David Downton, Fashion Illustrator

David Downton's new book, "David Downton: Portraits of the World's Most Stylish Women," is a visual feast for those of us that appreciate the important role that fashion plays in world culture. Downton has created poignant portrait studies of some of the most beautiful women of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Iconic women such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Catherine Deneuve, Joan Collins, and Carmen Dell'Orefice as well as Iman, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchette, and Sophia Coppola. The list is endless and each image in the book will enchant and inspire readers. Downton's work has graced the most respected fashion magazines in the world but his illustrations are true works of art, capturing far more than just physical beauty. As Downton states, "Blank beauty isn't beauty after a while. The turn of the wheel in the gene pool is the opening play, but for any one of these women you have to add intelligence, humor, dedication, and work. It's what you do with beauty that's the interesting thing." Downton is a gentleman that understands the more profound aspects of life and is the personification of The Art of Fine Living.     Gary Inman 08.30.15

David Downton

David Downton

Carmen Dell'Orefice by David Downton

Carmen Dell'Orefice by David Downton

Carolina Herrera by David Downton

Carolina Herrera by David Downton

Catherine Deneuve will always be the greatest beauty of the 20th Century in my opinion.

Catherine Deneuve will always be the greatest beauty of the 20th Century in my opinion.

Audrey Hepburn, the icon of beauty for generations of women.

Audrey Hepburn, the icon of beauty for generations of women.

Elizabeth Taylor, those extraordinary violet eyes as imagined by David Downton.

Elizabeth Taylor, those extraordinary violet eyes as imagined by David Downton.

Downton captures the jovial spirit of Julia Roberts.

Downton captures the jovial spirit of Julia Roberts.

Iman, one word says it all.

Iman, one word says it all.

David Downton for the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

David Downton for the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

David Downton, Fashion Illustrator.

David Downton, Fashion Illustrator.

12 Deliciously Decadent Indulgences

“I can resist anything but temptation” 

                                                                           Oscar Wilde

Excess within control has long been my mantra. Years ago Elizabeth Taylor, whom many believed to be the most beautiful woman in the world, embarked upon a diet method based on six days of discipline and one day of indulgence. Some might argue that any dietary diversion is unwise, but this approach has always seemed very logical to me. After all whom among us is capable of absolute perfection? For me there are simply things I can’t imagine giving up forever, nor would I wish to try. A far better method is to find a balance between treating oneself and rabid over-indulgence. Here are a few of my personal culinary obsessions, some are elegant while others are simple regional treats with powerful childhood memories. What are your 12 favorites?

Delicate and rather "precious" these French macarons are an addiction shared by millions.

Delicate and rather "precious" these French macarons are an addiction shared by millions.

Creamy, rich and sinful Lavender Honey ice cream with chunks of White Chocolate. Sublime!

Creamy, rich and sinful Lavender Honey ice cream with chunks of White Chocolate. Sublime!

Candied pecans are perfect with cocktails, or chopped in a salad with strawberries and goat's cheese, or simply as a delicious treat with your afternoon cup of tea. The best I've found are in Charleston, SC although Savannah has a wonderful interpretation with fresh ginger.

Candied pecans are perfect with cocktails, or chopped in a salad with strawberries and goat's cheese, or simply as a delicious treat with your afternoon cup of tea. The best I've found are in Charleston, SC although Savannah has a wonderful interpretation with fresh ginger.

Peach sorbet with Prosecco, a cousin of the famous Bellini of Venice.

Peach sorbet with Prosecco, a cousin of the famous Bellini of Venice.

Coconut Truffles remind me of childhood and my favorite coconut bonbons.

Coconut Truffles remind me of childhood and my favorite coconut bonbons.

I make this Florentine style thin crust pizza with fresh pears, pistachios, and Miele honey from Italy. It is the perfect balance of savory and sweet.

I make this Florentine style thin crust pizza with fresh pears, pistachios, and Miele honey from Italy. It is the perfect balance of savory and sweet.

