Balloons that’ll take your breath away (without even blowing them up!)

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If you follow European society at all (which, call me shallow, but I do), you saw the 21st birthday soiree of Princess Olympia of Greece (pictured above courtesy of http://www.thesun.com). It took place this summer in the Cotswolds and sent my mom and I into an Internet rabbit hole admiring the clothes, the famous guests and those balloons that seemed to be pouring out of the chateau. I mean. Those! Balloons! I filed that image away and somehow managed to move on with my life until I saw these balloons popping up at events and famous locales worldwide … But my curiosity got the better of me after seeing THIS photo of the BHLDN bridal preview at Maman in NY a few weeks ago:

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Amazing, right? I had to get to the bottom of this balloon frenzy.

Enter, Geronimo Balloons. Started in 2011, by Jihan Zencirli, shortly after she attended a friend’s birthday party with a balloon in tow. But not just any balloon. A single, large, perfectly circular balloon, tethered with tassels and fringe- sort of like this.  Said balloon caused passers by to stop, oogle and compliment. Zencirli didn’t invent the balloon she was carrying, per se (you can shop them for yourself here), but the way it was styled was all her (meaning the tassels).

She began taking her balloons as party gifts wherever she went and was always met with the same reaction by strangers and friends alike “Where’d you get that?” “That is so cool.” Finally,  one day she was carrying her balloon thru the streets of LA and was literally flagged down by a woman in a car willing to pay a hefty price for a delivery of those exact balloons the following day on account of her husband’s birthday.  It was then that Zencirli realized she was on to something and had created a product people would be willing to pay money for.

Fast forward 6 years and the long tasseled balloon has turned into a gangbuster business and has morphed much beyond that of your average balloon delivery service. Zencrili is now in the business of balloon installations. Working out of her LA studio, Zencirli makes balloon art on steroids. She has a staff of employees working for her, yet still sleeps on the couch in her studio most nights just to turn out the product in time. Part art, part decoration, these Geronimo balloons literally look too good to be true. (Confession: the first time I saw an installation of Zencirli’s work on Instagram I honestly thought it was some sort of new filter, thinking “…those can not possible be real.”)

Don’t expect to call and have Geronimo Baloons deliver to your doorstep. That ship has sailed, as Zencirli is now flown all over the world to complete installations for brands like Chanel, T-Mobile and Oh Joy, to name a few.  The installations come with a hefty price tag but tend to create a media and social media frenzy,  which some might say is priceless in itself.

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Looking Up, welcome to St. Louis

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There’s a new addition to the St. Louis skyline, situated right in front of the Science Center in Forest Park. Occupying the island in front of the planetarium entrance is Thomas Friedman’s – the artist, not the author – 33.3 foot tall sculpture of an adrogynous figure looking toward the sky. Appropriately titled, Looking Up, the structure is made of polished stainless steel. Friedman used a foam-like material to make the initial form, then he and his team texturized the figure by pressing roasting pans, aluminum foil and baking tins into it through a process of molding and lost-wax casting. What resulted was a rust-free surface that acts as a reflector of light and its surroundings, making this whimsical giant take on an ethereal, almost weightless feel.

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Artist Crush: Tommy Clarke

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I have to admit, the finders fee on this artist goes to my brother, who after stumbling upon Tommy Clarke’s work at a SOHO gallery snagged one for his own apartment. I quickly fell in love with the almost abstract quality of Clarke’s aerial photos, the way they’re photographs that don’t really read as such.

Clarke was born on the South Coast of England and his work is partially inspired by all of his trips to the beach growing up. He first photographed Bondi Beach in Australia and has since moved on to other locales worldwide. When not traveling, he works out of his London studio. Here are some of my favorites, but you can read more about Tommy Clarke and shop all of his photos here:

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Girl’s Night Out – Flower Power Edition

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Tuesday night I attended an Alice’s Table party at Cyrano’s Cafe. In case you aren’t familiar (because I wasn’t), Alice’s Table was started in 2016 in Boston, but has since spread to over 25 cities nationwide. The company’s goal is to get women together for a creative, relaxing night out centered around do-it-yourself flower arrangements. Participants sign up online (here is a list of upcoming events in St. Louis and here is the list nationwide) and then their local Alice’s Table “hostess” takes care of the rest.

The particular event I went to was complete with wine, appetizers, dessert and a treat bag.  Plus, everyone comes home with their own hand made bouquet ( … I couldn’t help thinking that this is such a better idea than those painting parties with the same M.O.  Flowers I’ll put on my nightstand, but I don’t need a painting that I made myself hanging over the mantle … Just sayin’).

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At Tuesday’s event in Webster Groves, Missouri, Meredith Johns, the St. Louis area’s only Alice’s Table “hostess”,  led ten ladies in a step-by-step tutorial to create a fool-proof flower arrangement. Everyone sat down to a work station stocked with clippers, an apron, a watering can and de-leafer.  Then Johns gave tips and tricks as she demonstrated the process to creating a bouquet. Yes she was teaching us, but it wasn’t like we were sitting down listening to a college lecture. Most of the time was spent chatting and getting to know the other women, while simultaneously working on arranging our flowers. And even though Johns had given us a “recipe” for our bouquet (pictured below) , after the almost two hour session was done and bouquets assembled, no two were alike.

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The Colors of Cuba

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A local guide in Havana summed up Cuba perfectly, “Enjoy my country,” he said, “but don’t try to understand it.”  The socialism. The poverty. The feeling that time has stood still on this large island in the Caribbean for the better part of the last century.

