon Moderne, Gimbel did away with the established precedent of purchasing exclusive rights to the best couture designs from the Paris collections. At a time when Christian Dior’s New Look dominated American fashion, Sophie Gimbel wasn’t afraid to forge a new identity. This meant designing four hundred unique American styles for Salon Moderne each year. 

Embroidered evening dress with lace scoop neckline, 1957
Mid-century couture, with its shapes, refined elegance, and sculptural volumes is in the midst of a resurgence. Yet it always amazes me that Gimbel’s name, has largely been left out of the narrative. I have a soft spot for female designers (Madame Grès comes to mind) whose legacies have largely lived on in obscurity. A tightly edited exhibition celebrating the many couture construction techniques and methods that Gimbel invented was a fitting homage. 

The use of the finest textiles from India and Italy, soft tailoring, subtle embellishment and meticulous precision left me (for one afternoon at the very least) in heaven. For the simple fact that, for me, a well-constructed and aesthetically beautiful garment starts from the inside. 

* The first image is a personal scan from the exhibition guide. All other images are courtesy of the Aronson Gallery at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. 

February 5, 2013

Sleep, Perchance to Dream

My Personal Photo

Just like that, a new month is here. January was so good that it was hard to see it go. The entire month felt like a dream- with an unexpected career accomplishment, promotion and new personal projects on the horizon. I can’t think of a better way to start a New Year. Now, onto February, which means, fashion week, a long holiday weekend, new work challenges and very little sleep. 

I’ve never been a good sleeper. Four hours of uninterrupted sleep is a lot for me. Most nights, I’m lucky to squeeze in close to three hours. I may not be much of a sleeper, but I adore elegant sleepwear. 

I love the tradition of bespoke menswear pajamas of the likes of Charvet or Jermyn Street. A custom fitting at Charvet is one of life’s little luxuries. Luxurious, lightweight cotton, traditional piping, pockets, a discreet monogram and an understated color palate of navy, pale blues and white, get me every time. Classic pajamas that are borrowed from the boys but tailored to fit a feminine frame are my favorites. Poplin has the masculine/feminine down to perfection.

Pajamas are perfect for curling up with a good book, burrowing in for movie night or lingering over tea and an early morning grapefruit… Always worn with a loose chignon or bun. Pure nonchalance. Over the years, I have amassed a collection of effortless and yet undeniably chic classic sleepwear. It all started as a childhood holiday tradition- coordinating pajama sets for Christmas Eve. Years later, a decadent pair of pajamas is still one of my favorite holiday gifts. 

With the basics covered, a cheery Liberty Print pajama set is the perfect addition to my collection of sleepwear. My wardrobe consists of few prints, but the ones I do add are truly special. As a lover of textiles, Liberty Print always wins me over. Those archives and the meticulous printing process are the definition of heritage. 

Sweet dreams...

PS- If you have any sleep tips or rituals do share.

January 23, 2013

Romantic Wanderings

My Personal Photo

" Style is how you see the world and how the world sees you. It isn’t today and it isn’t tomorrow; it isn’t a dress or a car or a shoe or a comment—it’s the cut of your sail as you cross this crazy, uncharted sea. Far ahead, legions of boats have already made the crossing—some grander, some more sleek—and still newer boats are always coming up behind you. Style is the manner in which you navigate your one remarkable voyage." - Carol Edgarian

We’ve had more than a few glorious days this winter. On a mild winter afternoon reminiscent of springtime the gentleman and I set off wandering. 

My Personal Photo
My Personal Photo

There is no better respite from a frenetic start to the New Year. It’s an incredible privilege to have careers and causes that keep us stimulated; however we all need time to recharge. Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this.

My Personal Photo

And so, we set off for our quiet swath of city. When it comes to quiet places, Sutton Place tops our list. I adore that feeling of calm- those secluded little streets, well maintained parks and river views. The sheer joy of privacy… That bridge.

My Personal Photo

In my mind, this is the perfect backdrop to a conversation on style. Not style in the sartorial sense, but in those meaningful questions of how we want to live our lives. 

January 13, 2013

Style Essentials- Little Navy Blazer

The Row Blazer, Carven Shirt, J. Crew Trousers and Miu Miu Shoes

"She prefers the richness of all kinds of (French) navy to the ubiquitous black." - Bali Barret's 5 Ways to Spot a Proper Parisienne in Issue Five of The Gentlewoman

Hope you all had a lovely holiday season. Happy New Year!

