Saturday, February 23, 2013

Window Shopping in Rome!

Fashion is not necessarily about labels.
It's not about brands.
It's about something else that comes from within you.
~Ralph Lauren


Ahhh ... Valentino Red. Don't you just love it? And how 1960s is this little number? Imagine if she had on some Nancy Sinatra boots! There was a lot of retro going on in the windows, as you'll soon see. If you look closely, you'll see it's made of gorgeous red lace.

When in doubt, wear red.
~Bill Blass

By the way, I was all set to kick my Italy postings into high gear and then I got the flu! Fortunately, (and I'm guessing this is because I got a flue shot) my fever didn't go as high as a lot of folks and hasn't lasted as long. (knocking on wood over here!)

Anyhow, it's time to take a break from posting about churches, monasteries and other more "serious" fare ... and get to something else I love. Fashion. In Rome! These photos were mostly taken on a couple of different nights, after the rain, and after the shops had closed. 

This shot, above, was taken with my back to the Spanish Steps, looking down Via Condotti, the swankiest shopping street in Rome. On the left corner you can just make out "Dior" on the window and upstairs on the right "Prada." Not a bad location, right on one of the most popular Piazzas in Rome.

The Christmas Lights were already up on Via Condotti when I arrived in Rome and on the main drag that runs perpendicular to it, and right through Piazza di Spagna. (This was November 30th.) Most of the lights on the side streets didn't start going up until around the 6th or 7th of December, as I was leaving Rome.

Looking back up Via Condotti to Piazza di Spagna, you can just barely make out Trinità dei Monti, which I talked about in the previous post.

Lace was big, as you can see, along with gorgeous gold Baroque style accents that looked like they'd come right out of a Bernini church and onto a handbag.

A woman's dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: 
serving its purpose without obstructing the view.
~Sophia Loren

That lace was so beautiful and so fine, as if it had been made in the late 19th century. Just gorgeous! Loving the contrast of the gold belt fabulousness, that keeps it from being too sweet and virginal.

You can never be overdressed or overeducated.
~Oscar Wilde

The only real elegance is in the mind; 
if you've got that, the rest really comes from it.
~Diana Vreeland

Christian Dior

And the guy selling roasted chestnuts, next to Christian Dior. Good gravy, they smelled good!

I try not to covet material objects but come on. That dress on the right? With that sweet, but not too sweet, ruffle across the shoulders ... Anyway, everyone needs a LBT. (Speaking of which, my mom just found my 1950s Little Black Dress that my friend Evelyn bought me when I first moved to LA, and it still fits! But I digress ... )

One is never over or under dressed
with a little black dress.
~Karl Lagerfeld

Max Mara

Fashion changes, but style endures.
~Coco Chanel

The white blouse and black pants are screaming Ginger Rodgers to me! LOVE!

Max Mara

Love Leopard print, done right. So chic and adds a little spice.

This blouse below was so pretty in person. Layers of of silk chiffon ruffles ... sigh.

Again with the vintage looks! I may be getting the decades wrong but the coat on the left screams 1920s to me. And how cute is that striped dress? 

The thing is, that everything is so beautifully made ... so beautifully crafted, you can help but appreciate the beauty. Or at least I can't!

Max & Co.

A girl should be two things:
classy and fabulous.
~Coco Chanel

Alberta Ferretti

Over the years I have learned
that what is important in a dress
is the woman who is wearing it.
~Yves Saint Laurent

1920s cloche hats at Alberta Ferretti 

This tree, below, looked so beautiful, as well as the chandeliers down the street. On closer inspection, you realize though, someone does have to pay for all of this and the sponsor, in this case, was Mercedes. It's difficult to see in the photos but there were little Mercedes logos hanging from the tree and the chandeliers. Kind of funny, but it was still beautiful, as you can see!

Treasures to be found on little side streets ...

How wonderful are these?! 

And, of course this post wouldn't be complete without fabulous Italian shoes!

Roberto Botticelli
sandalo strass rosso 469,00 euro

Red is wild. She is unsettling. She intrigues.
Wear red and other women will assume that you are a predatory vixen
who is out to steal their husbands and suck the blood of their Children.
~Simon Doonan
(he cracks me up!)

