Moroccan meets Modernism in Palm Springs [pt 1]

Last December I said to my beloved, “Let’s skip getting each other holiday gifts and put the money towards a short getaway in late winter!” In theory, it seemed brilliant; in actuality, though, it helps to have a life—and personality—conducive to executing such proposals.

While I’m proud to say my ability to rationalize vacations is so well-developed it’s available for purchase, the job that makes it possible for me to justify indulging wants vs basic needs is wedged in a “significantly under-resourced” workplace where being out for any reason makes coming back worse.

As those who are or have been in similar environments know, trying to engineer one’s escape becomes yet another time-related pressure. Make a run for it too early, and the benefits of leaving fizzle out quickly; break away too late and recharging becomes a pipe dream.

By mid-February even the optimists around me were taking massive hits to their sunny-side-up outlooks. Not at all coincidentally, that’s about the period I told Mr Vix that if he couldn’t get his convoluted schedule to coincide with mine in the very near future, I’d be taking a romantic trip with me myself and I.

Finally, however, we managed to carve out 50 joint hours for sun. And sights.

Enter Korakia,* situated approximately one million miles away from my PNW life:

The courtyard of Korakia’s Moroccan-influenced half sets the tone for the rest of what one discovers on the 1924 property

Or more precisely: located in Palm Springs, formerly and regaining-ground-as California’s desert playground.

While Mr Vix and I had given serious thought to staying in one of the area’s restored 50s/60s hotels for our first trip to the area, the chance to spend a few days wandering around the 1.5 acres where Korakia’s 28 rooms, suites, bungalows, and guesthouses sit in all their 20s and 30s glory won out.

I admit my Persnickety Bohemian side might have been a little vocal about picking the spot with a half-Moroccan, half-Mediterranean, all-boho luxe setting. And from the moment we drove up to the second I left, I was in heaven. Textured and patterned meets stark! Color meets neutrals!

Korakia’s aesthetic — a mix of textured and stark, color and neutrals — is used to great effect in the lobby

We may have been staying in one of the most budget-friendly rooms, but we had free reign of both sides of the property. Eyes, ears, nose, taste, skin—engaged and delighted in ways that took me exactly where I wanted to be: far far away from elevated cortisol levels.

A detail from Korakia’s bar area, located on the Morroccan side of the pensione

It didn’t hurt that 80+ degree daytime weather meant I was able to trade raingear for sunhats, ridiculously large sunglasses, and SPF’d bare skin. Or that the pensione’s rooms have no telephones, TVs, or clocks to tether one to time or the outside world.

My Persnickety Bohemian side was only too happy to trade in cold rain for 2 days of 80+ degree weather and a boho luxe setting 

With the property designed to minimize overnight guests and maximize privacy, I had no regrets about having to compromise my preferred vacationing like the other half lives style due our abbreviated time frame.

When the San Jacinto mountains are one’s backdrop, it’s hard to go wrong…but I saved my pennies for one of Korakia’s most modest room offerings due to how they get it extra-right

Now, I get that my appreciation for Korakia’s design may not be universal. And I have no doubt that the weathered-to-pristine ratio is carefully calibrated for effect. But when the “weathered” portion includes rustic candleholders that light one’s pathways and glimpses of 1920s tilework, I have to say the math works for me.

I’d bet the pensione’s decisionmakers calibrate the weathered-to-pristine ratio very carefully — but who can fault an equation that includes rustic outdoor candleholders and 1920s tile?

There’s no doubt in my mind that it takes a lot of work to do surface imperfection so perfectly, and I applaud the effort.

If excellent coffee, fresh-squeezed juice from on-site oranges, and friendly low-key service don’t outweigh slightly frayed table mats, non-starched linen, and blossoms that were at their best for early vs end-of-service eaters, Korakia may not suit

If there hadn’t been so much we wanted to do during our 50 hours away, I would have spent more time lounging poolside on the inviting daybeds

Given our time frame/decompression challenges I’d deliberately chosen someplace touted as highly experiential and illusory, and Korakia offered those qualities by the bucketful. It was tempting to stay put the whole trip, sure…but with mountains, museums, and modernist landmarks out there, how could two soggy Oregonians resist soaking up a variety of desert goodness?

