(The Italian Government Tourist Board) spread the word about
Puglia. They have my attention! I’m awed when the machismo lead singer moves
from microphone to table to make pasta from scratch. He starts with eggs and flour, rolls the
dough several times through a pasta machine, boils it and tosses it with
vegetables and some sort of light sauce, also made from scratch,
in less than five minutes!!!
If this is
what Puglia is on West 16th Street, it must be
Latitude and ENIT for a very creative teaser to this region, I’d like to pack
my bags right now and head to Puglia for the real thing!
I'm a Binkley fan. I read her fashion column in the WSJ whenever I can and I'm usually both informed and impressed. She can write about fashion without sounding vapid or snobbish, not easy. In her article The Leaner, Meaner Power Suit she give a great little crash course on the history of the power suit for women and peppers the article with some good statistics as well. Apparently some 3.9 billion women's suit will be purchased this year, their market share up 27%.
Ahead of the trend, Carlisle / per se has been doing some great suiting for the last several seasons that is "powerful" and provocative, for a woman who is, well... a woman. Clients are usually scared of being matchy, matchy, so I've been breaking suits up, but lately I'm feeling like this is less of an issue. Executive women are actually gravitating towards the whole suit. Finally!
Gallery hop NoHo, lower east side–After fuel at La Colombe walk down Mott street to Broom Street and view the Esther Rosainstallation at S Artspace Gallery. Ms. Rosa has done a series of calming abstract paintings that are layered, organic in feeling and materials and decorator friendly, in that they'll work in most any room. I'm sure that's not the reason to buy art (and most artists would sniff at me for saying so), but it's always something that comes to my mind, "Can I live with this? Will it work in my living room? Will I always love it?"
Rosa's large sculpture made entirely from coffee filters, all dyed to varying degrees using coffee, and of several different sizes, is weird, wonderful and completely unexpected! This was what I wanted my friends to see. I think it is a daring piece to host and bodes well for creative happenings we can anticipate from this gallery.
Gallery owners Elizabeth Rosso and Catherine Testorf make the art, the space, the experience that much more inviting with their enthusiasm for this particular artists and the others they have, and will be showing.
Side note: At another gallery (un-named here) we practically had to use a cattle prod to get the gal to tell us about what we were seeing...
Walk east to Woodward Art and check out "DETAIL." It's no surprise that I loved Susan Breen's little cut-out painter's palette dresses, charming. In fact, it seemed this show had a little something for each of us to relate to and appreciate and want! Question: When did Orchard Street become gallery land? I bought my first business suit there from a Hasid who knew about fit and sensible style. In the late 80s I cut the skirt too short, but the slim jacket, a woven tweed, looks like one from Ralph Lauren's fall collection. Ha!
I think the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC) would be on my top ten list of places I like to be. It's an art feast and I am eating it up! Often, especially on cold, winter (even though it's March) days, I want to ditch New York and go back to Cali. But a half day looking at what mere humans are able to create, is incredibly satisfying, inspiring and uplifting. I leave the MET saying, I love New York and I'm not even in a Woody Allen film.
James Tissot, The Shop Girl
Today I saw Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. The name alone tells you why I wanted to go! It was a fabulous collection ofmostly full body portraits by celebrated impressionist. Many of the painting were from the d'Orsay, so it felt like a museum visit in Paris.
There was mention that the impressionists were enamored of their own era. Thereby paining, what we would call today, lifestyle pictures, paintings rich in detail and expression of everyday life. A curious thought. Am I enamored of the era I'm living in? Perhaps I am, yes and no...
Tissot's works were my favorite. Surprising, because he was the least impressionistic.
A silly take away; I need more stripes in my wardrobe!
My girlfriend and I followed up our pretend Paris visit with paninis and Champaign at Sant Ambroeus. I had an answer to my earlier musing... Yes, at this place, I am enamored with my own era! The impressionists would have captured a buzzing, delicious, sophisticated, fashionable moment in my very own time!
A few weeks ago I roped my friend LB (you don't really have to rope her though, she's up for almost anything) into to seeing an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. I knew I would enjoy the exhibit, Cecil Beaton, the New York Years, but I didn't know what to expect from the museum. It's a beautiful landmark building undergoing an $85 million expansion on 103rd street, a gem. The Beaton exhibit is big enough to spend time at each photo and illustration, reading about the fabulous life of this accomplished, photographer/designer, but not too big that you just can't take it all in.
