Wednesday, October 7, 2015


This is going to be a fun post because we get to spotlight two of our favorite subjects: hats and Judith Boyd, better known to you as the Style Crone.

Earlier this year, you will remember (or click here if you don't) Judith came to New York and we all got together at Carol Markel's home.  On that trip, Judith brought each of us a marvelous hat.  That alone was (to quote Olive Oyl) "so utterly, utterly!"  

But better still, Judith had picked them up at the final closing sale of Brigitte NYC, which we had recommended to her on a previous trip here.  A marvelous store whose products were as creative and original as the eponymous Brigitte herself, it was absolutely dedicated - in spirit if not in official policy - to women of a certain age.  Among her many brilliant ideas, Brigitte had a habit of salvaging materials from her scrap heap and making one of a kind hats out of them.  They were simple in construction, but had the same effect as a cherry has, cresting an ice cream sundae.

Above is the wool hat she gave Valerie, laid flat.  It was recently brought out of storage now that temperatures have begun to drop.

If that were all, the post would end here.  But you know how we love to experiment, so below is the same hat, shifted incrementally around the head.

It works no matter what you do with it, and each way it looks like a different hat.

Here a tip of the hat to Judith, who ferreted this hat out of a huge pile of hats.

For those of you who are curious, the tag is at the big round end.  (Raise your hand if you thought it was at the small straight end.)  Readers, of course you can't get this kind of mileage out of all your hats, but you'll never know till you try.

Experiment!  (When no one who might laugh is looking, of course.)

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Did you recognize the title of tonight's post from the song by the 1970s folk rock band Steeleye Span?  Enjoy the song and the '70s clothes, below.

(Click here to see it full size.)  Enjoy the handsome young men in their de rigeur long hair and dark mustaches of the period.  Valerie used to have an armlet just like the lead singer's.  And back then it looked just as good on her as it did on Maddy Prior, seen here with her hair parted straight down the middle, also de rigeur back then.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


It's not common knowledge that the Museum of Arts and Design has, on its second floor, numerous drawers of art jewelry that members of the public can pull out at will (the drawers, mind you, not the jewelry), and be bedazzled by anywhere from one grand work to ten tiny works of stunning art in a space no larger than a coffee table book.   For visitors inspired by these drawers to have works of art jewelry for their own, once a year MAD puts on LOOT, an exhibition and sale of international art jewelry whose breadth and originality make LOOT a must see each fall.

While Jean and her husband attended his school reunion, Valerie went to report on LOOT.  This year, there were fifty-five artists, so we can't show you everything, but we can try to give you a taste of this very enjoyable show.

In the opening photo is an agate neckpiece by Petr Dvorak, a native of the Czech Republic living in Austria.  Below is the neckpiece on its display stand.  The simple construction allows the piece to move easily on the neck, but the simplicity of the design gives no hint of the amount of work that goes in to creating the finished product.  It was such an honor to wear it for a minute!

Early on, I ran into Debbie Adamson, who does wonderful things with rubber.  Here are two of her pieces, made to look almost like chunks of driftwood.  That's fellow artist Hayley Beckley on the right, wearing one of the beautiful cloth collars she brought to LOOT.  More on that in a moment.

Here are Debbie and Hayley, wearing two of Hayley's neckpieces.  Over Hayley's shoulder, you can see more of her work on the wall.

Nearby were Anastasia Su and Martin Lesjak, of 13&9 Design, who trained as architects, and work in corian, a material often used in surfacing.  Here, Anastasia shows off a cool modernist corian collar and earring.  The earring is pierced in the traditional place, but hooks over the ear in a completely non-traditional way.  They also made some positively wicked sunglasses.

Yu Hiraishi showed painted brass accessories in bright colors and bold designs partly derived from juxtaposing small brass squares at unusual angles.

Nicole Schuster, who works in oxidized silver, says she gets her inspiration both from the geometric shapes found in both nature and shapes found in cities.  Here, one ring encircles each finger, but have the appearance of two rings.

Aprosio & Co., from Italy, specializes in Venetian beads and Bohemian crystals.  While they seem capable of making absolutely anything, including a black beaded bag decorated with three dimensional beaded chili peppers, let us show you one of the gorgeous winged insect brooches with delicate beaded antennae, jaws and legs.

Most of the artists are their own best models, and wear their creations to great advantage.  Here, Mary Samoli, who works in gorgeous yellow gold, shows some of her designs.

