Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Gloria Giveaway

Every once in a while, someone walks into the shop and I am am pretty sure I know them - but I can't remember how. My favorite surprise visitor happened over 8 years ago in New York.  It was later in the afternoon - right before we closed up for the day...was it 3:00? No - it was probably 5:00!!  A woman walked in dressed in black with oversized dark glasses on. She took her time looking around and then quietly loaded up the counter with piles and piles of the most unusual collection of objects and scraps. After about an hour, she had circled the loop at least 5 times, and, finally asked for her bill. I asked her what she was going to do with all of these bits and pieces and she told me she made small art sculptures.  After I had written up her bill and it came to more than what we had made all week, I asked what her name was, she replied "Gloria" and then after about 30 seconds, "Vanderbilt" - I was so thrown that all I could say was "Of the jeans??" She was gracious enough to say yes and explain that that was just one of her many artistic endeavors over the years.
Gloria's visits continued - she had found a shop of curiosities - and considered French General her secret. Early in the morning we would arrive at FG and there would be a large black car with tinted windows, a driver and Gloria - patiently waiting for us to open the doors so she could dig before hours.  I think she was happy to have the place to herself - with time to imagine and plan out her next project. She seemed to buy everything we had in quantity - if she saw a box full of waxed lilies - she wanted the lot of lilies, old cardboard box and all. A shopper after my own heart. Once she came in and invited us to her art show in Tribeca - of course we went, just to see how she had used some of the old pieces she had found at French General.
I haven't heard about Gloria in years - although I watch her son every night at 10:00. I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who tells me he's a nice boy  - and my mom has a crush on him! It's nice to know Gloria raised such a good kid and was artistic on the side.
In honor of Gloria - wherever she is (hopefully still in New York City!) I have an odd giveaway....a box full of snails. Early, hand-made chenille snails on wire- in their original box!! What you are going to do with these snails....I have no idea.....but it is the kind of oddity that Gloria would have left her coffee cup behind for - which she once did.
A box of slugs for your favorite surprise encounter story - Sofia will dig out a name on Saturday or Sunday....
Bonne Chance!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Behind the Curtain

I have never been a "neat desk" person. I have many friends who are - and I am really jealous of their ability to put everything in the right place all the time. Every once in a while, Molly will come to FG and "organize" me. I like all her "systems" but I can't seem to make them work for very long - I think it's a case of Lazy Itus.
Tomorrow Victoria Magazine is coming in to shoot the shop. I spent some time today setting up a couple vignettes and then I took a look behind the curtain, into my office. This was what I was confronted with. I realized there was little hope....with less than 24 hours to go.
I am a collector - and not a very discriminating one...just a collector. There are piles of catalogs, magazines and old photographs. The walls are littered with drawings, photos of Sofia and thank you cards. My desk is more like an inspiration board - but the inspiration is so layered that it is almost hidden! Something drastic has to happen - I need to clear out the space - make room for new ideas. But I'll worry about that next week.
Tomorrow I'll have to pull the curtain and hope no one peeks behind it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Comment on a Comment

To Dia:
I hear you - I think this question about how an artist makes ends meet is important - how does one combine creativity with making a living. When I lived in New York and decided to design a line of jewelry, with just a few beads and a tube of glue, I felt like a poser. I hadn't studied jewelry design in college - so how in the world did I think I could start a jewelry business and actually charge people for my work?? I spent a couple of months in therapy pondering on this quandary...how could I ever make a living off of creating something that I loved?
What I learned was that I had the power to design my own life. I was the one in charge. Yes, it helped that I had JZ who was willing to let me explore this path for a while without having to worry about paying the rent. In the end, I realized that what I had to offer was different than everyone else - and if I was willing to take my thought process, my creativity and push it a bit further - I knew I would feel satisfaction and maybe even be able to pay the bills eventually.
Someone told me a long time ago to put my own mark on everything I do - to personalize everything. At the time, I wasn't really sure what she meant - I thought I was putting my own stamp on everything. Years later, I realized that she meant EVERYTHING - everything is important and means something to someone. I have learned with French General that although sometimes I am bored with what I am doing or frustrated with the day - I am making a living by being creative everyday...I've learned to enjoy the process and take it day by day.
I hope you are able to find a way to create, inspire and earn - it's a fulfilling opportunity and one I think we should all strive for. Good luck!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Whole New Job

Everyday, I find myself thinking of a whole new job for myself. Right now, I want to become a Color Linguist. Yesterday, after running downtown and finding (yet another!!) old stash of millinery goods, I wanted to become a hat designer. When I see Alexis Bittar's jewelry at Nordstrom, I want to become a jewelry designer. A couple of months ago I wanted to work at the Magic Castle here in Hollywood. Visiting old friends in New York, I wanted to become an artist with a loft in Brooklyn. It's a curse, I want to try so many things. When I drive by Joe Blasco Makeup Center on Hillhurst, that's right, I want to become a make-up artist. The list goes on and on. Then I got an e-mail from Moda yesterday saying "When are we going to see the new fabric and products for the Fall line?" and I thought - Oh yeah, that's right, I'm a fabric designer right now! I love it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Color White

I just thought I would give you an idea of what I had to go through this weekend....

