Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wearing Cuffs - in Public!

We put this photo on Instagram the other day, and just as people have often commented on Jean's bakelite, a number of people commented on Valerie's Frida cuffs.

So we thought we'd show you how to make your own.

Here's the secret:

Yup, they were socks in a former life.  Just use a sharp scissor to cut off the elastic cuff at the top (or don't - see below), and cut a straight line across the bottom of the design.  In the photo above, it looks like the cut was angled, but it's just the structure of the heel that gives it that appearance.  Make a simple straight cut.

But you don't have to stop at Frida cuffs.  How about van Gogh matching Starry Night socks and cuffs (this time with the elastic top left on)?  Valerie has minimal sewing skills, little patience, and a growing acceptance for imperfections.  Some of our readers might see the uneven edges and say "I could fix that easily."  Then you should do that!  Perfect them!  But you will find that little unraveling occurs (or we could say raveling - why do they mean exactly the same thing?), so if you're afraid the socks will soon wind up as a pile of acrylic thread, stop worrying about that.  Unless you have a kitten or puppy in the house.

You could have matching Mondrian socks and cuffs.  These made a brief and understated appearance in this blog post.  Neuromas in her feet stopped Valerie from wearing socks most of the time (no elastic constricting the nerves in the feet, please), but curiously did not prevent her from buying socks.  Making cuffs was something of an outgrowth of having socks in the drawers and not wanting to waste them.

Valerie's sentimental favorites are her Marilyn Monroe cuffs, with Andy Warhol's telltale bad registration.  On the left are cotton socks; the cuffs on the right are what's left of a pair of lycra leggings.

Long time readers might remember that Valerie broke her wrist in 2011 (while wrestling identical twin albino alligators for an Animal Planet segment), and because the cast material repelled ink, she cut up her leggings and made a tres chic cast cover, seen below at a museum opening.

So get a pair of socks and make your own cuffs.  All we ask is that when your friends ooooh and aaaaah over them you tell them who you stole the idea from.  Send them a link to this post!

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Jean's 2¢: Who knew there were different versions of Frida Kahlo socks? Valerie's pair with bright red background has a perky looking Frida facing front. This pair below by Sock Smith features a much more serious Frida in a red scarf, earrings and flowered headdress with a monkey perched on her right shoulder. The blue floral background is offset by a red trim at the cuff, toe and heel.

The same image of Frida and her monkey also appears on yellow socks with purple toes and heels. The color of her scarf and flowers switched from red to purple. Vagaries in the printing and in sock texture create small variations.  Jean thinks Frida and the monkey on the yellow pair look happier than the monkey on the blue pair. You be the judge.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Frida Kahlo: Art - Garden - Life!

The anticipation was killing us. Style Crone was coming to New York and Frida Kahlo was coming to the Bronx. On Sunday, it finally all came together! We met Judith aka Style Crone at Grand Central Station and took Metro North to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx for Frida Kahlo: Art - Garden - Life.  Click here for the NYBG's YouTube about the exhibition.

Of course, we dressed for the occasion. While not historically accurate, we each channeled our inner Frida and wore clothes inspired by her that we think she would have appreciated. Judith wore a wonderful floral silk kimono over a matching man's shirt, beige straw hat by Maeve Carr and red embroidered pumps. Jean wore an Ignatius hat, long black sleeveless voile shirt, accentuated with lots of colorful bakelite and prayer beads. Valerie wore a Japanese tenugui (hand towel) as a head wrap, red polka dot cats' eye sun glasses, shell earrings, deep orange Ivan Grundhal sleeveless dress, Osamu Mita woven throw, Pleats Please blouse, antique ethnographic necklaces, knitted cuffs with Frida's portrait on them (cut from socks), and flats made of Kuna Indian molas.

The New York Botanical Garden's celebration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo features a recreation of the pyramid outside her Blue House (Casa Azul) with all of the native plants in the Enid Haupt Conservatory. Fourteen of Kahlo's paintings and works on paper highlighting the artist's botanical imagery in her art, focusing on her lesser-known yet equally spectacular still lifes are on display in the Library Building Art Gallery. (Photo below is from a poster at the show.)

