Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Dresses 2011:
The Winner is Anne Hathaway

I get inspiration from everywhere, and there is no greater inspiration in the fashion world than watching the Academy Awards show. This was without a doubt the most fun I've had watching current upscale fashion trends,colors, fabrics, materials, jewelry, bags.  It was definitely a fabulous night at the Oscars!

I am an awards show junkie and always look forward to this night, and I have never watched an awards show where almost every woman who got on stage looked 100% wonderful, from head to toe. There were a few "not so great" (Cate Blanchett, sorry but no-go), but on the whole it was a glittery feast.

I decided for this post to focus on one celeb: Anne Hathaway. She wore a total of eight amazing looks (7 for the stage), along with several changes in styles of hair, jewelry and make-up. Each look was well-thought out, colorful, textural and really stunning to look at on stage. I thought all were beautiful. Stylist Rachel Zoe was paid a hefty figure to style Hathaway for the big night and I think it was all worth it. 

Here are images of all of her hosting wardrobe--she was a quick-changer! The best one hands-down was the gorgeous blue Giorgio Armani Prive gown. It looked as if they poured it over her, and the luminous custom satin fabric under the bright lights just added to a striking visual display.

Red Carpet entrance in a Valentino ruffled gown

Giorgio Armani Privé gown & platform heels, tanzanite and diamond earrings, a black onyx and diamond bracelet, and a diamond and blue sapphire ring, all Tiffany

Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci gown, Tiffany diamond ring and earrings, a diamond bracelet from the Tiffany Archives and Brian Atwood peep-toes
Vivienne Westwood corseted Couture gown, diamond and amethyst necklace from the Tiffany Archives, Tiffany yellow sapphire and diamond ring, Jimmy Choo platforms.
Burgundy silk chiffon gown by Atelier Versace, Tiffany jewels and Casadei pumps.
Silver beaded tassel dress by Oscar de la Renta, Tiffany jewels, gold Jimmy Choo peep-toes
Hathaway ended the night in an embellished black lace Tom Ford dress with a slick up-do.

~  Joanie Ballard

source: Entertainment Weekly:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spradio Plays FM:
Radios Made From Spray Cans

I love this!

A British artist, Mike Ballard (no relation) has done some inspiring work with discarded aerosol cans. Yes, you too can own a lovely spray can complete with antennae, volume control and one funky exterior paint job. It also comes with an earphone and convenient lid. Ballard did a cool job on the outside of the radios using some "graffiti-esque" designs.  Now instead of throwing away that can of spray paint you can listen to groovy music!

I have tried to access his UK website, but have had no luck.  Go to for more info:

~  Joanie Ballard

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hermès Does Good:
"Upcycling" in Product Design

Petit h photo shoot

When on my honeymoon in Paris many years ago I visited the Hermès shop on the Right Bank for the very first time. I remember being conscious of dressing well that day so as not to stick out as someone who knew nothing. I walked around the store in amazement trying hard not to look like a silly American. In the end the elegant shop attendants were extremely kind and cordial and helped me purchase some out-of-this-world perfume. It was a memorable experience.

When I think of Hermès today, I have a tendency to think of that eye-opening visit and their displays of colorful and luxurious silk scarves, their trademark deep orange branding, and of course the quintessential Birkin and Kelly bags (will I ever own one?).

Imagine taking "scraps" (if you can call Hermès-created fabric and materials scraps) and recycling them into creatively designed "poetic objects." That is what is happening at the esteemed design house Hermès. This new recycled collection has been named “Petit h” and was launched in Nov. 2010 in Paris with other launches planned for New York and Beverly Hills in October of 2011.

This is the first time I've heard the term "upcycling," which seems to fit this brand, don't you think?

According to, Hermès is " cobbling together defective inventory and factory-floor leftovers. This collection has been created under the direction of Pascale Mussard who is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Thierry Hermès. Leather scraps have been turned into a dramatic necklace. A teapot spout has been transformed into a jewelry hangar."

Here are a few images I found of this "upcycled" collection along with a description of the materials they were created from. My favorite design of all is their life-size leather fawn made entirely of discarded Birkin Bag leather. Now you can actually afford a Birkin (maybe) even though it's now in the shape of a cute little animal.

