Saratoga Race Course, July 2014
Photograph Electric City Pictures Blog www.electriccitypictures.blogspot.com

One of the most resonating markers of the end of summer in Saratoga Springs is the conclusion of the racing season, this weekend, at the Saratoga Race Course. Now in its 151st year, this fantastic, historic track is the second oldest in the country. In the art and literary world, the Saratoga Race Course has been the setting in more than one work of fiction, and the artist Matthew Barney actually filmed part of Cremaster 3 at the track in 2002. We especially love to visit in the early morning, before the track opens, to watch the horses train. Really lovely. Until next summer…


One of our go-to shops in Portland, Maine is Folly 101 where we always find a treasure or two for our table. The Folly 101 aesthetic is clean, simple and straightforward and, best of all, arranged entirely by color, which is especially pleasing to the eye. They don’t have a website, so you must go and visit in person — we love that.

Folly 101, 101 Exchange Street, Portland, Maine  


One of our favorite daily reads here at THE BATON is Brandon Stanton’s blog, Humans of New York. It is the most poetic and beautiful celebration of the people of this great city. I just received a copy of his stunning book that includes photographs not seen on the blog. I simply cannot tear myself away from it. Indeed the perfect gift.   

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton (St. Martin’s Press, 2013)



Charles James with Model, 1948. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton, Beaton/Vogue/Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast

A few weeks ago we finally went to see Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gowns are of course gorgeous, and their construction phenomenal, and truly unparalleled. But what I love most are his dresses, suits and coats. Each completely stunning. In fact James himself stated, “You should know my most important contribution was always in tailoring; coats, jackets, wool dresses…so few of which went into the magazines.” And the exhibition catalog is a beauty.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion is on view through August 10.



I’ve been following Kinfolk, the website and quarterly print magazine, for a while now. I love the Kinfolk vibe and content and especially the always fantastic photography contained therein. The Kinfolk Table, published last fall, is part cookbook, part lifestyle manifesto, in the absolute best way. And it is lovely to look at. I really think author and Kinfolk founding editor Nathan Williams summed it all up when he wrote, “I can’t help being excited to introduce you to all the people in this book because they seem to understand that good food and community are just as important as the careers in which they work, that the rituals and traditions that bring us together are essential to balanced lives.” So very true. 

The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for Small Gatherings by Nathan Williams (Artisan, 2013)



I think the best part of Jody Williams’ gorgeous new book, Buvette: the pleasure of good food, is how seamlessly the spirit of her very special West Village gastrothèque is translated on the page. This book, like Buvette itself, has great integrity. Thoughtful design on perfect weight paper, exquisite photographs, lovely and personal narrative and of course, the most simple and beautiful recipes. And if you hadn’t heard, Buvette now has an outpost in Paris!

Buvette: the pleasure of good food by Jody Williams (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014)



I adore the work of Maira Kalman, ADORE. It speaks to me like no other, always smart, deeply human, full of cultural and historical references, humorous beyond compare and sometimes even heartbreaking. Her newest book published just this month, Girls Standing on Lawns, is a fantastic collaboration with the writer Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) and the Museum of Modern Art. A selection of over forty early to mid 20th-century photographs (by unknown photographers) of girls quite literally standing on lawns from the MoMA collection mingle with Kalman’s marvelous illustrations of said photographs and Handler’s poetic verse. You must read it.

Girls Standing on Lawns by Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler (MoMA, 2014)

www.mairakalman.com www.moma.org


Although I am an ardent devotee of ballet class, I have found it increasingly difficult to get there over the past year because of my busy work and family schedule. Every part of me misses it like crazy — my mind and my body. Imagine my delight when I recently discovered Ballet Beautiful, a comprehensive fitness program inspired precisely by ballet. Created by Mary Helen Bowers, a former dancer with the New York City Ballet, Ballet Beautiful can be experienced via live online classes, private training in the Soho studio, custom workouts and DVDs. Bowers has also written a rather terrific book of the same name. I have found it remarkably transformative and empowering. And her “Swan Arms” workout…WOW!



I suspect I’m probably way behind the rest of the world here, but I just finished the great, great novel Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Set both in a fictional Italian coastal village in 1962, at the very moment Cleopatra is being filmed in Rome with Elizabeth Taylor, and present-day Hollywood, with all the absurdities of the movie business and our modern world at the forefront, it’s at once complex and a desirably easy read. I found it completely intoxicating. Walter’s characters are brilliant and perfectly assembled, including Richard Burton himself. His storytelling is brilliant too, and his writing is seriously smart and funny. So taken am I with Jess Walter that I have just picked up his newest collection of stories, We Live in Water. Can’t wait!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (HarperCollins Publishers, 2012)     


Constantin Joffé, American Vogue, September 1945. © 1945 Condé Nast

Fashion and photography seemed to be everywhere in Paris last month! Another exhibition I loved is Papier glacé: un siècle de photographie de mode chez Condé Nast (Coming into Fashion: a Century of Photography at Condé Nast) at the Palais Galliera Museum of Fashion. Containing 150 original prints from some of the most celebrated fashion photographers of the early 20th century to the present day, the show is not organized chronologically or by artist, but instead by theme, I think a far more interesting way to look at the work. The perfectly curated images are breathtaking in person. We’re talking about Norman Parkinson and Herb Ritts and Man Ray and Deborah Turbeville and George Hoyningen-Huene and Bruce Weber and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and Irving Penn… Also included are contemporary fashion films, screens for exploring various Condé Nast publications and select haute couture. And if you’ve not been to the Palais Galliera, there is a lovely, open garden with a sort of dreamy view of the Eiffel Tower.

Papier glacé: un siècle de photographie de mode chez Condé Nast runs through May 25.