Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jean's 66th Birthday!

Unbelievable, isn't it?  Where does the time go?

Never one to rest on her laurels, Jean curled her hair, put on her dancing shoes to kick up her heels and rocked the house to celebrate her 66th birthday.

If James Brown was the GFOS (God Father of Soul, for you young 'uns), Jean must be the GMOS (God Mother of Style).

Don't take our word for it.  Judge for yourself.  Click here to view how Jean celebrated her birthday.  We dare you not to laugh! (Warning: it does involve sound, so don't click if you're in church or at a funeral ...)

Jean says: "I feeeeeeeel good! Like I knew that I would!"

(Many thanks to Banjo Peggy and her wonderful JibJab card that helped make this all possible!)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show 2015

Last Saturday, Jean made a solo trek to the City of Brotherly Love to attend the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Craft Show.  Valerie, explaining that she'd spent all of her ducats (or German marks or Euros or whatever) in Berlin, begged off. Undeterred, Jean was committed to go. But getting there was NOT easy. After spinning her wheels at Penn Station, switching tickets and waiting, only to learn that the 10 AM, 11AM and finally, the 12 PM AMTRAK trains were all delayed due to "track debris"somewhere north of NYC, interfering with southbound trains, she jogged up 8th Avenue to Port Authority and bought a ticket on the 1 PM Greyhound bus. As the bus pulled out and she was planning how to make up for lost time, since her ETA was closer to 3 PM instead of noon, her reverie was once again interrupted. Due to mechanical problems, the bus had to return to the terminal and everyone had to get on another bus! Arggghhh.

When she finally got to the convention center ...  at 3:30 in the afternoon, Jean was a woman on a mission -- to see as much as possible before the 6PM closing. [Click on the links to get more information on the exhibitors and click on the photos to enlarge.] First stop was Ignatius Hats, of course. (More on that later.)  Second stop was Andrea Geer's booth.  This black and white striped vest with continuously looped side panels made a dramatic statement.

Next stop was Steven Ford and David Forlano's booth to drool over their semi-precious jewelry, including these O'Keefe earrings and colorful ceramic beaded necklaces.

Fashion designer Selma Karaka sewed strips of fabrics to create texture and shape and wonderful variations in color on everything from dresses to skirts. Jean's favorite was the orange skirt on the left.

Re-connecting with friends is one of the best things about attending this show.  It was so much fun to check in with Amy Nguyen and her husband Ky to see what they've been up to. Among other things, they produced a beautiful hand-made book about Amy's designs and their Boston show room.

This coat is an example of the workmanship and attention to detail in Amy's textiles. Even the lining is stitched together like a gossamer quilt.

When another friend, Chicago jewelry designer Christy Klug stopped by, Ky snapped a shot of the threesome.

This necklace, with a clear enamel finish, is an example of Christy Klug's work.  She works mostly in metals and enamels.

Christy couldn't resist trying on one of Amy's jackets.

New York jeweler Biba Schutz is a long-time favorite.  She posed with a customer showing of her new white metal earrings.

In addition to jewelry, Biba is producing small sculptural objects like this little number which measures about 6"-7" in height.  It appears to embody both African and Asian influences.

Check out this lady's stockings.  They had black rectangles that looked like strips of electrician's tape strategically placed around the ankles and calves.

It was New York textile designer (and good pal) Mary Jaeger's first time at the Philadelphia Museum's show. Her booth was an amazing collection of pleated, pieced and hand-colored coats, jackets and scarves, interspersed with luxuriously knit hats and neck scarves. Jean's favorites were the tall felted hats like the white one in the foreground.  Mary appeared in the far left of the shot, working with one of her many customers.

Ignatius Hats' booth is always the first priority.  Ignatius Creegan (left) and Rod Givens (right) posed with their friend Liddy.

Long-time readers of our blog know of our well-documented addiction to their head gear.  Two of their straw creations are below. More hats will be posted on our Instagram. Jean's purchases?  They will gradually be revealed as she wears them later this winter and spring, so stay tuned!

Jean recognized this gorgeous and charming lady (who was purchasing a hat from Ignatius) as someone she'd photographed last year.  She was sweet enough to allow another photograph this year.  (Maybe this will be a new tradition?)  Don't you love her (own) knit hat, set at a rakish angle; terrific striped and dotted jacket; and graphic bracelet?

Across the aisle from Ignatius was Adcock Studios' booth with the most amazing baskets made by Christine and Michael Adcock in their Santa Barbara studio.  This black, white and red basket was emblematic of their work.

Christine Adcock (who let us try on her baskets as hats last year) was sweet enough to pose for a photo this year.  Check out the basket in the background on the left and the little houses on stilts on the right.

These colorful archery earrings were among Jean' favorites.

Berea, OH jewelers, mixed media artists and teachers, Roberta and David Williamson were engaging and connected. And yes, David is wearing a weathered knife blade pin.  Check out the current issue of American Craft Magazine to read their interview and view shots of their home which illustrate how seamlessly they live with and among their work.

These two red coral-like necklaces were Jean's favorite among favorites in their booth.