Winter Whites



Paper Whites
Swiss Coffee
Jersey White
Sugar Cane
Natural Vanilla
Aged Plaster
Sugar Mountain
Attic lace
Calla Lilly
Hidden White
Brittle White
Sleeping White
Dreamy White Wings
Under Skirt
Whipped Cream
Crafted White
Centurian Cream
Grandma’s Pearl
Antique Alabaster
Winter Linen
Faded Vellum
Vintage Cream laced with Coco
Evening Gardenia

Vintage Gardenia

Polar Frost

Grandma's Wedding Gown

Once White

Valentino White

Wishbone White

Swan White

Shadows of White
Satin Marshmallow
White Cotton
Unbleached Domestic
Brocante Blanc
Brocante White
French Flea
Perfect Patina
French Vanilla
Unbleached Flour
Monk’s White
Grey Dawn
Antique Pearl
Snowflake Fallen
Cream Lustre
Memere’s White
Weathered White
Well Worn White
Antique Paper
Withering Whites
Crème Brulee
Treasured Taupe
Sugar Bisque
Antique Ecru
Oyster Linen
Dusty Dogwood
Sophisticated Alabaster
Delicate Lace
Not Quite White
Heirloom White
Dreamy White
Sweet Cream
Snow Falling on Cedars
Winter White
Tattered White
Tea White
Blush White
Rich Cream
Dreamy Antique White
Ironstone White
Barnwood White
Moonlight White
Lily of the Valley White
Hydrangea White
Magnolia White
Syringa White
White Beach
Snow Drift

Winter Flurries

White Filigree

Pristine Pales

Feather Pillow

Vintage Feathers

Plume d'hiver (Winter Feather)

Snow Feathers
Vintage Bridal White
Late Winter Sky
Linen White
Calla Lily White
Lilac White
Aged White
Cottage White
Bliss White
Timeless White
Linen and Lace
Classic Pearl
Prime White
Worn White
Rusty White
Snow Dust
Frosted Heirloom
Snowy Antiquity
Vintage Vanilla
Snowy Owl
Raw Sugar
Lily of the Valley
Tchaikovsky White

Ophelia White

Arsenic White

Chardonnay White

Chateau White 

Quill Pen White

Gossamer White
Snow White
Vanilla White
Bois d’hiver (Winterwood)
Moonsoft White
Forgotten White
Victorian White
Washed White
Modest White
Aged Alabaster
Sleeping Beauty
Grandma’s Wedding Dress
Vintage White
Orchid White
Frothed Milk
Silent White
Irish Lace
Antique Lace White
Porcelain White
Antique Porcelain
Vanilla Cream
Antique Lace
Old Lace and Cream
Linen Pearl
Sand Dollar
White Coral
Linen Closet
Vintage White Extraordinaire
Sunday White
Best White
Ancient Rime
Ice Queen
Winter Mist
White Pearl
Faded Parchment
Pale Linen
Bleached Bone
Lace White
Churned Butter
Fresh Cream
Ivory Snow
Antique Cream
Fresh Linen
Midnight Pearl
Devonshire White
White Chocolate
Night Snow
Pretty Attic White
Snow Angel
Snow Maiden
Snow Cone
First Snow
White Cream
Heirloom White
Vanilla Cream
La Vanille Bourbon
French Vanilla
Crème de la Lune
Lune de Miel
Meringue Lustre
Vanilla Essence
Antique White Wash
Vintage White Milk Paint
Celestial White
Wishbone White
Winter Ice Capades
Dragonfly White Wing
Crème Brulee
Milk Glass
Vintage White
French General White
Victorian White
Swiss Dot
Olde Whyte
Prayer White
Elegance and Love Mother’s Bracelet
Vintage Ivory Cream
Honored White
Enduring White
Seasoned White
Abalone Flesh
Ocean’s Froth
Mid-Winter’s Dandelion
Grandmother’s Linens
Warm White
Blanche Ancienne
Moonstone Dreaming
Vintage Ivory
Vintage Parchment
Widower’s Lace
Vintage Vanilla Cream
Aged White
Baiser d’Albatre (Alabaster Kiss)
Muted Ivory
Misty Memory White
Aged Ivory
Antique Bone
Creamy Pearl
Achromatic Beauty
Lily White
Latte White
Milky Snow
Sister Winter Charm
Memory Collector Charm
Frosty Pearl
Vanilla Cream
Fresh Cream
Mother of Pearl
Mermaid Pearls
Princess Pearl
Vanilla Frost
Dusted White
Forgotten Linen
Aged Linen
Ashen White
Soft White




