Sunday, February 7, 2016

Manhattan Vintage Show February 2016

When we entered the Metropolitan Pavilion for the Manhattan Vintage Show on Saturday, we were thrilled to discover an homage to to David Bowie filling the lobby. Dominating the exhibit was a large piece of yarn art by London Kaye. The other bonus? A lot of Bowie music played on the sound system throughout the show.

We'll start our coverage with the people and move to the vintage clothing and accessories. Amanda Dolan and her partner in crime at Spark Pretty topped their long dresses with turbans. We noticed a lot of long dresses featured by numerous vendors in the show.   When we passed their booth they were catching up with a marvelously tall friend in a marvelous jumpsuit.

While the show often attracts some dandies dressed in vintage, these young men broke the mold. We noticed this hip trio at several points during the afternoon. Obviously enjoying themselves, they humored us with a photo.

Diana Gabriel obviously got the memo -- to wear black and white to the show!

We almost always run into Martha on our forays to the Manhattan Vintage Show, and she's always looks like she stepped out of a 1940s Hollywood movie.

We also saw Chelsea Fairless, also doing the black and white thing.  Jean is holding a pink papier mache hat with an artist's signature underneath.

It is always a treat to see actress and comedienne Marilyn Sokol. She stopped to show off her ring and bracelet before running off to browse and shop.

Gabriela, who also got the memo to wear black and white, and her friend Jackie stopped by to chat while we were at the cafe with Denton and Diana. Gabriela remembered meeting Diana at a drawing event at MOMA.

Mayra Gonzales of The House of Findings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, scored lots of new inventory in a recent trip to Miami, including the dress she was wearing which had a matching parasol and purse.

We ran into Patricia Fox and her adorable (and very well behaved) pooch at the House of Findings booth.
photo by Denton Taylor

A satisfied customer with a great haircut and great glasses.

We had to stop by Another Man's Treasure to see Mieka, who was dressed inimitably, as always.  The plaid top is really a kind of vest, and has the most wonderful cap sleeves, articulated almost like a shrimp's exoskeleton.  And notice her knit turban, and choice of red and black shoes to echo the rest of the outfit.

This woman had a great original look.

We also had to stop Antonela and Suzette.  Antonela, it turns out, is an aspiring milliner who agrees with us that hats from the '40s are to die for.

We thought Antonela was wearing a Comme des Garcons jacket, but it turns out it's from Manhattan's own So Hung.  We took this photo from behind so you could see the jacket is constructed from large asymmetrically placed circles.

These gents were in charge of the James Veloria booth.  The two fish that decorate the shirt on the left are stuffed and three dimensional.

Two visitors to their booth.  Thought we'd also show you the Comme des Garcons shirt on display - the one with the black and white stripes and huge red vinyl circles at the sleeves.

Carmen Bury specializes in upcycling.  Here, she wears a hat that she constructed out of two hats.  The jacket is decorated with hand sewn patches she made from vintage graphics.

We couldn't resist taking advantage of one of the cut-out photo ops.   We'd like to draw your attention to our great legs!  Denton was kind enough to snap these shots of us.
Photo by Denton Taylor

Jean's note to self: Next time, take your hat off before you put your mug through the cut-out!
Photo by Denton Taylor

Andrea Hall Levy's Lofty Vintage booth is a must-see at every show. She never disappoints. Valerie shows off this hand-painted Yohji Yamamoto black wool coat as a case in point.

Christina Ruiz' Templo featured a hand-painted leather jacket that looked reminiscent of Keith Haring iconography.

Check out the vintage open-toed slingbacks at Michal Feinmesser's What Once Was.

We liked these colorfully printed fabric pumps in Judy Bergman's What Was Is Vintage that are harbingers of Spring.

Since the Ground Hog didn't see his shadow on February 2nd, spring is supposed to come early this year. Lofty Vintage had some wonderful pastel clothing and accessories to help get us into the mood.

Lofty also had a near mythical pleated Fortuny dress in a gorgeous blue.

Another Man's Treasure had this graphic beaded vintage bag.

At Vintage with a Twist, we saw a Salvador Dali tie.  We photographed it reverently, in place, so it has a bit of a shadow, but imagine how much fun it must have been to wear this to work!

We stopped by SwaneeGrace's booth and found her wearing a droll dress by Hanae Mori.  The material was decorated with clouds and planes, with additional plastic blue and red planes serving as buttons.   She didn't want to be photographed, but allowed us to snap the dress.

Mayra showed us two beaded dresses she'd picked up in Miami.  Valerie zoomed in on the one with fantastical sea creatures.

