Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Be My Valentine

Red and pink roses, tulips and other delicious Valentine flowers at Dean & DeLuca, 1150 Madison Avenue at 85th Street; 212-717-0800.
By Ki Hackney

Valentine’s Day celebrates gestures of love and affection as much as it does romance.

The history of this annual event revolves around several legends, including an ancient pagan purification and fertility festival called the Feast of Lupercalia, which, in about 498, A.D., Pope Gelasius declared officially as February 14. But Valentine’s Day speaks primarily, to the legend of a Roman named Valentine, the third-century A.D. priest who secretly married young men and women when Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage. The emperor felt that young men did not join the armies he needed so badly at the time, because they did not want to leave their wives and families. Valentine disagreed. For his compassion, Valentine was eventually imprisoned and beheaded.

Valentino’s fuchsia rosette covered tote is one way to say ‘I love You’; $1,950 at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue, 212-872-8845, bergdorfgoodman.com.
During his confinement, it is said that Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Before his death, the priest apparently wrote a farewell love letter to his sweetheart , which he signed ‘From your Valentine’ — a sentiment that became quite popular and continues today.

The oldest known Valentine is from Charles, Duke d’Orleans. While imprisoned in the tower of London, the Duke wrote a note to his wife that later inspired one sent from King Henry V to Catherine of Valois. By the mid-eighteenth century, men and women would commonly exchange tokens of affection and letters, and printed cards became available in the mid-eighteenth century. Today, more than a billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year in the U.S.

We also exchange about 180 million roses on this sentimental day. Why flowers? Perhaps we can trace them back to Father Valentine, as well. It is said that some of the young couples whom Father Valentine married in secret would visit him in jail, bringing with them notes of gratitude and flowers ... which leads me to our story.

For Valentine’s Day this year, we decided to skip chocolates and to look at different ways to send flowers. It started when I walked into Bergdorf Goodman one day and right in front of me was this pink rose-covered handbag by Valentino. What an inspiration and a reminder how much beauty and softness flowers bring into our lives. Next, heading up Madison Avenue toward home, I spotted the real thing – rows of traditional red (and pink) roses at Dean & DeLuca and Bardin Palomo offered a magnificent floral arrangement with poppies, roses and fiddlehead fern fronds from his shop in the St. Regis Hotel.

Then, in a flight of fancy, we started to explore our floral options and came up with everything from the most delicate, vintage, flower-enameled heart charm to beach bags; swimsuits; and flower-sprinkled dresses from Marc Jacobs, Roberto Cavalli, and Carolina Herrera; and knock-your-socks-off gems from Graff and Van Cleef & Arpels; plus, of course, one or two Valentines from Victoria’s Secret. There is nothing quite like a beautiful flower.
Kenneth Jay Lane enameled flower pendant necklaces; $90 each at Bloomingdale’s, 1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street, 212-705-2000, bloomingdales.com.
Handpainted, packable “squishee straw” hearts-and-flowers tote bag from Eric Javits; $1,465 by Special Order at Neiman-Marcus, ericjavits.com.
Above: Heartshape ruby and marquise, round and pearshape white diamond earrings. Total diamond weight: 10 carats. Total ruby weight: 20 carats.

Above, right: Heartshape ruby and marquise, round, and pearshape white diamond necklace, set in platinum. Total ruby weight: 25 carats. Total diamond weight: 29 carats.

Right: White diamond heart charm bracelet, set in platinum, 10 carats total diamond weight.

Available at GRAFF, 721 Madison Avenue (between 63rd and 64th), 212.355.9292.
Left: French Sole “Serenity”red rose sandal; $198 at Bloomingdale’s, 1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street, 212-705-2000, or bloomingdales.com.

