Saturday, September 27, 2008

England Claims Giving Birth to Champagne

England & France have needed European marriage counseling since the Dark Ages. France famously touts its epicurean delights while thumbing their noses at the oxymoron of an Escoffier English chef. Bangers and mash or fish and chips versus haute cuisine croissants and flambéed Crêpes Suzette. The crux of the latest battle du jour is the birthplace of sparkling wine, champagne. Dom Pèrignon is effervescing in friarly indignation in his grave right now after being asked to come up with a way to make the wine bottles stop exploding in the abbey wine 'cellar'.

Champagne merits special stemware for events that warrant hors d'oeuvres as it is a regal drink of bubbly celebration or splashing the side of a newly launched cruiseliner. France has whole regions of the countryside named Champagne from the medieval period or large swaths of land dedicated to maintaining its pure-blood/wine grape lineage. The most famous names of Champagne began in the 18th century, Taittinger (1734), Moët et Chandon (1743) and Vueve Clicquot (1772). Out of a late summer rain cloud comes this cider-making English bloke from Somerset with a differing provenance of a 1632 Royal Society wine enthusiast who preceded Dom whose cuvée pedigree lasts. En garde.

Mr Crowden, from Chard in Somerset, researched Merret for his book on the history of cider called Ciderland.

He believes that the popularity of sparkling wines began when British cider-makers added sugar to acidic French white wine and then learnt how to control the resulting secondary fermentation. The sugar caused secondary fermentation in the bottle, which created sparkling wines.

Merrett also invented the thick green bottle strong enough to contain the pressure of secondary fermentation. French wine-makers had been plagued by the problem of unintended fermentation, which could cause whole cellars of their fragile bottles to explode. By learning to control it they were able to create sparkling wine by design rather than accident.

Heavens to murgatroy and exploding bottles and French minds everywhere. The plot thickens because the premise is based on a book release occurring with the week along with a presentation to today's English Royal Society citing the glass to contain the rowdy bubbly was also Merret's invention. This peer review could turn itself into another over the channel blood feud between the Saxons and the Normans. The French do not have a sense of humour about champagne - at all. There are laws and no, I am not kidding.

In 1941, the Comite Interprofessional du Vin de
Champagne (CIVC) was founded to protect the champagne market. Yep, right in the middle of WWII, champagne interests superseded Panzer divisions breaking into the country. In 1891, the Treaty of Madrid, made it clear that only sparkling wine produced in certain areas meeting specific standards could use the name champagne. World War I participants affirmed that ruling in the Treaty of Versailles. these words were legend in France and not usable elsewhere: méthode champenoise or champagne method. That's why this new theory is going to come under a cultural assault or a walk of roses from vintners and other interested parties the world over. Switzerland had a town named Champagne and they agreed to lose the name in 2004. I'd say get your popcorn, but that is so plebian to wash down with champagne from Champagne.

The new enfant terrible of champagne books, Ciderland is from the Somerset chap, James Crowden. For those seeking a tour de fource in the sparkling beverage's royal lineage need look no further than the well researched 4000 Champagnes from neutral Swedish expert author , Richard Juhlin.

Enjoy your French bubbly, oui?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fashion at Emmy Awards 2008 Bling Bonanza

Tonight it is 60 years of magical mayhem as The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences celebrates its 60th year in the golden lightness of being on the small screen. Illuminating stars way past prime time and presenting today's unreal divas and dudes during Emmy's Diamond Jubilee after a financial turkey was laid on taxpayers, just hails an awkward moment to auction off the diamond chandelier for ten million dollars. Let's see who was five carat diamond dressed and who is the cubic zirconia sporting a red-tagged pile of rags. Let the diamond chips fall my way...

Mind Sorbet's Grand Pink Diamond Fashion Carat Award goes to Olivia Wilde:

Olivia Wilde is bring styling perfection to the House of Emmy.
Eva Longoria Parker never misses, ever, especially in Marchesa. Kyra Sedgwick is always Closer in the style 2008 Va Voom edition.
The wonderfully funny Christina Applegate struts her stuff after a serious health crisis.
Teri Hatcher is flouncy and flirty in marigolden glory with no VPLs. (Visible Panty Lines)

Terri Hatcher , Saffron Burrows in Herv Le Bruth Mariska Hargitay

Sandra Uh Oh - takes another frou-frou risk while The Office three piece suited mortician Rainn Wilson. Hey he's a funny guy not a clotheshorse. Oh dear heavens, all the yellow and black, its going to look like a herd of bumblebees.

