Monday, October 26, 2015

Best New Style Book, Just Published by Rizzoli: ‘Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions’ by Manolo Blahnik

It’s my new favorite book, a fantastic trip into the fetish and frivolity and the fabulous style of Manolo Blahnik.

Every fall I gather and select my favorite newly published style and design and interiors books.

This week, I’m revealing my favorite. It’s a superb production, with fantastic natural linen binding with the title blind-embossed in black. That’s a thrill before even opening the book.

It’s full of lavish and luscious and very fetishy photos of his shoe collection and prototypes. Exquisite. The great Mr. Blahnik has also edited and selected favorite photography of beautiful women and his favorite models, as well as art that has inspired him and so many original interviews (Anna Piaggi) and insights and inspirations. Yikes…so original and beautiful.

I wear Blahniks…black silk, black suede, black snakeskin, black goatskin, lambskin (I wear only black shoes) and mostly Blahniks (some Chanel, some London Sole, some Prada). But Blahniks are the most elegant, classic, chic shoes, by far. They never date. He has superb taste and fantastic style and his shoes are always in style, always delicate and light and wonderful to wear.

The book shows lots of shoes—Tina Chow’s shoes, designs for movies.

And then…surprise and delight…there is a fantastic interview/visit to a palace in Palermo. There's an interview with the cousin of Giusseppe di Lampedusa, the great author of ‘The Leopard’ (Il Gattopardo) on which the great film, starring Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale and the magnificent Alain Delon was based).

That interview and report and images are a reason, alone, to acquire the book.

But there are also an essay on Visconti, paintings by Goya, enough jeweled shoes to send a shoe lover into a faint. I admire his selections of personalities and profiles of people like Horst and Beaton and images of Balenciaga’s best.

Why I love the Bahnik book:
Included in the superbly designed book are: Italian palaces, fur-lined slippers (thirty years before Gucci), along with ‘Myra Breckinridge’ (with costumes designed by my great friend Theadora van Runkle), and Milena Canonero, Irving Penn, Diana Vreeland, and Tina Chow.

Turn the pages to find walk-on appearances by Greek statuary (the sandals), and a tour of the Prado, ‘Death in Venice’, Maria Callas, Pauline de Rothschild, Africa, Cuba, Marie Antoinette and David Bailey and his wives (he was once married to Catherine Deneuve).

Featuring more than forty years of shoe design, ‘MANOLO BLAHNIK: Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions’ is a highly collectible monograph of the work of Manolo Blahnik, one of the greats of contemporary fashion. Mr. Blahnik draws inspiration from the worlds of architecture, art,film, and literature.

My shoes are black, but his exciting use of color, enbroideries, lace, trim and maribou and unprecedented designs, and exquisitely sculpted heels make his shoes some of the most coveted in the world.

With Michael Roberts’ 250 iconic designs from his archive, the book also reveals the inspirations behind his artistic vision. Think Velasquez.

I love the dramatic and beautiful photography and thoughtful essays by fashion writers, curators, and colleagues offering insight into Mr. Blahnik’s vivid and creative world.

Manolo Blahnik is the most influential and admired shoe designer and is the founder of his eponymous shoe company.

Pedro Almodóvar is a film director.

Mary Beard is a Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge.

Sofia Coppola is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and actress.

Rafael Moneo is a Spanish architect.

André Leon Talley is the former American editor-at-large for Vogue magazine.

Michael Roberts is a British fashion journalist, illustrator, photographer, and film director.

All images here used with permission from Rizzoli.

Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions
By Manolo Blahnik

Photography and notes by Michael Roberts, with contributions by Pedro Almodóvar, Mary Beard, Eric Boman, Sofia Coppola, and Andre Leon Talley

Hardcover w/slipcase / 488 pages / 9⅞” x 13” / 400 color photographs / $150

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lines of Precision: Above It All

For a glamorous South of Market penthouse, San Francisco interior designer David Oldroyd sculpted ultra-refined décor with a cosmopolitan air.

David, a partner in ODADA (Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Associates) worked closely with architect/designer Orlando Diaz-Azcuy for almost thirty years. Now he and his business partner, designer, Greg Stewart, have taken over management/direction of the firm and with a team of twenty staff are creating new and provocative ways to view and enjoy modernist interiors.

Signatures in the penthouse: striking custom-made lighting, as well as voluptuous etched gold screens of verre egolomisé, and luscious custom-designed chenille and silks. Luxurious-to-the-touch materials, simplicity of line, restraint and understatement are key here.

David Oldroyd, Principal at ODADA (Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Associates)

From the 60th floor penthouse of the Millennium Tower, the distant Farallon Islands seem close enough to spot rare birds through precision binoculars. 

On a clear day it might be possible to zoom in on the Carneros vineyard where a favorite wine was produced and gaze many miles up the coast. But it’s the sunny and animated and more textured and gritty panorama to the east and south, with tankers gathered in the bay and planes aloft over SFO, that captured the new owners’ attention.

“When the family first entered and saw the wide-open raw space, they requested that the interiors should be very open with no walls or furnishings to distract from the endless panorama,” said David Oldroyd.

His concept was to create meticulously custom-detailed designs that look entirely effortless. The color palette hovers from cloud white to foggy pale taupe to palest sky blue and the penthouse seems to float in the air. All is tranquil here. 

At the entrance, a triangular gallery wall, sculptural and monolithic, is crafted of African mahogany with a subtle rippling gleam. Silk carpets, choreographed with abstract swirls, shimmer in the afternoon light.

In the dining room, a custom-crafted Dale Chihuly sculpture/ chandelier in moody purple and indigo and haze blue hovers above the custom carved walnut dining table. Classic 1959 dining chairs by Ole Wanscher were upholstered in a Calvin fabric. At left is the living room. The floor is Flavigny limestone.

Oldroyd selected curving dining chairs to animate the angularity of the space. He obsessed over the jigsaw puzzle shapes of the limestone floored, softly honed, and trapezoidal custom-crafted bronze door pulls that mimic the floor plan.

“It’s the ultimate pied-a-terre, where the family can enjoy the cultural riches of the city and catch up with newest restaurants,” said Oldroyd. “The ballet is ten minutes away.”

Designer David Oltroyd set all walls at an angle to animate the interior. The triangular gallery wall, bold and monolithic, is crafted of African mahogany with a subtle rippling gleam. 

In the low-key kitchen, teak barstools with rosewood footrests are by Eric Buck, 1960. In the bedroom an Italian alabaster lamp, 1950, stands on a wall-mounted lacquered side table by Oldroyd.

The custom breakfast table is teak with a polished chrome base. Pendant light is by John Pomp Studios. Chairs are by Johannes Andersen, Denmark, 1960s. 

It’s all very quiet luxury here, with an ethereal gold-painted verre eglomisé screen glimmering between a bedroom and a bathroom, lavish silk pillows, and a small efficient kitchen.

High in the Sky

On the 60th-floor terrace, with views over the bay to the east and the piers of Mission Bay down below, Oldroyd created a practical, weatherproof composition with a quartet of aluminum Brown Jordan chairs surrounding a Brown Jordan metal table. Custom-made resin sofas and a low table are weighted with integral cement against high winds and rain.

Design and planning/concept of the penthouse: 

David Oldroyd
San Francisco 
(415) 362-4500
www.odada.netDavid Oldroyd graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Brigham Young University in 1986. He joined Orlando Diaz-Azcuy at ODADA in 1990 and became a Principal of the firm in 2000. He lives in San Francisco and often travels to Hawaii.

All photography of the San Francisco penthouse used with express permission of the designer and the copyright holders:

Matthew Millman 
(415) 577-3200