Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Eyes Have It!

One of the harbingers of spring is the annual l.a.Eyeworks benefit sale hosted by Alexander Gray Associates with proceeds supporting Art Matters. On this occasion, Valerie was KO'd all week by the Upper Respiratory Thing going around but Jean sallied forth to spend an evening trying on fabulous eyewear, having cocktails and delicious treats and hanging out with friends, all for a good cause. Hey, it's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it, right? Jean was thrilled to reconnect with Brent Zerger, l.a.Eyeworks' Director of Communications and all-around eyeglass guru. In honor of the event, Jean wore her 1986 l.a.Eyeworks' Gigantor frames. Since they had her circa 1986 prescription lenses, it made for some ophthalmological fun house mirror moments.

Held in Alexander Gray's spacious gallery in the shadow of the High Line, the event always features creative and delicious food. This year was no exception! A functional ferris wheel could be rotated to provide better access to the delicious macaroon cookies on each of the seats on the ride.

Made by Sweet Maresa, the delicate, pastel-colored French macarons were as delicious as they looked. Pictured here are the violet lemon and creamsicle lavender flavored cookies.

Stan Satlin and Debra Rapoport showed up and were greeted by l.a.Eyeworks' co-founder Gai Gherardi.  Debra and Gai were sporting yellow-framed glasses.Check out Gai's fabulous gold oxfords -- and Stan's dapper red-soled shoes. Apologies for the rather fuzzy photo, taken by a rather fuzzy photographer.  Looking through her seriously out-of-date prescription lenses, Jean had no sense of in-focus versus out-of-focus.

This gent tried on a pair of squared off frames. Behind him, you can glimpse the peace sign monocles designed to be used like reading glasses, to check out menus and programs, and then hung around the neck as jewelry when not in use.

Co-designer Margo Willets and Brent indulged Jean with a photo.

Debra posed with two hat-loving gents with the improbable Instagram monikers of Sucklord (left) and Mrseang (middle). If you check out last year's post, you'll see Sucklord wearing the same hot pink framed and lensed pair of glasses, but with a decidedly more restrained outfit and demeanor.

We mentioned at the outset that Jean was wearing a pair of 29-year old l.a.Eyeworks Gigantor glasses that look as contemporary now as then. To prove the point: l.a.Eyeworks has reissued the frames, which is a true testament to their staying power. Jean is wearing her black glasses, whose wide black frames resemble Groucho Marks' eyebrows. They lady next to her is wearing the 2015 Gigantor version - with tortoise shell design rather than flat black.

It just goes to show you that what goes around comes around, and everything old is new again. Ta-ta, kiddies!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Easter Parade 2015

After what seemed to be the endless winter, the sun came out on Easter Sunday. Just as we arrived at Fifth Avenue via East 50th Street (the location of St. Patrick's Cathedral) to join the parade, we spied Carol Markel and then were joined by Debra Rapoport and Diana Gabriel (who was wearing one of Debra's Viva hats).

Milliners Jasmin Zorlu and Lana Turner arrived from opposite directions and flanked Diana and Debra for another photo op.

Parade-goers run the gamut of ages and styles. This young couple combined vintage with modern clothing (and tattoos) for a decidedly hip vibe.

Richard and Victoria Mackenzie Childs and their grandchildren walked in the parade and obviously enjoyed every minute of it.

Few people carry off vintage with as much style and pazazz as Friederike Paetzold. Her two-toned hat was "killah"!

This family portrait gives you an idea of the breadth of the style spectrum among parade participants. We wondered what color the kids' hair would be when they showed up at school the next morning.

Zero Boy, who joined us for a photo with his friend, obviously put a lot of thought and effort into his look. He was even sporting a tinted monocle.

Ari Seth Cohen and Eric Lee stopped by the parade, wearing two different styles of head gear. Was Ari channeling his inner Gary Cooper?

Davey Mitchell always goes way out for his Easter attire. Sometimes we wonder if he has parade dyslexia, mixing up Easter with Halloween!

These two gents were definitely working an Easter theme into their outfits.

And this fellow went whole hog -- or should we say, whole rabbit? -- for the event.

We're not sure, but it looks like this young woman took multi-colored googly eyes and glued them to a hat.  To great effect!