Paper White


White Mist

Snow Dew
Antique Chalk
Rouen White
Escaliers de Montmartre (Stairs of Montmartre)

Montmarte Blanc

Esprit Blanc
Fantome (Ghost White)
Grand White
Aged White
Elegant White
Refined White
Belle Fleur
Graceful White
Celestial Cloud
Victorian Dream
Snowy, Snowy Night
Blanche Neige (Snow White)
Coquille (Shell)
Perennial Ivory
Perpetual Pearl
Lunar White
Moonshadow White
Nightshade White
Tea-Stained White
Tea-Leaf White
Vanilla Sugar
Tea Wash White
Old Lace
Ice White
Pearl White
Atmosphere White
Jersey Cream
Jersey Milk
First Day of School White
New Notebook White
The Color of Love
Timeworn White
Revival White
Feather Down White
Bleached Muslin White
Mother of Pearl White
Vanilla Ice Cream White
Buttercream Frosting White
Moon Glow
Button Box White
Stone Mountain White
Alfredo White
Confectioner’s Sugar
Waxen White
Tumbled Sea Glass



Niveous (a term for snowy white)

Polished Pearl




Pearl Troca
Vintage Snow
Classic Candescent
Heirloom Ivory
Misty White

Snow White

Winter White

Early Morning White

Aged White

Granny's White

After White
Vintage Lace
French Canvas
Wedding Veil
Snow Moon
Fleur de sel
Aunt Tilda's Macramé
Chihuahuan Desert (home of White Sands National Monument)
Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (a type of beautiful ivory-colored cheese)
Bakelite Domino
Mourning Dove
Days Gone By
Frosted Window
Improved With Age
Opaque Dreams
Clouds of Romance
Relic of Winter
Tattered Lace
Aunty Anita
Misty Moon White
Misty Morning White
Antique Linen
Porch White



Picket Fence

Bone China


White Chocolate
Pearly White
Bygone White
Dusty Miller
Aged Bisque

Faint Moonglow

Angel's Wing

Lamb's Wool

Morning Dew
White Bisque
Yesterday’s Snowfall
Chantilly Lace White
Something Old
Seashell White
Shades of White
Eternal White
Almond White
Nana’s Linens
Cherished White
Reine Blanche
Nostalgic Whites
Crème de la Crème
Almost Pearl
Of A Certain Age
Soft Glow
Winter Lily
White Chocolate
Mothers Pearl
Love Letter
Remember White
Antique Dreams White
Dainty Lace White
Classic White
Heirloom White
Erode Blanc (Weathered White)
Oublie Blanc (Forgotten White)
Moonlight Sonata
Crystal Snow
Angel Cake
Queen Anne’s Lace
White Mocha
Satin Ivory
Lovely Bone
Carte Blanche
Victorian Lady

Victorian Silk


Crinoline White

Tea Cup White

Victorian Tea

Edwardian White


Shabby Elegance
Marshmallow White
Grandmere’s White
Feather Down White
Attic Treasure White
Silky White
Elegant White
Frosted Mirror White
Vintage Moonlight
Toasted Almond
Angel’s Breath White
Picket Fence


White Lilacs

White Rose

White Wash White
Warm Milk

Sugar Cube

Snow White Dove

Star Dust

Fairy Blossoms

Paper Whites
Yesteryear’s White
White of Long Ago
Winter Wonderland
Beachy Sand White
Chantilly Cream
Sweet Meringue
Satincream White
Oyster White
Antique Linen White
Crème Fraiche
Pear Sorbet
Winter's Snow

White Sugar

Blushing Bride White
Cherished Pearl
Beloved Pearl
Hidden in the Drawer Pearl
Pearl Memoirs
Forgotten Pearl
Tatted White
Vanilla White
Wool White
Yesterday’s White
Aged Page
Innocent White
Bridal’s Breath
Bridal’s Veil
Moonlit White
Creamy Filling

That's right - hundreds of ideas and names for that old, dusty white...I had no idea there were so many ways of describing a color - Pantone are you out there!? It's almost impossible for me to choose just a couple - so I have asked some creative types to help me out with this...and although it was tough, these are the names that kept coming up: Brocante Blanc, Waxen White and Winter Linen. Thank you everyone for submitting such creative stories and colors - I see a whole book filled with antique color descriptions!  If the lucky winners e-mail me their information, we will put a jewelry kit in the post asap!  Merci!

