Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

Jean says: I love Halloween because all of my skull jewelry is suddenly uber-fashionable. I wear my skull rings, earrings, necklaces and scarves year round, but they're truly "in season" on All Hallows Eve and Dia de los Muertos. Although you can't see them in the photo, I'm wearing vintage Kenneth Jay Lane red plastic bee clip-on earrings.

With the exception of the left pinky (a vintage bakelite cube ring) and the right middle finger (gold signet ring from high school with initials worn smooth), all of the others (three black, three white and one red) rings are Made Her Think skulls by Meredith Katz. As regular readers know, I do my own nails. For this manicure, I used Romantic Red aka Brucci Nail Hardener #212.

My skull rosary necklaces and choker are also from Made Her Think.

The skull ring, pendant with bird and earrings with pearls or crystal are all by East Village jeweler extraordinaire Kirsten Hawthorne. My all-time favorites are the silver skulls with white pearls because their jaws are hinged and swing open and shut. They are amazingly comfortable to wear.

Heck, even my valve caps on my bike and my car are chrome skulls! (Courtesy of my Vegas connection! Here's a shout out to my peeps TW & JK.)

Valerie says:
This is my sole contribution to the skull thing - I don't want to infringe on what might by now be Jean's intellectual property. During a trip to Mexico to see Day of the Dead, I bought a bright yellow plastic tourist bag imprinted with one of the well loved skeletons of renowned Mexican cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada (see the original cartoon at the top of this posting), and her hat and dress rendered in lush green. I also bought a tiny doll, also dressed in green, whom you saw two weeks ago if you read our Adut Toys entry. Since I did an impersonation of my red, green and black velveteen doll in that entry, I thought impersonating my teeny weeny Santa Catarina doll would be an appropriate follow-up. So I xeroxed (oops - I COPIED - wow - talk about infringing!) my tourist bag at a 170% magnification and made this paper mask, then put on my big green vintage hat (not nearly as vintage as the calavera, who dates back to the turn of the last century), white wool gloves from Strawberry, and my full length green Issey dress and had a little fun.

Jean says:
On Thursday evening, Kirsten took me as her guest to Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry's Annual Benefit. Although the food pantry is on the Lower East Side, the event was hosted by Calvary Church at 61 Gramercy (aka E. 22 St between Park and Lexington Avenues). The featured event was a Wearable Art Performance with fashions by Michael Calloway, shown here taking his bow at the conclusion. Michael volunteers at the St. George Thrift Shop, one of Kirsten's favorite haunts. Since "wearable art" usually makes me cringe, the fact that I was still in my front row seat to photograph the finale is a testament to how fabulous it was.

Kirsten has been raving about Michael's style for years. I finally got to experience it in a concentrated dose. I loved the fact that the male and female performers represented a remarkably diverse range of age and ethnicity. Although none were professionals, they aquitted themselves wonderfully well. Their movements were beautifully choreographed. Entering from the left and slowly strolling in front of and behind fabrics draped across a rope as backdrop, they silently worked themselves across the length of the room, variously sitting in a chair, formally bowing to one another, draping across a divan and circling back across the stage. The classical background music and the languid pace of the models created a very dreamlike effect.

All of the outfits had elaborate headpieces that stayed firmly in place and contributed to the theatricality of the event. Some were ethereal -- great frothy, foamy creations like this veil on steroids. The silvery, shimmery dress is hand-decorated with black stenciled designs. The performers' faces were painted in almost tribal designs.

Some headgear, like this bowler version, had jewels, fabric, pieces of broken mirror, glass, buttons and feathers for texture and design.

The costumes had a wonderfully retro feel. Some, like this black number, sans headpiece, would look right at home on one of the characters in HBO's new series, Boardwalk Empire, set in Prohibition era Atlantic City.

Another of Michael's creations was this lacy number that had a decidedly Gibson Girl feel, complete with parasol.

Other characters looked like they'd stepped out of a technicolor Steampunkt version of Oliver Twist, complete with Fagin.

