[Alternative Muses] Writerly Style: Ngaio Marsh

“Elegance is elimination.”–Balenciaga

Ngaio Marsh by Henry Herbert Clifford (1935).

This 85-year-old photograph of New Zealand writer Ngaio Marsh proves that elegance, coziness, and individuality can be as stylish as anything out of the pages of a 21st-century fashion magazine.

Embellishments are minimal: an eccentric shoulder, a few buttons, an indifferently tilted hat, a bit of pattern and texture here or there. 

Clean lines. Confidence. 

She is, more than anything, mysterious.

How appropriate.

[Alternative Muses] Style Guide: Schokko with a Red Hat

 Schokko with a Red Hat by Alexej Jawlensky is my favourite painting. She lives at the Columbus Museum of Art: I like to visit her when I go home.

Schokko with Red Hat by Alexej Jawlensky, 1909

Schokko with a Red Hat by Alexej Jawlensky, 1909. Columbus Museum of Art.

Schokko was an artist’s model. She adored drinking hot chocolate so much that it inspired her quirky nickname. I wonder if it kept her warm during long hours of working in drafty ateliers?

Her gaze in this painting is simultaneously direct and circumspect, which nicely mirrors her unnaturally presented yet magnetic appearance. She’s a woman with something to say, but what?

Did Schokko like or care how she was presented to the world, through other people’s eyes?  Was she a fan of modern art? Was drinking cup after cup of hot chocolate, between poses, the highlight of her day?

What did she look forward to, go home to, do in her spare time? Did she even like the colour red?



There’s more to style than what they tell you about in the pages of Vogue. Inspiration is everywhere. In this case, it shines at us from inside a picture frame. 

What does it say?

Colour is expression. Hats are relentlessly chic. Boldness is armour.

Building an unusual colour palette, deliberate and nuanced, isn’t just for paintings. Continue reading

Giveaway Reminder: There’s Still Time to Win a Copy of The Lives of the Muses [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

The giveaway closes at 5:00 PM EDT on Tuesday, 9th September. If you’d like to enter, please leave a comment on either this post or the original one.

Good luck!

The Lives of the Muses

The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose

[Our First Book Giveaway] The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

I’ve no idea how it happened, but I own two copies of The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose. As much as I love books, I obviously don’t need more than one copy of anything. I’ve decided to gift one lucky reader with the extra one.

The Lives of the Muses

The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose [cover image courtesy Goodreads]

To read more about the book, go here.

How to enter: leave a comment. That is all! If you’d like to go the extra mile and like us on Facebook, that would be lovely. The contest is open internationally. The winner will be chosen on 9th September 2014. Good luck!