Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ja! The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas Make the News in Sweden

Last week, we appeared in Sydsvenskan, a major Swedish newspaper based in Malmo. We're told it is a three-page spread starting on the cover of the Sunday section.  (Our hard copy is on its way to us now.)  Since this little adventure started way back in early May, now that it's finally been published, we couldn't wait to tell you about it. Above is a screen shot of the online version.  (Wanna see the entire article? Click here.)  It's in Swedish, of course, but now you can just copy the text into Google Translate for a good idea of the content.

Click on photos below to enlarge.

We first found out it had finally been published when we got a comment on the blog from a Swedish fan.   (Note:  Like some of our American readers, Swedish women also say it's hard to dress the way you want outside of the big cities.)  So now that the article is in print, we can spill the beans and give you the inside scoop!  (How's that for mixing metaphors?!)

In April, we were approached by writer Martin Brusewitz and photographer Julia Lindmalm both of whose work appears in Sydsvenskan. Malmo is a large city located in the south of Sweden near the border with Denmark. Martin and Julia asked to interview us  and do a photo shoot (in which we tried on and talked about clothes and about "age appropriate" dressing), and gave us pretty much free reign. So we put together an itinerary including several favorite places of ours: Babette and Eileen Fisher on the Upper West Side, the Columbus Avenue flea market, and Screaming Mimi's in the East Village. We met on the first Sunday in May, on what turned out to be a magnificently beautiful day.  Above is a photo of us in our "civvies" at the start of our shoot at Babette on Columbus Avenue. Below is a shot of us in the same black Babette pleated sleeveless dresses paired with two different pleated tops.
Babette makes thinking women's clothes in small numbers and wonderfully inventive designs.  We put these together in a matter of minutes because of our tight schedule, and could have had a lot more fun with a lot more great clothes if we'd had more time.

Babette (both a clothing line and a person) is located on Columbus Avenue on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The FIT-trained founder of the company designs architectural, graphic, sophisticated fashions. Founded in 1968, the company has, since 1990, been best known for its pleated sportswear -- jackets, dresses, pants, tops and coats. We are both fans of Babette's designs and can attest to the fact that they work beautifully in multiple situations: work, play, travel. They transition seamlessly from office to dinner or a party. The pleated items weigh next to nothing and emerge from a suitcase ready to go. The company is a design incubator. Co-designer Josephine Tchang has developed an entire sportswear collection that looks great on women of any age. Check out Babette's designs here or at  to see what we mean. Here we are in the same Babette crinkly cut dresses with terrific mesh polka dot tops.

If you've had a look at the Sydsvenskan link, you may have said to yourself 'awwww, I want to see more pictures and more outfits'. So we're filling in the blanks here. We wanted to take this opportunity to show you our three sets of hostesses and their wonderful establishments in gratitude for their hospitality. Here we are with Elissa Meyrich (right) and Tina Fields at Babette.

Then we were off to Eileen Fisher - conveniently located right next door to Babette. Eileen Fisher has an entirely different sensibility, specializing in natural fibers and a minimum of shaping. Here we are with manager Julia Toth (next to Valerie), Tammy Sharpe and Laura Owen.

At Eileen Fisher, we both picked lighter colored outfits. Valerie paired a short knit jacket with a white cotton top and skirt.

Jean chose color! Here you can see Julia, energetically doing her thing. We can't begin to imagine how many photos she finally took.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely. The shoot gave us the opportunity to broaden our style vocabulary by presenting us with new and unusual possibilities. This was right at the beginning of spring, when it was especially fun to try on lighter weight separates after months of wool.

Think you know Eileen Fisher? We strongly encourage you to go behind the label to see the company's broader efforts to protect the environment, empower women and girls, and support traditional crafts and cultures. Dig deeper and learn more. Bet you didn't you know that if you lose a button or break a zipper, you can take your Eileen Fisher garment to the nearest retail store, fill out a form and, after a wait of 4 - 6 weeks, pick up the repaired item at the store? For free? Check it out:

With just a few minutes before we had to head downtown to hook up with Martin, we made a very brief stop at the Columbus Avenue GreenFlea Market at 77th Street and ran into Gertrude, who always has some amazingly constructed jackets and dresses in flamboyant colors. Like many artists, she's shy about having her work photographed, but here she is in one of her creations.  She is a bundle of positive, creative energy.  Check out her work at and her etsy site:

We took a taxi downtown (the taxi you see Jean flagging down in the top photo), where we met Martin, who'd had an unexpectedly late start to the day, having had an emergency appendectomy only the week before, and still feeling less than 100%. After a bite to eat and a starter Q&A session, we took Martin and Julia to one of our favorite photo op locations on the corner of Houston Street and the Bowery.

