Sunday, November 29, 2009

gâteau avec Marie et le roi Louis

Happy Tablescape Thursday. Visit Susan of Between Naps On The Porch for more beautiful table settings.

Last weekend we visited Sacramento's premier store for kitchen wares, linens, holiday decorations and fine tableware located in the Town & Country village center. The store is William Glen. The selections in this store are the very best from all over the world.

"Let Them Eat Cake" tablescape display by Mark Snyder at William Glen

I was blown away when I entered the store's fine china section and was greeted by the amazing "Let them eat cake" display. I spoke with long time employee, Linda H., who informed me that the displays were the creation of Mark Snyder, the son of store owner Bill Synder. I contacted Mark to compliment him on his work and asked him a few questions. Here is what I asked:
Q.What is the current square footage of your store?
Q. William Glen currently offers online shopping. However, the website does not appear to offer all the items that are available in the store. Does William Glen have any plans to expand its merchandise for online consumers?
Q. The store displays are evidence of your amazing creative ability. What is your background with design?
Q. Do ever imagine utilizing your talent beyond the store?

Here is Mark's response:

Dear Julio,

Thank you for your kind note. I am sorry you saw the trees in their current state. Our goal is to create drama, interest and present traditional heirlooms in new and creative vignettes or dialogues. While we present this way, we also sell the items and that deteriorates the integrity of the theme over time. I am afraid you are seeing us mid-season. Our William Glen store is 30,000 square feet. William Glen Christmas & More is 4,900 square feet. Both are within The Collection at Town & Country Village. The William Glen store is also home to our award winning Bistro at William Glen.

My father, Bill Snyder, opened William Glen 46 years ago. We are 2 stores plus a website and a full gourmet catalog. While site is brand new, we work diligently to expand the product offering. I doubt seriously that every item will ever be on the site. Sometimes it is just not possible to effectively show and ship some of the goods we sell.

I have no formal training in the product merchandising field. I do however have about 37 years of experience. From a young age I enjoyed working for my father and his business partner, Glen Forbes, who has since retired (1998). For many years my team and I worked with a professional merchandiser who actually redesigned our stores’ layouts in 1985 and in 2004. there is no better education in this field than hands on, hard work. No degree or book can teach the necessary structural design laws that we employ here. What I mean is, we buy the goods and take the time to build and environment in which to showcase these goods and envelope the customer’s senses.

Personally, since I wear many hats I rarely have time for outside jobs. We do have some other very talented staffers who have worked on projects and from time to time I will work with customers in their homes to build their Christmas or other jobs. We spend a lot of time working with our customers in our store to help them experience their own creativity.

Ultimately, what we do is not brain surgery. It is just understanding your own taste and aesthetic and them finding the right items to exemplify them. Finally, it really just takes the courage to try, fail and try again. Our customers come to William Glen for new ideas and because they know they are paying the right price. We say “it doesn’t cost more, it’s just nicer at William Glen”. And we prove that everyday.

I am so happy you enjoyed our stores. We would love to be a part of your enterprise. Please let me know if you would like any additional information. Feel free to photograph anything.

Mark Snyder

Operations Manager

As you can tell from Mark's response, the store is very large. However, it is divided into many different sections, each with its own purpose and design. The overall effect is that of a group of very high end specialty shops. For example, there is a fine china room, a Lladro room, a Silver room, Table linen room and so on.

The goose doll adorning a beautiful 18th century Marie Antoinette gown is by Katherine's Collection. A perfect compliment to the table's theme.

The fabric and detailing on the dress is amazing. Unfortunately, my photos do not capture its true beauty up close.

I just love the slipper on a fine porcelain plate with a crystal encrusted border charger.

The store carries an extensive and impressive line of goods such as Herend's Rothchild Bird , Royal Copenhagen's Flora Danica, Faberge,Baccarat, and many more.

Another Katherine's Collection doll dressed in a dramatic interpretation of an 18th century King Louis garment.

Of course the outfit needs to come with matching shoes.

The decadent morsels that were refused by the people...imagine that.

One of the many little fairy princesses that were flying around the illustrious setting.

I hope you enjoyed the images as much as I have. I do have photos taken of some of the store's other vignettes including some amazing miniature holiday villages that I will try to post sometime soon. Please visit the William Glen site for great gift ideas.

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Marie Antoinette's childhood Versailles

Schonbrunn Palace

While her home as Queen of France, Versailles, is commonly thought of as the grandest of all European palaces, no one can suggest that Marie Antoinette's childhood residence was anything but amazing. The Schonbrunn Palace, where she lived until 1770, when she moved to France to marry the Dauphin, is one of the finest Baroque masterpieces in the world. I had the good fortune of touring this palatial estate while vacationing in Wien in 2005. I love love Vienna. It is one of my very favorite cities. It's one that I will definitely be returning to soon. The Hapsburg dynasty is fascinating.
The Schonbrunn palace, placed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO World Heritage Committtee in 1996, began as a medieval homestead. By the reign of Maria Theresa, Marie Antoniette's mother, the palace had evolved into an imperial residence and what it may have lacked in size in comparison to Versailles, it made up for in style and luxury.

