Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Current Affair: Vintage in Brooklyn's Industry City

With our old vintage haunts in Manhattan disappearing - victims of high real estate prices - we were thrilled to be invited to A Current Affair's, Pop-Up Vintage Marketplace in Brooklyn's Industry City this weekend, featuring 80+ vendors from New York and Los Angeles and a few other cities. The high-ceilinged, light-filled space was a revelation, as were the well curated goods on display. The West Coast meets East Coast vibe was energizing. Even the food selection was decidedly not East Coast: rice balls and miso soup!  Check out the wonderful selections (click on photos to enlarge) and vendors (click on their names to link to their websites).  There are rumors of a repeat show next year, so we've got our digits crossed.  For our far-flung and peripatetic readers, the next LA show is September 26-27 at Cooper Design Space.

As we entered the space, directly on our right was Andrea Hall Levy's Lofty Vintage, featuring large vitrines of silver and bakelite jewelry and an amazing selection of clothing. Front and center was this mannequin with CDG shorts (drawing a blank?  that's Comme des Garcons), Issey Miyake crinkled jacket, Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen tee shirt, and numerous mouthwatering necklaces necklaces.

Jean found this wonderful black, white and grey striped double-breasted lightweight cotton 1980s coat by Choon there.

Here's a shot of Richard Wainwright (r), who created NEW/FOUND, a Vintage Concept Studio in LA, in his booth at the show. Richard was also instrumental in bringing this Pop-Up vintage show to Brooklyn as well as the arrangements for a pre-event party at Shinola earlier in the week. (Jean confesses: "The name of his colleague, the handsome young man on the left, escapes me.  Dang, that is the one thing I really hate about getting old.")

These divine matching red bakelite cuffs were in the NEW/FOUND display case behind Richard in the previous picture. (Luckily, you can't see Jean's drool marks on the glass.)

Raleigh Vintage Clothing and Accessories' booth had vintage women's shoes (including a beautiful pair of Made in Mexico hand-tooled red leather pumps -- too small for either of us), clothing, jewelry, handbags and wonderful eyewear.  (Readers, are you also noticing that things are too small for you these days?  Are they making vintage smaller than they used to?)

Amanda Dolan from Spark Pretty and her partner in crime Meagan were attending the show as civilians, so they could run up and down the aisles like the rest of us.  Needless to say, they dressed for the occasion!  We loved those hats!  (Valerie once had a pink hat like that.  And so did Phyllis Diller!)

One of our favorite LA vendors is Scout. We've loved their aesthetic ever since we first ran into them a few years ago at the New York Vintage Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Their selection yesterday was amazing. Valerie tried on this colorful, warm and cozy '80s wool coat (ah! the '80s! what a sense of fun the designers had back then!) with built-in jester-like hood by Castelajabac.

Actress Michelle Williams and a few of her girlfriends showed up to cruise the space, shop and check everything out. She tried on these shorts in The Goods, our friend Liz Baca's booth. Yes, she is petite and impossibly beautiful in person, with the most amazing skin and eyes. Since she was so obviously in civilian mode, we didn't want to single her out or treat her as anything other than a gorgeous young woman out with her pals.

On the other end of the spectrum, where celebrity status was totally out in the open, we had a hilariously entertaining encounter with Lea DeLaria from Orange is the New Black and her fiance Chelsea Fairless. Lea, who plays tough as nails Carrie "Big Boo" Black on the show, is such a delightful and engaging pussycat in person.  The bag on the floor behind her says "GOD HATES BAGS".  She manages to walk the very fine line of being unapologetically out there, but not being directly in your face about it. Chelsea and Lea are obviously very much committed to each other and very much savoring life. Reading about celebrities in the press or online and then running into them face-to-face is such a trip. The force field of positive energy those two emit is totally addictive.

Valerie tried on this vintage straw hat in Elaine Klausman's booth Vintage with a Twist.  Valerie's not a flower girl, so to speak, but the way the straw was forced out of its comfort zone (again, so to speak) was really interesting, as was its unusual color.

Another New York vendor recently on our radar screen is andARCHIVE, specializing in rare Japanese designer vintage clothing for men and women located in Chinatown. They do also carry some non-Japanese designers like Gianfranco Ferre, Roland Mouret and Kedem Sasson. Jean really liked this minimalist white cotton Plantation jumpsuit.

