A Hunting We Shall Go...

I am infatuated with trophy rooms. This is a recent development.

It's disturbing, the way this bizarre fascination crept up on me. Disgust morphed into curiosity, and before I knew it (um, was I sleeping while this transformation took place?) I found myself, glazed over like a zombie, eyeballs blue from the computer-glow, researching antique taxidermy at 3 in the morning.

Sometimes, I want what I want. And evidently, I wanted my own piece of the trophy room pie. Have I mentioned that I'm not really much of a hunter?

Enter the (other) problem. In my mind, beat up, antique skins (or otherwise fabrics that closely replicate them) are the only way to go, but tiger and zebra are notoriously difficult to find in this form. Part of what makes these rooms so appealing to me is the dusty, smoky atmosphere and romance of a story, and the common cotton tiger (zebra, leopard, whatever) print just doesn't suffice. Neither does acrylic "fur." Not to mention that most prints are so uniformly intense in color and pattern. They just don't hit bullseye, so to speak.

The solution? You might remember this room —the painted hunting scene is a vestige from an earlier incarnation. Convenient, the way these things work out. To fill in the gaps, we did what we always do in these situations: PAINT OURSELVES INTO OBLIVION. Specifically, I'm referring to the zebra "hide" (painted on canvas, mounted on wool felt) and tiger upholstery (yup, canvas too). The pillow (painted griffins backed with the dreaded ubiquitous cotton leopard print) and red table are also our creations, albeit from a while back, resuscitated for the intensity of their color.

Anyway, since I'm pretty damn certain that no trophy room ever involved a "Naugahyde," we temporarily deep ditched the sofa in favor of this chair, which has become, as you can clearly see, an experiment in, well... animal.

And now, my life is complete. I can live out my latent imperialist fantasies while drinking Christmas whiskey, smoking a cigar (or is a pipe more fitting?) and reading Rudyard Kipling in my own trophy chair. All upon return from safari, of course.

Above, Teddy Roosevelt (check out that fringe), and his very own trophy room. Images from theodore-roosevelt.com.

All other images photographed and created by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE.



Color blocking conjures up images of stripped naked, fresh-from-the-shower-clean hunks of pigment. 

Here's our version of something that's usually an exercise in reduction and restraint. Incidentally, these are two qualities that I seem not to possess.  While blocks of chartreuse, hot pink, blue and gold provide the spine, I think that excessive pattern provides interest, no?

Design, painting (accent table, walls- metallic bird and key detail), and photography by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE.


The Afterglow

Christmas might be over, but I'm holding onto my Barbie-esque tree baubles for dear life.  To release my grip, the grinch will need to pry them from my cold dead hands.  Morbid, perhaps, but I'm fairly certain that I love them even more when they're stacked and piled into a glistening, succulent mass.

Photography and contents of photo (pillow, textile, chair and bureau) by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE.  


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!!

My gift to you? A moment of temporary (or prolonged) insanity.

Does anyone else think that snow on tables looks like fondant covered cakes?



Moore Displays

"In response to a question on the current use of realistic mannequins, he says, 'I don't think they are very realistic, because I never see people taking positions that mannequins take. I'm tired of seeing girls looking like they're spreading their legs to take a piss. It's dreadful. There's such a lack of elegance that I can't bear it.'" -Gene Moore, in Windows by Michael Emory

The window display artist Gene Moore (1910-1998) designed over 5,000 windows throughout his career as Tiffany's display director.  Although he was trained as a fine artist, he regarded his displays as a form of news reporting, a reflection of the times in which they were made, too disposable to be "real" art. I hope Mr. Moore was just being modest. Because I BEG TO DIFFER!

Wikipedia says that Moore lived in a United Nations Plaza apartment designed by Robert Denning (For whose designs I have an extreme affection.  See here and here.). Could it be true?

There's some Dali influence in the disembodied, floating arms, isn't there?

From Windows by Michael Emory

Whips and Motorcycles: Clarence House, 1969

Whips, motorcycles, and Clarence House fabrics...yes, please. Check out Gene Moore's killer window for Clarence House, September 1969. Who knew?

 From Windows by Michael Emory


I'd like to sleep here tonight.

From "Animal Obsession," Casa Vogue n. 32. Photo by Tim Walker.


Cold Weather, Cold Women & Christmas Whiskey (YUM)

It's official: I'm SNOWED IN. The world, as seen from my bathroom window, was looking white this morning:

I'm basking in every second of it (have I mentioned that I really enjoy snow?), except for the fact that it's freezing cold and, according to LOOK mag from Dec 10, 1968, "Men hate cold women." WELL. That's a shame, because I am one damn chilly lady, at the moment (see image above).  Suffice it to say, I'm not at all convinced that a "tanity case" would "warm me up,"  and I'm even less convinced that it could stand in for a vacation to say... Fiji, all for $16.95. Men, if you want a "warm" woman, I have just one little suggestion for you: do NOT buy her a "tanity" kit this holiday season, okay? 

