Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Cult of St. John

In its heyday, St. John Knits was the uniform of a certain kind of woman: professional, polished, and (ahem) established. Its jackets featured 22k gold-plated and hand-enameled buttons. It hems were knit-in, not sewn.  Its fabrics were famously forgiving, and could be taken in or (more often) let out through a steaming process called blocking. It did Reagan Red like nobody's business.

When I was in high school, the company took out a full page color ad every Sunday in the L.A. Times Magazine featuring Kelly Gray, the daughter of the company's founder. Kelly Gray stretched out on a zebra-skin rug with shirtless male model. Kelly Gray standing by a limo with a bevy of handsome shirtless male models. Kelly Gray lounging poolside in Brazil with (you guessed it) even more shirtless male models.

Kelly Gray's world couldn't have been more different from mine, but I loved her, as did St. John's legions of rabidly loyal fans. Then, the unthinkable happened. The Grays were pushed out, and the new owners inexplicably chose Angelina Jolie as the brand's new face. Angelina Jolie, who promptly broke up Brad and Jennifer. Angelina Jolie, the embodiment of every O.C. trophy wife's greatest fear. The fans were not happy.

After some back-pedaling, St. John survived, and its multi-level store at the South Coast Plaza remains a haven for shoppers seeking gala-ready gowns and impeccable service. I was lucky enough to find a sequined gown just prior to the Jolie scandal at an outlet in Vegas. I'll show it to you in two weeks when I wear it to the Junior League's prom casino night. But with the exception of a couple of jackets bought on sale for my mom for Christmas gifts, I bought no other pieces of St. John's Santana knits.

So imagine my joy when I walked into Second Time Around in Torrance last weekend and found a stockpile of new-with-tags St. John. I walked out with this skirt, originally $300, but marked down to $50.

Knit-it hem

The Nordstrom tag is still attached!
I picture it with a low-slung gold chain belt. Perhaps an over-sized brooch. Nude hose, for a bit of Nancy R. camp.

In case you are feeling badly for the Ms. Gray, don't. She and her mom have just launched a new line, Grayse, which will no doubt have as solid a following as their old venture.

Monday, April 15, 2013

We Were Born to Run

It's been a tense couple of hours as the Merry Husband and I have waited for news that our friends who were running and spectating at the Boston Marathon were okay. As of now, all but one friend has checked in on Facebook, Twitter, or RunningAHEAD. God bless the internet.

There were some close calls. One friend reported that she crossed the finish line about a minute before the first explosion.

My heart goes out to the victims of this terrible tragedy and to those who are still trying to reunite with their loved ones.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Day in Downtown L.A.

Yesterday, I joined a group of Junior Leaguers for a Day at City Hall. It was an opportunity for us to watch the city council in action, meet with city staffers, and, for a brief moment, act like big-wig politicians. We wasted no time getting down to business.

The JLLA Beach Cities girls are ready for our interview.
(Merry Wife, second from left)
The last item on the agenda was a trip to the wrap-around observation deck on the 27th floor.

The Times Building in the foreground.
Grand Park
You call it smog, we call it haze. You can just make out the
Hollywood sign.
Union Station
In true socialite style, our "day" of "hard work" was over at noon, so we high-tailed it over to Bottega Louie on 7th and Grand for lunch and some of their famous macarons. The macaron has been the New Cupcake for a few years now, but if the crowds were any indication, no one is ready to move on the next big thing yet.

So many macarons, so little time.
It was hard to decide what flavors to bring home and share with the Merry Husband, but I finally settled on this box of five.

Left to right: Pistachio, Earl Grey, Rose, Strawberry,
and Grand Cru
The Earl Grey macaron is the prettiest I have ever seen - pale blue flecked with gold. It was as if Marie Antoinette came back as a cookie.

If you happen to find yourself in downtown, I highly recommend stopping by to gawk at the pastry counter. I have it on good authority that the best time to go is at brunch, and that the thing to get (besides the macarons) are the lemon ricotta pancakes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau, 1931-2013

This morning, the Pink Palace announced the sad news that its colorful queen, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau, passed away at her home in Palm Beach, surrounded by friends and family. She was 81.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Retail Therapy: Leontine Linens

When I got married in the summer of 2011, my gifts to my bridesmaids were hand-embroidered handkerchiefs from Leontine Linens in New Orleans. I bought a pair for myself too, and stuck one in the bodice of my dress and the other in my white clutch. Holly Golightly had Tiffany's, her place where nothing bad could ever happen. As much as I love that blue box, my cure for the mean reds is the Leontine Linens website. Were I to win the Powerball or sell a news app to Yahoo for a large fortune, I would immediately ring up Leontine and place my order for monogrammed towels, tablecloths, and pillow shams. But for now, I am content with my equivalent of Holly's engraved Cracker Jack ring.

The sales staff at Leontine were as attentive as the gentleman who showed Holly and Paul the sterling silver rotary phone dialer. When the handkerchiefs arrived in their box, they were accompanied by a card listing the names of the women who made on my order. 

In the summer of 2012, I carried both handkerchiefs with me to my father's funeral. During the service, I took one of them out of the handbag he bought for me when I got my first "real" job, and traced the monogram with my finger as if it were a rosary. This morning, I am pressing the handkerchiefs into service again to attend the funeral a woman who was a high school classmate of my sister and the daughter of a beloved co-worker. She will be buried at the same cemetery we laid my dad to rest. I do not want to get ready this morning. Once I put on my black dress, the same one I wore last summer, I know I will have to acknowledge reality. In the meantime, I am contemplating my handkerchiefs and hoping that they see more tears of happiness than tears of sadness in my lifetime.

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