Sunday, January 31, 2010


LORO PIANA INTERIORS fabrics now available on the West Coast

Loro Piana has selected Cabana Home Stores of California ( as a West Coast dealer of the super luxury Loro Piana Interiors Collection, the newest division of the luxury cashmere manufacturer. Loro Piana is the largest Cashmere and Baby Cashmere manufacturer in the western world, with exclusive collections of sportswear, leisurewear, and accessories, and now the same highly desired textiles are made for the home interior.


The company officially launched Loro Piana Interiors in their New York showroom in the fall of 2009. The Interiors fabrics collection offers a wide range of textiles in Cashmere, Wool, Silk, Linen, Cotton and Leathers. In addition, the fabrics have been Rain System (trademarked by Loro Paina) treated, protected by an invisible barrier against dirt and spills. But the true test of durability resides in the manufacturing process, whereby Loro Piana has created cashmere strong enough for sofas and chairs.


Photos, above:
The new Loro Piana Interiors Collection includes (uncharacteristically) well priced Cottons, Linens, and Wool/Cashmere blends, in addition to their famous but pricier Cashmere.


The Loro Piana (the last name is both words, "Loro Piana") family started as merchants of wool fabrics at the beginning of the 19th century. The current company was established in 1924 by Pietro Loro Piana in northern Italy.

After, the war (World War I) , the firm began to establish its reputation of superior wool and cashmere textiles for a growing European haute couture industry, and since then the Loro Piana's name has become synonymous with the manufacture of exquisite cashmere products.


Photos, above:
Loro Piana cashmere throws with embroidery by the chic New York home and lifestyle fashion house, Ankasa (


For six generations, the Italian maker has maintained access to the world's most valued raw materials, and in recent decades it has assumed a proactive position to replenish those resources as part of its business model.


Left: Loro Piana cashmere and wool fabric options displayed in the New York Showroom.
Right: A classic club chair made modern in an over sized "menswear" style, window pane pattern, shown with a winter white cashmere throw. All from Loro Piaina for Cabana Home (


"There was a lack of substantial use of prestigious raw materials in the interior decoration market before. We identified this need and developed a very sophisticated series of fabrics," says Pier Luigi Loro Piana, the current chairman of the company.

Interjection-the DESIGN GUY: Since the brothers Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana (grandson's of the founder) took the helm of the company in the 1970's, they have designed a unique management system in that they rotate the chairmanship of the company between themselves every three years.

"The Loro Piana Interiors fabrics were created to enable Loro Piana's customers to furnish and 'dress' interiors with the same refined quality and attention to detail as they dress themselves," say Pier Luigi.


Left: A selection of Loro Piana wool sateen's.
Right: A contemporary arm chair upholstered in Loro Piana wool boucle fabric.


Left: A classic wing chair is simplified by the blue cashmere/wool blend upholstery fabric, shown with cashmere throw.
Right: A stack of the well priced 100% linen and 100% cotton Loro Piana fabrics, available in multiple colorways, patterns, and solid wovens.


Left: A bag of vicuna wool awaits processing into a luxurious textile.
Right: A product label on a finished Loro Piana product, declaring it "legally sheared".


Whether it's a yard of the interiors fabric or a cashmere scarf, the fibers are sourced from three continents: Europe for Linens and Cottons, Cashmere and Loro Piana's patented Baby Cashmere (also trademarked by Loro Piana) from Mongolia, and from the other side of the world the Andes, Vicuna, a relative of the llama, which produces the softest, warmest and one of the most exclusive materials in the world.

One vicuna produces less than a pound of wool a year and can be shorn only every two years, making their fibers exceptionally rare and expensive.

Almost extinct by the 1960's from poaching, the vicuna is now protected, and herds have been replenished by companies such as Loro Piana. In the 1950's, Franco Loro Piana (son of the company founder, Pietro), discovered the animals and longed to see them thrive. His sons realized his dream with the 2008 purchase of a 4,942-acre Peruvian preserve in his memory.

"Like all precious goods, it [vicuna] crosses the barrier of time. It can be kept for years and even passed on without losing its authenticity and uniqueness. whoever buys one of these fabrics is mad about quality, continuously searching for the best in this field," says Pier Luigi.


