Sunday, March 6, 2011

IFs Do the Oscars; and... Cast Away - the Sequel

Jean says: Last Sunday evening, the IFs (Idiosyncratic Fashionistas - for those of you new to the tribe!) participated in the American woman's version of the Super Bowl: The Academy Awards party! It's an annual event circled in glitter on every fashionista's calendar. It's the professional stylists' life and death winner-take-all prize fight in the world's most televised arena: THE RED CARPET. Nobody wants to be on the Worst Dressed Lists of all of those commentators like Cujo and Joan and Melissa Rivers. This year's event had the added panache of the personal touch: We'd been invited to designer Jill Anderson’s Oscar Party at Percy's in the East Village.

Jill designed the dress for Debra Granik, director of Winter's Bone, a much-nominated film. This photo, from the New York Times and kindly forwarded to us by Jill Anderson, in which Ms. Granik is second from the left, shows a bit of the slinky black devore print dress with bolero jacket. And so, kiddies, that is how it came to pass that the giant screen usually reserved for viewing World Cup soccer matches, World Series playoffs and U.S. Open events (both golf and tennis) had been hijacked for this deliciously wonderful fluff. Sometimes it's very therapeutic to put all of the world weary heavy news on hold and just indulge in the marshmallowy world of Hollywood glitz! (Jean says: And to think, I had to be the one to point out to Valerie the dapper black sling on the gentleman on the far left of the photo...)

Earlier in the day, Valerie and I went to Eleni’s Cookies in Chelsea Market to pick up a couple sets of Academy Awards cookies. To my surpise and delight, she gifted me with all of the cookies. Here are the best actress nominees' cookies. Around the square, from top left: Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole; Natalie Portman for The Black Swan; Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone and Annette Bening for The Kids are All Right. In the center is Michelle Williams from Blue Valentine.

Valerie says: we thought seriously about wearing Jennifer Lawrence cookies at our necks like necklaces in recognition of Winter's Bone. We could have done it by tying the cookies with little ribbons, but gave up when we remembered that the butter content of the cookies would stain whatever we were wearing, unless we wore something very low cut. We WEREn't going to wear anything low cut, so so much for another brilliant idea. SOMEbody (who?) said that many people have brilliant ideas, but that the true test of genius is in the actualization. SIGH. (Jean says: Valerie uses that "we" word rather loosely in this context. I was ever so relieved to hear and embrace the butter stain excuse in order to not have to make necklaces looking like a Kennedy Center medal out of the Best Actress cookies! I hadn't a clue how I was going to drill a hole and string a ribbon through it without breaking the cookie itself or the hard sugar portrait or both. I had visions of myself with this food-as-jewelry thing around my neck gradually disintegrating as the evening progressed. And since I was the only one with two working hands and opposable thumbs (see footnote at the base of this post) and wrists and arms, guess who would have been drafted into the job?) (Of course, retorts Valerie, if Jean had just said "naaaaaah", that would have been good enough for me.)

Jean says: Here is a shot of our hostess, Jill Anderson (on the left) and two of her many guests that evening. Jill was amazingly relaxed and managed to watch the big screen and chat with each of her friends, employees and customers. To her credit, you could not tell from her interactions who fit into which category. Everyone got equal treatment. One of the biggest treats of the evening (of which there were so many) was seeing so many other women of all sizes and shapes wearing Jill's designs, both recent purchases and old stand bys. Each was visibly proud to show them off and talk about how well her clothes flattered their bodies and fit their lifestyles.

In addition to the star-specific cookies, Eleni's had more generic cookies such as the Oscar statuette and the envelope containing the identity of the winner, captured here in the confectioner's version of suspended animation.

This trio was obviously enjoying themselves, taking in all of the on-screen and off-screen/in-room festivities.

Jean says: All of the men's portraits in icing were instantly recognizable, with the exception of Colin Firth (lower right nominated for The King's Speech). Jeff Bridges (upper left) was nominated for True Grit; Javier Barden (lower left) was nominated for Biutiful; Jesse Eisenberg (upper right) was nominated for The Social Network; and James Franco (smack dab in the middle, so to speak) was nominated for 127 hours. In addition to the five actors, this set of cookies came complete with the cookie card saying "And the Oscar goes to ..." and a star from the Hollywood hall of fame. Hmmm. Maybe I could crayon "Jean" onto one and and "Valerie" onto the other?

