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Fabergé or ‘Fauxbergé’?

Eye-catching Elegance D.C. designer Tashia Senn made her mark with remarkable speed. BY Lisa Antonelli Bacon

Fabergé Revealed, a special exhibition now on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts that features more than 500 objects crafted by Russian jeweler Karl Fabergé, is the largest public collection of the artist's works in the U.S. “We wanted to start the exhibit off with a bang,” says Dr. Géza von Habsburg, a preeminent Fabergé scholar and curator of the exhibition. But bling may be more apt to describe the exhibit's first piece, the Leuchtenberg Diamond Tiara, which was crafted around 1900 from briolette, pearshaped and oldcut diamonds, and gold and platinum. “Because there are few major pieces of jewelry made by Fabergé left–they were mostly broken up and sold in pieces by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s–the tiara is truly a trouvaille,” or a real find, says von Habsburg. But the tiara is just one of many other finds in the exhibit, which comprises the museum's permanent collection of Fabergé—the gift of Lillian Thomas Pratt in 1947—as well as loans from three important private Fabergé collections. But the exhibit does more than celebrate the

artistry of Fabergé; it also investigates the existence of “Fauxbergé,” a term von Habsburg coined for works that are, well, fakes. It took von Habsburg and the team at the VMFA more than two years to document all of the items in the permanent collection and suss out which pieces were not created by Fabergé. “We didn't want to hide any part of the story,” explains von Habsburg. The Pratt collection includes a selection of objects which, though certified at the time, turned out to be by different artists. Von Habsburg’s first task was to demystify all those certifications issued in the 1930s and 1940s. “The Pratt forgeries are just as interesting as the rest of the collection,” he says, adding, “the VMFA ‘bit the bullet’ by agreeing to have these things identified, and to make it a study collection.” The exhibit is on display until October 2. But don’t fret if you miss it. The exhibit’s catalogue, which sells for $65 at the VMFA Shop, represents the most up-to-date scholarly study of the collection: It is a trouvaille in itself. VMFA.museum Clockwise, from left: Imperial Fire-Screen Frame (1910), Leuchtenberg Diamond Tiara (1900), Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg (1912).

Is it hot in here? Heating Things Up with Bikram Yoga. BY Meredith Rigsby To some, it’s a torture chamber. To others, it’s a place to rejuvenate. It depends on who you ask when you step into a Bikram Yoga classroom. Unlike traditional yoga, the temperature for a Bikram—or hot yoga—class is kept between 104 and 105 degrees: It’s a virtual sweat lodge. And more and more yoga enthusiasts are turning up the heat. Ranked 11th on the American College of Sports Medicine’s top 20 fitness trends for 2011, yoga is gaining popularity, and the hothouse type known as Bikram (so named for founder Bikram Choudhury, who developed it in the 1970s and who trains instructors all over the world in his method) is taking the lead. “I think [Bikram Yoga is taking off] because it’s always the same 26 postures. In other

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words, there are no surprises outside the initial surprise of ‘Oh my God, it’s hot and I have to do this for 90 minutes,’” says Reggie Meneses, 43, of Reston, who represented Virginia at the National Yoga Asana Championship in 2011 and was named 2010 Men’s Virginia Yoga Champion. Meneses has been teaching at Bikram Yoga Reston since 2005; he also teaches at Bikram Yoga Fairfax and Bikram Yoga Falls Church. “Unlike traditional workouts where you have to plan and tailor your day with various exercises for different parts of your body, Bikram is already planned out,” he explains, adding, “we don’t

chant, we don’t sing; we just keep it simple and focus on the totally physical.” Bikram Yoga is a series of specific postures, or asana that include the eagle pose and the tree pose, that are done in order and systematically work every part of the body. Aiming to create balance between the body and mind, Bikram Yoga also focuses on pranyama, or controlled breathing. But why the heat? The reason Bikram Yoga calls for such stiflingly hot temperatures is to ensure optimal stretching ability, to flush the body of impurities through perspiration and to bring oxygen to the internal organs. All considered good things by yoga devotees. “I get a lot of my flexibility and level-headedness back after class,” says Meneses. “It helps me live in the moment.”

>> For more about BikramYoga classes, go to VirginiaLiving.com/Yoga

When she was barely old enough to dress herself, Tashia (pronounced TAY-sha) Senn loved playing dress-up with her mother’s clothes and accessories. When she was old enough to read, she devoured fashion magazines the way her playmates did comic books. No surprise then, that when it came time to go to college, Senn set off for New York’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology where she made quick business of creating fashion. With astonishing speed Senn, 33, debuted her first collection less than six months after her 2009 graduation. “I had designed three seasons before graduation, which made the design process a little easier,” says Senn. Unlike so many of her colleagues who glut the fashion centers of New York and Los Angeles, Senn chose to set up shop on her home turf of Washington, D.C. Her timing was perfect. She settled into her K Street studio soon after Michelle Obama had re-focused political eyes on fashion. “She definitely influences me,” says Senn, “because she is a fashion icon.” A town where the cocktail party is as important for getting business done as a House subcommittee meeting, D.C. is the perfect landing spot for Senn’s high-end fashions. Playing to its conservative tastes, her pieces have a timeless quality, which hark back to the 1950s and 1960s. “The era is just so vast,” she says. “It was a great era. Back then, women would dress up just to go to the grocery store.” Her wide collars, sweetheart necklines, detailed embellishments and structured silhouettes skim the body rather than squeeze it. Senn’s designs range in cost from $350 to $1,650. Last fall, she was negotiating to get her designs on the racks in stores. Until then, her studio is the only place to find her fashions. So what’s to come? A mommy-and-me line that she plans to premiere next spring and a men’s line later. Any plans for the presidential closets? “The PR people I was working with sent a package to the White House,” she says. “We’re holding out hope.” TashiaSenn.com Matt Statler/Delastyle

A new tell-all exhibit opens at VMFA. By erin Parkhurst

Above: The designer with one of her conservatively fashion-forward designs. V i r g i n i a

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Virginia Living - October 2011  

The October 2011 issue of Virginia Living is the tastiest yet, featuring our favorite pairings of cheese and wine, with every crumb and drop...

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