Valerie discovered this shimmery to-die-for celadon Fortuny gown in Antique Wardrobe's booth of vintage clothing and textiles.  As the owner pointed out, someone had cut it in the back to insert a metal zipper, clearly not thinking about its value some fifty years later.

Here's Antique Wardrobe's co-owner, in a marvelous vintage dress. Valerie's older sister had one something like this back around 1967, which she bought after she got her first job.  Great big houndstooths were all the rage.  Great big ANY prints were all the rage, actually.

Angela Winter Mean's Greatest Friend has an interesting collection of accessories, including this magnificent white celluloid hair comb.

Thriftways' booth had lace-up sneakers known as Snakers that reminded Valerie of the decade she spent in Japan when she bought two pairs in succession, one after the other died, on astonishing Takeshita-dori in central Tokyo.  If these had been her size, she would have scarfed up a third pair.

We both love polka dots, so Valerie couldn't resist trying on this unusual art deco velvet robe, a refashioned kimono, with great big ombre shibori dots at Vintage Le Monde.

In the same booth, Jean found this amusing black knit Van de Vorst glove sweater. We can't wait until somebody discovers us and gives us a TV show or something so we can actually purchase some of the amazing, iconic pieces clothing that we discover and display here for your (and our) vicarious reading pleasure!

Wildfell Hall's vintage clothing ran the gamut from printed 1950's shirtwaist dresses to this more hippy style leather top and long, semi-transparent skirt.

Valerie had to try on this belted striped red and yellow wool Rudi Gernreich coat at Another Man's Treasure.  LOVE that fabric!  A bit dizzying with the hat.  (But not to worry - we won't be pairing straw with wool anytime soon.)

From left to right, Meika of Another Man's Treasure, Jean and Liz Baca and Mike of The Goods!.

At Another Man's Treasure, we found these wonderful wooden platform shoes with no centers.  Of COURSE we couldn't wear them (they didn't fit either of us, and we haven't even mentioned the incline factor), but we soooo want them!   Would they fit Daphne Guiness?

Many of the dealers were advertisements for their fabulous wares. Here are just a few. (Are you asking about the newspaper dress below?  Yes, it's made of paper.) These are the folks at Mercy Vintage in Oakland, CA (Karen and Jenny) and at Desert Vintage in Tucson, AZ (Robert Cowan and Salima Boufelfel), all first timers in New York. Oh, sorry - first timers in Brooklyn.  New York is so yesterday. The striking Karen Anderson (far left) is proud of her 6'4" frame. Check out her blog postings on Mercy's website.

Don't you wish you could occasionally go to work looking like this?  (If you know this dealer's name, please write to us so we can credit her.)

This outfit looks fabulous from the front as well, but we had to show you the little button detail at the small of the back and the gathers in the skirt.  Can't remember if it was Plantation or Issey Miyake, but it's one and the same to us.  It's by The Master.

Here's Heather from Noble Savage wearing one of her 1930s hats.  Hats from that period are so hard to come by in color, so it was wonderful to see this one in deep red, with a lovely trim.

At Scout, we ran into Tziporah Salamon, wearing a top knot - all the rage now.  Valerie is holding a dress with a silk bodice and raffia (RAFFIA!) skirt.  Double click to see the amazing weave in the raffia.  Wow!

This woman tried on a vibrant Missoni dress that is quite a departure from the company's signature specialty knits.

Fresh-faced Dina Rayzman was rocking a '70s look, although it's a sure bet she wasn't there for any of it, and probably not for the '80s either.  How do we date ourselves?  Let us count the ways.  We turned up on Dina's Instagram today.

We were terribly flattered when Zoe Ehrlich, of Zoe's Style File, and her mother asked if they could photograph us.  Like us, Zoe is a style blogger, but unlike us, Zoe is not old enough to drive.  We're on Zoe's Instagram / iPhoneogram today, too.  And we're flattered because we're probably old enough to be Zoe's mom's mom.  We're getting adjusted to the fact that we are crossing age lines.  We love it, but it still surprises us.

And this is what we saw when we left.  Pitter pat.  Pitter pat.  Pitter pat.

