Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'll Take the Fifth (25th That Is)

This 'n' That Shop

 While the famed Chelsea Flea Market (located between 25th and 26th Streets and 6th Avenue) closed years ago (to make room for condos - what else?), you can still satisfy your vintage shopping wonder lust on 25th Street. Which is precisely where I spent a good part of Sunday morning with my good friend Madge Novel, an incurable collector and well known dealer with flawless taste and a discerning eye (I profiled her on my blog Tuesday, July 7, 2008: click here for article.  ). Always on the lookout for the best of the best, the New Jersey born, New York schooled, Washington D.C. based Ms. Novel sells everything from turn of the century through current, contemporary pieces (the name of her company is In-Style Vintage) and is available by private appointment (madgenovel02@comcast.net ).

Antiques Garage

First stop was the Antiques Garage, at 112 West 25th Street, a sprawling bi-level space filled with every imaginable item along with some entertaining dealers who are great characters themselves. While admittedly, you have to really search to find something great (and naturally, that depends on what you're looking for, your budget, and your taste), I immediately stumbled upon an amazing architecturally shaped black vintage Geoffrey Beene jacket. It was in impeccable condition, had a Neiman Marcus label, and an asking price of $350. Not bad for couture!

Eve, a dealer whom I had recognized from the 26th Street flea market (I had purchased several Bonnie Cashin coats from her way back when), had a vintage black Carlos Falchi clutch bag (over sized, portfolio style), also in pristine condition (priced at $75). My shopping companion, Madge, scored with an eye catching Larry Vrba for Castlecliff pendant: huge, with an antique gold patina and massive chain, it had an Egyptian feeling and a large turquoise stone in the center ($200). Some great antique lawn chairs (which both of us admired and I started thinking they would look great on my terrace), quickly found a home: we spotted two men quickly carrying them out onto the street.

This 'n' That Gaddad Galalith Multi-Bright Squares $225

Next stop, Anita Stern's This 'n' That, located at 124 West 25th Street, 212 255 0727, http://www.thisnthat-ny.com/ , a tiny jewel of a shop literally filled to the rafters with past and present collectibles, vintage jewelry, glass, fixtures, silver and bric a brac. She sells to the trade as well as retail clients. Because I am a serious necklace collector, I was drawn to some iconic pieces by Larry Vrba -- the most amazing of which was a huge art deco piece in onyx, emerald, and 'diamonds' (about $600); a very fun and colorful piece by Goodad Galalith, $225, made entirely of multi bright squares; and an Isabel of Paris Limited Edition Clown necklace, $295.

We then headed east, to the Antique Showplace at 40 West 25th Street. This is a multi-level indoor space divided into a dizzying array of shops. You can find everything from home furnishings and collectibles in every category, from vintage clothing to accessories. Among the well known dealers who fall into the latter category, are Joe Sundlie (http://www.joesundlie.com/ ), Marlene Wetherell (http://www.marlenewetherell.com/  ), and for those specifically looking for fashion forward, pre-loved, attention grabbing costume jewelry, you can't beat Sheri Weiss Vintage Collections, Gallery 30.

Sheri Weiss's "Angry Monster" necklace $385

Sheri was a fashion designer, who worked for a number of moderate priced labels. When she was unexpectedly laid off, the longtime vintage costume jewelry collector turned her hobby and passion into a successful full time business. She has several on line boutiques:
http://www.boobearsbaubles.com/ .

Among her customers are retailers who naturally buy pieces from her and UP their prices dramatically, stylists, and fashion designers She told me that a designer who works for Valentino recently purchased a ruffled metal piece.

Darren Manes Waterfall necklace $500

Her motto is: "Accessories should be fun and make you smile, otherwise, what's the point?" and her treasure trove of attention grabbing, whimsical, unusual pieces illustrates this philosophy perfectly. To wit, the Giant Fierce Looking Crowned Princess Pendant Necklace with Green Eyes ($385) which boasts curly eyebrows, what looks like a mustache, sharp teeth, and a very fierce look. The tiara has red rhinestones around it. As she describes it, this is "definitely not for someone who does not want to be noticed". She also has a number of iconic Castlecliff by Vrba necklaces, (such as the Aztec Chief figural necklace with white glass stone and enamel). I thought the gold toned fish necklace on a multi strand pearl 'chain', was a perfect summer piece.