Roberto Botticelli
sandalo strass nero 495,00 euro

And here we have, the least pricey shop in the neighborhood, where I found my drinking glass! (The turquoise on the left.) If you ever need a glass ... it was 56, Via Frattina! (closed Sunday)

I loved the menswear and there was something so cozy about this look! Just look at that gorgeous plaid! I don't know many guys here who could pull this off but I would be temped to pull Annie Hall if I'd had the cash!

As the week progressed, more windows had the Christmas vibe.

This just cracked me up! As I recall, I think they were right on Piazza di Spagna ...

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say,
and not giving a damn.
~Orson Wells

Via del Babuino runs from the Northwest, right down into Spagna

Guiseppe Zanotti Design

(I mean seriously!!! I couldn't stand up in them, without risking a broken ankle, but they are certainly sculptural shoe porn, at its finest! Maybe just a photo in them!? At 650,00 euro a pair, I didn't ask to try them on.)


Dress shabbily and they remember the dress;
dress impeccably and they remember the woman.
~Coco Chanel

Guilty feelings about clothes are totally unnecessary.
A lot of people earn their living by making clothes, 
so you should never feel bad.
~Karl Lagerfeld

I looked in the window (below) and saw this lovely, very small, ink rendering and thought, What a lovely Christmas gift this would make! At closer inspection, it turned out it was a Tiepolo. That Tiepolo. Yes, I'm sure it would make a lovely Christmas gift for someone. Like, the queen? The price wasn't in the window.

Giambattista Tiepolo, Venezia 1696 - Madrid 1770
W. Apolloni
Arte Antica

Il Gufo

Chanel (?)

This dress was adorable and I'm not sure who designed it! 

What a strange power there is in clothing.
~Isaac Bashevis Singer

This window below, cracked me up, with the mannequin being swallowed by Christmas tree!


On a day to day level, I can be just as lazy as the next person about what I wear but there is something wonderful about expressing yourself through what you wear... wearing clothes that speak of who you are and express who you are.

I've been purging a bunch of clothes I used to wear for auditions and that had seeped into my everyday clothes. Some, I never even felt that good in, but every commercial actress needs a black polo, a conservative black suit, a blue work shirt and so on. (At least for the types of things I used to go out on.) There was a time where everything seemed to be getting pretty beige. 

I like dressing up. I am a bit perplexed when people show up to bridal showers in shorts and go to dinner in baseball caps (Even if you are going bald! Bald men are sexy, get over it!) 

Part of me thinks, it doesn't really matter, it is what's on the inside that counts. Well, it is but on the other hand ... do the sweatpants represent you? If so, go for it. Personally, I don't want to be sweatpants. And, with all the fun things out there ... at least be pink sweatpants! Or aqua blue! Really, what is your favorite color? What do you feel fantastic in?  

You don't have to dress up, just dress your self. (And maybe have some fun while you're at it?)

I find these ladies sooooooo fun and inspiring! 

And if you haven't already seen it, here's his fun blog of these groovy ladies (and a few gents) ... Advanced Style

 I loathe the idea of growing old gracefully.
I fully intend to grow old eccentrically and dramatically.
Brace yourselves.
~Simon Doonan
-The Associated Press

Friday, February 15, 2013

Trinita dei Monti and the Spanish Steps

Since I'd arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, it had been grey and raining but when I walked out the door Friday morning? Bits of blue sky! Yay! I walked up the street from my little pensione to the top of the Spanish Steps, where the church of Trinità dei Monti stands. The air was cool and crisp and the view was lovely.

Trinità dei Monti 

Looking out beyond the Spanish Steps ...

Inside Trinità dei Monti

Santissima Trinità dei Monti
Most Holy Trinity of the Hills
Consecrated in 1585

Architects Carlo Maderno, Domenico Fontana

Chapel of St. John the Baptist

Heading down the Spanish Steps, a sweet couple asked me to take their picture, which of course, I did. Then, they offered to take my picture. This happens a lot when you are traveling on your own and it's kind of a fun little "job." 