Doesn't this woman's costume and upswept hair and parasol conjure up the early 20th century?

All three of these paraders are dressed in the old school spirit of the parade, but we found the rabbit cane in particular to be irresistible.

We ran into Xtine, in a white leather jacket and a Comme des Garcons hat to which she'd affixed a fuschia flower.

This clever lady fashioned her own hat entirely out of paper. The color of the hat and dress are both wonderfully delicate.

There was no lack of variety at the parade.  We're not sure, but we think this woman might be wearing a clear plastic container on her head.  The viewer doesn't actually focus on the container, but rather on the wonderful looping wire arrangement decorated with red and black polka dot masking tape.

Check this out! This lady made her hat, her dress, and her partner's hat out of confetti.  Her hat is such a great shade of pink!

Easter is the perfect holiday for men who take their clothes seriously.

It's interesting to see how different men interpret fashion differently, even when wearing the same colors and shades.

Obviously , sports fans interpret style VERY differently and are in a class by themselves.

Plants and flowers are a perenially popular motif.

We always enjoy seeing women in authentic top hats and this was no exception.  She had decorated hers with a dragonfly, and highlighted it with a bright red high necked jacket.

Great hat, great hair, great lipstick -- and a veil!

After the parade ended at three o'clock, we headed to The Modern restaurant as part of our Easter tradition. Although we hadn't spotted her at the parade, we ran into Mary Anna Smith, The Tipsy Topper herself. Lucky for us, she was in the main dining room with friends (all wearing her hats). She was wearing this blue and green number, complete with a butterfly, which was different from the one she'd worn in the parade which resembled a big blue kite flying through the clouds.

We also hadn't spotted Elaine in the crowd or her friends, who were all wearing her hand-painted hats. The theme of her hat this year was the old Pennsylvania Station, whose demolition prompted the city landmark preservation movement in New York City. She is holding one of her hats from another season.

Here is the rear-view of Elaine's beautiful Pennsylvania Station chapeau.

After an absolutely delicious snack and a cocktail, as we were preparing to head homeward, Dan Jones presented each of us with The Modern's holiday gift bag. This is another of our Easter traditions for which we are extremely grateful to the restaurant and its wonderful staff.

And what, you might ask, was in that bag? A robin's egg blue hollow chocolate egg contained a yummy assortment of chocolates and caramels, macaroons and chocolate wafer cookies. The egg itself was also positively delicious.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the parade through our eyes.

What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing: an Ignatius hat (purchased at the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show last November); Prada jacket; Issey Miyake skirt and honey-comb coat; Trippen boots; Yayoi Kusama tote bag (gift from Valerie); and lots of vintage bakelite and resin and wooden necklaces, bangles and rings.

Valerie is wearing: a 1940s vintage Stanford, Connecticut souvenir hat (with cardboard visor reading STANFORD carefully removed), green plastic earrings, Issey Miyake multicolored nylon coat, vintage green and yellow pieced gauntlets, Pleats Please spring green dress, Charlotte Olympia leafy leather shoes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Box o' Sox

We are out gallivanting tonight, so here is a short post in our continuing Suzy Homemaker series.

What do you do when you wake up two hours before the alarm clock is set to go off, and you know you won't go back to sleep?  If your parents burdened you with Work Ethic, you pick something from the very long To Do List, and then do it.  Make sure you pick something that you know will take less than two hours so you don't get frustrated.

Why not spruce up the sock drawer?  Here is a picture of the sock drawer AFTER.  Everyone can imagine what the sock drawer looked like BEFORE, so we're not showing that.

If you're lucky, you just happen to have two shoe boxes lying around.  Wide shoe boxes (from sneakers) are great for keeping socks (far left) and leggings (second from left) in order.  If there is a little space behind the shoe boxes, that will hold at least one more pair of socks and leggings.  This drawer also keeps several tee shirts (far right) and sleeveless tops (second from left).  Give yourself extra points if you get rid of anything, and bring your drawer down to a manageable size.

The sock drawer worked out so well that the next drawer was also tackled and conquered.  That drawer contains stockings and unmentionables.  Sorry - no photograph of that.  We're not that kind of blog.

