Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This Moment Is More Precious Than You Think

Jean is traveling tonight, and Valerie, just back from the Diversity Now 2014 panel discussion at Ryerson University (more on that soon), is regrouping.  So in this post ...

… we'd like to present you with a few thoughts courtesy of Paladino Construction, who could simply have put up a plywood partition with a stern POST NO BILLS warning, but instead chose to engage passersby in a bit of philosophy, challenging people to be in the moment rather than on the cell phone.  The two men in the yellow and blue rain gear behind the sign are Paladino employees.   By the end of the day, the construction work was completed and the message had disappeared.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

It Ain't All Glam

And If You're in Toronto on Tuesday, October 21… (scroll down)

We are always so tickled when we get notes from old friends, or new friends, or friends-to-be who describe our lives as glamorous or exciting.  It does look that way, doesn't it?

Sometime in the '60s, there was a photograph in TV Guide of Barbara Walters and three of her co-presenters taken from behind, and it was hilarious to see that Walters' dress was gathered in the back with what might have been a huge binder clip.  The three other co-presenters were shown in similar disarray, but all of that would have been unseen by the camera and the millions of viewers.

A little humility is good for everyone now and then, so we thought we would do a little exposé of our own.

We were called to a "go see" a few weeks ago, and were asked to wear ladies-who-lunch type clothes. Valerie was going to wear the pinstriped suit above, but when she took it out of the closet, the hem on one of the pant legs had come unsewn.  There was no time to fix it (actually, in an emergency, tiny safety pins will do nicely - if you happen to have half a dozen nearby), so she wound up having to make do with a different suit.  (The horror!  The horror!)

Just the other day, Valerie got out her sewing kit and sewed up the pants leg.  How glam is that, folks?  (How many times have we told you we need an intern?  And you thought we were kidding!)

And remember these polka dot earrings (inherited from Jean's mom)?

A few weeks ago, one of them dropped to the floor at just the right angle so the metal clip glued to the back separated from the plastic front.

Don't believe what these glue companies tell you.  It may be strong enough that you can attach your hard hat to a steel beam and suspend yourself from it; it may be strong enough that a gorilla couldn't pull the clip off, but if it hits the floor at the Murphy's Law angle, the best glue in the world isn't going to keep the two parts together.  And then you'll have to file the remaining dried glue flat (with your only nail file!), glue it again, and sit there stock still while counting to sixty, not daring to even breathe, hoping that you've maintained the proper pressure, and that you haven't gotten any of the glue on your fingertips.  Readers, is that glam?

Then there was this way cool faux Thierry Mugler canvas jacket with the portrait collar and nipped-in waist.  You know how buttons can leave puckering?  This jacket circumvents that with a zipper.  Well, Valerie did not align the left and right sides of the zipper, and when it got to be time to undress, the zipper went all the way to the bottom, but would not open.  No amount of fidgeting, or zipping up and down, or forcing or cajoling would make that zipper budge.    Ever the boy scout, Valerie googled stuck zipper, and was advised to try a graphite pencil, or WD 40 or bees' wax.

Really?  Readers, would you put WD40 on your jacket?  And would you put pencil graphite on your zipper if you were likely to wear the jacket with a white shirt the next time?  As weird luck would have it, Valerie has a bit of bees' wax in the house (from another amusing DIY venture),

and rubbed a generous amount on the zipper.  No luck.  In desperation, Valerie pulled down first one shoulder of the jacket, then the other, and then - fingers crossed - shimmied till the jacket came off over her head (too bad there's no video of that), and then tried fidgeting with the zipper again.  (The advantage was that it was not upside down this time, and there was more room to maneuver.)  Hallelujah, it worked!  Above, you can see just a few flakes of bees' wax on the teeth of the jacket, and nearby.  Is that glam?

And then there was the ring.

