Monday, June 8, 2015

Museum of Fine Arts Summer Party

There's nothing like dressing up for a formal affair. From hair and make-up to clothing and accessories, they're pieces of an intricate puzzle that must be carefully chosen and strategically placed in hopes of producing a finished product worthy of being called elegant.

My infatuation with beauty and style stems from my mother. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I'd ogle her for hours as she primped for a night out with my father or luncheon with the girls. My mother served as treasurer to a members-only, ladies club which was beyond alluring to her then adolescent daughter. I longed to sit in the parlor with these wise elders and listen to their exotic tales and novel-worthy gossip. But usually, I tuned in from afar as I dolled up Barbie and Ken for another gleaming, yet imaginary, social occasion.

As Mr. Chat and I stepped out for the MFA Summer Party Saturday night, it took me back to the days of beautifying my Barbie and Ken. Mr. Chat wore Calvin Klein, a new addition to his formalwear, while I donned a flowing chiffon (in a darling color called 'meadow') by Halston Heritage. My gown mimicked the classic gems worn by Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn during Hollywood's Golden Age, but with a modern twist. I was nervous about the trendy keyhole design and a looming wardrobe malfunction, but all was tucked and tailored to perfection. My finishing touches: a pair of garden-inspired, ankle strap heels from Ivanka Trump, a vintage clutch that's a million years old and a pair of chandelier drops that I also wore on my wedding day. My hair was styled in a simple blowout with a focus on soft, yet dramatic make-up by Nars.

Hosted by the Museum Council, an exclusive group for young art enthusiasts in Boston, the Summer Party has remained a social calendar must-have for more than 10 years. The annual fête, commanding the Shapiro Family Courtyard, ushers in the summer season while providing vital support for the Museum of Fine Arts. A portion of the proceeds from this year's soirée will benefit an endowed Museum Council Special Exhibition Fund.

The Chats with the Mezrichs and the Ms. Fits 

Lime Green Icicle Tower - jaw-dropping, blown glass sold to the MFA in 2011.
Artist - Dale Chihuly

My beautiful friend Elissa of Style-Wire.

We'll be in the next edition of Us Weekly's Who Wore It Best

Social butterflies commanding high fashion

I had the best night

And then, this morning's society page in the Boston Herald….

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Calico Nook is the Cat's Meow

When Marissa Massucco and Kristi Mahoney first met, they connected immediately through their mutual love for cats. Massucco has worked as a director and surgery technician at Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Wrentham (a business her husband owns) for more than a decade and Mahoney is "cat mom" to three rescue felines. Together, these animal advocates are the brains behind Calico Nook, New England’s first cat social club.

"Helping homeless cats is a major reason we started this business," Mahoney explained. "We have already fostered a few cats from local shelters and are making it a priority to welcome more cats.

Located approximately 40 miles southwest of Boston in the suburb of Franklin, the concept is a spin on the widely popular cat café model that seems to be purring up a storm all around the globe. It was a gloomy April afternoon when I visited, but warmth (in the form of whiskers and fur) welcomed me at the door. 

"The Nook"(as many patrons call it) is just that – a cozy retreat from the hustle of daily life that offers visitors the companionship of the most adorable rescue cats ever. It looks and feels like a traditional cat café, but without the actual café elements (food and beverages are not served due to state regulations).

"Our customers (some of which can’t have cats due to their living situation or an allergic family member) reap the benefits of spending time with cats in a relaxed environment,"
Mahoney said. "At the same time, our rescue cats reap the benefit of loads of love and playtime in a space created just for them."

The décor is soft and the setting serene. As a matter of fact, Calico Nook reminds me of something straight out of Pottery Barn. Think country-chic living meets crazy cat style. It most definitely works. An over-sized beige sofa sits adjacent to a pin cushion foot stool. A bubbling brook gurgles in the distance – beckoning residents to pause from playtime for refreshment. A soaring cat condo adds cosmopolitan charm and feline art illuminate the wall sparking conversation. I was compelled to sit for a cup of tea and relive my visit to Le Café des Chats, but I knew tea was not to be.

There's a calm curiosity about the space as 15-year-old Angel (pictured above) kneads on a fluffy white rug and Brie (pictured below), an elegant Maine Coon flaunting snow white fur, burrows into a shelf perched high above the ground.

"We came up with 'Calico' to reflect cats and 'Nook' to reflect the many different nooks within our space that you can cozy up with a book, hang out with a friend, and pet a cat," Mahoney said.

Calico Nook is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization established for the sole purpose of helping rescue cats. The duo relies on a $5 admission per guest and retail sales to support the resident and their beautiful new home. All cats have been vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

Photo // Calico Nook

Photo // Calico Nook

~ Meet the Cats of Calico Nook ~

Georgie is a 10-year-old domestic short hair tuxedo who loves to nap on laps, but still boasts tons of energy. If you’re resting on the sofa or in her favorite chair, it's likely she'll hop on your lap. 