Hitomi Jacobs works primarily in silver and pearls. The tassel at the base of this neckpiece is made entirely of tiny seed pearls.  She also had coral and turquoise pieces, made with equally small, or smaller, beads.

Gustav Reyes is doing beautiful work in wood.  Here are two of his pieces.  Mr. Reyes probably surprises everyone when he demonstrates the flexibility of the coil bracelet, the result of a special process.  Given its ability to stretch and then return to its original shape, the bracelet could almost be compared to a Slinky, although its asymetrical shape is more interesting.  The bi-level burled wood ring is made of "salvaged wood from other crafts people".

I didn't get to speak to Eva Franceschini about her perforated silver, but I marveled at the delicacy of her work.  Notice that several of the pieces are painted.

Angela Fung calls her work "kinetic semiprecious stones and silver".  Since the work is still while on display, Angela had to show me what makes her work kinetic.  The bracelet on the left is a kind of modified spring.  It expands to fit the arm, and shinks when taken off.  On her other arm is a square bracelet with three parallel rows of gutters (for lack of a better word), between each of which a semiprecious stone can zip from one end to the other as the arm moves.   Like many of the artists, Angela has an interesting and surprising background.  If time allows, we hope you will take a look at the artists' websites.  The path to becoming a jeweler can be as unusual as the jewelry.

Silvie Tissot, left, designs, and Christophe Tissot executes Silvie's designs.  Their daughter is, to say the least, their very effective sales representative.  They have a long and interesting background, which you can read more about here.

On my arrival, LOOT's curator, Bryna Pomp (right), was wearing a stone necklace from one of the displays, but when I ran into her again she had exchanged it for another.  Left is Eva Franceshini; center is Olivia Monti Arduini, wearing her light-as-a-feather necklace of chain matte porcelain.

Monies had a display as well, but I didn't want to interrupt a sale, so instead of showing you their dramatic statement pieces (which you can see here), we can show you Joyce Williams, the perfect representative for Monies.  Don't forget to take a closer look at her glasses.

Here is a necklace of silver ellipses, each different from the next, by Ute Decker.   The matching bracelet, which can be worn several different ways on the wrist, can also be added to the necklace with a simple snap, to make a great centerpiece to the necklace, as well as add length.  According to her website, Ute regularly writes and speaks on ethical jewelry.

Here, Ute wears another of her silver neckpieces, which can also be arranged in multiple different ways.  With her is Chiara Scarpitti, who made the delicate necklace of white fiber on metal frames she's wearing, as well as the hexagonal brooch.

I was happy to find Danielle Gori-Montanelli, Here sporting a brooch of sharpened purple pencils made in her signature felt.  Earlier, she had been wearing a spray of red felt polka dot mushrooms, and reported that a LOOT visitor reminisced about quite enjoying eating those mushrooms in the '60s.  I'm wearing one of Danielle's neckpieces, and on my arrival I saw a client of hers wearing one of Danielle's felt hats.  Never one to stand still, Danielle is now making miniature felt furniture, so new none of them are on her website - yet.

Jean Power is a beading whiz, and is so advanced that she has developed new techniques of her own.  "Are you familiar with the Bead Society?", I asked her, thinking its members would surely love to know about these new techniques.  Not only was she familiar with the Bead Society, she had taught a class there the week before LOOT.  I'm always the last to know.

Here are two of Jean's proprietary techniques.  What may not be clear in the photograph is that the designs are three dimensional, not flat.  The stars hold their shapes by virtue of their own tension.  The angled beads are a series of twenty triangles painstakingly sewn together, and given a little assistance with a single large bead inside.  Jean says she's done it so long now that she can sew the edges together by feel, without looking.

Evren Kayar, from Turkey, has a line out called Constellations, made of silver, gold, and stones.  They come in necklaces, earrings, and rings.  The rings can be worn singly or in groups, and come in several colors.

My last stop was with Emily Kidson, who specializes in laminate and inlaid silver.  I liked so much of her work, much of which had a mid-century modernist look about it.  Emily was kind enough to forward this picture for our use.

If you're in the New York area, mark you calendar for next year.  Keep the end of September and the beginning of October open!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


How could we possibly resist a notice like this: "BEST STREET FAIR EVER LONDON TERRACE, WEST 24TH ST., NYC; SAT., 9/26"?