Some of you might be asking how long this orderly set-up is supposed to last.  If you've ever cleaned up your sock drawer, you already know exactly how long it will last.

When your sock drawer is finished, you can

Oh, no, wait.  Sorry - wrong image.  You can go off to work, whistling all the way!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hats Off! We Make the Centerfold - of The New York Post

Recently, we were approached by New York Post Senior Features Writer Jane Ridley to be interviewed and photographed for an article about the Easter Parade to run on Saturday, April 4th, the day before Easter Sunday. We jumped at the chance and recommended several other friends who participate with us in the Easter Parade and subscribe to the more traditional approach of wearing stylish hats, not the more circus-like atmosphere of recent years (e.g., people who flower pots as headwear or dress in outfits to match their dogs).  Jane interviewed us in a couple of teleconferences. The photo shoot took place last Sunday, March 29th.  Our instructions from the NY Post editors were quite simple:  "dramatic and colorful"!  You be the judge of how well we did.

Photographer Zandy Mangold shot this photo of us on Palm Sunday, which appeared in the centerfold of yesterday's New York Post. From left to right: Cigmond, Xtine, Lynn, Valerie, Carol and Jean posed in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral.  We're actually standing across Fifth Avenue from the Cathedral to take advantage of the great sunlight.  Zandy had us do our thing on the steps of the Cathedral as well, where we drew quite a crowd, as if we were shooting the latest fashions for Vogue.  Zandy was extremely patient with the competing photographers.  (Photograph courtesy of Zandy Mangold)

We interrupt this blog to insert a poem composed by Eric R in homage to Jean's Dr. Seuss hat!
A cream color hat I wear
A black hat the kids I would scare
My bonnet is fun
Looks I get a ton
Easter 2015 is my year!

But wait!  There's more!  We're just showing you a tempting morsel here.  Click on this link to the online version of the article:

We have long admired the work of theatrical milliner Cigmond and were thrilled when she agreed to participate.  Her dapper husband Kevin accompanied her to the shoot.  The Modern (one of our favorite restaurants, just next door to the Museum of Modern Art) is our traditional stop at parade's end for a cocktail and a nosh.  The Modern generously allowed us use of what insiders call its PDR (private dining room) before opening time as a base of operations for the shoot.  Several of these photos were taken in the PDR. Cigmond designed and made her hat and outfit, as well as Kevin's hat. As the New York Post states, she designed the amazing hats for the Broadway revival of "Gigi", which opens April 8th. And the Post article used her last name (Meachum), which was news to us.

X, our long-time friend and Jean's fellow East Village denizen, graciously consented to participate.  She paired her vintage Comme des Garcons hat with a Jill Anderson duster and skirt, flower print Doc Martens, scarlet gloves and lots of bakelite bangles. She added the bird and flower to her chapeau.

Lynn Dell Cohen and Carol Markel rounded out our stylish half-dozen. Lynn, who owns Off Broadway Boutique on the Upper West Side, wore an outfit from her store in vintage Rudi Gernreich fabric.  Carol, an artist, painter, milliner and jewelry designer who lives on the Lower East Side with her husband, artist Richard Cramer, is now designing dresses!  Her outfit is by Alpana Bawa.  Anastazia Martinez from the Post accompanied Zandy and conducted additional interviews for the article.

We were like kids in a candy-store. As you can see, we were having a ball.  Here we are doing the hat lover's version of The Usual Suspects.

Zandy photographed us on the patio outside the dining room overlooking MOMA's sculpture garden. We lined up and locked arms like Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz and strolled toward Zandy as he took shot after shot. (Photograph courtesy of Zandy Mangold)

Then we walked over to Fifth Avenue to take the shots outside St. Patricks. All too soon, the frivolity came to an end.  Most of our crowd dispersed, but we returned to The Modern with X.  The weather was decidedly un-Easterlike, so what better way to warm up than with a cocktail and light repast?

