Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dressed to Kill: Behind the Scenes at Advanced Style Shoot

Jean says: Recently, Ari Seth Cohen from Advanced Style asked to meet with and interview us. Since we were both readers of his blog and liked his stuff, we met for brunch at our favorite East Village hang-out, B Bar. Since we were going to be photographed, we dressed to kill.

Valerie says: or maybe just to maim. Our instinct for violence is not as sharp as it once was.

In person, Ari is just as friendly and open as his blog personna. He is witty and VERY easy to talk to, which is part of his charm and what makes him so good at what he does -- getting people to open up about themselves. We chose B Bar not only because we're frequent customers, and hoped we were less likely to get thrown out, but also because of the light. It has a year-round outdoor seating area with heaters. Arriving first, Valerie and I, in following after Goldilocks' example of moderation, picked a table that was not too hot and not too cold. (Valerie adds: nearly equally important is that they make great pancakes, great cocktails and heavenly banana bread. AND the wait staff is great, too!)

Valerie says: Ari had an amazing boatload of ideas for us. Some we'd thought of ourselves, many we hadn't. But where we think of these things and would simply love to have them happen, as if by magic, Ari thinks of them and sees how to approach them as real viable projects. Ari has not yet suggested a 60 foot high billboard on Times Square, but I think that could be a fabulous new trend for us to start.

Jean says: Months ago, when Valerie and I were planning our trip to the Bakelite Show at the Hudson River Museum, I'd loaned Valerie armsful of black and butter colored bracelets. Several weeks later, when I inquired about them, she insisted that she'd returned them. Although I was sure they weren't in their boxes, since I am notoriously bad about these things and Valerie is so organized, I thought it would eventually sort itself out. Recently, while cleaning her closet, Valerie discovered a bag hung on a hanger -- filled with my black and butter bakelite bracelets! Write this down: Vindication is SO MUCH sweeter than revenge! Our friendship remains blemish-free and forward-moving! And I had my bracelets back just in time for brunch. Light-colored Bakelite discolors or fades over time if exposed to light and the elements. White bakelite sometimes turns to a creamed corn or butter color. I just mix everything together.

Valerie says: Ah yes, the Bakelite thing. How the best laid plans of mice and men do go asunder. We planned to go to the opening day of the Bakelite show - a weekend in February, I think. A few days beforehand, I convinced Jean to lend me some of her own extensive Bakelite collection so we could attend the show in the spirit of things by both arriving fully bedecked. I chose my outfit in advance, and let Jean run amok with my arms. Must have been as many as ten bangles on each arm, and each with its order carefully planned. We agreed to meet at Grand Central Station on the big day, so I took the bangles home with me. Jean even put them in order in two narrow bagel bags so I'd only have to slide them out of the bags onto my arms. Well, the weather on the day in question was so brutal that we chickened out. A few weeks later, we still had not gone, and the bags of bakelite, sitting on my table, began to frighten me (fear of bakelite!). After all, how could I ever replace them if something went awry? - so I determined to bring them back to her. My memory of having them in my pocketbook on the bus and of placing them on her table in the safety of their home is so vivid that it's a pity none of it is true. But as Jean said, neither of us worried. I was sure Jean would find them packed away. Jean was just as sure I would find them, and she was right. But as for vindication...

Here is a little photo of Foglia Gischia who, at the time this photo was taken, was a nonagenarian. You can perhaps see she's wearing a suit from Issey Miyake's Eskimo line. And you can perhaps see I've photographed a photograph. This comes from the big Bill Cunningham fold-out the NY Times did for his anniversary. I had another one that used to decorate my refrigerator, but I lent that to Jean more than a year ago when I thought she might like to borrow the suit itself - so ably modeled below by our friend Shiho.

I love the suit, but for years had never found an appropriate place to wear the whole thing. Finally I had the venue - we both had several venues, actually - but I had grown too big for it. Greater love hath no woman than that she lend her Issey... So I brought the suit to Jean's house so she could try it on in solitary splendor, and left the photo with it so she could see what the finished product would look like. After all, the pieces in the bag are definitely, on their own, and left to one's imagination, a bit intimidating. Well, I soon got the suit back. Jean diplomatically claims the skirt was too small for her too, and now that I know her better I wonder if it would have suited her. But the litle photo of Foglia Gischia (who passed away a centenarian) has been gone for over a year now. Jean swears she will find it one day, like her Yeohlee dress and toy wooden airplane and the Italian straw hat and the missing red bee Kenneth Jay Lane earring (and her gray wool turban?) that have also disappeared. And I believe her. But if Jean has gotten her vindication, I must still wait for mine.

Here is a copy of A-Poc Making, a book by Dai Fujiwara and Issey Miyake, showing a similar version of the suit. OH! (swoons Valerie), if I could just get my hands on that HAT!!!

Jean says: We weren't sure from our email communications with Ari how many outfits to bring, so Valerie and I each brought two hats and a change of jewelry, so we could get two separate looks, at least from the waist up. As I looked at the photos later, to my horror, I realized I'd been so busy talking and eating and listening that I'd WORN THE SAME HAT throughout and had left my second hat in my bag. Ari took Flip videos at the table of me putting on my red bakelite accessories and babbling like a ninny (something like: "I wish I had longer arms, so I could take more of them out for air. They don't get out much...") So in case you missed it when we last blasted it out all over the universe, click on the link here to see our Advanced Style debut, complete with videos!