Darren Manes Byzantine Cross Necklace

Perhaps most notable and interesting, are the one-of-a-kind, hand crafted from vintage component pieces which are a collaboration with Darren Manes, a tremendously creative, talented, painter/artist who has a graduate degree in architecture. Ranging in price from about $200 to $700, they have the ancient look of something one might unearth during the course of an archaeological dig. Standouts are the massive Byzantine Maltese crosses punctuated with large stones, and the fabulous silver colored metal waterfall necklace $500.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, June 18, 2012

Conversation at the Costume Institute

 What Generation Gap?

Tevi Gevinson, Iris Apfel & Judith Thurman
(Photos courtesy The Metropolitan Museum)

Each year, The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts sit-down conversations with the fashion elite in celebration of the Costume Institute’s latest exhibition. If you think a conversation about fashion, style, chic, and good taste/bad taste staged between two gals with a 74 year age gap, sounds implausible, if not utterly impossible, you might want to think again.

On Sunday, The New Yorker writer Judith Thurman, who wrote an article about "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” (and who also wrote the introduction to the book which accompanies the exhibit), moderated a discussion "Good Taste/Bad Taste: The Evolution of Contemporary Chic". The 'stars' were the "youngest AND the most venerable style icons": Iris Apfel, the 90 year old bona fide style icon, and Tevi Gevinson, the famed 16 year old blogger.

Tevi is undeniably a precocious, bright, and talented young lady who has a lot to say, an individual point of view, and the formidable credentials to back it up (she has a huge following many of whom showed up at the SRO event). The Chicago based high school student started her blog The Style Rookie at age 11, is working on her own on-line magazine, has appeared in fashion films, starred in Uniqlo ads, and routinely shows up at Fashion Week. In addition, she has an old soul which completely belies her youth, while Mrs. Apfel, is not only the coolest person in any room, but the youngest at heart, (she refers to herself as "the oldest living teenager") and thus, the generation gap was ably bridged.

But while Tevi more than held her own during the course of the hour long event, it was unsurprisingly the famed nonagenarian who stole the show with her spontaneous observations and uncensored, off-the-cuff, no holds bars advice. Let's face it, 70+ years of experience are invaluable and cannot be underestimated. She often had the audience in stitches and was responsible for the best lines and most memorable quotes of the day.  When Ms. Thurman asked how each woman chose her outfit for the afternoon, Tevi said the Prada skirt (printed allover with surrealist black lips), was a gift from the designer and she liked its goth quality.

 For Iris, it was simple: "I have this jewelry and this outfit. If it looks good together, great. If not, it comes off and I try something else". At one point, Judith asked if getting dressed is akin to performance art and a form of play. Both agreed it was. Tavi noted: "The fun side of fashion is what is so great".  Iris noted: "When the fun goes out of it, I might as well be dead" and "Good fashion is good performance art. You assume a persona that comes with the outfit." She also advised, "Pursue your own fancy. Don't play by the rules. You have to relax and have fun. What's the worst thing that can happen? The fashion police aren't going to come and take you away. And if they do, you may have some fun in jail" (The audience howled)

Iris then channeled Diana Vreeland with her assessment that "too much good taste is bad". Ms. Thurman mentioned the Miuccia Prada quote which is blown up on one wall of the exhibit: "I fight against my good taste" and began speaking about good taste vs. bad taste and the notion of "ugly chic" and "ugly cool". Mrs Thurman showed slides to illustrate her point  -- included were some Prada and Schiaparelli "ugly chic" designs from the current exhibition, selections from Marc Jacobs' infamous grunge collection, Jean Paul Gaultier's "Rabbi Chic" collection, and Rei Kawakubo's "Quasimodo" designs for Comme des Garcons during which she padded her clothes in the worst possible places resulting that the models looked disfigured. She also showed images of the impeccable looking Duchess of Cambridge, the epitome of 'good taste'.

