Brad Pitt, Chanel, and Life in Black and White

For many years I lived my life in black and white. My apartment was black and white. My wardrobe was black and white. (A look inspired by Sheila Scotter, and Coco Chanel before her.) Even my first Cavalier King Charles was black and white. (With a smear of brown.) I wasn't as bad as a friend who went as far as buying black and white Belted Galloway cows for her farm, but I clearly needed help. {The beautiful image above is by the lovely Christie Smythe, via Coveteur 8}

I even wrote a book about black and white interiors. Which, to my shock (and my mother's) did quite well. (On a side note, have you seen Celerie Kemble's black and white book yet? It's beautiful. Far more functional than mine, too.)

And then when I found out that HRH Prince Charles had planted a black and white parterre at his renowned garden at Highgrove, well... you can't imagine the flurry of re-design that snippet of gardenalia caused in our miniscule yard.

Unfortunately, the black and white garden was the last straw for my normally tolerant partner. He wanted colour, he said. He was too young to live in house that looked like a silent film. So one year, when I went to NY on business, he swapped all the black and white bedlinen and bathtowels for coloured ones. (Is your husband as cheeky as this?) I tell you, nothing matched. Not surprisingly, I had a small apoplexy in the front hall. "It's okay honey," he said. "You're just suffering colour paralysis." {Above image of Kyle de Woody's beautiful apartment via Vogue}

To appease him (because it's important to appease people, I think), I started introducing blue, green, pink and red into our lives. And I have to confess, I love them. Who knew colour was so wonderful?

Every now and then, though, I still get a little misty over the sight of some black and white. So here, in a sentimental tribute to my old favs, midnight and ivory, are some images of this classic duet.

Starting with the dashing Mr Pitt and his mysterious new ad...

{Image above is a page from a future Chanel book, if I ever finish it.}


In an inspired move, Chanel has chosen Brad Pitt to be the first male face of Chanel No. 5. The 48-year-old actor and father will feature in both print and television ads for the iconic brand, with the first commercial debuting October 15th. Look at that cummerbund... So debonair.

Chanel's brand new baroque fragrance, Chanel Coco Noir, which was just launched this month. The scene is composed of top notes of grapefruit, bergamot and orange, middle notes of jasmine, rose, red geranium, Indonesian patchouli, and base notes of Brazilian tonka bean, Bourbon vanilla, sandalwood, frankincense and white musk. It was inspired by Venice at night. How seductive does it sound? I love the marketing spiel: "For the woman who favours elegance over faddism, presence over showmanship and the effortless magnificence of black in all its forms." Seriously sexy.

A vintage Chanel label. This was Chanel's original label, at the very start of her career. I think it's beautiful. I suspect a suit with this sewn on the inside would be worth a small fortune.

Chanel's Spring 2013 collection.

Chanel's hat boxes from 1913. 
Look at how the brand has changed from the original serif font? It changed again several years later.

The Chanel set from Fall/Winter 2011/12. 

Mr Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby. (The original.) 
Still one of my favourite actors. Still one of my favourite films. 
{Image below it by Asian Pride designer via The LA Times. Credit embedded in image.}

Let's hope Baz's version is just as beautiful.

Gucci's Spring/Summer 2012 collection {Via Grazia}

A balcony in Paris. 
Forgive me – I'm forever stopping to take photos of the architecture in Paris. But how can you resist? On a little aside, have you read the new book,  The House I Loved by the author of the hugely successful book (and film) Sarah's Key? It's all about how Haussmann razed Paris to redesign the city's streets. Fascinating.

A beautiful French staircase.
Okay, that's enough of Parisian balustrades and staircases now.

So here's a boulangerie-turned hotel instead. 
The Hotel du Petit Moulin in the Marais. A great little place to stay.

And the breakfast room of the Hotel Vendome. 
Love that Dedon fabric.

Miss Chanel, in her favourite combination. Did you know that when she died there were only three suits hanging in her wardrobe, all of them black and white? She didn't sleep in her apartment above the salon at Rue Cambon either. That was just for show; for entertaining. She preferred a tiny, almost garret-like room at the top of the Ritz Hotel next door. She said its spartan look and tight proportions reminded her of the orphanage. And that made her strangely happy.

Ella Richard in Paris for Jalouse. By Gemma Booth. {Via V O}

The always gracious and elegant Slim Paley in Paris recently. {}
(These two almost match the Hotel Vendome, above.)

And Ms Nicole Kidman in a similar outfit in Baz's ad for Chanel. 
NB Did you know that Chanel was one of the first to create the white collar-on-black-tunic look? She was inspired by the nuns at the convent where she grew up, but she also noticed that white better reflected, and better framed, the face better than black, while black was slimming for the body. Her solution was to design a black frock with a white collar. Still as stylish today.

A black kitchen cabinet full of stunning white dinnerware. {Via House Beautiful, November 2006}

A black and ivory porch, by Mary McDonald. This was an ambitious design, but Mary hasn't put a foot wrong. She never does.

A kitchen by the South African designer John Jacobs. {Via Design in Black and White}

An interior by NH Design. {Via House & Home}

JK Place hotel. {Via Lonny. Great pix Lonny, as always!}

Ralph Lauren's Bel Air collection. {From the RL Home archives}

David Hicks-designed fabric. Still modern after all these years.

A map of Paris, showing all the important places. {Via me}

Carla Zampatti's latest collection for spring 2012. {Via Carla Zampatti}

Candice Bergen at a black and white masquerade ball.

Rene and Pierce in The Thomas Crown Affair, the remake.

Faye and Steve in The Thomas Crown Affair, the original.

A frock by Oscar de la Renta. Very Black Swan. {Via Oscar}

One of the most exquisite weekenders I've ever seen. This tiny black and white cottage belongs to Ingrid Oomen (Qummunicate) and Asad Wali. So sweet. {Via House and Home}

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