A Compendium Of Books For The Eccentric

I have been reading quite a lot lately, blame it on the Icelandic winter & the darkness, on the fact that I travelled quite a bit lately & books shops are my no.1 go-to places, or even on the excitement of soon getting my very own, first time ever library in my own apartment. Either way, lots of reading & lots of buying of books has been going on lately. Actually I feel like the last batch of books I got both in my last trip to Los Angeles & here in Reykjavik is a particularly exquisite one and with a common theme, they are all revolving around elegant living: travel, fashion, beauty, food.  So I thought I’d share.

But be warned, most books promote the eccentric living at its best, so proceed cautiously.

Your Beauty Mark – The Ultimate Guide To Eccentric Glamour

The No. 1 book, which I am so happy I used my flight kg allowance for, when coming from LA, is Dita von Teese’s latest book – Your Beauty Mark. This book, I swear (and not in vain) is the most perfect & helpful beauty bible for vintage gals. I was even very close to getting it signed by Dita as she was promoting it in Barnes & Noble but then work interfered and I didn’t get to the event. Either way, best buy ever & I will get to meet Dita one day, I simply must!

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The book is as perfect as Dita and it actually contains all of her beauty secrets, from applying eyeliner, to doing your hair, to using perfume and taking soothing baths. The beauty products that Dita is using are also mentioned and, for someone who is not the biggest make-up connoisseur, that’s quite helpful, especially since she is not only using outstandingly expensive brands.

The book is full of glamorous photos of Dita, walk-throughs & even interviews with other inspiring muses like Catherine Baba for example.

But the book is about more than just applying make-up and using moisturizing, it’s about celebrating beauty, not the standard-media-obsessed-model-like beauty but glamorous beauty, the beauty that makes you feel good and most importantly, makes you unique.

“I’ve always felt that creating glamour is an art form and it’s different from God-given beauty,” said Von Teese in an interview with Style.com. “It’s a little bit like someone putting on their drag. We all have this opportunity to style ourselves the way we want to be seen, and sometimes it’s vastly different from what we’re born with.” 

The Vintage Tea Party by Angel Adoree

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I got this as a present from a great friend and it quickly turned into one of my favorite books. This one is from Anthropology but I am quite sure you can find it in book shops also. It’s basically your vintage guide to hosting tea parties full of colorful and fun, easy-to-do British recipes with a twist like baked brie in puff pastry which I have now baked twice and loved it.

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The book is also a guide to everything vintage, from choosing the best vintage pieces at the flea market to how-to’s of vintage hairstyles, make-up and many DYIs. Add some cute drawings of fancy rabbits, goats in hats, foxes and you’ve got a vintage Alice in Wonderland story with lots of great cooking tips and sparkly berry drink recipes.

Infinite Variety – The Life And Legend Of The Marchesa Casati 

“I want to be a living work of art”

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I found this book at the library after searching for it quite some time in different book shops with no luck. This is the biography of Marchesa Luisa Casati who is still an inspiration among fashion lovers and got her fame for being fearless in her life choices. From her evening strolls, naked beneath her furs, to preferring cheetahs in diamond-studded leashes as her pet companions, she has shocked many and fascinated even more. So, I obviously wanted to read all about her. I haven’t gotten to the end of this book yet but I am already captivated. Luisa Casati was no ordinary beauty, quite the opposite, yet she inspired so many, Dita von Teese would definitely agree. In fact, La Marchesa could easily be a spokesperson for Your Beauty Mark now that I think of it. I am quite sure any book about Marchesa Luisa Casati would be equally fascinating so if you ever get your hands on one I am sure you’ll enjoy it. The book has many photos also and I could stare at them for ages.

PS: Pandora, who is one of my favorite bloggers could be a great Marchesa. And here’s La Divina Marchesa in a painting by Boldini:

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Encyclopedia Of The Exquisite – An Anecdotal History Of Elegant Desires

“Cleverly illustrated, Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is an ode to life’s plenty, from extravagant to eccentric. It is a celebration of luxury, but it is not about money”.

