24 Hours in London with Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram BreakfastWorking out of his Manhattan atelier, Mark Ingram is best known for pairing the most beautiful brides to the most gorgeous wedding dresses. Dempsey and Carroll’s Austin Ackles recently asked him to take note of his very favorite delights and inspirations while out and about in glorious London. Spot on, Mark!

  How to get There

I absolutely adore London–I have traveled there one or two times a year for the past 14-15 years. One of the reasons I find myself there so often is that I love to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class service ‘across the pond’.  Whenever I am going to Milan, Rome or Barcelona, I will normally fly through Heathrow, have a small layover, and then go on my way via British Airways. I could spend a full day in the Virgin Upper Class lounge as it remains one of the few full service clubhouses with complimentary menu dining, full bar selection, showers, and rest options.  A layover is a pleasure!

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

The 15 minute ride on the Heathrow Express train to London makes that trip painless, with train platforms just below the Virgin Airways terminal.

Where to Stay

My preferred hotels in London are mostly part of the Firmdale boutique hotel chain. I will trade full service and larger (usually poorly designed) rooms for the decor, ambiance, spa-like bathrooms, high thread count linens, and location of these exquisite boutique hotels. I have stayed in Firmdale properties in Covent Garden, Knightsbridge, South Kensington and Dorset Square a number of times. They may be pricey, but hotels are a huge part of the travel experience whether away on business or pleasure.  I don’t treat it with a “well, I just sleep here” mentality! Firmdale Hotel

About two years ago I discovered the charming Radisson Blu Edwardian-Mercer St. Hotel, and the lobby and restaurant were just upgraded recently. If you enjoy theater as I do, then this Covent Garden location is amazing. Located on a charming corner where seven small streets meet at a roundabout and monument, this is also a favorite place to stay when budget is more concerning.

Radisson Hotel

Overall, I prefer the Soho/Covent Garden, Marylebone and Chelsea/South Kensington neighborhoods to rest my head. I always love to use the remarkable and very efficient London Tube subway system to zip around the city!

 

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Adventures in Notting Hill will usually lead to a stop at the fabulous Ottolenghi for lunch and/or dessert.
  • A visit to the Art Nouveau Michelin Building in South Kensington must include lunch at Bibendum upstairs (the entire area is quite charming).
  • Any of the Carluccio’s restaurants are perfect for enjoying a light meal or coffee and dessert
  • The Wolseley, a London restaurant staple located in Piccadilly, used to be a grand bank before it was converted to a very popular eatery about a decade ago. The tall ceilings and marble décor make it very appealing along with a broad range of food on the menu.
  • Nothing is better than High Tea at Browns Hotel and evening cocktails at Claridge’s Hotel.Claridge's

Top London Sites and Experiences  

  • The hustle and bustle of the narrow, two lane Oxford Street, with pedestrians, double decker buses, street vendors and grand old emporium department stores like Selfridges.Oxford Street
  • The curve of Regent Street as it approaches Piccadilly; the limestone Regency office buildings at that vantage point are so grand, impressive, elegant, and stately.
  • A walk across the Thames River on almost any bridge (especially Waterloo Bridge) with clamor of the railroad trains just beside you at street level as they leave and approach Waterloo Station and Embankment.
  • Arriving at the Baker Street tube station and learning that it was built in the 1860’s for the underground steam engine subway line. Steam was released at holes in the tunnels leading up to the street level.South Kensington
  • A stroll through Chelsea and South Kensington (just off the tube station), through the beautiful streets and courts of stately town houses with immaculate gardens and window boxes, on the way to Harrods and Harvey Nichols. A walk through Pelham Crescent off of Fulham Road is a must, as you will see pristinely preserved architecture from the Regency Period.

 

 

Where are your favorite destinations to visit in London or other cities around the world?Discover our Jet Set Collection to inspire your next trip and use the #DestinationDempsey hashtag on social media to share your travels. 

 

 

 

Memorial Day Packing Essentials

 

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us! Whether you’re headed to the beach, the mountains, or overseas, we wanted to share a few of our staples for any destination.

