Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ladies Who Brunch -- or the 1:11 1/1/11 Toast

Valerie says: In keeping with my odd fascination for interesting dates (remember all the people who got married on 10/10/10?), it seemed inevitable that we would have to celebrate new year’s day – 1/1/11 – in a manner befitting the kind of lining up of numbers that poker players can only dream of. After all, next year new year’s will fall on 1/1/12 – a date only a new mother could really get excited about. When we contacted a small group of friends and suggested brunch, we got an extremely positive response. In consideration of the revelry of the previous evening, instead of meeting for 10am brunch and toasting the new year at 11:11am, we made it civil: meet for brunch at noon, and raise our glasses to drink to the new year at 1:11pm. Of course, skeptics will say that the new year starts at Greewich Mean Time, not New York time. So we didn't invite any skeptics.

Jean says: The "Dirty Dozen" showed up to share a meal, have a good laugh and ring in the first day of 2011 in style. It was the perfect way to start the new year -- surrounded by friends.

From right to left: Judy Berkowitz, Valerie, Katherine Crone, Rosa Valentin Content, and Marja Samsom.

Marja, sandwiched between me and Rosa, is the incarnation of Bob Dylan's "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat". Rosa is a jewelry specialist who works at Christie’s.

South side of the table: from left to right: Becky, Nancy Koenigsberg, Peggy Giordano, Charlotte Thorp and John Lamparski. Nancy Koenigsberg is a metal sculptor whose inspired material of choice is often wire, and whose trademark necklaces are always a joy to behold, and study. Here, instead of a bold necklace, she wears a bold red and black double faced weave scarf by Reiko Sudo’s Nuno, still one of the most innovative textile design firms in Japan.

Here's another great shot of Nancy and Peggy.

North side of the table, from left to right: Marja, Rosa, Katherine, Valerie, Judy and Theresa Ellerbrock. Talk about a triple threat: Terry, a professional weaver (now experimenting with horse hair) and hand made paper artist, is now studying jewelry making.

This is Charlotte Thorp, who, among other things, makes the most wonderful organically shaped and thoughtfully colored fiber baskets. Valerie says: Charlotte is wearing fabulous faceted black and silver earrings and a matching necklace to which our photos do no justice. I complimented her on them [subtext: I wanted them], and she told me the great story that goes with them. She wore them one evening to a meeting of The Textile Study Group of New York, and a French woman there admired them. Several months passed, and at a susequent TSGNY meeting, the woman presented Charlotte with a nearly identical necklace she found in France. The earrings are metal; the necklace is wood, but you wouldn't know it without close inspection. Clearly the earrings made quite an impression on the woman, but for her to bring a matching necklace back to Charlotte --- it's just the kind of lovely story one needs to start the new year off the right way.

Marja Samsom, aka The Dumpling Diva, a chef of delicious originality, recently appeared in a cooking challenge on "Chopped" on the Food Channel. She is a guest chef at Alias Restaurant on Rivington, gives cooking classes and caters private events. And yes, she is wearing leopard shorts over leopard stockings -- to match that pillbox. Jean is wearing a vintage jacket with the most fabulous buttons - gift from Kirsten Hawthorne's infamous thrift shopping. With her co-conspirator Valerie, Jean puts out an obscure little blog called Idiosyncratic Fashionistas whose mission is to prove old is not a synonym for dead.

Brunch was as much about conversation as it was about the food. Judy Berkowitz, center, handcrafts luxury one-of-a-kind scarves to order.

From left: Becky, Nancy, Peggy, Charlotte and John. Peggy Giordano was a producer at Bloomberg TV and is now involved in a number of projects, including speech writing.

From the left: Marja, Rosa, Katherine, Valerie, Judy and Terry. Katherine Crone creates delicate photographs on gossamer-fine fibers and displays them in a manner that adds an additional dimension for the eye to appreciate. And Valerie, with her co-conspirator Jean, puts out an obscure little blog called Idiosyncratic Fashionistas whose mission is to prove old is not a synonym for dead.

From the left: Becky, Nancy, Peggy, Charlotte and John. Photographer John Lamparski, who we're agog to say recently photographed Madonna on assignment, works nonstop during Fashion Week photographing the latest designer offerings and showcases current street fashions on his blog, NYC Run Fashion. John was the lone gent in our highly X-chromosomal bunch, so technically the first half of our title is incorrect. But 'Ladies and a Gent Who Brunched' just wouldn't have the same ring to it.

From the left: Becky, Nancy, Peggy, Charlotte and John. Becky schlepped with us to the Philadelphia Museum's Craft Show last November. Her multifaceted business, the cheekily titled Frankly Scarlet, gives no hint through its name of the fine African and other art she and her husband carefully select and sell to their devoted clientele.

Valerie says: Of course, to paraphrase financial investment brochures, starting the new year off right is no guarantee of future results. Eight hours after our gala bruncheon, I got the first indications that I was coming down with the very nasty cold that was mowing down everyone in the neighborhood. I was out of commission for six of the next seven days. And yesterday, after a week of fairly good recovery, I fell and broke my right wrist. Oh, did I mention I’m right-handed? [more details in future blog posting]

Valerie is wearing a vintage red and yellow velvet turban labeled Best & Co. New York Fifth Avenue; vintage plastic bananas and berries earrings (purchased at Pippin Vintage Jewelry and said to be German); vintage glass necklace of bananas and leaves, purchased at a thrift shop and probably from Italy; Swatch watch (with huge numerals for the visually challenged, and day, date and second hand for luddites without cell phones); yellow, black and red wool and silk blend dress labeled Norma Walters; unlabeled yellow, black and red wool scarf wrapped at the waist; knitted flexible wire bracelet from the flea market; contemporary bracelet of angled and painted wood pieces from a thrift shop, red leather Frye boots from a consignment shop.

Jean is wearing a vintage black felt hat; Louis Feraud wool jacket; Brigitte harem pants; vintage bakelite bangles; Kirsten Hawthorne brass bird and black coral ball earrings; vintage black bakelite necklace; vintage black bakelite rings; black and white striped tee shirt by Express; vintage 1980s glasses (Revue's MOD OTH); customized Dankso black patent clogs. (Valerie interjects: customized by the wearer herself!)


  1. Valeria--oh my, a broken wrist. I'm admiring those harem pants and Jean's bright palette.

    Take care.

    Rags Against the Machine

  2. Valerie, sorry to hear about the wrist--I fell last week and badly bruised mine, but no broken bones thank goodness. Hope yours mends quickly. I would have loved to attend your brunch--being surrounded by all that creativity would have been so spirit-lifting. The next time I get to NY I am going to add "meeting the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas" on my list of things to do.