Iris had her own thoughts about this: "It's nice to be intellectual, but designers are making clothes that have to fit a woman. I see no value in spending money and looking like a freak. Women want to look good. I can do ugly on my own and it won't cost me a penny." (This was the best line of the afternoon). She went on to note, "Personal style has to evolve from yourself. You have to find out who you are" and "I don't dress to be trendy. You can't be trendy and have personal style."

Iris then evoked her favorite quote (source unknown): "Personal style is curiosity about oneself" (Judith and everyone in the audience concurred). "I don't give a damn about what anyone else thinks. My rule many years ago was that I would not wear anything that would offend my mother or my husband. But otherwise, I don't care what anyone else thinks." "Fantasy is so lacking today. That's one reason my (museum) shows were so successful."

Ms. Thurman asked her how she dressed in the 40's and she answered, "I was probably the first woman to wear jeans". "In Wisconsin at that time, the only people wearing jeans was Paul Bunyan and a bunch of lumberjacks", and she  recounted what she painstakingly went through to finally get a good fitting pair of jeans (they were eventually mail ordered from the boys' department).

Ms. Thurman asked both women who their favorite designers are. Iris quickly mentioned Ralph Rucci "I wish I could afford to wear more of his clothes" and Dries Van Noten who once said he doesn't have a specific woman in mind because that would be too limiting. And because she is an avowed accessory "nut", she prefers architectural clothes with "good lines and good fabric" "I keep and wear my things for years. I am very loyal to my clothes".

Tevi observed that she likes outfits that are "collages" and prefers designers who have a narrative that runs throughout their work. For that reason, her list includes Meadham Kirchoff, Rodarte, Creatures of the Wind, and Prada (who is also interested in "human features").

The idea of feminism also came up (both Prada and Schiaparelli are considered to be feminists), and the discussion went on to include beauty. Tevi said she doesn't really "care about being attractive" which is why Cindy Sherman appeals to her. She also noted that today, "there is more freedom in fashion but not in beauty." At this point, Iris chimed in that "beauty is stressful for women over a certain age" and spoke about how difficult it is for this group of women to find anything to wear - - particularly, dresses with sleeves. "Women over a certain age don't want to wear widows' weeds or sack cloth and ashes. If I could, I would open a store called 'Sleeves' on Madison Avenue, and everyone would come."

At the end, Judith asked: "What kind of show would you like to see? How would you curate a show at the Met?" Tevi noted that "this fear of aging is scary" and "Both Iris and I are fans of the advancedstyle.blogspot.com  "  and she would like to see something along those lines. Iris concurred, "This would be a very healing show". Ms. Thurman liked the idea of ending the conversation with the notion of 'healing'. While she said she could not take questions from the audience, she did invite people to come up to the stage, and ask questions of the two women.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Misha Nonoo's 2013 Resort Collection

Yes, Yes, Nonoo!

Misha Nonoo 2013 Resort Collection
Striped cashmere sequined sweater and paisley silk shantung shorts
(Click photos for larger views)

 Misha Nonoo, whose work is marked by refined elegance, sculpted shapes, and perfect fit, was honored with the 2012 Fashion Group International's Rising Star Award for Women's RTW. The New York based designer was born in Bahrain, raised in London, and schooled in Paris. Her eclectic, thoroughly global upbringing has been evident in her designs from the beginning. Autumn/winter 2011 was all about the aristocratic heritage of England; spring/summer 2012 was a celebration of the glorious Italian Riviera and referenced style icons Marella Agnelli and Contessa Crespi; fall/winter 2012 was an homage to Paris, and Anouk Amee was the inspiration.

Shirred dress and bamboo chunky sweater
 with embellished cuff silk crepe trouser

Last evening, she unveiled resort 2013 during the course of two back-to-back informal shows at the Gramercy Park Hotel's rooftop Terrace. The glamorous, opulent, eclectically dramatic and artistically inspired hotel (which owes its stunning makeover to Julian Schnabel), was quite a fitting venue for this quirky, highly detailed, 20 piece collection. It was inspired by the "colorful past and storied sojourns" of the regal Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, the last Vicereine of India. Ms. Nonoo successfully touched upon all the predominant themes for resort 2013 that have been seen elsewhere, but she managed to put her own spin on them.

