The Custom of the Country, by Edith Wharton
I seem to have two moods recently when it comes to picking my next book to listen to or read – give me something educational and insightful to help me learn more on a topic I am interested in (mainly art history or biographies) or give me period drama, escapism through a charming, funny, wittily written compelling story.
Following this pattern is how I picked up Wharton’s The Custom of the Country after The Unfinished Palazzo. I wanted something that didn’t need my absolute full attention all the time for fear of missing out on some interesting detail (not to say that I don’t forget 90% of what I hear immediately after). All that being said, I didn’t realize this choice, like all Wharton’s books, has more reality in it than needed to allow for proper escapism.
Source – Edith Wharton
If you’d summarize the plot, it could sound funny and frivolous, but if you look in detail, it’s quite a sad story, at least for two important characters, but even for the main – Undine Spragg, a Midwestern girl who attempts to ascend in New York City society. As I just learned from Wikipedia, this is a tragicomedy of manners, and to help contextualize, a comedy of manners is defined as a witty, cerebral form of dramatic comedy that depicts and often satirizes the manners and affectations of a contemporary society.
I was very engaged in the story, and I wanted to learn what happens in the end, of course Wharton is a very clever writer and that was no surprise. I enjoyed the dialogue, which is always very important for me. I wish it had been a bit more light-hearted for what I wanted when I picked it up, but it was a captivating book that doesn’t disappoint, albeit being quite sad.
Funny Face (1957)
How did I not watch Funny Face until now, you might wonder? I don’t know. I have probably watched a very small percentage of the thousands of classic movies that I have heard of and would probably enjoy tremendously. I suppose I could look on the bright side and say I thus have many more to still discover in the future.
In any case, I finally watched it this week and I found it charming. The story of this philosophy graduate librarian becoming a model with her own couture runway show in Paris and all that jazz, that is the type of Cinderella story for me. I would have liked to see her stay on in Paris or go back to New York and continue to model while also studying or carrying on with her job in the bookstore. Almost having like a double life, each part fulfilling in a different way. I could have easily done without the romantic part of the story, but one can’t have everything.
The movie and Audrey Hepburn offer us so many iconic outfits and scenes that it is well worth watching for those alone in my opinion. A true gem!
Fall 2022 Haute Couture Week
I don’t care if I miss browsing any other fashion season, but Haute Couture is one I always make a point to go back to, even if I am late to the party. There is always something absolutely exquisite that makes me gasp. With the Fall 2022 collections, it was the above Valentino creation above on the left. Honestly, it’s simply beautiful, as is the whole collection, my favorite in the season, followed by Giambattista Valli, Schiaparelli, Ellie Saab and Armani Privé.
There’s something I really love about these looks from Ellie Saab, but it must be said too that they made me remember the Chanel look on the right from the Spring-Summer 2021 Haute Couture collection. I now prefer this iteration, so I suppose steal like an artist is a valid option if you put your own spin on it.
Not forgetting the Dolce and Gabbana Alta Moda collection, Dior was also beautiful and Zuhair Murad also had some spectacular dresses. Maison Martin Margiela, somehow unexpectedly for me, sent down the runway a series of fabulous coats that made me think of vintage Balenciaga.
Looking at the details, as I seem to be flower-obsessed lately, I loved the various interpretations of tridimensional flowers, from sculptural Valentino to glittery Ellie Saab, delicate Dolce and Gabbana and painting like at Schiaparelli. I also loved the use of bold red in some collections, as well as the many interesting color combinations like turquoise and red or purple and yellow, fuchsia and green.
Source: Valentino, Ellie Saab, Dolce and Gabbana, Giambattista Valli, Schiaparelli
As always, art and pure inspiration!
Big Shoes Inserts
Being quite petite, I have small feet, I might have mentioned this before. To be fair, I like my small feet, I wouldn’t want them bigger. But it is a bit of an issue when I am buying shoes, especially heels. In the past couple of months alone I have bought two pairs of stilettos that proved to be too big to wear comfortably.
Somehow, although I’ve thought about it before, I never actually looked into proper shoe inserts to help with this issue, but after scoring a bargain on a pair of Miu Miu’s that feel maybe half size too big, you could say I am a bit more motivated now.
So I started my digging and I found a few solutions I am keen to try. Basically, you can use inserts that go in the front, at the back or on the sole of the shoe. For back inserts, after looking at ratings on Amazon, I ordered these and I also considered these. For front inserts or toe fillers, I’ve seen this type at various price points and various ratings, so I went for the cheapest one as I suspect there really isn’t any difference. I also saw this brand recommended.
Now, sole inserts are more important because these can also more obviously positively or negatively impact your feet, so I went with a solution I already knew was brilliant (and this was proven by the reviews) – the Scholl Insoles for everyday heels.
I can’t wait for all these to arrive so I can test them on my new shoes!
Last week I wrote to you about Daily Paintings with Emil and his quizzes which are the best use of Instagram stories I have seen, to be honest. Today, I bring you yet another quick and engaging way to test your knowledge and learn more – Artle, a daily game developed by The National Gallery of Art.
Inspired by the Wordle phenomenon, in this iteration, you have four tries to guess the name of an artist, after seeing four different works by him or her. You start with one artwork and after each try, if you don’t get it right, you are shown a new one. In the end, if you don’t guess, it will reveal the name.
Straightforward and catchy, although also revealing my huge lack of knowledge, I believe I only managed to guess the artist once and I have been playing for over two weeks now. A brilliant way to spend a quick break at work or just unwind anywhere for a few minutes.
Could this be what subconsciously got me looking for removable floor stickers for my kitchen, to give it a bit of a makeover? I now realize it might be. I discovered this account a few weeks ago and I keep marvelling at the multitude and variety of designs and patterns, at the clever and meticulous use of marble to simply create beautiful flooring.
The Pavimenti Veneziani feed is a collection of Venetian floors and I find it very inspiring that details like this, which nonetheless make everyday life more beautiful, can get such undivided and passionate attention. I know there are others Insta accounts on beautiful doors, windows and the like, and I need to do more digging.
Ending this week’s letter on a sweet note with this swan cake I spotted on Gastro Obscura. Someone writes in the comments how she saw this as a kid in a bakery and wouldn’t eat it because she was enchanted, and I get that, I am now, imagine as a kid?
What would you do?
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter.
Follow Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds on Instagram and Pinterest.