The Beach

  • The Bag: A classic tote bag for all of your beach essentials like this one from L.L Bean
  • The Shoes: Stylish sandals to slip on for happy hour. We love making a statement in these ones by Aquazurra.
  • The Stationery: Say hello from the beach with our Endless Summer Collection

 

A Long Weekend Abroad

  • The Bag: A leather bucket bag in a neutral color like the Mansur Gavriel Flamma.
  • The Shoes: A versatile pair of flats are easy to fit in a suitcase and they’ll match any outfit. You can’t go wrong with the classic Ballerinas by Chanel.
  • The Stationery: Fly away with our Jet Set Collection and send letters from all over the world

 

A Camping Trip

  • The Bag: A backpack with plenty of space for a day hike like the Escapist 25 from Osprey. Make sure that your pack is weatherproof!
  • The Shoes: Sturdy hiking boots for all terrain like the Breeze III by Vasque.
  • The Stationery: Stash a Schumacher Journal in your pack wherever you go

 

We hope that you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! What are some of your packing essentials for the Holiday Weekend?

Spotlight on Erica Beckman

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked Erica Beckman of Clean Plate Pictures to tell us about her absolute favorite spots for engagement and wedding photos in and around New York City. 

  1. DUMBO/Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO are classic shooting locations, and for good reason. The bridge itself is iconic, and it’s absolutely stunning at sunrise. The DUMBO neighborhood has an amazing variety of environments in a a small, walkable area. With gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline, tons of cool graffiti, and lots of cobblestone streets and alleyways, it’s ideal for getting lots of different locations. Even after shooting there for years, I always find something new!

 

  1. Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill is right next to DUMBO, so I usually shoot in both locations together. Vinegar Hill is such a colorful neighborhood; it’s filled with brightly painted doors and store fronts and lots of industrial brick and wood textures. It also has tons of my two favorite things: graffiti and vines!

 

  1. Fort Tryon Park

Fort Tryon Park is another hidden gem. Most people immediately think of Central Park when they want a green location in the city, but Fort Tryon is just as gorgeous – and usually a lot less crowded! The gardens there are stunning, especially in the spring, and there are amazing stone structures and steps (plus, it’s got incredible views of Hudson)!

 

  1. Rockwood Hall – Tarrytown, NY

If you’re willing to venture out of the city limits, Tarrytown is just a short train ride away and home to Rockwood Hall Park. The grounds of the former Rockefeller Estate overlook the Hudson River. The ruins of the old mansion are a great spot, and the park is full of these weeping trees that are dreamy to photograph.

 

  1. A Special Location

I love when clients suggest a new location to me. Photographing a location that’s special and unique for them makes the photos that much better, and it’s always a pleasure to find new places! Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City was suggested to me by a couple and I was so pleased to see how cool it was – full of awesome structures and with a gorgeous view of the city. Another couple invited me to their country home upstate where we got to shoot in this dreamy, woodsy atmosphere– we even found this amazing covered bridge in the area. I encourage everyone out there to think about spots that are special to you!

Erica BeckmanErica Beckman makes the experience of being photographed easygoing and fun, so couples look and feel happy and relaxed. She started Clean Plate Pictures 8 years ago with the goal of capturing the heart and soul of a celebration, recording the big events as well as unexpected candid moments. Today Erica runs her busy wedding photography business from her studio in the Hudson Valley, photographing weddings all over the Tri-State area.

Real Weddings: Lauren & Sam

Real Wedding

Lauren & Samuel

Brooklyn Museum

December 17th, 2016

 

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Wild winter weather provided a spectacular backdrop to Lauren and Samuel’s ceremony. Sided by charming brickwork from the original Beaux-Arts structure that was designed by the legendary firm of McKim, Mead & White, ensconced guests could gaze past the chuppah, over a joyous gospel choir, and through a modern glass addition with evolving weather cascading safely beyond.