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Unfortunately, we couldn't cover every single vendor at the event in this posting. Here are a handful more websites and companies you should check out for additional goodies: in NYC Katie McDonnell 718-644-7634
Rhiannon's Vintage Clothing New Milford, CT Brenda Sabbatino 203-837-7595
Maeven Amy Maureen Yee 917-859-4463

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wearing Cuffs - in Public!

We put this photo on Instagram the other day, and just as people have often commented on Jean's bakelite, a number of people commented on Valerie's Frida cuffs.

So we thought we'd show you how to make your own.

Here's the secret:

Yup, they were socks in a former life.  Just use a sharp scissor to cut off the elastic cuff at the top (or don't - see below), and cut a straight line across the bottom of the design.  In the photo above, it looks like the cut was angled, but it's just the structure of the heel that gives it that appearance.  Make a simple straight cut.

But you don't have to stop at Frida cuffs.  How about van Gogh matching Starry Night socks and cuffs (this time with the elastic top left on)?  Valerie has minimal sewing skills, little patience, and a growing acceptance for imperfections.  Some of our readers might see the uneven edges and say "I could fix that easily."  Then you should do that!  Perfect them!  But you will find that little unraveling occurs (or we could say raveling - why do they mean exactly the same thing?), so if you're afraid the socks will soon wind up as a pile of acrylic thread, stop worrying about that.  Unless you have a kitten or puppy in the house.

You could have matching Mondrian socks and cuffs.  These made a brief and understated appearance in this blog post.  Neuromas in her feet stopped Valerie from wearing socks most of the time (no elastic constricting the nerves in the feet, please), but curiously did not prevent her from buying socks.  Making cuffs was something of an outgrowth of having socks in the drawers and not wanting to waste them.

Valerie's sentimental favorites are her Marilyn Monroe cuffs, with Andy Warhol's telltale bad registration.  On the left are cotton socks; the cuffs on the right are what's left of a pair of lycra leggings.

Long time readers might remember that Valerie broke her wrist in 2011 (while wrestling identical twin albino alligators for an Animal Planet segment), and because the cast material repelled ink, she cut up her leggings and made a tres chic cast cover, seen below at a museum opening.

So get a pair of socks and make your own cuffs.  All we ask is that when your friends ooooh and aaaaah over them you tell them who you stole the idea from.  Send them a link to this post!

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Jean's 2¢: Who knew there were different versions of Frida Kahlo socks? Valerie's pair with bright red background has a perky looking Frida facing front. This pair below by Sock Smith features a much more serious Frida in a red scarf, earrings and flowered headdress with a monkey perched on her right shoulder. The blue floral background is offset by a red trim at the cuff, toe and heel.

The same image of Frida and her monkey also appears on yellow socks with purple toes and heels. The color of her scarf and flowers switched from red to purple. Vagaries in the printing and in sock texture create small variations.  Jean thinks Frida and the monkey on the yellow pair look happier than the monkey on the blue pair. You be the judge.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Frida Kahlo: Art - Garden - Life!

The anticipation was killing us. Style Crone was coming to New York and Frida Kahlo was coming to the Bronx. On Sunday, it finally all came together! We met Judith aka Style Crone at Grand Central Station and took Metro North to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx for Frida Kahlo: Art - Garden - Life.  Click here for the NYBG's YouTube about the exhibition.

Of course, we dressed for the occasion. While not historically accurate, we each channeled our inner Frida and wore clothes inspired by her that we think she would have appreciated. Judith wore a wonderful floral silk kimono over a matching man's shirt, beige straw hat by Maeve Carr and red embroidered pumps. Jean wore an Ignatius hat, long black sleeveless voile shirt, accentuated with lots of colorful bakelite and prayer beads. Valerie wore a Japanese tenugui (hand towel) as a head wrap, red polka dot cats' eye sun glasses, shell earrings, deep orange Ivan Grundhal sleeveless dress, Osamu Mita woven throw, Pleats Please blouse, antique ethnographic necklaces, knitted cuffs with Frida's portrait on them (cut from socks), and flats made of Kuna Indian molas.

The New York Botanical Garden's celebration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo features a recreation of the pyramid outside her Blue House (Casa Azul) with all of the native plants in the Enid Haupt Conservatory. Fourteen of Kahlo's paintings and works on paper highlighting the artist's botanical imagery in her art, focusing on her lesser-known yet equally spectacular still lifes are on display in the Library Building Art Gallery. (Photo below is from a poster at the show.)