The botanical garden itself is a revelation. Walking through the conservatory from the front door through the rainforest and the desert leads you to Casa Azul.   One of the big treats was the staircase that leads to a look at a rainforest canopy.  See if you can spot Judith and Jean. (High resolution photo, so you can enlarge it for a better view.)

It goes without saying that plants and flowers run riot throughout.  Here is the smallest smattering of what we saw.

Called a jade vine, and native to the Philippines, these blossoms look like a collection of green animal claws, but are petal-soft to the touch.

The vibrantly colored Mysore clockvine is native to India.  While wending our way toward the Casa Azul we often had to bend down so as not to disturb plants dangling from above.

No, we didn't accidentally rotate this photo.  This is the way these waxy looking blossoms grow.  So many plants are cheek by jowl that we couldn't always get their names, as with this one.  It also had numerous cousins.  One variety was all the same shade of pink, another had blossoms that pointed downward, with bright red stalks and white tips.

These delicate blooms come from the variegated bleeding heart vine.

This calla lily, growing just before the entrance to the recreated Casa Azul, looks like something plucked from the canvas of one of Kahlo's paintings.

The Garden''s evocation of Kahlo's garden and studio at Casa Azul (Blue House), her lifelong home in Mexico City, brings to life the vibrant colors of the plants and flowers of the artist's native country. Here is the recreation of the famous pyramid at Casa Azul where Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's best known muralists, and Kahlo's husband, displayed pre-Columbian art works. The vibrant blue in the background is the tint of the Blue House. The Garden's Shop in the Garden, in addition to its regular selection of books, cards, gardening tools, and artisanal jams, now features all things Frida, from oven mitts and aprons to books, cards and repros of her paintings printed on large silk scarves. Do make it a destination on your trip! You'll thank us.

There were too many things to see and so little time. Here are two stops on our next trip: At the Britton Rotunda in the Library Building is artist-in-residence Humberto Prindola's recreation of an installation of paper dresses inspired by Kahlo's 1939 double self-portrait The Two Fridas.  (There was an estimated hour wait while we were there.)  The Ross Gallery's "The Mexico City of Frida and Diego" features museums and other sites in Mexico City where Frida Kahlo's and Diego Rivera's artwork and personal collections can be viewed. (Photo below is a shot of one of the posters at the show.)

There we were, in a city of eight million people, at an exhibition thronging with visitors, and we still managed to run into someone we knew.  Sandy Long was dressed in bright botanical colors, perfect for the occasion.

We were not the only ones channeling our inner-Frida on Saturday. This young woman even wore flowers in her hair to match the print in her turquoise top. (Another case of six degrees of separation - we met this same lady on Fifth Avenue at the Easter Parade in April.)

This woman also wore a garland of flowers in her turquoise-tinted hair, and continued the theme with a floral print dress.

And still more flowers intertwined in the hair! And more tropical prints.

We ran into this beautiful young woman by the recreated pyramid.

Turquoise was a popular color. Another woman embraced the look and joyfully wore lots of prints and color to celebrate the show.

This young woman wore a red embroidered cotton top a la Frida.

Another lady in light blue wore a terrific statement necklace with turquoise coral and red sandals.

On our way through the conservatory, we met this lovely lady wearing a fuchsia scarf, top and shoes who was obviously enjoying herself and the exhibition.

This duo was checking out the wonderful selection of merchandise in Shop In the Garden.

For the most part, the men were more sedately dressed, but we have to tip our hats to this gent, whose glasses matched his shirt, and both of which matched matched many of the flowers we saw that day.

Just outside the gift shop, one woman was demonstrating traditional Mexican embroidery, and another was demonstrating traditional backstrap loom weaving, examples of both of which Frida can be seen wearing in her art work.

And just as we were making our way toward the exit, Valerie ran into her friend and fellow textile enthusiast Ann (far right), just arriving with friends.  What are the odds of running into two people you know?!

We got to the platform only a minute or two before the Metro North train pulled into the station. Once we arrived at Grand Central, we took Judith to Cipriani's for a closer view of the wonderful astrological mural on the ceiling of the train station.

