Friday, July 31, 2009

Roses & Ruffles

Imagine my surprise when the J.Crew catalog appeared in my mailbox a few months ago with a model wearing a fabulous spray of silk and velvet flowers on the cover. How fast did I rifle through the pages only to find that they were not for sale?! "Oh," the wise old editor, said to herself, "they are going to hear about that."

Last week, I received a new mailing from J. Crew--with a velvet rose in several shades for sale. How long did it take me to order several for gifts? About the click of a key, my dears. Greg, our UPS delivery man, brought them this morning. OK. I bought them for gifts but I have a sneaky feeling that one or two will get pinned to my rose pillow and from there migrate to a jacket label this fall. My "pillow" is a small satin throw pillow made some years ago for a photography shoot. It did a lot of service on sofas over the years. Now it's perched on my mantel completely covered with roses in many fabrics and shades. Like a pin collection I have on a patchwork heart--when it gets too crowded, it's a message to pare down.

My roses are a perfect example of a "Nancy collection." I never try to go too overboard and just enjoy a few of my favorite things. But then again, when will I find velvet roses in lush colors at these prices? One of the roses on my pillow is an antique that I handle with care. One is wool, made from the material of a jacket I ordered from Katherine Hooker in England. She's since been making clothes for women the Royals date. I guess I can say I knew her when.

What struck me about the latest J. Crew mailing is how much the clothes seemed to be influenced by what I began calling Vintage Hip a few years ago. The models were in settings with paintings and roses in the background. There were definitely echoes of Victoriana in the ruffled shirts. Granted, they are paired with jeans--but the mood and spirit are there. I've always thought Victorian women were the most adventurous role models we could ever find. They were the women who settled this country--petticoats and all. They traveled the world as explorers. It's a great heritage to be proud of.

So, if roses and ruffles make me think of the Victorians, thank you, J. Crew. And thank you for bringing a bit of grace and elegance back into our fashion world. I can only vouch for the roses, however--they are well-made and very, very pretty. Have you found something wonderful you'd like to share with the rest of us?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The New Antiquarians

While I have never chosen to live with a mass of things--no matter how interesting--I am always fascinated with people who have the energy, imagination, and patience to be avid collectors and who display what they have accumulated with panache. Creativity never ceases to amaze me. And after seeing the article on The New Antiquarians in the Home section of today's New York TIMES, I'm tempted to get into the closets and see what I've hidden away that should see the light of day. It's like coming back from a trip to Paris or Milan--being besotted with the sense of style and fashion--and then trying to pull it off in Ames, Iowa. But the challenge is fun. What do you have that might make your tablescapes or bookshelves more interesting?

My friend Janet keeps her Christmas ornaments out all year long--stored in huge glass containers. They look fabulous. Think about it and enjoy the process.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What have I been up to?

What have I been up to? Former readers of "my" VICTORIA might wonder. Well, the very first thing I did was appreciate the freedom from the monthly schedules. I adored doing the magazine; I loved my staff; I had a great respect for its readers. But I have to admit that I was drained by that ever present due date--and some of the aspects of the business of putting out a magazine.

I was asked by the Unilever Company to consult on a beauty web site for women. It was not a full-time job and my role was to guide web people by some of the tried-and-true principles of print. When I left, hopefully assignment done, I received many thanks "for the wisdom" from the hard-working staff. I learned a lot, too.

Consulting for books, magazines, and companies have continued along the way. One of my good friends and former colleagues wanted me to consider taking over at a major magazine, and if not that, an on-staff editorial directorship. But I have grown accustomed to my freedom and vowed never to take a full-time job again.

One of the special things I have done is to work with the folks at Hooker Furniture to create a collection we called Intimate Home. It was a real challenge, but I had a good time working with designers and sales people on furniture to make homes more welcoming. Furniture collections are like magazines in that they have a "shelf" life. It is no longer available, but I'm very proud of the designs that were well-priced, graceful, and extremely useful. I have several pieces in my own home, and I'll be sharing them with you from time to time.

Right now--I have just finished working on a book about women and their first best friends. I've just seen the first set of proofs and I'm very pleased with them. There are 30 stories from women all over the country, all ages, and many walks of life. Several were members of my VICTORIA family and several incredible women I met as a result of my work on the magazine. I'll let you know when it come out. And soon we will put a cover up here.

I am currently working on a book based on a cache of Civil War letters a former colleague brought to my attention. It's been quite an adventure--and I'll tell you more as it develops. All I knew about the young soldier was the family name he used to sign his letters. I've recreated his life and discovered some amazing things. It's a wonderful quest.

So we have lots to talk about--my VICTORIA life; my consulting; and my books.

Welcome Aboard....


Dear Friends,

Welcome to Nancy Lindemeyer's Journal. It's been quite a while since I have addressed an "audience." As editor-in-chief of VICTORIA magazine, it was always the last thing I did before an issue went to press.

Why did I say friends rather than readers? I truly felt that the women who came to the magazine each month and who were responsible for its record-breaking reader response, were indeed that. We were, nearly four million strong, friends because we were of a mind, as my grandmother used to say.

We hoped that each day was going to be the best we could make it. We believed that nice mattered in our lives, in all the meanings of that word. And we wanted to support the people in our world who were working to these ends.

I have missed the opportunity to discuss the things that are important to me. And I have missed the chance to share a great find, a good book, a good person's work. So here we go--a journal from the founding editor's desk. Though now it comes from my solarium office--and I hope I'll hear from you with all of the above, too. That's what dear friends do.