As a child, Maria Antonia (her Austrian name) enjoyed an in palace theater whereas her future Bourbon inlaws would not share the same pleasure until the Versailles had its own Opera in 1770, the very year the Austrian Arch Duchess moved in! The Theater at Schonbrunn was built in 1745 in the form of an Italian "loge theatre".

The architect was Nikolaus Pacassi. Later, but still before Versailles even had a theater, the Hapsburg's rebuilt the theater in 1766 and 1777; the size remained the same but it was reconstructed to include a Roccoco style and balcony theater by Hetzendorf. When she was not enjoying the arts inside the Schonbrunn's theater, young Maria Antonia had its superb gardens and other beautiful rooms in the palace to frolick about.

The Marie Antoinette Room which served as the family dining room.

Take a virtual tour of the Marie Antoinette room here.

The Great Gallery
Considered the heart of the Palace. The gallery was used for ceremonial events, balls, receptions and banquets.

The ceiling fresco of the Great Gallery by Gregorio Gugliemi

Take the virtual tour of the Great Gallery here.

Hall of Ceremonies
This room is characterized by the monumental paintings commissioned by Maria Theresa.

Take the virtual tour of the Hall of Ceremonies here.

The Millions Room
This room got its name from the wooden paneling which is made of costly exotic rosewood which is known as feketin. The entire decor was originally made for the Belvedere palace, but moved to the Schonbrunn in 1766.

Take the virtual tour of the Millions Room here.

The Porcelain Room
This room was used by Maria Theresa as a games room and study. The contributing artists for the work in this room are portrayed in the medallions.

Take a virtual tour of the Porcelain room here.

The Small Gallery
This gallery was used for the smaller family festivities in Maria Theresa's time. The elaborate white and gold neo-Rococco stucco decor is from 1870 when the gallery was renovated.

Take the virtual tour of the small gallery here.

The Vieux Laque room
This was probably my favorite room. It was made into a memorial room by Maria Theresa for her husband Francis Stephen I after his death in 1765.

Take the virtual tour of the Vieux Laque room here.

Yellow Salon
Located on the garden side of the estate, the salon is noted for its numerous pastel drawings of bourgeois children by the Genevan artist Liotard.

The Coach House
Museum of the imperial family's state coaches

Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Condé Nast and Adobe collaborate on digital magazine

Publisher Condé Nast and Adobe Systems are developing a digital-magazine application to be compatible with laptops, netbooks, smart phones, and upcoming electronic slate devices.

Wired magazine, which covers tech news and information, will be the first to adapt the app, which will produce full-color, high-resolution images to replicate the experience of reading a print publication with the convenience of the internet.

This collaboration will bring magazine content into digitalized form for devices available in 2010.
[Full Story]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Big Reds For A Little Green

Happy Friday! If you don't already have your reds picked out for the holiday season and would like some suggestions, one good place to start is Wine Spectator . The contributors are among the worlds leading wine experts. If you want to enjoy a good bottle, impress your guests with an award wining selection but want something in the lowest price point available, The list(click image to enlarge) above represent the top 10 reds from the top 100 overall wine list for under $30.00. Below are 3 of my current favorites that did not make the cut but I still enjoy.

My over all favorite is the Duck Horn. However, that bottle rarely graces my table:-(....

Happy Holidays

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cartier Exhibition At The Legion Of Honor Museum

December 19, 2009, to April 18, 2010
Legion of Honor Museum
Lincoln Park
34th Avenue & Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
Tickets: $16.00-$20.00

Although San Francisco is only a 90 minute drive away, it's 60 minutes too long for me. I hate hate driving or even sitting in a car for more than 30 minutes. However, the opportunity to see the Cartier exhibit at the beautiful Legion of Honor will make the drive worthwhile.

Cartier and America covers the history of the House of Cartier from its first great successes as the “king of jewelers and jeweler to kings” during the Belle Epoque through to the 1960s and 1970s, when Cartier supplied celebrities of the day with their jewels and luxury accessories. Derived mainly from the private Cartier Collection housed in Geneva, the spectacular array of more than 200 objects includes jewelry of the Gilded Age and Art Deco periods, as well as freestanding works of art such as the famous Mystery Clocks. With an extensive variety of jewelry forms—ranging from traditional white diamond suites to the highly colored exotic creations of the 1920s and 1930s—Cartier made its mark with the ingenuity of its designs and its exquisite craftsmanship. The exhibition, open December 19, 2009, to April 18, 2010, is exclusive to the Legion of Honor. This exhibit concentrates on pieces owned by Americans, including a pair of rock crystal and diamond bracelets worn by Gloria Swanson in the movie Sunset Boulevard, Daisy Fellowes’s famous “Tutti Frutti” necklace, and the exotic flamingo brooch made for the Duchess of Windsor. Private lenders in the United States and France have contributed significant pieces to the exhibition. For the first time, an American museum will feature the personal jewelry of Princess Grace of Monaco from the time of her wedding to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, in 1956.

