18 February, 2018

"Sunday Runway - Ralph Lauren, Spring 2018 . . . "


Things were certainly bright and beautiful at the Ralph Lauren Spring/Summer 2018 RTW runway show last Monday.  Inspired by travel, the Caribbean, Jamaica, and glorious beach living - the collection certainly felt like a fresh, modern version of classic Ralph ideas.  

Take a look and let me know your favourite -

I'm curious to see if that striking striped dress at the end winds up on the red carpet during award seasons.  It certainly would be amazing.


15 February, 2018

"Hunting for Style . . . "


Just a wee video of our recent projects . . . hopefully filled to the brim with inspiration.

You can check out our other videos on our new YouTube channel


13 February, 2018

"Royal Family Ties - Camilla . . . "


One of the most evocative lines from my favourite novel "Brideshead Revisited" has some bearing on our ongoing conversation about the British Royal Family.  The novel deals with the implications of friendship, sexuality, and family relationships between Charles Ryder, Sebastian Flyte, and Sebastian's sister Julia.  Late is the story - almost halfway through the novel, Charles opens a chapter with - "It is now time to speak of Julia, who until now has played an intermittent and somewhat enigmatic part in Sebastian's drama."  And from that point forward - Julia becomes one of the most important characters in the story.   Soooooo . . .

"It is now time to speak of Camilla . . . "

In far too many ways, Camilla is the third-rail of the Royal Family.  Practically everyone has a deeply rooted opinion of her and her place within the family.  But, as usual, I'd like to push most of the 'passionate dislike or admiration' aside and deal with some fairly concrete facts about her.

Camilla has been a long-standing player in the story of the Royal Family - but, as of a dozen years ago, her place in the monarchy's future is fairly certain.  At present, she is the Duchess of Cornwall.  It is the female version of her husband's Duke of Cornwall title.  She is the Duchess of Rothesay (as Charles is the Duke of Rothesay).  

She's also the current Princess of Wales.  It's not a title that she uses - and instead uses Duchess of Cornwall (a lesser title) out of respect for William and Harry's mother - and the deep connection to that title.   

She's also quite likely to be Queen Camilla when Charles' reign as King begins.  Now - when she and Charles married over a decade ago, it was announced from Clarence House that "it is intended" that she be known as "Princess Consort" during Charles' reign - but, there are a few problems with this title.  The main one is - within the royal household titles, it doesn't exist.  Traditionally, the wife of every reigning King (King Regnant) is referred to as Queen (Queen Consort).  Elizabeth's parents, while they were on the throne were King and Queen (he regnant, she consort).  Parliament could certainly create a "princess consort" position for her - but, they've made no motion towards that in the last 12 years.  My own belief is that they were hedging their bets - using "it is intended" to help the population slowly adapt to her being a true member of the Royal Family.  

Since the days of their marriage, she has been elevated by HM The Queen to a member of her Privy Council (a seriously BIG honour) and has traveled alongside Queen Elizabeth of many occasions.  Camilla has also been one of the hardest working members of the Royal Family.  She travels internationally with Prince Charles as well as throughout the UK.  

I guess, time will tell what her future will be . . .


and seriously, if you start getting foul or disrespectful in th comments, you will be blocked.  Seriously.  

09 February, 2018

"Sunday Runway - 2018 Olympics . . . "

Opening Ceremonies in 1976.
(I think that might be Dorothy Hamill in the top center?)


It seems a bit hard to imagine - but, the 2018 Olympics start tonight on NBC.  So we're going to cheat a tiny bit and talk fashion on a Friday - and take a trip down memory lane with some of my favourite Olympic Opening Ceremony uniforms. 

  The team in 1960 at the Summer games in Rome, Italy
Those hats are still amazingly chic.  I would take any pair of those sunglasses to wear RIGHT NOW. 

The Winter Olympic Team strides into the Opening Ceremony in Lake Placid in 1984.  These STILL might be one of my favourite uniforms.  Those sweaters are right 'on point' for the mid-1980's . . . and the shearling coats are amazing.  Plus cowboy hats and bandanas - perfect for the location and SO stylish (at the time!). 

 These are probably the more provocative uniforms - from the 2014 Winter Games - because practically no one I know likes these except for me.  Now, I don't like those sweaters in any way, shape, or form - but, I've always thought these were designed to be seen on a large group.  Because we have such a large team - when they all walked into the arena, it looked like a giant 'star field' waving.  So while not great fashion - it was amazing stage costume!

So what's in store for the ceremonies tonight from South Korea.  Ralph Lauren (once again) has designed this years uniform for most of the public events for our team of sportsmen and women competing on this international level.  Things look perfect for the events - and super 'sporty.' 


