Sunday, April 20, 2014

ZIP! We're on Japanese TV

In March, we received one of those wonderful surprises in our email: an invitation from ZIP!, a Japanese morning TV show, to participate in a fashion segment.  The idea was to have us name current fashion trends and then interview individuals on the street who embodied the latest styles.  Sounds like fun, right?  We jumped at the chance to connect with a Japanese audience.  Above, we prepare for the shoot.  Below, the entire crew.  In front, Mr. Nagano, the State-side coordinator, Ms. Takatori, who saw to our every need, Paige, the segment hostess, Mr. Murai, the director, and Mr. Otsuka, the cameraman.

The IFs cited the following street style fashion trends for both men and women: skinny jeans; hoodies and short jackets, especially motorcycle jackets; short boots or sneakers, especially leather and custom sneaks; lots of polka dots and stripes (which we ourselves wore); sharp, angular haircuts or topknots; jewelry, especially earrings and rings; tattoos; knit caps, especially with a high peak; and sunglasses, especially Ray Bans. Stay tuned to see how well we did. Here we are with our intrepid team of producers, video crew and host outside our van. ZIP!'s only caveat? Avoid people wearing fur, which tended to elicit complaints from viewers.  We were happy to comply.

We did the shoot on Saturday, March 9th. The piece just ran on ZIP! last week in Japan (at 6:56 AM!) in a segment called "Boomers". You'll have to sit through a brief commercial (sorry), and remember to click on the little square box near the bottom right corner of the video so you can view it full screen.

流行ニュースBoomers ニューヨーク ZIP! 20140404 by dm_5232ea58af3f6

Or, as always, because we're somewhat technologically challenged, see it in higher resolution by clicking here.  The voices they chose to dub most of what we say into Japanese add an interesting touch. It is quite a surprising experience to listen to our Japanese personae.

ZIP! engaged model Paige Mobley (below) to host our piece and others they were shooting that week around Manhattan.  Our segment was quite straightforward: One of the producers asked each of us on camera to describe what we were wearing and Paige introduced us to each of the street style selectees whom we would then interview.  We spoke to quite a number of people, only a few of whom show up in the video.  We know ZIP! filmed several segments in New York that they'll be showing over the course of the next few months, but we have no idea if our other interviewees will show up at later times.  We rather like the idea of returning in subsequent programs.

Although it was sunny, the temperature was quite chilly, so the crew set up a base of operations in the Little Cupcake Bakeshop on the corner of Prince and Mott Streets. Jean experienced a sense of deja vu there, since for twenty years it was the home of The Kitchen Club restaurant owned and operated by an old friend Marja Samsom, the Dumpling Diva. Valerie tries her hand wielding the colorful ZIP! microphone at our window table in the bakery.

Stationing us on the corner of Prince and Mott in front of the brick wall surrounding Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, producers selected individuals (as did we, later on) and sent them our way. Our first victim - er, interviewee - was Sarah, who was wearing only one of the trends we named: sunglasses.

Being classic Type-A personalities, we immediately took matters in our own hands and started soliciting people we thought were stylish. Our first choice? Chris Stylez from Toronto, who relocated to Manhattan. He fit our style forecast profile to a T: Crap sunglasses (that's the name not a judgment), custom sneakers from Venice, California; semi-skinny jeans; short jean jacket (by a designer whose name we can't remember); YSL vest; G-Star hoodie; jewelry and tattoos.  If you watched the video, you know that Chris made the cut and appeared on Japanese TV. Chris was sporting a sharp, angular haircut, a modified Mohawk/Fauxhawk he dubbed the "Falcon".  Follow Chris on Instagram (#iamchrisstylez).

To our delight, who should pass by but none-other-than local denizen the Dumpling Diva herself, a vision in polka dots (another of our style trends), walking her bike to get a flat tire fixed. How could we not recruit her to be interviewed and videotaped?

In between interviews, to raise our body temperatures a bit and rest our feet, the ZIP! crew sent us back to Little Cupcake.  Despite the cold, Jean didn't wear gloves because her hands were otherwise engaged.

Valerie, who gets the shivers when looking at a refrigerator, came thoroughly prepared.  In addition to fully lined gloves, she also adhered glove sized handwarmers to the backs of her hands.  Toward the top right corner of the photo if you look really really carefully you can see a mike attached to her scarf.  See it in the red circle?   We wore those all day, so it's a good thing we didn't say anything we would regret later.