We had time for one last toast until we meet again later in the week. Then off we went, having had such a grand time that we decided to savor the moment instead of blogging about it.  (That's why we're posting today.  You know what they say - age has its privileges!)

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We couldn't resist closing with two more fun photos.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Hint of Frida

We should be blogging, but it's the three-day holiday weekend for us, too, so we're playing hookey today and will put up a real post tomorrow.  Above is just a sampling of tomorrow's post.

We went to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden, and as you can see we brought our friend Judith Boyd with us, better known as Style Crone.  No one is going to be able to pull off the perfect Frida imitation, but we tipped our proverbial hats to her, as you can see.

Enjoy your holiday!  And remember our veterans and those armed services members who didn't come home.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Black ... IS the New Black

Sometimes, nothing satisfies like black! And simply nothing else will do. We've had these fabulous black patent lip bags for months (courtesy of Amarcord, a great place for vintage clothes, as we've noted previously), and finally decided we just had to use them in a post.  Wouldn't it be fun, we thought, to match them with black lipstick?  The rest just fell into place. Nothing does the trick like black, so we went for it: black hats, black accessories, black dress and pants.  Even black nail polish!  OK, we know, it is over-kill. But it was also over-fun!

As it happened, Valerie had happened upon the wonderful five-sided sculpture of stark white faces at Rockefeller Center (called Masks: Pentagon), which seemed the perfect spot for our latest photo op.

Luckily, there were several very accommodating tourists and even a security guard (!) who offered to take our photos for us.  The guard gets an A+ because he knew - without having to be asked - to get our hats and our feet in the shot.

Afterward, we strolled to Brasserie Ruhlmann, just across the street. Since the weather had turned a little chilly and their outdoor seating area didn't have any heat lamps, we opted to go inside, and were pleasantly surprised at our good luck in getting seated at a very comfy corner banquette. The next surprise was the fact that the bartender humored us and acceded to our request to mix and match ingredients of the yummy cocktails on the menu.

We started with a very tasty Jalapeno Margarita, but asked the mixologist to add the raspberries and basil listed in the English Basil. We were warned (as we often are when we make these requests) that that would change the flavor. We said (as we often do when warned) that we would take responsibility, and that our instincts usually turn out to be right. (More than one mixologist has complimented us on our choices. Could that just be flattery???) Needless to say, the resulting drink was delicious.

Jean happily munched away on her basil leaves. This is what it looks like when you accidentally munch on the jalapeno pepper ...

Gratuitous photo to show off Valerie's black nail polish.

Ditto for Jean. (Eagle-eyed readers will note that more of Jean's drink ingredients have been munched than Valerie's.)

We were seated next to a table of five very lovely ladies from Scotland, who had stopped in for cocktails. After some coaxing, they agreed to allow us to photograph them for our blog. You be the judge. Don't they look great?

After they finished, they headed to the Top of the Rock, in good spirits. Having friends to share your experiences makes life just a little more fabulous, don't you think?

On our way out, we saw three women who turned out to be from the U.K. inspecting the menu and we encouraged them to go in, saying the drinks are great, the menu is very interesting, the prices are reasonable and the ambiance is warm.

So the next time someone tells us they had a black day, forgive us if we look a bit confused.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Good / Day / Black / Rock

We're having technical difficulties (what? again?!), so rather than risk black circles under our eyes, we're just going to tempt you with a fun photo tonight and ask you to come back tomorrow night.  Same old bats time, same old bats channel.  (Did you get the camp TV reference?  Write and tell us what we stole it from - oh, sorry, what we sampled it from.)

We thought it would be fun to dress alllllll in black (right down to our black lipstick and black lip bags) and then stand in front of the new stark white Thomas Houseago sculptures (called Masks: Pentagon) up at Rockefeller Center.  Waddya know.  It was ... a structure with a large mask on each of its 5 sides!  But more on that after we've each spoken with our respective tech geniuses.

Can't tell if the lipstick is black?  Yeah, well, that's the price one pays for forgoing those collagen injections.

Enough of this frivolity ... and now, off to get our beauty sleep!