Will you be watching the Opening Ceremonies tonight?  


06 February, 2018

"Designer Math - Window Treatments . . . "


I always feel that after the holiday season is complete - we always see our homes in a new light. Maybe a guest room didn't function as well as expected over Christmas.  Or the dining room didn't seat as many as needed at Thanksgiving.  Regardless, the new year always brings an opportunity to re-fresh our homes.  And nothing updates and invigorates a space like new window treatments.  

If you're thinking about a little update - here are a few of the things the we here in the studio always focus on.

Let's tour through SMW Design's window treatment check list -  

1. The Fullness
Traditionally, you should be looking at 2 to 2½ times the width of the window for the fullness of the drapes. So if your window is 4 feet wide, the ungathered panels should be at least 8 feet wide, or even better, 10 feet.

2. The Length
For classic side panels, you really have to go all the way to the floor. If you're looking at ready-made drapes, make sure that they touch the floor, even if you have to buy the next size up and have them hemmed.

3. The Functionality
Oftentimes — and especially when privacy isn't an issue — we design drapes that really only function to frame the view. Even in these cases when the panels don't really need to close, they should at least look like they could close.

4. The Textile
There are never going to be any hard-set rules about choosing drapery fabrics. This is where design stops being a science and begins to be art. If your other furnishings are leaning towards solid colors, here's your chance to bring some pattern or at least a punch of color to the room.

5. The "Stack"
When drapes are opened, the space that the gathered textile takes up is called 'the stack.' You can manipulate the architecture by playing with the 'stack' placement If you're decorating a room with windows that feel too narrow, you can expand the fullness and visually expand the window by stacking almost everything to the outside of the window frame.

6. The Hardware
Much like the placement of the stack can expand a window, the placement of the hardware can also help a room. I always mount my drapery hardware as close to the ceiling as possible. Draperies will always establish the vertical mood of a space.

7. The Roman
Sometimes you just don't need all that fabric. So for kitchen and bathrooms - or oddly shaped windows - I often use roman shades. They can either be mounted inside the window molding, or outside the window frame. Whenever I use 'outside mounts,' I'll usually add a decorative valance over the window as well to balance things out.

If we can help updating your home - reach out to us at inquiries@SMWDesign.com to set up an appointment.


04 February, 2018

"Sunday Runway - Shuka Cloth . . . "


I know we usually spend our Sundays together ooo-ing and ah-ing over the latest models to sashay down a fashion-week runway or delve into the latest images from the Highland Games in Scotland.  But, let travel a bit further this week.  All the way to a mystery.  All the way to Africa. 

'Shuka Cloth' has always been identified with the Maasai tribe of East Africa.  Known as fierce warriors - the Maasai tribe's style has always been unique.  Shuka cloth is know for its bright, clear colour (usually a searing, bright red) and vibrant patterns.  That pattern could easily be described as intersecting warp and weft stripes creating a grid pattern across the width of the textile.  Well, at a certain point - that description also could be used to identify classic highland tartans.  So . . . are they connected?

There's a bit of a controversy around this.  Some have noted that the traditional wearing of animal hides changed during the early 1900's - which could connect it with British colonist and missionaries from that time period. The Africa Inland Mission was first established in 1895, and until as late as 1909 - Kenya was its only operation.  And honestly, it certainly looks like the clan tartans from the highlands.

Like so much in the history of fashion - we might never know.  But, the colours and textiles are certainly inspirational.


30 January, 2018

"Why I Hate Shoes . . . "


Ok.  We have to start this almost 30 years ago - on a warm summer's day in 1988.  I was arriving for my first day of work with Polo/Ralph Lauren here in the Bay Area.  And lordy, there was a LOT to learn.  Besides all the endless new-hire paperwork involved with starting a new job, there was intensive sales training and product knowledge manuals.  We had the most AMAZING dictionary of fashion and textile terms that I've ever seen (and yes, I still have a copy in my library).  

The great part of working for Mr. Lauren was that there actually WAS a right way of doing things.  We could never hand a client their purchase from over the counter - we always walked out from the cash/wrap - and hand it to them personally.  I haven't worked for Polo since 2001 - and I still have to catch myself from saying "Good morning, Polo/Ralph Lauren."  Even when I answer the phone in my own shop!  

I also learned to hate the word 'shoes.'

Now please don't misunderstand me.  My closet is full.  But at Ralph Lauren we didn't sell shoes.  We sold 'footwear.'  You couldn't find a 'coat' - but, we had a vast selection of 'outerwear.'  No 'ties' - only 'neckwear.'  What I learned was that language mattered.  And the words we use can relay so much more than a simple 'descriptive noun' could ever imply.  So . . . never 'couch' - always 'sofa.'

