Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Red Queen's Coat

Valentino Fall 2011
Two friends of mine are going on a fall trip to Venice, Florence, and Rome next month.  I couldn't be more envious!  If I were going with them, I would probably wear this coat.  Except it looks like it's a bit soaked in fur, and who knows how much it is.  But in my fantasy, it's faux-fur, I can afford this coat, and I'm walking down the ramps of a private jet onto the roof of a Renaissance villa in Venice, where I will be soon whisked away on a gondola to adventures legion and untold.  This Versace coat has a very modern, sleek silhouette, with a classic belt, and if I wore this with boots and leggings or tights I wouldn't have to worry about wearing anything else.  It's just exquisite and slightly carnivorous all on its own.

RED by Valentino Ruffle Hem Wool Coat $895 nordstrom.com
My second-choice for a red coat to go to Italy would be this coat.  Like the Versace coat, it's by an Italian designer, Valentino.  I often love Valentino's designs for their femininity and their attention to craft, but sometimes they don't fit me well at all.  So I'm not sure this would actually fit me.  But it's a charming little coat, Valentino practically owns this shade of red, and it's a little Audrey Hepburn movie in one piece of clothing. 

Oh, I might also add these:
Red Bow Wellies 38 pounds riverisland.com
There's something to be said for traditional Wellingtons, and then in the last couple years we've had all kinds of stylish and Pucci-esque prints and variations, but these are just so adorable.

Vintage red coat/dress $800 thefrock.com
Ok, of the coats so far this is the least practical, because it's vintage and velvet and would not survive one average 15-minute downpour of rain.  On the other hand, it's enchantment itself.  I have been dreaming about this coat for years.  Years!  Literally.  This coat is featured on one my favorite sites, thefrock.com, and sometimes their pieces of stunning vintage are up there for a very long time.  I love how classically beautiful this coat is, how sumptuous.  Now that I am a redhead it's actually harder for me to wear one of my favorite colors (red! har har!) but this deep fruity persimmon color would actually complement my hair.  If I were wearing this to Italy, it would have to be to the opera.   I love opera (yes, you will notice me at the LA opera from time to time, the only person there under 200), and how amazing would it be to be wearing this coat and go to La Scala?

La Scala Opera House would match my red coat perfectly
Even though I didn't go to the opera, my last trip to Italy had some incredibly sensuous, beautiful moments.  I was in one of those beautiful, marble-drenched, ancient Italian cafes and ordered an espresso.  It has to be said I've traditionally preferred tea and found most American coffee to be bitter and unappealing.  The smell of coffee is so intensely coffee, a smell I adore -- it's one of those smells, like fresh summer basil or a real English rose, that seem to short-circuit your nose and go directly to your brain, a jolt of pure sensory electricity.  But the taste of coffee, after the smell, always seemed such a disappointment -- watery, bitter, over-roasted, flat.  Then I had coffee in Italy.  Coffee in Italy was nothing like the coffee I'd had before.  It was lyrical, bittersweet, complex, a little cup of espresso being a perfect world of smell and flavor.  But in Italy it's quite common to put sugar in your espresso, and I hate sugar in my coffee.  I thanked the Italian waiter for the espresso but refused the sugar, and he said in deeply-accented English, "Your life must be so sweet since you can drink your coffee so bitter."  And that, my friends, is my final word about the charms of Italy.
The charms of Italy: I would stay at The Four Seasons Firenze, drink good coffee, and meditate on the sweetness of my life
The quality of coffee has improved so much in recent years, and after my Italian jaunt I found myself open to exploring it.  At the moment I have brown bags of Indonesian coffee in my cupboards, delivered by a friend fresh from her latest trip home, and the smell of this real Indonesian coffee -- let me tell you, it is a smell you will never forget, almost floral, musky, primal, with hints of sweet toffee and earth.  If it were a color, it would be scarlet red.

If I were going this year on a fall trip to Europe or New York, I would buy one perfect coat this season.  It is always better to have one, truly beautiful, expressive coat than a whole closet of so-so ones.  And a red coat, while so in vogue at the moment, is also truly classic.  You simply can't go wrong, as this gallery of iconic vintage and more recent images attest.  Enjoy.


Lori said...

Amanda, what a wonderful, lovely piece. I love the red bow Wellies and the and the Valentino Red ruffle coat, except it collar wouldn't look good on me. But, the Four Season's Fireneze looks like the place to stay!! Great work!

Amanda Callas said...

Thank you! I know, isn't the Valentino coat just adorable? And it would go so perfectly with the Wellies! Next time a trip to Italy is underway you will be a famous artist and we'll all stay at the Four Seasons Firenze in our new red coats! :)