Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Short and Sweet (The Old Gray Hair She Ain't What She Used to Be)

In this short and sweet post, we'd like to present some people we've run into in our recent travels who have short and sweet hair. 

STOP THE PRESSES! Although we originally published this post late Wednesday night, Jean's camera malfunction prevented her from uploading a fabulous shot of an East Village denizen, so we're taking the unusual step of updating this post today. See the new photo which we've added at the bottom. (OK, Jean confesses: I lost my camera for 24 horror-filled hours. Arrgh.) 

Below is Kath, a volunteer at the Angel Street Thrift Shop.  The little halo around her head is totally accidental, but so appropriate!  Kath said the same barber who cuts her hair also cuts Anderson Cooper's. This is entirely believable.  Although she also mentioned the very reasonable price and the name of the barber shop, unfortunately (you'll never guess) ... we've forgotten both!  

Next is a woman we met on the main floor at Saks Fifth Avenue the day we went to see the store's addendum to the FIT Shoe Obsession exhibition.    So chic!            

We ran into the woman below on the street after our trip to the Math Museum, and called out to her that we loved her purple hair. She was talking on her cell phone, and even though we knew it was VERY not done to interrupt people in the midst of a call, we seized the moment (SO unlike us), ran after her, and gestured to her in sign language that we'd like to take her picture. We heard her say into her phone "They want to take my picture", and then she kindly motioned to us to go ahead. In person, the purple looked wonderfully rich and vibrant. The photo doesn't do her justice. She said the color, called Purple Haze, is made by Manic Panic. It's a rinse that washes out after a week, so if any of our readers would like to try it without making a major, permanent commitment, please write and tell us the results -- or better yet, send photos! 

And, lest anyone accuse us of gender bias, we present this fabulous gentleman, whom we met at the Japan Society. He was deep in conversation for AGES, so it took forever to get to photograph his wonderful mohawk. He explained that he was about to enter a monastery, so he was gradually getting himself used to having no hair. What an inspired way to do so!  He was also with a stunning woman, and it's a pity we didn't have the gumption to pester her for her photo as well.  We are not Ron Galella.  (Young people, you'll need to look him up to get the reference.)

We thought you'd also enjoy seeing it from the back.

Last but not least! Jean ran into this fabulous female on First Avenue in the East Village on Monday afternoon.  Loved her blue lenses, long earrings, colorful scarf AND her closely cropped hair. Fab!

That's it!  Short and sweet!
(We cheated a bit by putting in an old photo of ourselves.  Sorry!  Still, it works for the short hair theme, so we're cutting ourselves some slack.)

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Women’s Wear Daily says that “Fashion’s Night Out will go on a hiatus in the U.S. in 2013”, which is probably code speak for “it’s over, folks”. Click here to read the WWD article.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

IFs in PJs -- The Cats' Pajamas!


MONTHS AGO we received an email from a reader who asked if we dressed as fashionably at home as we do in the blog.

For Valerie, the response is: um, uh, well, mmmmm...
See, Valerie lives with cats (now singular, not plural).  Many, many years ago, liking to dress as she does, Valerie would come home from work and lounge around in her work clothes, more or less till time for bed.  What happened to change all that was that one person too many, over the years, said to her, out of nowhere, "Oh, I see you have cats."  And when Valerie asked, astonished, how people knew this (since she didn't carry pictures, or for that matter carry cats), people would simply point out the cat hairs all over her jackets.  "Don't all people have random animal hair on their jackets?", thought Valerie, dullwittedly.  Apparently not.  So, tired of the same old question, Valerie decided to change out of her street clothes as soon as she got home, and since then has dedicated animal hair-friendly home wear/sleepwear.  Usually, these are things she has worn to work and then gotten lazy with. (That means she broke her own rule, wore them in the house, and got kitty peach fuzz on them.)  Above are two such items. One wouldn't have thought it comfortable to wear leggings to bed, but life is full of surprises. And if you have to peek your head out the front door all be-jama'ed, your neighbors won't snicker at your home look.

Jean travels a lot on business and learned the hard way over 20 years ago that one must pack sleepwear that one could wear in the parking lot at 3 AM when the fire alarms go off and she and fellow guests are forced to evacuate the hotel. An even more fun lesson occurred in 1975 when an electrical fire in the ceiling of her first New York City apartment caused a two-alarm fire. That it happened on the Saturday night that her parents came to visit made it so much more exciting when all three of them had to evacuate. New York's Bravest hacked holes in her ceiling with axes and shot fire hoses through the ceiling to the apartment above. Eventually, her apartment, the ones above and beside hers, and the one above that one all connected through giant holes hacked to expose the burning wooden beam that caused the conflagration. So Jean's sleepwear choices are basically based on items which one can wear to bed and wake up in to flee a building without getting arrested for indecent exposure. Exercise wear, leggings and tunic tops are her most frequent choices.  She also sleeps in her jewelry rather than waste precious moments trying to find and put on her 12 rings before running for the door.  (If she could sleep in her glasses, she probably would!)  Did we mention she has not one but two smoke alarms in her apartment?

