Inspiration From Barbados

A few weeks ago my husband and I flew away for a rather last-minute long weekend in Barbados. We were invited to the wedding of a dear friend. We thought we wouldn’t be able to make it but then we asked ourselves, “How often does a dear friend get married in Barbados?” Coincidentally, another friend was planning to be on the island at the same time and had room at her villa for two. It was a sign. Our decision was made. Once travel was booked I proceeded to imagine the adventure might be like living in a Slim Aarons photo. The lensman was noted for his favourable portrayals of the rich and beautiful at play in the Caribbean and other posh destinations. A girl can dream.

This shot of Mr. and Mrs. Nigel van Wieck was taken by Slim Aarons in Barbados in the ’70s. Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Austin also walked on a Barbados beach.

Backgammon in Acapulco, 1978. Playing backgammon with an alabaster set while sitting in a pool — only thing missing is two gin-and-tonics. I did buy a backgammon set for my husband for Christmas but it’s neither alabaster nor will we be playing in a pool. Oh well.

Round Hill, Jamaica 1959 (left) and Palm Beach, 1955 (right). Babe Paley (left) and CZ Guest (right) were Slim Aarons’ muses. I tried to pack for my inner tall, slim, wildly wealthy socialite (!) — lots of white, navy and red with a few splashes of gold.

I ordered these two pieces from to bring along. The dress for the wedding and a new swimsuit for the beach that’s retro, nautical and candy cane-inspired all at once!

We arrived at the west coast villa just before dusk and made a beeline for the beach. The light was absolutely stunning. I call this one “Mr. Austin walking on a beach in Barbados, 2012.”

Our room looked out onto the dining pavilion by the pool and onto the ocean. We ate most of our meals here and it was definitely my favourite spot. I love the fabulous crystal chandelier and the klismos chairs — my all-time favourite chair shape. The Greeks got this design right in the 5th century B.C. and it is still sensational today!

Every day was spectacular and sunny and warm, and the beach was so peaceful.

This villa just down the way had a gorgeous railing design. The lush plantings framed it beautifully.

I had to snap a photo of this vignette at a neighbouring villa. It’s a feast of texture and colour. I love how the stone archway and wall show the effects of salt erosion. The foliage is a symphony of silver, green and deep purple. This would be an amazing scheme for the mudroom makeover I’m planning.

This place down the beach had an authentic Bajan vibe: the colours, the fans, and yes, a tree growing right up through the veranda!

I am a wedding nut of long standing but this happy occasion was a new and magical experience for me. It was a Hindu ceremony at dusk under a white tent with the surf crashing against the beach and rocks just steps away. The last blazing rays of setting sun gave way to brief intense downpours of refreshing rain at the most meaningful times during the sacred rituals. And here is a glimpse of the utterly breathtaking bride.

On our last day on the island, this beautiful catamaran dropped anchor in “our” bay and we watched as those on board enjoyed lunch and a swim. It was a bit Thomas Crown-meets-James Bond. I call this shot “Mr. Austin swims with the catamaran, 2012.” (That’s my husband’s head bobbing to the right of the boat.)

One of my last views of the island was of this new subdivision under construction near the airport — rows of perfect cottages in a sorbet-inspired palette. I’ll take a green one, pretty please.

Photo credits:
1. Slim Aarons via Photographers Gallery
2-3. Slim Aarons via Aloysius Wishes
4a. Modcloth
4b. Modcloth
5-13. Margot Austin

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