Rea Studio Art featured 3-D creations that worked equally well as jewelry or clothing and as art. Rea is a jeweler and sculptor.  Her genetic hearing loss prompted her interest in and inspiration from sound waves.  She creates endlessly interwoven patterns of nylon via 3-D modeling and printing.

Rea's nylon jewelry was both lightweight and comfortable.

Shellie Bender from Lawrence, Kansas, created black and white graphic jewelry that looked comfortable and soft.

Jean stopped in at Annika King's to view her latest designs.  Her F/W 15/16 Granate Pret collection, called "Clositered Winter" was beautifully tailored. The fabrication and cut-outs in her grey and white Cloister coat created a romantic silhouette.

From the front, details like its golden lining, curving collar and double clasps were visible. Annika obviously continued to refine her design and dress-making skills.  Her made-to-order custom collection offers options in design and color.

Wake Forest, NC artist Sharron Parker (who does spell her first name with 2 "r"s) had a series of large scale and smaller handmade mounted felt pieces, as well as smaller felted pins. This particular piece, "Zion in Spring", measured 27" x 32 x 2".

Another favorite, New Mexico fiber artist Juanita Girardin, showed her collection of graphic pins, jackets and vests.

Brooklyn, NY quilter Erin Wilson showed colorful and black and white geometric hand-dyed and pieced cottons. Check out her website to view more of her work. And check out @idiosyncraticfashionistas on Instagram to see additional shots of people and designs from the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Craft Show.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Did you know that National Public Radio produces a series called The Changing Lives of Women, and that you can listen to it on line anytime on

We think you'll be both entertained and edified by this series, which originated in 2013.  This year the series focuses on ageing, so we wanted to share it with you.

The latest addition to the series is an interview with Anne Bernays, 85 year old author of ten novels, writing teacher at Harvard, and, according to the podcast, thrower of "weekly cocktail parties in her apartment high above the Charles River".  (How could we not love her for the cocktail parties alone, even if we don't attend them?)  As the podcast opens, she describes marking her great grandmother-hood by dyeing her white hair "eye-stabbing blue".  In the six minute piece, she covers a wide range of topics from invisibility to sex, and to widowhood after sixty years of marriage.

Click on the arrow below to listen to the podcast.  BUT...

Don't stop there!

Click on the link provided on the first line because the podcast is accompanied by an article with more thoughts from Ms. Bernays, as well as previous Changing Lives features.  For starters, you'd probably like to take a look at For Women, Income Inequality Continues Into Retirement and, on a topic near and dear to us all, If the Shoe Fits: The Rise of the Stylish Comfort Shoe.

We hope you enjoy the various features.  We're very grateful to NPR for creating the series, and to WNYC for running it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lea DeLaria's Jazz Brunch at Ginny's Supper Club

After seeing Lea DeLaria's notice on Instagram about her November 9th booking for a Jazz Brunch at Ginny's Supper Club, located in the heart of Harlem, we decided to head uptown. For those of you living under a rock, Lea plays Big Boo on Orange is the New Black. She is no Johnny-come-lately.  She has been paying her dues and has recorded 5 jazz and 2 comedy albums. House of David is her latest album featuring her covers of 12 iconic David Bowie songs.

For the uninitiated --and for fans -- here is Lea in Orange is the New Black.  (For the full screen version of the snippet below, click here.) (Warning -- Adult Language: no matter which version you choose to view, there is some language that may make some readers uncomfortable.)

As we started to tell you, we went to see her last week at Ginny's Supper Club, in the basement of the Red Rooster, and holy cow, can this gal sing!

Even though it's called Ginny's Supper Club, we went there for brunch.  (Not that we mind, being ladies who brunch.)

We arrived a bit early, so we got to watch another performance on the main floor while we waited to be seated. Boncella Lewis and her band were appearing at the Red Rooster's Gospel Brunch.

Trust us, this lady can really sing the blues.  Do yourself a favor, and check her out.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson is the mover and shaker behind The Red Rooster. Long-time readers may remember that two years ago we were selected as two of StyleCaster's 50 Most Stylish New Yorkers. Marcus was one of the other 50 Most Stylish that year. Click here to view a photo of Marcus and his interview "Dress Yourself Like You Would Create a Recipe".

Mixed in among the memorabilia behind the bar at the Red Rooster are wooden eggs signed by celebrities.  Smoky Robinson's egg, which he signed on 4-9-13 and raved "The food is great!" is mounted on a little gold pedestal.

Paul Rudd's egg stands on end and attests to his rating: "Delicious!".

People in Harlem dress. The maitre d' was quite the dandy, combining two-toned patent leather Prada shoes and designer cammo shirt and patterned tie.  He cut quite a figure and was totally charming and engaging.

We also traded fashion talk with the Red Rooster's sharply dressed hostess while we waited.

Once we were escorted downstairs, it wasn't long before we ran into Lea and her fiancee Chelsea Fairless.  Flash wasn't enough to illuminate this picture in the darkened club, but you get the idea. The crime is that it doesn't show Chelsea's amazing vintage coat with gold embroidery. We figured Lea would be behind the scenes, waiting for her cue to come out, but no, she was rubbing elbows with all the patrons. There was a sumptuous buffet brunch (and bellinis!), which we had fun oohing and ahhing over - and then eating - before the show began.