Photo // Calico Nook

Claude is a domestic short hair tuxedo with a heart of gold. He had a tough life on the street for many years and has battle scars to prove it, but he's soft as a marshmallow on the inside. Claude loves to lay on the rug while patrons brush or pet him. He's the Nook's most "dog-like" cat. 

Here I am with sweet Angel who couldn't stop purring up a storm on her favorite fluffy carpet. I fell in love with her gentle spirit and colorful fur. Angel is somewhat of a mother hen to the rest. 

Brie is the Nook's teenage diva who loves to roam and explore high places. She loves cat toys, catnip and often tries to break into the treat bin. After playing and exploring, Brie often rests in her favorite cabinet or the penthouse suite of the Nook's cat condo. 

Photo // Calico Nook

And last, but certainly not least there's a kitten in a basket! That's right - a kitten in a basket! If this isn't a million dollar photo, then I don't know what is. Asher is the Nook's new 2-month-old darling. I'm told Brie loves to "mother" her and Angel and Claude enjoy watching her. Georgie, on the other hand, is still warming up to the idea.

June is Adopt-a-Cat-Month and although these rescue felines aren't available for adoption (at this time),
stop by Calico Nook at 58 East Central Street, Franklin and meet them.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Love Locked in Paris

Yesterday was a day I thought would never come…for a really long time. I read that Paris, the European wonderland treasured by so many, will break millions of hearts, hopes and dreams by removing the trove of padlocks lovers have affixed to the railings on the city's famed Pont des Arts a.k.a. Love Lock bridge. City officials say the phenomena (popular with mostly tourists) has disgraced Parisian heritage and in addition, has put locals and visitors at risk - a five foot section of metal mesh collapsed last June. Basically, the Parisians are pissed and hate that we, the tourists, have littered their home with locks. There's even an organization, No Love Locks, shouting from the roof tops about the removal of the hardware. According to group's Twitter account, they will be speaking with the TODAY show this morning and NBC Nightly News tonight.

If you haven't been to Paris, that's a shame. If you have strolled the picturesque St-Germain-des-Prés and savored a croque monsieur in Jardin des Tuileries, but haven't experienced the charm (and ok, touristic appeal) of Pont des Arts, then that's nothing short of a travesty. Luckily, Mr. Chat and I said je t'aime just a little more than a year ago on the iconic overpass. We locked our "Les Chats" love (sealing it with cat kisses) on April 16, 2014 and vowed to return one day determined to find our small, but very meaningful piece of metal. Today, the token we left behind as a symbol of our love for one another and a city we cherish so much will likely become just a piece of scrap. It's sad, but our love remains (padlock or not) and so will our adoration for Paris.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Chic of the Week :: Elizabeth Swartz Interiors

I met interior designer Elizabeth Swartz while on assignment for South Shore Living magazine. I was touring an impressive waterfront property in Hingham that Swartz designed for a very stylish homeowner. Read about this designer’s first project on the South Shore in the magazine's May issue and learn more about her vibrant personal style today on the blog.

With a condo in Boston’s bustling South End and a sprawling residence in rural Vermont, Swartz has experience fusing metropolitan style with rustic elements. Her ability to bridge the gap between the avant-garde and the antique is a testament to her portfolio.

In 2001, Swartz moved to Mendon, a small town near the ski mecca of Killington. She and her husband built a pastoral, shingle-style home dating back to the late 1800s. “It’s rustic with heavy stone, cedar shingles and traditional mutins on the windows,” she said. “It blends into the mountain.”

Although her city dwelling is more formal, Swartz does a majority of her large-scale entertaining at her country retreat. With its soaring ceilings, colossal windows and grand staircase, the space easily accommodates more than a dozen family and friends at a time. Swartz admits her dining room is at capacity most weekend nights.

After graduating from Cornell University in 1981 with a degree in interior design, Swartz landed in a boutique firm in Manhattan where she managed high-end residential and commercial projects. When her husband took a job in Boston, the family moved to New England and settled in Brookline. Swartz worked at an architectural firm in Cambridge before establishing Elizabeth Swartz Interiors in 1985 – a decision made partly because it offered a more flexible schedule with her young family.

Drawn to the creativity and intimacy of residential architecture, Swartz transitioned solely to home design in the late 1980s. Over the years, she has mapped a lucrative enterprise from Greater Boston and the Cape and Islands to New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Georgia and Florida.

As you’ll see in the photos below, Swartz was able to achieve the homeowner's desire for a contemporary look, yet timeless feel. Her fearless use of color in the likes of raspberry, aqua, cantaloupe and lime mixed with a bold choice in ornate patterns set against white and dark woodwork captivated me from the moment I entered the airy foyer. To indulge in more photos of this gorgeous home, snag a copy of South Shore Living magazine and look for my byline.






Photos // Michael J. Lee

Friday, April 3, 2015

Chic of the Week: Tiffany & Co. Introduces the CT60 Watch Collection

You can learn a lot in a “New York Minute” and that’s precisely what I did Wednesday evening at Tiffany & Co. I was at the luxury jeweler for a private viewing of their new CT60 watch collection. I can appreciate that famous phrase, coined by founder Charles Lewis Tiffany so long ago, because it emanates speed, efficiency and punctuality – qualities that make the world go round and help our society move minute to minute.   

