Monday, September 26, 2016

Currently coveting: Bespoke clothing from Blaze' and Alix de Bohemia

One thing I love to see is someone successfully melding hard work, outstanding quality and creativity into a truly unique product.  In this age of disposable fashion these brands stand apart with meticulous detailing and a touch of flair.

The first is 

Made by hand in the East Village of New York City, Alix de Bohemia delivers exceptionally unique coats and jackets all sewn and flamboyantly embellished with treasures and trims hand selected by Ms. Alix Verley Pietrafesa the self proclaimed "gypsy tailor"

Each piece is truly a work of art and each design follows the whimsy of her creator.  The result is often bold and striking - definitely a statement piece you would be lucky to own.  

Alix in her atelier

A talented artist, Alix hand draws invitations to her trunk shows.   She also draws each and every clothing label which only adds to the charm and allure of these gorgeous garments.  

Charming hand-drawn invitations

Closeup of intricate layers of trim and embellishments 

Closeup showing hand cut and applied appliqu├ęs

Now on to BLAZE
Founded by a trio of Italian fashionistas, Blaze reinterpreted the quintessential men's blazer for women.  Lush velvets, cashmere, linen and wool combine with intricate detailing to create an understated status symbol that envelopes you with insta-style. 

The Blaze premise is

and I have to agree - there is no one garment that adds more sophistication than a well cut and finely tailored blazer.  The Blaze ladies do one thing, and they do it well.
Beautiful buttons and trademark "smiley pocket" detail

A sketch of the signature "smiley pocket"

Quality doesn't come cheap but I recommend investing in a piece or two....Made to order, they will stand the test of time and no doubt be your go to jackets for years to come.

Until next time,

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

The above list really speaks to me...

For a while now I have neglected this blog and there are many reasons for that.  Mostly I have been in survival mode....going through a tremendously stressful but amicable divorce, losing my inspiring maternal grandmother to Alzheimers disease, completely changing my career path, acclimating to single parent hood, reluctantly dipping my toe in the dating pool again - the list goes on and on.... 

Needless to say the past two years have been the most challenging of my life and some days it took all my energy just to function on a basic level and get out of bed.  I am absolutely certain most of you can relate and have your own stories to tell.  One thing is certain - life does go on with or without us.  Thankfully the sun rises each new day - it is our duty and privilege to be grateful and make the most of it.  
Those that follow this blog must have noticed a drop in posts for quite a while.  I felt guilty about that but didn't want to push material I am not truly passionate about.  This was never a marketing tool for me.  This blog began as a creative outlet - a passion if you will and I loved searching out great material and sharing my own inspiration with you.  Today's post will be a bit more personal.  I hope you don't mind.  

As a designer, I have always been creative.  It's in my blood to make things, to change things, to see things as they could be.  My head is literally full of ideas and new thoughts every day and it can be frustrating as I want to nurture and give life to all of them - but that simply is not possible. 

You might remember one of my ideas was a unique line of custom resort clothing.  After losing my initial partner and friend to a painful falling out, a new partner joined me and we jumped in all guns blazing giving it our best shot - exhausting every way we could think of to promote the clothing and make sales - hosting trunk shows in LA, DC and NYC - building an e-commerce site - getting our product in magazines and blogs -  but the line never took off.  We finally threw in the towel and after two years of non-stop heart in hand effort, admitted defeat.  

This admission of failure was very hard for me.  I felt in my heart it would be a success and if we just kept trying, it would take off.  But the writing was on the wall as they say and I didn't want to drag my partner through another year of frustration and stress.  In addition, available funds I could devote to the project were running low so finally I acquiesced.  Della Terasi Resort was no more.  This was a painful loss for me.  It was a death of sorts as it was the end of a long held dream.  

While we were closing down, the same partner approached me to re-open my interior design business.  At the time, it made perfect sense as a few favorite clients had approached me to help them with new projects in Florida, New York and Connecticut.  So we opened a design firm here in Washington, DC and got to work.  We had much success - having a client's home published in LUXE magazine and furnishing a room in the 2015 DC Design House but something was missing for me.  My passion was lagging.  

Our feature in Luxe magazine
The candle-lit book filled center table in our Art Lounge at the 2015 DC Design House
After experiencing several personal and professional failures over the past few years, I was honestly tired of marketing myself.  I longed to just be creative again and not feel the pressure of where the next job would come from or how I would pay the mounds of personal bills piling up.  It feels a bit un-natural for me as a creative to market myself and it became harder and harder to wear all the hats essential to being a successful entrepreneur.

  Being a bit of an introvert, I am not fond of the spotlight.  The ability to market yourself is essential to your success as an interior designer.  This is why many popular designers today have marketing backgrounds and are social media mavens who have little or no design training.  Don't get me wrong, I don't believe you need to go to school to have talent - just look at the great decorators of the past.  Most had no formal design training but they were great at one thing - marketing their talent to those who appreciated it and were willing to pay for it. 