Every Southerner will tell you nothing is more perfect for the winter holidays than a creamy Coconut layer cake, lovingly made from scratch, preferably starting with a fresh coconut!

Every Southerner will tell you nothing is more perfect for the winter holidays than a creamy Coconut layer cake, lovingly made from scratch, preferably starting with a fresh coconut!

I'm convinced these are health food, after all they're vegetables! A colorful combination of yucca, parsnips, sweet potatoes, gold and red beets, and taro root with a healthy dash of sea salt.

I'm convinced these are health food, after all they're vegetables! A colorful combination of yucca, parsnips, sweet potatoes, gold and red beets, and taro root with a healthy dash of sea salt.

But is it Art? In my opinion there is nothing more beautiful that a lattice top fruit pie. My personal favorite is a fresh strawberry pie, red, sweet, and gorgeous!

But is it Art? In my opinion there is nothing more beautiful that a lattice top fruit pie. My personal favorite is a fresh strawberry pie, red, sweet, and gorgeous!

I discovered this honey on my last visit to Florence. It is by the far the creamiest, most flavorful honey I've ever tasted, made in Tuscany from Sunflowers!

I discovered this honey on my last visit to Florence. It is by the far the creamiest, most flavorful honey I've ever tasted, made in Tuscany from Sunflowers!

Marmalade does not begin to define this magical creation from the beloved New York Chef, Sarabeth Levine. Breakfast or brunch is simply not complete without it. I adore it with a freshly baked croissant or French toast.

Marmalade does not begin to define this magical creation from the beloved New York Chef, Sarabeth Levine. Breakfast or brunch is simply not complete without it. I adore it with a freshly baked croissant or French toast.

Last and certainly not least, is my favorite cake of all time, a simple but oh so delicious Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Every Southern cook knows this is a staple for the holidays.

Last and certainly not least, is my favorite cake of all time, a simple but oh so delicious Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Every Southern cook knows this is a staple for the holidays.

Design Icon, Roger Vivier

I am endlessly fascinated by the creative impulse, the need to imagine and fabricate some version of one’s inner vision. As a designer I know this is a gift, and at times a curse which torments at 2 a.m., but like most designers I cannot imagine doing anything else. It is not surprising that we designers often have posthumous crushes on iconic designers that have forged a unique aesthetic that has stood the test of time. Roger Vivier (1907 – 1998) is just such a character. Created with inventing the stiletto heel in 1954, he is often called the “Fragonard of Shoes” due to his mannerist, ultra-feminine confections. Artistry and a couturier’s attention to detail are to be found in his, at times, fanciful designs, but this is counter-balanced by the modern simplicity of his beloved “Pilgrim” pumps made famous by Catherine Deneuve in the firm, Belle de Jour. Among his famous clients are Ava Gardner, the Beatles, but none more famous that Queen Elizabeth II who wore a bespoke creation by Vivier for her coronation in 1953. It is not surprising that Christian Dior formed a creative collaboration with Vivier in the same year, working together for another decade. Roger Vivier’s fashion house remains a viable source of chic and beautifully crafted shoes. And fabulous shoes are, of course, critical to The Art of Fine Living.

Roger Vivier the genius of French Shoe Design

Roger Vivier the genius of French Shoe Design

Roger Vivier Toile Pumps, 1959

Roger Vivier Toile Pumps, 1959

Roger Vivier and Christian Dior were design collaborators from 1953 to 1963

Roger Vivier and Christian Dior were design collaborators from 1953 to 1963

Vivier Fancy Pumps from 1957

Vivier Fancy Pumps from 1957

Vivier Purse with his famous Pilgrim Buckle

Vivier Purse with his famous Pilgrim Buckle

A Rose is a Rose is a Shoe, Roger Vivier

A Rose is a Rose is a Shoe, Roger Vivier

A Stunning Emerald Green Silk Pump by Roger Vivier

A Stunning Emerald Green Silk Pump by Roger Vivier

COBALT BLUE, A Majestic Color for Every Home and Wardrobe

Cobalt Blue packs a punch of energy and excitement that few colors can match. A natural mineral, it has been used for centuries to produce an intense blue hue in glass and porcelains. In recent seasons we have seen jewel tones, such as emerald green and ruby red, emerge as fashion essentials. Cobalt is now at the forefront, a part of the blue movement which has captivated fashion and home décor in recent seasons. When combined with greys or counter-balanced with rich saffron and butter tones it is simply mesmerizing. Consider a splash of cobalt in your own home or wardrobe and remember that being bold and self-assured in your design choices is essential to The Art of Fine Living.