Most of the men's fashions included brightly colored plumes. sometimes suggestive of military full dress uniforms and other times of tribal headdresses. This gentleman really rocked this variation on a man's suit, pared down to the bare essence, complete with arm bands.

Not only did the outfits have headgear, they also had footwear to go with each look. Although the men's looks favored boots, in this instance, the model wore black stretch gaiters above her black pumps, contributing to the old-time feel.

In addition to the gowns, Michael embellished jackets and sweaters with fur, lace, fabric and paint. The model doffed this sweater at some point as she wafted across the stage to be later retrieved and donned by another cast member.

Here's another example of the multiple embelishments of face and sweater.

This was my favorite performer and outfit of the evening. The gold Converse high tops were the icing on the cake.

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Tompkins Square Doggie Halloween Parade:


Sailor Girl!

Sherlock Hound!

Hell's Angel!

Inspector Clouseau!



Super Dog!

And if these were all treats, here's the biggest trick of all:

Cat in a Dog Suit!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

LOOT - Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)

Jean says: Last Thursday afternoon, Valerie called to say that it was "pay what you wish" night at the Museum of Arts and Design, and they would be open till 9pm. Say no more! The LOOT show had opened the previous evening and I was dying to see it. It is a biennial juried exhibit and sale of one-of-a-kind contemporary art jewelry. We made plans to meet there after work, tentatively at 7 PM, but I was supposed to call Valerie when I left my office so she could time her walk over. Suffering some kind of brain freeze, I left the office without calling her and arrived at MAD a little before 7. Since Valerie is ALWAYS on time, after I didn't see her in the Museum store, I paid my admission and ran upstairs to see if she'd already arrived and started to view the show. When she wasn't there, it suddenly hit me: I was SUPPOSED to call her. To add insult to injury, I'd left my cell phone in my nightstand. I ran out onto the street in search of a pay phone. After finally locating two, neither of which worked, I fled back to the Museum lobby, checked the shop and the show again and then returned, forlorn, to the lobby. (Valerie, STILL without a cell phone in 2010, says: welcome to what is all too often my world.)

That's when I approached Hennamari and Heikki, two adorable Finnish designers, to borrow a cell phone to call Valerie to beg forgiveness and ask her to take a cab to meet me. (Valerie demurs a bit: I'm not always on time - that's impossible under the current Manhattan Transit Authority regime [it's straight out of Superman's Bizarro World] - but I do possibly get madder than anyone else I know at lateness - mine or anyone else's. I hated taking the taxi [I'm only a 15 minute walk away], and, like Rumpelstiltskin, demanded Jean's first born child when I arrived.)

Suzanne Golden:
When I first ran upstairs looking for Valerie, I ran into Suzanne Golden who gave me a big welcome and introduced me to her friend who was wearing an outfit made out of multi-colored drinking straws. The hula-skirt and neon blue wig almost made Suzanne's outfit look sedate - which is extremely hard to do. Suzanne herself was a vision from the top of her flame-red curls to the bottom of her red patent pointy-toed oxfords with rhinestone buckles. In between were her cherry red spectacles and a fabulous mix of polka dot shirt, patterned sweater and plaid dhoti-style pants. Only she can combine so many different colors, textures and patterns and still end up looking absolutely drop-dead fabulous.

These are two of Suzanne's beaded bangles. She uses vibrant graphic and highly colorful beads. Suzanne is passionate about creating wearable art, and uses beading to combine her creative ideas with her love of fashion. The black and white bracelet is titled Evolution #5 and is made with a peyote stitch of seed beads. Her colorful bracelet is called Netting and is made with seed beads and acrylic beads. For more of her fab stuff, go to

Robert Lee Morris:
Robert Lee Morris (RLM) started out as a sculptor in Soho. Since the 1970s, he has been producing sculptural jewelry in sterling silver and 18 karat gold. A long time collaborator with Donna Karan, he has reworked and reissued some of his iconic pieces in honor of her 25th anniversary. The famously sensual elongated metal belt buckles are now much lighter. Robert, now one of the members of MAD's Board of Directors, was one of the few male artists in the show. It was interesting to note how even his earlier designs continue to resonate decades later.

