Sunday, May 27, 2012

Advanced Style Book Launch at The New Museum

Last Tuesday evening, stylish ladies of a certain age dressed to the nines and converged on the Bowery to celebrate the publication of Ari Seth Cohen's book Advanced Style. Surrounded by ladies whose photos appear in the book and lots of younger individuals, friend and family, Ari signed books for a long line of customers. (Once again, we managed not to take a picture of ourselves together, so we have to thank the Billy Farrell Agency, from whom we borrowed the above photo.)  NOWNESS in association with powerhouse books sponsored the event in the aptly named Sky Room on the top floor of the New Museum in SOHO.

Here's our account of the evening.  (Click on photos to enlarge and for a slide show.)

Ari also dressed for the weather and the occasion (channeling his inner Palm Beach swell?), wearing a beautifully pressed bright pink suit and colorful print shirt. We were amazed that he didn't develop writer's cramp autographing tomes for the constant line of well-wishers who purchased the book. Jean loves how this photo includes a shot of the open book in the foreground showing Mimi Wedell.

The poster announcing the evening's program (Book Signing from 6:30 - 7:17 pm and Chandon Reception and Preview of the Advanced Style Documentary 7:15 - 9:30 pm) includes the cover shot of the hardcover book, which features a forward by Maira Kalman and an interview by Dita Von Teese (of none other than that irrepressible redheaded nonagenarian -- Ilona Royce Smithkin!).  To add to the festivities, the champagne was flowing from 6:30 onward, so partygoers did not have to wait until the book signing concluded.

Many of the ladies featured in the book and video attended in person, adding a wonderful "life imitates art imitates life" twist to the event. Here is the inimitable Lynn Dell Cohen, a vision in black, with high-heeled boots and an even higher hat.  "Understated" is definitely not in her vocabulary.

Millie Brown and Nyne Lyves frame Debra Rapoport, who also appears in the video and the book. Debra's mantra of "Look good. Feel good. Feel good. Look good" is advice for women of any age. The younger women were inspired to go that extra mile. Millie is wearing one of her mother's dresses from the 1970's. (Mama must have been tall and thin too!)

Rita Hammer and Loretta Goldstein, whose photographs appear in the book, relaxed and watched the crowd.  Note the beautiful handbags and shoes.

Joyce Carpati and Arianna Carpati posed for a photo. Eighty-year-old Joyce's photographs and observations on life and style appear on pages 94 to 99 of the book.

The amazing 100-year-old Ruth Kobin was the oldest -- and definitely the most chic -- woman in the room. She sets the standard for the rest of us mere mortals. She is as lovely to talk to as she is to look at.  She attributes her marvelous posture to Pilates and lifting weights.  

Bobby, Jacquie Tajah Murdock, Santi and Valerie compare notes on the evening. Octogenarian Jacquie, who once danced at the Apollo Theater, appears in the book and video.

Beatrix Ost looked marvelous with a touch of Manic Panic in her hair to match her purple turban.  She appears in the book, dispensing her wisdom and advice.

Carol Markel, Alice Carey, and Geoffrey Knox lined up for a photo op.  Several photos of both ladies appear in the book.

Jane Folds, who showed Valerie an intriguing ring she'd bought at The Museum of Sex (ahem!), wore an interesting woven silver necklace with little hands on the ends of the strands. She also appears in the book in her signature heart shaped glasses.

Linda Zagaria (left) and another lady who appears on page 30 of the book wear vintage clothing in everyday life. (I know, we wish we knew her name too.)

Jean photographed Sherry, Baroness von Korber Bernstein, with her granddaughter. An amazing picture of Sherry wearing a beautiful red hat and black coat appears on page 77 of the book. (Her dark burgundy polish accentuated her beautiful long nails and fingers.)

Lady Francesca Todd, wearing a leopard hat and scarf, totally charmed our socks off. She was both elegant and hilarious -- a winning combination. Her mug also appears in the book.

Marja Samsom, the Dumpling Diva, with Jean.

Robin Lung, wearing a gumball necklace made by her friend Carol Markel, and Valerie.

Ginny and Rosemary show off their books. Not only did they attend the party and buy books, but they also got every one of the ladies present to autograph their copies!  Their friendship with Jean spans more than four decades! They all went to London in 2000 with 4 other friends to celebrate the millennium and the year they all turned 50. (We love Rosemary's coat which was hand painted in Mexico).

East Villagers Jodi Head, designer of rock star guitar straps, and photographer John Reilly attended the event to support and cheer us on, mixing and mingling with the crowd and watching the video.

Marja Samsom with Joana Avillez, our favorite author/illustrator.

Maya and Carlo (and Valerie on screen in the background).

Valerie, Xtine Baczewska, Jean and Christina Viera. Two terrific photos of Christine appear on pages 120 & 121.

Lina Plioplyte, Ari's photographer/videographer, and Ari introduce their Advanced Style video (which the owner of NOWNESS told us has gone viral).

Following are screen shots from the NOWNESS video, which is on its way to becoming a fabulous (of course!) documentary:

The IFs.

The late, great Zelda Kaplan.

Jacquie Tajah Murdock.

Iris Apfel.

Ilona Royce Smithkin.