Look how this lady has brilliantly complemented her black and magenta dress with black and magenta shoes.  The strips on the platform are echoed by strips on the backs of the heels.

For our parting shot, in a final nod to black and white, and to hats, we'll leave you with this photo Denton took of us in two fabulous chapeaux from What Was Is Vintage. Jean wears a silk top hat and Valerie wears a spiffy felt Hattie Carnegie hat with the hilarious tiny crown characteristic of the late '30s.  A splendid time was guaranteed for all.*
Photo by Denton Taylor

* (Some of you will notice we shamelessly borrowed that line from The Beatles' Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jacqueline de Ribes - The Art of Style

We had the great pleasure of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute to see its current exhibition Jacqueline de Ribes - The Art of Style.  Since de Ribes was an internationally renowned style icon, and the show was such an eye-opener, we wanted to share our adventure and some of our new-found knowledge about her with you.

Jacqueline, Comtesse de Ribes is a French aristocrat, designer, fashion icon, businesswoman, producer and philanthropist.  First inducted into the International Best Dressed List in 1956, she was voted into its Hall of Fame in 1962. David Lees took this photo of de Ribes in 1985 wearing a gown of her own design.

Now 86, de Ribes planned to attend the November 19th opening of the show at the Costume Institute, but decided, in light of the then-recent terrorist attacks in Paris, to remain in France as a show of national solidarity.

Although she wore clothes by the most celebrated designers of the time, the Costume Institute exhibition focuses not only on her collection of haute couture gowns by such legendary designers as Valentino, Dior, Saint Laurent, and Ungaro, but also highlights her own designs. A striking woman (as all these photos demonstrate), de Ribes dressed to accentuate her height, slim build and aristocratic features. The dramatic portrait of her below was taken in 1961 by Raymundo de Larrain.

In the 1959 photograph below, she wears a dress by Christian Dior. The Greco-Roman design of her dress, jewelry and hair style further accentuate her own classic profile.

Her originality and elegance established her as one of the most celebrated fashion personas of the 20th century.  (Jean used to adore reading about her in W Magazine.) The thematic show features about sixty ensembles of haute couture and ready-to-wear primarily from de Ribes's personal archive, dating from 1962 to the present. In this 1959 photograph by Richard Avedon, she wears an Yves Saint Laurent gown.

Now widowed, Jacqueline is a countess by virtue of her marriage to Count Edouard de Ribes (m. 1948-2013).  One of the last of a dying breed of European aristocrats, she explains in her own words in the video below how she was born into a life of fashion.

Also included in the show are some of her astonishing creations for fancy-dress balls, which she often made by cutting and cannibalizing her haute couture gowns to create nuanced expressions of her aesthetic. These, along with photographs, videos, and ephemera, tell the story of how her interest in fashion developed over decades, from childhood "dress-up" to the epitome of international style. She was photographed more than fifty years ago by Richard Avedon, in this 1955 portrait.

A muse to haute couture designers, de Ribes had at her disposal their drapers, cutters, and fitters in acknowledgment of their esteem for her taste and originality. Ultimately, she used this talent and experience to create her own successful design business, which she directed from 1982 to 1995. Victor Skrebneski photographed her in 1983 wearing this pink gown of her own design.

While the exhibition focuses on her taste and style, extensive documentation from her personal archives illustrates the range of her professional life, including her roles as theatrical impresario, television producer, interior designer, and director and organizer of international charity events. The photograph below, taken in 1986 by Francesco Scavullo, shows her in another gown of her own design.

Want more?  Of course you do!  Did you see the link provided at the opening of the post?  No?  Never mind.  Just click here for background.  And here for great photographs.  And here for more great photographs.  And here for Judith Thurman's interview with the Countess herself in The New Yorker.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

Jean, poor thing, is stuck in Los Angeles since her flight back to New York was canceled due to inclement weather, and sent this Instagram to elicit everyone's sympathy.

Valerie is reporting from New York on said inclement weather, also known as the city's second biggest snowfall since records were first kept in the 19th century.  (The first, for doubters of climate change, was in 2006.  And yes, we were here for that one, too.)

Even in the dead of night, the city was lit up by the reflection of light off the snow.

The city and state governments advised everyone to stay off the streets.  Cars were strongly discouraged, so snowplows could keep up with the snowfall.  Subways that ran in the open (not just underground) were stopped altogether to prevent accidents arising from snow on the third rails.  We had all been told beforehand to stock up on food, since supermarkets and restaurants would almost certainly be closed for lack of staff.

