Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Interlude . . .

to be continued  . . .

Monday, November 20, 2017

Erik Sandberg's PowderPuff Girls

All this talk about Downton Abbey: The Exhibition and its accompanying dressing-table paraphrenalia took me back to the one item I coveted most on my mother's bureau: her powderpuff.

When I could gain acess to her bedroom, I'd remove it from its round container and puff away, feeling much more glamourous than I looked when I'd done.

These portraits by Erik Sandberg look like I felt.

(discovered via the cover of Hi-Fructose magazine)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ayana's Finale Dress on Project Runway: Modest Jane Austen?

During the two-episode season finale of Project Runway Season 16, the camera kept showing teasing glimpses of a dress Ayana had made--it looked to be a pale green with embroidered "tarnished" gold embellishments, and I couldn't wait to see her runway show.

She did not disappoint, as her finale dress was as beautiful as I'd hoped.

I've loved that combination of green and gold for years, and Ayana's dress brought me back to a beloved Wyeth dress I bought in Palo Alto many years ago (documented here).

I've long thought of my Wyeth dress as a Jane-Austen-in-LA dress, and Ayana's beautiful garment is a welcome cousin: a modest Jane Austen?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Vulpine Tights, Vanity Fair, and Radhika Jones: A Saturday Miscellany

I suddenly have an *inexplicable* urge to wear tights with foxes emblazoned all over them.

Alas: these tights, from Anthropologie, are no longer available.

But soon the new Vanity Fair, edited by smart, accomplished journalist Radhika Jones, will be.

Farewell, Azzedine Alaia

He was simply the best.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Upstairs, Downstairs; Exit through the Gift Shop: Downton Abbey on Display

I confess that I adored the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, but it became too Melrose Place-among-the-Hounds for me after that. Still, I can appreciate the detailed costumes and example of gracious living that was set.

So, then, it would be a pleasure to visit Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which looks to be set in the old Lee's Art Shop building, 218 W 57th. (I loved going to Lee's during my twice-a-year pilgrimages to New York.)

And fittingly, I bought my Solar Jubilee Queen there as well.

But this is not about tchotchkes, for at Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, one can luxuriate in the familiar good company of Mrs. Patmore's kitchen, Lady Mary's dressing table, and the iconic Downton pull-bells. Sets and clothing are on full display.

But as Lady Grantham knows well, keeping Downton running comes at a cost. And instead of benefitting from one American heiress, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition will invite many--whether landed gentry or nouveau riche--into its gift shop to help, as I imagine, keep the displays on parade.

Maybe there will even be some Solar Lady Sybils and Solar Mr. Bateses in shop!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

On the Fringe: Caroline Kilkenny Cape

I have a talent for buying eccentric but beautiful pieces that go with nothing I own. They languish in my closet until I decide to play dress-up in my room, every few years or so, or I finally give up and sell them on eBay.

When I was in Dublin this summer I popped into Kilkenny's on Nassau St., where I promptly found just what I hadn't been looking for: a cream silk twill capelet that just covered the shoulders, with cascading cream silk fringe by Caroline Kilkenny.

It made no sense with anything in my closet, so I bought it.

My trip ended in late July, and the capelet is still in its bag, though I have taken it out to try on a couple of times and to admire it.

I don't know whether I'll ever wear it out of my house, but the pleasure it gives me, nevertheless, is worth it.

The cape above is decidedly not my cape, though it would be a caper if I pursued it too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sleep-In Sunday in Elizabeth Cotton Liberty London PJs

On Sunday I had the pleasure of sleeping in, which is unusual, and the even more distinct pleasure of remaining in my pajamas all. day. long.

Still, I felt like I was "dressed," because I've broken out a Christmas gift from last year: a pair of Elizabeth Cotton pajamas in one of my beloved Liberty London prints.

This print is Sheona Rose, and it reminds me of an early Mary Katrantzou digital floral, or a Kate Spade more-recent digital floral, but it's all Liberty and luscious.

Lest this gushing sound like a PR pitch, let me assure that I'm simply remembering that rare luxuriant time where I could stay at home, drink coffee, and write articles in my PJs--without feeling schlumpy in the least!

Elizabeth Cotton used to offer summer Liberty PJs as well--shorts and a sleeveless pajama top. I'd be happy if they returned, as I could imaging myself adding a cardigan and sandals and running an errand, if need be, on a summer's morning.

I think the day also felt delightful because I'd saved a gift from Christmas 2016 for a later date. A pleasure for me is to buy something, forget about it (usually unintentionally), and then unearth it months later and enjoy it. This happens rarely because I usually buy what I need there and then, but this summer in Ireland I also bought some woolen mittens that I'm looking forward to wearing this year. Or maybe next.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Two Coats Are More Stylish than One?

When I think of "two coats," the image that pops into my mind is nail polish--apply two coats of color, plus base and top coat.

If I tweak the language to "double coat," my thoughts go to golden retrievers, Newfies, and their cousins, dogs who have double coats.

But this fall, the concept of "two," "double," or "layered" coats has hit the runway, whether the catwalk be a designer's space or a city street.

I've been in awe of individuals who can layer fabrics and not look like le bonhomme de neige. I remember when I went away to university and met reed-thin twin sisters who would wear two Ralph Lauren polo shirts, with collars popped, beneath a button-down. It was not only a display of wealth (those polos were pricey) but also of silhouette superiority: they looked fashionable, not bulky.

My favourite two-coat look? The jacket as bustier above.

A close second: This look below, which reminds me of Sarah Jessica Parker's highland fling in McQueen a number of years back.