Love the beautiful Burnt Sienna color of this building!

Apparently, the Spanish Steps are the widest set of steps in Europe. This shot, below, is only the middle section. To the right of the steps, looking up, was the home of poet John Keats. Sorry, somehow I guess I didn't get a shot of it. It's now a museum but of the many things I did in Rome, that wasn't one of them. There is just so much to do!

Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Ugly Boat) built in 1627-29, credited to Gian Lorenzo's dad, Pietro Bernini. It's a great place to people watch. 

LOVE these buildings!!

At 1pm on Friday, I was to meet up with a friend of a friend, Dawn, who's been living in Rome for more than a decade, married to an Italian man (they have two kids together.) She is an English teacher at the private school, which is just behind Trinità dei Monti, and is connected to the monastery and convent.

Obelisco Sallustiano 

We planned to meet at the obelisk, describing ourselves and what we'd be wearing. She is an old friend of my friend Mark, who I've known for years. We had touched base by email and I just knew she'd be cool because Mark wouldn't be friends with someone who wasn't!

She'd told me that after we had lunch, she had a surprise for me ... and it was in the monastery. She knows some of the monks and bakes for them so ...

We were able to go upstairs in the cloister and see this ...

This mural was amazing! The anamorphic fresco of St. Francis di Paola as a hermit. St. Francis di Paola founded the monastery in the 15th century. You can see the Saint beyond the tree ... but as you get closer ...

It all stretches out to become a little town ... and the sea ...

It's so cool how it changes as you walk down the corridor! I've been trying to look up the artist's name but I still can't find it. I'm still working on it!

I think this was supposed to explain how the artist did it but ... it was in Italian.

This St. Francis, was also a Franciscan and had made pilgrimage to Assisi. The two major movements of his order, were nonviolence and humility. The non-violence, included all creatures, and he followed a vegan diet.

Across the mural are the windows onto the courtyard of the monastery.

Then, we made a right into this corridor ...

Check out the walls and ceiling! Amazing!!! 

Astronimical table by E. Maignan (1637)

More information in Italian ... 

at the bottom of the window is a little door ...

The light through the window is supposed to hit somewhere in the room, depending on the time of day, year etc. 

This stuff was never on my vocabulary lists in Italian class but maybe we can find someone to translate, though it doesn't look like Italian ... anyone?

Everything was just so beautifully rendered. Being a Sagittarius, I had to get a shot of the Archer!

Dawn then took me to the Mater Chapel ...

There is a fresco of the Virgin Mary she wanted me to see. There was a man praying so I didn't want to be obnoxious and take pictures of it. This photo below is from Wikipedia.

Miraculous fresco Mater Admirabilis

The story goes, that Pauline, a young French lady, was asked by the nuns at Trinità dei Monti to paint a mural of Mary in 1844. The story Dawn was told, (and relayed to me) is different than the account on Wikipedia. According to what she was told, Pauline repeatedly tried to finish the Virgin's face but never felt she got it right. She returned one morning and the face was painted in a way that she and the nuns thought was perfect. No one knew who did it, but apparently they liked it so much that they left it. 

The story on wikipedia says that after Pauline finished it, the Mother Superior thought it was too bold and bright and covered it up with a piece of fabric. A couple of years later, the Pope showed up (Leo XII) and asked what the fabric was hiding. He insisted on seeing it and supposedly it had mellowed in a couple of years, and he loved it. He called her Mater Admirabilis, (mother most admirable) which it is still called today. It's been associated with several miracles. I'll let you know when I find out what they are. (I guess the story of it being finished by an unknown hand, is one of them.)

Back to the Spanish steps ... you may remember adorable Audrey Hepburn having a gelato on the Spanish Steps with Gregory Peck (0:41 on the video) which was, as you may recall, the inspiration for my 2011 Christmas card. ;)
Roman Holiday 1953

My Christmas Card 2011

It was such a special day, having my own little private tour of these treasures, hidden away in Rome. Thanks Dawn for a great day and a wonderful memory!

Rome is the city of echoes,
the city of illusions, 
and the city of yearning.

~Giotto di Bondone