* No monies were received for the writing of this post, though I probably owe the talented Linda of Lime in the Coconut a kickback for bringing Korakia to my attention in one of her “here’s yet another gorgeous setting” features.

Next: Part 2 of Moroccan Meets Modernism in Palm Springs, in which I semi-reluctantly engage my brain by visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum (and share a bit more of Korakia)

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Getting a head start on my Bling me up, Scotty resolution

As a sucker for anything shiny I’ve long admired the flashes of green, blue, purple etcetera exhibited by labradorite, a dark grey mineral generally hailing from Labrador, Canada.

[Apparently Canadians take their branding more seriously than I’d realized, as they refuse to call the stone’s beautiful play of colors iridescence, instead insisting on the term labradorescence. As the latter term is both a savvy marketing move and fun to say, who am I to question their choice?]

Now normally I’m a pretty surface-oriented person when debating jewelry options.

Since wearing labradorite would apparently jumpstart my January and beyond by aiding my self-esteem, creativity, metabolism, perseverance, and energy as well as helping out my crappy night vision and boosting my resistance to respiratory illnesses, however, I didn’t hesitate to tell holiday-shopping relatives that I’d like to change my usual “hiking socks and black tights, please” answer to one involving the transformative stone. Stand back, world!

When pressed for suggestions to pass along, I ventured over to the somewhat daunting etsy.com and searched amongst their raft of $50 and under jewelry for a labradorite lovely. I may have looked incredibly briefly at some stunning items over $50, since I was there and all, but it was easy enough to fall in love with an in-budget pendant of unknown origin, time period, or labor source.

SOLD!

Though members of my clan forced me to pick it up in beautiful, sunny California.

O FINE, I WILL COME BE MERRYISH AND WARM AND DRY

California, possibly keen to win over another family member, surprised me by serving up something in addition to relatives, sunshine, and my new pendant: a vintage Whiting and Davis mesh bag.

My Minimalist Magpie side, emboldened by time spent in the glittering sun, demanded that I take the $20 envelope-shaped beauty home with me.

Vintage meets "used": The back side of a $20 Whiting and Davis mesh clutch shows off a new-to-me labradorite pendant

So I did.

Let me say that I resisted my dog-nephew’s wouldn’t you like to give me leftovers? face for 5 days straight so it’s not as if I’m a complete marshmallow…but yes, I caved almost immediately when the bag’s sparkle called to me from across the proverbial crowded room.

Luckily for Whiting and Davis fans who don’t feel like tromping around consignment shops, the long-standing company still produces both its simple and more elaborate mesh bags—plus vintage options abound. Pick a favorite from online vintage resellers or mainstream retailers, or just ogle the designs collected in a W&D-centric book.

Whiting and Davis' mesh purses are the perfect advertisement for this book on the long-standing US company

Somewhat unfortunately, I can see how one could get good and hooked on collecting W&D bags for personal use. What with my new-to-me bag’s streamlined shape and versatile color, my grubby little paws and I are finding many an excuse to trot ole Meshy out and about.

I find a neutral backdrop of dark denim, black, and charcoal serves as a good foil for pendant and purse

Of course my $5 All Up in My Grillz Clutch is super-miffed I left it in the closet on New Year’s Eve in order to add yet ANOTHER bit of bling to an outfit that already involved a lurex-threaded dress and shimmery multi-strand necklace.

Sure, neutral backdrops are great--but there's also something to said for pairing my vintage mesh clutch with lurex-threaded Missoni fabric by the yard (and despite the clutch's clasp lacking one rhinestone, the bag has plenty of personality)

But really: can one have too much sparkle on NYE? Especially when one has to tone down said (Persnickety Bohemian-approved) lurex-threaded dress for one’s business creative/casual workplace?