Then we were off to Screaming Mimi's, a well-stocked vintage clothing store on Lafayette Street which features both men's and women's clothing. Jean found a bowler hat, a 1940s jacket, and very film noir black lace gloves -- all the better to channel her inner Marlene Dietrich! Valerie found a vintage suit from the '50s, and paired it, a la Madonna / Jean Paul Gaultier, with a bustier. Sadly, there were no strategically placed slits in the jacket for the - uh - bustier to pop out of. Valerie marveled at the architecture of the bustier, which she found impossible to put on without help, since there were 250,000 hooks in the back. (Yes, we counted them.)

Jean became obsessed with a pair of drum major hats and (just barely) persuaded Valerie to wear the red one. (Notice the slightly odd look on the latter's face?) Julia obliged us by donning the bowler hat and joining us for a photo. Does she or does she not remind you of Lena Olin in The Unbearable Lightness of Being?

These two lovely young ladies - Youheum Son (left) and Riza Rodriguez (right) assisted us at Screaming Mimi's and made the whole experience a delight. They know their merchandise, and amazed us by what they were able to find, and how quickly.

We brought two of our own outfits with us to give Sydsvenksan plenty of material and variety. (You should have seen us schlepping our shopping bags around like a couple of real bag ladies. They've been edited out of the pictures, or cleverly hidden.) Here's the second outfit we wore, which we changed into at Screaming Mimi's.

Julia wanted to get plenty of accessory shots. Valerie posed for a beauty shot, showing off her red nails and black and white accessories.

Jean embellishes her accessories with made up gang signs.  (In one of her recurring fantasies, she is a "gangsta".)

We also took a picture of Martin and Julia. Yes, Martin really is that tall (6'8"!), dwarfing all around him.

What we're wearing:
Upper West Side:
Valerie is wearing: '40s velvet turban, '80s earrings, Nikki de Saint Phalle necklace, Makali splatter jacket, '80s splatter belt and red bangle, Eileen Fisher suit, Melissa shoes.

Jean is wearing a Patricia Underwood straw hat with vintage bakelite mah jong tile pin; Issey Miyake pleated bubble pants; vintage red bakelite bracelets, rings and earrings; custom Dankso clogs.

East Village:
Valerie is wearing: unlabeled straw hat, unlabeled cotton bolero, H&M shirt, black and white felt brooch by Danielle Gori Montanelli, black and white foam bracelets (recycled flip flops?) from Chaos, white felt ring by DKNY, Comme des Garcons pants, two tone shoes by Apartment from Opening Ceremony.

Jean is wearing a Yohji Yamamoto hat; Lilith jumpsuit; vintage black and white necklace; 1970s white with black polka dot chandelier earrings; black and white striped and dotted bracelets from Chaos; Kyodan jacket;  custom Dankso clogs. Tignanello red cross-body bag; vintage bakelite rings.  At cocktails, Jean switched to her red Amy Downs turban.

Before we split up and went our separate ways, we posed for a photo with Martin.

Post Script

Of course we had to reward ourselves with a wee drinkie to put the appropriate cap to our day. We had the rare bartender who was convinced she knew better than her customers, refusing to juggle any of the many tantalizing ingredients in the drinks on the menu.

There's a wonderful English expression "I've had more [fill in the blank] than you've had hot dinners", which is a hyperbolic way of saying "I might know more about this than you do". But if your bartender is, say, 27 years old (just guessing), and you say "I've had more cocktails than you've had hot dinners", your bartender, doing the math, may feel obliged to suggest you try sobriety as a nice change. So we held our tongues, had our drinks, and dreamed about fabulous one-of-a-kind cocktails we would concoct somewhere else the next time we had something to celebrate.


  1. You must have had a blast. All outfits look wonderfully creative. The multitone jacket looks like it had been spray painted - was it?

  2. A number of people who are familiar with textile processes have looked at that jacket and have had varying opinions about it. The jury is still out. It doesn't seem to be a pigment since it doesn't scrape off, and it doesn't seem to be a print because we haven't found a repeat. Someone from Makali might know. All suggestions welcome.

  3. Wow, that bartender obviously had no clue who she was dealing with! What's more fun than hanging out with you two and trying on clothes, I ask you? Martin is a very tall drink of water, isn't he. I like the shape of the Babette dresses, and the skirt Valerie is wearing at Eileen Fisher. It's strange seeing both of you in light colours. Congrats on your Swedish debut!

  4. Happy to see that my fellow swedes have discovered the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas - now I just hope that my fellow swiss (swedish expat, living in Switzerland) will do the same.

  5. Please, oh please tell me where you got/found those fabulous black & white bracelets!