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Textured Life in France

Finally!  Information about our Chateau Getaway in France this summer. I apologize that I have not been able to e-mail everyone individually - the comments and e-mails got a little overwhelming! If you are interested, please sign up for a spot soon - rooms are limited! Merci! See you in France!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Missing Sign

Today as I pulled out of the driveway at French General, a young man walked up to me and asked me if this was French General. Yes, I said (duh, I thought - just look at the sign!) I looked over - to kind of motion towards the sign - and it was gone. That's right - someone had taken our sign - and believe me, we needed it - nobody ever knows where we are! Who would need an old sign like that, I wondered? As I sat there gazing towards the missing sign, another man walked up to me and out of the blue said, I always keep an eye on this place - whenever I am in the neighborhood, I sit here on your wall and watch this old house. I asked him if he knew who had taken the sign. He said he hadn't even noticed it was missing. So there you go.  Visitors beware - there is no sign at French General anymore...you'll just have to know we are in the little pink house at the elbow in the road. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Wild Flower Chase

A couple of weeks ago, Dawn and I decided to go digging downtown for some old millinery. After we finished digging at our regular spot, California Millinery, I told Diego (our favorite "boy behind the millinery counter") where we were headed to next....an old French flower importer on Broadway. He looked at me with wide eyes and asked "Who told you about that place?" I mentioned a woman who had come in to French General and given me scattered details of her favorite vendors downtown. Diego said, "Nobody knows about that place - don't tell anyone you know about it. And by the way, they moved - they left a long time ago." He eventually wrote down an address. I thanked him - and immediately walked over to the original address on Broadway. Sure enough - the place had been empty for years - not a petal on the floor.
A few days later, we were ready for the adventure - we packed up water bottles, a bag of snacks and rubber gloves - we had no idea where we were headed, but we had a map and the name of an old flower importer that had moved to South Central LA - sounded good to us!
Even though I am from Los Angeles, I don't think I had ever been to South Central - straight off the 5 South, it's a neighborhood that used to have a pretty rough reputation - but that was 25 years ago - everything changes. After getting lost a couple of times - and using our Spanglish one too many times - we found a very old storefront with no name and metal bars across the windows.
At 10:00, we had arrived ten minutes before the owner did. When Liliana finally walked in, we knew we were in the right place. Liliana had worked for the original flower importer on Broadway for over twenty years. When the owner died, she and her friend bought the business. Liliana explained how her friend had run off with all of the money and all Liliana was left with were the flowers....warehouses full of them. My curiosity was piqued.
We began to dig through boxes and boxes of flowers - navy blue roses, kelly green camellias...nothing was quite old enough. Liliana kept looking at us and saying "But that's old - that's from the sixties" - we would just shake our heads and say, not old enough. And then, finally, Dawn opened a box that was filled with old creamy white velvet carnelians ...we had struck gold. We continued to open every box in that old shop, knowing that there must be more. Eventually we had amassed a good supply of old millinery - velvet peonies, hand-painted rose leaves, organza sweet peas, black strawberries - we were satisfied.
At the end of our dig, we shared a few tangerines, laughed about my obsessive behavior and eventually said goodbye. Our car was full and we felt satisfied knowing we had dug deep and found what we were looking for. Sometimes a dig doesn't turn out so good, sometimes you come home feeling like you were on a wild flower chase.....but this time, we not only found old French flowers, we learned about the business from someone who had been in it all of her life. Good times.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Antique Whites

Welcome to January! It really feels like a new beginning this year. I'm trying all new things - all the time. Here's a new thing: a giveaway for a color description.
Our January collection is all about the early whites - the whites of long ago. Lately I have been doing some deep digging with old vendors and I keep seeing lot's of old white - feathers, flowers, beads....the overlooked color? So often when white pieces have been stored for 50 plus years, they turn this very subtle shade of white - that's the color I am going for here - not a cream, not a sand, but an antique white. Dusty white? Anyway - maybe someone out there can explain the color. We'll choose one or two lucky comments on Saturday, January 10th. If you've never made one of our charm kits before - breath easy - everything is included in the kit - you just need a pair of pliers and some strong glue, I'll include a guidebook also. Bonne Chance!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Party's Over

Well, we ate, we drank, we visited friends and family and now it's time to get back to work. Happy New Year to all and thank you for your encouragement and support over the past year! Here's to a great 2009!