Since I tone down my lurex-threaded dress with opaque tights, a higher neckline, and a cardigan or jacket for my Business Creative/Casual workplace...

This year, I voted “Hell no!” and chose to ring in the new year with plenty of bling. It may have been overkill for the local Italian restaurant where I celebrated, but I figured I’d try to point the universe in a shiny happy people direction.

...I figured I might as well bling up the slightly metallic, front-and-back scooped Missoni fabric by the yard dress for NYE

Unfortunately the local, national, and world news has already tarnished my hopes for a 2012 that never loses its luster, but here’s to a future that’s as bright as possible!

Barely Boho-ho

Apparently the love child of my two more staid style personas will not be denied: the Persnickety Bohemian wants her time in the sun.

Which is annoying and ridiculous because I’m not spending my summer lounging around a private cabana with ocean breezes ruffling my silken garb, nor am I wandering around an exotic marketplace picking up local jewelry and textiles.

I’m either working, or being provincial.

But the libertine heart wants what the libertine heart wants, which is how I’ve ended up wearing an increasing number of outfits which are (should one require a label) barely boho. There’s just something about the unholy mix of super-tailored items with their opposite that appeals to me right now. Greatly appeals.

After 3 months of steady wear, however, I wish I could either commit to dragging my kind of free kind of wow, Charlie sheer silk blouse in for a little tailoring, or learn to embrace its über-waftiness and semi-boxiness.

Undertailored (those arms!) Fairie in the Backyard top meets overtailored mullet shorts (chopped from twice-tailored work pants)

Normally I wouldn’t even BE wavering; as one with an H/Rectangle build and some proportional issues I’ve come to see boxy as villainous.

But o the damn shirt and its siren call! First, a gathered waist and curved hem created a hint of a peplum, and I’m a sucker for a peplum. Then, its transparency turned the copious fabric less boxylicious in most lights. So I rationalized buying it and am now rationalizing leaving it as-is.

[Since the dark grey/purple/rose color scheme fit in with the rest of my clothing, and the print seemed to meet my interpretation of stylist Bridgette Raes’ guidelines, I can’t say it was terribly difficult for the few ounces of silk to weasel their way into my closet.]

My Persnickety Bohemian side doesn’t like the arms in need of tailoring or the creases…but luckily when it come to my garden I’m more of a wild woman

Now given the state of my yard—which is teetering somewhere between “lush” and “blowsy”—I don’t know why I’m obsessing about the blouse’s semi-sloppiness. I guess it’s just a case of “Get your Persnickety out of my Bohemian!” “No, you get YOUR Bohemian out of MY Persnickety!”

Mid-July in the Vix Household backyard: going for lush but heading for blowsy and unkempt

Thank god the hat I usually slap on when I’m running around in the sun is not only a less fraught item, but an item that demonstrates that my legs are not as white as they could be.

Testing camera’s white balance with legs and hat…and trying to embrace a loosey-goosey top fit from all angles

I know my barely boho ensembles are neither fish nor fowl, truly I do. Yet I can’t seem to stop wearing them for work and play. They feel…just indulgent and devil-may-care enough.

Custom creatures: lightweight purple wool sheath plus Missoni-by-the-yard cardiwrap

Especially since I can’t bring myself to pair the scoopneck sheath I had made out of a beautifully lightweight, medium purple wool with a traditional blazer or cardigan. Way too Barbara Bush for me and at odds with my workplace environment, I’m afraid.

My favorite cardiwrap tied Daisy Duke style, though?

L, Custom lightweight purple wool sheath and Missoni-by-the-yard cardiwrap. R, rather prissy taupe patent peeptoes and beloved/aging pale pink micronet stockings

Why I think I hear Bohemian Rhapsody playing softly in the background….

Don’t miss this Barely Boho bonus shot, which documents how I accidentally matched my T and ancient silk maxidress-worn-as-skirt to the porta-potties at an outdoor festival!