A more thoroughly "warming" option might be this Christmas whiskey from the same mag.  Now we're talking. But, then again, maybe it's just the jacquard speaking to me.  As if I actually need to say it, I'm beginning to become convinced that nearly everything (even chickens) looks better wrapped in jacquard and topped with a glassy bauble.

First image, by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE. Two advertisements from LOOK, Dec 10, 1968.


Sugar and Spice

'Tis the season for sugar, spice, and everything nice, and in that spirit, there are a few lovely ladies who are especially worthy of a warm hearted thanks:

Thank you to Little Augury for crowning the (IN)DECOROUS TASTE jacquard chicken with "Mistletoe & Holly" for the "Best December Post." I'm beyond blown away, and so is that chicken!

Thank you also to Home Before Dark, who bequeathed to me the copy of Regency Redux that she won from Emily Evans Eerdmans (the author herself) Home has been out and about lately- at JCB's here, Little Augury's here, and Emily Evans Eerdmans' here. Please do check her out- she's a witty commenter and an even wittier blogger! Thank you also, Home Before Dark and Little Augury, for all the encouragement and interest both of you offered when (In)Decorous Taste had only, uh...two readers.

Photographs and interior (screen, wall, painted mirror) by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE.  Makeup and styling in collaboration with the fabulous Cristin.  

Pineapple Follies

John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, had his pineapple folly...

Above, Dunmore (who was the last governor of colonial Williamsburg, Virginia) built his pineapple folly in 1761, in Dunmore Park, Scotland. A larger scale version of the sailor's tradition of leaving a pineapple on the door stoop to mark a safe return home, Dunmore's pineapple measures 37 feet. Pineapples were indeed grown on the grounds, with heated hot-houses.

And so, I have mine...

Outdone by the Earl of Dunmore? Possibly. Rather unfortunately, my centerpiece is nowhere near 37 feet tall. Nor can I live inside of it. What I can assure you is that the painted mass of artichokes, pineapples, (nude) eggplants, flowers, and beaded ornaments will probably work its way onto the table as a centerpiece at some point during this holiday season!

OH! And before I forget, in a list of links for readers to check out, Eater cited (IN)DECOROUS TASTE'S jacquard chicken as "The nastiest looking (and fanciest) chicken of all time." Nastiest???!?! And the title of the post? I believe it involved the phrase "Ludicrous Chicken."

Image of Dunmore house, via Wikipedia Commons. Centerpiece, including chinoiserie bird motif backdrop and console, created, painted, and photographed by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE.


Windows in Wonderland

I love the mad hatter quality of holiday windows in NYC— these, I photographed at Bergdorf Goodman.

Lots to take in visually, they're almost as overwhelming and jam packed as the city itself during this season.


Louis XV and The Jacquard Chicken


Above, The finished chicken, presented on a faux malachite tray courtesy of my mother.
Originally, I was going to share with you today an image of a chicken from a 1967 House & Garden (reprinted in an issue on "luxury" from September 1998) about a favorite recipe of Louis XV, a truly extravagant chicken that could have passed for op-art, otherwise known as a "Harlequin Chicken."  Despite my intentions, this image never made it into this post, nor even onto my scanner, because at some point while reading, I was suddenly overcome with a feverish NEED to recreate the roaster.

Now, noting that the article offered no guidance for the creation of the bird (other than to say that chefs "hold their breath until the last diamond is put in place"), I can only attribute my infatuation to the odd fact that this struck me as a chicken that LOOKS like a cake, that looks like a chicken.  And what could be splashier at a dinner party than a real bird masquerading as a candy confection mimicking an actual, savory meat dish?!

Louis XV's chefs used boiled and cracked knuckles of veal to create the gelatinous sauce, but (as House & Garden noted in 1967), we now thankfully have lovely packets of gelatin to speed things along.

One Google search for chaudfroid sauce and much experimentation later, I arrived at my own method for making a harlequin chicken, in case you should want to try...

You'll Need:
- 1 small chicken
- 1 3/4 c light cream
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 peppercorns
- 1 TBSP butter
- 2 TBSP flour
- 1 envelope (2 TBSP) gelatin for the sauce
- 1 envelope (2 TBSP) gelatin for the eggplant glaze
- 3 TBSP boiling water
- 1 large eggplant
- salt and pepper to season

What to do:  
1. Roast the chicken in an oven: Pat it dry, remove the innards, truss it, and cook it at 450 degrees for around an hour, uncovered.  Remove, allow to cool, and peel off the skin. Place in refrigerator to chill.

