Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It?
























Valerie wore this outfit to work the other day, and got to thinking that every piece had a lesson to teach.

Starting at the top:

The necklace:


















This Mexican sterling and onyx necklace was in the display case at a thrift shop.  The price discreetly stuck on the front was very reasonable for the merchandise, but still would have bought quite a few lunches.  So it was not a transaction to be entered into lightly, and I asked the clerk to take it out of the case.  When I turned it over, there was another sticker on the back that priced the necklace at two lunches, transforming the moment out of the realm of hesitant lust and into the realm of done deal.  Happily, the clerk had been waiting on me the whole time, and graciously honored the two-lunch price tag.

Moral: Objects that look far away are closer than they appear.

The shirt:























Several weeks ago Jean and I stopped at a favorite resale shop, and after combing through the racks we went to the communal dressing room with our respective finds.   There were a few things we each rejected, and gave to the other to try on.  This shirt, with the wonderful asymmetrical hem, was one of Jean's rejects.  I would never have found this piece on my own, or if I'd found it I would have rejected it because it has eighteen snaps (too much trouble), AND because it has sewn-in ties (I prefer mine removable), AND because it's a size 36, which I would have assumed too small for me.  (These are examples of what everyone is now referring to as lizard brain - the primitive part of the brain that makes snap judgments.)

But Jean prodded me to try it on, and we both love the designer, Ivan Grundahl, so convincing me was easy. I loved the look, it fit, and I bought it.

Moral: 1) it pays to listen to your friends, and 2) overcome your prejudices (your lizard brain). 

Jean says: I have to confess that the minute after I'd offered the top to Valerie, I immediately regretted it.  Seeing the top on Valerie only made my lizard brain want it more.  (It's sort of like that boyfriend in high school whom you thought was only OK, until other girls became interested. Suddenly, he became so much more desirable.) Figuring that it was bad form to just rip it off her back, I convinced myself that when she decided not to take it, I'd get my second chance to pounce and make it mine.  So, of course, she loved it and I never got that second chance -- and since I never told her until now, she'll find out by reading this.

Speaking of lizards, here's what the well dressed frilled lizard brain is wearing these days (from travel.nationalgeographic.com)






















The bracelet:
















Shortly after college graduation, I was working in a department store in a job that was about to be phased out. The store didn't let me go, but they had no place to put me. So I did what anyone would do - I volunteered to take a month off without pay, and spent the time in a youth hostel in Italy.  (Yes, you could afford to do that back then!)  I watched my lire carefully, and spent the time going to museums (in the days before entrance fees were $18 and waiting lines at the entrance were an hour long), window shopping, soaking up the local history, eating amazing Italian chocolate and drinking incomparable cappuccino.  Just days before I was to leave, I passed - for the millionth time - a tiny jewelry shop where I had fallen in love with a bracelet of sterling silver bits punctuated by coral bits.  In the window, I could never see the price, and was mortified at the thought of asking.  But I had bought barely any souvenirs, so treating myself seemed a real possibility.  I rehearsed appropriate questions and answers, and went inside.  The price, L40,000 (well under $40 then), was so reasonable that it's amazing I didn't faint on the spot. Ecstatically, I reached into my wallet, only to discover (in the years before ATMs, when banking hours were short and lines to cash travelers' checks were long) that I only had L35,000 on me. This was something I had not rehearsed for.  Crestfallen, I apologized for wasting the store owner's time.  But he waved away my concerns.  "L35,000?", he said in Italian.  "That will be fine."  Pan the camera to my dumbfounded face, which then reverts to ecstasy.  I still love this bracelet.

Moral: 1) American thinking is useful in America - when in Rome, do as the Romans do; and 2) Big memories hide in small places.

The gauchos:

















Remember gaucho pants?  Everyone had to have them in the '70s. These are Issey Miyake, from the 80s. They're incredibly well made, so I was able to wear them for years - actually, for more than a decade till I blew up like a balloon, and the elastic waist began to feel like an external gastric band.  I came close to giving the gauchos away a hundred times, and can't say what stopped me.  I probably wore these pants fewer than five times in the past five years, and all wardrobe specialists will tell you that should be the point of no return.  When I tried them on the other day (what got into me?), they didn't fit as they did in the '80s, but they fit (!), they still looked like new, and even worked well with the shirt.

