A Mad Fantasy Tea Party

This past Monday we had a spring tea party to launch our new Fantasy Garden Collection, a vintage inspired capsule collection and collaboration with New York based jewelry company Ciner. I don’t know if it is the recent release of Beauty & The Beast, spring in general, or the fanciful nature of this new collection but I have had a tea party craving for awhile now. Talented Charleston-based illustrator Daniel Velasco did our invites and we purchased teacups that doubled as party favors for all the guests and turned Candy Shop Vintage on Cannon Street into a tea room for the afternoon.

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Thanks to Ooh events, we were able to squeeze in seating for 18 people down the length of the store. We served Charleston grown tea from The Charleston Tea Plantation in three flavors – Charleston Breakfast, Peach and Earl Grey. Frampton’s Flowers provided some beautiful fresh ranunculus for us in shades of pale pink.

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Out tiered tea towers were brimming with homemade goodies from local bakeries and caterers – Hamby’s, Sugar bakeshop and scones from Wildflour:

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And one of the best details were the beautiful, hand painted unicorn macaroons from Mercantile & Mash:

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The centerpiece of our new collection, The Unicorn Fantasy Necklace:

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Our floral selfie wall was also a lot of fun:

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As were the unicorn horn party hats from Meri Meri party:

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I only slept about two hours the night before but still had a blast:

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Thanks to all who came and contributed to a magical afternoon in Charleston!

The New Fantasy Garden Collection

I am so excited to finally announce our collaboration with 125 year old jewelry company CINER and the Spring collection we have designed together, The Fantasy Garden.

Because CINER has been around for so long (over a century!) I became used to seeing their name and mark on one-of-a-kind vintage pieces I collected, like these fabulous giraffe earrings. The quality of their pieces is always unparalleled. Through a friend visiting Charleston, I came to find out that CINER was still manufacturing and producing their beautiful line out of their New York City showroom and factory. So, I flew up from Charleston, SC for a meeting with CINER V.P. Kris Ciulla and owner Pat Ciner to learn more. Needless to say, we all had a lot in common and it was absolutely magical to see their showroom and production facility where so many of my favorite vintage pieces had been born. We decided to come together to produce our own capsule collection with me pulling designs from their archives and refashioning them into a modern, whimsical collection with a candy colored color palate. And so our collaborative collection, The Fantasy Garden was born:

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The Fantasy Garden Collection is available exclusively through our website, our store and cinerny.com.

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On my two visits up there I say down with Pat and Kris and curated this collection of pieces which is a combination of Southern, botanical themes, one of their classic Ciner bees and an element of fantasy – the unicorn (based on a vintage brooch they once produced):

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Ciner has remained in the same family for all 125 their business as been operating. Pat Ciner, left, the third generation of the Ciner family, remains at the helm of the business which is celebrating its 125th year in 2017. It was such a pleasure working with Pat and her team:

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Their showroom is filled with beautiful pieces, new and old – a virtual treasure trove of costume jewelry complete with vintage advertisements dating back to the 40’s and 50’s.

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Behind their showroom is a full manufacturing facility with jewelry artisans who paint enamel, cast, and set stones by hand.

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Below, a member of the Ciner team dedicated to polishing pieces during production works on a design.

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We are thrilled with how the collection turned out! You can see it and shop it here. The wonderful combination of southern botanical influences and elements of fanciful creatures. All behind-the-scenes photography by Lydia Hudgens.

Skinny Dipping in Charleston

It’s rare these days that a new retail store opens on King Street in Downtown Charleston that isn’t a national chain, so when I heard about Skinny Dip: The Charleston Edition, a collective retail concept that already found its sea legs after launching successfully in Nantucket I was immediately intrigued. And after drinks with one of the founders and designer behind accessory line Beau and Ro – Sara Rossi – I was totally thrilled to be invited to be a part of it. The brand collective shop represents both emerging and established designers from around the country in one, chic space – brands like Society Social, whose beautiful furniture makes the upstairs “local vibes” section feel both homey and luxurious, Ellsworth and Ivey, founding partner Taylor Ivey’s lifestyle brand, and Kiel James Patrick to name a few.