This faceted horn ring had a positively amazing lustrous polish when she bought it, and Valerie foolishly thought it would look that way forever.  Well, almost forever.  At least three weeks.  But she dinged it and dinged it, just by carelessly flailing her hand around, and soon it was looking - well - dinged.  She tried this, that and the other, and finally had to ask a jeweler, who told her to get Johnson's Paste Wax, and to buff it with a dremel attachment.  If you have a car, a $14 dollar can of Johnson's Paste Wax will probably polish your car once.  But if you have a ring, that same $14 can (since no smaller size was available) will probably polish one hundred rings for one hundred years, dremel or no.  Strangely, the local Home Depot did not carry JPW, nor did the local hardware store, so Valerie had to let her fingers do the walking.  (Bet no one under 30 remembers that advertising slogan.)  She called three places and finally hit pay dirt.  By the way, if you don't have a dremel, forget using paper towels, and your jeans won't work either.  (This is the voice of experience talking.)  Get one of those nice soft buffing cloths - the kind your father used to use on his shoes.

Jean's "Tales of Woe":  Although you can't see them in the opening photo of us on Saturday night having cocktails at Lever House, I was wearing these double skull earrings, to get in the mood for the rapidly approaching All Hallows Eve.

Here I am, in the midst of my incantations over my Frida Kahlo Margarita at Lever House, where you can glimpse the earrings.

As we are getting ready to go and are discussing what to include in this post, my left earring just falls to the table with a clunk, leaving only the hook in my ear (which I retrieved and memorialized digitally). Ha! Had the mishap occurred on the street or on the subway, it would have been lost forever.  Luckily, once I got home and had access to my needle-nosed pliers, I quickly fixed them.

Earlier this year, I had a wardrobe malfunction involving my beloved customized Dansko clogs.  The horror!

Valerie and I were in line outside the Metropolitan Museum waiting to get into the press preview for the Charles James exhibition at the Costume Institute. Just as the line finally starts to move, I feel like I'm stepping on a cork or a large fish.  To my horror, it is the heel of my right clog that had chosen just that moment to dislodge.  (To make things worse, it was right then that Bill Cunningham came by.  What to do?  But to tell the truth, we don't remember Bill publishing any photos of long lines, regardless of whether anyone on the line has lost a heel.  So snap away, we know we're safe from publication.)  Of course, the hoards of press are all moving forward to get in, so I just picked it up and walked with all my weight on the front of the clog, hoping that no one would notice.  Trying to keep with the flow of the crowd, neither of us thought to take a picture, so you'll just have to rely on my feeble attempts at illustration below to show you the "Before" and "After".  [When we're rich and famous, I can commission amazing superstar illustrators like Joana Avillez to get me out of fixes like this.  In the meantime, you're stuck with me, dear readers!]

Since the exhibition was dark and everyone was looking at the clothing, nobody bothered to look down and if they did and I was facing them, nothing looked amiss. Once I got home, I took the shoes to my fabulous shoe repair guy who replaced all of the platforms on both clogs.  As you can see below, the clogs are as good as new.

Earrings (especially polka dot earrings) appear to be vexing both of us! If I had the missing back to this white and black polka dot pair, I would Gorilla glue it into place.  Since I don't have it, the pair sits in the box in my drawer, crankily scolding me for not fixing the problem and taking them out on the town.

Here is the next project that keeps haunting me: this terrific pair of black Bakelite clip-on earrings that I recently got at the Big Flea at the Pier.  Since I always lose clip-ons, I refuse to wear them until I can get a jewelry repair expert to convert them to pierced earrings.  So, they sit in the box next to the polka dot earrings and gripe about how they never get to go out and how they used to live it up in their heyday in the 1930s.  Geez.  Even when the top is on the box and the drawer is shut, I can hear them mumbling. It's sort of my private version of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" or "The Black Cat"!

So the next time you think somebody looks effortlessly glamorous, think again!

Idiosyncratic Fashionista Speaking at Ryerson University Tuesday, October 21.

