I have never been a fashion plate. Mama Squirrel has a nice sense of style, but her job pushes her more toward comfort. We both spend our time in cubicles rather than on runways, so the urge for fashion has not been particularly strong.
That all changed in the most unlikely of places, Florence, Alabama. Drawn by the Southern Foodways Alliance‘s Camp Shoals, and especially by the promise of five dollar chicken stew, Mama and I found ourselves in fashion heaven.
After our excellent supper of chicken stew at Pope’s Tavern, we wandered across the street to Billy Reid‘s at Pickett Place. Pickett Place, the second oldest home in Florence, is not where one might expect to find world-class fashion from an award-winning young designer. Nonetheless, we were astounded by the charm of the clothes.
The source of the clothing’s charm is immediately apparent on meeting Billy. We met him briefly after a post-chicken-stew spending spree. After staying up half the night with other good folks from the Southern Foodways Alliance, Billy was back at Pickett Place the next morning, full of energy and charming as ever.
Of course with this being a food blog and all, the morning reception that Billy hosted (with just a bit of help from his mother and his wife) featured grits, ham biscuits, and a family-secret casserole that was superb. Once again, though, after just dropping by for the food, we embarked on a shopping spree.
After our breakfast with Billy, we were off to Alabama Chanin for a picnic lunch on the grounds. We picked up pimento cheese from Trowbridges and a loaf of Wonder Bread as our offering. We were very pleased that folks flocked to the pimento cheese as soon as it hit the serving table.
After having our lunch and enjoying a bit of time in the sun, we headed inside to check out the designs of Natalie Chanin. I’m a crotchety old food guy, and I simply don’t have the words to properly express how beautiful and feminine and delightful Natalie’s designs are. I love this piece in particular.
Natalie was a charming hostess herself. In the midst of a huge picnic with great crowds on the grounds and in her studio, she gladly took the time to give a demo of one of her methods, reverse applique.
I believe that Florence fashion may do more for us Squirrels than all the surgeon general’s warnings in the world. Mama and I are both feeling motivated to get down to that ideal weight, then we will see the mother of all shopping sprees.