But this is my absolute favourite double coat ever (in double!):

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Severe Tea," and Bram Stoker's Dublin, and a Viking Splash

In chapter 8 of Dracula, Mina Murray writes in her diary, "We had a capital 'severe tea' at Robin Hood's Bay in a sweet little old-fashioned inn, with a bow window right over the seaweed-covered rocks of the strand. I believe we should have shocked the 'New Woman' with our appetites."

She must have eaten a great deal indeed, as the New Woman, with her progressive ideas regarding women's independence, sexuality, and right to vote, had a voracious appetite, symbolically (and perhaps literally) speaking.

No lettuce leaves and weak tea for her; her corset could be loosed to accommodate hearty, substantial food.

Still, Mina's "severe" tea sounds a bit punishing. I should like to think of food as a delight, for as Virginia Woolf has written, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, unless one has dined well."

I dined quite well this summer while spending eleven glorious days in Ireland, four of them in Dublin. After doing literary things with Mr. C, like visiting Yeats' tower home, Lady Gregory's estate, the Book of Kells and the extraordinary Long Room (library) at Trinity College, Dublin, we took a 90 degree turn and boarded a Viking Splash vehicle with our three children, which offered a tour of Dublin by land and sea (basin).

The Long Room; my photo.

Our tour was led by the knowledgeable and witty Viking Patrick, who pointed out various historic locations, including Bram Stoker's adult house.

Bram Stoker's house at 30 Kildare; not my photo.

Although we had not planned this outing to be a literary one, it turned out to be such, as our neighbors on the Splash Tour turned out to be memoirist Frank McCourt's family--his wife, daughter and grandchildren. They were in Dublin for the world premiere that evening of the musical adaptation of Angela's Ashes. Mr. C was sitting with Frank's wife, and as they were both New Yorkers, and he teaches Irish literature, they had a grand chat.

The sea part of the tour took us to a basin. where we saw U2's recording studio, as well as some modern sculpture that Patrick disapproved of.

After the tour ended, we were ready to sink our teeth into something (sorry), and found a lovely pub with beautiful painted tiles and leather banquettes. 

Here we had our tea, which could, I suppose, be termed "severe," but with our appetizers of wild Galway mussels, good beer, and hearty fish and chips, we felt quite luxurious, quite "New People" after our ride and dip.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Miss C, the OG of the Blazer as a Dress?

I turned on my computer the other day to learn that the fashion world had gone amok over blazers worn as dresses.

There was Gigi Hadid . . .

Diane Kruger . . .

Kaia Gerber . . .

          Joan Smalls . . .

and even Reese Witherspoon gave it a whirl.

All I can say is, "STEP ASIDE, YOUNGSTERS."

I was wearing this look back in 1987, when I separated my Willi Wear tuxedo jacket from its matching wide-leg trousers and wore it as a dress to a Christmas celebration (below and far above). The sleeves were too long; I tucked them under, eventually.

I liked this jacket-as-dress so much that I got married in it four years later. In fact, I still have it in my closet, and while I may not wear it on its own any more, I like the reminder of my youth. My tuxedo "madeleine," if you will.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Redwork in Ireland

When our family went to Ireland this summer, we spent two nights in a friend's beautiful historic home.

I embroidered her two pillowcases as a thank-you gift, using my favourite "redwork" technique.

Here's a detail from one of the cases (a vintage pillowslip), as well as my preliminary sketch, with measurements, before I drew freehand on the case itself.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Saint Laurent Glitter Boots and Sweater: A Little Bit of Gary?

I am in thrall to Saint Laurent's Fall 2017 campaign.

The glitter boots and sweater

remind me of Gisele Bundchen

in "A Liitle Bit of Gary,"

photographed by Rankin.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Breakfast at Tiffany's: "Paper" Plates, Anyone?

Way back when I noted that Reed Krakoff had good taste. He just didn't exhibit it at Coach, where he offered his long-time clients a variety of gilded patchwork logorific bags.

He's now lending his aesthetic vision to Tiffany in a much anticipated partnership. In January 2017 the New York Times posed the question: Can Reed Krakoff Rescue Tiffany? Perhaps now, with the unveiling of the new "Everyday Objects" collection, the question should be: Should Tiffany Rescue Itself from Reed Krakoff? I see no need to recuse myself from this discussion.

It's a quick slip of the pun from "Krakoff" to "Knockoff," but chief artistic officer Reed has found inspiration in an unlikely area: everyday items, from paper plates to a tin can. (Think Campbell's Soup with its label removed.) What would Warhol think?

The only Tiffany identifier is a thin slice of blue on the can, reminiscent of the tape my children's violin teacher put on their violin neck to help with finger placement. The paper plate, to my eye, doesn't even have that.

Tiffany is marketing these "objets everyday" as a triumph of wit, but at these prices ($1000 for the can), I wonder whether the 1% target audience will queue up to pay the 7% NY sales tax.

If the signature Tiffany blue is super subtle; or, indeed, invisible, on some of the objects, it's in full force for the children's items (the better to show other parents you buy Tiffany for toddlers?). Perhaps these items are just for the showroom, but although the blue bear head and the blue Lego(?) inspired cupboard doors and blue chandelier may transcend standard gender coding, they definitely nod to the depth of parents' pockets.

As I thought about the title to this collection, I couldn't help but reach back to Alice Walker's story "Everyday Use." In it, an educated, somewhat yuppified daughter wants to preserve her mother's handmade quilts by displaying them; the younger, rural daughter wants to use them. The tension thus results from a debate whether the quilts are works of art or functional objects. Reed Krakoff's collection begs a third option: Do these objects serve either purpose--art or function?

And if neither, then . . . what? I'll follow Audrey's lead and enjoy my croissant from a (real) paper bag.