Valerie says: I had a similar moment of millinery ignominy. The second hat I'm wearing is a cocktail hat. That is to say, it's an indoor hat. Or, at the very least, it can go with a jacket (as here), but it does not, under any circumstances, go with the Michelin woman's coat below. That coat needs a broad cossack style hat to balance it out. As it is, wearing the teeny hat and big coat together, I look (in my opinion) like a sartorial pinhead. The cocktail hat goes quite well with the suit that's fleetingly visible above, but in the coat (oft repeated below) I am guilty of just the faux pas I would sniff at someone else for committing. The horror! The horror! (Where's my lorgnette? How can one sniff convincingly without a lorgnette?)

Jean says: We were having such a lovely afternoon, time just flew by. Before we knew it, we were out on the street on an amazingly mild late December afternoon. After we gave Ari directions to his next East Village stop, we headed east across 4th Street.

Barely halfway down the block, we ran into Joyce Glasgow (who was visiting the Big Apple from the Great Northwest), who stopped us to ask the whereabouts of a local craft show. It turned out that Joyce is Editor-in-Chief of, a website that focuses on things to do in Seattle.

In the middle of our conversation, when another pedestrian stopped to compliment the three of us on our attire, we were all thunderstruck by her canine companion's wardrobe selection! Tara wowed us with her teddy bear printed flannel onesie (union suit? pajamas?). Here's Tara sniffing Jean's mothership, the 25-lb. Lounge Fly bag!

Kindred spirits in that wonderful, perpetual mutual admiration society of silver haired females, the three of us forgot all about the craft show and just shared the moment. After bonding and sharing some wonderful laughter, she took our picture and we took hers, we waved and went our separate ways.

Jean is wearing:
outfit #1: Reversible black and white wool kimono-style wrap coat from Korean fiber artist Chunghie Lee (from the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show); vintage 1940's black felt hat (from Colorado thrift shop - gift of Kirsten Hawthorne); Kyodan jacket (from T.J. Maxx about 3 years ago); harem pants (from Brigitte, now located at the Ansonia); Trippen boots (from A-Uno); vintage 1960s red painted wood gumball necklace (probably from flea market); bakelite square earrings (from one of Stella Mangement's Pier Antique Shows); bakelite linked bracelet (from Dullsville when it was still located in the East Village); red and white 1960s square plastic bracelet & hinged bakelite cuff (flea market finds); red resin Greek key cutout cuff (from Angela Caputi's Milan store); Tokyo Boy stainless steel watch with red rubber band; 5 vintage red bakelite rings (collected over the past decade) and 1 red resin skull ring (by Meredith Katz for "Made Her Think"); vintage 1980s glasses frames (from Fabulous Fanny's on E. 9th St.); black faux patent leather Lounge Fly bag (from Enz on 2nd Ave.).

outfit #2: Same hat, jacket, boots, glasses AND bag, plus: 24 assorted black, white and butter bakelite bracelets and spacers (collected over the past 2 decades); large black resin alligator cuff bracelet (from Angela Caputi); two bakelite cube rings (one black and one pat of butter); black carved bakelite ring; black resin skull ring (by Meredith Katz for "Made Her Think"); 18k gold "9-11" ring and black coral ball and brass bird earrings (both by East Village jewelry designer Kirsten Hawthorne).

Valerie is wearing:
outfit 1: red, white and black faux feather beret by Ignatius; vintage Versace jacket; white shirt with sleeves that button up the sides of the arms by Focus Lifestyle; black, white and red screw on earrings (plastic with zebra mussel shells) from the Metropolitan Vintage Show; yellow coral necklaces from the 26th Street flea market; red coral and turqoise beads also from 26th Street flea market and strung onto red Japanese paper cord; red coral and silver antique Chinese bracelet from Columbia University flea market; red lacquered wood bangle from Tokyo; red plastic ring from El Museo del Barrio; black wool pants by Jones NY; red leather boots by Frye.

outfit #2: black felt and feather hat by Ignatius, purchased at the Philadelphia Craft Show, black rubber and metal clip on earrings; black stress ball necklace; gray wool jacket by Barami, black H&M bustier, Jones NY pants, black lacquered metal bracelets from Matsuya Ginza.

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AND CHECK THIS OUT!: Jean recently got pride of place in the New York Times Health Section! Next stop: pride of place in the Style Section! (A girl has to have GOALS! Somebody or other says you have to HAVE a goal if you're going to REACH it!

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Valerie says: many, many thanks to those who have expressed their sympathies for my broken wrist. (Thanks especially to Jean's anonymous friend who forwarded a photo of a cyberbouquet. It was lovely, hilarious, and much appreciated. Things to appreciate are critical at a time like this when, if given a multiple choice question on things to be peeved about, I would find all the choices correct.) Typing my part of this week’s blog has been a real challenge, not made any easier by the fact that my computer (positively ancient at five years old), like me, is showing signs of going the way of all flesh. Last week the touch pad on my laptop gave out, so now I am mouse bound, which further complicates the typing process at exactly the wrong time. Plus my space bar (located, perhaps not coincidentally, right next to the nonfunctional touch pad) is also beginning to fail me, giving new meaning to the expressionrunonsentence. (Cartoon borrowed from Nashville

I am, unwillingly, put in mind of the Aesop’s fable in which the lion is disabled by a mere thorn in his paw, causing him not only pain but rage.
I am also put in mind of Rage Against the Machine, which was sort of a Luddite bible nearly 200 years before it was a rock band. This illustration is said to have accompanied the publication. (See how carefully dressed my predecessor is!) More on this latest insult to the tenuous sovereignty I hold over my own little fiefdom in a future post.

1 comment:

  1. Bloody hell you two are dazzling! I envy Ari being able to spend time with you.