I think most of us know that Beaton was the designer behind the costumes in both the movie and stage version of My Fair Lady. He started his career in fashion photography for all the big New York mags, chronicling the most popular designers of the 30s, Mainbocher, Schiaparelli. His shots were very theatrical and staged, a technique that is actually getting more popular today. Beaton then turned his focus toward design; interiors, costumes, sets. He lived in and redesigned suites at posh New York City hotels, including the Pierre and the Sherry Netherland.
This exhibit flew in the face of all those well meaning career advisors that encourage creative people to pick just one thing, and do only that, and that is what I liked about it best! Now through February 20th.
Most of you know my styling services include personal shopping both with and without the client. I’ve recently added a new fabulous source to my arsenal of shopping venues–Carlisle / Per Se. These two lines deliver on style and quality. Carlisle has been around a while as part of the in-home retail formula that works so well for so many women. Per Se is a newer line and considered more “current” than Carlisle, however for me, they really work best mixed together.
The spring lines are fab. They hit on all the best trends; poppy colors, cubist and geometric patterns, a little tribal here and there and animal prints… The collections host over 20 dresses, best and easiest for spring, AND my personal favorite, a few Hollywood-esk wide leg pants!
I’ll mostly be bringing clients into the Carlisle / Per Se showroom in Greenwich CT. but I plan on making a few City (NY) jaunts to the showroom there as well. The shopping experience is quite luxurious (a private dressing room, personalized attention (me!) plus additional help, seamstress on premise, sizes 0-18 in stock).
And did I mention, these clothes are made in Hong Kong from mills used in Italy and France. It’s beautiful, quality stuff, the likes of Dior or Donna Karen at Bridge Sportswear price points. I’m really excited to be using it as a styling resource for anyone needing anything special from casual to career to dressy to fun!
I’m starting to book appointments now. Get in touch with me. I can’t wait to show you my new thing.
The MSC Flagship Poesia was the venue for an Italian fete Saturday called "Italian Creativity On Board." I went with my pal Cindy Bigras a fellow GoNOMAD writer. She was speaking about Sardinia on behalf of the Italian Tourist board. I was basically working the crowd (largely Italian speaking), eating, drinking and being enticed once again to go to Italy. This time Piedmont was calling, the slopes in particular...
Luncheon was followed by a gorgeously lush fashion show by the acclaimed Italian designer Raffaella Curiel. Although she's been selling her work through Bergdorf's since 1965, this was her first American fashion show. It was divine.
Heading up town via orange Mini Cooper convertible to drinks on the rooftop of the Gansevoort was another welcome, "I love New York" moment. The Italians; they do know how to have a good time.
I’ve been working on an interesting project these days; collecting imagery for a potential pilot that takes place in 1951.I’ve been asked to explore fashion in that time period to position the “look” of the show.The first several episodes will take place in both Sicily and Washington DC.So I’ve also had to consider the regional differences between, say, New York and DC and Sicily and Rome.
Researching has brought me to the New York Public Library’s Picture Collection–I know, old school (admittedly, I did some internet hunting too). I wasn’t even sure if the Manhattan branch still had their Picture Collection, but they do and it was a eureka moment for this project.The Picture Collection is a rather large section of the library on 5th and 41st that has cataloged images (known in the industry as “swipe”) into a vast number of subjects. Picture in the Picture Collection would-be or established fashion designers, illustrators, set decorators, photographers and any number of other patrons in search of visuals.
Remarkably, as I’m swimming in this time period, the indomitable Grace Coddington of Vogue did an amazing story on fashion in the 1950s using the fall collections entitled, Magnificent Obsession.Check it out.
I’ve included some of my favorite images for amusement or inspiration.Enjoy.
So that, amongst MANY other things, is what I’ve been up to since I last posted.
We had three more stops to make on the Style Tour.
debutis a gallerylike boutique designed to showcase fashion designers as artists. Curated by owner, Lisa Weiss, debut, feels like you've stepped into an art gallery in the West 20's. It was fun for the group to consider fashion as art. The pieces were more "project runway" than anything else we encountered on the Tour, a bit too artistic (and irreverent) for most of us, but there was an abstract print dress there that I'm still thinking about. By the way, abstract prints, on dresses and shirts where all over the fall runways.