Although only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba could not feel further away from Western civilization. Internet and cell signals are scarce, stores are few and far between, and the infrastructure seems in a placid state of disrepair.  Bundle this with the upbeat tone of the Cuban people (there are over 11 million of them) and the bright, colorful backdrop created by the country’s neoclassical and Spanish colonial architecture, and you’ve  got quite the dichotomy.

One second you’re taking pictures of a beautifully ornate and freshly painted facade, and the next instant you’re tripping over rubble from a decrepit building that looks condemned, yet has laundry hanging out on the third floor balcony. There are pristine, vintage automobiles everywhere (everywhere!) adding to the air of surrealism. And while we were visiting the last week in June, it also happened to be “flame tree” season, where those vibrant, orange blossomed trees you see in the photos below were in bloom and littering the landscape. It felt like I was walking thru a Travel and Leisure spread or maybe vacationing on an MGM movie set — picture perfect.

I recommend you check out this wonderful city for yourself, but until then, here are some photos from our recent visit to wet your appetite …

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Artist Crush – David Parise

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David Parise was inspired by the vintage Barbie clothes of the 60’s that he came across in a Miami Beach store almost a decade ago. The detail and quality of the clothes adorning those plastic limbs really struck a chord in the ex- NYC garment industry worker. He took that inspiration, added his love of photography and threw in the equally vintage backdrop of Miami’s South Beach to create humorous, whimsical, sometimes raunchy photos of vintage barbies. In his photographs, Barbie’s might be posed on the beach, in front of your favorite South Florida hot spot, lounging in their perfectly mid-century living room or maybe picnicing over the Grand Canyon.

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Artist Spotlight – Lauren Marx

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Marx at work in her Cherokee Street studio.

Lauren Marx grew up wanting to be a zoologist. When she realized that profession also came with a lot of biology labs and science classes, admittedly not her strong suit, she had to regroup. Which is how she ended up with a B.F.A. from Webster University. This fine arts background, coupled with her love of animals, are partially responsible for her successful career as an artist, one who specializes in self-described “gory animal prettiness” to be exact.

The other part responsible for this burgeoning art career? Her family. For one, Marx comes from a long line of artists, a great-grandfather who was a painter, a grandfather who was a printmaker, a mother who was an artist. Said grandfather not only gave Marx the artistic gene, he also influenced Marx’s subject matter – whether he knew it or not- because his dining room was adorned in the work of John James Audubon. Marx would stare at these prints as a child and file them away for future use.

Audubon, in case you aren’t familiar, was an American naturalist and painter and the first person to create an illustrated natural history book, specifically known for it’s detailed illustrations of birds in their natural habitat. This gained him fame and notoriety in the late 19th century and is why his is the name behind the Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation that was incorporated in 1905.

Audubon’s work still plays a role in Marx’s art. Some vintage Audubon prints that she found in an antique store on Cherokee Street are stacked neatly on her desk, serving as inspiration. Evidence of his style is apparent in the composition, details and color palette of Marx’s work too. Like Audubon, her work is very intricate and anatomically accurate, but instead of birds being perched on a branch somewhat wholesomely, as Audubon painted them, Marx depicts her animal subjects eating their prey, blood and guts also shown in all their natural glory.

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Inspiration abounds on Marx’s desk.

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Get the Look – Sketch

I came across this chair for sale at Urban Outfitters the other day and thought, “Not sure I’d put that in my house, but it sure does remind me of Sketch.” You might not know it by name, but you do by sight:

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It’s London’s most photogenic restaurant, whose pink interior, plush seating and minimalist art make it a treat for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. Conceived by a Parisian Chef and an English restauranteur in 2002,  Sketch is actually five restaurants and bars that are spread across two floors of a converted 18-th century building in London’s Mayfair. The pink one above, that is the darling of Instagram, is technically called “The Gallery.”

Apparently the food is good, but to me, the interior design is where it’s at. India Mahdavi is the decorator and her love of color and whimsical furnishings are apparent everywhere throughout this destination for food, music, and art.  Some of her other projects are here:

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Home sweet sale

Who says after Christmas sales have to be limited to clothing? Yes, there are a ton of great clothes on sale after the holiday, but I’ve been loving all the home stuff that is, too. Specifically, (and the impetus for this post) I came across that Ro Sham Beaux Malibu chandelier on sale (30% off!) and could hardly believe my eyes. Then I saw that gold flatware, Lulu and Georgia rug, little brass planter, record player …. and well, you get the picture. All on sale! So, without further adieu, a look into my virtual shopping cart.

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Chandelier // Side Table // Mirror // Bowl

Rug // Planter // Record Player

Flatware // Art // Bench // Pillow

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A Bit-O-Local Flare

The latest subscription box to hit the Midwest market is close to my heart…literally! Because it’s based in St. Louis and each quarter sends a box of goods curated from local makers in the St. Louis area. It’s called Bit-O-Local. And really, what better way to get to know new products, handmade in our hometown?

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I just received my first subscription box and it was filled with fun Fall surprises: tassel earrings by CR Jewels,  a bar of (all natural pet) soap by sammysoap, stationary and pencils from the Curio Press and a Cinnamon Sticks candle from Wash Ave. Candle.   I am ashamed and a little embarassed to say that I had never heard of any of the companies represented in this box. One highlight, sammysoap, is an all-natural skin care and home goods company based in Kirkwood, MO that also creates jobs for adults with disabilities.

The founders of Bit-O-Local, Jen Singleton, Carmen Ramirez and Alicia Underwood, have backgrounds in PR and Marketing, so often crossed paths with these local artisans and craftsman. They see the local subscription box as a way to spread the word on St. Louis brands and help increase awareness for their handmade products.

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You can subscribe to the box for $25/quarter (a ~$25 value as opposed to buying the items separately) or buy the items individually. All are available thru their website, www.bitolocal.com.

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