Tuesday, September 16, 2014


THAT OLD THREAD COUNT ISSUE AGAIN

I am not saying that I am the last word on linens, but I do know sheets.  And it gets me so riled when people prattle on about the high thread count (sometimes reaching a thousand!!!) of the sheets they have found—usually on the web.

Thread count is a factor in sheets silkiness—but only a partial one.  The important detail is that the cotton be what is known as Egyptian cotton—usually grown in Italy.  For the most part, America does not grow Egyptian cotton, although it does have small outputs of its cousin, Pima cotton.  Not much, though.  We seem to have thrown away our fine cotton growing.  So what differentiates Egyptian cotton from regular cotton—the length of its filament making up the thread.  Egyptian cotton, with its extra long filament (over 1 ½” each) spins into a finer thread which can then be woven into a soft silky fabric.  At that time, thread count becomes important—obviously, a thread count of 450 Egyptian threads will be less smooth and silky that one of 750 Egyptian threads, because getting those threads closer together (which happens when there are more of them) makes a smoother and stronger material—but notice, those are both Egyptian.  Most of the thread-count sheets of 1000 or so are of Chinese cotton, which is very short staple, and as such, will “pill” (get tiny pills of the shorter filaments breaking away from the main thread and wadding up) and thus become both weaker and less smooth.



"Meandres" bed linens from Noël of Paris - their smooth Egyptian
cotton makes, as well as a wonderful night's sleep, a perfect
fabric on which to embroider, as the closeness of the threads
keeps the needle holes from forming.


The bed linens from Noël (shown above) or Lin de Château are both made in Paris and are the ultimate in luxury, but you can find wonderful Egyptian cotton bed linens at a lower budget range from many Italian companies such as Baroni or Ricamart.



"Lerici" by Ricamart



or even American companies—although the goods will be from Italy—such as Matouk or Sferra.



"Sweet William" by Sferra Bros.


"Providence" bed linens by Matouk



Pima cotton, which used to be produced in great quantities in the United States, before our companies decided to do everything overseas, is still produced, although only those items with the label “su-pima” can be guaranteed to be all pima cotton.  It is used now more for a lower end of the luxury trade, and its thread count is usually around 200.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it—it is still an extra long staple cotton, but to compare it to the luxury linens coming out of Portugal, Italy, or France is definitely to compare apples with oranges. 

It makes me sad to think that when I was first married—back in the dawn of time in 1961—young brides made trousseaus of Wamsutta Supercale with scalloped borders at the sheet and pillowcase hemlines, and if we were very flush, monograms to match the borders.  Ah, well, c’est la vie, and it passes, and far too quickly.



"Geranium" by Noël of Paris




XOXOX  LETA







Thursday, September 11, 2014


FALL IS BEGINNING

Well, not everywhere, but up here in Maine, the  year is changing and it’s only the last day of August—I am lonely for my office and for Florida, but I will be here for two more weeks—it’s quite beautiful—sunny, chilly in the shade and warm in the sun, and good sleeping. 

 Lots of Farmers Markets,





Farmer's Market in Bar Harbor




Cheese from Tide Mill Creamery
at Town Hill Farmer's Market

, and hiking 


Resting on a hike on the western side
of Somes Sound


and playing tennis, and of course, next week we will start welcoming all the IOD (International One Design) sailors for the races, always held the first week in September.



IOD races, Northeast Harbor, Maine



I wish that I had shown more life on my blog this summer, but, please accept these apologies: I had two new knees put in the beginning of this summer, and at first, was not allowed to fly, and even after I got here, my concentration and pep has seemed to be a bit gone.  My physical therapist, Orlando Ching, assures me that in 6 months it will be as though I never had surgery, and I can hardly wait.  I’m not really good at sitting around.

But Betty, the manager of our boutique in Palm Beach, and the one that sends you all those invitations to trunk shows and book signings, and I have been busy planning for the new season in the store.  Of course, we will have our wonderful stand-bys such as our linens from Italy and France, 



Nouez Moi Linge De Maison - Bed linen set-Nouez Moi Linge De Maison
Embroidered linens by Nouez-moi of Paris



Several designs by Baroni of Florence



And D. Porthault and Lin de Château from Paris ...



New York Millefleur by D. Porthault
           



Daisies with Monogram by Lin de Château



And our beautiful Madeira linens from Sharyn Blond ....







We will be enlarging our selection of faience from Terrafirma, by adding the new Citrus colorway.








Of course, we will continue to stock all our great classics such as The Palio,







And Luneville,







And our pierced creamware from Hartley and Greens.









