Friday at the MET

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 of mostly 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!   

My Fair Gent

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.

L'Amour Fou

I saw the Yves movie the other night at the Pelham Picture House. Unfortunately they were playing the movie in their classroom space, which I’m sorry to say, is not a good place to watch any movie. Even a great movie is painful to watch in folding chairs, okay they were padded, but still we had to get up and stretch at one point. The screen is too close and too high and frankly the space just felt odd. I was excited to get Tom to the Picture House (finally) and I was apoplectic about seeing L’Amour Fou, so imagine our disappointment when we found ourselves alone in the “classroom.” Perhaps we could have done more with this circumstance... but well, we didn’t.

As for L’Amour Fou, sorry gals, it’s a rental. There isn’t much fashion in it, however the interiors are deliciously drippy, I thought so anyway, Tom found them to be “High Frog Clutter.” The story surrounding Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge’s art collection and relationship is significant and understanding the life and creative process of yet another “tortured” artist never seems to tire. However there were lots of cliche shots– Berge looking out a window at an ocean view with a worried, longing face... Geez.

While you’re waiting for it to come out on disc, do see the Bill Cunningham movie and Valentino darlings, both grand.

Fashion '51

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.


South Street Seaport Museum and the SS Normandie Show

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.

Coco avant Chanel

If you hurry, you can still see the Coco Before Chanel movie that was released about a week ago. My friend, Nora, planned an "indulgent afternoon" which included seeing the Coco movie at the Paris Theater, located next door to Bergdorfs in The City (NY). We lunched at BG, Bergdorf's cafe. Central Park views, Hollywood meets Paris interiors (courtesy of Kelly Wearstler) were in keeping with our themes for the day–indulgent, fun and stylish.

The movie was beautifully shot, subtle and detailed. Of course, I've been thinking about Chanel designs since and how one might incorporate them into your wardrobe right now. I found this ad for White House, Black Market and I think is definitely is a doable Chanel solution.

Of course there is always the real thing... Thank you Karl. Minus the weird black and white eye makeup and Elizabethan collars (plus several thousand dollars) it might be a "timeless" addition to ones wardrobe...I'm not sure Coco would entirely embrace Karl's designs, however. According to the movie, she was a "no frills" gal.

Photos: White House/Black Market Advertisement, Harper's Bazaar, Runway Report, Special Issue

Maid of the Mist

Isn't she fetching? Like the falls, a force of nature. I was hoping for a little Maralyn fix, visiting Niagara Falls. However, certain places don't live up to stylish dreams and when that happens, embrace the right now and enjoy the venue for exactly what it has to offer.

The falls are over-the-top, big, bold and ferocious, the King Kong of water falls. Its avenue backdrop is cheesy, touristy, outlandish and garish, to the point of laughable. My son loved it! His chosen souvenir, a jester hat, set the tone and the style.

When you go, and everyone should at least once, don't miss the Maid of the Mist. Dawn a full length blue rain poncho, included in your admission, step aboard, choose the top deck, and be prepared to enter Horse Shoefalls on the Canadian side screaming. It's a blast, literally. The Maid's been blowing visitors away since 1846! Imagine what people wore to Niagara then.

Coming Out Of The Closet, Fur

I love wearing fur. I hope red paint doesn't come squirting out of my computer now that I've confessed. Perhaps it is my Italian roots. Fur is to Italians what scarves are to the French and denim is to Americans.

With the economy looking more like a regurgitated fur ball, it's probably very wrong of me to even be blogging about it, but a recent article in the WSJ called, "Inside the Peltway" by Amy Chozick, has had me musing on fur for days. Apparently fur is fashionable in Washington, which seems at odds with the new administration's responsible spending, mantra. According to the article, "the first lady doesn't wear fur," but she does have a long brown mink...Maybe she's prudently recycled it into pillows or a throw. Is it covering a foot stool?

As a stylist to many a R&B and rap artists, it was no surprise to me when the article went on to explain the never waning love of fur amongst African Americans. The P.O.S.H Life, a blog coming out of Atlanta posted, "Black People Love Furs: PETA Who? Weather they sport fur or not, the Obamas are a stylish couple and they inspire glamourous fashion choices, across ethnic boundaries, in an understated way. Style is not about money. Often, the best place to acquire a quality fur is from a consignment shop–or your mother (thanks Mom)–or your sister (thanks Bonnie). My mantra–Wear the nice things you have and enjoy them!

Below is a personal list of fabulous fur moments:

• Barbara Stanwyck, in "Christmas In Connecticut" when she unpacks a fur delivered to her NYC apartment that SHE BOUGHT HERSELF.

• Myrna Loy, as Nora Charles, when we meet her in the first "Thin Man." She looks like a very grand poodle. We find out later she's from money, so Nick didn't buy her that fur either!

• Working with J. Mendel furs on a advertising shoot I once styled. I enjoyed working with, and learning more about furs and the fur business from
Gille Mendel who has since become quite the celebrity designer.

• Working with Paulette Washington. She arrived in an astonishingly
beautiful chinchilla (thanks Denzel).