2. Blanche eggplant in a large pot of boiling water, until it's shriveled and soft, around 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the flesh, scrape the skin clean, and cut the skin (carefully, carefully!!!) into a diamond pattern by scoring with a paring knife. Set pieces aside, discard flesh.

3. Mix the cream, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a small saucepan and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Turn off heat and let rest 5 minutes.  Strain liquid into a bowl. In a pan, melt the butter.  Add the flour, stirring into a smooth paste.  Slowly add the cream.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 2 minutes.  Put 3 TBSP boiling water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin.  After it's dissolved, stir the gelatin liquid into the cream. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Take out the thoroughly chilled chicken and pour this mixture carefully on top of it.  The goal is to have as thin and even a surface as possible. It might help to have the chicken on the rack and have excess sauce drain into a pan so that it can be reheated. After it's coated, put it back in the refrigerator and chill for around 5-10 minutes, until firm.

5. Repeat this process until the bird is covered in a smooth (or, you know, vaguely smooth) plastic-y layer of aspic b├ęchamel (sounds appetizing, right?). Chill until completely firm. (Side note: does anyone remember those Vivienne Westwood Angolmania banana colored jelly heels with giant black hearts on the toe? For better or worse, the chicken started reminding me of those.)

6. Mix another 3 TBSP boiling water with another packet of gelatin.  Dissolve. Dip the eggplant diamonds into the gelatin mixture (I used a tweezer), coating evenly, and carefully arrange them into a harlequin pattern on the chicken.  At this point, the chicken began to look like it was sporting an argyle sweater:

7.  And finally, fully covered! A word of encouragement- it's not as difficult as you'd think, just leave yourself plenty of time.

All images created, styled, and photographed by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE. Faux malachite serving tray also painted by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE.


Dreaming of a White (and Pink) Christmas

It almost never snows around here on Christmas.  But a girl can dream. 

Most of the ornaments on this tree are vintage; I highly suggest scouring ebay if local thrift shops aren't turning up any gems. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll find the ones that are so worn, you can see right through them.  The pale peachy pinks and aquas are my favorite, but they're so delicate, they tend to get eaten up by the deep green traditional evergreen color.

Enter artificial tree. Thankfully, fakery picks up where nature leaves off!  Is this a holiday heresy? I'll let you in on a secret: THIS year, I resisted the urge to purchase a mini-tree in jelly bean lavender (they also had one in pepto pink).  Next year, you might not be so fortunate!



You might remember these.  Since then, the metaphorical clock struck midnight and back those crystals morphed into a chandelier!

Same shoes, new mood.  Surely, they're the tackiest things I've ever created.  A masterwork?  Gene Simmons would be proud. 

Created, photographed, and styled by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE.


Let's Play Fumble!

Not only does LIFE have plenty to say about how one should remove their stockings, but they also have a few party tricks up their sleeve.

Take for instance this game of "fumble."

How to play: One person designated "it" leaves the room, the other guests swap clothes to disguise themselves. The lights are turned off. Then "it," eyes closed, gropes her way through the party guests to decipher who's actually who.

LIFE Magazine, Carl Iwasaki, 1952.

Oh, Those Slovenly Wrinkles

LIFE Magazine, Peter Stackpole, 1937.

Ladies, take note!


Fierce Foos and Festive Follies at Longwood Gardens

Happy December 1st! Yesterday I took a little day trip to Longwood Gardens, the farmhouse outside of Wilmington, Delaware formerly owned by Pierre Dupont (1870-1954), DuPont company and General Motors executive. The home was purchased from the Peirce family in the early 20th century to save the arboretum from ruins.

The gardens and conservatory are open year round, and each year, they put up a pretty extensive holiday display. The most lovely thing about the place is the way that they manage to combine this element of ruination with holiday festivity: the hanging vines, the aged stone, large glass windows- it's all extremely lovely, but not necessarily what you'd expect from an estate formerly owned by the meister of synthetics himself (think laminate flooring, herbicides, Lucite...). Ironic, no?

Highlights included some divine color schemes, highly unconventional cabbage trees (um, YES!), cacti filled Christmas-scapes (check out the bizarre white furry ones that look like little Yetis, please), fierce foos (LIFE-SIZE, no less!), sharply shorn hedges, a hanging succulent (literally) mosaic, and of course, the larger-than-life tree that was so organically situated amongst ruination.  What more could a girl ask for around the holidays?  Now, if only there were some way of replicating this same sort of haphazard vine-ridden delapadation in a living room...

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