Toronto Star

February 28, 2009

Rita Zekas



Dandi Does Decor: DecoRita needed an absolutely fabulous thank-you gift for squatting at our friends' villa in Tuscany for three weeks last fall as noted above. And it had to be out of the ballpark since our friends are in the schmatta business, supplying accessories to major retailers in the U.S.

They are the quintessential couple who has everything and, if they don't, it's not worth having.

We had spotted a set of sensational salad servers at the flea market in Arezzo (where the film Life Is Beautiful was shot), where 800 vendors from all over Europe congregate the first weekend of every month. The salad servers were stainless steel with small antlers on the handles and priced at about $350 Cdn.

They were of German origin and would be perfect to go with our friends' oversized olive wood salad bowl but we still felt compelled to check out the other goodies. There might be something even better lurking at the 799 other booths.

Bad move. When we came back to seal the deal, they were gone.

It became a quest; no one had them, not even in Rome. So we came up with Plan B.

We don't have the technology to reproduce them but Toronto jeweller Dandi Maestre does.

Maestre, whom we'd discovered at a Greta Constantine fashion show last spring, makes bold and outrageous one-of-a-kind oversized jewellery and accessories from horn, Canadian shed antlers, antique raw amber, reclaimed wood and other natural and recycled materials.

Her work has been featured in Vogue Japan, Elle, Flare, Hello!, Lou Lou, Wish, Lush and Glow, but in a fashion capacity. She had not ventured into decor but was up for the challenge.

The bigger the better in the antler department, we stressed.

Maestre suggested we go for wooden salad servers rather than metal because they would be more organic. We found a pair that resembled paddles on sale for half price at Pottery Barn. They weren't olive wood but approximated the hue well enough. Maestre worked her magic. Not only did she deliver the goods, she has decided to branch out into the home accessory business.

The salad servers are priced for $350 (the same as the asking price of the ones that got away in Arezzo) and Maestre will do custom work on any pieces you might aspire to. Her website is

The antler salad servers are en route to Tuscany, adding a piece of real Canadiana to Italy. DSquared, purveyors of Canadian cottage wear to Italians, take note.