It went on to say: "Calling all Antique, Vintage, Collectibles Collectors, Shoppers, Dealers; Mark your calendars right this minute for the huge, one-of-a-kind, London Terrace Street Fair, Saturday, September 26th, 2015; 9:00AM-5:00PM; Fair runs along 24th street; North/South Side; between 9th and 10th Avenues, NYC. Do not miss this fantastic, multi-vendor annual event; tons and tons of unique items; Holiday gifts; bargains galore on all kinds of Thotchkies, Estate, Heritage, Flea Market, Garage Sale Finds. Stop by to Booth #20 (near to 9th Avenue) and say hello to your favorite vendors from Jackson Heights; Adrienne, Jimmy, Robert. Saturday is going to be a beautiful, sunny day; perfect weather for shopping and having fun at London Terrace Street Fair. Be there."

We'd barely arrived before we met this dapper gent, designer Jeffrey Gladstone. We had a wonderful chat and then kept running into each other in various booths up and down the block.   Don't forget to check out his shoes.  Luckily for him, they wouldn't fit either of us.

Actually, dapper men abounded, although we could not photograph them all.  This gent gave us several wonderful poses before we finally captured this one.

Vendors and wares truly ran the gamut. This lovely young woman in a beautifully patterned turban presided over a booth of colorful jewelry, accessories and clothing.

At this same booth, Valerie tried on this blue and white print cotton denim jacket that Jean unsuccessfully tried to cajole her into buying. (FABULOUS African print (Cameroon??), but just a tad tight, said Valerie.)  Aaaannnddd, did we mention that it was only $20? For a New York City market, prices were quite reasonable, which is of course "marking on a curve"!

Jean found an orangey-red cinnabar carved bracelet for under $20.

Amy Krakow had a rack of wonder after wonder.  The first wonder was this marvelous smoking jacket.

And just behind it -- pulled out for your viewing pleasure -- was this marvelous purple Mongolian lamb bag.  (Valerie checked it out to see how readily it would convert to a hat.  About 1.5 readily on a scale of 1-10.  It would have needed to be cut, by someone who knows how to cut leather.)

A meeting of the minds, and of the glasses.  We meet so many women who take off their glasses to be photographed, but not these ladies. Don't take them off!  We love your glasses.

We didn't just look at clothes.  It was a toy buyer's paradise.  This one, which brings to mind nothing so much as Tamara de Lempicka's self portrait (slyly called "Auto Portrait") came home with Valerie.

We've shown you this before, but it's so worth repeating.

Okay, back to toys.  Since we were in the heart of gay Chelsea, it perhaps wasn't so surprising to run into Alan and Ken wedding day dolls.

And for the happy couple, a vintage stove.

Valerie found it hard to resist this bamboo box ornamented with a huge cicada.  The workmanship is wonderful.  The same vendor had an equally wonderful miniature wooden juke box/music box/cigarette box (not shown).  When you turn the key, the music starts, the top of the juke box pops open, and a monkey emerges proffering a single cigarette.

Another one that got away: this metal crocodile with movable jaw. Even though it was adorable, neither of us bought it.

We were tickled when a French couple asked to photograph us.  We asked the husband to photograph us with our camera afterward.  His wife is next to Jean, and next to Valerie is Giselle, also from France, and a vendor of very original jewelry.  Her beautiful face is unfortunately mostly hidden by her hat.  We have to tell you more about Giselle one day.  Last year she traveled to Asia by herself, and spent a month there, backpacking.  Since we're contemporaries, she's a great role model.

Saving our best find for last, we had to show you Hot Girls' Pearls, invented by Constance Sherman, who dubs herself the Chief Cooling Officer.   You refrigerate them before you wear them.  When you get one of those darned hot flashes, these will save you.  They'll keep you cool for about an hour, and then you pop them back in the refrigerator to revive them.  Where were these when we needed them?

At the far end of the block, a little sandwich shop with outdoor seating called Rocket Man featured this catchy logo etched into its weathered metal door.

There just has to be a story behind this! As we walked east along 24th Street, we passed a building with a vintage evening gown just hanging from a 3rd floor fire escape against an otherwise rather unassuming facade. Was it an elaborate party advertisement? ("Stop by, dahling, you can't miss it. It's the apartment with a 1950's evening gown hanging outside".)

All we could do was speculate as to its meaning. What a great incarnation for a vintage strapless paste tulle evening gown! It is just one of so many New York City secrets.

Ciao until next time, kiddies!