Jean says: Since Xtine's (pronounced Christine's) portrait hangs in Jill Anderson's East 9th Street store and since she was her first customer, I was betting she would make an appearance at the party and was not disappointed. She was sporting her signature pieces - her multicolored bakelite bangles, her shiny short sleek bobbed hairdo and her ruby red lipstick! Hatless for a change (OMG), she wore a beautiful carved bakelite brooch at the neckline of her long jacket. To the right is another of the attractive revelers wearing a pewter Jill Anderson crinkled skirt which she'd accessorized with a black leather belt and sweater.

Valerie and I met these two charming ladies when we first arrived. Both were ready for action. They had the foresight to get seats backed up against a divider directly facing the screen. They're what my mother would have called a couple of smart cookies!

Jean says: This shot illustrates how small, strategically placed injections of color can resonate and accentuate a look. Valerie and Ulla are dressed in dark grey and navy respectively, but both have incorporated shots of red that jump out. Subtlety is not dead. Small details can often be as effective as grand gestures. (Who am I kidding? The last time I was subtle, I was in the 3rd grade in my navy uniform tunic, white shirt with Peter Pan collar, saddle shoes and bobby socks.)

This duo was clever enough to have arrived early, ordered food and dined before all the real action started. Although seated farthest from the big screen, they had a bird's eye view of the entire room and front row seats for all of the frivolity. Because the guests were standing in the aisles, chatting, gesturing animatedly at the screen and otherwise partying, it was a waiter's nightmare. Tiring of the endless wait to order, I went to the bar to order a drink. Along the way, I encountered a gentleman (perhaps a regular, unhappy to be displaced by a high-decible hen party?) who, upon looking me up and down, announced to the entire bar: "Oh, great. Now f---ing Yoko Ono's here!" Undeterred and unruffled,
I flashed my most winning smile and sashayed the length of the bar to place my order. (Sticks and stones? Fiddle-dee-dee.) The attractive older couple seated at the end of the bar, obviously embarrassed, said "We have no idea who he is" and then confessed how much they loved the energy of our party. After skiing all afternoon at Hunter, they'd stopped in for dinner. They were enjoying the scene so much that, rather than head home, they decided to have a drink and linger to watch the big screen and soak up the party atmosphere. A potentially embarrassing moment was glossed over beautifully and we all shared a laugh before I headed back to my table.

Given all the recent media coverage on bullying (like tonight's excellent and enlightening Dateline NBC episode), you'd think that Neanderthal guy would have gotten the message.

More revelers. They were kind enough to interrupt the non-stop partying to pose for a picture. The devil is in the details. Note the ring on the lady on the left and the skull watch face on the lady on the right.

Jean says: Michelle (in red) introduced herself to us and sat near Valerie on the banquet for most of the red carpet coverage. If I didn't know a starlet's name, she did (thank goodness!). She also had a hilariously dry sense of humor. I loved the gorgeous brunette's fabulous chunky bracelet, red lipstick, long locks and pointed bangs - a very Morticia Adams meets Bettie Page look I found quite fetching. Now I just wish I could remember her name. (Jill, please - throw me a lifeline, babe!) Seriously, though, in my defense, the din in the room was deafening. Betweeen the big screen's loudspeaker system and the in-room commentary and partying, you couldn't hear yourself think.

(Valerie says: Having tinnitus, I am baffled by the general public's desire for noise. Actually, long before I developed tinnitus [mine is idiopathic, which is Greek for 'we have no idea how you got this'], I was fascinated by my companions' love of shouting at one another to be heard in a noisy room. Shouting ruins my digestion, spoils my mood and makes my voice hoarse. And now that statistics indicate an alarming rise in the rates of tinnitus in the young, one wonders why no one thinks to do anything about it. I'd say let's ask Pete Townshend of The Who [shown with several of his usual six thousand amplifiers], but it would be difficult - he's deaf, or nearly so. AND has tinnitus - yes, tinnitus and deafness can co-exist! Kids, don't try that at home, or anywhere else.)