We then got to thinking about what other people wear to go to bed. Remember Wendy Darling, the intrepid heroine in Disney's Peter Pan, who carries on all of her adventures wearing her nightgown! Actually, Disney's artists were on to something -- the night gown allowed freedom of movement and modesty while also suggesting that all-time favorite Disney princess motif.

Men's silk pajamas are always a fashion statement -- for both sexes. Audrey Hepburn makes them positively femme.
Artist and director Julian Schnabel has adopted pajamas as day-wear, instantly adding an air of decadence to his surroundings.
We couldn't pass up an opportunity to showcase style icon Cary Grant, who can make shaving in a bathrobe look chic!

On a totally different unisex fashion note, the union suit or "onesie" is a perennial bedtime favorite across age and gender. Check out these Aussies, who also demonstrate our theory that hats always spiff up any outfit.

We liked the contrast of these two renderings of the union suit.

OK, dear readers, we've shown you ours. Now, you show us yours! When push comes to shove, what do you really wear to bed?

Something frothy like this? 

Or the old standy-by, the warm and toasty flannel nightgown?

Inquiring minds want to know. Please comment and tell us your sleepwear choice(s) or send your photo to Meow and sweet dreams, pussy cats!

What we're wearing:
Jean is wearing: a black 3-tiered cotton trapeze top from H&M and leggings from TopShop.
Valerie is wearing:  a cotton top from a second hand shop; cotton and lycra leggings in positive and negative handprints are from Extaza.

Hotel room courtesy of indulgent friends Anne and Beth who were staying at the Millennium Hotel in Times Square and who not only let us use one of their beds but also shot the photo. (Wish we could have shown you their view from the 50th floor!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fashion Week February 2013

Last you heard from us, we were surrounded by exotic shoes out of amazing dream sequences.

But wait!  There's more!

After feasting our eyes at the press preview for Shoe Obsession at the Museum at FIT, we headed to Lincoln Center to check out the Fashion Week scene. Right after we arrived, we were photographed by Social Bliss.  (Pics are a bit grainy, but do we care?)

Even Jean's paws got into the act.

We fell in love with the fabulous Alexander Calder tucked away by the Lincoln Center Library.  Interesting that it mimics the shape of fashion tents.

Valerie poses on the plaza with the opera house banners for Parsifal and Rigoletto in the background.

We spotted designer Charline De Luca (whom we'd just met at FIT) checking out Fashion Week. When we told the photographers who were shooting us that she was a famous Italian shoe designer, they swarmed around her for shots and comments.

Here's a shot of Charline De Luca's silver-toned cantilevered booties.

We couldn't help but notice this lineup of attractive young men out on the plaza taking in the scene.

This woman made a bold and colorful fashion statement. She said was a retired fashion editor. Figures.

We ran into Jared (whom we'd first met at If, a fashion-forward Soho boutique, at Fashion's Night Out in 2011, and with whom we reconnected at Fashion Week last year).  It was f-f-feezing, and there he was with his coat open! Ah, to be young and foolish.

We had to give Jared a close-up so you could see his wonderful glasses and handcuff neckpiece.  There were also matching bracelets.

Speaking of glasses, if only this gent had turned his head just a little bit further, so you could see the glasses in full...

Great total look, right down to the black glasses and clear Lucite heels.

And yet more glasses!  But it's really the hair.  Oh, the fabulous hair!

When we met Vana Vain (in the polka dot hat) and her sidekick on the plaza, Valerie asked a passerby to take a picture of all four of us. The next thing we knew, Valerie's camera was bouncing across the cement!  Luckily, Jean gave the poor thing her camera to capture the shot. Sad to say, Valerie's camera bit the dust that afternoon, but it went down in a blaze of glory, for a noble cause.

Here is another colorfully dressed pair having entirely too much fun.  LUV those leggings.  She even named them, but of course, we forgot...  (Insert forehead cudgeling here.)


Loved these women's black and white platform oxfords, and the funky prints.  Can't wait for Spring!

And these candy-colored men's Nike sneakers practically scream that Spring is just around the corner.

We excitedly stopped two fabulous ladies to admire them, only to discover that they were fellow bloggers: Jennifer Boyd-Einstein and Paula Mangin whose blog is called Blank Stare, Blink! While Jennifer lives in Brooklyn, Paula lives outside San Francisco. Transcontinental blogging must have lots of challenges, not the least of which is the 3-hour time difference!