Photos, above:
Loro Piana Interiors includes sumptuous suede's (left), and leathers.


"Ours is a very discreet luxury, which relies on top raw materials and never forgets about comfort and functionality," comments Pier Luigi. "Elegance means in this sense, not to show off, but to be at ease in every circumstance. More than a style matter, it's an attitude."


Photos, above:
The new "One Step to Heaven" carpeting anmde of 100% cashmere by Loro Piana at Cabana Home Stores.

At the top of the luxury pyramid is a product that is truly unique in the industry: One Step to Heaven carpeting made of 100% cashmere, naturally colored, and designed for the most intimate atmosphere, not just for the home but for private yachts, planes and helicoptors as well.

It comes in three natural shades (White, Brown, and Kasha--taupe) and has been treated with stain resistant technology.


Yes, it runs approximately $117/per sq. ft. ($1,053/per sq. yard), depending on the value of the dollar the day you buy it against the Euro. The carpet has 2 kilos (2.2 pounds) of precious cashmere per sq. meter (10.7 sq.ft).



FOR INQUIRIES: 805.962.0200


On the next DESIGN GUY post: "Pier Luigi Loro Piana on Nautical Fabrics"

Good Night Moon

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Epilogue Part II of II: CARTIER and AMERICA

Epilogue part II of II: Cartier and America

This is the epilogue (I swear!) to the three part series on the incredible CARTIER and AMERICA exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, CA.

The show runs through April 18, 2010

Above: An artists rendering of the Cartier, New York store.

Cartier, founded in Paris in 1847, the final year of the French monarchy and the dawn of the Second Empire, the firm quickly attracted an international following in addition to French aristocrats, but also Russian princes and wealthy Americans. It was the belle epoque era, and Cartier expanded to London in 1902, and the United States in 1909, to capitalize on a potentially large customer base of wealthy industrialists and other well-heeled Americans who encountered Cartier on trips to Paris.

Phot0: The Mexican actress, Maria Felix (Mexico's Joan Collins?), wearing her famous jeweled double crocodile necklace, with a few hundred carets of other things and species.

The extravagant bijou in this show, however, can seem relatively modest compared to the life-size serpent necklace created for Maria Felix (married four times), the Mexican film star and femme fatale who understood (as did the brothers Cartier, perhaps more profoundly) that seduction begins with caprice. Her alarming chef d'oveuvre, which takes tow hands to hold and was two years in the making, has an ingeniously articulated body of 2,473 diamonds, set in platinum and gold, that weigh just over 178 carats; on its underside, the red, black and green enamel scales area as flat and cool to the touch as a snake's belly.

Photo, above: Snake Necklace, made for Mexican film star, Maria Felix. Cartier Paris, 1968.

Photo, above: Crocodile Necklace, another distinctive piece made for the actress Maria Felix. Cartier Paris, 1975

Felix also asked Cartier to reproduce her two pet crocodiles in yellow diamonds and Colombian emeralds, and when her husband gave her an enormous emerald solitaire, she pretended to believe that it was an earring and asked him for its pair, where upon they were added to the necklace.
Made in gold, and set with 1,023 brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamonds weighing 60.02 carats in total; two navette-shaped emerald cabochons, 1,060 emeralds weighing 66.86 carats in total, and two ruby cabochons.

I read that Ms. Felix actually had the two live crocodiles delivered to Cartier, and asked them to hurry and measure them before they grew any larger, because they were the size of the necklace she wished to have made.

For God's sakes!

Left: American actress Grace Kelly, photographed for the cover of Life Magazine (April 1955) after she won the Oscar for Best Actress, for Country Girl (1954).Center: The Life Magazine Cover
Right: Graces Kelly's engagement ring from Prince Ranier of Monaco

For the first time, an American museum features the personal jewelry of Princess Grace of Monaco (from the time of her wedding to Ranier III, Prince of Monaco, in 1956).

Among the items lent by the princess; children Prince Albert, Princess Caroline, and Princess Stephanie, is her engagement ring, a 10.47-carat emerald-cut diamond set with two baguette diamonds mounted in platinum (which she wore on the set of her last film, the 1956 movie "High Society" before she became Princess of Monaco.