This blonde young woman paired her gorgeous curls with a set of great earrings. As you can see, everyone had a great time. How could they not? What is it about the Academy Awards and the red carpet that makes us smile?

Although too young for our demographic, I loved how these two fair-haired lasses paired colorful tops with their dark colored blazer jackets.

Jean says: Brave man posing! Angus was one of only about three or four male partygoers. Although clearly outnumbered, he more than held is own. And he was sweet enough to endure four or five photo attempts by other partiers since my camera tends to act up when handled by perfect strangers. (Note to file: Is there such a thing as an "imperfect stranger"?)

Here's Valerie in the midst of the fray, surveying the scene, in the Jill Anderson jacket that got us our email invite. Valerie says: I couldn't wear it properly, but I also couldn't not wear it, in celebration of Jill's fabulous coup. Many other people at the party were wearing her designs as well.

Jean says: Before heading out into the night, we ended our evening saying "Happy Academy Awards to all and to all a good night" as visions of our own Oscar cookies danced in our heads! Je ne regrette rien -- except I should have handed my Academy Awards ballot to the owner (who was offering a $100 gift certificate to whomever got the most correct answers). As instructed, we all put our names and phone numbers at the top of our ballots. I got every one right (I think) with two exceptions: I voted for Exit Through the Gift Shop (anything even remotely Banksy-related was my sentimental favorite) and then missed one of the short films categories that I'd totally guessed at. I left my folded ballot on the table when I left. It probably got tossed. (Valerie says: I didn't vote at all. Totally clueless. I'd only just seen Exit Through the Gift Shop that week [loved it!], and only discovered at Eleni's when we bought the cookies that The Kids Are All Right was from THIS year, not LAST year.)

Jean is wearing a vintage Stetson bowler hat, Kyodan zip front pepulum jacket, Ronen Chen skirt, vintage Revue "OATH" glasses from Fabulous Fanny's, quilted black patent Lux de Ville handbag and customized platform black patent Dansko clogs.

Valerie is wearing a vintage Hattie Carnegie black velour hat with figure eight cut outs; vintage celluloid or bakelite earrings; Jill Anderson snap cardigan; Blayde sleeveless ankle length wool dress; red wood bangle; cut up legging over cast with Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints, from Sock Man; toeless boots by Blowfish.

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And since we're talking about movies, what does Valerie have in common with Tom Hanks?

Valerie says: If you said CAST AWAY, you're right! This past Friday, I went to visit my surgeon, thinking I would be getting a new cast that freed my elbow. Instead, I received a splint that frees the elbow and half the arm below that, and the knuckles. I no longer need to cover my arm with a plastic bag while showering, and now if I choose I can spend an hour in a real honest-to-goodness muscle-relaxing bath. (The splint - which you will see is black - can come off only when I'm bathing.) I've been given a few rudimentary stretching exercises for my fingers and wrist, and was given the go-ahead for two-handed typing. Thank goodness! One-handed was getting mighty old. Palm up and flat is a painful and so far impossible struggle, as is right thumb to right ear, both gestures we typically take for granted. To commemmorate the occasion, a few pictures of my wrist.

In the spectrum of body parts, wrists are a bit hard to photograph for effect. Rodin's The Thinker has a very prominent wrist, so I thought that might work for me.

Or maybe not...

The step ladder, by the way, was available to me the day I snubbed it in favor of two stacked chairs. But it was tucked far in the back of my stuffed New York closet. Lesson learned. The hard way, as so many lessons are.

Keith Haring often put radiating strokes around his figures, so I thought if I couldn't point out my wrist and new splint any other way, maybe the strokes approach would work. Jean says: channeling her inner Sly and the Family Stone - different strokes for different folks!

I go back in another two weeks for a check-up. No idea if I'm in for a change in equipment. Jean says: Thank goodness it's black!

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Footnote 1 / Opposable Thumb Bonus

"There it goes again, and here we sit without opposable thumbs."

(from incredible cartoonist Gary Larson)


  1. Morticia Adams + Bettie Page = Sandeee Seymour

    Thanks for the party re-cap and the amazing cookies!


  2. Valerie, congratulations on the "Cast Off". That looks like one swell party, with some wonderfully stylish dames in attendance.