Using their own high-end, discarded materials is truly an amazing direction for an upscale luxury brand to take and something other design houses, big or small, could emulate. I applaud Hermès!

silk scarves rejected and then re-invented into beautiful necklaces

pair of Hermès stirrups used in creating a swing

chest of drawers with brightly colored terry toweling originally a beach mat.

My Favorite! Birkin offcuts sewn together to become a life-size fawn

A Kelly purse handle finds new purpose as the handgrip of votive-holder.

chipped dish is sanded and smoothed into a ceramic pendant.

photos and info from and

Monday, February 21, 2011

Laguiole: Beaucoup de Couleurs

We carry many French-made products in our shop but by far one of the most celebrated are our Laguiole steak knives, forks, spoons, corkscrews, and serving pieces. We love pairing them with our Le Jacquard Francais tablecloths, napkins and placemats.

Color (or "couleur" as the French would say) is the operative word here, and plenty of it!

This season we offer the affordable and hearty multicolor acrylic handle Laguiole sets which brighten up any table setting, especially with the coming of spring and summer months and outdoor entertaining. Shown below is the 24-piece Laguoile Collection (6-place settings) for only $225.00.  We also carry colorful Laguiole Steak Knife sets and the ever popular Laguiole Cheese Knives.

Here are a few bright images to spark your creative juices. Warm weather is on it's way!

Laguiole Collection on LJF Bamako Tablelcoth in Turquoise

~  Joanie Ballard

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bird's Eye View: Little Washington, VA

Found this amazing aerial view of historic Little Washington, VA, published by Virginia Aerial Photography.  Our shop & gallery is just a little speck on Main Street.  Love how small and sweet we look from above!

Little Washington, Va, Virginia Aerial Photography
~  Joanie Ballard

Vintage Silverware Collection
Now at R. H. Ballard

I have always loved old silverware. Not sure why, except it makes me fantasize of old hotels and steamships, Model T Fords, secret rendezvous and exotic travel. I have a very romantic side, or perhaps a crazy side.

Anyway, I have been on the lookout for years for a collection with style, charm and a great price point. I finally found one.

Robert and I found this vintage silverware collection through an antique supplier in NY and they are wonderful! The collection is from the 1930's and includes a mix of silverware from Holmes & Edwards, Wm Rogers and Sons, Reed & Barton, and others. You can mix and match any of the designs for an wonderfully eclectic look. They go especially well with Shabby Chic inspired decor (a favorite of mine), but there is also a way to mix them with contemporary styling as well---I will be posting some ideas soon.  They price at $48.00 per 5 piece setting, so a 6-place service would only be $288.00.

Our vintage silverware collection is not yet online, so please call to purchase if you do not live near our lovely area of the world (540-675-1411).

Here are few images from our shop displays along with some new and lovely gold Moroccan-style glassware ($9.95-$10.95).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Springtime & Garnier-Thiebaut Towels

photo by Adam Jones,

It may be February 18th, but the weather this week in Virginia has been balmy and delightfully Spring-like. The photo above is a perfect depiction of  my imagination these days.....flowering dogwood trees set against a deep azure sky....peaceful and rejuvinating.

Which brings me of course to the lovely colors of new towel designs introduced by Garnier-Thiebaut. Why think of towels and springtime?  Because I've never met a French towel I didn't like, and there are some stunning new spring designs that make me only think of warmer weather and fluffy white clouds overhead.

Here are some yummy images of Garnier-Thiebaut towels now in our shop and on our website. Which design says springtime to you?


~  Joanie Ballard

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Patrick O'Connell is Versailles Bound

Inn at Little Washington, 2010, photo by Joanie Ballard
As our shop and gallery is situated just one block from the Inn at Little Washington, it's kind of hard not to take notice of the global attention this magnificent Inn receives. Current case in point is yet another event that Patrick O'Connell, chef extraordinaire of the Inn at Little Washington, will be attending. Patrick will be an honored guest at a Relais and Chateaux uber-French dining event at Versailles in April, 2011, in his role as President of the North American delegation. 