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Lauren first visited with Dempsey and Carroll’s Austin Ackles last June with her sister Carolyn and their mother, Wendy, in tow. The three (all sharp, design savvy and decisive) arrived with a very clear vision and with a great appreciation for the tried-and-true engraving process. Our Pewter ink and  Dempsey White paper thrilled them, while the hand calligraphed names of the bride and groom contrasted perfectly with the modern font for the text. After the calligraphy is handwritten, it is then etched into a copper plate that’s inked and pushed to paper, one by one, on an antique press. Finally, edges of the invitation were carefully beveled and hand painted with silver ink and envelopes were finished with a subtle, shimmering silver lining.

With cocktails in hand, guests mingled amongst masterpieces by Corot, Cassatt, and Degas in the colonnade before moving in under the impressive skylight space. The overall feeling was of a classic ice palace, but one given warmth and an edgy modernity, with magically-hued lighting effects in pinks and greens and lavenders.

A winter wonderland and subtle pine scent surrounded Dempsey & Carroll escort cards. Columns of birch echoed those of marble and massive scale that bordered the space.

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Additional lighting effects gave the impression of late in the day sun weaving its way through a cluster of swaying aspens.

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A smartly conceived floor plan ensured that the guests were wowed by the immense history of place while still close enough to one another for an intimate vibe. Lauren and Samuel’s marriage celebration carried on as everyone let go to classic Motown, R&B favorites and early hip-hop.

Dempsey & Carroll is pleased to have had a role in such a brilliant affair. Congratulations to a most lovely couple!

Credits:

Photography: Ira Lippke Studios

Wedding Planner: Vanda High Events

The U.S Postal Service honors Oscar de la Renta

Fashion meets mail with the beautiful new stamps honoring fashion icon Oscar de la Renta. The official Dedication Ceremony on February 16th, 2017 was a momentous occasion that brought together people from all different industries in honoring the late designer. We were thrilled to attend the event, which featured remarks by Oscar de La Renta CEO Alexander Bolen, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Artistic Director of Conde Nast and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour, and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

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Photo: U.S Postal Service

Janice D. Walker, Vice President of Corporate Communications for USPS, led the official stamp dedication and lauded de la Renta’s innovative designs and leadership in the fashion industry.

“Like Oscar de la Renta, handwritten letters never go out of style,” remarked Walker. The timelessness of handwritten letters rings true as we head into our 139th year as a proud New York company.

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(l-r) Alexander Bolen, Michael Bloomberg, Anna Wintour, Hillary Clinton, Janice Walker, Anderson Cooper (photo: Getty Images)

Following the ceremony, we had a chance to learn more about the stamp design process from Xavier C. Hernandez, a Communications Specialist and spokesperson for the USPS.

Can you tell us a bit more about who decides on the new stamps that are released?

 The stamp development team vets the ideas and does the design work, but the Postmaster General ultimately decides the next catalog of stamps for the year.

 During Anna Wintour’s speech, she exclaimed that de la Renta wasn’t a big letter writer, but how does the USPS see the connection between writing and fashion?

 The greater picture is that the Postal Service likes to honor American icons and their influence on American culture, especially for our commemorative stamp series.

 We’ve found that there is definitely a younger generation celebrating the art of letter writing in the age of emails and text messages. How does the USPS work to keep people interested in sending mail?

 There are so many great stamps out right now because we want to encourage people to write as many letters as possible. We have a JFK stamp coming out on President’s day and we just released new stamps for the Chinese New Year. We like to incorporate all different facets of American culture to be as inclusive as possible.

 It was incredible to see the turnout for this dedication event with people from all different industries!

 It’s wonderful to see a turnout like this for the official release of these commemorative stamp because our goal to bring everyone together. We are lucky that this wound up happening during Fashion Week so it has some relevance to timeliness.

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Thank you to the U.S Postal Service for the beautiful new stamps honoring Mr. de la Renta. We look forward to adding a fashionable touch to our envelopes!

In the Mail: A “When-to” for Wedding Invitations

The beginning of a new year marks the beginning of a new wedding season.  Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles answers some of the frequently asked questions about the most optimal timelines for ordering and sending wedding invitations. 