Rebecca Taylor–always a favorite of mine. Welcoming store manager, China, helped the ladies try on several blouses, jackets and pants. The store felt like the day– sunny, fresh, relaxing and cheerful. Taylor was a designer I pulled from often when styling photo shoots for advertising and music industry jobs. Her stuff is eye-catching, wearable and surprisingly comfortable. Her dresses are classic/feminine with a hint of "high fashion." I like it all and several things looked great on the gals.
Lolita Jaca–If you need a little St Barth in your life dip into this store. The seven of us barely fit in this tiny island of a store, but that was the fun of it! They were having an awesome sale (besides extending a special discount to our little group). I couldn't resist a better-than-Pucci print blouse, that I'm just dying to break out for just the right occasion (after that I'll wear it a lot and whenever). If you love colorful prints, simple linen dresses and want to dream of an island vacation, go to this store!
If you can’t make it to Italy, but can manage to get to lower Lafayette Street in Manhattan, stop by Lafco New York.This beautiful fragrance and luxury “smells” store houses Santa Maria Novella products from Florence.
This is one of (if not) the oldest fragrance (pharmacy) “brand” in the world.Founded by Dominican friars in the early part of the 13th century, the pharmacy began by producing medicines, balms and pomades from herbs grown in the monastic gardens.Eventually word got out about the exceptional quality of the products these friars were producing and happily in 1612, the pharmacy opened to the public.
Today Santa Maria Novella products are distributed worldwide, but selectively so the brand has maintained its pedigree and artistry.There is a fascinating and rich history behind the products and I am barely skimming the surface here. The store on Lafayette has a natural earthy palette with some industrial design influences.It is incredible inviting, almost like walking into a prayerful oasis of lotions and potions.
The Novella products are reminiscent of the Renaissance both in packaging and fragrance–they aren’t fussy or convoluted, rather they incorporate simple herbs and flowers used now and throughout the ages–verbena, magnolia, orange blossom.The other Fafco products are also worth the trip through the huge ironwork doors of the shop, a fitting entrance for this big step from city street to “friars pharmacy.”
If you find yourself in Florence do make the effort to visit the original Farmaceutica de Santa Maria Novell. (Describing that will take another blog post and words along can not do it justice!)
Below: The Pharmacy's neo Gothic main salesroom, Florence, Italy
Photos below and above center: Scott S. Warren from the article "Heaven Scent" at Smithsonian.com by Mishal Husain
Photo right: Gals on the Style Tour, Falco New York
South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan makes a great day trip. This re-invented Seaport, now an outdoor shopping, site seeing square, has lots to do for adults and tikes.
Husband and I were down there last week on an terribly rainy night for an exhibition opening at the South Street Seaport Museum. I was asked to write an article for the magazine, Seaport, which accompanied the exhibit. The show, entitled DecoDence: Legendary Interiors and Illustrious Travelers Aboard the SS Normandie, is a gem. Many (almost all) of the artifacts are loaned to the museum by one collector, a Mario J. Pulice. And in one of those small world occurrence, it turns out that Mario was a former work colleague of my husband's. They had a great time getting reacquainted. The show's curator Bill Miller did a marvelous job of celebrating the ship and the period. Step back to the DecoDence of the 30's and see this exhibit!
The article I wrote, The Great Escape–Transatlantic Fashion in the Deco Period, was obviously about fashion in the 1930's. It was a dream assignment for me. I could almost fancy myself a fashion historian and what better period to delve into– Chanel, Vionnet, Schiaparelli, deco's divine design divas!
Besides the Museum, The Seaport has some nice "port side" eateries, and decent shopping. It's a bit touristy, but probably not at this time of year and if it's too cold there are plenty of places to duck into. The Seaport Museum alone is worth the trip downtown. Check it out.
Okay, I was wrong about the weather. While it was rainy and cold here in Cali last week, it is just gorgeous here now. I guess we all spend so much time talking about the weather because it really does make a difference to our psyche. That's why everyone seems to be in a better mood out here–no grumpy sales clerks or deli managers.
