by Lara Fitch, Founder of Strolby

By mid-December, most of us are already five or six parties deep into an intense holiday calendar, with a couple weeks still to go before the grand finale of New Year’s Eve. Luckily, we’ve found that with the right accessories, one LBD (that’s Little Black Dress) can take a gal from her first work party straight into the wee hours of 2015. Here are Strolby’s picks for the accessories that will see you through the season.


In the middle of an ocean, there is this tiny island where our larger-than-life Creative Director, Ms. Sara Jensen, lives with her husband, Thor (yes, we know this is appropriate for our Scandinavian issue), and her two incredibly inspiring seven year olds, Henry (fashion designer/chef) and Rose (goalie/jewelry hoarder). A former New Yorker and now San Juan Island, Washingtonian, we asked for a sneak peek into Sara’s beautiful island world. We asked this closet Danish American to show us her Scandi and what it looks like across her table in the woods. Here is what happened…

GG: How do you define Scandinavian?

SJ: When I was younger and less informed, it was always super bright colors and sharp lines, you know – I got my education from IKEA, which isn’t terrible but it also isn’t entirely accurate. It’s like forming your opinion on American design by visiting Walmart. The more that I have gotten into it – largely via peer pressure from you, Ms. Gorder – it’s textural, warm, derived from nature. It’s the magic of the forest brought home; it is beauty in simplicity; wood walls, antlers, warm repeats, clean organic lines.

GG: What was the most fun part of doing this piece? Worst?

SJ: The best part was sending my kids out on the property to forage for me (I think that was legal). The antlers are from the floor of the forest – some by us, some by friends – the pinecones plucked from branches, fir branches clipped from trees, and winterberries from the road. The large luscious white flowers and acacia were literally flown in (I live on an island) by my friend Erin who helped me weave the floral runner together.

The worst part was running out into the forest to set the table in the freezing cold and then cleaning up. My kids came home from school and I told them there was a surprise out in a certain part of the woods and they were so delighted, it was adorable.

GG: You’re married to Thor, the god of thunder, I mean… THE god. Um, who really holds the hammer?

SJ: The other day, I asked him to get the hammer from the garage so that I could pull out nails and mud the walls myself. Technically, I held the hammer the longest.

GG: Ms. Jensen, you are one crafty lady. Did you learn anything making this issue of Real Genevieve? You seem to know it all.

SJ: I have been neck-deep in a sped-up version of Scandi school, for which I am grateful. I just love knowing more about where part of me came from. I mean, I am a mixed-up mutt for sure, but I know that a large part of my heritage is Danish. The other half is hustler – that’s a whole other issue. You [Genevieve] have a way of making people feel all kinds of pride for whatever they are and that is a true gift to have. Skøl, GG! oxoxo


All photography by Real Genevieve West Coast photographer, Sara Parsons.


by Alex Asher Sears

From a sleeper car on the Darjeeling Limited to the game closet at 111 Archer Avenue, Wes Anderson has a gift for crafting fictional places we’d love to escape to. With his eighth film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, add to the list a grand suite with snowy mountaintop views of the Republic of Zubrowka, and a Courtesan du Chocolat sent by room service upon arrival.

The story opens in 1985 as The Author (Tom Wilkinson) recalls the month he spent at the hotel in the summer of 1968. One evening, the Young Writer (played by Jude Law), is invited to dinner by the hotel proprietor, Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who tells him about how he came to own “this enchanting old ruin.” Mr. Moustafa’s story travels back in time, to the hotel’s heyday in the winter of 1932, when a young lobby boy in training named Zero (Tony Revolori) begins his career at The Grand Budapest under the tutelage of concierge extraordinaire, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) and meets the love of his life, Agatha (Saorsie Ronen), who works at Mendl’s Bakery, home of the three-tiered puff pastry confection known as the Courtesan Au Chocolat.

When Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), one of M. Gustave’s beloved guests, dies suspiciously after her annual visit, M. Gustave is the prime suspect. It doesn’t help that she left him a priceless Renaissance masterpiece, much to the chagrin of her evil son Dmitri (Adrien Brody), and his eviler sidekick Jopling (Willem Dafoe). While police detective Henckels (Edward Norton) and Madame D’s attorney Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum) sift through clues in search of the truth, Zero sets off to help his mentor clear his name. And that’s just the beginning.

With about three-dozen characters, the film also stars the Anderson trifecta: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman. It just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Just before the film’s release in March, I saw Matt Zoller Seitz, author of the The Wes Anderson Collection. The book is a fascinating series of interviews with the director wrapped in a giant coffee table book of on set photographs and gorgeous illustrations (holiday shopping for the film lover on your list is done). All Matt would say at the time was that Grand Budapest was like a series of matryoshka dolls, a new story revealed with the opening of each box. One year and several viewings of the films later, I couldn’t think of a better analogy if I tried. From the moment the credits roll, the dolls keep coming. It’s as Wes Andersonian as a Wes Anderson film can get.

It’s a murder mystery. A buddy comedy. A war story. A love story. But whose story it is? Well, that’s really quite simple. The star is none other than The Grand Budapest herself.

While I tend towards neutrals for winter coats, I’m thinking about swapping camel for Grand Budapest pale pink with Rebecca Minkoff’s Pierre swing coat. And Boden’s Eliza coat is a gorgeous change from basic black but perfect for everyday in a jewel tone shade of purple once reserved for royalty––and The Grand Budapest hotel uniforms worn by Zero and Gustave­­. Neutrals don’t have to be boring, right?

Add a pair of these darling Souvenir by Holiday fingerless pom pom mittens and you can brave the cold weather with flair, texting and Instagramming with ease, while showing off your winter mani.

Minkoff PIERRE coat | Boden ELIZA coat | Souvenir mittens

Speaking of manicures, I’ve found my go-to shades this winter. Deborah Lippman’s Footloose evokes the glossy red lacquered interior of The Grand Budapest’s elevator––a classic for fingers and toes. For something a bit more modern, I like the deep wintery blue of Zoya’s Ryan (and their slate gray Genevieve is quite nice, too).

Tarte has packaged their fabulous holiday gift sets in pastel pink, lavender and mint green––not unlike the colors of Mendl’s Courtesan du Chocolat­­. From lip tints to blushes to the best mascara/lash curler duo I’ve found, they’re perfect to give and receive.

M. Gustave had strong opinions to share when it came to nail polish, makeup, and most importantly, fragrance. Use the Perfumer’s Palette range by Sarah Horowitz Parfums to layer notes and create your own signature scent – something as unique as L’Air de Panache. M. Gustave would most certainly approve.

Lippmann polish FOOTLOOSE | Zoya polish RYAN | Zoya polish GENEVIEVE | tarte lips | tarte cheeks

tarte eyes | SH Perfumer’s Palette


Name: Paul Lowe, a.k.a. Sweet Paul
Occupation: Creative guru behind Sweet Paul Magazine, an online destination and quarterly print magazine for the food- and craft-obsessed; all-around Scandinavian bad-ass
Hometown: Oslo, Norway
Raised By: Grandmother Mormor and Great Auntie Gunnvor
Currently Resides: Brooklyn, NY
Motto: “Fullkommenhet er kjedelig” which means “Perfection is boring” (courtesy of Mormor)

Sweet Paul spends his days ‘chasing the sweet things in life’. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.


GENEVIEVE: You’re like a Scandinavian super hero of craft and beautiful living. I kind of want to make you a cape…

SWEET PAUL: Yes, I would love one. You know, why don’t they make cool capes for men? It’s such a great garment, one size fits all, and it keeps you warm and – might I say – rather stylish. Hallo Ralph? Can you make me a cape?

GG: This is fun! I do fancy myself as an excellent costume maker. Linen and leather? Done, boo.

I want to know, being only a half ‘Wegian, but raised in a very Scandinavian community, how would you, the thoroughbred Norwegian, describe the cultural aesthetic if you had to in a brief punch? What are we? I feel like most of America doesn’t really know who we are beyond Ikea and cold weather patterns.