Brooke Shields is fuchsia fusion. Kate Walsh practiced private. This Desperate Housewife, Marcia Cross is rocking it from the accessories to the hair. Lady O is glammed up with drop chandelier earrings, those may cost as much as the AD green room. She looks der lovely.

On Project Runway - Heidi kisses both cheeks and wishes the departing designer avita zay. Tim Gunn did not make this work... Not even Heidi could rescue it....

Jeremy Piven does debonair.
Ugly Betty's America Ferrera with a heavily flowered grunge goes glam co-star Vanessa Williams -not feelin' it...

Julie Benz Purply Ho Hum

Lisa Rinna flys in a day-glo virginal bright white gown. Randolph Dude did a tiered thingy for Carrie Ann Inaba, the toned Judge from Dancing With the Stars - baaaaad choice.
Grecian gone terribly wrong by Jennifer Morrison.

Oscar winners crashing the TV party - Holly hunter in lilac and violets and Sally Field flyin in Black. Laura Dern, nuf said - ack, but Rita Wilson seems to have fallen off the pedestal - hard.

The Starter Wife got dressed with Morticia as her stylist - Debra c'mon you can so do the
chiffon & tulle thing better than that. Lisa Edelstein left her poodle at her House but brought the skirt as Weeds entered its entrant the faboulously talented Mary Louise Parker who went a teal ruche too far. Woof, yikes. Hayden Pantierre redeemed herself after the most unfortunate peachy Emmy quasi hooped bohemian gown.

Unfortunately, a serious competition broke out on the red carpet for the
Pink Poodle Wearing Poo Award!
A D List duvet cover on Kathy Griffin who tried, bless her heart, she actually tried, she even went for the ochre tie wrap of her hips... Ironically, the dress was designed by Rebellion Dog. She wins paws down for worst...

Photos courtesy Reuters

Project Runway's Nina Garcia works with illustrator Ruben Toledo to make style accessible to regular folks like you and me. No Nonsense Nina does it up right in The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own.

Designers to be included in updates

Diamonds and glitterati in platform pumps are everywhere along with some grecian dresses that give togas a bad name... Paging Nina G...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Emmy Chandelier 10,000,000 US Dollars

What financial meltdown says Emmy? Emmy, 60 years old on Sunday, still believes you can't be too rich or too thin. With the addition of a lighting bauble, Emmy is reliving the glory days of when the US economy was strong - Monday, according to Paris Hilton's wrinkly old white dude who is scamming for president. In a bit of anti-programming with poor people losing homes left and right while Hollywood puts the G in GlitzGlam at the Nokia Theatre on Sunday. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has Emmy's new 2008 set look for the mixed bag of presenters from decades gone-by dynastic Hollywood and the new-new terminally hip Hollywood. The swag bags are sporting leather, organic body washes and regular righteous bling.

Architectural Digest hired interior cool dude Mark Boone to design the 'green room' for this Sunday's Awards show. Backstage the green room is not really green. This one is blinging posh¹º for all the celebs doing PR. It's a jubilee without cherries, too messy, but heavy on the ten million dollars worth of sparklies which riffraff shall not be allowed to touch without an engraved Emmy invitation into the 625 square foot vault, cough, room.
'You can't even imagine when it's illuminated how spectacular it is,'' says Katherine Rosenberg Pineau, jewelry designer for the Boston
diamond jewelry company Hearts on Fire
, which made the three-tiered chandelier for the Architectural Digest Green Room (and hopes to sell it for $10 million once the show is over).

''We will be offering white-gloves service -- people will be able to put on white gloves and touch it and feel the movement'' of the thousands of round diamonds, she says. (Yes, there will be 24-hour security.)
Hollywood is having quite the week this week. Tuesday, the B man rolled into town and snagged $10,000,000 for Democrats as the B lady birdsonged Happy Days Are Here Again. This weekend Barbra, no stranger to diamonds, can attend a British themed Tea Party held by a bunch of acronyms - BAFTA/LA TV is the host at the InterContinental Hotel. A Bostonian version would involve more active participation - ha! The very obligatory Governor's Ball is held right after the golden lady holding the atom aloft in her hands is given out to all the people with marble mantels or dreams of one. Entertainment Tonight & people magazine are doing a joint gig with high priced performers and lots of china plates filled with tapas. The Pacific Design Center - known around H-town as the Blue Whale, is where HBO is doing a thing. It's all appropriate for a 4 C blinging chandelier though. Carat, Color, Clarity and just Cool.