Moral: 1) classics aren't in style, so they don't go out of style; 2) sometimes it's good to jettison your own rules.

The boots:























I saw these Diane von Furstenbergs - 9 1/2, exactly my size - at a resale shop, priced at $99. I must have schlepped them around the store for an hour weighing the pros and cons of spending what I thought was an exorbitant price at a resale shop.  $50 would have been an immediate yes; $99 demanded deep reflection.   I tried them on several times, waiting for Buyer's Epiphany.   In the end, I convinced myself that paying $99 and getting boots I really liked NOW was better than finding cheaper ones after another year of searching. (Yes, I had been looking for at least one winter, and maybe longer.) When I got to the register, the cashier told me the ticket code indicated these boots were 50% off because they had been there a long time, and I nearly ROTFL at myself and the good joke the universe had played on me and my Shopper's Angst.

Later, when I got home, I looked at the bottom of the boots again and discovered they were actually size 8 1/2.  If I'd read the size correctly at the store, I never would have tried them on.  Most likely the boots got old at the store because they were tried on by a legion of women who wore 8 1/2 and all found the boots huge.  And they weren't tried on by any women who wore 9 1/2, except one half blind one - me.

Moral: 1) It pays to shop outside your size; 2) If the universe gives you the boot, you should try it on.

So remember, every picture tells a story, don't it? Wuuuu!

(Thanks to Rod Stewart, who presciently named this post before it even existed.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stephen Petronio 30th Anniversary Gala!
































Last Wednesday evening, we attended Stephen Petronio Dance Company's 30th anniversary gala. Outside, George and JR pose outside the theater as we gathered everyone together and divvied up tickets.


































Inside, just before the show, we tried to photograph this woman's fabulous coat, but there was just too much going on (Valerie spotted Valerie Steele, and Jean spotted Harold Koda) and it was impossible to get a good shot.


































But not to worry.  We borrowed a better picture off the Moschino website so you'd have a better idea why we (politely) stalked this lady.  Wantwantwant!!!





















Choreographer Stephen Petronio premiered his newest piece, "Locomotor", featuring costumes by fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez.





















This sketch from narciscoblog shows the costumes.  Both the costumes and guest artist Melissa Toogood (of Merce Cunningham fame) received rave reviews in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

































The Dumpling Diva, Marja Samsom, and Nancy Ng were part of our posse that evening. Nancy is on the Board of Directors for H.T. Chen and Dancers, which is having its celebration in Chinatown on April 25th. For more information on that event and the company, click here.


































We reconnected with PR guru Joe Yang (whom we'd met at the recent ENK Coterie show at the Javits Center) and Petronio dancer Nick Sciscione. Loved Nick's ombre'd tee, not to mention the "guns".






















Dancer extraordinaire and Assistant to the Artistic Director Gino Grenek.  Loved his leather harness and cuff.


































Dancer Julian Deleon and his friend.


































Dancer Emily Stone.


































Dancer Joshua Tuason in marvelous spatter tee, Narciso Rodriguez and the designer's lovely companion for the evening.



















Dancer Jaqlin Medlock and her arm candy.


































Dancer Davalois Fearon in a fabulous dress that only a dancer could do justice to and Executive Director Laurie Uprichard, formerly of Danspace and the Dublin Dance Festival.


































Michael Volpe, aka "Clams Casino", composed the music for Locomotor. Turns out he is also Stephen's cousin.


































Artist Kirsten Hawthorne was part of our entourage that evening. Loved her Lafont glasses with metalwork frame.


















The Flack contingent: Stephen's husband, Jean-Marc, with his parents, Ronald and Daniele, and his cousin Lee.
















Stephen times two!



















Realtor and traveler Gene Fein in a shocking pink worthy of Schiaparelli.






















We last met Montgomery Frazier and Ben at FIT's Elegance in the Age of Crisis opening night party.






















Board member Jill Brienza.






















Cesar Abreau is also a dancer, just not for Stephen's company.


































