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December 2006


FEATURES

All That Glitters
By Diane di Costanzo

JENNIFER PAGANELLI GETS CRAFTY IN HER WILTON FARMHOUSE, FOREGOING RED AND GREEN FOR SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE SPARKLY

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It's holiday time in New York City. A winter wind whips up Fifth Avenue. It's cold, crowded, time to go home. Yet the vitrines of Saks, Bergdorf's, Bendel's and the like, packed with swirling colors, glittering lights and extravagant expressions of holiday cheer, mesmerize the weary with hundreds of glass ornaments, thousands of sugared gumdrops and billions, maybe trillions, of shimmering sequins.

Entering Jennifer Paganelli's Wilton farmhouse, which doubles as a showroom for her business, Sis Boom, is like stepping into one of those windows. During the first week of December, Jennifer holds an open house, selling her exuberant wares that include enormous holiday wreaths made of vintage ornaments, pillows cut from old textiles and girls' dresses with twirly skirts fashioned from 1950s tablecloths. She also sells baby blankets, shadow boxes and lampshades, all of which glisten in various degrees of gold, silver and sequin. While Sis Boom defies easy characterization, you know it when you see it. "We're a little"—here Jennifer pauses a beat—"sparkly."

As a designer, Jennifer's first influences were the colors of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she was raised. Her palette is informed by the Caribbean's super-blue skies, sun-kissed seas and trees sprouting blossoms as big as saucers in gorgeously garish purple, magenta and orange. For Christmas, her mother would decorate a palm tree. Her island childhood helps explain the Sis Boom approach to the holiday. Doll-dress pink and robin's-egg blue with chocolate, pistachio and silver accents? Yes! Red-and-green plaid? No.

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