This beauty was made for sunny days. | Photograph by Nell Hoving for Philadelphia Magazine.
Right now, the best reasons to eschew machine-made for hand-hewn are the raw linen satchels and deceptively simple leather totes coming out of Bri Brant’s Chadds Ford workshop.
The PhillyU grad’s five-year-old company, Arden + James — named for her son and a century-old artist colony in Delaware — mixes art and craft to luxurious effect, with hand-etched designs (she uses a pen-like branding tool to create the those linear details), hand-hammered copper rivets, and natural materials painstakingly sourced from local spots. The standout: Brant’s Arden bag, made of soft-milled, vegetable-tanned leather (from a Pennsylvania tannery founded in 1837). It’s the perfect way to carry summer’s bounty, from farmers’ market treasures to afternoon picnic essentials. Read more »
Photograph by Brett Thomas.
If chairs were songs, a grand wingback might be a baritone concerto; a rocking chair, a lilting blues melody; a chaise, a Deco jazz riff. But in the hands of Mount Airy’s Carla James, these classical seats skew more rock-and-roll. Her two-year-old company, Rocker Refined – which just rolled out an amazing new e-shop – turns out a mix of reupholstered vintage finds as well as new pieces handcrafted in North Carolina, using sustainable cherry and chemical-free stuffing.
The most showstopping is the Hayward (a nod to the lead singer of the Moody Blues; all of James’s furniture is named for colorful musical figures), a frenetically stylish mix of tufted indigo linen, French railroad stripes and Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon fabric. Rock on. Read more »
Photograph by Nell Hoving
Now firmly in winter’s grasp, we find ourselves craving creature comforts: cozy knits, woolly socks, cashmere layers and—especially—this inky shearling-fronted clutch by Philly-based Melete Design. It’s simple in theory, but its combination of hand-hewn luxury (cast-bronze accents) and modern details (a magnetic top closure) prove that comforting can also be captivating. $437 at Meletedesign.com.
Photograph by Nell Hoving.
This fall saw a sea of chunky knits: rope-like cables, thick aran jumpers, yarns the width of several licorice strands twirled together. But Céline’s paper-thin silk and cashmere sweater is the season’s showstopper, with mohair sleeves that flute grandly over the hands like bells. It’s an unexpected – but totally welcome – flourish that instantly elevates the skinny turtleneck from wardrobe workhorse to belle of the ball. $2,200 at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bala Cynwyd.
Lap of luxury. | Photo courtesy of BDDW.
In the hands of world-renowned, North Philly-based furniture company BDDW, the lowly deck chair becomes almost museum-worthy. A swath of caramel leather (removable for when weather turns sour) is slung over a welded bronze base and crested by a shearling neck roll. And a built-in drink table, perfectly sized for summer cocktails, means you won’t have to leave your perch when you get parched. A bit precious for outdoor use? Perhaps. But true luxury is a seat that’s as gorgeous as any seaside view. Read more »
Photograph by Dom Savini.
That Wynnewood-based designer Jeffrey Levinson takes his aesthetic cues from high-end cars isn’t shocking — he spent three years working at Jaguar. What is surprising is the way this road-tested inspiration works for more scaled-down luxuries, namely Levinson’s line of hard-case clutches. With their high-gloss finishes, polished nickel-chrome hardware and candy-bright colors, the bags could hold their own in a slick showroom, but we think they look best cradled in the palm of your hand. From $1,150 to $2,495 at Jeffreylevinson.com.
Photograph by Dom Savini.
Each summer brings with it a sudden yearning for the sea, evidenced by Breton stripes, anchor-adorned jewelry, a surplus of navy. And while going literal can lead to murky waters (twee sailor dresses), there is an exception: Gabriella Kiss’s clipper ship earrings, intricate works of art that somehow manage to be chic, not kitschy. The whimsical earrings are handmade, with delicate horn sails and an 18-karat yellow-gold hull, set adrift on a dangling sapphire sea. Bon voyage! $9,000 at Egan Day, Rittenhouse.
Image courtesy Saks Fifth Avenue.
The most lust-worthy bag this season is Valentino’s exotic confection, festooned with feathers and beads, and shot through with gleaming dashes of brand’s now-iconic pyramid studs. It speaks to spring’s luxe bohemia, with funky embellishments that let it fly far above the rest of the flock. Valentino Lock Glam Feather bag, $4,450 by special order at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bala Cynwyd.
Photo by Dom Savini.
If you ask Nate Mell and Wynn Bauer, the best supporting actor in a meal is the plate. They should know: Their Port Richmond-based ceramics line, Felt + Fat, has been the secret of Philly’s top chefs — including Eli Kulp and Nicholas Elmi, both of whom have worked with the duo on custom dishware for their restaurants — since it launched in 2013. Their tonal porcelain, best when rendered in marbleized pastels, is predominantly available by special order, but Mell and Bauer are launching a Kickstarter this month to take the line to retail, so home cooks can serve in style no matter what’s on the menu. From $25 to $64; feltandfat.com.
Photo by Dom Savini.
The best antidote to the dreary stretch of February? A kaleidoscopic burst of greenery, most spectacularly shown in these heels by London designer Sophia Webster. (Think of her as Manolo Blahnik’s irreverent little sister.) The fantasy—a lotus flower snakes around the ankle; pin-thin heels are covered in tiger-striped satin—is grounded with a classic black-patent pointed-toe silhouette. Because sometimes you need to come back to earth, even if you land in a jungle.
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