The botanical garden itself is a revelation. Walking through the conservatory from the front door through the rainforest and the desert leads you to Casa Azul.   One of the big treats was the staircase that leads to a look at a rainforest canopy.  See if you can spot Judith and Jean. (High resolution photo, so you can enlarge it for a better view.)

It goes without saying that plants and flowers run riot throughout.  Here is the smallest smattering of what we saw.

Called a jade vine, and native to the Philippines, these blossoms look like a collection of green animal claws, but are petal-soft to the touch.

The vibrantly colored Mysore clockvine is native to India.  While wending our way toward the Casa Azul we often had to bend down so as not to disturb plants dangling from above.

No, we didn't accidentally rotate this photo.  This is the way these waxy looking blossoms grow.  So many plants are cheek by jowl that we couldn't always get their names, as with this one.  It also had numerous cousins.  One variety was all the same shade of pink, another had blossoms that pointed downward, with bright red stalks and white tips.

These delicate blooms come from the variegated bleeding heart vine.

This calla lily, growing just before the entrance to the recreated Casa Azul, looks like something plucked from the canvas of one of Kahlo's paintings.

The Garden''s evocation of Kahlo's garden and studio at Casa Azul (Blue House), her lifelong home in Mexico City, brings to life the vibrant colors of the plants and flowers of the artist's native country. Here is the recreation of the famous pyramid at Casa Azul where Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's best known muralists, and Kahlo's husband, displayed pre-Columbian art works. The vibrant blue in the background is the tint of the Blue House. The Garden's Shop in the Garden, in addition to its regular selection of books, cards, gardening tools, and artisanal jams, now features all things Frida, from oven mitts and aprons to books, cards and repros of her paintings printed on large silk scarves. Do make it a destination on your trip! You'll thank us.

There were too many things to see and so little time. Here are two stops on our next trip: At the Britton Rotunda in the Library Building is artist-in-residence Humberto Prindola's recreation of an installation of paper dresses inspired by Kahlo's 1939 double self-portrait The Two Fridas.  (There was an estimated hour wait while we were there.)  The Ross Gallery's "The Mexico City of Frida and Diego" features museums and other sites in Mexico City where Frida Kahlo's and Diego Rivera's artwork and personal collections can be viewed. (Photo below is a shot of one of the posters at the show.)

There we were, in a city of eight million people, at an exhibition thronging with visitors, and we still managed to run into someone we knew.  Sandy Long was dressed in bright botanical colors, perfect for the occasion.

We were not the only ones channeling our inner-Frida on Saturday. This young woman even wore flowers in her hair to match the print in her turquoise top. (Another case of six degrees of separation - we met this same lady on Fifth Avenue at the Easter Parade in April.)

This woman also wore a garland of flowers in her turquoise-tinted hair, and continued the theme with a floral print dress.

And still more flowers intertwined in the hair! And more tropical prints.

We ran into this beautiful young woman by the recreated pyramid.

Turquoise was a popular color. Another woman embraced the look and joyfully wore lots of prints and color to celebrate the show.

This young woman wore a red embroidered cotton top a la Frida.

Another lady in light blue wore a terrific statement necklace with turquoise coral and red sandals.

On our way through the conservatory, we met this lovely lady wearing a fuchsia scarf, top and shoes who was obviously enjoying herself and the exhibition.

This duo was checking out the wonderful selection of merchandise in Shop In the Garden.

For the most part, the men were more sedately dressed, but we have to tip our hats to this gent, whose glasses matched his shirt, and both of which matched matched many of the flowers we saw that day.

Just outside the gift shop, one woman was demonstrating traditional Mexican embroidery, and another was demonstrating traditional backstrap loom weaving, examples of both of which Frida can be seen wearing in her art work.

And just as we were making our way toward the exit, Valerie ran into her friend and fellow textile enthusiast Ann (far right), just arriving with friends.  What are the odds of running into two people you know?!

We got to the platform only a minute or two before the Metro North train pulled into the station. Once we arrived at Grand Central, we took Judith to Cipriani's for a closer view of the wonderful astrological mural on the ceiling of the train station.

We had time for one last toast until we meet again later in the week. Then off we went, having had such a grand time that we decided to savor the moment instead of blogging about it.  (That's why we're posting today.  You know what they say - age has its privileges!)

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We couldn't resist closing with two more fun photos.