If you're in Toronto on Tuesday, October 21, Valerie will be one of several guest speakers at Ryerson University's DIVERSITY NOW 2014 panel discussion. (Unfortunately, Jean had a prior commitment.)  Admission is open to the public.  We'll be at Ryerson's Cineplex Theatre #13, 10 Dundas Street East, on the fourth floor.  We'll be talking about the challenges of diversity in fashion.  Do come and share your ideas and questions!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Life is Full of Paradox

Last Wednesday night, we attended the launch of Morphew by Paradox Design's showroom. In a brave new world where commerce often occurs entirely online, it is refreshing to see Paradox' amazing vintage clothing up close and personal. And to see it worn by uber-sleek models and chic employees while sipping Prosecco and schmoozing shamelessly? Divine! To learn more about Morphew, click here.

Case in point: Statuesque Bridgette Morphew, who was clearly running the joint, modeled a black embroidered shawl dress and hat.  The platform sandals put an exclamation point on her look.

Theo Banzon from Paradox Designs invited us to the event, for which we are most grateful. His minimalist, almost monastic outfit - a 180 degree change from previous outfits he's styled for himself - was perfectly paired with black leather sneakers with bright white soles.  Faithful readers recognize him from our posts on the Manhattan Vintage Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion. [Incidentally, the next Metropolitan Pavilion show is coming up soon - October 24-25!]

This gent was working an intriguing look, combining slit jeans and boots with red headgear.  Men are showing their knees this year!

How fabulous is this diaphanous Yohji Yamamoto dress on this tall drink of water?

And her shoes from United Nude! Why couldn't these have existed thirty years ago, when we coulda woulda worn them, instead of now, when we can only admire and covet them?!

A quick change artist, the model next wore a white and black jacket that Valerie really loved.  (You've seen it on the blog before.)  The models wore Egyptian-inspired jewelry by Eye of Ja.  And Marja Samsom's black and white polka dots were the perfect foil.

Her next outfit was an almost transparent white confection made up of unpaired halves of zippers and sequins.

This hand-sewn 1970s Herve Leger iconic bandage dress was another hit.  Of course, she had the body to carry it off!  And the attitude.

The selection of clothing ranged from 1880s through 1920s flapper dresses through the 1990s.  This bias-cut dress was so evocative of The Great Gatsby.

We loved meeting Marquis Bias and soon discovered we had similar tastes and are all fans of Comme des Garcons.  We all had to try on this amazing CDG jacket that is actually three jackets in one!

Who wore it better? you be the judge!

The inner off-white jacket has boning at the waist and only a left sleeve with the right side cut like a vest.  The outer jacket has only a right sleeve with the left side cut like a vest.

So, one could wear only the white jacket, or only the black jacket, or wear both together.

This lady demonstrated a black shrug that could be casual or dressy.

At the end of the evening, we shared an elevator with Marja and her new puppy Bibi, who was absolutely adorable and amazingly well behaved in a crowd of strangers.  (That's exactly what people say about us too!)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Museum of Arts and Design's LOOT Exhibition

Here we are at at the Museum of Arts and Design's annual LOOT show, where a broad spectrum of jewelry designers display and sell an unimaginable variety of baubles in everything from plastic to gold.  We have both come adorned for the occasion.

On her hat, Jean is wearing a tenderly cut felt radish by Danielle Gori-Montanelli.  But wait!  What's that she's pointing to?  Why it's….

It's US!  On a brooch!  And here are the designers, David and Roberta Williamson, both wearing their own work.  We can't tell you how tickled we were to see ourselves immortalized!  Read more about the Williamsons here, and see them on PBS's Craft in America.  Their work can have a surrealist quality to it, with many pieces looking as though they are the product of someone's dreams.  Like several other LOOT participants, the Williamsons teach as well as create.  Come see them at the Philadelphia Museum's Craft Show November 6-9, 2014.  Long-time readers know this show is the site of our annual pilgrimage.