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Getting a hold of this book was not fun. I ordered it while in Iceland from a Romanian website thinking that it will arrive to my home in Romania by the time I made it there for Christmas. I was wrong. Long story short, it took forever but the book was worth the wait. As the title implies, this book is an encyclopedia. However, one that focuses on the elegant, the rare, the commonplace and the delightful. I read this book and I instantly feel fancy, cultured, refined and happy! Subjects cover champagne and how it became so popular, the evolution of the Japanese kimono, the frillies and who wore them first, the effect of red lipstick during WWII and many other equally fascinating topics. Each entry features engaging anecdotes, oh and even a couple cooking recipes.

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

Do you remember couple years ago when they discovered an apartment in the 9th arrondissement in Paris that had not been opened for 70 years? It was all over the news. Turns out the apartment belonged to Marthe de Florian – a socialite of the Belle Epoque who had been the muse of the famous painter Boldini (just like La Casati). This painting was locked and hidden from the world in the same apartment until just recently. Meet Marthe: 

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If you haven’t, you must read this article immediately. It is an outstanding story and luckily Michelle Gable turned into much more. She wrote the book A Paris Apartment which builds on the real story and combines Marthe’s story with that of April Vogt, an expert in antique furniture who goes to Paris to evaluate the findings. The book is fiction but keeps so many details from the real story. I absolutely loved this book, it goes perfectly with a glass of rosé, so if you want something dreamy that evokes the idillic Paris during la Belle Epoque then I strongly suggest this.

PS: For those of you in Romania, you can find this book at Carturesti which is where I bought mine. It´s called Apartament la Paris.

Places to go, people to see –  a KATE SPADE book

I got this book quite recently and although it’s mostly photos I didn’t manage to go through it all yet. I want to give every page the proper attention and also enjoy the small lists that pop up here and there. Like the one suggesting names for a top-secret alias to help you go incognito in one of your trips:

Apple Addison

Peach Fredericks

Clover Jones

Ladybug Bly

Rainy Beauregarde

Sunny Caulfield

Coco Goldenrod 

I am keeping Rainy Beauregard for myself so feel free to chose from the rest of names 😉

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The book is all about travel through the lens of the always-inspired Kate Spade New York girl – mixing fashion, a strong wanderlust vibe, music, movies, hotels and a lot more. It’s a coffee table book and whenever I feel like I need a vacation I am quite certain that browsing this, playing the playlist suggested, watching one or two of the movies mentioned and doing a bit of dreaming will do, for starters.

The book showcases some of the chic-est destinations like the Amalfi Coast, Marrakech, St Morritz and the I-can-never-get-too-much-of Paris.

PS: The book has 4 lovely postcards at the back which can be taken down and sent forward. I plan to “get rid” of mine soon.

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

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This one I got from the Reykjavik library and I am kinda hoping I´ll manage to buy it somewhere soon. Although at a first glance it looks like a cook book, it is a lot more than that! The book does indeed have a lot of great recipes that I plan to try like eggplant caviar, onion tart, coffee creme brulee and many other French dishes. But the parts I like most are the anecdotes from David’s life as a chef in Paris. How he was perceived once he moved there (coming from America), how he chose the apartment he ended up living in and what was most important for him when getting his kitchen equipped. He talks about the habits of Parisians and he describes them perfectly, with their goods and bads.

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Other sections of this book that makes it quite valuable (as I am no cooking expert) are the tips on cooking something as simple as fries, how to distinguish cheeses, how to choose your wines, how to shop at the farmer’s market. The book has many great photos of Paris (never too many, n’est pas?) and it is a delight, I have never enjoyed reading a cook book so much. For recipes, stories and Paris this is my no.1 option!

These are some of the books I got my hands on lately and it’s such an inspiring, dreamy, stylish bunch. I do recommend each and every one of them if you love vintage, Paris, traveling, cooking and enjoy decadent activities like drinking champagne, wearing red lipstick and fur, hosting parties and writing love notes.

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