Patiala necklace from Cartier's "Haute Joillerie Collection" exhibition from December 2008 in Miami, Florida

The famous Patiala necklace was made in 1928 for Maharaja of Patiala in India in 1928. The original necklace was just under 1,000 carats featuing 2,930 diamonds which included the golf ball sized DeBeers gem 0f 234.69 carats.

Louis-Francois Cartier

(from Fahrney's Pens)
The House of Cartier was founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier. The "king of jewelers" satisfied the desires of pashas and princes from his workshop in Paris, creating objects of beauty and excellence. These same imperatives continue to inspire Cartier designers today resulting in a line of exquisite writing instruments and accessories all bearing the Cartier signature of style.
In 1874, Cartier's son Alfred took over the business and expanded it considerably. That included watches, which Louis-Francois had only dabbled in. In 1899, Alfred's son Louis Cartier entered the firm. Louis Cartier was a great lover of mechanical pocket watches and wanted the company to build its own watches.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Yusupov Palace & Grigori Rasputin

(Yusupov Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia)

I was tuned in to Turner Classic Movies over the weekend and saw part of the 1971 movie Nicholas and Alexandra. The film's subject matter covered one of my favorite historical subjects, Tsarist Russia, so I was captured by the movie instantly. When it covered the topic of Rasputin and his murder, I was especially attentive because I was fortunate enough to visit the Yusupov Palace on the Moika river in St. Petersburg; the scene of the historic killing. There, I saw the exhibit in Prince Yusupov's former apartments in the palace's basement that depicts how the rooms looked the night Grigori Rasputin was assassinated. Rasputin was a peasant monk from a small village in Siberia who befriended the Tsaritsa Alexandra because of her belief that he was a gifted healer. The exhibit has furniture, paintings, objets, family photographs of the Romanovs, Yusupovs and other decorative items from the era. The movie brought back the excitement of my visit so I pulled out my book on the palace and the famous Yusupov family to share some information that I learned from the trip.
The family can trace its descent from the ancient Tartar khans who ruled the plains centuries ago. In the 16th Century, Khan Yussuf formed an alliance with Ivan the Terrible and that was the first link with the Russian royal family. Over time, they converted from the Muslim church to the Orthodox church and changed their name to Yusupov. Along the way, they were made princes of Russia by the Romanovs. In 1916, the Yusupov's were increasingly alarmed at the deteriorating popularity of the Tsar and believed Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina Alexandra was harmful and causing the royal couple to ignore their responsibilities. Prince Felix Yusopov and Archduke Dmitri Pavlovitch Romanov invited Rasputin to the Yusupov palace on December 16, 1916. There, they fed him wine and cakes laced with poison. According to legend, the poison did not do the trick so they shot him, beat him and threw him into the frozen Neva River. The killing did not save the royal family, but it may have saved both the lives of Prince Yusupov and the Archduke because they were both exiled from St. Petersburg before the revolution and eventually escaped Russia. In fact Archduke Dmitri Pavlovitch Romanov went on to have an affair with Coco Chanel in 1921 and introduced her to the perfumers in Grasse, France which led to the famous Chanel No 5 fragrance.

A glimpse inside the
Yusupov Palace

Palace Theatre

This is the Yusupov family's private theatre located in the palace.

The theater has been herald as one the world's most impressive theaters with its gilded gold ornaments throughout the theater.

The ceiling up close is just unbelievable. The Yusupov's had the theater designed to impress the Tsar of Russia and also other kings and queens of Europe that visited Saint Petersburg.

Palace Staircase

One of the fabulous staircases in the palace with a grand chandelier.

The Red Room
Interior decoration 1830's -architect A. Mikhailov

This room is known as the Golden, or Imperial Drawing Room because of its collection of portraits of the ruling monarch on the central wall of the room.

The parquetry floors consist of various types of tropical wood which were laid around the 1830's. The walls covered in crimson colored silk.

The Green Room

The color scheme of the Green room is emphasized by the fireplace mantel made of Ural
malachite in the Russian mosaic technique. Installed by the architect I. Monigetty in 1860.

The Blue Room

The Louis XVI style furniture pieces were acquired around the 1840's.

(The wonderful palace interior photos courtesy of world traveler Galen R. Frysinger at )