Jennifer and Paula made us blush.  Not only did they recognize us at Lincoln Plaza, they also did  a post about us in which they called us their “American Idols”.  They even slyly slipped in a cameo of us in their earlier post about Jennifer (aka "jslow") 'bombing' on the runway during Fashion WeekWe’re so honored and tickled!  And we LOVE their look!

Anyway, we hit it off so well that we made plans to meet for cocktails later that evening at our favorite Lower East Side speakeasy, 2nd on Clinton. Here's Paula trying to unwind after a jam-packed day that started at  6 AM!

Here's Jennifer. Although she did buy an ascot and we did want to ask her to show us, we all kept talking, and we got distracted and you know ... we ... forgot.

Marja Samsom, the Dumpling Diva (far left), stopped by to show us photos of her trip to Moscow and joined us at our table. After we finally tumbled out onto the street to head home, we accosted a handsome young man to take a group photo.

In a follow-up to FIT's Shoe Obsession, later on during Fashion Week, we went to Saks Fifth Avenue (one of the show's sponsors) to look at and actually touch some of the shoes and their kissin' cousins. We tried to pick out shoes we could live/work with.  Mostly we failed at that.  With precious few exceptions, EVERYthing was waaay too high.  Here, Jean displays a wedge shoe with wonderful stripes.  Now if they could just (everyone chime in together now) lower that heel!

Valerie found another pair of black and white shoes -- looking like something out of 101 Dalmatians

Remember Gianluca Tamburini and his Conspiracy label from FIT's show?  Here's another of his stunning heels, complete with tiny octopus!  None of his shoes are for wallflowers. 

After finishing our research follow-up at Saks, of course we headed to The Modern for two of our favorite cocktails, and the marvelous mushroom soup with chorizo dumplings on the side.

Valerie raised her glass to toast another fun Fashion Week! 

And here's to you, dear reader, for accompanying us on our little journey.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

FIT's Shoe Obsession (and ours, too)

On February 7th, we braved the chilly weather to attend the press preview of Shoe Obsession at The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology, to the uninitiated), and it was well worth taking a little time off work.

Once inside the museum, we instantly warmed up and were raring to go. The number and variety of shoes on display are astounding, with way too many to catalogue all of them here. We're giving you a taste of the range of styles on display and a look at some of the designers themselves who attended and chatted with us. Since the exhibition is up until April 13, if you live in or near the city, we highly recommend that you check it out. AND, best of all, admission to The Museum at FIT is free!

We were interviewed briefly by Delia von Neushatz of New York Social Diary. Click on the name of the blog or on to check us out -- and Delia's extremely well-researched article. She delves into the history of the chopines worn by Venetian courtesans and patrician women alike from 1400 to 1700.  The higher the shoe's platform, the more elevated the social status of the wearer.

Kemberly Richardson from WABC-TV in NYC also covered the show. For her wonderful coverage and video, click here or go to:

We loved these highly architectural shoes.  Look carefully to see the threads like harp strings or suspension cables on bridges.

This was one of Valerie's favorites.

These shoes are wonderful, but the practical person hidden deep in our core is whispering: "One of those wires will catch on something not five minutes after you put it on, and you'll go flying in front of a million people."

This cantilevered creation, with embellished straps and heel, is quite architectural.

This wondrous shoe, Janina Alleyne's Exoskeleton, looks as though it was put together from bleached dragon bones.

Another pair of Alleyne's shoes by the same name looked slightly different but were equally other-worldly.

Christian Louboutin's ballet shoe with heel.  Sorry for the reflections in the photo, but we couldn't not show you this.

The Louboutin stiletto ballet shoe was reproduced on the stairwell wall at FIT.  Jean got into the act.

She threatened to really get into the act!

At the Issey Miyake Pleats Please book launch party, we showed you a dress with gun patterns.  Here's the right shoe to wear with it.

The message here is that no high heel is ever high enough.

Like many of the pieces we saw, this shoe is more an objet - a mysterious fetish or a mixed media sculpture - than a shoe.  The wood is very dense, exactingly cut and lovingly polished; the leather is lush and painstakingly crafted.

The Japanophile in Valerie is betting that Mr. Kushino, the shoe's designer, based the shoe's shape on the jizai kagi (below).  The jizai kagi was a huge wooden hook, hung from the rafters of old farmhouses over the hearth in the center of the home.  From the crook in the center of the jizai kagi a huge cauldron for cooking family meals was hung.  The one pictured here is over a foot tall and probably close to six inches deep.

While all these shoes filled us variously with delight and wonder, the other side of the coin is that most of them are not wearable, and a number of them were never meant to be wearable, so are they really fashion? We both made a point of wearing flat shoes, hoping to elicit a response from the designers present at the press preview. We asked for a comment on flats from one of the designers, who diplomatically non-answered our question.