Feeling like a failure in most areas of my life, I also didn't have the ability to sell myself or anything else at the time.  I was sapped emotionally and I felt like I was faking my life.  I even felt like I was faking my talent.  I felt like I was faking everything.  With my marriage of almost 20 years failing I was forced to examine myself in detail.  What I discovered was the fact I had to change or I would never become the person I wanted to be.

I began seeing a therapist and reading all I could about becoming more self aware - educating myself about negative habits and patterns I was destined to live out if I couldn't confront them head on.  It was/is not easy.  It was/is hard work.  I had to be honest about the people in my life.  That meant letting some friends and family go which was very sad as I wanted to believe they genuinely loved and cared about me but in my heart knew better.  

It also meant realizing that I don't need everyone's approval.  I need to be authentic to myself and make choices that ultimately lead to the life I want to lead.  I opened myself up to feel the hurt and anger I had suppressed for years.  It was not easy or pretty....but it was work I needed to do to move on with my life.  

One of my biggest realizations? Accepting the fact that being an entrepreneur might not be the best road for me at this time - so I started to communicate this to my business partner who was very understanding.  As a result I am now happily designing interiors at a firm under someone else's name.  I no longer have a business of my own and I am ok with that.  It has been a blessing in many ways and a challenge as well but I know in my heart I made the right choice. 

In 2014 I attended an Urban Campfire meeting with friends given by Melody Bringer.  We were all asked to list what we "CRAVE" and I this is what I wrote as I cried:
My list of cravings- having my own business was no where on the list...

That night was a turning point in my life.
I made the decision to live authentically - to be true to myself and to allow myself to accept and even embrace my failures - to do my best to grow and learn how to be the person I truly want to be - to love myself in spite of my weaknesses.  I decided there was no one to blame but myself for the circumstances in my life - the choices I made and every outcome were my own and no one else's.  I also decided I would no longer carry the labels others had placed on me throughout my life  - I would break free of them and move on.  

I share all of this with you because I want you to know that if you are searching for more, you are not alone.  We all struggle with life and with love, with parenting and with our careers.  We all need to give ourselves the acceptance and love that is our right as human beings.  Not one of us is perfect and we don't have to be.  Change is inevitable.  Failure is inevitable.  It is what you do AFTER the failure that matters most.  Perfection is a myth.  Being authentic in our relationships and most importantly our relationship with ourselves is what matters most.  

This blog will remain how I envisioned it:
 A place to share my thoughts, images and inspiration with you my readers.  I still have much to learn and I sincerely hope you continue to join me as I travel along this incredible journey we call life....

My two proudest and most important accomplishments about to zip line in North Carolina


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Morley's Story: A Bethesda Row Shop Gets an Upgrade

Many years ago I lived in Delray Beach, Florida and my dear friend Caroline Delafield had one of the best shops on Atlantic Ave - Periwinkle.  Known for her style and eye for great finds, Carrie's first store was a big success quickly expanding to an even larger space in Delray.  Two years ago she opened a second shop named Morley which had a trendier - less preppy vibe.  

Carrie recently decided to bring Morley to my new neighborhood - Bethesda, Maryland.  She was lucky to secure a spot in the busy Bethesda Row shopping district and when she asked for my help renovating the space I was more than happy to oblige.  

The budget and timeframe were very tight - only two weeks! So we focused on our goals of lightening and brightening the exterior facade and interior spaces so they better reflect Morley's contemporary brand.  

Here are a few photos of the exterior before: 
Dark and dreary - lots of brown - not much of a standout.  

Facade before
In progress...

Facade after
What a difference paint makes!
Here is the plan I drew up for the new facade:

I still prefer to hand draft when I can!
Inside the store before the renovation there were many different colors (orange, green, purple) and the space seemed dark despite the large front display windows.  We removed the plastic panels seen below and painted the trellis white.  



Front of store before

Cash wrap before

In progress

A bold, blue agate wall mural was custom ordered for the back of the cash wrap area and signage was installed on top. 

The new custom cash wrap has a place for everything...

In progress


I have to admit the biggest change came from switching out the 
old light bulbs to new brighter whiter LED bulbs.  
Huge change.  HUGE!

In the back of the store an angled wall separated the dressing area from the front of the store so we removed the lower part and of course painted everything white to create a more cohesive feel. 

 Honestly one of the cheapest and most effective 
design tools is simply a can of white paint.

Back of store before

In progress

In progress

The recessed ceiling was painted turquoise and we decided to keep  the capiz shell chandelier from the previous tenant.  It was cleaned and we added new LED bulbs to give it a new lease on life.  

In progress

The solid bamboo floors were also darkened....
I'm still trying to figure out how the floor refinishers 
balanced all of those tools on one counter...Yikes!

New displays were uncrated and merchandise added....

And finally the finished space is merchandised and 
ready for the first shoppers of the day...

So next time you are in Bethesda stop by.....
We hope you find the space much more inviting and we know you'll find lots of must have jewelry and fashion!

Until Next Time,


design + development by fabulous k