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The second floor of Skinny Dip Charleston’s King Street retail space bedecked with furniture from Society Social.

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Founders Sarah Rossi and Taylor Ivey – how cute are they?!

Plenty of Charleston based designers and brands will also be represented – you can find our Charleston Rice Beads upstairs as well as Lauren Lail’s beautiful vintage inspired line Library, colorful tunics and dressed by Escapada, even Shep from Bravo’s Southern Charm’s quirky line Shep Gear and many more. You can even relax and have a glass of wine in their upstairs bar run by Rudi’s – a satellite location from their Old Village wine shop in Mt. Pleasant.

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Artist Meredith Hanson hand paints a mural of Rainbow Row in Skinny Dip Charleston at the hard hat opening.

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The official opening party is this Friday, April 7th where I am also DJing but the store is open for shopping as of Tuesday, April 4th. There are so many goodies in there you definitely want to be one of the first to check it out. Congrats to the Skinny Dip team for all of their hard work and looking forward to celebrating on Friday!

Southern Style Is…

My husband and I were included in a fun shoot for southernliving.com this week where we talked about what we thought Southern Style is… Now I’m not a native Southerner but I’ve found style in the Southeast to be whimsical, fun and always unique.  I think my own style has evolved to reflect this, hence the great flared cat skirt I found at Hampden Clothing on King Street worn with a sheer, pearl detailed top, a vintage bag, Loeffler Randall snakeskin heels from James (Hampden’s sister store) and turquoise Charleston Rice Beads.  RIP to my Zara sunglasses that were sat on shortly after this shoot, at least they got their moment to shine:

Love this photo of John and I. By the way, all these photos are outtakes from Look. Linger. Love. Chassity Evans did a great job curating the Charleston segment with her photographer and friend Gray Benko.  Check out the rest of here!

Vintage Style Icon: Sunny Harnett

I have a running Pinterest board of vintage inspiration I have compiled over the last few years.  I realized there was one vintage face I was pinning again and again – I even have a print of one of her VOGUE shoots framed in my office – it belonged to a model named Sunny Harnett.

Sunny Harnett was THE glamour model of the 1950’s.  She even had a cameo (as a model) in the movie Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn.  Here she is, front and center in a promotional still for the movie:

Sunny started her career off as an assistant at the Ford agency but quickly transitioned into modeling herself. Born in Brooklyn, she had New York sophistication and Marilyn Monroe level glamour but with model proportions.  Here editorials are stunning and border on art. She was a favorite of Richard Avendon, who photographed her many times over the years.

She is considered one of the top models of all time.  I cannot get enough of her photos – there is something supremely elegant about her that transcends her time.  Many of her photos are graphically interesting, beyond being just beautiful.

Sunny passed away in the 1980’s under a sad series of circumstances.  It is hard to find much on her life in between, other than her modeling career so if anyone does have more  information about her, I would be interested to know more!

Rhode Island Roundup

It’s been exactly two weeks since I got home from vacation and I am already feeling the post-vacation, mid-summer, Southern heat blues. I am missing those cool New England evenings, the sort that necessitate a light sweater and even sleeping under a heavy comforter. So I thought I’d put together a few of my favorite Rhode Island haunts – a mash-up of sorts of both high-end and off-the-highway places that you don’t want to miss if you are ever in the area, with a few vacation more photos to boot.

Random Roadsides: Doughnuts & Dives

Pretty much see this post about Allie’s Doughnuts (home of the Doughnut Cake) and if I could pinpoint it, main culprit of my “vacation 5” (pounds that is). A true old-school road-side doughnut shack that shills old-school no fuss doughnuts at their best. While I captured the giant doughnut in my previous post, this down-to-business photo shows the essence of what goes on inside. And note the loud and clear “CASH ONLY SIGN” which is not a problem since you can basically get a dozen doughnuts for like $5:

For a real meal, also from my previous post, do not skip Champlin’s Seafood Deck and its downstairs sweet shop The Sweet Spot. Legit, enjoyable fried seafood and oysters.

