Author - Heather

1
Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta Exhibit in Houston
2
Worthewait Farmyard Handmade Soap and Bath Treats
3
Blonde Biscotti Reigns in the World of Biscotti

Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta Exhibit in Houston

“Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself.

– Oscar de la Renta

Houston has recently celebrated the legendary designer’s clothing exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, through various small events, such as a discussion of the designer between Culturemap’s editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh, and former Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley. I attended the discussion and was just so enthralled hearing what Talley had to say regarding curating the exhibit, as well as his personal friendship with the designer, which spanned over the course of fifty years.

Oscar de la Renta, Clifford Pugh, Andre Leon Talley, MFAH, Houston

It was said that Diana Vreeland created a standard for fashion exhibitions. Mr. Talley used that memory, along with his years of experience spent working with her and other fashion notables on various projects, to help with building this exhibit, which took over a year to plan. He wanted to have certain pieces tell a story. Such stories could tell the tale of that of a flamenco dancer in a total frenzy, or duchesses and grandees of Spain going to Good Friday ceremonies at the Grand Cathedral. These grandees would go on foot in their best black clothes, black suits, and high jewels, mantillas, and combs. He noted that he saw it in 1987, as well as witnessed the bullfighters, and how they dressed.

One of the things that Mr. Talley recalled, was that Oscar like to interact with people, instead of just sitting and sketching. Also, that fabric was the most important, and that it, along with textures, spoke to him. The designer loved exuberant color, and was often inspired by the colors of Spain- the sunshine, the outdoors, flowers. Oscar’s vision was usually simple silhouettes that paired with opulent, almost Rococo fabrics. Lastly, his wife Annette was his muse.

The exhibit is beautifully curated and features over 70 of the designer’s iconic pieces, including Amal Clooney’s wedding dress from 2014 (and the last wedding dress Oscar designed before he passed). Other pieces were sourced from the company’s corporate and personal archives, the Pierre Balmain archives, other private lenders, and the museum’s archives.

The rooms are also divided into sections, which highlighted his greatest influences: Spain, the Far East, Icons, and the Garden. The ‘Spain’ room offered gowns in rich reds, white, black; paired with the mantillas, combs, flowers, and decadent jewelry. The ‘Far East’ room had influences of Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, and War and Peace. The ‘Garden’ room featured gowns with floral print, a dress with the same print as Marie Antoinette’s bedchambers at Versailles, as well as iconic wedding dresses. The wedding dress portion of the exhibit features the dress worn by Oscar’s stepdaughter Eliza Reed in her marriage to Alex Bolen (now CEO of the company), Amal Clooney’s dress, and a dress that was never worn but was inspired by Jennifer Jones in Madame Bovary. The ‘Icons’ room paid homage to Oscar’s long list of iconic clients, such as: Kirsten Dunst, Beyoncé, Lynn Wyatt, Yvonne Cormier, Rose Cullen, Annette de la Renta, Karlie Kloss, former First Lady- Laura Bush, Penelope Cruz, Anna Wintour, Eliza Bolen, and Taylor Swift.

I currently own three vintage Oscar de la Renta dresses, and having attended this exhibit, now have a even greater appreciation for them. I won’t be parting with them anytime soon.

The exhibit goes until January 28th, 2018. Purchase tickets HERE.

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

Oscar de la Renta, exhibit, MFAH, Houston museum exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

Worthewait Farmyard Handmade Soap and Bath Treats

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

I first met Brittany Schiff during one of the many markets that take place in the Valley of the Sun some months ago through another mutual friend. I stopped by her booth during the market and checked out the soaps, bath bombs, lip balms, and sugar scrubs. She had created a piece of soap that looked like the Arizona flag, which I thought was the coolest thing, and was debuting them at the market. I purchased that (naturally), and the Prickly Pear soap. After the market, since I follow her on Instagram, I saw that she eventually created an entire soap collection based on the great state of Arizona! I also saw that she made a bath bomb called ‘Chill Pill.’

On my last trip home, I was able to meet with Brittany at her farm in Gilbert (hence the brand name), meet her goats, and then chatted about her brand. She makes all her bath treats in-house, so as soon as I walked in her home, it smelled oh-so-delightful!

On finding the location of their farm… They had looked for a property where they could start a farm for a better part of seven years, but have honed in on the property they are at now for about five to six years. Once they bought the property, they had to buy all the animal infrastructure. Before they closed on it, she knew she wanted to name the property something that meant something. So Worthewait Farmyard was born.