This remarkable shoe, festooned with miles of metal ribbon, is another one you'll have to be careful not to catch in anything.  (At the very least, you'd ruin the design.)  Some of these shoes, however, were likely intended to travel no further than the bedroom.  So if you caught this one on anything, you'd probably fall on the bed.  Mission accomplished!

A pair of these Prada shoes with the wonderful flower-petal heels were included in last summer's Schiaparelli-Prada show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

Nicholas Kirkwood's homage to Keith Haring reminded us of the Brooklyn Museum's 2012 Haring show.

This 2012 creation by Marieka Ratsma and Kostika Spaho, created using 3D modeling, is called Biomimicry.

Italian shoe designer Charline De Luca trained as an architect before turning her hand at shoe design.

Visible behind Charline De Luca's silver platform booties are Valerie's Korean-designed black and white lace-up shoes which turn up at the toes.

Included among shoes that were designed for retail sale was this wonderful theatrical sandal, mounted on the backs of two crouching figures. The golden gladiator sandal was designed by Rupert Sanderson for the Royal Opera of London's performance of Verdi's Aida.

Both of these shoes are the work of Japanese designer Noritaka Tatehana. The black number on the left is aptly named Unicorn Thorn.

Some of the vitrines in the exhibition were dedicated to shoes from specific donors. This particular shoe by Alexander McQueen belongs to Daphne Guinness and was on display last year at FIT's Daphne Guinness show. We can't get enough of it.

Both of us elected these as our faves, partly because of the stately height they add to the wearer, partly because of their resemblance to the chopines of old - like 16th century old - but also because they are one of the few shoes in the exhibition not on a vertiginous - and painful - incline.

Kiss me, Charlotte is the name of this shoe by designer Charlotte Olympia.

This wonderful glass slipper is by Maison Martin Margiella.

Jean's toe-dancing training created some muscle-memory response to the shoes which drew her like a magnet!  Noritaka Tatehana's pink toe shoes were made famous by none other than Lady Gaga!

Colleen Hill, FIT's Associate Curator of Accessories, stopped to chat with us during the press preview. Here she is with Valerie.

Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at FIT, designer Gianluca Tamburini (of the Conspiracy by Gianluca Tamburini label), and Colleen Hill chew the fact next to an exhibition of his shoes. To see his website, go to We had a long talk with him about the advanced technology required to make his shoes, which have screws and interchangeable parts. Despite their height, he said, they're very comfortable because they're designed to bear and distribute weight. Conspiracy shoes are manufactured in Modena, home of Ferrari, a high tech city.

Not wishing to play favorites, Dr. Steele changed shoes multiple times throughout the press event and again later that evening. Here, she is wearing a pair of black high-heels by the ballet shoe company Repetto.

Dr. Steele flashes a slim ankle and her Nicholas Kirkwood high-heels.

Flutterby is the name of this 2013 red shoe by Alberto Guardiani.

This is another one of Daphne Guinness's dizzyingly-high Alexander McQueen shoes.

Crystal Rose is the name of this 2011 design by Noritaka Tatehana.

Attendees of The Metropolitan Museum's Schiaparelli-Prada show will recognize this Prada wedge-heeled sandal which incorporates the tail light and fins of shiny exotic 1950's automobiles. It was also reproduced as the show's iconic souvenir.

Another of Noritaka Tatehana's creations.

This candy red shoe by Christian Louboutin is called Pigalle.

On a later field trip to Saks (the exhibition's sponsor) to check out the Gianluca Tamburini's Conspiracy line, we saw this Louboutin on the first floor and again up in the shoe department. It is a knockout.

This shoe seems to recall the Netherlands at the height of its trading and shipping boom, when all was carved wood and blue and white porcelain.

Talk about obsession!  How many hours went into getting this design just right?!

Color!  Spring!

We liked this lighthearted shoe centered around a scribble of a rose, but worked with craftsmanship.

When we arrived at the event, we met japanese shoe designer Masaya Kushino in the lobby. He was a great sport and let us get up close and personal with his amazing creations.

Here is a closeup of the shoes Valerie and the designer are holding. They look like rams' horns.

Masaya Kushino is the mad scientist of the shoe world. If we were to ever film a dream sequence, this shoe might be just the ticket!

Love the reflection of Jean's black-nailed fingers shooting the photo of this Kushino shoe.

Cerebral and industrial -- Masaya Kushino designs.  When we asked for a pair of flat shoes, this wasn't quite what we had in mind.

Another Kushino design that looks like something out of Road Warrior.

This is also a Kushino-designed shoe.

The shadow cast on the wall behind Kishino's vitrine was mesmerizing, like something out of an F.W. Murnau silent film.

We know this is just the first of many tours of this exhibition over the next two months and look forward to our next visit.