SP: Norwegians are a very cultural people with a good sense of style, but maybe sometimes a bit on the boring side… well you and me excluded, of course. I feel we get the simple Nordic design style fed to us as a child: all the light wood, wood toys, etc. I just love having that simplicity as my heritage and I love mixing it with the American style I love the most: American vintage. I feel those two styles goes so well together; I try to incorporate that in everything I do. Plus, we are a darn sexy people…

GG: Sexy and sooo mysterious, haha! Skøl! Visiting the motherland, I think the most important impression Norway made on me was how incredibly beautiful the landscapes are. Nothing really prepared me for this; what Italy is to fine art, I believe Norway is to nature. I mean, that’s a big statement but… it’s magic. And I really began to understand where my personal aesthetic as a designer came from. How does nature play into how you create here in NYC? Do you lean more on Norway or America for that language?

SP: The nature over there is amazing, strong, majestic, and with a sense of mystery. I always try to incorporate elements of nature in my word. Flowers, rocks, moss – they’re all small elements that can add so much to an image. But the best thing is to shoot outside in nature. It gives me so much joy. It’s just like one big studio with an amazing set already built.

GG: You know, you are sweet, it would’ve been terribly difficult to be your friend if you weren’t. How long have you been called Sweet Paul? Tell me about your American Empire that you’re building. I’m truly a fan of everything that you have going on, so break it down.

The Sweet Paul Magazine Winter 2014 issue hits stands this month. Pre-order it in print or online.

SP: I have been Sweet Paul from around 5 or 6 [years old]. I had a Norwegian godmother who moved to Texas in the early 70s. She only lasted a few years, but she came back as Peg Bundy: too much hair, too much makeup, too much boobs. She was so much fun and she would always call me Sweet Paul. It kind of stuck and who can blame them? Have you seen my face?

For my empire, my plan is to take over the world (cue crazy music). To be honest with you I don’t think about it. I’m in a stage in my life where things have to happen organically. I’m a true believer in dealing with nice people and have turned down many an offer because I don’t feel comfortable with the people. I don’t want to be Martha, I want to be Sweet Paul and just go down the path that I enjoy so much. Do you know how lucky I am? I freakin’ cook and craft all day.

There is some fun stuff in the works: just launched a wedding annual, the spring issue is going to be our five-year anniversary, videos, a new Sweet Paul Makerie in April at Terrain, and some stuff I can’t tell you.

Yes, I know… not even you, my dear Norwegian queen.

GG: We are so happy to play with you this issue. Thank you for being our Scandinavian go-to and my design playmate. We hail from winter cities that do Christmas so well. Let’s dig in and show them how we do!


Psst! Keep an eye out all November and December long for our Scandi holiday collaborations with Sweet Paul!


by Alex Asher Sears

Watching a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film is like looking at the world through Instagram filters. With Amélie (2001), Jeunet is at his Walden-filtered finest. It also happens to be Gen’s favorite film and on my short list of perfect movies for a lazy Sunday afternoon.


It’s late summer in Paris 1997. Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tatou) is a quiet, young waitress in a Montmartre cafe who spends more time observing the world than experiencing it. Part Emma Woodhouse, part Nancy Drew, she makes it her mission to improve the lives of those around her – the lovelorn, the lost, the lonely. Along the way she meets Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), guardian angel of discarded photobooth selfies, and realizes that perhaps she deserves more out of life as well.

The beauty of the film is in the details – from character to costume to set design – leaving something new to discover every time I see it.

In mid-90s style, Amélie pairs low Dr. Martens with vintage sundresses and fitted cardigans, but it’s always more Breathless than Reality Bites. Amelie’s style is Parisian chic without a Breton stripe to be found. (For a great, big, fabulous dose of stripe mania, check out Jeunet’s collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier for City of Lost Children. Add it to your queue.)

With her wardrobe a palette of reds and greens (always vibrant, but never Deck The Halls), this Zara dress would be Amelie’s version of the LBD. Perfect as warm weather lingers through early September, then add a short jacket a la Mlle Poulain as the temps drop.