Cobalt Blue

Cobalt Blue

Versace Gown in Cobalt

Versace Gown in Cobalt

Cobalt makes a dramatic statement in this room and is perfected complimented by the bright yellows, warm grey tones, and white.

Cobalt makes a dramatic statement in this room and is perfected complimented by the bright yellows, warm grey tones, and white.

Cobalt Accessories and Headboard work perfectly for residential or hotel bedrooms.

Cobalt Accessories and Headboard work perfectly for residential or hotel bedrooms.

A dramatic room by Timothy Whealon in Architectural Digest

A dramatic room by Timothy Whealon in Architectural Digest

The Stunning Pulitzer Hotel in Buenos Aires

The Stunning Pulitzer Hotel in Buenos Aires

Marchesa Simonella Crocodile and Rock Crystal Clutch

Marchesa Simonella Crocodile and Rock Crystal Clutch

Style Icon, Jacqueline Comtesse de Ribes

The Art of Fine Living requires one to find their own unique voice; to celebrate ones imperfections as uniquely their own. Jacqueline de Ribes, the international fashion icon, is an extraordinary personification of this philosophy. A French aristocrat, celebrated fashion designer, creative muse, actress, producer, and philanthropist, she is still going strong in her eight decade. A new exhibit at the Anna Wintour Costume Institute, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York heralds this legendary style arbiter and her remarkable career and life. Visit http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2015/jacqueline-de-ribes  to learn more about the exhibit. opening Nov. 19, 2015, on display till Feb. 21, 2016.

A Reflection of Classical Elegance, Jacqueline de Ribes

A Reflection of Classical Elegance, Jacqueline de Ribes

Jacqueline de Ribes bejeweled
Jacqueline with her fashion creations. Winner of the 1985 Rodeo Drive Award.

Jacqueline with her fashion creations. Winner of the 1985 Rodeo Drive Award.

Jacqueline de Ribes with Yves St. Laurent who regarded her as one of his great muses.

Jacqueline de Ribes with Yves St. Laurent who regarded her as one of his great muses.

Jacqueline in an exquisite gown of her own design.

Jacqueline in an exquisite gown of her own design.

Jacqueline de Ribes modeling Christian Dior

Jacqueline de Ribes modeling Christian Dior

True Elegance Lasts for a Lifetime. The timeless Jacqueline de Ribes.

True Elegance Lasts for a Lifetime. The timeless Jacqueline de Ribes.

Woodard Outdoor Furniture, A Diverse Vocabulary

Woodard Outdoor Furniture offers one of the most diverse ranges of styles, finishes, and serves both home owners and hospitality clients. From venerated coastal resorts to Adirondack cabins or city terraces, there is an option for every taste and purpose. Their finishes are highly durable and their wicker is celebrated for its longevity and beauty. To learn more about this chic but affordable resource visit www.Woodard-Furniture.com

Whitecraft Wicker from Woodard Furniture, an Industry Standout for Performance and Beauty 

Whitecraft Wicker from Woodard Furniture, an Industry Standout for Performance and Beauty 

Woodard Hospitality, Sleek, Elegant, and Value Enhancing

Woodard Hospitality, Sleek, Elegant, and Value Enhancing

Dominica, Casual "Flip-Flop" Sand between  your toes relaxation courtesy of Woodward Furniture.

Dominica, Casual "Flip-Flop" Sand between  your toes relaxation courtesy of Woodward Furniture.

