San Francisco is a shockingly beautiful city… seriously, I was shocked. I’m a fairly active traveler – and though SF is a short jaunt from LA , I had never actually heard much good about it, so I was never inspired to go (and I had always pictured it as dreary weather hovering around grotesquely painted Victorian townhomes). My loss, I guess… though I do believe everything happens at a purposeful time and place (and I’m already planning my 2nd visit).
Our stay was short (2 days, part of a 10 day birthday holiday for my mother that took us up to the rustic, tucked away Shelter Cove down to sea lion-ladden shores and super-luxe hills of San Simeon), but suffice it to say… San Francisco has my number. Dining, Drinking & Lodging is a whole other story, but here we focus on shopping!
As every big city typically does, San Francisco has a decent representation of the upscale boutiques – Hermes, Chanel, Loro Piana, etc. in the Union Square area, but now that I no longer buy new silk or leather… I have little use for these stores and instead look for vintage & 2nd hand pieces from these lines (the hunt is far more fun & rewarding). Gump’s, however… GUMPS!
I had heard stories about Gumps – I’ve even ordered some of their catalog pieces, but Mon Dieu… the store is the real thing! It’s like Bergdorf’s decor section times 10. The perfect selection of vintage & antique tableware mixed with an incredibly edited collection of new. Go for yourself. I can’t do it justice, but I will mention some of my favorite pieces…
Antique Meissen porcelain dishes for a lofty $1700 per table setting. The Black Court Dragon pattern is pristine, stunning and as relevant today as it was at it’s production over 100 years ago.
Um… and the wind was nearly knocked out of my by Phillipe Starck’s remarkable “Fool” vase (I really shouldn’t be surprised, right?) for Baccarat.
And I do have a soft spot for those fantastic Finnish blown glass Toikka birds by Iittala. My husband has given me a couple as gifts because he know my fondness for birds and my love of great design… well, Gumps had the biggest, most beautiful Toikkas I’ve seen!
And of course, their collection of John Derian trays was wistful & sublime! Impossible to resist!
A lot of Gumps’ goodies aren’t available online… so do yourself a favor and GO!
Needless to say, shopping was non-existent in Shelter Cove unless the General Store counts and our days in Napa were spent in wineries and restaurants rather than boutiques… though the St. Helena Olive Oil Company was outstanding! The ultimate place to stock upon organic, locally made oils, mustards, pasta sauces and vinegars.
And then on to Carmel-by-the-Sea… one of my favorite little hamlets! It’s a very quiet, very beautiful, very low key, VERY WASP-Y little town – which for me also makes it a FANTASTIC place to second-hand shop. We hit up the ASPCA and Yellow Brick Road benefit shops… both teaming with old people and their donated wares. These are the places I hunt for vintage costume jewelry pieces, books, tableware & crystal. And though I was really impressed by the amount of current designer pieces (tons of Miu Miu shoes!) the local boutique, Girl Boy Girl, had donated to the ASPCA shop all I found (or had the patience to find) was the brilliant out-of-print book by one of my design heroes, David Hicks on Living – with Taste (I love that the phrasing almost makes it sound like a burden… but actually Mr. Hicks speaks to those interested in design & living well on just about any budget).
Seriously… click to enlarge & absorb. This man had a gift!
A bit disappointed, but remembering that I really don’t need a thing… I continued to shop. On to, Consign Couture, the high end 2nd hand store nestled right in the downtown area. Scads of Gucci, Chanel, YSL, Dolce & Gabbana… shoes, suits and handbags – none at a particular bargain (they know what they have), but if ever I jonze for that perfect, basic black Chanel suit – I know where I’m going. Long… very, very, VERY long story short – I found a crisp, white cotton, man-tailored, french-cuffed shirt by Ralph Lauren, paid the lady and bounced.
POST BY DEANA