As promised, I thought I would share one of my autumn purchases- my lovely blazer from The Row. Blazers/little jackets are among my favorite wardrobe essentials and instantly make an outfit look smart and polished. Year-round, I’m rarely without a blazer or little jacket. 

It’s undeniable that I have a well-defined sense of style and identity, but I enjoy making subtle tweaks. We all know how much I adore navy and for some time I’ve wanted to add a navy blazer to my wardrobe. As autumn items were making their way into the shops, I spotted this blazer and knew it had to be mine.

I love when you find that item that ticks off all the boxes. Especially, when you’ve been keeping an eye out for that item for some time. In this case, I was looking for the following in a navy blazer.

  • Color- A rich navy that would pair well with black, grey and burgundy. Finding a luxurious navy that is not faded can be harder than it seems. 

  • Construction- The seams and emphasis on tailoring are reminiscent of early Armani or the good old days of Helmut Lang. I’m a fashion nerd if ever there was one and yes, the construction is that good. The stitching is really beautifully done and elevates the blazer. Inside and out everything is meticulously considered.

  • Fabric- Quality of materials- the touch and feel is important to me. I love nothing more than a simple item with a touch of indulgence. A 100% silk full lining and a luxurious silk blend shell give this blazer its languid drape. 

  • Fit- I could devote a series of posts to fit and tailoring. I have to alter a lot of my clothing. I have narrow shoulders and having the shoulders taken in is a costly alteration that requires skill. To take in the shoulders, the sleeves are detached at the shoulder, the shoulders are cut, the armholes adjusted and lastly the sleeves are reattached. A good fit at the shoulders is paramount for me and sealed the deal with this blazer. Having the sides and sleeves slimmed to accommodate my frame are standard alterations for me. In this case, I had the sleeves slimmed over the course of two fittings. I have long arms, so I’m keen on having adequate sleeve length. I also look for blazers that have subtle draping at the back. I love menswear, but my frame sometimes needs very subtle darting. 

  • Silhouette- A minimalist silhouette that could be paired with everything in my wardrobe. I was looking for an unassuming piece whose beauty lies in the precision of the cut. I love experimenting with proportion and silhouettes, but I wanted something light and airy.

I’ve long admired The Row’s sophisticated luxe aesthetic. It’s always refreshing to come across a collection with a unique voice. The Row does basics, albeit very expensive basics that you can envision having forever. There’s a quiet authenticity to the brand’s designs that I adore. This little blazer has quickly become an essential. 

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

My Personal Photo

At last, after six months that seemed to breeze by in an instant, the holidays are here. Career has left little no spare time as of late. And so, I haven’t been able to properly update this little space that I love and which gives me such joy. The holiday season is one of my favorites and I’m looking forward to savoring the small joys of the season. 

My Personal Photo

In many ways, my Christmas wishes have already been answered in….

  • A lovely holiday note of gratitude from a student I mentored a few years ago.
  • Countless acts of generosity that led to a successful December benefit for a favorite cause.
  • The kind compliments of a colleague who unbeknownst to me had been secretly admiring my leadership style. 
  •  Family, good friends and a well-deserved break.
My Personal Photo
I wish you all a Merry Christmas! As always, thank you for your unending support. I am forever grateful. Enjoy the celebrations. 

December 6, 2012

Gift: The Luxe Notebook

Courtesy of Garance Dore 

It’s that time of year. The holiday season is one of my favorites. It’s all about spending quality time with family, festive evening gatherings, gorgeous decorations all over the city, generosity, and goodwill… A few lovely readers asked about my favorite items to give. I’m not one for gift guides and wish lists, but I figured I would devote a few posts to items I’m looking forward to gifting this season.

I’m a perfectionist about most things. I love indulging loved ones. Writing a note of gratitude. Meticulously wrapping beautiful packages and parcels. The art of the well thought out gift. My favorite things to gift have been books and items picked up on my travels. Admittedly, I have a difficult time not instantly sharing books and travel finds. 

I think Oscar Wilde said it best. I always travel with a notebook. Perfect for quick sketches, endless notes and all the things that come to mind when I have the luxury of quiet. To me there’s something very satisfying about pen and paper. And yes, it’s always fun to go back and read through my notes. The items below are dedicated to the jet-setters in my life. 

Courtesy of Graphic Image

Courtesy of Hermes and Debrett

Courtesy of Net A Porter

** Moleskines, along with notebooks from Muji and Archie Grand are perennial favorites that make great stocking stuffers.

How is your holiday planning going?