Friday, October 17, 2008

There is something about Halloween that brings out the kid in all of us, even those of us who don’t have children of our own. I’m no exception. I love candy corn and those little ‘Rocket’ candies, and I'm wooed by the allure of grinning Jack-o-Lanterns as much as any 10 year-old.

But all this talk of the faltering economy and discussions about how to save money got me thinking about how juicy the taste of extravagance really is. What better time than Halloween is there to fantasize about over-the-top escapism?

I’ve always wanted to have a wickedly decadent Halloween party that spared no expense, in the vein of the Goths or the dreamy Victorians. I'd love to throw a big masquerade ball for adults only in some lavish location, sipping dark, vintage port in our costumes and eating slice after slice of Devil’s Food Cake, layered with the richest icing.

And in this moneyed fantasy I would have loot bags for all my guests containing the most exquisite Halloween treats. I did some virtual shopping for this pretend party and came up with some pretty good finds for my loot bag (which would actually be a large wooden trunk lined in black velvet and bejewelled with onyx fixtures on black leather buckles, in case you were curious) as you’ll see below.

These sketchbooks and journals by the 27 designers at (an artists' collective) are printed with eerie images that speak to the holiday's darkness. The sketchbooks measure 5.25" by 8.25" and the smaller journals measure 3.5" by 5.5." The sketchbooks are $36.

Below are two books for the reader who loves artistic spook. "Skulls" by Noah Scalin is the published version of his popular website Scalin created a skull for every day of the year out of everyday objects. In this book they're gorgeously photographed and creatively presented for posterity: $15. On the right is a classic book by famed illustrator Edward Gorey. "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" is the dark subversion of a children's alphabet book, guaranteed to bring a sinister smile to the face of everyone with a twisted sense of humor. Opening with "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs" and running all the way to "Z is for Zilla who drank too much gin," the simple but inspired rhymes combine with Gorey's pseudo-Victorian Gothic crosshatch illustrations to wickedly funny effect: $15.

And now we head to (one of my new favourite spots on the web!) where we get a bit of the handmade and homemade charm Martha would so approve of. This sassy, spooky, cute-as-a-button vintage-inspired hostess apron below is complete with rick-rack accents and a large pocket for all your utensil-wielding or party favor needs. The feminine design features a black spiderweb net lace apron skirt (for that extra dash of sexiness), and gray waistband, ties, and pocket. The pocket features a black felt spider applique: $28. Search for seller flappergirl.

This handmade Halloween wreath, repleat with black florals, pine branches and oak leaves - oh yes, and skulls too! - measures 16" around and is the perfect adornment for the front door: $40. Search for seller fabulouslyfierce.

Let the pets get in on the dress-up action, too! These one-of-a-kind Tutus for your animal child come in three colours and are available for cats and dogs alike. They can be custom made to fit your pet. Very soft tulle is used and there is a 5 inch gap at the bottom of the tutu for extra comfort and accessibility. The seller also makes adult and children's Tutus to match! $15. Search for seller jiniaj.

If you love curiosities, you'll love this polished Victorian Cloven Hoof Pincushion for the sewers and collectors out there. Topped with old sun-dyed fabric, it can easily be embellished with the fabric of your choice. (A deep red velvet would be very inspiring!) It could also look lovely in a dark boudoir displaying fancy hat pins. It measures approx. 3 in. tall, 4 in. wide, 5.5 in. long. It's signed on the bottom: $85.

Few designers today do dark decadence quite as well as Douglas Little, whose items are listed below. The founder of DL&Co. has become a highly respected designer whose items are made of exceptional quality...and with exceptional creativity. I'd love to have an entire room in my house devoted just to his brand of neo-Gothic darkness, which is very elegant despite its sinister themes. In any case, his designs are ideal for a Haute Halloween! Visit for more information.

Send out invitations to your Halloween party on these minimalist skull-print notecards, made in Italy. The set of 12 cards and 13 envelopes goes for $55.

This silver effigy of a thorny apple by Douglas Little contains an intensely-fragrant votive guaranteed to intoxicate even the most sensitive of snouts. It may be rivaled only by his opium poppy candle, below, which is deeply exotic and richly fragrant.

Much more affordable than Damien Hirst's diamond version, this silver skull by DL&Co. below still manages to sparkle up the darkest night. From Douglas Little's “Memento Mori” collection, which is Latin for “remember that you are mortal," the small, elegant card holder would look dazzling on a front hall table or even more spectacular in a series set round a dining table, clasping the names of your guests in their silver jaws.

Another one from the Momento Mori collection, this black porcelain skull-print plate comes as a set of four wrapped in a round black box tied with silk ribbon: $800 Douglas Little worked with confectioner Valerie Gordon to create this set of divinely decadent skull chocolates for his line. A set of three, one of each flavor: scorched caramel (organic cream is slowly combined with sugar over an intense flame, until the deep amber confection appears) , bitter brandied cherry (an exquisite and unusual confection of indulgent bitter chocolate, kirsch-perfumed ganache and succulent sour cherries steeped in liqueur, finished in porcelain white cocoa), curious chilli (an eccentric array of chilies and spices are combined with the deepest chocolate into an exotic and exciting sensation, with a heat that lingers long after the chocolate is gone). They all come wrapped in a satin-lined box and tied with black silk ribbon. Swoon!
And I just couldn't have a Halloween post without including something from Martha. These Halloween-shaped copper cookie cutters from the Martha by Mail collection (now defunct) are rare collectors' items today, although there is a similar set being sold at Macy's through the Martha Stewart Collection. Still, the Martha by Mail cachet lives on and a set of these cookie cutters, unopened, would fetch between $300 and $600 at auction today. They came in a black box lined in orange faux-bois and a Martha by Mail instruction booklet. Fab! So? Wanna come to my party?

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