I feel the same way about the dreaded 'man cave.'  For me it implies some sort of regressive male sitting in the dark with cold pizza and European football blaring from the television.  I certainly understand the need for a private space in one's home.  But, I much prefer to see a term 'library' or 'gentlemen's study' on the floor plans.  

Let's bring back the 'retreat' - and shuffle the 'man cave' off with the need to buy antiperspirant.  (the right word is 'men's furnishings.')

If we can help you create the perfect retreat - reach out to us at inquiries@SMWDesign.com


25 January, 2018

"Designer Math - Getting the Dining Room Chandelier Right . . "

SMW Design - Pacific Heights Living Room


Let's talk a wee bit about light fixtures.  And their size.  And their placement.  And how do you get it right.  As with all questions in design, the solution is going to be a goodly mixture of art and science. The best part is this particular issue is that we're leaning much more on the science part, which means that there actually is an answer.

SMW Design - SOMA Loft Dining Room
When we start new projects here at the studio - here's how I start determining the size of the fixture:
Measure the length and width of your room in feet. Then, add those two numbers together and take that sum and use it in inches. For example, in a dining room that measures 10' x 14', it would be 10 + 14 = 24. You'll want to look for a 24-inch diameter chandelier. Personally, I like to push the limits on scale sometimes. I've been known to add 6 or 8 additional inches if the room needs a big statement. The other parameter to keep in mind is the width of your dining table — for ease of movement around the room.  SO don't let your need for drama make your space challenging to use - lol.

SMW Design - Vail Breakfast Room

Now to determine the placement of the dining room fixture within the room.  First measure the height of the room.  For a ceiling that is 8 feet tall, the bottom of the fixture should begin around 60 inches from the floor. If your ceiling are a bit taller - add two inches clearance from the floor for every foot over 8 feet the height. So for a dining room with a 10 foot ceiling - you're looking at something around 64 inches from the floor.

SMW Design - Vail Dining Room

Now, of course - these are all 'starting' places for placement within the room.  I'm always interested in pushing the boundaries - but, at least you've now got a place to start on your chandelier hunt!


22 January, 2018

"Royal Family Ties - HRH Prince Charles . . . "


There seems to be no end of fiction surrounding Prince Charles and his upcoming reign as King.  In a world where tabloid gossip and official palace statements can get easily convoluted, I always find it good to do a quick fact vs. fiction breakdown of the current events.  So - let's see if we can put an end to some of the rumors and get a few facts to take their place.

HM Queen Elizabeth has declared that Prince Charles will not be King - and the throne will pass directly to Prince William.

No.  This was reported in the British *press* (and I use that word VERY loosely) back before Christmas.  Firstly, if there had been a change in the line of succession, it would be a tectonic event in the royal family - and would have been reported by every major media source in the world.  Consider the flurry of press revolving around Prince Harry's recent engagement.  It was everywhere for days. Secondly, the royal line of succession is controlled by Parliament - and Parliament would have to make any changes to it.  The Queen doesn't actually have any direct control over the heir apparent. Charles is heir as is his birthright - and will most likely be the next King.

HRH Prince Charles cannot be King because he was divorced from Diana.

No.  There is no restriction placed on the heir apparent based on marital status.  If Prince Charles’ divorce was going to change his place in the line of succession, it would have been HUGE news at the time.  Charles and Diana's divorce as well as Charles and Camilla's marriage has been approval of the Crown, the Cabinet, the Church, and The Parliament. 

Charles will be HM King Charles III.

Maybe yes . . . but, more likely no.  Monarchs quite often chose a 'regnal' name that differs from their common name.  King George VII (named - Albert Frederick Arthur George) was known as Prince Albert - and "Bertie" to his good friends.  Queen Victoria (named - Alexandrina Victoria) went by Alexandrina throughout her childhood - and decided to use Victoria because it sounded less foreign.  There was some talk of Charles (named - Charles Philip Arthur George ) using George as his regnal name in honour of his grandfather.  Also . . . keep in mind that the first King Charles was beheaded.  And the second one wasn't very popular either . . . lol . . . so my money is on George.

Brace yourselves.  The post on Camilla is coming soon. 


18 January, 2018

"Royal Family Ties - The Corgis! . . . "

"Come on.  Let's see what's going on . . . "


There might be no more famous member of the royal household than HM Queen Elizabeth's beloved corgis.  We've been covering an enormous amount of information on these posts - so let's make this one fun and just post lots a dog pictures.  Well . . . dogs and The Queen. 

"I"m king of the world . . . . . . "

"I'm just going to put my head right here.  Just for a moment."

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