And for an after dinner drink that’s nearby, definitely check out this view with a glass of wine in hand at The Coast Guard House in Naragansset before or after a walk along the waterfront.

On a previous trip I mentioned the incredible view that’s also to be had at Evelyn’s Drive In in Tiverton, RI. Sitting on their patio and watching the sunset over the cove while you eat fried fish is pretty much perfection. Stay true to the classics though… my husband ordered “The Lobster Chop Suey” last summer (his own fault) and left feeling a little disappointed.

Allie’s Doughnuts  North Kingstown, RI 

Coast Guard House   Narragansett, RI 

Champlin’s Seafood Deck & The Sweet Spot   Narragansett, RI 

Evelyn’s Drive In    Tiverton, RI 

The City Fix: Providence

I always need an urban fix on vacation, just that little bit of city. Because no matter how picturesque or relaxing a vacation spot may be, there is something invigorating about exploring a new city. We stayed at The Dean Hotel in Providence.  I cannot say enough good things about it. That is me, above, entering The Dean… almost double-entendre, since a mere three years ago it was a fully functioning brothel. But the level of fun sophistication that the hotel has achieved since it’s two-year renovation was complete is first rate. I would have stay here above many hotels in many other cities. Plus, its affordability, tongue-in-cheek marketing, and in-house coffee bar were the icing on a great hospitality experience:

Attached to the lobby of The Dean is FAUST, an excellent Germanic restaurant with a killer pretzel. Add to this The Magdalenae Room, a moody, Moroccan-influenced craft cocktail bar behind the main lobby and the more hipster Karaoke Bar in back called The Boombox and you basically don’t need to leave the premises. And, neon art. The two photos below I snagged from my good friend Kelly’s instagram. She works for Kyla Cobern, the woman who designed The Dean and many of Providence’s most innovative spots and is responsible for all the finishing touches, down to the incredible framed fashion illustrations in the bathrooms.

If you do leave, a place to venture for brunch is The Grange. Think healthy, locally sourced with vegan undertones. Conveniently across the street is a treasure of a vintage shop called Hall’s On Broadway. Sooooo many good things, and great prices. For a post-brunch coffee and baked good, you can go right up the street to Seven Stars, an insanely yummy artisanal bakery with two locations. And for an evening cocktail at another Kyla Cobern spot in the same neighborhood, check out The Avery. It is an incredible Deco-inspired bar that sits unexpectedly in the middle of a residential square in Federal Hill.

Side note: we were traveling avec toddler so the children’s museum piper had to be paid. But the Providence Children’s Museum, if you have to spend mind-numbing hours somewhere like that, is a good spot to do it. A manageable size, but enough variety to keep your child engaged and keep you from the inevitable children’s museum malaise.

The Dean Hotel / Bolt Coffee Co. / FAUST / The Magdalene Room / The Boom Box

The Avery

The Grange

Seven Stars

Hall’s On Broadway

The Providence Children’s Museum 

Also, not visited on this trip, but two places I’d reccommend from past visits:

The Duck & Bunny

White Electric

The Old School Classic: Newport

Newport, like Charleston, seems to hold a good bit of intrigue and port-city-allure for those outside the area. The name conjures up images of nautical New England, sailing races, strolls along piers and cable knit sweaters. In our three brief visits, I’ve enjoyed walking up and down Thames Street which is one of the main shopping districts, although still a charmingly historic and intimate road. As for culinary and cocktail gems, the first is “The Lawn” at Castle Hill.  Castle Hill is an old house that has been converted into a hotel and perches on a peninsula just past the city’s center. “The Lawn” is simply its outdoor lawn where you can sit and boat-watch with a drink in hand. As of this year, they started serving food there as well. Sadly/ironically there was this CRAZY fog the night we went so we ended up at the bar, surrounded by grey mist but no visible ocean.  A good reason to try again next year! Funny side note, when we told the bartender we were visiting from Charleston he seemed confused why we would ever leave our great city to go on vacation elsewhere! Three words: Southern summer heat.