Did we mention that brunch was superb?  No one goes home hungry. In addition to fried yard bird (Marcus' fried chicken with a batter made with flour, milk and coconut milk); baked salmon covered in cucumber slices; braised cauliflower and a wide variety of vegetables;  deviled eggs; greens salads and fruit salads; mashed potatoes to die for with fried onions scattered on top; and an incredible selection of desserts.

We know Lea is a consummate performer and we knew that she was a jazz singer, but what we didn't know was how really good her voice is.  And her band is top notch.

She can whisper it or belt it, she can scat it, she has great phrasing, and even though she's singing well known songs, she makes them hers.  We didn't recognize everything she sang, but among the songs she chose from the American song book were Night and Day; Everything I Have Belongs to YouMiss Otis Regrets (Read the lyrics to the latter two.  If you don't know them, they will surprise you.); Yesterday (not the one you think); and an extremely interesting choice: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd. The show-stopper? A mind-blowing version of Bowie's Fame. You can see here how dynamic she is, always in motion.

At times, with both of her hands on the mike stand, she appeared to be playing a saxophone.  Or is it a bass?

When we were kids, we would have had to say something like "You should have been there!", but with YouTube, now you kind of can be there.  We found this video of Lea doing Everything I Have at Joe's Pub (or click here to watch the full sized version):

So you can see why we had such a great time.  We were reminded of Louis Armstrong, who was famous for carrying a handkerchief to dab away the perspiration that came with great exertion.  Lea had her own version of the Armstrong hankie, but it was black with a glittering skull and cross bones in one corner that sparkled when it caught the spotlight.  (Here's a link to Louis scat singing and holding his trademark handkerchief.  If you think scat singing is easy, try making up nonsense sounds to your favorite songs.)

All too soon the show was over.  But the good news is that she has two more shows on each of two dates in December and January at Ginny's.  So when we say "You should have been there",  it turns out you actually can be there.

Click here for Ginny's Supper Club's Calendar to order tickets for one of Lea's next Jazz Brunch appearances on December 13, 2015 and January 10, 2015.  We're definitely planning to go back for more!

We walked back east across 125th Street past a storefront with painted hand carved wooden figures on a fence. The bright winter sun was blinding.

We had a great afternoon and are looking forward to more.  Maybe we'll see you there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Portrait of the Giant of Macao

The invitation was intriguing. It was for "the unveiling of the portrait of the Giant of Macao" at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on East 2nd Street just off Second Avenue. And hors d'oevres and cocktails would be served. Art and alcohol -- how could we resist? In truth, Jean couldn't resist. (Valerie was at home, valiantly resisting, with the help of mighty antibiotics, her third bout with sinusitis this year.  Sheesh.)  After attending a fundraiser for her favorite charity, Social Tees Animal Rescue, at The Park across town on 10th Avenue, she and JR jumped into a taxi and rushed to the East Village before the 9 PM witching hour -- the time of the unveiling. And what a ceremony it was. At the appointed hour The Giant of Macao (whom we have dubbed TGOM, for short) took the stage in an oxblood colored satin suit, two-toned black and burgundy lace-ups with a jet-black beard and long hair. Think a dapper, elongated Frank Zappa, and you're in the visual ballpark. He launched into a monologue delivered entirely in Italian, while he dramatically brushed his long raven hair. At some point, a young woman appeared and delivered her speech in counter-point, also in Italian. While TGOM recited his lines from memory, the young woman read her lines from her iphone. The 21st century and 18th century collide!

Here is the portrait.  The hairbrush on the chair helps explain his brushing of his long locks.

The performance concluded with a flourish! The Giant pulled a long red velvet panel to reveal the portrait below. Speaking of collisions, designer Austin Scarlett was on hand to congratulate the guest of honor on his extremely life-like painting. (You can see TGOM's suit and two-toned shoes in this shot. below) Although their styles are different, the two of them are dandies of the first order.

Jean was thrilled to run into Iman (in a Beverly Hills High School tee-shirt and faux fur stole, no less) and Antonia (in her signature pearls) and three of their friends -- Andrei and his girlfriend Bella, and Sidra.

Austin and Iman share a moment.

Portrait of the artist -- as a stylish dude! Fernando cuts quite a figure sartorially. Artistically, he let his masterful work speak for itself, and remained in the background while TGOM had his moment in the spotlight. Love his bow tie, don't you?

Check out Fernando's two-toned oxfords.

When asked to pose for photos, Jean and Austin staged their own fictitious portrait.

The Russian Orthodox Cathedral was the site of the posthumous unveiling of Fernando's portrait of Lynn Dell Cohen, the Countess of Glamour. Jean was a little awestruck by the alluring, old Hollywood scene in which Lynn was portrayed, swathed in fox fur, next to two cheetahs on a leopard print carpet  How Sunset Boulevard! It was a bittersweet moment. For a real treat, click here for coverage of the unveiling of Lynn's portrait, a terrific photo of the painting itself and a technicolor shot by Ari Seth Cohen of Lynn in all her glory.