This is not only an eating event. The dinner itself will take place in the Versailles' Gallery of Battles. There will be 650 guests who will pay 890 euros (or $1,200) each. And after this gastronomical feast, diners will have a tour of the palace's famed Hall of Mirrors and a visit to the exhibition "Thrones in Majesty" in the royal apartments.

This ultra-foodie experience will most certainly be a once in a lifetime, glittery, gastro-event that will not soon be forgotten by those fortunate to partake. Got your reservation?

~ Joanie Ballard

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grammy Awards 2011
Lady Gaga Egg-credible!

I may own a little shop in a tiny rural town in Virginia but I find my inspiration in all walks of creative life.

Award ceremonies are such an indulgent treat--Golden Globes, SAG Awards, CMT Awards, Oscars, and of course the Grammys.  I'm kind of a closet awards-junkie.  But really, I watch for the glorious spectacle, the clothes-shoes-hair-makeup, and the fun of seeing my favorites win something that will help their career. I want great and inspiring global talent to succeed in life. That's really what a major award means to those stars who win them, and that's fine by me.

This year's Grammy Awards was not the best show in the world, in my humble opinion, but geez it sure was packed with beautiful dresses. I am posting my faves because I just love what these stars wore. Beautiful designs, colors, textures, and in some cases pretty daring displays (Rihanna....).

Lady Gaga's Egg-Entrance was surreal and funny. Loved it! Her boney/pointy shoulders were really unsettling, which was probably her intention. Her nod to Madonna was peculiar, seeing as she thanked Whitney Houston in her acceptance speech. It was all weird and wonderful & I just loved it all anyway.

Here is the list of top Grammy winners, followed by my personal Best-Dressed attendees--Number 1 for me was Jennifer Hudson in Versace:

Album of the Year: The Suburbs, Arcade Fire

Record of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum

Rap Album: Recovery, Eminem

New Artist: Esperanza Spalding

Song of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum


Pop Vocal Album: Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster

Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals: Train, "Hey, Soul Sister (Live)"

Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Michael Bublé, Crazy Love

Female Pop Vocal Performance: Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance," The Fame Monster

Male Pop Vocal Performance: Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are," Doo-Wops & Hooligans 
Pop Collaboration With Vocals: "Imagine," Herbie Hancock, Pink, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No 1, Jeff Beck & Oumou Sangare, The Imagine Project

Pop Instrumental Performance: "Nessun Dorma," Jeff Beck, Emotion & Commotion

Pop Instrumental Album: Take Your Pick, Larry Carlton & Tak Matsumoto

Jennifer Hudson
Nicole Kidman

Jennifer Lopez

~ Joanie Ballard

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Le Jacquard Francais
New Tea Towels Rule the Roost

Kimono Tea Towel, Slate
My love for this French company knows no bounds. Each collection they produce is more beautiful than the last.

Le Jacquard Francais has come up with some surprising contemporary and colorful designs for their 2011 Spring Tea Towel Collection. We have them now in stock and on our website, with more on the way! The Kimono design above was Japanese-inspired with kimono imagery and feminine objects. It comes in 3 colors: Peony, Ginger and Slate (seen here).

Here are more images of the new towel designs. They are as beautiful as they are practical. Go to to see our large selection. So many colors and designs, and as always they the perfect hostess gift.

Bastide Tea Towel, Lemon-Green

Bastide Tea Towel, Strawberry

Kimono Tea Towel, Ginger

Nature Tea Towel,  Cascade Blue

Bastide Tea Towel, Beige

Nature Tea Towel, Vervain

Dior Haute Couture Spring 2011


Dior Haute Couture Spring 2011 collection was recently revealed during New York Fashion Week with stunning results. Couture Snob blog states, "John Galliano turned to Rene Gruau for inspiration, the iconic illustrator's pale tones, watercolors and charcoal lines shaped into 3-dimensional form in what was a startling beautiful collection. The odes to the '50s spirit of the masters Avedon, Penn and Suzy Parker were all there but, as always, modernized and made ever-more glamorous."  I couldn't agree more! Galliano's elegance and sophistication are brilliantly displayed in every piece.

I am posting these amazing images to inspire......enjoy! All images courtesy