California Tag Archives

From Napa, With Love

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California continues to be a seductive, siren of a place luring me closer and closer with each visit. It is a place where my east-coast-drive melts into a west-coast-commitment-to-self. A place where the passing connections I make with the Golden State’s natives turn into intimate memories. A place where the heart-wrenching beauty of the everyday becomes routine, but never loses its power.

Even months after my latest trip to California I remain blissfully under its spell, allowing myself to be lost in frequent, passionate day dreams of a perhaps, not-so-distant future amidst its cacti and redwoods. During my stay in wine country at the end of May, I was excited to spend time with Oona Achard, a prolific leather artist, whom I met during the designer trunk show I was working. Indulging my most beloved pastime of meeting the movers and makers of the places I visit, we chatted about her art over the course of the weekend. In between tidbits of her Swiss background, talk of the micro-climates of Northern California and advice on where to eat and drink in Napa and Sonoma Valleys (Goose and Gander in St. Helena, Aroma Roasters in Santa Rosa), she explained that, after attempting to commission the teachings of an age-old artisan who was just too tired to continue his work, had purchased his antique machinery, site unseen. She had then hired him to tutor her in the privacy of her home where his tools enjoyed a brand new chapter in their long-lived story.

The fruits of her labor are the leather creations, the bucket bag pictured here among others, all stamped with the custom brand she created. The timeless, fashionable beauty of the pieces characterizes a bit of the California way in my mind, the stunning result of so many diverse, yet complimentary elements: rustic and refined, natural and manmade, fluid and structured. Just like Oona, with her Italian and Louisiana roots, living in an Americana small town within a Mediterranean climate.

Oona described her struggle to keep herself focused on her work and to maintain her creative practice even as life continues to throw obstacles her way. It is a struggle that I am intimately acquainted with, and we bonded that weekend on how to keep motivated toward our respective crafts. For me, meeting Oona reignited my passion to tell the stories of talented creators whose stories might otherwise go untold. Our meeting will remain another lovely memory I have of California and one I keep close to my heart until my next visit.

For more of Oona’s work: www.atelierachardleather.etsy.com

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We Are the Young Americans

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My recent trip to Los Angeles did nothing to dispel any notions that A. everyone is beautiful in the City of Angels and B. life is a never-ending flurry of auditions and shoots.  In fact, I am now completely convinced of those two points and warming up to C. everything is better on the “Best Coast.”

As a New Yorker I am predisposed to have an aversion to LA.  Long New York City winters blowing slush and sadness into our hearts have conditioned us to think that Los Angelinos, with their backyard palm trees, their perfect tans and their balmy Christmases, have it easy.  But what I found this past trip was a group of people, albeit gorgeous people, working nonstop to live out their creative dreams one day at a time.

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I had popped over to LA to see my dear, childhood friend Riley Rose, (writer, actor, editor, costume wrangler) of the hysterically funny sketch group BFT Comedy, among other feathers in her cap. It was she that had introduced me to the lovely Valentina Mitzkat a year ago in Los Angeles.  I was immediately taken with Valentina’s spirit, she possesses an old-world, classic beauty that I can’t stop looking at: porcelain skinned like a pinup but spritely at the same time.  She is an incredible musical talent with an intoxicatingly beautiful voice, in fact, her single Going Home has been on repeat since our first meeting a year ago.  During my trip to LA this year, Valentina was shooting the video to her new song We Are The Young Americans, an upbeat and infectious tune, and Riley and I were invited to take part in the video.  I am such a fan so, of course, I couldn’t resit being a part of her latest piece of magic, camera-shy be damned!

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It was a perfect afternoon in sunny California, a fruit-tree lined street in The Valley was the location of the day-after-house-party themed video and a an outdoor couch full of young stunners surrounded by succulents and all manner of flora greeted us upon our arrival on set.  The idea behind the shoot was to focus in on a group of (young) Americans who, seemingly wasting a day idling about hungover from the previous night’s debauchery, build something beautiful out of what dregs the party (or society) has left behind for them.  The concept is genius, especially because it takes place in a city that, no matter what anyone says, is totally and completely on its grind, further supporting my newly recognized affinity for all things Los Angeles.   I can’t wait to see the finished video and share it with everyone as soon as it is ready.  And, in the meantime, while I may not be packing my bags to move across the country just yet, I plan to cultivate as much California cool (and go-getter-ness) into my everyday as possible.

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Until next time, Los Angeles!