Sunday, December 12, 2010

Full Dance Card; or How We Went from Spain to Japan in One Evening

Jean says:
On December 2nd, we were faced with an embarrassment of fashion riches: a discussion at FIT by Hamish Bowles on Balenciaga and an opening at Issey Miyake in Tribeca for the launch his new line, 132 5. Of course, we decided to go to both events ... which meant we had to taxi from the first to the second, since we haven't yet mastered the ability to be in two places at once!

Valerie says: Yes, it never fails.

A girl goes for weeks without any invitations AT ALL, and then suddenly her dance card is so full she has to choose among suitors. Both of these invitations started at 6. What's a girl to do? We went to the slide lecture first, having received an e mail warning from FIT that if we were not there on time our tickets would be given away. Thank goodness some decisions are out of one's hands. At 7:30 we made a mad dash, like rabbits, to the Issey opening, which - happily for us - went on till 10pm.

Mr. Bowles' slide lecture was in conjunction with his exhibition, Balenciaga: Spanish Master (currently here in New York City at The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute), and in conjunction with his book, Balenciaga and Spain. Following his very thorough and very convincing presentation, in which he showed the deeply Spanish (and often deeply humble) origins of Balenciaga's inspirations, we were hoping to get a little face time with Mr. Bowles in the Q&A session, particularly because during the course of the evening he made passing - and intriguing - references to his own private collection. We wanted to know just how a private collector maintains his private collection. I mean, really - he has at least one full length Balenciaga ball gown that he mentioned. Slinky Fortuny gowns came in hat boxes (see photo, left); voluminous Balenciaga gowns simply can't. So does he keep them hanging? In big long boxes? Does he have one of those apartments where he's carved out walkways among stacks of unlabeled things? Are they in storage at Madame Paulette's, dry cleaner to the stars? Or does he keep them in scandalously bad conditions, as so many top museums are rumored to do? Alas, as it turned out there was no Q&A. But we noticed that Mr. Bowles was nervous, and almost never looked up from his text. We're assuming he's shy, and nixed the Q&A. (Or did his hour-long presentation run too long to allow for that?) There was a book signing afterward, which must be excruciating for a shy person. When we come out with our book, we're going to have a blast at our book signings, especially if we have a wee drinkie before each one.

Take for example, the dress in the middle sketch (photo taken at the lecture). How would one store it to maintain that fabulous shape? The hat also is a reference the matator's headpiece, Balenciaga's homage to his country's national sport. Although he personally disliked bullfights, he did appreciate and appropriate its costumes on numerous occasions.

Issey Miyake:
The opening at Issey Miyake was to announce its newest line of clothing, dubbed 1325 because 1 piece of clothing becomes 3-dimensional when worn, 2-dimensional when folded and can be worn 5 different ways. I wondered how well we'd be able to re-fold the garments and how useful/necessary it would be if we were storing rather than displaying them. (Valerie says: I have a feeling you can drop them in a heap, and they'll fall naturally into place. They should have a slo-mo video loop of that rolling at all times in the shop.)

These gorgeous objets d'art would not last long in either of our homes. Can't you just see our cats curled up on one of these beautifully geometric creations?

If I were lucky enough to have enough space and vitrines to display my wardrobe, these would be the perfect items. Until then, guess I'll just have to look and not touch! (Valerie agrees: They were doing a brisk business that night. Sales were so good that when we returned last night for another look, the apologetic sales staff said we'd have to wait till January for the next shipment to come in. I'm convinced that at least one client will put his/her purchase on the wall as an art piece.)

Since I cannot do origami to save my life, I can honestly say that if I owned this garment, it would never again look so neat. (V: unless in fact it does - shall we say - assume the position - that is, its original shape - when dropped. Now we have a mystery to get to the bottom of!)

Midori shows how to wear the new design, matching her silvery Doc Marten high-tops to the metallic highlights in her origami-like skirt. She makes it look effortless.

DJ Shin-chan kept the house rocking. He plays as hot as he looks. His mixes are muy popular -- he spun the next night at Chloe 81 on Ludlow.

Along with the sparkling new line of clothes, there were also sparkling cream puffs and sparkling wine (not shown but imbibed). The cream puffs were by Lady M.

The cream puffs had a shiny metallic frosting in silver and purple that looked like an automobile finish but tasted like heaven. Here's Jean going wild with her purple selection. Did we mention that we hadn't had time to eat dinner?

Jean says: This very fashionable lady works for Miyake Design Studio and looks terrific coming or going. I loved her pants, which had a 3-dimensional and light-reflective aspect to the legs. We chatted about shoes: my customized Dansko clogs with 3" added sawtooth bottoms and her low, black leather flats (Miyake, of course) with springs on the heels! I was so jealous.

Jonathan (on one knee) and Mark (right side of picture) and their two friends vogue in front of the store logo updated to include the name of the new 132 5 line on the lower right. We've run into Jonathan both at Fabulous Fanny's, where he's an extremely stylish and helpful salesman, and at Nicole Miller's on Fashion's Night Out. Always dressed to kill! Mark is a designer who is currently designing handbags for Marc Jacobs.