The soap making was basically a happy accident. She started making soap about two months after the family moved in. At the time, she was baking bread, and would trade bread with a woman who had dairy goats. There was one time when she went over to the woman’s house, where {the woman} was making soap. Brittany thought, ‘Hmmm… I could do that. That’s a homesteading thing to do. So she started making soap. “I made it to be just something else that we made for our family, and not have to rely on the store for. I could make it pretty too…”

One night, she had a group of girlfriends over one night just before Mother’s Day 2016. They saw what she had been working on, and they all wanted to buy some. Even though the soap that was available was just mainly for experimenting, they still insisted on at least donating money. Each girl went home with about three to four bars of soap. She then had more money to buy more supplies. Her grandfather handmade her first set of custom molds. She started out by making two pounds of soap at a time, and in three different varieties; then went to doing 7.5 pounds. Now, she is at about twenty-five pounds, and around fifteen to twenty different varieties. All of her soaps are lard and palm oil free. She uses a sustainably harvested silk fiber in the soap, which makes it feel just so smooth and have that extra lather.

Her one-woman brand has all grown organically by people coming to her, and by word of mouth. One friend who works for Events on Jackson gave the owner of The Farm at South Mountain a lip balm not too long ago, and now Brittany’s products are doing fantastic at their seasonal gift shop, and is her biggest client. Her products are also sold at Everybody Loves Flowers shop inside of Barnone, as well as few boutiques and a salon in Gilbert.

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

About her Arizona collection… It was born on the idea of her being a fourth generation native, and her general love of living in the state. “I wanted to do something that was very specific to Arizona. We have the five C’s of Arizona, which are copper, cotton, climate, cattle, and citrus.” The state flag was her first one, then she wanted to expand on that, which were the five C’s. She said it has taken her about six months to really perfect it. But as you can see in the photo above, she has done a mighty fine job!

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

Along with her usual products, she also offers a sampler pack- which is a full-size bar cut into thirds. There are a dozen different soaps for the price of three full bars, but actually, you get four full bars worth.

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

She is also doing shower steamers for the winter. They are basically bath bombs with menthol and eucalyptus. You put it in the corner of the shower, get it a little bit wet, and just let it steam in the shower to help with sinus or overall relaxation.

Oh, and guys… there are a few of the soaps that are perfect for the men. I HIGHLY recommend “Rugged.”

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

“When I first started out, I thought I was going to make goat’s milk soap. But I then quickly realized how the milk soap market was oversaturated…I wanted to make my soap more of a luxury gifting item. It’s nice…It’s fancy….It’s a nice treat, especially as a busy person and mom. I have a day job that I do from home, I have the farm, the kids…I seldom get time to myself. Being the only girl in the house, the shower is MY time. That’s my time that I can step away…I’m just trying to make soap fun, and make showering not feel like a monotonous thing. I’ll go through my day doing chores, etc, and a shower sometimes feels like ‘Oh I gotta go do that real quick.’ But it should be, at least for me, a time where I can regroup, and if I get a soap that smells nice, that’s a bonus. It’s kinda like a mini spa moment…”

Brittany is right when it comes to her soaps being a mini spa moment. My skin has never felt softer. I also feel great knowing where I get my skincare products from, and that the owner cares to not use non-sustainable and harsh chemicals.

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

(Above) The very first bar of soap.

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

Be sure to follow Worthewait Farmyard on Facebook and Instagram. You can also shop online.

If you have used these products before, what are your favorites? Let me know in the comments.

Worthewait Farmyard soaps, handmade soaps, made in Arizona

Blonde Biscotti Reigns in the World of Biscotti

Lisa and Toni, Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

IMAGE BY: Trevor Gerland Photography

When it comes to biscotti, the mother-daughter duo, Lisa and Toni, know a thing or two about the usually crunchy treat. While looking for a new local coffee shop to go to, on my birthday actually, I saw the Blonde Biscotti on my Google Maps feed. I was in the Montrose area, so I decided to check it out. I’m so glad I did. Not only did they have my favorite drink- Matcha Latte, but their soft baked biscotti are unlike any others that I’ve seen or tasted; in fact, they were literally the BEST I’ve ever tasted! That day, I was actually somewhat flustered, but as I sat drinking my latte and nibbling on the biscotti, my mood shifted to a calmer state. I feel like the monochrome space with potted succulents, and the treats really helped. It’s hard to explain, but hopefully, you get somewhat of an idea.

I was able to chat with co-owner Lisa about what got her into baking, and general thoughts the shop. We chatted for awhile, so I’m going to narrow it down to an abridged version.

She recalls that when she was about seven years old, she remembers her mom filming while they were both baking together in the kitchen (as she was really into creating home movies). “{Baking} was our time; on the weekends, after the school rush and the studying was all done. Mom would let me pull all her baking books. We would go through them, and I’d say, ‘Mom, let’s bake this!’ She taught me everything. She taught me how to measure, how you don’t pack flour, how you pack brown sugar. She had learned from her Mom. It was one thing we both loved doing.”