Ultimate PMS Skirt

When she’s not at her day job, my pal Ms Eileen* is doing remarkably well keeping her camera focused on people/places/things. Between photography classes, wanderings, and a few paid portrait sessions she continues to develop her skills at an amazing rate…a rate that actually manages to outpace that of her photography-related purchases!

While I’ve been keeping up with the results of her studies, there’s nothing like seeing her in action. And this weekend I was fortunate enough to experience just that as she worked with a client who’s gearing up to go back on the job market.

BETTER YOU THAN ME, DEAR CLIENT

During the shoot, Eileen did all the hard work; I, on the other hand, swanned around making color-related suggestions and holding up things like an AWESOMELY LARGE diffuser so that light would bounce around and make our subject look all dewy-skinned and rested.

Not that said client and her camera-ready smile needed much help, but don’t we all have enough “photojournalistic” snapshots with unflattering shadows and glares to last a lifetime? Give me reality-plus anytime.

[Through reverse-side and cover design hocus-pocus, this diffuser even permits metallic colors to reflect back on the subject; you better believe I asked to see how the gold interacted with our captive’s lusciously warm skin tones. Answer: Beautifully.]

As a reward for stalwart holding of objects and so forth, Ms Eileen humored my request to capture the true glory of a piece I had created back in December: my Ultimate PMS Skirt.

Having worn ourselves and the client out with a loooong working session, we went old-school: dash down a side street with just a camera, grab 10 minutes of shots, and hit the road.

The result? The skirt was put through its PMS paces and came out a winner—and even held its own against my growing ever-more-ancient Awww Ya Big Lug Boots.

Custom Clothing for the Cranky: Key Benefits of My Ultimate PMS Skirt

1. Stretch fabric and slight A-line design allow one to blow off steam by running, jumping, and kicking 

2. Elastic waist accommodates water retention and/or hormonally-influenced eating

Neither rain nor...rain...can keep my Utimate PMS Skirt from displaying its bright, non-binding ways

Putting my Utimate PMS Skirt through its paces

3. Cheery color + mild Eurotrash sheen boosts mood OR fools others into thinking one is in a good mood so that they venture close enough to hear vent/sob of the moment

4. Color + pattern are bold enough to justify pairing with no-thought-needed, simple black or white pieces reminiscent of classic Pink Panther looks

Though it doesn’t give me the longest, leanest line, I generally pair my skirt with black or white for that classic Pink Panther look

5. Deconstructed hem irritates Mr Vix, my talented tailor/drycleaner, and any other perfectionists I encounter, thus satisfying my latent oppositional defiant disorder tendencies

My Ultimate PMS Skirt: more-or-less front and back + deconstructed hem

I had actually asked the Mellow Glamazon to whip up the skirt—born of last summer’s Missoni fabric by the yard haul plus a lining of sturdy-weight black jersey—for a reason: I wanted to indulge my inner Persnickety Bohemian (love child of my Minimalist Magpie and Contrarian Classicist style personas) when I went to Southern California this winter.

[And boy, did my barely boho side adore Venice Beach!]

Since the skirt entered my closet 5 months ago, I’ve been wearing it perhaps-overly-much with my multitude of VaderWear tops, sweaters, and blazers. Though I generally stick to monochromatic or tonal color combinations—the better to elongate my short legged/long torso’d self—what can I say: sometimes I like to go wild with a choppy, high-contrast look.

YO, ANYONE GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?

Because if so, just give me a moment to slip into something more comfortable….

* I must wish the talented Ms Eileen a very Happy 40th Birthday week! May your year be filled with wonderful clients and fabulous camera accessories.

Zig Meets Zag Top

Having spent the last few weeks being That Annoying Person Who Comes to Work With Allergies (That Turn Out to Be a Cold) and That Person Who Does Little on the Weekends Except Will Herself to Recover, I was so happy to be at 85% capacity this week.

[At 84% and below I sleep to the very very last second and rely on my 2 Minute Closet (“pull on yer drawers/head for the doors”) to turn me from zombie to yes, ready to do my best for the cause, boss! employee. From the neck down, anyway.]