And we will be expanding our yummy treats, both sweet and savory, for Thanksgiving and Christmas presents.




Sucre New Orleans Collection 15 piece by Sucré from Sucre









Fleurs Boutique de Paris






With new additions such as Lucy’s Granola—hard for me to believe since I don’t even like granola, but this is different—believe me !










I wish I could have the amazing yoghurt from the Tide Mill Creamery to go with it, but distance, after all, is important, so you will have to pair it with your own wonderful yoghurt or milk—or just eat it as a snack.  Lucy’s toffee bars are pretty amazing, too, and we will have those.

And , as I told you in the last post, we will have the most adorable new toys from our French, British and German suppliers in addition to the American company Hazel Village.

Also new and super adorable, women's pj's that were recommended by my daughter, India. Smart prints (seaside themes and ikat designs ) on soft cotton 2-piece sets.








I was told that the other day we received our custom-made cosmetic bags, trinket trays, shower caps etc. from fab company Talley Ho. We send them our decorative fabrics and they make us the best and most unique bags and accessories ever ! We will have lots of these small products for Hostess presents and Christmas stocking stuffers. I'll be sure to remind you later and inspire you with pictures and ideas for great Christmas presents.

This is just the cream on the top of the milk – I haven’t even mentioned all the clothes in the children’s department or the soft, soft, soft nightgowns and bedroom slippers for us, but it does show that, believe it or not, I haven’t just been loafing.

XOXOXO  LETA



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NEW SEASON.....NEW PRODUCTS  TOYS

Every summer I search the globe (figuratively and yes, sometimes literally) for new, different and most importantly, special products to add to my boutique. I thought I'd share some of the wonderful things en route to Leta Austin Foster Boutique this summer. They are quickly filling our shelves as we gear up for another fabulous season.

This week I'd like to show you some super new toys that we will be adopting, in the hopes of finding forever homes for them. We will have them arrive early this year for Christmas present-giving, but don't delay because they fly, hop and gallop out of here very quickly !

Hazel Village, based in Brooklyn, makes adorable Organic cotton fleece and jersey woodland friends. Every rabbit, cat, raccoon, toad, owl, mouse and fox comes with an outfit and a name (but of course) such as Lucy Owl, Catalina Mouse and Reginald Fox.





If you order early enough, we can have your child's name or monogram embroidered in a heart on the animals chest.





We will be carrying their Grand Dress-up Box which sports 5 outfits for your child's new best friend.

opening_box.jpg




Another toy company making its debut at the Boutique is the French toy company, Moulin Roty.  Although new to us, they have been busy making children's toys for 40 years.  You will be seeing this sweet travel trunk, which accommodates an extensive wardrobe for Nini Mouse and Sylvain Rabbit, very soon indeed.





Along with these so, so cute stuffed animal friends, Moulin Roty produces great games and stocking stuffer toys such as kaleidoscopes, picture dominos, balsa wood planes, etc..... and we will be sure to fill our cupboards with plenty of these.




Darcy Bear and Bo Rabbit from the British company, Ragtales, are hoping you bring them home to your little one. They do have quite an active lifestyle, so be prepared to accompany them to dance class, gardening or a sleepover.

 
             
   

       



Along with all these new companies, we will continue to stock Jellycats of London....






the classic dolls of Madame Alexander.....






and wonderful alpaca and mohair German bears and collectible animals by Steiff. We all remember them from our own childhood and they are as sought-after today as they ever were !





Hmmmmm...... all this talk of such adorable playthings has got me thinking of all the kiddies on my own Christmas list that would swoon for one of these aforementioned cuties.......better add them to our order!

LETA  XOXOXOX







    















Sunday, August 24, 2014


THE “NEW LOOK” IN ROOMS

I HAVE BEEN GOING BACK THROUGH MY FAVOURITE BLOG POSTS, AND THE TWO LATEST “PEAK OF CHIC” POSTS HAVE BEEN ABOUT SOMETHING OF WHICH I FEEL STRONGLY.

LAST YEAR, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL ASKED A GROUP OF DECORATORS WHAT THEY THOUGHT WOULD BE THE NEXT TREND IN DESIGN.  I SAID THAT I THOUGHT PEOPLE WOULD START GETTING TIRED OF ALL THE MONOCHROMATIC (ESPECIALLY BEIGE) ROOMS AND GO BACK TO THE LOVELY, LIVABLE ROOMS....ROOMS THAT WE HAVE LOVED SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME—WELL, DESIGN TIME, THAT IS.





