Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pillow Poaching

 Pillow Talk with Annsley Popov

Exotics are back and bolder than ever. Blame it on Ana Wintour's fur shrugs or some other tastemaker-cum-global-puppet-string-puller's decree if you'd like. But Nero's theory is simpler and more intrinsic, organic even -- nothing can quite outshine nature and its kaleidoscopic cornucopia of goodness and beauty. We seek it, crave to possess it, remain eternally fascinated by its perfect order.

Which brings me full-circle to python pillows. My fair readers may recall a recent post on interior designer Sally Wheat's chic faux-python pieces. Well, for those bounty hunters among you seeking  the genuine article -- the real McCoy, if you will -- New Orleans-native turned Houston-transplant, Annsley Popov has your back.

Trust me folks, these babies are lumbar lust incarnate -- fine serpentine at its best. The skins are exquisite and each piece and pattern unique. Different sizes and backings are customizable, as are trims and flanges. With a birthday, an anniversary and a very merry un-Xmas coming up, Nero would kill for a pair of these -- ya hear that Pharoah?

Pillows are exclusively available through Sally Wheat Interiors, Perch and H & H Home. Also, be sure and check out Annsley's Sally Wheat-designed home in the debut issue of High Gloss, due out this January.

Just Can't Quit You

Alas, Nero can't seem to lay off the latest Elle Decor -- here it is, rearing its head yet again -- a defiant repeat offense. And so I've decided to go with the flow until the honeymoon simmers down. These spaces make a terrific argument for doing the dishes or washing one's hair, n'es-ce pas?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Salons and Salivation

Nero is under the spell of the latest Elle Decor
Oh to be a Salonnière holding court in one of these chic spaces.

On Feast, Famine and Full Disclosure

My fair Nerophytes, the time has come for Nero to make a candid admission. You see, strive as we may here at Villa Nero, to keep things lush and luxe, elusive and mysterious, largely-under-wraps and oh-so noir, much of our day is anything but. In fact, more often than not, the most nero part of Nero's day revolves around the black workout pants and Puma ballerinas we schlepp around in. Alas, give or take the odd yoga class or inspired sprint, they see little action on the field, rather preferring to wile away the hours courtside. 

As Nero dashes about, tending to tedium while dreaming up these bits and bobs that trickle into the Chronicles, one thought lives constant and heavy in her mind: What on earth to concoct for dinner? Because a family must be fed, after all. For how else would great minds become great -- or even function for that matter -- without that wondrous fuel we call food?

And so improvisation and instinct often jump into the fray, rendering many a one-off medley. Tonight was no different. It started with these bare essentials, because Nero had them at hand and in no uncertain order -- pasta (Barilla Plus Rotini), cauliflower (one whole), and a sprinkling of feta (Président, fat-free -- the Pharoah's on a reduced-cholesterol kick). 

A head of minced garlic and a shallot then butted in, insisting on joining the street party. Copious quantities of olive oil and paprika followed suit, with sprinklings of salt thrown in for good measure. The sum-total was garnished with pepper and there you have it. The result was a mighty savory mouthful. 

For those fair readers who fancy themselves foodies, Yara over at Moomser makes magic with feta, leftovers and all manner of edibles. She also keeps it real and spins a mamma mia yarn like it's going out of style. Oh, and did I mention she lives in a charming little hamlet in Italy?

Now if you'll excuse me -- wipes lips detachedly with napkin -- Nero will resume her regular programming. 

Tilda Aurum Est

Today Nero is captivated by Tilda Swinton as the face of Pomellato. The Italian jewelry powerhouse has long inspired yours truly with its finely-minted baubles and bangles, and who better than Tilda to embody the sculptural and otherworldly, the quasi-magical properties that thoughtful adornment can bestow upon the wearer? Surely her gripping performance in Io Sono L'Amore forged the Italians' captivation with her. Her pitch-perfect accent  can't have hurt either. 

Here Swinton appears like a brilliant cockatoo -- every inch present, piercing, translucent, alert and full of cosmic grace -- a female with a  quintessentially modern, groundbreaking brand of beauty. Nero must now pause to thank her lucky, Italian stelle. 'Tis reassuring to know that in this woolly-wide world some visionary would showcase such a precious and multi-faceted gem, a magnificent woman who is anything but a bird brain.

SoHo Scrubdown

Ever the clever and intrepid entrepreneuse, Ivanka Trump has unveiled a new spa venture at Trump SoHo Hotel. Research for the 11,000-square-foot retreat took Trump across the globe and back, from Istanbul to India, to experience firsthand the steamy ritual of the hammam. What ensued is a luxury treatment center clearly influenced by far-flung locales and ancient ritual. Sure, there's a gym and a pool and a boccie court and a café, but it would also appear that Trump left no spiritual stone unturned. Ayurveda and hot oil are an instrumental and highly-lauded part of the mind-body journey -- each guest is assigned a personal "Hammam Attaché." Methinks a visit may be in order, if only just to scope out the fanciful mosaics, bask on the heated Calcutta marble and enjoy a little tea and karmic cleansing, NYC-style. Anyone care to come with?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gaming with a Side of Everything

Because fun things come from Shanghai Tang.