Since I was feeling gosh darn zippy this week I decided to debut my new $40 sale purchase, a top made from yet more Missoni fabric-by-the-yard. An item whose pattern embodies pure-d ENERGY and plays to my Persnickety Bohemian side. A rather impractical piece that inspired Mr Vix to (uncharacteristically) make styling suggestions that (characteristically) would have been illegal in at least 46 of our nation’s states and possibly some of its territories to boot.

While I truly have been wearing lots and lots of color this winter, I certainly had no trouble finding things in my closet to pair with the newcomer.

But that’s a feature not a bug, right?

Snag-ability aside, the quite open weave of the Zig Meets Zag Top isn't a problem per se...

...as I have enough layering camisoles, Ts, and tanks to sink a ship/make it work appropriate

In fact I enjoyed wearing my new find so much that I had to seriously talk myself out of subjecting my coworkers to it for the rest of the week.

Luckily, I knew Mr Vix and I had plans to get together with some friends at one of our favorite neighborhood teeth in/shoes on restaurants.

YEA HURRAH AMEN A GREAT EXCUSE TO WEAR IT AGAIN

Since our little combo-platter group was for once celebrating multiple pieces of good news, I asked Mr Vix to step away from the fleece in honor of the occasion. He humored me, and then he humored me again by taking a few (emphasis on few, alas) photos of my zigzag top + if Barry White were a skirt pairing.

I also cop to owning plenty of lower-necked layering items for rare nights-on-the-town (in, say, a matte satin rouched pencil skirt)...though when Mr Vix is one's photographer the crookedness of said layering item goes unvoiced

The skirt that seemed like a natural partner for the top is matte. It’s black. It’s stretch satin with front and back rouching that wraps one like a tamale. And one rainy day in February ’09, The Gilded Lily EXHORTED me to buy it for my 40th birthday trip.

So I did. And even though wearing it to live my ho-de-hum life in my casual city seems a little much at times, I continue to enjoy dusting it off when I get the urge to glam it up a little.

I mean hell: Lily’s nearly 70 and running around in below-the-shoulder feather earrings. No matter how va-va-voom it seems to me, a satin pencil skirt is hardly stylistically novel or transgressive. Besides, it does what it can to turn my straight-hipped Rectangle/H shape into an hourglass, and I for one appreciate both the effort and the novelty.

As I call this my tamale skirt (for reasons quite obvious) it's fitting these shots were nabbed in the kitchen---although the lighting was so bad I gave up trying to color balance things

Since I figured satin was enough of a statement for the evening, I tossed on what I wore with the skirt on the aforementioned trip: my freshly rehabbed Awww Ya Big Lug Boots. [Plus a barrette that I blame on my documented shell fixation, but is helping me from looking über-Michael Jackson as my hair grows out.]

Of course I paired stretch satin with my rehabbed Awww Ya Big Lug Boots---it's winter, isn't it?---though the shell barrette I shoved in my growing-out hair is of more recent origin

As for dinner? Delicious, especially after having dulled taste buds for a few weeks.

But more importantly, a mix of giddy and sobering as we all caught up on lifted burdens, worrisome family news, and future hopes. As my friend shared his parents’ long-ago wedding photos—she in her corsaged suit, he dapper beyond belief—it was somewhat unsettling to think about all the changes the bride and groom went on to absorb in their decades together.

Which, since he and I are both a mite prone to the dramatic, led us to think about all the shifts we’ve weathered/observed in the nearly 20 years we’ve been friends.

As we squinted at faded snapshots of a donated wedding cake bedecked in marzipan swans and talked about tough decisions to come, I was suddenly, ridiculously comforted to be wearing a top that referenced repeated highs and lows. I have nothing against an unmarked solid, of course, and my closet will attest to that. But there are times when the last thing one wants to see is a Dinesen-esque blank page staring back at one; especially as one ages, there are moments when a statement that’s unable to be read yet full of potential meaning is only too likely to house a story no one can bear to hear.