Jean says: Speaking of coming and going, Valerie has a go, with Jonathan and his kilted friend.

Where else but downtown NYC could you be at a party where more than one guy shows up in a kilt and no one bats an eye?

Lacee Swan, fashion artist and blogger ( poses with her friend Christopher, a fashion photographer.

Given the high style quotiont of the crowd, an appearance by StylelikeU's Elisa Goodkind was not entirely unexpected. It is always great to see her and get her "take" on the current state of fashion. She was speaking with a young man who is a teacher. How refreshing to encounter someone so passionate about his profession!

Valerie and I reconnected with Brandon Acton-Bond, who works at StyleLikeU and whom we'd met at one of their events at Blind Barber in the East Village. He also has a blog, Feigned Perfection. Brandon, who is also a shoe designer, was wearing a floral kilt (although Brandon pointed out it was patterned with fruit rather than flowers), which he had paired with great brown leather high-tops which had gold tips on the toes. Very cool. Valerie says: I tried to enlist Brandon in my endless quest to get someone to design fabulous shoes for Women of a Certain Age. Brandon listened very politely - even enthusiastically - but somehow I suspect my quest is long from over.

Here I am with this posse of the most stylishly dressed men in the room.They are absolutely fearless in their approach to dressing up to go out.

Here is one of the midriff tops and long skirts that can convert via snaps into pants. Valerie and I always pick our favorite item from each of the shows or openings we attend. This convertible skirt was my number one choice. Valerie says: I'm reserving my choice till the new shipment comes in, when I can see everything at my leisure.

Chris, the fashion photographer whom we'd met over cream puffs, is joined by his friend Rae (also a designer) and one of her friends, whose name unfortunately escapes me. (Blame it on low blood sugar, lack of dinner, cream puffs and bubbly!) (Valerie says: heck, all I have to do is blame it on my age!)

Valerie gasps: Gads! Am I really that short?! Jean soothes: No. Jesse and Ryan are just that fabulously tall! Jesse (on the left) is a composer. Subjected to my third-degree grilling, he confessed that his musical inspiration is bossa nova. Having spent some time in the favelas around Rio, he comes by it honestly. (Valerie says: Jean is sodium pentathol incarnate. She gets everyone to tell everything!)

Ryan (on the right) is a designer. He has a very dapper twirled mustache. Both lads originally hail from Cleveland and were planning to find a bar to watch the Cavaliers play the Miami Heat and boo Lebron James' first game back in Ohio. Valerie says: Ryan rapturously recommended a favorite cocktail bar to us, but I'm afraid to name it here, lest he find his place overrun next week by women of a certain age. People are more guarded with the names of their favorite bars than they are with the names of their married lovers. A hip bar is harder to come by.

Jean says: This jolly, fashionable trio stopped for a chat before heading out into the night. We discussed adopting rescue animals and fostering cats and kittens. I confess I only remember Sophie Stone's name (far right), so ladies, send us a comment and please remind me of your names and what you do. (Valerie says: it was the low blood sugar, lack of dinner, cream puffs and the bubbly.)

Valerie says: Here I am with old friends Katherine Crone and Susana Pesce, Susana's friend, and Midori. It turned out Susana had hip replacement surgery the day before I had my neuroma surgery. If any of our readers expect one day to be hip replacement candidates, Susana, like so many people I know who've undergone hip replacement surgery, is delighted with her results.

Jean is posing with Desiree, who is also a designer. The space that evening seemed to contain more fashion designers per square foot than any other piece of real estate in recent memory.

All of the guests received sparkling Evian water swag (Stuff We All Get). Here are some of the bottles, lined up on the floor behind the counter, while a new purchase awaits its owner in origami splendor.

Jean says: It was only a matter of days before the Evian by Issey Miyake bottles began appearing for sale on e-bay, with the highest asking price reportedly over $30!

The Three Musketeers get ready to head out into the night!

Oh, wait. The Musketeers were French. So these must be... um... Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and Dulcinea. NOT TOUCHING the which-is-which thing with a ten foot lance.

The sharp of eye will notice that our friend Katherine Crone is leaving with a different coat from the one she was previously photographed in. Oh, envy, envy. Green, just like money. SIGH!

Valerie is wearing: vintage gray velour hat, Issey Miyake Pleats Please windbreaker overcoat, vintage Tamotsu wool herringbone undercoat, vintage Issey Miyake jacket, Krizia Jeans dress, two Danielle Gori-Montanelli brooches (on hat and dress), Blowfish shoes. I fretted about whether it was OK to wear vintage Miyake to an opening for a new Miyake line. I actually had to ask Jean if that was a faux pas. She assured me that it was homage to the master. The things one has to think about!

Jean is wearing a Maria D. Del Greco hat, secured with an art deco bakelite domino pin, DKNY felted wool hooded zip front tunic, Yeohlee coat, vintage Miyake skirt, Lounge Fly bag, customized Dansko clogs and vintage eyeglasses (Revue's MOD OATH) from Fabulous Fanny's.


  1. It was such a pleaure to meet both of you! Sorry haven't replied to your most recent email. In the heat of finals right now :(.

  2. How simply marvellous you both are,and what a blissfully fun evening!