In the morning, as snow was still falling, I went out briefly to experience the snow.  Miraculously the local deli was open.  I asked the cashier if she'd had difficulty getting in.  Not too much, she said, but she would probably stay at the deli all night.  For the sheer pleasure of it, I sat down on a snow bank in the street.  How often does one get to have a leisurely sit-down smack in the middle of a New York street?  After a few more photos, I went back indoors.  On the radio, I heard that museums had closed at 3pm.

Nothing lasts forever, and pristine snow disappears faster than most disappearing things.  Here is a shot of the same street taken 24 hours later.

The radio said that all public transportation would run as close to normally as possible.  The temperature had risen and the sun was blazing.  I thought it would be fun to see what people were wearing on the day after the storm, so off I went to Fifth Avenue.   Snow and slush were everywhere.  Snow plows had concentrated on clearing all the major avenues, less so on the side streets.  All streets were lined with 1-3 foot snow banks created by the plows.  There was no crossing in the middle of the street.  Pathways had been worn at the corners, but the corners are also the locations of the sewer entrances, so many corners were submerged under inches of melting snow.  It was a day for great big boots and little tiny steps (so as not to go aslippin' and aslidin').

I'd barely gotten to Fifth Avenue when Robbie Quinn stopped me and asked to take my picture.  Quick thinking (for once!) I said okay, if he would take one with my camera.  The opening shot is Robbie's.

People at the Museum of Modern Art are often handsomely dressed, so I stopped there to see who was wearing what.  But West 53rd Street is now a canyon whose tall buildings make it impenetrable by sunlight.  Fifth Avenue was bathed in sun, but the entrance to MOMA was cold and dark.  I took a picture of the snow-covered Miro in the Sculpture Garden and left.

The more I walked around, the more my interest shifted and broadened.

How often does one see a well dressed woman on Fifth Avenue with a full sized shovel for an accessory?

A block away, snow had accumulated on the display windows at Louis Vuitton, and turned to ice.

Another of the hazards of walking the street was dodging falling shards of ice and snow.  I was almost hit on half a dozen occasions.  Across the street from Louis Vuitton, Tiffany had taken a proactive stance and cordoned off part of the sidewalk to force the collected snow down in a controlled manner.  From Tiffany's, I traveled uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wondering if I'd see some interesting fashion statements there.

On my way, I saw hordes of people in Central Park.  In front of the museum, which usually has individual artists' stands, instead I saw a huge snowdrift.  A father watched as his kids variously sledded down the drift and tunneled into it.

Technology is allowing us to have lightweight coats with slim silhouettes that still retain warmth.  This man, coming down the great front steps at the Metropolitan, is wearing one of those coats.  What I really liked, though, was the way he matched it up with his thickly striped scarf with his thinly striped knit cap.

And people weren't the only ones dressed for the weather.

Despite wearing rubber boots up to my knees, every now and then bits of snow fell into them.  I made the mistake of not wearing socks, so these down booties really resonated with me.  (But shouldn't they be black?  Not because everyone in New York wears black.  Because... y'know...  I mean...  Is your floor always sparkling clean?  And even though they're machine washable, that's not what you want to spend your time doing, is it?  I vote for black.  Or even red, or blue!

A block away, I came across this couple with their daughter.  Everyone, but everyone, is wearing pompoms on their hats this year (although Jean and I did that last year), including this mother and daughter.  Oh, and take a closer look at the daughter's sunglasses.

These two young women give new meaning to the expression 'chillin''.  (And they're not even wearing hats!!!)

This guy, shoveling snow in his shirt sleeves (!) is also undaunted.  But another guy (not pictured) was wearing a full balaclava.  Maybe he was in from Hawaii.  The wide variation in how people dressed was remarkable.

I saw one snowman, in a tree bed, who was advertising for Little Eric, a children's store that faced him directly.

And a bike that looked like it might not be able to reunite with its owner for months.

I loved running into this woman, who told me her coat was by a Danish company, and her hat, which looks to me like a modern version of a Renaissance balzo hat, was French.

I wound up walking home from the museum, and not because there was no public transportation.  It was lovely to see the city transformed, if only for this short period.  There was one last treat in store for me as I made my way back.

F. P. Journe had a huge window display trumpeting his product.  It was so large, and the snow bank was so wide, that I had to stand in the street on top of the snow, keeping an eye out for traffic, to take the picture.  Here it is seen walking downtown.

Walking in the uptown direction, one sees an equally imposing but completely different time piece.  (You can see the reflection of the snow bank in the window.)

And straight in front of the store we see...

almost nothing!

If it hadn't been for the snow, I might never have seen that trompe l'oeil feast.  (Imagine how much time it took to prepare that!)  Or any of the other little treasures of the day.