Perched at the corner of Newbury and Arlington (former home of Chanel for those of you who live and play in Boston's Back Bay), this boutique-like shop is the retailer's fourth location in Massachusetts. I entered a private lounge tucked behind twin pocket doors and was greeted with a glass of chilled-to-perfection Veuve Clicquot. Champagne at Tiffany! I could get used to this, I thought. Very used to this. Then there were a bevy of hugs and kisses exchanged with my friends Christine of Rules for the Modern Girl and Shauna of Like So Pretty.

Tiffany & Co.’s publicity team made us feel right at home. Their storytelling about the birth of the “New York Minute” and Tiffany’s quest for marking time by installing one of New York’s first public clocks, took me back to 1853. As an avid daydreamer, a well versed tale (like this one) easily paints a picture of a time and place well before my years. It’s clear that Tiffany could easily be crowned the Father Time of the nineteenth century.

Making its public debut yesterday, the CT60 watches pay homage to Tiffany’s legacy. The design was inspired by a timepiece the legendary innovator gave Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. Functioning seamlessly for both men and woman, these modern-day time-keepers include a chronograph in stainless steel with self-winding mechanical movement, blue soleil finishing and silver poudré numerals.

The collection starts at a mere $4,250 with the pièce de résistance, a brilliant 18-karat rose gold Calendar watch, topping things off at a cool $19,000 – a drop in the bucket for the well-heeled individual. With only 60 of these stunning Calendar watches produced worldwide, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re already sold out, my friends. But, not to fret because there are many other pieces in the CT60 collection and they’re not in limited supply. Try a few on for size this weekend at any Tiffany & Co. location worldwide including those in Massachusetts: Newbury Street, Copley Place, Chestnut Hill and Natick.

Tiffany CT60 Calendar watch in 18k rose gold, 40 mm, self-winding mechanical movement with a white soleil dial on a black alligator strap // $19,000

Tiffany CT60 Chronograph in 18k rose gold, 42 mm, self-winding mechanical movement with a white soleil dial on a black alligator strap // $15,000

Tiffany CT60 3-Hand in stainless steel with round-cut brilliant diamonds, 34 mm, self-winding mechanical movement with a white soleil dial // $8,750

Tiffany CT60 Chronograph in stainless steel, 42 mm, self-winding mechanical movement with a white soleil dial on a black alligator strap // $6,750

Tiffany CT60 3-Hand in stainless steel, 34 mm, self-winding mechanical movement with a blue soleil dial // $4,250

Watch out!
Rue Le Chat, Rules for the Modern Girl, and Like So Pretty

Monday, March 9, 2015

Big Sister Boston Draws Big Names and Even Bigger Bucks

Big Sister, Jessica Burday and Little Sister, Syleena

Boston tastemakers took to the catwalk last week to help raise some serious coin for the Big Sister Association of GreaterBoston. The mentoring organization partnered with Boston Common magazine, Bloomingdale’s and a host of notables for their 5th annual Make a Statement Fashion Show at the Revere Hotel. 

Delectable canapés and flutes of Whispering Angel rosé circled a sold-out crowd of more than 350 that included State Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli, clothing designer Michael De Paulo; social butterfly Abby Cushman; and style bloggers Kimberly Gioioso and Jessica Hennessy of The Haute Mamas.

Boston Ballet dancers opened the evening and were followed by a welcome from Deborah Re, CEO of Big Sister Boston. Models sported designer pieces curated locally by Bloomingdale’s in Chestnut Hill and Crane & Lion, a fitness apparel brand. In addition to members of the Big Sister community strutting under the spotlight, the star-studded stage welcomed former U.S. Senator Scott Brown and his wife, Gail Huff; posh pair Tonya and Ben Mezrich; baseball babes Jason and Catherine Varitek; Boston Common’s Lisa Pierpont; and Bianca de la Garza. 

Dining Playbook's Jenny Johnson commanded emcee duties alongside Gary Tanguay of Comcast SportsNet. The duo kept the crowd under control as a slew of sought-after prizes went up for bid. On the auction block: an African safari, two tickets to see piano man, Billy Joel at Fenway Park this summer and (my personal favorite) a chichi dinner party for a dozen friends courtesy of the Catered Affair – I’d like a seat at that table. If you scored this mouthwatering swag, call me. 

The fashion fête raked in more than $140,000 and proceeds will help “Little Sisters” achieve their full potential by fostering positive mentor relationships with “Big Sisters.” If you missed the event, it’s never too late to lend your support here.

Boston Ballet

Bianca de la Garza

Lisa Pierpont

Gail Huff and Scott Brown

Tonya and Ben Mezrich

Catherine and Jason Varitek
Jessica Diaz // Ms. Fit for Society

Kimberly Gioioso, Jessica Hennessy and Rue Le Chat

Photos // Yuri Vaysgant