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November 23, 2020

Through the Looking Glass

Earlier this year, I shared a beautiful story where the denizens of a small town in Demark created art and stories on their window ledges to cheer up passers-by stretching weary legs during lockdown. This week, we discovered a different kind of window story – one which lets users share the windows they are gazing out of…day in and day out. At a time when we all long for a different view, a new vista, a chance to step out of our own tired lives, these glimpses of other’s moments in time feel so precious and special. A veritable global gaze of loss and longing. Beautiful and somehow, so very, very bonding.

Puppy Love?

During times of contraction, luxury tends to get a bit shy, often going underground in the form of lowkey classics (is that cashmere sweater new? Or an heirloom?) or costumed up as ‘practical’ expenditures, like converting the extra dining room into a fully functional conference room for these trying WFH times (not making that last one up, btw). However, given the boom of pandemic puppy adoption, lavishing love, attention, and high quality leather goods on our canine companions seems to be A-OK a thing. Introducing a new start-up: Pagerie, the makers of the ‘Birkin’ of dog collars. Seeking to capitalize on the burgeoning dog domain of 2020, Pagerie introduces a line of leather goods for dogs, crafted from the same fine materials Hermes uses for their human counterparts. Sleek and chic or barking mad? You be the judge!

Smart Senses

2020 has been a year of so many losses, in so many areas. The continued erosion of beloved bookstores feels particularly personal in this moment. The OG purveyors of fantasy and escape, books are truly a magic kingdom, and one – ironically – that has been rediscovered by Millennials seeking community and education during lockdown. Unfortunately – most of the books being read today arrive via brown or white trucks bearing groceries as well. But take heart! As news of local indy bookstores desperate straits have hit social – waves of support and loyalty have rippled across the country: from online efforts to ‘Save the Strand’ to a push to keep Vroman’s of Pasadena alive and well. The great Oregonian bookstore, Powell’s, has taken a novel tactic (sorry!) towards survival – they are launching a perfume. This unusual scent promises to take the wearer away to places full of mystery, secret scrolls, and long talks fueled by fire and cognac. A fab gift for the bibliophile, and a clever way to strike back. 😁

Pandemic Passports

Yes, we are all armchair travelers these days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all need a bit of eye candy 😁 keeping us company on our imaginary dreamliners. Norway –(natch) – shows up as its usual fab and futuristic self with a newly designed passport. Much like its own famous Nordic lights, the images on the pages shift in color and story, revealing swathes of forestry and gorgeous glaciers when exposed to UV light. A masterful use of design for both security today and bucket lists tomorrow.

Sweatshop for One

DIY has been quite the 2020 thing as we have all learned to assemble furniture, homeschool children and possibly cook a passable meal during this decades-long quarantine. Freitag, the German design firm known for its recycled truck tarp bags and luggage is taking our amateur attempts up a notch. Their new “Sweat-Yourself-Shop” pilot lets customers co-produce their own self-styled products, utilizing the company’s machines and materials. Their hope is that this level of hands on engagement will incite a deeper connection and desire for sustainable goods and inspire a sense of creativity in all who choose to exchange a bit of elbow grease for the pride of ownership. As brands around the world struggle to intuit the #futureofretail, Freitag may well be the scout leader we all need.

Hold the (Rotary) Phone!

We are truly living in some odd continuum of time and space, people!! Netflix – the folks who destroyed scheduled programming forever (and then proceeded to douse us with a firehouse of content we can never ever fully consume) have done an about face. Introducing Netflix Direct – (currently being tested in France only) – an actual schedule of shows that eliminates the one thing we all have way too much of – choice. This new offering will provide specific scheduled programming on at, well, specific times! How exciting to notch something besides The Bachelor in our planners!

I’ll take $500 for Tone Deaf, Alex

Millions of people watch some variation of Real Housewives every week. Researchers tell us that these viewers find a form of schadenfreude in the antics of rich folks behaving badly, happy in the knowledge that money doesn’t spare anyone from backbiting, bitchery, and annoying friends/relatives. The same rule, however, cannot be applied to Neiman’s annual over the top fantasy catalogue. In a year when even Goop has taken a half-hearted stab at shilling practicality, the esteemed retailer pulls no punches in their lavish list of gifts for the .000000000001%. Might make excellent fodder for the time capsules we are all planning to create around a year full of firsts.

TikTok Not

I stumbled across this glorious promotional video for the rebranded Hong Kong ballet and had to share. It is a wonderful mashup of a love letter to the city, a neon dose of the contemporary, and an homage to tradition. Despite its 2019 creation date, the mad colors, vibrant movement and glorious grandmas made my heart leap like the lithest of dancers. Cue this one up on the daily!

Untold Stories

The greatest bridge over divisiveness is always empathy. Never strident, empathy speaks softly, nudging open our hearts and souls to see things a little differently, and to feel how similar those differences might be. Mark Steven Greenfield’s Black Madonna exhibit, currently showing in Los Angeles, does all this and so much more. Jumping off from the mysterious Black Madonna’s that first surfaced in the 1300s, he tells the stories of the powerful Black Men and Women who led untold lives of courage and kindness. Each painting vibrates with the energy of a life, and then offers a subtle look at what retribution might look like today. Sacred and soul shaking, these incredibly layered pieces are a must see for anyone trying to unpack where we are and where we need to go.

Lumbercore 2.0

Readiness and usefulness seem to be the glitter and sequins of 2020. Right now, we are seeing fresh, almost startling collabs with the old trusted brands of our past, merged with a sprinkle of savoir-faire. As nostalgia continues to crest, gazing at the update versions of products that kept us safely bundled up against winters of old feels oddly reassuring. Both LL Bean and Eddie Bauer brilliantly tap into the current zeitgeist, offering contemporary comfort for both the new shopper and the old guard. (and yes- I ordered the Green Bean sweater – get your own!)
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