Some of the most popular posts here have been on fashion! Last year's Emmy review with pictures galore has people still pulling up that post in big numbers. No bling for me - no posts for you because my need for cash makes me do this thing called work - just not in Hollywood style diamond encrusted rooms. As I bring you great fashion snark, the poor house compels me to ask/say/beg/plead for you to drop dollar or two in my PayPal tip jar in the left column or better yet buy a book, DVD or something truly green from Amazon. I will Love bringing the 2008 Emmy's fashion flare and flameouts again! I have to take time away from work to do it, so any & every dollar helps! :-)

Friday, September 12, 2008

French Horrified by Pop Art at Versailles

Balloon Dog 1999-2000

(Photos by Ed Alcock of NYT)

An invasion by an American pop art retrospective at the Palace of Versailles has the French clutching their pearls and hurling furious words of lament. I lose track of the various Louis' , but each in their own was left an architectural imprint. Since Louis XIII built the original Château at Versailles for his hunting excursions, it was not at all posh at the time of his early death when XIV was five years old. The Sun King, Louis XIV, cut a deal to build a city Versailles where the big real estate lots were free except for the need to build the exact house designed by his palace architect ensuring the neighborhood was a seventeenth century planned community. Great idea because he moved the entire kingdom apparatus to Versailles and needed it to look kingly royal surrounded by a great city. The French know city planning and landscaping. In The United States, Lafayette's work is on display in the capital's layout and its architecture thanks to George Washington. That's why new age art hanging amongst some of France's proudest treasures has the National Union of Writers of France both agape and aghast at the effrontery. France has the contemporary exhibit until 14 December.
Versailles is also a World Heritage Site, one of under a thousand in the entire world that wait years to gain the prestigious cultural honor. Now its got 21st century pop art littered throughout its auspicious gilt-filled rooms and the multitude of mirrors reflect the horror. Louis no. 14 has a room with a portrait of him and one of his grandson which are considered masterpieces. Artist Jeff Koons, cheekily placed his self portrait in that room which frankly unless you have heard French curses, one may not appreciate how much that rankled. Not sure which a tourist would see first, but the various vacuum cleaners in a clear cubed tier, New Hoover Convertibles (1981-1987) in the Queen's (think Marie Antoinette) sitting room outside her chamber may have set off the furious imprecations as Koons described it as womb-like. The juxtapositions are part of the grand palace show. Michael Jackson and his monkey, Bubbles, (1998) are done in a rococo style with over the top golden bling and a metaphoric plaster white face for both encased in a clear plastic cube that just makes one's mouth form a perfect O. I guess that was the full intent until one enters the sunny room full of french doors and Louis XV signing a Peace treaty and partakes of the topless Paris Hilton-styled bombshell with an artfully placed flamingo pink boa, then your jaw just unhinges as one figures out what to look at first, world history or globe trotting hotties in a piece nicknamed Pink Panther (1988).
Koons' sculpted rabbits and dogs "don't belong at the palace of Versailles, they belong at Disneyland," said journalist and radio host Anne Brassie.
Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky, the president of a writers' union, agreed. "This exhibit is sacrilegious and insulting to the symbols of the Republic and its art," he said, wearing a velvet-and-gold-colored crown at the protest.
Koons said he has no intention of mocking the palace that Louis XIV transformed from a hunting lodge into a symbol of royal power in the 17th century.
"I'm so grateful for the opportunity to show in Versailles. I have complete respect for Versailles and I have complete respect for each individual that's coming to Versailles," Koons told reporters.
Pink Panther(1988) & Split Rocker (2000)

There are 17 pieces of pop art to see placed throughout the sumptuous palais and on the manicured grounds with its own private lake. Tens of thousands of flower pots gave their all to make up the behemoth entitled Split Rocker. The lobster hanging by a red string amidst some world class art is not to be missed. This is not the first time it's been done by Koons. Ballon Dog also made a splash at the Palazzo in Venice's Grand Canal. Seems continental Europe can't get enough of the art of auspicious staging. Seven million people a year visit Versailles in its regular state, this will pull in a few more Looky Lou's for sure.

Versailles, in its natural state of elegantly named Salons and Grand Apartments fit for royal politics can be appreciated in person or for a good deal less. Available is the October release of Versailles: A Biography of A Place at 20.00 or the must have coffee table art book from Jean-Marie Perouse De Montclos for $60 in simply titled, Versailles.