THIS PICTURE, TAKEN FROM THE PEAK OF CHIC IS OF A BEAUTIFUL ROOM IN A CHATEAU IN FRANCE.  IT’S NOT JUST THAT THE ROOM IS SO PRETTY, BUT IT IS ALSO SO PRACTICAL.  PRINTED FABRICS AND MELANGES OF COLOURS SUCH AS SHOWN HERE, SHOW FINGERPRINTS, SMUDGES, AND JUST THE PUNISHMENT OF TIME MUCH LESS THAN THE PRISTINE LIGHT BEIGE ROOMS.  YOU MIGHT THINK THAT THIS ROOM WOULD NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN, AND YET, THE MARKS OF THEIR LITTLE MITTS ARE GOING TO BE PRETTY HARD TO SEE ON ANYTHING IN THAT ROOM.  EVEN THE RUG WOULD HIDE ALMOST ANY SPILL.






AND IT IS NOT JUST THAT THEY ARE PRACTICAL—THEY ARE LOVELY AND WELCOMING.  WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO SIT AROUND THIS FIREPLACE AND HAVE A GOOD CONVERSATION WITH A CUP OF TEA OR A COCKTAIL?  IT’S A ROOM FOR LIVING-IN.

THE PEAK OF CHIC, WHOSE PICTURES I AM USING, GETS THEM FROM BOOKS WHICH ARE OUT AND FROM HER ENORMOUS LIBRARY OF OLD MAGAZINES.  SHE IS VERY, VERY GOOD AT CHOOSING PICTURES (AND SUBJECTS) WHICH APPEAL TO PEOPLE, OF WHOM I AM ONE.  HER PICTURES OF HOWARD SLATKIN’S GUEST BEDROOM ARE JUST LIKE A PRIMER AS TO HOW A BEDROOM OUGHT TO LOOK.






THIS IS JUST A WONDERFUL ROOM—AGAIN THAT “FRENCHIFIED” USE OF A MAIN FABRIC EVERYWHERE AND THEN INTENSIFYING IT BY ADDING EVEN MORE PATTERN—NOTE THE CHECKS IN THE ROOM AND THE PAINTED DESIGN ON THE FLOOR.


















BECOME A FOLLOWER OF THE PEAK OF CHIC, YOURSELF.  IT WILL BE A GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCE—AND A VERY ENJOYABLE ONE.

XOXOXOX  LETA

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


NASIRI CARPETS

One of the most beautiful parts of a room is something that people notice and care about tremendously, but often forget to mention it in their first design requests for a room—the floor.  ( The ceiling is another of these ! ).

Remember this: a room always has at least six sides, and they are all important.  One of them may be glass (and then what is beyond this glass is as important to the room as what is inside it ) ; it may be of some old building element such as the old brick found in the walls of urban buildings and used today as a highlight in the décor ;  it may be painted or coffered or paneled, but one of these—the floor—will probably be the largest single plane in the room.  It’s important.

You have already seen my blog post on the imported “wood” ceramic tile from Paris Ceramics.  I love these.  I love regular wooden floors; brick floors, stone floors—anything done well, lying there smooth and inviting.  Form follows function.  But…..you will oftentimes decide to cover some (or all, in the case of wall to wall carpeting) of this floor with a rug of some sort.  And that’s where a company like Nasiri comes in.


Beautiful soft and muted antique rug


                                 
Double-side cotton flat weave



Nasiri is a company which both imports old carpets and makes new ones—and they are beautiful.  Because of their interest in old rugs, their new rugs show the influence of soft colours and sometimes muted designs.



This brilliant blue room and rug are too bold for me !


Muted version of rug


Better for me is this muted version, since I don't like rooms to be fashionable. Rather, I want them to live forever and the softer and more muted they are, the longer I think one loves them.

I think rugs can be used to give an extra element to a room such as these skins and flokatis—of which Nasiri has a very large supply


Flotaki rug









One can have dhurries and flatweaves in bold or muted designs.





Bold blue dhurrie rug




Muted beige flatweave rug




Nasiri has incredibly lovely soft Moroccan carpets.





   






                           Nasiri Carpets New York's photo.

                                         



I am doing a house right now for one of my favourite clients, a lovely man who has bought a house right on the edge of a marsh all planted out with native plants and which will have great desert-y Canary Island date palms in the front.  As in the picture above, we are using Moroccan lighting fixtures and lanterns and a wonderful muted Moroccan rug.  I love this cool look in our hot climate.

XOXOXOXOX LETA