The Collector’s Eye: Bunny Mellon

Rachel Lambert Mellon’s collection of fine art and decorative objects and furniture is on view this week at Sotheby’s (the sale begins on Friday) and it is topic “A” at Manhattan cocktail parties. I’ve even received a few emails today peppered with sign offs like “…I’m running up to Sotheby’s to see the Bunny Mellon collection,” or “I’ll meet you after I see the Bunny Mellon collection.”

The other night over dinner with some sophisticated French friends we got talking about the idea of taste and personal collecting in reference to the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We were trying to define what makes a personal collection so unique and decided it comes down to an individual’s clarity of vision, the ability to “go there” as one of my friends put it, to build a collection–a story, really–around one aesthetic ideal. This may sound incredibly snobbish, but very few people have this kind of vision. Call it taste. Taste is discipline, the ability to say “yes” to one thing and “no” to another. (Ms. Mellon’s aesthetic has as much to do with her taste in art as it does with her idiosyncratic style, the pluck of hanging a Van Gogh over the bathtub, or an unframed Pissarro over the fireplace). The best collections express a depth of passion and a nimble instinct. You can tell, for example, just looking at a real collection, that the individual picked one piece not only because it was superior in some way to the rest, but because it spoke to them in a way that other pieces did not.

I’ve overheard people discussing their impressions of the Bunny Mellon preview exhibit–all ten floors of stuff–at Sotheby’s and it’s funny how the same observation is repeated over and over: the art is incredible, but the decorative pieces, on their own, don’t seem that unique or significant. How could they? Each piece is unique only as it relates to the whole. On it’s own a basket is just a basket. (Still, wouldn’t it be cool to bid on one of the baskets in her collection pictured above?) I suspect the reason so many people are running up to Sotheby’s to get a gander at the ensemble, has less to do with owning a piece of it and more to do with holding onto the last vestige of an old world, a world where this level of taste and kind of lifestyle was the norm. It’s gone now, we won’t see the likes of Bunny Mellon again anytime soon. We won’t hear or read about people who live with art and style the way she did. Here is a link to the Sotheby’s catalogue.

Monsieur Dior: Once Upon A Time

Christian Dior is one of the most intriguing figures in fashion–not only because he made such an impact on mid-20th century style with his famous New Look collection, but also because he was the first couturier to transform his name into a global brand. My friend Nathasha Fraser-Cavassoni has a new book out that is a real jewel. With numerous interviews and anecdotes she draws an intimate portrait of Dior the couturier, and Dior the quintessential Frenchman. The photos are also beautiful, with many I’ve never seen. Order it here.

Printing fabrics with Kathryn Ireland

By Tuesday, October 28, 2014 0 , , , , Permalink 0

If you love hand-printed fabrics and process stories, you will enjoy a quick peek inside Kathryn Ireland’s printing shop in her Culver City, Los Angeles showroom. Recently I wrote about her three-day design boot camp for the Wall Street Journal and got to watch her printers pull rich shades of pink and green ink across fifteen yards of linen to create her colorful designs. It’s fascinating to see how precise they can get with each screen and color. Read more about Kathryn’s design boot camp here: WSJ.

I’ll Take Cadaqués Any Day

By Monday, October 27, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

My friend Bob Morris emailed from Girona, Spain the other day to say he was looking for restaurant recs in the area (he had just consumed a 20-course meal at the Celler Can Roca–aka, the best restaurant in the world). How do you top that? Easy. I told him about Compartir in Cadaqués, owned by three chefs who all worked in Ferran Adrià’s kitchen at El Bulli. Two summers ago my husband and I traveled to Cadaqués for a story I was writing on the Costa Brava region. We fell in love with the delicious food at this unpretentious spot (the beet salad pictured above is out of this world). Cadaqués, as you may know, is where Salvador Dalì lived for many years. It’s a remote, white-washed Mediterranean fishing town, surrounded by mountains and stretching right down to the turquoise sea. I could go back there in a heartbeat. Read more here: Travel+Leisure.