After we got over our shock, we had to go over to Danielle's counter. Really sharp-eyed readers might recognize Danielle from last week's Tokyo Sunset post, showing Valerie and Danielle both wearing Heydari's sunset dress for Artful Home.  For a laugh, Valerie wore the dress for Danielle, never imagining they would turn out to be wearing the same dress.  Notice how they manage not to scratch each other's eyes out.  (Is it because Jean is separating them?)  In this photo, we're all wearing one of Danielle's designs.  (You'll get a better look at Valerie's felt collar later.)  Oh, and in case you were going to ask, Danielle is wearing Trippen shoes.

Here is a close-up of the extraordinary collar Danielle wore.  Hundreds of colored pencils, all and crafted and made of felt.

Virginia Escobar, from Colombia, who originally trained as a lawyer, made everything she's wearing.  You can't tell in the light, but the two necklaces are suede-backed eggshell, with wonderful metal hinges.

To make up for the lighting, here is a photo from the internet to give you an idea what cracked eggshell looks like.

We weren't kidding when we said unimaginable variety.  Burcu Sulek, from Turkey, crafts jewelry out of sponges she paints.  Check out her website to see her delicate sponge tiara.  Her shirt with leather embellishments is by a Turkish designer.

We were delighted to meet Bryna Pomp, LOOT's curator, traded one amazing piece for another during the course of the show.  (Talk about perks of the job!)

Alejandra Solar displayed one handsome work after another.  The cuff on the left is made of painted corn husk, and hand stitched closed while the husk is still wet.  Below it is a brooch featuring a torn piece of corn husk, delicately held down to its frame with small strategically placed silver hooks.  To the right of that are several slabs of whetstone on a metal ground.  The slabs are imprinted with a beetle.  Insect imprints characterize a number of her works.  At the right is a whetstone necklace of slabs punctuated by dots, many of which have insect imprints.

The bulk of Emiko Suo's work was in cork, but she has recently taken off in a new direction, showing hammered and painted metal work.  Here she shows two cuffs, one with rippling designs she hammered in; another with arrow-like marks.  The unusual combination of rainbow colors on metal is almost hypnotic.

Linda van Niekirk, originally from South Africa, and now in Tasmania, specialized in pairing sterling with lightweight natural wood.  Here she wears one of her neckpieces and one of her rings.  Every jeweler was a fabulous showcase for his or her own work.

Three new Pratt graduates shared a counter.  This earring in silver and resin, which complements both sides of the ear, is the work of Lauren Pineda.

Valerie fell in love with Martacarmela Sotelo's armlets of knitted metal.  All of the jewelers have fascinating biographies worth reading.  Among other things, Martacarmela's biography mentions that Sotelo, born in Mexico, originally studied architecture, and then went on to study at Central St. Martin's in London.  Central St. Martin's has an amazing list of graduates.  (Here is a closer look at Danielle's felt collar.  Note that some of the cones have babies growing out of them.)

Below, Dominique Labordery wears two of her creations.  The red ring consists of a circle and a square, either of which can be worn while the other serves as the 'jewel'; or they can both be worn simultaneously on two fingers.

Helen Noakes is very serious about the quality of her work, but injects it all with an irrepressible sense of humor.  This silver necklace features miniature circus performers encased in resin.  Double click for a better look at the stilt walker, the fire eater, the strong man, the tightrope walker and others, not to mention the sterling captions reading, for example, GASP AT HIGHWIRE HIJINKS.  Noakes didn't bring her nuns-in-resin jewelry, although she told us they sell well at a shop near the Vatican!

Grainne Morton, who hails from Edinburgh, Scotland, is wearing one of her collage necklaces.  She also does earrings, rings and bracelets.

German jeweler Beate Pfefferkorn's Elementaris designs do not take porcelain for embellishment but as a basic and shape-giving element. She does a series of necklaces that combine matte and shiny rolled porcelain icicles that are almost weightless. They warm with the wearer's body temperature but don't become uncomfortable. During movement, the tiny parts produce soft sounds.