We are hunting for the name of this very witty lady.  She appears in her own video on the Advanced Style website which is simply titled:  "Advanced Style Look of the Day" and which does not identify her. If you know her name, please get in touch with us so we can update this post and give her due credit!

Lynn Dell Cohen.

Tziporah Salamon.

Ari, family and friends.  Ari's mom (3rd from right) had her thumbnails painted to read: "Ari's Mom" and had strands of glitter woven into her hair which caught the light in the most beautiful way.

The Sky Room is ideal for a party. There's a large indoor space, and a lovely terrace with a great view. Separating the two is a wall of nearly soundproof glass, so one has to step outside to hear the sounds of the city. Here's a shot of the Bowery looking north toward the Empire State Building. For those of us who remember the sort of neighborhood populated by the Bowery Boys, that the Bowery is now the hip and happening place to be is nothing short of astonishing.

Once the party ended, off we went into the night. Little did we know that the party was about to continue, further up the Bowery.

In the elevator, we met three delightful young gents, two of whom amused themselves during the brief trip by dancing exuberantly in the large space provided. Elevators work on springs, and we could feel the whole car bounce up and down with them. Here they are, moments later. (Our apologies for blanking on the name of the gentleman on the far left who appears with Pierce and Albie. We're old.) It turns out that Albie of the blue hair is the nephew of our friend Sandy Long. Small world!

At DBGB (DB as in Daniel Boulud, no less) restaurant on the Bowery, just north of Houston Street, we ran into Lynn Dell Cohen holding court on the sidewalk with her right hand women, her niece Yael (left) and Brianna Hurley (right), who help run Off Broadway, Lynn's uptown boutique.

A few minutes later, artists Richard Cramer and Carol Markel emerged from inside the restaurant, where they'd been dining with their friends from Hawaii.

While Jean ate her delicious cauliflower soup and Valerie dined on chipolata (a tasty sausage in bechamel sauce), some of the ladies from NOWNESS passed by, carrying some of the peonies from the evening's floral arrangements.

For those of you who might be curious, Jean took this photo of Valerie's assembled polychrome baubles.

And as the piece de resistance, pink and yellow citrus-themed sunglasses. (At this point in the evening, Jean offered this silent prayer:  "Thank you, Lord, for not letting these appear until now - after the party is over!") [Mind you, Valerie responds, Jean was the one who insisted I buy them! Hmmmm....]

And Jean, all in red accessories, displays her fabulous bakelite scarab pin.

Wanna see more? Of course you do!

For the Patrick McMullan photos click here.

For the Billy Farrell Agency photos, click here.

And for pictures from the NOWNESS Facebook page, click here.

But for our absolute favorite, which appeared May 24th in the Wall Street Journal on page A22, you don’t have to click at all. Just scroll down a smidgen. We were hoping to discuss mortgage-backed securities and the Facebook IPO controversy with Elise Knutsen, but she kept bringing us back to hats and age. Which we tackled with our usual gusto.

It was a glorious evening. What was the only thing missing, that would have made it perfect? The Style Crone! We just wish we had been able to share the experience with The Style Crone Judith Boyd, who was back home in Colorado but whose glamourous photo appears on page 202. She was there in spirit and we toasted her with champagne (courtesy of Chandon)!

What we're wearing: 
Valerie: Pink straw hat by Susy Krakowski, pink and yellow citrus sunglasses from Patricia Fields, vintage black and yellow earrings from the flea market, felt necklace by Danielle Gori-Montanelli, unlabeled bolero jacket, LBD by Joan Vass, wooden bracelet is Playable Art Cube from the Brooklyn Museum, pink metal cut-out bracelet from the flea market, multicolored ring is makeup brush glued to plastic ring (play with your clothes!), pink shoes by Aerosoles.

Jean: Black Ignatius straw hat with denuded peacock feather (Philadelphia Museum Craft Show); vintage Norma Kamali peplum jacket and red with white polka dot resin earrings (Metropolitan Pavilion Vintage Show);  Ronen Chen pants (Rosebud in Soho); vintage bakelite scarab pin (Fool's Gold, Stella Pier Antiques Show) on Issey Miyake Pleats Please backpack; vintage bakelite rings and bracelets and vintage wooden gum ball necklace; Trippen boots.


  1. Your great commentary and photos almost make me feel like I was there, and oh, I so wanted to be, although I would have probably embarrassed myself by acting like an obsessed fan (I am dying to meet Beatrix Ost). It's lovely that so many of the women featured in the book were able to be there, and that the book and documentary have received such wonderful press. Thanks for letting me live vicariously, and you are both rocking the most fabulous accessories, although I have mixed feelings about the citrus sunglasses ;)

  2. Oooooh,

    I am so excited to have found you! Your blog is absolutely wonderful.

    Love it, love it. You two are gorgeous!

  3. Mesmerizing account of the festivities! How I wish I could have joined you for the party of the year, in celebration of 'women of a certain age.' I thank you for the champagne toast, as I admire your ensembles from afar.

    And how exiting to be featured in the Wall Street Journal in all your splendor. Who would have thought that aging would be this much fun!

  4. I can't tell you haw much I enjoy your posts! When I come to visit my two sons again someday, from Minnesota, I hope I somehow run into you on the street. You obviously can't be missed!