What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing an Ignatius hat (from the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show); Issey Miyake dress; Trippen platform boots; Sock Man red arm warmers and tights vintage bakelite and plastic bangles; faux amber prayer bead necklace; faux jade green gumball choker; Heydari red necklace and earrings.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that Valerie wore two costumes.  This is because during the interview process we mentioned Valerie's Guggenheim hat, which intrigued The Post's editors.  When they asked if she would wear it for the shoot, we pointed out that they had asked for color, and the hat and its suit have none.  Then wear two outfits, the editors said, and we'll choose the one we prefer.  So in the opening photo, Valerie is wearing a pink straw Susy Krakowski hat, vintage pink straw earrings, Perry Ellis jacket, Issey Miyake dress, vintage gloves, a museum toy as a bracelet, and pink suede Aerosoles shoes.  With the Guggenheim hat (an Ignatius commission), Valerie is wearing vintage red and white plastic earrings, a Calvin Klein suit, vintage Guggenheim souvenir tee shirt with a Miro print, red plastic ring, red wooden bangle, and Icon shoes with an Andy Warhol soup can print.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Imitation: the Sincerest Form of Flattery? Or Just Copying?

The Museum at FIT is currently showing a provocative exhibition entitled Faking It: Originals, Copies and Counterfeits, in which they raise a number of interesting questions.  (Sorry, everyone - no picture of us this time, but we have a marvelous representative in this hat.  More about the hat soon.)

The exhibition opens with this pair of Chanel suits - an original and a licensed copy.  Can you guess which is which?

Right away, everyone will say 'workmanship', but if Chanel has licensed the material, what other clues are there?  If you guessed that the left is the original because it has more pockets, you'd be right - more details cost more money.  The back of the original has two panels; the licensed copy saves money by having only one panel across the whole back.  (Two panels = better tailoring.)  The accompanying text listed many other differences not detectable to the untrained eye.

The exhibition shows that the issue of copying commercial designs is not new.  Even Worth (1903) was copied.  The dress below is a close copy of a Madame Vionnet dress from the mid-1920s.  Vionnet believed she could prevent copiers with highly detailed beadwork, but the beadwork was copied, and savings were made at the hem of the dress, which the copyist simplified and shortened.

In 1947, Nettie Rosenstein made this unauthorized copy of a Dior New Look dress.  The text by the dress explains that Rosenstein's dress was made from seven yards of fabric, compared to Dior's fifteen.

Coco Chanel saw copies as a form of free advertising, but hers was a minority view.  Below, pictures of Dior's 1950 designs were released to the press, but with parallel black lines through the dresses in an attempt to protect the designs from copyists as long as possible.

After Yves St. Laurent showed his Mondrian dress in 1965, numerous unauthorized imitations followed.  (The YSLs were pieced together; the imitations were dresses with patchwork pieces sewn on to them.)

But in 1962, milliner Sally Victor produced this hat, so who is copying whom?  Can anyone lay claim to originating a design that follows Mondrian so closely?

Campbell's Soup, far from considering suing Andy Warhol for his soup can paintings, harnessed the publicity the paintings stirred up by creating the now iconic paper soup can dresses.  The text next to the dress noted that the dresses could be bought by mailing in one dollar and two soup can labels.  (Antiques Road Show valued one such dress now at $2,000 - 3,000.  Is it time to take a look in your attic?)

The Moschino suit below is a copy of Roy Lichtenstein's Girl with Ribbon Hair.  Moschino avoided any infringement issues by securing the painter's permission first.

Brian Lichtenberg's Homies suit is a direct reference to, and play on, luxury brand Hermes in color, font, and imagery.  The label says the "collection has raised debate among lawyers, scholars and the press regarding trademark infringement and parody as a protected form of speech."

The exhibition is enriched by several illuminating videos that detail the issues broached by the pieces shown.  In one, a series of photos show how designers draw (oh, let's just say it - COPY) from one another.  Below, a 1997 Givenchy and a 2015 Balmain are juxtaposed.

In another, Susan Scafidi, founder and director of the Fashion Law Institute, talks about fashion and design issues that can (and cannot) be pursued legally.  Below, she points out the differences between fake and real Chanel bags, and explains the economic and other consequences of buying knock offs.  (Behind her are a genuine Roland Mouret dress, and an imitation.)

The Museum at FIT gives a very thorough look at this exhibition on its website.  If you'd like to delve further into Faking It: Originals, Copies and Counterfeits, start here, and work your way through the various options.  Want to see it up close and personal?  April 25 is the last day.