Congratulations! You’re getting married, you’ve locked down your dream location, and now you need to spread the word. Here are a few tips for a wrinkle-free work flow that will result in perfectly timed wedding paper.

 

When is the best time to send Save the Dates?

Save the Dates are usually sent anywhere between six and twelve months before the event. Consider sending them out on the early side if your wedding is in a location with limited flights and accommodations such as Aspen or St. Barts. If the wedding is located in New York City, six months ahead is usually fine. Be sure to include the hotel block information with the Save the Date and not later with the invitation because that’s when guests need it most. If everyone is invited to Friday night festivities and Sunday brunch, call it a “Save the Weekend” so that your lucky guests will know to book a longer weekend.

 

OK, my Save the Date is in the mail! When do I need to start the wedding invitation process?

Trusty sources say that invitations should be posted between six and eight weeks before the wedding, but here at Dempsey & Carroll, our clients generally prefer eight weeks out. Working backwards, producing fine engraved papers with hand finishes takes about six weeks and calligraphy of the envelopes takes  a minimum of two or three weeks. For design time, allow about three weeks. Faster results are certainly possible when required, but to get the most enjoyment out of the process, come to see us at least five months in advance of your big day for a stress-free, luxurious experience of a lifetime!

 

And what about the paper I need for the day of?

We usually start working on menus, welcome notes, ceremony program booklets, escort cards, and place cards right after we send the wedding invitations to print. All the paper then has a congruent feel for a perfectly polished wedding!

 

Holiday Cards: A Brief History

Did you know that December 9th is known as “Christmas Card Day” to honor the anniversary of the first commercially sold holiday card? We found this article by John Hanc to be very helpful in its thorough account of the history of holiday cards.

During the 1800s in England, the British postal service introduced the “Penny Post” system which allowed people to send a letter anywhere in the country by affixing a penny stamp to the envelope. Sir Henry Cole, prominent patron of the arts and founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, found it difficult to keep up with the piles of mail that he would receive during the holiday season.

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Sir Cole’s first Christmas Card

Cole hit on an ingenious idea [in 1843]. He approached an artist friend, J.C. Horsley, and asked him to design an idea that Cole had sketched out in his mind. Cole then took Horsley’s illustration—a triptych showing a family at table celebrating the holiday flanked by images of people helping the poor—and had a thousand copies made by a London printer. The image was printed on a piece of stiff cardboard 5 1/8 x 3 1/4 inches in size. At the top of each was the salutation, “TO:_____” allowing Cole to personalize his responses, which included the generic greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”

Many of Cole’s Victorian aristocratic contemporaries started to send out their own Christmas cards in the following years, and the trend reached The United States several decades later. The custom of sending holiday cards quickly became an integral part of the season, and people would line up at card shops in order to catch a glimpse of the newest designs for that year.

Dempsey & Carroll’s founding in 1878 coincided with the recent boom in popularity for Holiday Cards. In our 1880 book The Art of Correspondence, Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll published the press release to announce their new holiday collections.

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We have imported the most elegant Christmas Cards ever brought to this city. We call your attention to the fact that WE SHALL OPEN ABOUT DECEMBER FIRST an assortment of fine Christmas Cards excelling anything ever offered. LAST SEASON A GREAT NUMBER OF OUR PATRONS were disappointed that they purchased elsewhere before seeing ours; stating that ours were the handsomest they had seen. Please call early to avoid the crush that delay occasions.

138 years later, we still take great pride in unveiling our new designs for the holiday season. In modern times, however, our new collections are usually done with production by the end of June and are on display for the press by mid-July. Many of our clients are already looking to order their Holiday cards by early fall so as not to feel rushed in December.

We’ve expanded upon our offerings in recent years by combining multiple printing techniques for many of our new holiday collections. Our commitment to providing the highest quality of craftsmanship to our clients remains strong as we continue to creative beautiful designs for 2017 and beyond.

Though technology has greatly changed since Sir Cole’s first Christmas card in 1843, the joy of sending holiday cards to family and friends is a feeling that transcends time.