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GUINEA PIG OF LOVE: A LOOK AT JULIA ALLISON’S … STUFF

GUINEA PIG OF LOVE: A LOOK AT JULIA ALLISON’S PERSONAL MEMENTOS
ELLE
JULY 31, 2012
BY JULIA ALLISON 

White tee paired with a Rachel Zoe maxi-skirt & vintage silver heart locket necklace

This was my attempt at casual chic, standing on the balcony of my new home in Marina del Rey (the beach town south of Venice & west of LA). I don’t know if I succeeded, but at least I tried?  I love Rachel Zoe’s new line, and picked up this maxi skirt of hers at Bloomingdale’s, which I paired, under the wise guidance of my ELLE editor Keith, with a simple white tee and a silver heart locket given to me by one of my best friends on my 13th birthday (I was the maid of honor in her wedding).  See, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue!  I’m ready for my wedding.  ;-)

Tiara with vintage pink dress, on my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic for Target bedspread, surrounded by pink dresses

No one has ever accused me of being a tomboy.  I’ve been disproportionately obsessed with the color pink since I was 15-years-old, and I always figured I would outgrow that love.  A decade and a half later, I can say with assurance: that probably won’t ever happen.  My Grandmother loved pink until the day she died, and I must have inherited that love. Why?  I don’t know why! It just makes me happy.  My bedroom is a bit ridiculous, but why should it matter?  That’s just who I am.  If people don’t like it, or they don’t want their bedrooms to look like mine, that’s cool.  I’m not Nate Berkus!  I’m not some paragon of interior design.  I just like what I like, and I like pink, I like tiaras, I like Shabby Chic and I like vintage prom dresses hanging on the wall.  I don’t think there’s any harm in it, and the men who really like me – they just laugh and/or tune it out.  It’s a great filter, really! If you don’t like me enough to enjoy my love of pink, I don’t want you in my bedroom anyway! (Okay, okay. One of them asked me to remove the bubblegum pink “Princess Parking Only – All Others Will Be Toad” sign.  It made me laugh every time I looked at it!)

I can’t wait until I have a daughter.  Although, knowing the way life works, she’ll probably be goth and love baseball and cover her room in Marilyn Manson posters and I will cry.

Hot pink Kate Spade dress coat over vintage Lilly Pulitzer maxi-dress with a Treasures by Shabby Chic for QVC hand painted upholstered bench

I feel strongly that the most fun items in your closet shouldn’t stay in your closet – they should come out as a rotating art installation.  After all, you paid enough for them!  In this case, I didn’t actually pay anything for the dress, because it was my beloved late Grandmother’s.  Grandmother Marilyn had quite the fashion sense, and she wore DVF & Lilly all through the 70s. She gave away her DVF, much to my chagrin, but kept her Lillys long enough to give them to me when I was a teenager.  I lovingly saved all of them, and some – like this brightly printed maxi-dress – I found so winsome, I hung it on my wall throughout much of my college years.  I loved the colors, but more than that, I loved that it reminded me of my Grandmother and our time together.

The hot pink coat from Kate Spade is more recent – it was given to me this past fall, although I haven’t had much opportunity to wear it in warm LA!  As for the Treasures by Shabby Chic bench, it sits in my entryway, with shoes neatly stacked under it and packages and bags ready to go out on top of it.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Rachel Ashwell, and everything from my dining room table & chairs to my white sofa to my side tables to my bathroom towels to my bedspread was designed by Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic; I pulled from all of her lines, from the Santa Monica store to QVC to the Target line.  I adore her clean, light, beachy, charmingly feminine aesthetic, and it was always a dream of mine to decorate my entire home with her pieces.

My inspiration board

A cheap corkboard I bought at Office Max, this is where I pin anything that, well, inspires me!  A few of the items, from bottom, counterclockwise:

  1. A sketch that a talented comic artist did of me as Wonder Woman when I covered Comic Con last July 2011 in San Diego
  2. A photo of my puppy Lilly in a Luis Vuitton dog bag when she was just six months old (taken in the store, no, I didn’t buy it!)
  3. A pink Valentine’s Day card from my beloved late grandmother
  4. A magazine cut out of me from Fashion Week next to my design hero, Betsey Johnson
  5. A card from my friend Christine that reads “Is a Brownie Packed with Emotional Stability Too Much to Fucking Ask” – the story of my life.
  6. A sparkly pink bear keychain my friend Justine gave me at Burning Man last year
  7. An ID from Fashion Week, which I’ve covered for the past 11 seasons
  8. A shot of me and my high school friend Josh from my 30th birthday party (I wore pink – and a tiara, haha)
  9. The poodle from a skirt my mom hand-made me when I was in 2nd grade. Sentimentally, I kept the skirt for two decades, but decided the memories really lay in that poodle, so I cut it off and pinned it up!
  10. A photobooth shot with my roommate, singer/songwriter Julia Price, at a “Barbie & Ken” themed party when we first moved to LA
  11. My favorite quote, by Eckhart Tolle: “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” That’s just a fancy way of saying: all of life’s challenges are here to teach you lessons that will make you into a better human being … so embrace them.