Left to right: The Vicereine embroidered paisley top with polka dot skirt; the black silk gerogette blouse with paisely sequined pocket detail and cylcamen satin skirt with beaded trim; the paisley printed Burma dress; the black Annette dress

There were Botanical prints which came by way of a crepe de chine blouse and cropped tailored silk shantung trousers, or a shantung short suit with lattice printed silk chiffon blouse and high wasted silk shantung silk printed shorts. Shorts (which are part of a huge pant revival and have been touched upon by every designer thus far) looked good here as well. Notable examples were the tucked cotton blouse paired with a high waist silk shantung lattice print short, and the blue striped cashmere square sequined sweater worn with a paisley silk shantung short. Vicereine embroidered paisleys, in the form of a coat and jacket, looked especially good when paired with Burma trousers.

The Vicereine paisley coat and jacket

Unexpected were the pattern mixes (as in the aforementioned paisleys and polka dots); the use of transparency (as in the lattice print Hutch dress) and the pailette and sequin trims (a cyclamen satin back crepe short skirt was trimmed with transparent paisley beads and worn with a black silk georgette blouse with paisley sequined pocket detail). There were tuxedos -- hers was rendered in lightweight superfine persimmon wool. And yes, of course, there was lace. Standouts were the sapphire blue French lace blouse and pencil skirt and a black Annette dress with sapphire blue French lace sleeves. The only accessories used were earrings by Dannijo, and black or nude suede pumps on a very high platform.

The sapphire blue French lace blouse and pencil skirt

Speaking of platforms, Deborah Hughes, the company's publicist, was decked out in a simple and chic navy top and long, full legged pants, and seemed to have grown since I last saw her. When I asked to see her shoes, she lifted up the hem of her pants to reveal towering 6 inch platforms.

Talk about the "height of fashion". Wow!

- Marilyn Kirschner

Monday, June 11, 2012

Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

Fuego Portable Gas Grill

If your Dad considers himself a grill master, this compact grill will allow him to work his magic anywhere. It weighs just 13 pounds and has a 159 sq. in. dishwasher safe, enamel coated, aluminum grate. The set includes the grill, cooking lid, red travel band and control valve with gas connector.

Available at: www.stockngo.com, $134.99

For more Better Bets Father's Day Gifts click here

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

CFDA 2012 Fashion Award Winners

Ashley & Mary-Kate Olsen
(Photo: Randy Brooke)

 The 2012 CFDA Fashion Awards, which marked the organization’s 50th anniversary, took place at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall Monday evening. The Row’s Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen won the 2012 Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Womenswear Designer of the Year award.  The Olsen twins were for the first time included in the list of nominees and beat out Marc Jacobs, Lazaro Hernandez, Jack McCollough and the Proenza Schouler designers.

Joseph Altuzarra & Kate Bosworth
(Photo: Randy Brooke) 

The Menswear Designer of the Year award went to Billy Reid, while Reed Krakoff picked up the trophy in the Accessory category. The night also honored emerging talents with the Swarovski Award. This year, Joseph Altuzarra won in the Womenswear category; Phillip Lim in Menswear, and Tabitha Simmons in Accessory Design.

Tommy Hilfiger & wife Dee
(Photo: Randy  Brooke)

Anna Wintour presented Tommy Hilfiger with the Geoffrey Beene lifetime achievement award (with a performance by the Princeton Footlight singers, dressed in matching Hilfiger varsity outfits); Andrew Rosen took home the Founders Award, in honor of Eleanor Lambert, and the Media Award, in honor of Eugenia Sheppard, went to Scott Schuman and Garance Doré. Rei Kawakubo was honored with the International Award, and Johnny Depp with the Fashion Icon Award. 

Click here for arrival photos

Monday, June 04, 2012

Better Bets "Countdown to Summer" by Rhonda Erb

Logitech Mini Boombox:

 This little speaker is tailor made for summer fun. Pair this palm sized unit with your smartphone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled device and experience clean, full bodied sound that you would only expect from a much larger speaker. The touch panel controls are easy to operate and with up to ten hours of battery life, you can conveniently take it with you everywhere. Be sure to check out the Logitech website to enter their “Upgrade My Dad” contest for a chance to win your father a technology makeover

Available at: www.logitech.com, $99.99

Click here for more "Countdown to Summer" gift ideas