My friend Charlotte’s latest book A Visual Life –Scrapbooks, Collages and Inspiration is an emotional, cultural and intellectual feast! Page after page, Charlotte shares her “personal storyboards,” the term she uses to describe her collages and scrapbooks. She has also penned a number of essays sharing her passions to encourage others, as well as wisdom from other tastemakers around the world. Each collage is chock-a-block full of her photography, her collections, passions, and other visual ingredients, all to create a “Wabi-sabi beauty”— no pretention, no perfection, no possession–“It’s an art form for everyman,” Charlotte observes. She discusses the many muses in her life, beginning with her grandmother and mother “I grew up around women who created”. Then, Charlotte recalls, she bought a copy of Gloria Vanderbilt’s 1970 “Book of Collage” and the rest is history!
Speaking of Gloria Vanderbilt, I have the great honor of appearing in one of Charlotte’s collages featured in the book! The snapshot was taken during a birthday party Charlotte threw for my friend Gloria Vanderbilt, and I was so honored to be included in the small group of Gloria and Charlotte’s friends. It was probably one of the nicest dinner parties I’ve ever attended. Please see the image of me and designer Phyllis Stepp on page 62, in the lower left corner, along with the honoree and other cherished friends. Of course, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Pauline Trigère figure prominently in women Charlotte admires, and she has included poignant observations on their lives. (I found it amusing that Jackie favored yellow legal pads for her lists, ideas, menus and so forth.)
Another unique literary delight is Charlotte’s inclusion of essays by some of her dynamic friends, including “Obsessed with Recording” by Candy Pratts Price, Editor-at-large for Vogue.com; “Infinite Variety” by Deeda Blair, long-standing advocate for biomedical research and advancing global public health; “My Visual Instruction” by my great friend Alexa Hampton, president and owner of Mark Hampton, LLC and Alexa Hampton, Inc.; “Scrapbooking in the Digital Age” by Deborah Needleman, Editor-in Chief of WSJ Magazine and “Beyond the Horizon” by Pamela Fiori, renowned magazine publisher.
Another fascinating observation about Charlotte–her pragmatic left brain is as active as her creative right brain! She uses her collages and scrapbooks as a way of “processing visual information,” as well as re-living the enjoyment and garnering inspiration from her life moments–travels, work, family and friends, gardens, collections and so forth. Thank you Charlotte for a most inspiring and beautiful tome!