We also went to The Clark Cook House which has what is probably one of the best logos I’ve ever seen. This old school seafood gem is in the center of the city with yachting themed decor, on bannister’s wharf and has several tiers of dining, including The Candy Store at street level that serves freshly made sushi. There is a semi-private rooftop Skybar and an amazing looking, old school lounge in the basement called The Boom Boom Room that has wicker and striped cushions and is lined with vintage photos of racing boats (only open Saturday nights).

A classic Newport Activity (other than eating seafood) is meandering along The Cliff Walk, something we’ve done on previous visits.  On one side, the path drops off to the ocean on the other are rows of breathtaking historic Newport homes. My feeling about Newport is that it’s sort of the Charleston of New England.  In fact there were many Newport natives that moved down to Charleston at the turn of the century, and vice versa, including the Nathaniel Russell,  whose former  Charleston home I toured recently.

The Lawn at Castle Hill

The Clark Cooke House

Cliff Walk

The Hidden Gem: Watch Hill

We ended our visit in Watch Hill.  Located in Westerly, Rhode Island is it kind of like Newport’s demure, waspy cousin. I have a life-long friend whom I’ve known from grade school and I visited her and her family in Watch Hill a number of times during high school and college.  It was always a special place – a perfect specimen of a New England Beach town. Now, going back with my husband and my own daughter is even more meaningful. The classic and most charming feature of Watch Hill is perhaps the vintage The Flying Horse Carousel at the edge of town.

You ride around and grab rings as the horses (literally) fly by the rides attendees. We tried to convince Daphne to go on it (she’s two and a half) but the horses move pretty fast and she hightailed it out of the ring just as she was about to get on.

Just around the corner from the carousel is a The Candy Box (above), a perfectly classic candy store and fudge shop. You could not dream up a better vacation spot for sweet treats and bin candy. If I ever open a brick-and-mortar jewelry shop it will look just like this!

The main, and grandest spot in Watch Hill (aside from Taylor Swift’s humble abode ) is the incredible Ocean House. The Ocean House was built in the early 1900’s and in 2002 was torn down and completely rebuilt from the ground up. During the restoration, it was thoughtfully modernized yet still retains its old-world grandeur, with many of the original fixtures, furnishings and signs. And with a croquet lawn over looking the sea and dining deck you almost expect women with parasols to be strolling around the gardens. You can read a lot more about the hotel and the restoration process spearheaded by Chuck and Deborah Royce in this month’s issue of Conde Nast Traveller, it even graces the cover.

Two things you must do there: visit the gift shop (that carries a few pieces of my jewelry) and have a lobster roll on the main deck at The Verandah. I think it is the BEST lobster roll in the state, maybe it has to do with the spectacular view. Side note: pre-restoration while it was still operational in 2000 or so, I visited Watch Hill with friends and we danced the night away in its rambling, former basement bar. Magic! Also, my husband is an Episcopal Minister and while we were there he led a service at the charming, nondenominational chapel just across the street that is worth a visit, even if you just step inside to oggle the beautiful woodwork.

Finally, the best evening stroll in Watch Hill is to the lighthouse. The entrance to the semi-private (but open to the walking public) drive that leads there is discreetly marked by two brick pillars. Just a few yards south of Taylor Swift’s bodyguards outpost and up the hill from the carousel, I promise the walk is worth the hunt for the entrance.

The Flying Horse Carousel

The Candy Box

The Ocean House

The Watch Hill Lighthouse

These three local places are also have wonderful food, sea and otherwise.  The Olympia Tea Room is in downtown Watch Hill and the other two are in the outskirts of Westerly:

The Olympia Tea Room

The Cooked Goose

The Sea Goose

Rhode Island is a special place to me, not only because it’s part of the New England region I grew up in, but because it is still such a huge part of my life.  I manufacture and produce all of my Candy Shop Vintage Collection jewelry out of factories there and I’ve enjoyed the talented people I get to collaborate with along the way.  This, and my (obvious, over-sharing) love of the state keeps us coming back summer after summer, the perfect antidote to the muggy, Southern climate.