At LOOT, Robert was showing some of his vintage pieces such as the sterling silver cross necklace and the big golden choker being modeled in this picture by Gail Shields-Miller (far left). The neck piece was featured in his first Vogue Magazine cover. I read somewhere that RLM loves comic books and super heroes like Wonder Woman. The neck piece was positively Amazonian. It retailed at the show for about $8,000 - partly because of its classic design and partly because of its provenance. Also in the photograph are Leslie, Boo, Nadia and Lorelei. Nadia and Boo were visiting from Rochester. Boo Poulin is a jeweler in her own right. Check out her work at

Valerie adds: What a treat it was just to say hi to Mr. Morris. I've loved his work for decades. His shapes were so organic they were quite startling at the time, and such a treat in juxtaposition to all the formal straight-laced jewelry I grew up with. So I gushed like a school girl, and Mr. Morris let me gush and get it out of my system. We were so flustered I don't think we got it together to give him our business card, even though he's in our age group (if not strictly in our demographic). Here are a pair of earrings and a piece that I wear as a pendant, which I've owned for ages. It took years before I spotted the teeny scrawled signature that was scratched into it.

Nirit Dekel:
Israeli artist and jeweler Nirit Dekel creates beautiful necklaces from glass beads made of Italian Moreti glass using traditional lampworking. Nirit the person is a wonderfully warm individual with beautiful long locks and very cool black framed glasses who was sweet enough to pose with us for a picture.

Nirit's necklaces in the show ran the gamut from combinations of small, delicate round and wavy beades to large gumball sized globes, some of which were see-through crystal with silver and others were opaque. These photos illustrate the variety in her styles. The darker colored glass was deceptive, looking almost solid. To see more of her work, go to

Here is another of Nirit's designs using much smaller beads. Although a number of artists used glass, it was amazing how different they were from each other.

Sandra Enterline:

Valerie and I met San Francisco artist Sandra Enterline. We were both impressed with her delicate perforated metal jewelry. The pieces in the photograph are called "perforated box brooches" and are made of oxidized sterling and 22K gold. They ranged in size from about 1 3/4" x 3" x 1/2" to 2" x 2 3/4" x 1/2". The pin-holes, just barely visible in this photo, but far more evident in the work we saw, made the metal pieces appear light and airy. To view more of her work, go to

Monica NeBeler:
I was first taken by German jeweler Monica NeBeler's great outfit - her balloon skirt was set off perfectly by short leather booties and striped stockings. Only after I got a grip on my fashion A-D-D was I able to focus on her jewelry. Kettenmacherin NeBeler makes wonderfully colorful coiled necklaces and jewelry. The piece she was wearing last Thursday evening looked like a large copper beaded and curled telephone wire.

In researching her online after the show, I was thrilled to see that she is showing at this year's Philadelphia Craft Show, where we will be making our annual pilgrimage. Pictured is one of her smaller blood red coiled necklaces that also appears on her postcard. For more, go to

Jung-Gyu Yi:
Korean artist Jung-Gyu Yi makes beautifully layered necklaces and jewelry with jade and other semi-precious stones. My description does not do her work justice. Unfortunately, despite much looking, I was unable to unearth any images of her jewelry to show you. She wore a beautiful black round-necked dress with tiny pleats down the front and a very graphic black and white felt vest that was made by one of her friends.