Like the bold patterned wallpapers that grace the film’s Montmartre apartments, I adore the bold print of The Julie bag by Clare Vivier. Perfect worn cross body while riding on the back of a scooter through Paris… or to lunch with friends.

Amelie’s gamine look is no fuss perfection – a sheer lip tint and a well-defined brow. Add a hint of color to cheeks and you’re set as the weather begins to change with the leaves.

I swear by tarte cheek stains for a slight flush that stays put all day (and does double duty for lips, too). My favorite shade, a coral called Tipsy, works on most skin types from porcelain-swear-by-SPF-100 types to those who’ve perfected their late summer tan. Tarte recently repackaged the shade in a marbled paper tube, which instantly makes me think of the marbled covers of Nino’s beloved photo album in the movie.

Everything, especially makeup, is better marbled, which is why I also love the faux glow you can get with the goof proof Bronze and Brighten baked marble compact by Laura Geller.

Let’s talk brows. Great for travel or touchups, Anastasia Beverly Hills Go Brow Kit is fabulous down to the gold foil packaging (the pattern is a bit like the wallpaper in Amélie’s apartment, no?). A great brow is easy with the right tools. People might not be able to tell what’s different, but you’ll instantly look well rested and put together. Magic doesn’t just happen in the movies.

Check out more of Alex’s work at


These designers, bloggers, stylists, and tastemakers have mastered the art of curating cool, so we asked them (and me!) what should be on your pick-up list so you can’t mess up. Kiss buyer’s remorse goodbye.

Kids design is getting good. So good, in fact, that there are even a few things we wouldn’t mind stealing for ourselves. Parent or not, these picks are too hot to leave to the littles alone.

Kids product she’d love to steal:

I’m a sucker for a good pouf (take that however you want), even though the pouf category can be a bit predictable. But the Orchard Pouf from Land of Nod? It punched me in the face with cute at first sight. I would not hesitate to use this outside of a kid’s room. Apples are hot.

Land of Nod, $69

Bet you didn’t know that…

I’m a classically trained violinist who played for over 20 years. I also love the smell of rubber cement and gasoline.

Kids product she’d love to steal:

Admittedly, I purchased these cloud corkboards for my daughter’s room, but can you blame me for stealing them to house my office inspirations? Perfectly textured and whimsically shaped, they offer a fun take on traditional inspiration boards and – perhaps most importantly – subtly remind us to shoot for the sky.

Land of Nod, $19.95

Bet you didn’t know that…

I can’t tie my shoes! I never learned as a kid (Velcro was all the rage!) and have just sort of breezed through life without ever lacing up my sneakers. It’s a surprisingly hard skill to learn as an adult, so I just stick to knots in my Converse. Why mess up a good thing?

Kids product she’d love to steal:

The Half Karat Lamp from my Oh Joy! for Nod collection was actually designed as a piece that I want parents to want! It’s got a little bit of glam, a perfect dash of color, and looks great by my own bed, too.

Land of Nod, $35–$99

Bet you didn’t know that…

I’m a second-degree black belt and taught karate to both kids and adults during most of my high school years.




Our bedroom used to be the most spacious room in the apartment, until we decided to get a king-sized bed. Now it takes up most of the space in our room so I like to keep my bedside pretty minimal. We had simple floating shelves built, where I keep a rotating collection of nighttime reads. My reading tastes are pretty all over the place, with books ranging from people like Seth Godin and Pema Chodron to Dorothy Draper and pretty technical wildflower guides.


Above my books I keep a cherished piece of hand-painted wallpaper by Karen Combs of Nama Rococo. Since I’ve always lived in rentals and can’t install wallpaper on my walls, I chose to frame it and use it as artwork instead. Next to that is a bronze sconce from Schoolhouse Electric and some fresh andromeda in a handmade vase by Cassie Griffin. I loved this pitcher so much that my wife Julia bought it right off the dinner table at Dimes for me. Next to that is a framed note that Julia wrote to me when we were first dating. I framed a lot of them last year and rotate some of my favorites in and out every month or so. I’ve never been a big personal photo person, so these notes are my way of having a reminder of her and my family close to me every day.