Cuff Love

"French Cuffed" -- it's got a naughty ring to it, guaranteed to make even the most alpha of males cop a grin. Dressing down may be sadly de rigueur these days, but "Knotz" cufflinks by Wurkin Stiffs are cute and color-splashy enough to wear just for kicks. I'd also wager a pretty surefire way to have the Dons dreading casual Fridays.

Long a staple of natty fops the world over, the main difference between these bright bad boys and your go-to Brooks Bros. bits is brilliant branding. Somehow the hip, corked vial packaging, catchy color combos and pithy, self-deprecating moniker make for a fresh take on nothing all that new. In Nero's humble opinion, Knotz could box the ears off their Brooks buddies any day.

The links are playfully divided into subcategories like Birthstone, Heritage (national flags) or Special Occasions. Take the Superhero, for instance. The Clark Kent boasts blue, red and yellow cords, while the Bruce Wayne works more of a nocturnal vibe in black, grey and yellow.

Nero's so smitten with the Barber Poles, in tutti-frutti hues and finger-lickin' names like Strawberry Fields, Electric Lemonade and Mint Chocolate, she'd love nothing more than to fill an oversized cognac glass with these bonbons and display them somewhere high and dry. Or alternately, buy a bevy of crisp, French-cuffed button-downs.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Words to Rise To

"When I wake up in the morning, I feel just like any other insecure 24-year-old girl. Then I say, 'Bitch, you're Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.'"

Perhaps we'd all accomplish much more if we woke and recited Gaga's credo. Food for thought...

Unapologetically Pinto-resque

Few designers are as prolific as Alberto Pinto, whose projects encompass a staggering depth and range. Far-flung homes, hotels and corporate spaces from Monaco to Mykonos, some decked out in streamlined Deco and modern art, others layered and heavily laden with French antiques, populate his portfolio, which reads somewhat like a well-lived life -- a compilation of different eras and moments and moods, all under one existential umbrella.

But to me, it has always been Pinto's opulent, Orientalist spaces that most captivate. Part fantasy of a bygone world, or perhaps a place in time that never fully existed, Pinto lays on the Arabesque to great effect. The fantasy, the mystery, the tropes of "Otherness" -- all the things that make the academics and so-called intellectuals tear their hair out, have Nero wanting to hop a flight to North Africa and suspend all disbelief. Because let's face it, even if overwrought Orientalism ain't your thing, Pinto rocks the Casbah like nobody's business.

Bougie Bourgeoisie

When in doubt or in the dumps, get ye to Paris, says I. Of course, this is much easier blurted out and imagined than budgeted and packed for, and these days, what with the new TSA regs, travelers may be in for a little more heavy petting at airport security than they were hoping to encounter in the City of Lights.
That said, there's nothing quite like Paris in the springtime, winter, er, fall -- if you catch my drift. But today we're in luck, because a certain little WSJ piece promises to transport us there, care of some scented-candle mind travel. So if you can't be in Paree, at least you can bask in its lofty odeurs for about the price of an extra carry-on. To levitate to the Ville-Lumières, get lit here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Off the Charts Art


For those seeking to flesh out their art holdings high-roller style or simply in the market for something smashing for the sculpture garden, Art Basel Miami Beach is back for its ninth season and drawing more hype than ever. Pumped gallerists are aiming for the stars, confident a rebounding economy will entice a lucky few to embrace out-there and "experimental"  pieces at out-of-this-world price points. Auction stakes are up-up and away for this ambitious four-day event, which kicks off on December 4th. Nero would suggest that anyone interested in swanning around the Fountainebleau with the artsy-fartsy crowd book now. 

Cawfee Tawk

Over at the Journal, Rita Konig's weighing in on what makes for a successful coffee tablescape. Surely opinions will be widely divided on this ever-subjective topic. Nero, for one, has never had the cojones to swipe a hotel ashtray, nor has she yet to come across one handsome enough to be worth pilfering. She does, however, believe in aiming high with one haute, heady candle. To partake in this round table, set your coasters here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Taking Care of Bizness

Busy blogging fingers get tired, so Nero's decided to make this click-trip easier on everyone. The Nero Chronicles is now officially housed at www.nerochronicles.com, so readers no longer need to bother typing "the" or "dot-blogspot" blah-blah-blah. 

As the site is currently in transition, it may take up to three days for the switcheroo to go full-throttle, but fret not fair Nerophytes, both the old and new addresses will continue to bring you flocking back to this freak show we lovingly call Nero. As for your blogrolls, let sleeping creatures lie -- the server will automatically redirect, no need to tinker with a good thing.

Tales of the Tryptophantastic

Now here's a tale of a turkey trip -- it's the one holiday we can all agree on

The day started out with a tie and a truck

Then with Pharoah in-tow,

We decamped to Mom's

Where Irma La Douce


Quartermaster and not-so-little-Bro carved the bird

Nero worked the red with reckless abandon,
in loaner lips and a Pompa-tail

Family time involved Kung Fu Pandering

Pillows, toes 'n piles of blankets

Until at last but not too late, the tryptophan its full effect did take


Urban flâneuse, armchair observer, absent-minded scribbler, occasional epicure and carpool line cultural attaché, my nom de plume is Nero. Join me as I catalog a compilation of earthly delights and stuff that I dig. Alcira Molina-Ali



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