Valerie says: Jean and I occasionally demonstrate the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I don't dress like I'm shy, but I am. I probably would only have made eye contact with two or three people if I'd gone by myself, and I doubt I would have taken any photos, since some artists suspect - understandably - that people can be out to duplicate their work. So when I arrived I was amazed that Jean had already met almost all the artists, and was out to meet the rest in the time left to us. And as you can see, she photographed quite a lot of people. (Except for the RLM pieces, all of these are Jean's photos or internet photos.) This would have been beyond my capacity. Traveling with Jean can be a great learning experience. Somewhere in my past I seem to remember a book called 'What Do You Say After You Say Hello'. I think Jean wrote that book under a nom de plume before I met her. On my own, I can talk to anyone wearing something I admire because I can see from a hundred yards that we have something very important in common. Without that clue, I can be stumped for an icebreaker, but Jean is never at a loss. Of course, watching Jean and following her example are two different things. Imagine a major reworking of the Fred Astaire (Jean) and Ginger Rogers (me) paradigm, where this Ginger does everything Fred does, except just backwards? And of course without high heels?

Jean says: Yeah, right. Once we were both at the show, Valerie was chatting up a number of the artists whose work she admired. And I was "Me too" in the background. She holds her own in any artistic venue. That said, I was really in my element at the show. The majority of the jewelers and the patrons were in my demographic, each was uniquely dressed and was very approachable.

Case in point, I started talking to Leslie Haber (far left) who was wearing a vintage Goldworm dress, cowboy boots and Cara Croninger leather belt and cuffs. She was sporting a ring with a green bakelite dice (with no dots) from Julie Artisans on Madison Avenue ( Leslie introduced me to artist Sandra Llano-Mejia who was wearing a modern necklace that looked pre-Columbian and to interior designer Gail Shields-Miller ( who was modeling the Robert Lee Morris choker. A friend of Gail's whom I did not meet joined them in the picture.

Nancy is a fellow New Yorker, an Upper East Sider to be exact. She looked positively Audrey Hepburnesque with her dark hair, short bangs, dark eyes and pale skin. We chatted for a while at the exhibit and then ran into each other again at the Museum Shop.

Valerie says: Atop his display case, designer Giorgio Vigna had two extraordinary pieces that I wish I could show photographs of. I’ll have to make do with this photo of the photogenic Mr. Vigna himself, from the web, and my woefully inadequate descriptions. One of the extraordinary pieces was a huge wooden bracelet covered in a thin sheet of silver. It had a wonderfully barbaric look to it. He also had a necklace of large hollow silver beads. Some were covered in silver granules; others were hammered, and again the whole piece had a very barbaric look to it, as if he’d coated small fruits and stones in silver and strung them together. Suzanne Golden said she proposed marriage to him before I arrived, so I stayed at a polite distance, in deference to her claim on him. Mr. Vigna is currently updating his website, but you should check back and have a look in the near future.

Before closing time, the last artist we struck up a conversation with was Virginia Estrada, who was showing wood and marble that she'd sculpted into very sensuous pieces of jewelry. Here's a picture of her carrying one of her larger art works (how fierce does she make that denim jacket look?); below are some of her sculpted marble jewelry pieces. They just beg to be stroked and caressed. I took both of these photos from her website. (Just click on her name, above). Virginia's work has appeared in some of the best New York stores you can name, as well as all the fashion magazines that come immediately to mind. AND she was lovely to talk to!

LOOT closes on Tuesday, October 26th, so shake your tail feathers and get over to 2 Columbus Circle before the doors shut.

Valerie is wearing: black rubber (?) and metal clip earrings; polyester origami scarf by Nuno; braided leather vintage Issey Miyake suspenders; white cotton shirt with buttons down the arms by Focus Lifestyle; metal cuffs from Matsuya Ginza; wool and rayon pants by Jones New York; gray leather open toed boots (without high heels) by Blowfish; and finally a vintage gray felt Sally Victor hat with pleated swirls (or a vortex, as an articulate architect once commented) and black and white herringbone wool jacket by Tamotsu, both unseen here.

Jean is hatless (because when she left for work that morning, she had no evening plans). She is wearing a black Marithe + Francoise Girbaud cropped jacket with orange faux mouton collar, black Brigitte harem pants, Dansko clogs and Moss Lipow glasses.

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Several weeks ago we had our first readers from Malta, Oman and Saudi Arabia, and last week we had our first reader from Andorra. It's great to see that we're being read worldwide. Thanks to all our readers for checking us out!