When she was seventeen, she remembers her grandmother calling and saying, ‘Hey, what are you, your mom, and sister doing this summer?’ Lisa wasn’t sure. Her grandmother responded, ‘I signed us up for cake decorating classes.’ So they started taking cake decorating classes. Soon afterward, she started making cakes for friends. Then her mom and she got into wedding cakes, and so on.

Some years went by, and she went off to A&M and studied nutrition, which sort of ties into what they are doing now. Her mom would make her a batch of (natural blonde) biscotti as she knew she’d starve during midterms and finals, and needed something to eat. “I would eat half of them on the way to school. and the other half throughout the week. They were the perfect snacks. I remember her saying, ‘Ah, just baking a batch of biscotti makes me happy. I just want to do that for the rest of my life.’ Lisa let’s that ponder… She’s studying nutrition, thinking she’ll be a dietician somehow in that realm. “So I’m studying and learning, and she keeps saying this bakery thing and I wanted to make her dream come true. and I thought well maybe I can do mine and then help her on the side. I graduated with student loan debt in 2008, I knew opening a shop wasn’t a reality… I was doing a study abroad program in Italy with NYU… I was flying home from Amsterdam. I sat next to one of the corporate managers for FMC Technologies…which kicked my career in oil and gas.” Throughout her stint in oil and gas, she had always had the idea of her mom’s bakery hanging out in the back of her mind. One day, she and her mom talked about it. What are they going to sell? Cakes, cupcakes, etc.?

About a year into getting her MBA, she filed for the business name, and they narrowed it down to just the biscotti, and the perfect complement to it- coffee. She moved to CA for her job, where the coffee culture is more advanced. She spent two years studying coffee in between her job, and drew inspiration from Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia. June 2016, she quit her job in corporate to join her mom in the baking industry. She has not looked back.

They officially opened June 2017, and have been going steady ever since. Toni has over 50 recipes on hand, and the duo comes up with more every day. “Every month has a new flavor rotation. We absolutely love it.” Toni is always experimenting. They have a gluten-free option (which is AHmazing), and are also looking into ways of doing a vegan version. The coffee gets brewed with her La Marzocco espresso machine. “While in Italy and studying the Mediterranean diet and we went to the La Marzocco headquarters in Florence, where they build espresso machines. It’s Italian made… I couldn’t believe that almost 10 years later, I’d be buying a La Marzocca myself.”

The shop’s decor is more of Lisa’s personal style. “I remember being out in California. I lived in Irvine, but Newport Beach was a ten-minute drive… I had a friend whose family owned a beach house. I went to their beach house one day and it was beautiful. They had a boat at the end of the dock… I just remember the white, clean fresh look. I also remember growing up, my mom always kept the walls white. Think fresh white linens. The greys and the white tones remind me of the whitewashed brick walls.”

When asked what her favorite biscotti flavor is? “All of them have a special place in my heart. The Natural Blonde was the one that got me through A&M, and it reminds me of my mom because she’s the natural blonde. The Nutty Brunette’s fun, because I’m the nutty brunette; as well as the Rich Red- our three signatures. People will ask, ‘well, what’s your favorite?’ I try to understand the customer’s preferences because each biscotti is baked with that in mind. I’m the recipe follower, whereas mom’s the recipe inventor. The Birthday Cake is also pretty popular (with not only kids, but with the adults).” I, personally, have tried quite a few of different flavors and haven’t had a bad experience yet. Each flavor brings its own uniqueness to the table. Since they are the only coffee shop in town with a full biscotti bar, they do recommend starting out with the Natural Blonde first, and then working your way around.

Another thing I LOVE about this place- they only source ingredients from local Texas vendors. Since Lisa has a background in nutrition, using fresh and local ingredients for the coffee, milk, and biscotti are very important to her. “If I won’t eat it, it’s not going into the cookie.”

They also do catering. They are also looking to do mailers. For example, a tea package would include a tin of tea, a brewer, and a Biscot-Tea. It’s a great gift idea, and an experience. Definitely follow them on Facebook and Instagram as well, to see when different things are happening. Lisa is usually at the shop, so if you have questions about coffee and biscotti pairings (or anything else coffee or biscotti related), she’ll have great recommendations for you.

Have you been to the Blonde Biscotti yet? If so, what are your favorite biscotti flavors? Let me know in the comments!

Keep scrolling down for more photos.

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

Blonde Biscotti, Montrose, Houston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2013. Created by Meks. Powered by WordPress.