Pink Bebe quilted heart purse, green faux grass

My friend Amanda gave me this pink heart purse, with which I absolutely fell in love, for my 29th birthday.  I’ve had it hanging on the coat rack in my hallway as a decoration ever since. I love accessories that I could see Katy Perry owning. ;-) I don’t wear it that often (although I did tote it along to my “Prom Date” with Andrew in the 5th episode of my Bravo show), but I enjoy looking at it every day!

Pink Petco dog toy, Betsey Johnson sunglasses, pink Kate Spade large stud earrings, pink Kate Spade small stud earrings, pink Ranjana Khan necklace

I hesitate to mention this, lest you label me even more eccentric than you already have but … I buy all of Lilly’s toys in either pink or white.  Yep.  I’m serious.  And before you protest, I’ll tell you why.  Dogs naturally leave their toys out, but if they’re in the same color scheme as your house, they don’t become a crazy eye sore if they’re lying all around!  (Also I just really like the colors white & pink.) Listen, people, we all have our neuroses.

Betsey Johnson is one of the few designers who still does incredible gift bags at her shows during NY Fashion Week (which I have covered as a journalist for the past 11 seasons), and these sunglasses came from one of those! Kate Spade I can always rely on for preppy classic jewelry in colors that pop – these came from Nordstrom. This exquisite baroque piece from Ranjana Khan (one of my favorite jewelry designers) was a gift to myself after a particularly difficult fashion week a few years back.  Every time I wear it I feel like a Princess.

Shepler’s pink cowboy boots and Robert Indiana inspired LOVE magazine rack

Why does a girl from the Midwest own pink cowboy boots? When my good friends Dave & Brit Morin got married last summer, the groom (from Montana) and the bride (from Texas) chose to have their wedding in Jackson, Wyoming … and cowboy boots were required! I love nothing more than a themed event, and I figured this was just an exciting opportunity for me to purchase something in my favorite hue: pink.  I became so fond of these boots that I started wearing them under my jeans & with summer dresses like I thought I had morphed into Taylor Swift or something. In fact, I did wear these very boots to a Taylor Swift concert at the end of last summer. I may in fact be a 13-year-old-girl at heart … forever.

The LOVE magazine rack, inspired (of course) by the famous Robert Indiana designed LOVE statue in NYC, was given to me by my close friend and former business partner Megan Alagna, who knew I loved nothing more than 1) love, 2) that statue, and 3) magazines.  I fill it with The Atlantic, Fast Company, INC, WIRED, and of course – ELLE!

Pink Hunter rainboots & “Pink Pedal” Beachbikes.com beach cruiser

By now we’ve more than established the theme of my life: I really, really enjoy the color pink.  These Hunter boots – so cool in black on Kate Moss while trekking through the mud at summer music fests – look more like I’m jumping into puddles while singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from Annie.  But I’m cool with that!

Pink Pedal – yes, I named my bicycle – is my single favorite possession.  My friend Dustin, who owns BeachBikes.com, gave her to me (yes, she’s a female bike), and I rode her all around Chicago before I loaded her into the moving van for the trek out west.  Riding on the bike path north from my home in Marina del Rey to Venice to Santa Monica, iTunes playing, soothes my soul.  There is nothing I enjoy more.  Well, nothing that doesn’t start with the letters “choc” and end with “olate.” ;-)

Top: pink rubber duck from Bath & Body Works, necklace by Cara, monogrammed JA soap, sparkle bracelets & ring from Nordstrom. Bottom: pink BITCH doggy placemat from Harrods in London, dog dishes from Crate & Barrel

I just had to have this pink rubber duck when I saw it one day at B&B Works. I mean, are you really surprised by now?  As for the monogrammed soap, my friend Noelle grew up in the South and loves a good monogram, so she gave me these for one birthday (another one she gave me monogrammed candles, which also sit in my bathroom).  I find this too pretty to use, so it really just sits there, screaming: THIS IS MONOGRAMMED! Use the liquid soap, jerk! at all of the poor bathroom visitors.  The sparkle ring I bought for myself as a 30th birthday present, and the Cara necklace I wore in all of the promotional posters for my BRAVO show Miss Advised.

The pink BITCH pet placemat I bought when I was in London for my childhood friend Natasha’s wedding … I walked into Harrods, saw it, and knew I needed to bring it home for Lillydog.  My roommate Julia Price is convinced Lilly is a tomboy and is horrified by the placemat, but I think she likes it. No dog of mine would want anything else!