The ladies Flack: Clare is on the Board of Directors for the company. Daniele is her mom and her cousin Lee is an author ("Passions and Scandals" published by Xlibris).













Guests Blake and Nicholas.






















On the steps of Spice Market, our Meatpacking District party venue, Stephen thanks three members of his Board of Directors, seen here, and the rest of his team, off camera.






















Let us give you another look at that fabulous plaid suit, seen from behind.


































Spice Market's hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and desserts were superb. Each guest received a signed print of a sketch by Stephen as they left the event.






















BONUS PHOTO: The Wall Street Journal covered the party and posted our photo first among a series. Of course, we loved it.














What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing: vintage Norma Kamali black crepe dress from Thriftwares at the recent Manhattan Vintage show; Ignatius leopard hat; vintage bakelite earrings from recent Pier Show; vintage bakelite spiked necklace, bracelets and rings from Jean's "vault"; Alexander Wang purse from Beacon's Closet; Jean's own customized DIY Dansko clogs.

Valerie is wearing:
Unlabeled vintage hat, plastic check earrings, black index and thumbprint necklace by Peter Lane Clay,  faceted buffalo horn ring, vintage Sonia Rykiel pinstripe suit, Express shirt, J Crew spectator flats.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Visit with Barney's Fashion Director
























Last Friday night, we attended the New York Arts Club's FashionSpeak Friday presentation on "The Direction of Fashion" featuring Tomoko Ogura, Senior Fashion Director of Barney's New York. Here we are with artist Timur York, another guest at the event.

We shouldn't say this, because we know all too well that people blow the age thing all out of proportion (right, readers?), but we are all agog that Tomoko is young enough to be our daughter. Tomoko joined Barney's right out of college, in 2005. Moderator David Zyla asked her to recount the story of her meteoric rise, and - just like in the movies - she met the right person at the right time, and that person knew that Barney's Fashion Director needed an assistant. Tomoko interviewed, was hired as Fashion Merchandising Assistant, and the rest is history.

Through a slide show and her own observations, Tomoko (who majored in finance, not fashion) gave the audience a glimpse of her day-to-day activities, from scouting new collections here and abroad to developing special projects to working on the Barney's website. In one slide, she showed pieces from a designer's original collection on the left, and on the right a similar design by the same designer but tweaked to sell exclusively at Barney's.


































In light of the fact that Tomoko's job is (directly or indirectly) to shape the wardrobes of thousands of women, David Zyla asked Tomoko to talk about her own wardrobe. Tomoko said modestly that she almost always wears what she wore that evening - a motorcycle jacket, jeans and sneakers. When she said she had quite a few motorcycle jackets, we were a little perplexed.  How different can motorcyle jackets be, we foolishly thought.  But in this photo of Tomoko from Elle.com, we see how limited our visions of motorcycle jackets were, and why one might want to have quite a few.






















And - well, we can't help ourselves. We KNOW it's shallow to focus on a woman's looks or clothes, particularly when she clearly has so much more to offer than what we see on the surface, but we have to show you this picture we found of Tomoko by wonderfully imaginative photographer Ruven Afanador for style.time.com. It's a stunning photograph, made all the more interesting by Tomoko's modest self-description.






















After the talk, David (below) invited questions from the audience. We believe in audience participation! Valerie asked whether Tomoko's responsibilities extended to Barney's Japan (they don't, but the two offices trade ideas), and whether there was anything coming out of Berlin (yes, but not for Barney's yet). Jean asked whether Barney's targeted - ahem - women of a certain age, since many stores appear not to (we do, said Tomoko, who pointed out that Barney's focuses on its loyal customers from their mid-thirties to seventies).  In an online interview, we're happy to report that Tomoko, who spends many hours on her feet, says "Comfortable shoes are key!" For Elle.com's interview with Tomoko on Fashion Week, click here; for style.time.com's interview with Tomoko on her promotion to fashion director, click here.


































Both before and after the program, we spoke with fellow guests, artists Scott and Elizabeth Christopher, and were surprised to hear that Scott recognized us from the Manhattan Vintage Show the previous week. In a city of eight million people, what are the odds?!  Elizabeth was wearing vintage Oscar de la Renta.  To check out Elizabeth's art, click here. To view Christopher's, click here.


