Above: Kimono fabric sleep masks from a large selection by Cris Notti; $20 each; at Zitomer, 969 Madison Avenue at 76th Street, 212-737-5560, or zitomer.com.
VS logo lace V-neck babydoll in pink or red; $34.50 at Victoria's Secret, victoriassecret.com. Pout™ruffled babydoll in green/white daisy print; $38 at Victoria's Secret, victoriassecret.com.
Carolina Herrera’s red and ivory floral strapless dress with black rosettes; $4,290 at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue, 212-872-8845, bergdorfgoodman.com. Marc Jacobs’ ink blue and multi-colored floral slim dress with cap sleeves; $1,100 at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue, 212-872-8845, bergdorfgoodman.com. Gottex floral maillot; $178 at Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue between 49th/50th Streets, saksfifthavenue.com. Just Cavalli dalia print jersey tank dress; $435 at Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue between 49th/50th Streets, saksfifthavenue.com.
Flowered Vera Bradley backpack, $84 (above); Hair combs with red or bronze satin rosettes, $22 - $45 (above, right). Both available at Zitomer, 969 Madison Avenue at 76th Street, 212-737-5560, or zitomer.com. Eye Pillow covered in printed kimono silk with lavender and flaxseed filling for soothing tired eyes and reducing puffiness; $25 at Takashimaya, 693 Fifth Avenue between 54th/55th Streets, 212-350-0100 or ny-takashimaya.com.
Above: Kiku flower brooch in yellow and rose gold with champagne diamonds from Mish; $32,000 (of which 15% benefits The New York Botanical Garden); 131 East 70th Street, 212-734-3500, mishnewyork.com.
Above: Micropavé Heart Pendant from the De Beers Classics collection. Pendant and chain in eighteen carat white gold. Twenty-six round brilliant diamonds.
Color grade G+, clarity grade VS+. Total carat weight 0.16. Chain length 42cm with a sizing loop at 39cm. Heart measures 13.1mm x 11mm. DeBeers.com or 703 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, 212-906-0001.

Top left:
18K gold flower earrings, in two sizes, from Ilias Lalaounis at 739 Madison Avenue between 64th/65th Streets, 212-439-9400.
This oversized bag is bursting with pink flowers and reinforced with green leather, is from Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière; $1,595; and will be available soon at Balenciaga, 542 West 22nd Street between 10th/11th Avenues, 212-206-0872. Clover poppy carry all in sturdy cotton/linen canvas; $145 (tote size); $190 (storage or laundry basket size); from Hable Construction at 117 Perry Street between Greenwich/Hudson Streets, 212-989-2375, 1-877-422-5304, hableconstruction.com.
Top row, l. to r.: Elyssa Bass flower ring in 18 carat gold with chocolate diamonds. Available at elyssabassdesigns.com or Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue, at 49th Street, 212-753-4000; Hearts-and-flowers charms are just a few from the inventory of vintage gold charms at Deanna Littell’s Charm School, a customized approach to everything charmed; by appointment, 212-369-8474 or deannalittellscharmschool.com.

Above, l. to r.: For the girls in all of us. 'Pierre de Ronsard' rambling roses and romantic pink peonies tumble from the vase when only the pretty will do; A smashing tangle of mediterranean foliages twists with black calla lilies, luminescent mustard ranunculus and creepy paphiopedilum orchids. Both available at LMD, 437 East 12th Street, 212-614-2734 or lmdfloral.com.
Vibernum, Icelandic poppies, garden roses and fiddlehead fern fronds, for a dramatic Valentine bouquet from Bardin Palomo; $350 at Bardin Palomo, The St. Regis Hotel, 2 East 55th Street, 212-521-8088. Black magic and intuition roses, blush hydrangeas, and Japanese aralia in a sang de boeuf square vessel from Bardin Palomo; $265 at Bardin Palomo, The St. Regis Hotel, 2 East 55th Street, 212-521-8088.
Left: Camargo necklace with 47.57 carats of diamonds and 31.22 carats of Burma rubies set in white gold, $1,485,000.

Above: Gloria Ballerlina clip of diamonds and Mystery Set™ rubies; $1,075,000.

Both available at Van Cleef & Arpels, 12 West 57th Street, 212-644-9500 and on view at vancleef-arpels.com.
Daisy Chain necklace of 18K gold and rubies from Sandy Leong; $2,500; at Peipers + Kojen, 1023 Lexington Avenue at 74th Street, 212-744-1047.