Left: Hen Brooch, Cartier Paris, 1957. Gold, platinum, diamonds, emerald, mother of pearl, pears, and coral. It appears that the Princess had a sense of humor.
Center: Necklace, Cartier Paris, 1953. Diamonds and platinum.
Right: A trio of clip Brooches, Cartier Paris, 1955. Diamonds, rubies, platinum and gold.
Grace Kelly's death in 1982 was a big surprise, The princess of Monaco, who was only 52 and seemingly in perfect health, suffered a stroke while driving with her daughter Princess Stephanie. It was just as she was driving on the edge of the upper Corniche, and the stroke left her incapacitated and unable to control the car. It careened off the edge of the mountain and rolled down, flipping several times. Princess Stephanie suffered fracture and some bruising and survived, but Princess Grace died from her injuries.


A few other extraordinary things:

Photos above:
Left: Tiara, Cartier Paris, 1914. Blackened steel, diamonds, rubies, and platinum.
Center: Tiara, Cartier London, 1937. Citrines, gold, diamonds, and platinum.
Right: Tiara, Cartier Paris, 1914. Diamonds, onyx, pearls, platinum and enamel.
Photos, above:
Left: Egyptian sarcophagus vanity case. Cartier Paris, 1925. Bone, enamel, gold, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, platinum, and mirror (sold to Mrs. George Blumenthal, aunt of Katherine Graham the former editor of the Washington Post).
Center: Tiara, Cartier London, 1936. Turquoises, diamonds and platinum.
Right: Vanity case, Cartier Paris, 1927. Sapphires, emerald, coral, moonstone, topazes, gold, enamel, diamonds, platinum and mirror.

Photos, above:
Detailed working drawings, left, for the Rose Clip brooch, shown finished at right. Cartier Paris, 1938. Gold, enamel, diamonds, silver and platinum.


Left: The view from the front door of the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum, looking toward past the glass pyramid, Rodin's "Thinker", and Mark di Suvero's sculpture, to San Francisco Bay.
Right: The Marin (county) headlands.
As we left the museum we were struck by the awesome beauty of this setting. The enclosed columned courtyard anchored by Rodin's imposing bronze sculpture, The Thinker, seemed to be contemplating the elegant and colossal di Suvero sculpture in the distance, juxtaposed with the abstract beauty of the Marin headlands, and the smell of the salt air from the powerful ocean below.

I'm done! Yippee!

Oh...except I haven't told you about the Mystery clocks!

How they work:
The central crystals are located in Brazil (sometimes they'll use a topaz); it not only has to be flawless, but sufficiently light and transparent. The lapidary then cuts it into a six, eight, or twelve sided shape.
The rock crystal at the heart of the clock is cleaved into two perfectly matched halves, which are then scooped out. Into the hollows are placed two crystal discs with sawtooth edges to which the clock's hands are attached, making the hands seem to float and spin around the dial of their own accord.
That's it.

Photo, above: Chimera Mystery Clock, Cartier New York, 1926. Agate, nephrite, citrine, gold, onyx, enamel, coral, diamonds, platinum, pearls, emerald cabochons, and clock movement

Good Night Moon

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Epilogue (in two parts): Part I: CARTIER and AMERICA

Are you wondering if this series on the Cartier exhibit is ever going to end? Well, the exhibit itself may end its run before I ever get the whole series written!

The exhibit runs through April 18th, 2010 at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

Let's see now...that give me a little less than three months to finish the series.

I can do that.


Wallis, Wallis, Wallis...tsk, tsk, tsk!

Left: Edward the VII, the British King
Center: The abdication of Edward VIII commands headlines
Right: The American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, whom wrecked the Royal's

1936: The soon to be thrice married, Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson, was named Woman of the Year by Time magazine. It was the first time the magazine had a Woman rather than a Man of the Year.


Sitting at this desk, King Edward VIII traded the British Crown for the freedom to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson by writing a letter. When sold at auction after the Duchess's death, the desk brought $415,000.

When the American socialite and divorcee, Wallis Simpson married the newly abdicated King of England, Edward VIII, in 1937, the former King became His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor, and she became the Duchess of Windsor, but she was prevented from using the style, Her Royal Highness. They settled in, and made their home in France immediately after leaving England.

Photo: 1937, the Duke and Duchess on their wedding day, France.


In 1937, The Duke and Duchess again set tongues wagging when they visited Germany as personal guests of the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler.