The program drew all sorts of fashion enthusiasts, who crowded around Tomoko afterward to ask myriad questions. We were bedazzled by this perfectly turned out young woman who is launching her own blog, and who asked us for a few pointers. Among the chestnuts we offered: big pictures, little text (sigh…); be sure you have an income to support your blog. ALWAYS have your business card on you, especially when you meet older people like us.  (She didn't have hers on her, and in between our meeting and our posting we mislaid our memory of her name.  Gorgeous, if you see this post, write to us, so we can credit you properly!)  And the last piece of advice we should have given her, and which we should learn to follow ourselves: never ever forget to take a picture of yourself to head your blog with.  Geez.  How many times do we have to tell ourselves?!  (Oh, and what we learned from her was: post more videos!)











Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Manhattan Vintage Show: Can't Get Enough of That Vintage Stuff























As if the Pier Show wasn't enough, we also went to the Manhattan Vintage Show. Remember? Because of a scheduling snafu, both this show AND the Pier Show were held on the SAME weekend. Since Manhattan Vintage is only on Friday and Saturday (key Melina Mercouri and the theme music from that fab 1950's Greek-American collaborative screen gem "Never on Sunday"!), and we're working girls, it was a no-brainer what we'd do on Saturday. Our friend X joined us at the Manhattan Vintage Show last Saturday at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Since she wears lots of vintage jewelry, clothes and handbags, it was a very fun outing for all three of us. (Valerie says she could not have done two days in a row prior to her twin foot surgeries. Well worth the time spent in the dreary post surgical booties.)

No sooner had we arrived than we ran into Lisa Caravalho and Rob Stuart. We loved Lisa's '80s silver raincoat, not to mention her silver hair. If she's not smiling, she bears an uncanny resemblance to Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.


































Oops!  Valerie thought this woman was wearing a fabulous '60s coat, but it turned out it's a very current Kate Spade.  Folks, it takes a lot of coordinating to get that pattern to sit just right when it's on the left and the right, AND over both shoulders.  Kudos to the people who planned this design, and to the people who sewed the pieces together!


































This camera-shy woman let us photograph her marvelous coat, but not her face.


































We had some celebrity sightings.  Here's designer Anna Sui.  She always shops the vintage shows and was extremely accommodating when Jean asked to take her picture.


































Valerie spotted Vogue's Hamish Bowles, but Jean was strategically better situated to take a photo, so Valerie got her attention (ever so discreetly, no doubt) and motioned to her.  Mr. Bowles is somewhat less photo-friendly than Anna Sui.  As soon as Jean snapped this photo, he was off in a flash, only circling back after we'd left. (For those aghast at Valerie's hatlessness, she had just been trying on a Junya Watanabe shirt the putting on of which challenged not only her, but the booth employees, who were more familiar with its intricacies. So the hat had to come off. Momentarily.


































And Jean found Market Warrior and interior designer Bob Richter.


































Vendors are definitely among the most fun and enjoyable things about vintage shows in New York. Case in point, in addition to his expert knowledge about vintage design, Theo Banzon of Paradox Designs has great humor, high energy and enthusiasm.  He's wearing a skirt of his own design which incorporates roomy pockets on the side seams.  Thank goodness there's ONE designer who understands that pockets are essential.


































Alana (far left) and Amira (center) were their own best advertisement at the Style Vault.


































Elaine Klausman from Vintage with a Twist combines current and vintage and always looks crisp, classic and modern all rolled into one.  Check out the patches sewn to her Anne Fontaine shirt.  (Anne Fontaine regularly turns the humble and simple white shirt into a work of art.)


































During NY Fashion Week last September, we participated in a 6-city fashion shoot and event for Phillip Lim 3.1 for Target. We appeared in a street scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Ken Weber from Vintage Martini in Carrollton, Texas appeared in the Dallas segment. He traveled to the Big Apple for the party, so we got to meet him there and then had the chance to reconnect at this show.  He had the most amazing white straw hat!  Sooooo soft!!!


