It's been snowing in New York and I bet the folks at the Bryant Park fashion shows are slugging it out in the name of all that is chic. There's an article in the WSJ today about designers showing "more wearable" clothes on the runways; good for commerce, not so good for art.
Another article talks about labels trying to circumvent "fast fashion" chain stores from getting knock-off designer looks on their racks before the "real thing" hits the stores. What bugs me is this promotes a false sense of urgency to purchase ASAP–7 months early, in fact. I believe in careful curating of your wardrobe; really thinking about purchases ahead of time, analyzing what will extend or "add to" your wardrobe direction and considering how purchase will enhance a style you want to flirt with.
My advice: Check out the fall shows via the internet. It's fun. Take stock of what you're wearing right now–this winter. Are some pieces wall flowers? Are some getting too much play? Do classics need replacing? Is there something you're dying for? Now, plan for fall and next winter. It's a buyers market as they say in real estate. No need for stupid impulse buys. Trends can be had in almost any price range and designing your wardrobe should be both fun and serious business!
Last night my husband I went to an art gallery and saw his own work! As I've mentioned before, he's an art director and photographer and a few of his graphic design pieces were at the gallery. Entitled, The Wilde Years: Four Decades of Shaping Visual Culture, the exhibition captures the professional work of commercial artists who have graduated from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan during the 40-year tenure of Department Chair Richard Wilde. It is a energetic show chronicling exciting graphic design and advertising work. It runs until November 7th and is at SVA's Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26th Street. The space(s), on the 15th floor, has an adjoining outdoor terrace capturing a 180 degree view of downtown Manhattan. The weather, the view and the ultra cool arty crowd made for a real, "I love New York" evening.
Driving into the city to go meet Tom (Husband) at dusk from our home 15 miles north, I had one of those travel; stop, look and listen moments. I was on the West Side Highway and the sun was glistening on the Hudson, I drove past the Boat Basin at 79th Street, boats anchored, bobbed hello. Continuing past Trump Plaza to my left and Jersey's waterfront buildings across the water, I thought to myself even Trump's buildings look like something more than an upright shoe boxes tonight–I love where I live (okay there was no traffic and U2 was playing on the radio) but still...it was a beautiful night in Manhattan and the city itself was pea-cocking. And I didn't have to take a long flight to experience it!
It's fashion week in New York City. On Wednesday I was within viewing distance of the Bryant Park tents. I've had my fair share of runway shows; under the tents, in showrooms, the Puck Building even West-side parking lots. It's fun to partake in the hoopla. I remember once seeing a New York Public Library security guard refusing Anna Wintour access to a show. I was secretly pleased. Finally, someone next to me said, "You really ought to let her in, she's really important." I think Wintour was sort of embarrassed, she smiled sheepishly. The guard dropped the velvet rope, glowering at us all.
If you can't "do" the shows, let me recommend the ICP, International Center of Photography. Right now there is a stunningly curated Richard Avedon show that I would cautiously venture to say, is better fashion then anything you'll see under the tents. After quickly calculating that we'd still be able to make the 6pm train home, my daughter and I ducked in and were instantly caught up in a fashion-glamour moment (hour, really) of our very own making. The exhibit, Avendon Fashion 1944-2000 features some of his most famous and obscure fashion photos. Sadly, the show closes this Sunday, but there is a catalog/book, although that is never quite the same, is it?
Located on 6th and 43rd street, the ICP is a clean and convenient space, a very manageable museum, and I've chastised myself and my photographer husband for not being members! Our new years resolution, yes it is new years, we have kids, is to join!
The High Line in New York City is a "repossessed" railway. Once above ground freight trains used the line to transport meat, agricultural goods and mail up and down the Lower West Side. Now, reinvented by a group of caring citizens, The High Line is a park oasis, a cultural groove way.
What to do:
Gaze, talk, lounge and stroll. Appreciate design. Love Manhattan.