Read more from Grace on Design*Sponge (WARNING: insanely addictive!).


When I find something I can’t stop thinking about, I want to know everything about it. Call me OCD, but right now I’m all up in caftans. These bold beasts of textile, pattern, and color are based on the Indian sari, and are becoming more a part of the urban landscape than just resort wear. So I met up with one of the most prominent caftan designers in the U.S., Monica Patel-Cohn, whose pieces can be found in Barney’s and many exclusive boutiques.

For Monica, founder of Two NY and the child of an Indian father and Italian mother, patterns, colors, and textiles are a way of life: “I always loved so much from both cultures, and this was the perfect way to fuse all my creative energy and inspiration from the two of them.”

My father’s Indian, a culture that is all colors and patterns. My mother’s Milanese, Italian, and they have a very toned down sensibility. In the 60s my father moved to Italy to take advantage of the tech boom there. That’s where my parents met, and then moved to the U.S. and opened a clothing store. My mom would try to put me in things like Jean Paul Gaultier and I wanted Espirit. At home I was exposed to lots of authentic Indian textiles… beautiful fabrics, but nobody knew how to wear them here. So what I did was take these Indian saris with more modern colorways and a more Western way to wear them.

I always knew I wanted to take Indian textiles and do something. I always wanted to study design and do art. I got married at a beautiful villa near Santa Margherita and my Indian family all wore beautiful Indian saris and it was stunning. All my nieces were wearing amazing color combinations and I loved the juxtaposition against the Italian background. My girlfriend is a designer who lives in South America so I asked her to come out and do some prototypes to see what we could do.

I figured out you could make caftans on a power loom, but I wanted to stick with handmade. The pieces I choose are not the ones people typically wear. They’re old school. At the time, the Indian thing was very glitzy and the Italian thing in the 70s and 80s was very toned down, so I wanted to come up with something that was very chic and low key.


In India right now, it’s the machine versus the handloom. Few people from the new generation want to take over their family’s business of hand-looming fabrics. The highly skilled, traditional hand-weavers are being put out of work by the demand for cheap, fast fashion. When the only priority is to get the garment from the design board to the shop floor in six weeks, hand-weavers cannot compete with power looms.

This really inspires me to help employ people in this sector to loom my fabrics. Sadly, machines are rapidly taking hand-weavers’ jobs and livelihoods away and the only way to stop this is by buying hand-woven products. The added bonus is that hand-weaving fabrics saves one ton of CO2 emissions per year per handloom, so my products have a low carbon footprint.

The woman who appreciates textiles. Someone who loves their home, who puts more time and effort into it, is also usually someone who loves textiles too.


A slip and caftan can go out for a night on the town. When we first started, my girlfriend and I would go around Brooklyn wearing them to parties, and at that time I was pregnant so it was perfect. Especially when it’s hot! People also use them for beach weddings. I’m also starting on everyday pieces, like a pant, as well as kids stuff, these little dolls, and a baby caftan.



I have a huge fascination with home. I love home. Before this I worked with two architects doing graphic design, all very modern and clean, but I also love country mixed in. I have modern cabinets, a beautiful linen-covered couch, really soft colors mixed with bright green. I love Italian design. I don’t mix much Indian in except for cushions. It’s kind of farm meets modern. Our kitchen is like a Dada kitchen, all sleek and modern.

For me it’s the workmanship that goes into it. It’s just an amazing trade and I think I’ve always wanted to be somebody who makes something. What makes me the happiest is when I can make something un-wearable, like a sari, wearable.

I go on these trips to India and hit all my stores and see what they have. I pull and purchase whatever I think looks good. If I have other people shopping for me, I’m not getting what I love. Sometimes I’ll find something that’s beyond amazing and I can’t even sell it. I’m like, ‘You’re staying with me!’—they’re like babies!