Following the outbreak of war in 1939, they fled from Paris to to Biarritz, then to Spain, then Portugal, and in August, 1940, a British warship was dispatched to take the pair to the Bahamas where the Duke was installed as Governor. However, the Duchess hated Nassau, calling it "our St. Helena", in a reference to Napoleon Bonaparte's final place of exile.


The Duchess survived the Duke, and upon her death, most of her estate went to the Pasteur Institute. At the 1987 auction at Sotheby's Geneva, of the duchess's remarkable jewelry collection, it raised $45 million for the Institute, approximately seven times it's pre-sale estimate.

Photo: The cover of the hardbound, 1987 Sotheby's Auction Catalogue for the sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor.


Mohammad Al-Fayed, owner of Harrods, had bought much of the non-financial estate, including the lease on the Windsors Paris mansion. A year after the death of his son, Dodi, in the accident that also claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, the sale of Mr. Al-Fayed's purchases from the Duchess of Windsors' estate raised more than $20 million, which he donated to charity.

Left: The fabled Harrods Department Store in London
Right: The illusive couple dodging the press, the late Dodi Al-Fayed and Princess Diana


Wallis was plagued by rumors of other lovers, including the otherwise homosexual American playboy Jimmy Donahue, an heir to the Woolworth fortune who claimed to have had a liaison with the Duchess in the 1950's, but Donohue was notorious for his inventive pranks and rumor-mongering.

Photos, below:
Left: Jimmy Donahue and the Duchess of Windsor
Right: A dour Duke of Windsor

"She married a King, but screwed a Queen, " the Duke was heard to sourly observe of the Duchess's affair with the homosexual Jimmy.


Lord have mercy! I can't take much more of this! Back to the jewels!


The Windsor's were often patrons of Cartier, and in 1949 acquired The "Panther Clip" brooch made up of sapphires, pave diamonds, yellow diamonds, platinum and white gold is yet another exquisite piece of jewelry worn by the Duchess--set atop a Kashmir cabochon sapphire of 152 carats.

The Duchess of Windsor's exotic "Flamingo Clip" brooch, Cartier 1940, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, with a citrine beak, set in platinum. The Duke of Windsor provided Cartier with four bracelets and had the brooch made as a special order for the Duchess of Windsor--it has never been seen in a museum before now.

A "Tiger Lorgnette" (pronunciation: lorn-'yet; Eye or opera glasses with a handle), Cartier 1954. Made special order for the Duchess of Windsor and a legacy from the "Duchess of Windsor's Jewels."


Photos: Bib necklace, Cartier Paris, 1947. Gold, amethysts, turquoises, diamonds, and platinum. Sold to HRH the Duke of Windsor.


Photo: The Diamond that started it all! The Star of South Africa

The Star of South Africa (also referred to as the Dudley Diamond) was the first large diamond found in South Africa, and is credited with setting off the South African diamond rush. The stone is a now 47.69-caret old style pear shape diamond, was cut from a diamond crystal of 83.5 carets, and is credited with being the diamond that turned the tides of fortune in South Africa. The story goes, in 1869, it was picked up by a Shepperd boy on a farm near the Orange River. The Shepperd traded the stone for five hundred sheep, ten oxen, and a horse. Where upon the man he traded with, immediately sold the diamond for $56,000, and that was in 1869!

Later the stone was fashioned to what is described as an "oval, three-sided brilliant", a flawless pear shape, and was sold to the Earl of Dudley for $125,000.

The diamond now resides in the Natural History Museum in London


Photos: The drawing, left, and the finished product, right. The signature pendant brooch for the Cartier and America exhibit. Cartier London, 1923, for Marjorie Merriweather Post (Mrs. E.F. Hutton). Emeralds, diamonds, platinum, and enamel.

A most fascinating part of the exhibition included a room that featured the original drawings, in pen, ink, watercolor and gouche exquisitely painted on thin brown tracing paper and complete down to the last tiny detail. Many showing notes and signatures of both the designer and the beneficiary, such as the preliminary sketch of a diamond-ruby-pearl-gold-platinum necklace has red pen comments written by its eventual wearer--Elizabeth Taylor


Whew! I need a brake from all this finery!

Good Night Moon