And speaking of hats (as we so often are), Bruce Mihalski of Hollywood & Vine (from Massachusetts), was so excited about the headwear in his booth that he began to try some of it on to prove how fab the hats were.


































Valerie tried on another of Bruce's hats.  You can just barely see it here, but it's made of two separate materials, with larger raffia in the back.  The visor is shaped more like a huge comma than anything else.






















And X tried on this black and purple number.  We all loved this hat!


































X also ran into her be-hatted friend Diane.



































We found this wonderful huge Issey Miyake bag  with 'bubbles' at Susan Bergin's Pocketbook.  Next to it (not shown) was a small black bustier bag that Valerie wound up buying.  Not big enough to hold a wallet, a cell phone, a camera, and postcard sized business cards, so not terribly practical, but absolutely hilarious!


































Jean did NOT buy Style Vault's leather brassiere (which is lipstick red, although it shows up here as pink), but we HAD to show it to you. Whatever else we outgrow, we never outgrow our need for fun.


































X bought this cloak clasp to wear at the lapel of her jacket or coat or sweater.






















We were in awe of this dress, which has a very '70s look about it. Those are shreds of porcupine quills sprouting from the bust and the apron.


































Noriko Miyamoto was the only dealer able to overcome the scheduling snafu. She had her assistant Taeko Miyamoto (same name but no relation) work at the Manhattan Vintage Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion while she herself worked at the Pier show.  Here's a find: a Japanese workman's jacket from Esso (later Exxon) while it was still called Standard Oil (thus the SOCONY - Standard Oil Company of New York logo). This jacket has tigers stenciled onto it, but some SOCONY jackets of the period featured the iconic Pegasus.


































Meika Franz was running Another Man's Treasure without her usual sidekicks, husband Warren and daughter Biba because the baby was under the weather.



































The women at Tracy Chambers Vintage were having as much fun as we were.


































This woman's ombre'd hair and multicolored outfit really hit our radar screens.



































We loved this woman's look too.  And she's also wearing lace-up boots.  Was it the weather, or is it a trend?



































A show stopper!  A suit that looks like a Roy Lichtenstein painting, and open-heeled Clergerie shoes.



































Charlotte and her mom travel to NYC for the vintage shows from Massachusetts.  Time sure flies.  After reminding us that we first met her when she was 14, she merrily announced that she had just turned the grand old age of 16. She is already working on her Associate's degree at Harvard Extension and is quite well known by the vintage vendors at the local flea markets there.  The black net dress is a Comme des Garcons dress that she treated herself to at a Massachusetts second hand shop for her birthday.


































Our timing was impeccable!  We stopped by Amarcord's booth at the end of the day, just before the chilled Prosecco and cupcakes arrived to celebrate owner Patti Bordoni's 50th birthday! (Patti is the one on the left.  We have to tell you because you'd never guess.)
















Here's a better look at the goodies in the pink boxes.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PATTI, and many more!













After spending the entire day at the show, we had to sit and chat about whom we'd seen or just met and what we saw. The fact that it rained all day did not deter us in the least.






















We had another engagement at The Standard High Line Hotel in the Meatpacking District later that evening, so we stopped by one of our favorite haunts, Cafeteria, for a nosh. Because the main dining room was in full swing and the music was blasting, we were agog when the FABULOUS staff escorted us to a downstairs lounge that we'd had no idea existed. There we could actually hear ourselves talk. We went through our photographs and compared notes. Jean had the truffle fries which she pronounced to be divine while Valerie tried one of the cheese biscuits. The cocktails, needless to say, were scrumptious.




















What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing an Amy Downs knit turban; Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons coat for Puma; Theory shirt under an Alice and Olivia knit dress; Donna Karan opaque tights; Trippen boots; Alexander Wang purse; Danil Khutorianskii faux ostrich neck collar; resin and bakelite cuffs, bangles and rings.

Valerie is wearing a vintage unlabeled so-called funnel hat, wood and leather pin by Tereza Symon's mom, vintage earrings marked "Western Germany", unlabeled cropped jacket, Charivari sweater, vintage Issey Miyake hip wrap, Talbot's skirt, Frye boots.