What to bring:
1) Kids and friends of all ages. Truly, it is a confined above ground park space so kids can run. Taking a paramour would be fine too! 2) Your camera, to capture some extraordinary vantage points of urban loveliness. 3) Big reflective sunglasses, so you can check out the celebrities you'll see and still look like you don't care that you saw them. 4) On-line parking coupon
What to wear:
Comfortable shoes (No sneakers. Why, because I hate them.) My girlfriend had some black patin ballet flats with a little perforated wing tip design across the toe, cute. You're elevated, so wear an extra layer–soft sweater, wrap or urban sweatshirt. Also, New Yorkers do in fact wear colors, just not too many patterns. The High Line itself inspires subtle designs and natural fabrics. Braking this guideline, however, my son wore a Volcom sweatshirt that is anything but subtle.
A test: Did you know of designer Isabel Toledo before Mrs. O wore "her" at the inauguration? It's both remarkable and disconcerting the way one outfit worn by a single woman can catapult name recognition of a designer to astounding heights. Isabel has been designing beautiful clothes for the last two decades. I saw a dreamy collection of her life's work at FIT in Manhattan recently. The show was called Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out. It's worth noting that Mrs. Obama's inaugural sheath and overcoat was the least interesting piece in the exhibition, however tasteful and beautifully tailored.
Besides the clothes, what was truly romantic about the show was the way Isabel's genius illustrator husband, Rubin Toledo, augmented the exhibition with oversized fashion illustrations of Isabel's designs. These hung from the ceiling on very large format paper, essentially wallpapering the upper fifth of the wall, all the way around the exhibition space. Most of you will probably recognize his illustrations from Nordstom's stylistic identity.
Even if you're not into fashion, you can appreciate this show. Toledo's designs are such works of art, calling them fashion, just isn't lofty enough. Displayed with some of her creations is a little diagram of the dress's pattern; both simple and complex the patterns help you figure out the idea behind the garment's structure. And she does love structure. Some of the gowns are 3D.
The show is free. With just one gallery, it's manageable. It breaths creative ingenuity and gives you license to dream about wearing fancy dresses.
Photo: The Museum at FIT, Irving Solero. Illustration: Rubin Toledo, Google Images
At a Memorial Day party this weekend I was loving Robin's red and white ribbon. She wrapped it around her waist over a plain navy T and white a-line linen skirt. A floppy navy hat topped off the look. It was simple, patriotic and chic. The ribbon itself was medium width, sort of floppy and not overly perfect, which made the look even more charming.
I've also seen a plain black silk ribbon used to make a necklace out of a silver charm bracelet. Or try light pink or light blue ribbon with a gold bracelet, shown here.
Another girlfriend, Melissa, sported a red ribbon watchband this weekend. Apparently the watch came with interchangeable ribbons. She mentioned she got it at Gracious Living Design Studio, Pelham, NY. I thought it would be a fun idea to make your own band, perhaps using a vintage watch. Stick with more sophisticated colors, for me, no poka dots or green and pink stripes, bit too "Babs," if you know what I mean.
Always on the look out for creative and unexpected ways to enjoy girly things, like ribbons...
In College Point, NY, that's Queens everybody, there is mega Korean Spa, called Spa Castle. My sister and I spent four hours there recently. We became aquainted with this five story, 60,000 square foot facility, but we just scratched the surface of what they had to offer! Decked in our Spa Castle issue, orange and pink gym shorts and tops, we headed for Sauna Valley on the second floor.
Big questions here: Should we start with the Gold Sauna, or the Jade Sauna? Do we do the Ice Land sauna between the various saunas, or just at the end? What about the Mineral Salt Sauna or the color therapy sauna, called the LED Suana, which utilizes color to promote good health and psychological discomforts? We did them all. Not for very long, but long enough to appreciate being enveloped by the warmth, relaxation and beauty of these other-worldly saunas. Imagine lying on the floor in a dome of gold or jewels, stepping into a room of color radiating here and there, smelling the cleansing air of salt and minerals in still another.
After our foot massage and sushi lunch, it was time to do water or have water do us! We opted for the multitude of jacuzzis in the ladies only lounge. Butt naked, with only hand towels for coverage, we sallied forth into the Lemon Bath, Water Body Jet chairs, steam room and ice bath. Okay we didn't do the ice bath...
Spa Castle also has water on the roof! A huge assortment of pools and jacuzzis overlooking the Whitestone Bridge. There are seated or standing Medi Spas with things called Power Leg Jet, Dream Jet and
Couple Jet. Sounds interesting, I'll have to come back with my husband.