Allesandra Calvani combines geometric laser-cut methacrylates with silver chains to create colorful earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

German jeweler Anke Hennig works in fiber, producing feather-weight confections like this wonderful necklace.

Dutch jeweler Annemieke Broenink creates fisherman's nets of rubber jewels in necklaces and scarves that are stretchy and colorful. She is shown wearing several of her necklaces at once, with a looped bracelet.

Monies booth is chock-a-block filled with amazing statement pieces like these two necklaces: the top is composed of large black carved chain links and the bottom looks like pointed plexiglass icicles.  We wanted everything!  The Danish jewelry company, founded by Gerda and Nikolai Monies 40 years ago, produces amazing pieces out of seeds, wood, copper, cow horn, cow bone, amber, coral, coconut, shell, mammoth and petrified wood.

Karen Konzuk of Canada works in concrete, forming it into color-saturated, textured orbs and attaching them to stainless steel or gold necklaces and bracelets.

Scottish jeweler Naomi McIntosh works in perspex and wood, with articulated, carved pieces of varying widths, looking almost fibrous.  We saw Bryna Pomp sporting one of her pieces during the show.

Alma Godole of Atelier Godole weaves pearls into necklaces and bracelets.

We got to see jewelry created on a 3-D printer by Selvaggia Armani for Bijouets like these red nylon rings. Bright blue, red and black necklaces, rings and cuff bracelets are lightweight, comfortable and colorful.

Spanish designers Enric and Roc Majoral produce interesting creations of hammered sterling silver and gold.

British jewelry designer Sarah King's collection included lightweight, perforated resin necklaces, bracelets and earrings. She creates sculptural, ethical jewelry in bioresin, silver and gold.

Inni Parnanen from Helsinki, Finland, works in wood and steel mesh to produce lightweight, wearable wooden brooches, necklaces and breastplates like this one.

Misun Wan, born in Korea and now living in Scotland, works in sterling silver to produce delicate necklaces, pins, bracelets and earrings of faceted discs that almost resemble fish scales.

We regret we couldn't show every single exhibitor due to space reasons.

So, here are links to additional artists whom we think you'll like:  Antonelli Giomarelli; Kristina Kitchener; Maria Carelli; Lisa Lee and Ase-Marit Thorbjornsrud.  For a real treat, click on them and check out their amazing creations.  Do it. You'll thank us.

PEOPLE:  LOOT is a terrific people-watching opportunity.  Case in point: these two dapper gents dressed for the occasion.  

This silver fox cracked us up. We thought she looked terrific and asked to photograph her for our blog. Her hysterial advice: Say "safe sex" instead of "cheese" when posing for the camera.

Jewelry designer Diana Gabriel and Debra Rapoport also made the scene. Debra was teaching a class at MAD that evening and dropped in afterward before heading to another opening downtown.

Debra's sister, Cydonia Boonshaft, got our award for the best coat. Both of us loved her orange and black plaid number. That her friend was color-coordinated was a bonus.

We loved this stylish guest's approach to dressing up but staying casual.  The little details like the scarf at the neck, the snaps at the ankles of her slacks and her dressed up lace up shoes all added up to a wonderful outfit.  Like so many of the other attendees, her own jewelry was terrific.  Her beautifully coordinated jewelry -- earrings, necklace, bracelets -- was the perfect counterpoint to her outfit.

We met Rebecca Shaykin and her mom, who were both wearing felt necklaces from Danielle Gori-Montanelli. Rebecca is the Leon Levy assistant curator at the Jewish Museum.

Would you like to know about future exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design?  Click here and look in the bottom right hand corner for join our email list.  Click on that and fill in the form.  The Museum has pay-what-you-will admission on both Thursdays and Fridays, Thursdays sponsored by the Museum itself; Fridays sponsored by KLM.  Enjoy!  We always do.