A LADY’S PLACE: CLAUDJA BICALHO

Photos by Tamara Schlesinger

Text by Susan Winget

We ladies, all coastal urbanites, have for a long time fantasized about living a non urban existence. Where we live a gentler country amble, in a cottage or a shack. Think Blueberries for Sal, Polly Mellen’s living room in Connecticut and Claire’s Knee

The features of this fantasy depends only on access to elements—maybe a lake or river, ocean or bay; lovely green views, of pastures or forest or fields or dunes. Windows that open on to nature, screen door in the kitchen and a hearth. We are not a rugged bunch over here at Lady, so this is not chopping wood and barn raising daydream, although we are happy to endorse our capable lady friends who manage all of that. No—and we say this with deep apology—it is more of a Green Acres situation for us, or maybe Walden Pond now that we know he was entertaining regularly and walking into town to the pub to chat with other intellectuals

We think about long walks to gather bits of green or wild carrot for the lovely dinner table, set for two or family or neighbors. Having the time to cook with pleasure and innovation. For all of us, spending full days with our significant others or teenaged children, away from daily pressures and noise, is really where this fantasy lives its most potent draw. 

There are of course the add-on’s as one dwells on it: a garden, a bike or boat, a little village storefront to fill with a little cozy shop of whatever. Chickens, of course, and a place to sit outside in the early morning or evenings, and space for our Pup to wander in. Some of us want the morning swim off the dock, some of us want to write all day in silence in acres of nothing. 

One major draw back to the plan is money. Sadly we ladies are not rich. Like most people these days, we have periods of pinch. Kids come first for the moms among us and all around we essentially are writers, academics and creatives, so this is a a bit pie in the sky. How this will be managed is not usually part of the dream, but we are working on that. We would argue that this is a deep, generational urge, to distance ourselves from all the false promise and ugliness of the VC-fueled, luxury-condo-crammed, app-isolating world of the 21st century. 

We have friends and friends-of-friends who have managed this. Many are artists of some sort, some who landed in the world’s adjacent to art, in fashion, film, or advertising. Some are makers, who build mini worlds for themselves, and need some space to pull that off now that LA and NY are impossibly expensive. Some are dreamers, who see in the place opportunity. Some are looking for softer worlds for their young families. Some are at the place, like me, when babies are growing up and leaping out of the nest to college or their own flats, leaving us time and space for the inevitable confrontation with all those big questions: “now what?”“why not? ” and their constant companion, “now or never”. 

One of our old friends and once close colleagues is Claudja Bicahlo, who for the last decade has been the owner of Lazy Point Variety in Amagansett on the far eastern end of Long Island. A native of Brazil, she moves every summer with her partner, the painter Mark Wilson, from a winter house in the woods into a 1920’s fishing shack, close to the water’s edge of a vast bay.  There they build a mini utopia with a guest house/pitched tent in their sandy, pine-edged yard. Surfboards, sculptures and bicycles comfortably share space in their lovely potted garden. Claudja, who is hilariously funny and universally acknowledged as one of the most delightful and charming hostesses, invites guests to the tiny house regularly. If she invites you, go! This writer happened by once to find a gaggle of beautiful ladies chattering away in the yard, and Julian Schnabel napping in the tiny house. This world of the Bicahlo-Wilson family is an oasis. The favorite meal is Bicahlo’s signature huge Paella, prepared outside over an open fire. These two are also very beautiful and funny, and they entertain in an effortlessly chic and laid back way—Claudja has a brand of charm and beauty that no money can buy. If you have any reason to be in eastern Long Island, by all means go to her shop. She is worth the trip and frankly is a trip. And we adore her. 

The attached images are full on Claudja. Zero propping on our part, other then her popping on this divine loud, weightless Marshmallow gown. Our wonderful photographer Tamara Schlesinger happened to be visiting family out east and has also her own inroad to Claudjaville. We are going to circle back with more on her little Shack paradise in the coming months—for now, this is a glimpse of her summer.