Betsey Johnson sparkle bow heels & a plethora of pink covered dating/marriage self-help books

One of my best friends, Randi (who is executive producing BRAVO’s Silicon Valley) & I share a birthdate, February 28th, and we’ve thrown joint birthday bashes with purposefully over-the-top matching outfits a few years in a row.  For our 29th birthday, we chose these sparkle Betsey Johnson bow heels.  I think there’s no such thing as too old to appreciate a little bit of kitschy sparkle.

As for the very pink dating books, well – in my defense – having been a dating columnist on and off for over ten years now, I’ve been sent quite a few by publishers in my day.  That’s not to say that I haven’t read them all!  I definitely have.  Have they helped?  Eh. Some more than others.  (My favorites?  “Why Men Love Bitches,” “Why You’re Not Married,” “Why He Didn’t Call You Back,” and – for men – “The Way of the Superior Man.”)

Yellow & Green/Pink Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses in front of my living room bookshelf

Like every other woman in the history of the planet, I love DVF wrap dresses, so when one of my girl friends worked for Diane’s son Alex a few years back, we got in early at a sample sale – and poof! – all of a sudden I was $700 lighter in my wallet and the proud owner of a dozen of her classic wrap dresses.  Since then I’ve picked up a dress or skirt (unfortunately at retail prices) from her collection almost every year, and to this day, I think her wraps are the most flattering, most comfortable, wrinkle free travel companions on the market.  I just wish she made more of them!

Maroon, black & white classic quilted Chanel bags on top of Putnam’s Phrase Book

 Ah, the Chanels.  I know I shouldn’t prize these. I know it’s shallow.  I know they’re just leather and metal. But oh, how I love them. I just do.  I can’t say I purchased any of them for myself – I’m a journalist, and we don’t make Chanel-bag cash.  Even if I did, I’m not sure I could spend what amounts to three months rent on a bag.  They were gifts from men (yes, yes, total cliche) years ago, when I was young and dated men who did that sort of thing.  (Oy.) Now I’m older and those sorts of men are long gone, but the bags remain, as a reminder that diamonds are a girls best friend, but barring that, Chanel is a close second.

The books were gifts from my college roommate, CD, and my grandfather Herb, respectively.  Those mean much more than the Chanel, but they aren’t quite as handy at carrying your wallet & keys. ;-)

Green sparkle Les Prairies de Paris pumps, faux Andy Warhol print of me at age 24

Right after college, I dated a handsome, kind, incredible man named Alex for three years.  A few months into our relationship, he swept me off my feet, taking me to Paris for the first time on this out-of-the-movies storybook trip.  And on said trip, while wandering down one French street and into a boutique there, he bought me these green sparkly Les Prairies pumps (which we subsequently noticed were featured in that month’s Paris Vogue). I had never felt more fashionable – or more loved.  They have remained displayed in my closet as a token of his affection for years (we are still good friends), and to this day I can’t look at them without smiling.  This is why I always recommend a man purchase a lady fabulous shoes instead of an expensive meal.  The shoes always last longer. ;-)

As for the faux Warhol, the origins of this print were a candid photograph taken of me (by that same then-boyfriend Alex) when I was 24-years-old.  I had it turned into a Warholian print on a lark, and it now hangs unceremoniously in my laundry room, the only place suitable for such a thing, unless you’re DVF & Warhol actually DID do such a painting for you. Then you can hang it above your desk for all the world to see.

My 8-year-old shih-tzu Lilly sitting on my bed in a pile of my pink dresses

Oh, my sweet little puppy Lilly – technically Lilly Priscilla Allison (named after my favorite designer, Lilly Pulitzer, my mother’s middle name, Priscilla, and of course my last name, Allison), which makes up the most ridiculous name, if you don’t count my neighbor’s cats’ name of Fishstick.  We usually just call her Miss Lillydog or Lils for short.  I adopted Lilly, then just a 3 lb ball of white fur in October of 2003, the fall of my senior year in college, and I’ve been in love with her ever since.  The runt of the litter, she topped out about 10 lbs, and while she’s sporting a pink bow in this photo, I actually – shockingly – don’t dress her up on a regular basis, or any basis at all.  I sort of got over that after she turned one-year-old.

The only thing she rocks now is a pink studded collar and matching leash, but she rocks it better than any other pup around.  Mellow from a puppy-hood that involved hanging out with frat guys, she’s so chill that most people think she’s a stuffed animal. She is the love of my life.  My roommate, Julia Price, is convinced she’s secretly a tomboy biker chick dog who hates all of this pink nonsense.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s right. ;-)

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