Latour From Woodard

Latour From Woodard


Comfort Meets Style at American Leather

American Leather, the premiere name in luxurious leather furniture, has combined classic modern design with state-of-the-art ergonomics. The "Comfort Recliner" defies the ordinary nature of recliners by offering a vast range of leather options in both finish and color. The infinite-position system allows each user to find their perfect position for maximum comfort. Their products are made even more attractive by their five year warranty on workmanship and materials and a lifetime warranty on the frame. But the real bliss is in the pleasure of experiencing this masterfully engineered chair, although one might more appropriately call it a magic cocoon!!

American Leather "Comfort Recliner" Every Man's Favorite Throne

American Leather "Comfort Recliner" Every Man's Favorite Throne

American Leather's "Comfort Recliner" can be custom scaled to individual scale.

American Leather's "Comfort Recliner" can be custom scaled to individual scale.

American Leather's iconic "Comfort Recliner"

American Leather's iconic "Comfort Recliner"

Advanced Ergonomics make the Comfort Recliner from American Leather the industry Favorite

Advanced Ergonomics make the Comfort Recliner from American Leather the industry Favorite

American Leather, The Home of Modern Classics

American Leather leads the industry with its celebrated three week delivery of quality American made products, precision-engineered and handcrafted in their factory near Dallas, Texas. Their selection of iconic twentieth-century modern forms and styles is equally remarkable. Visit www.AmericanLeather.com to view this exceptional collection and to find a retailer near you.

Aaron Chair in Radiant Orchid from American Leather

Aaron Chair in Radiant Orchid from American Leather

Thinking Inside the Box with a Stunning Array of perfected forms. American Leather showroom at the High Point Market, April 2015.

Thinking Inside the Box with a Stunning Array of perfected forms. American Leather showroom at the High Point Market, April 2015.

The Beck Chair is extremely comfortable and eternally beautiful! American Leather offers this iconic form in a broad range of leathers, suedes, and fabrics.

The Beck Chair is extremely comfortable and eternally beautiful! American Leather offers this iconic form in a broad range of leathers, suedes, and fabrics.

Woodard Furniture Embraces Primary Colors

Woodard Furniture offered vivid primary colors that recall the joy of childhood at the recent High Point Market. Durability and levity were balanced in these comfortable designs for indoor and outdoor spaces. Known for their ergonomic frames and value conscious design, Woodard offers a broad range of finishes from sleek and colorful to rustic and tactile. Here are a few highlights from their recent showing.

Cobalt was a dominant hue at the recent High Point Market.

Cobalt was a dominant hue at the recent High Point Market.

Color blocking is easy to achieve with these tables from Woodard Furniture.

Color blocking is easy to achieve with these tables from Woodard Furniture.

Indestructable, whimsical, safe, and comfortable, Woodard Furniture offers the perfect solution for children's rooms.

Indestructable, whimsical, safe, and comfortable, Woodard Furniture offers the perfect solution for children's rooms.

Dreaming of Spring!

Pink peonies from my spring garden.

Virginia was beautiful today, blanketed in frosty snow and made more lively by the excited laughter of children sledding and playing in the snow. As beautiful as the scene was I could not help yearning for the color explosion of spring. The sweet smell of jasmine, the impossible beauty of peonies, the fragility of my Beverly Sills Iris, and the architectural splendor of acanthus plants unfurling their majestic leaves that inspired the Corinthian order of architecture. I'm sure many of you have had similar daydreams so here are a few visual reminders of the glory of spring!

Lady Banks Roses on my garden wall

Lady Banks Roses are the glory of my garden for a few weeks each spring. Hundreds of lemon yellow puffs entreat one to touch.

Bleeding hearts

Bleeding Hearts always seem too perfect, too beautiful to be real, but each year they remind us of love and the fresh glory of pink!

DSC02347.JPG

Peonies are my favorite large flower. For me no flower has a more intoxicating fragrance nor a more spectacular bloom. That said, I've never met a flower I hated. Flowers are an elegant reminder of the renewal of life, to experience them is to know joy. I wish you all a beautiful Spring!!

Primrose, my favorite small flower.