Sometimes finding things to do with nine-year-old boys can be challenging. Especially if you're like me and you're really not into gory, gicky or dirty. I impressed the heck out of myself the other day when I came up with a boy intinerary that we test drove and loved.
We took our commuter train into Grand Central Station NYC and walked to the New York Public Library, the big one with the lions out front. We tooled around the library checking out the grand Harry Potter-like stair cases, masterly painted rotunda, and iconic Reading Room. Next we dashed– Yes, with boys you dash, dart, bolt, or with very tired feet, you clop. We dashed across the street to Chipotle. Okay, it is a McDonalds fast food chain, my bad, but it is also delicious, fresh and healthy Mexican food, my favorite. The best thing about Chipotle for kids is that you essentially build your own burrito, taco etc. Connor, my sons BFFL (best friend for life) right now, doesn't like cheese, which could have squelched the whole idea of Mexican food (like a hot tamale), but he simply requested no cheese on his custom tacos.
After our fiesta, we darted up to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Ascending the staircase to the first gallery of the museum, the "After Party," we came face to knee with The Incredible Hulk. Both boys could fit into to the Hulk's gnarled green hand. They loved it!
At the After Party, we chatted up Pitt and Depp, Selma Hayek, Harrison Ford and Travolta. You know, it was one of those typical Hollywood parties where no one talks to you even if you bump right into them and scream in their face. Since this is also a style blog, I must make a brief comment regarding their stylist, he/she missed the mark. Selma Hayek wouldn't be caught dead, or in wax, in that polyester gown.
There is no rule against shaking hands or clapping arms around unsuspecting celebrities, which made the experience especially amusing for the boys. They had their picture taken with Obama, raided Rachel Rays fridge, played b-ball with Yao Ming and jammed with the Jonas Brothers. As for me, I had a date with George Clooney. He's about as good looking in real life as he is in the movies, but he doesn't have much to say... A fifteen minute 4D film called Planet Earth rounded out the visit. The fourth dimension being wind, spray, vibrating seats and pokes in the back. Again, the boys loved it.
Our final stop was the mega Toys R Us in Times Square. I can appreciate that this store is kid heaven, but I find it a bit overwhelming and at this point in the day, I think the boys did too. They enjoyed the indoor ferris wheel, but when it came time to pick out that much anticipated toy, on a $25 budget, they started running out of gas like a Hot Wheel derailing. I steered them toward candyland and they selected some favorite sweets. For my son James, it's the sours. Connor is a chocolate man. We clopped back to Grand Central and headed back to the burbs all hopped up on sugar. Good times.
Yesterday we found ourselves on Orchard Street, NYC. The street has changed immensely since I bought my first interview suit there in 1983. Then it was mostly a jewish neighborhood lined with good quality sensible clothing shops. Now it's the new Nolita. If you're a New Yorker, you'll remember that Nolita was the new Soho. Anyway, the six of us, my girlfriend and I with four kids between us, two nine year old boys on skateboards and tweener girls glued at the hips, went to the Tenement Museum.
The kids grumbled a lot about the destination–too much like a school field trip, but once our tour got started they were totally engaged. The museum, simply put, is a tenement apartment building, but it's changed little since the 1860's when it was built. We learned that four families lived in identical apartments on each floor of this five story building sharing four outhouses and one water pump out back. The intricate scroll work and moldings in the building were unexpected, but the dark, musty quality of the spaces was what you might imagine. We heard a recording of a woman who lived there during the Depression. Our tour-guide told us a dickensian story about one family living there during the 1870's. A fascinating account of the time and all documented.
I've got to go back to the area sans kids to explore more fully, but we did manage to pop into one store worth a look-see, a haberdashery called Freemans Sporting Club. There is a classic barber shop in the back of the store right out of the movie, The Sting. Suits are made to measure using vintage fabrics, the workmanship, impeccable.
The Blue Moon Hotel at 100 Orchard looks interesting and has reasonable rates. Imagine staying there, strolling to the corner cafe for a latte and chocolate croissant, visiting the Tenement Museum, popping into any one of the hip looking stores and galleries neighboring to the museum, and then rounding out the day with dim sum in Chinatown. Without the hotel stay, that's just about what we did. A great day in the Orchard.