Back out on the street again, this gorgeous young woman from South Africa, who relocated to New York, was sporting many of our trends: Acne leather motorcycle jacket and hoodie; Acne skinny jeans; leather sneakers; sharp, angular haircut.  She made the androgynous look appear feminine but not girly.

The crew, entirely professional at all times (checking to see that the lighting was even, asking us to repeat our comments, but facing in a different direction, scouting out locations, etc.) also had all the participants sign release forms, as here.

We flagged down Philip Bambarger who incorporated a zillion of our style trends into a handsome package: sharp angular haircut; skinny jeans; short lace-up boots -- All Saints Spitafields, thank you very much! -- all of our accessory items -- earrings, rings, bracelet and tattoos.  He upped the ante by adding SkinGraft leather fingerless gloves!

Nathalie Martinez was sweet enough to stop on her way to services at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Nathalie, who hails from Mexico City is currently living in New York, was wearing a short jacket, skinny jeans, short boots, Ray Ban sunglasses and jewelry (bracelet and ring). Her purse? Prune, a South American brand.  Nathalie also appears in our ZIP! Boomer segment.

At the producers' request, we moved up the street and around the corner, where we met Moses, who works at the Helmut Lang store just across the street. He was sporting a Helmut Lang motojacket of the thinnest matte leather; skinny jeans, short boots -- All Saints Spitafields! -- tattoos; necklace, earrings, bracelets, rings AND a topknot of very fine dreads.  Moses works as a model, and the camera particularly loved him.

Clancy McCarty from Tribeca was wearing a knit cap with high peak, short jacket (Montcler), skinny jeans, high top sneakers, and sunglasses.

This young entrepreneur was wearing a short leather jacket and hoodie, skinny jeans, sneakers and Ray Bans to which he added his own final touch -- a baseball cap.

The producers invited model Natalie Friedman to join us and be interviewed.  She was wearing a short jacket and short boots which she combined with a large brim hat, leopard dress, bright leather belt and black leggings.

This young man was wearing sunglasses, skinny jeans and a short jacket -- an Italian bicycling jacket, to be precise -- which worked quite well with the rest of his rugged, traditional, casual weekend-in-Soho wardrobe. He was definitely bucking some of the other trends, but in a very natural way: no sharp, angular haircut, sneakers, tattoos or jewelry (that we could see), but he looked quite natural in his own skin.

Given ZIP!'s own no-fur caveat, we were surprised when the team invited Poppy King, the Lipstick Queen, to be interviewed in light of her fox-collared Alice & Olivia coat and pony-skin Celine bag. That she made the final cut and appears on TV was another pleasant surprise.  She was sporting a number of our identified trends (sunglasses; short, angular haircut; skinny jeans; short boots) and was a lively and interesting subject. We loved her bright red signature lipstick against her white hair and black coat.

The crew had a great sense of humor.  Maybe because New York is still known internationally as a place where anyone might have a gun, they surprised us with two pink bubble guns they had purchased for us, and toward the end of our stint they asked us to level the guns at the camera and say "Oshare huntaaa!" (Fashion Hunters!), as you saw in the video.  They also had us say it in English, covering all their bases in case that worked out better.  How could we not love it?!  Hey, do you think we could we have bit parts on Law & Order now?

What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing a black and white striped wool reversible wrap coat by Korean textile artist Chungie Lee (from the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show a few years back); Amy Downs black taffeta origami hat; Costume National jacket; Eileen Fisher harem pants; Alexander Wang handbag; black and white polka dot socks from The Sock Man on St. Mark's Place; customized black Dankso clogs; vintage frames from Fabulous Fanny's; black and white striped ceramic earrings from Festival flea market in Pompano Beach, Florida; bakelite and vintage jewelry.

Valerie is wearing a vintage Chisato Tsumori hat (bought in Tokyo before the ZIP! crew was born!), Kandinsky felt scarf from Margoshka on Etsy, Monies earrings (yellow, dyed purple with magic marker), velveteen polka dot coat by Cattiva, purchased from Sunset Boulevard, unlabeled purple suede gloves, Issey Miyake pants, polka dot socks by TipiToe, Bernie Mev shoes.

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

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.