Sunday, September 26, 2010

Role Model: Iris Apfel

Valerie says: Several months ago, Jessie Askenazi, a fashion blogger (check out Morning Passages) with an edgy eye who's young enough to be our daughter, asked us “Why do you think we hold back on celebrating our style as we age?" One of the answers I gave was that we have very few role models, given the fact that social independence, old age and widespread media coverage are all relatively new phenomena. If you think back historically on women trendsetters, most of them were young, wealthy and politically connected.

Queen Elizabeth the First (1533 – 1603) is one of the few women I can name who continued to lead fashion into old age, but then, who would have dared start a competing trend – and who would have paid more than a minute’s attention if anyone had?

Even now, although the editors of both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue (left and right, respectively) are over fifty, they focus on fashion for the young, and are not arbiters of style for their own age group.

Recently, Iris Afpel was the featured speaker at the Textile Study Group of New York, and we had the good fortune to hear her talk at length about her style, her work, her collections and her views on fashion, all while slides of a fabulous array of her many looks flashed by on a large screen. At 89, she's a wonderful role model for women of a certain age.

If we repeated all the interesting things she said, it would take 30 minutes for you to read the blog. Since we know you’re busy people (plus, imagine how long it would take for us to write a 30 minute blog – we’re busy people too!), we’re just going to share our favorite nuggets with you, while studding the blog with fabulous photographs of her and her clothing.

First, in case you didn’t already know, Iris Apfel’s wardrobe has just finished traveling the museum circuit (under several names, including, among others, Rara Avis and Rare Bird of Fashion), starting in 2005 with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and ending recently with the Peabody Essex Museum. The exhibition curator, Stephane Houy-Towner, acted as her interviewer at the Textile Study Group in a lively exchange that lasted more than an hour. (Jean says: Although it was the first time I had ever attended one of the group's presentations, I was pleasantly surprised to know about a half dozen of the members.)

The idea for the exhibition began, Iris said, when Harold Koda asked to borrow some of her jewelry for a planned accessory show. But after the museum staff visited Iris’s home, Koda “rethought the concept”, Iris explained, and instead of showing several of her accessories, they showed eighty-two of her costumes (winnowed down from 300). (Jean says: Two summers ago, I organized a road trip to the Nassau County Museum to see the exhibition. I kept my eyes on the road but my ears on the conversation as I drove the Long Island Expressway to Roslyn Harbor and Valerie, Tziporah Salamon and our friend Bianca chatted up a storm. Although the clothes were in similar groupings to the show at the Metropolitan Museum, they looked very different in the more intimate Long Island mansion setting. I loved the fact that the show included not just the clothes themselves but also Iris' shoes, boots, handbags, gloves, luggage, hats, jewelry and eyewear. After the show, we went outside to a section of the formal gardens at the museum and had a champagne brunch (all the ingredients of which we brought ourselves) before heading home. Relax, dear readers -- as the designated driver, I was on my best behavior!)

Iris still has the first piece of junk jewelry she bought. It cost sixty-five cents – quite a bit of money at the time - and she was 11 years old. (Jean says: I love Iris' down to earth attitude. What she calls "junk" jewelry was what was referred to in D.C. as "costume" jewelry. Iris acknowledged that what used to be reasonably priced at flea markets and tag sales is now ridiculously expensive. Proudly announcing that she is 89 years old and has been making her own wardrobe decisions since childhood, she said she'd never be able to afford to assemble her collection if she started today.)

Iris has no interest in what she calls “real jewelry”, citing Harry Winston as an example. “I love ethnic jewelry”, she said. “It knocks me out.” One of the photos in her slide show consisted of several silver Tibetan prayer wheels studded with stones, which she wore as bracelets. Two other photos showed jewelry worn by cows and horses in India, both of which Iris has worn herself. (Jean says: She does have the tiniest wrists. The inner circumference of those prayer wheels couldn't have been more than 6" -- compared to about 8" for the average bakelite bracelet. They were also wide and thick -- much wider around than bagels, so they must have been quite a wristful for the diminutive Ms. Apfel!)

From the 1950s to the 1990s, Iris and her husband Carl owned and ran a textile business, Old World Weavers, which bought and commissioned textiles from mills worldwide using ages-old techniques. Business often took them to London and Paris. At the time, she explained, Christian missionaries who had lived in China and left after the 1913 revolution were selling the curiosities acquired during their service, and that was how they came onto the European market.

Iris told any number of wonderful anecdotes. Old World Weavers, she said, has “worked in the White House for at least nine presidents.” Contrary to popular belief, Jackie Kennedy “did not do the White House. She signed all the papers, but everything had to be historically correct.” As Iris pointed out, that power in the hands of whoever was in the White House at the time would have been a dangerous thing. “Can you imagine if Mamie Eisenhower…?” she trailed off. (Jean says: Iris was right that the Fine Arts Commission actually oversees White House furnishings, and made a point of the fact that Jackie's style was more French Imperial than American Colonial. In Mamie Eisenhower's defense, I would just like to point out that Mamie was a product of her times and was The Fifties personified. Since Elizabeth Arden was her good friend and provided her with wardrobe advice and hair cuts at her Red Door Salon, Ms. Arden should bear some of the blame for perpetuating Mamie's short-bangs hairdo and Harriet Nelson shirtwaist dresses.)

Of the old textile techniques, disappearing at an alarming rate in modern times, Iris said “We squandered a fortune because we didn’t want the old ways to go.” She mentioned paying for mills to take on apprentices so old techniques could be passed down. But most people would leave after a few months, she said. One left for a job with better hours. One mill owner, she said “ a fit of pique ... burned his own mill down.”

Iris is so immediately identified with her large round glasses that at Notorious and Notable exhibit currently on view at the Museum of the City of New York and in the Rara Avis show, the mannequins wearing her dresses are also wearing pairs of her own eyeglasses or replicas.

“I used to wear enormous hats”, she said. “It always cost me more to have the box made than the hat.” She explained that she doesn’t wear hats anymore because her glasses get in the way.

One imagines Iris has met everybody, and has all sorts of stories that it would be indiscreet to tell, but she did mention that one of her clients was Mrs. Marjorie Merriwether Post. Mrs. Post “had bad feet” because when she was a child she went around in all kinds of weather selling what would soon become Post cereal with her father, and had suffered frostbite. As an adult, Mrs. Post was married to the Ambassador to Russia, and she and her husband “went through Russia with a vacuum cleaner.” (Jean says: Now we know how Mrs. Post furnished Mar-a-Lago and Hillwood! Iris told a funny anecdote about the time that her husband had provided floor-to-ceiling draperies for one of Mrs. Post's ballrooms. Although she had numerous mansions, Mrs. Post never forgot her humble roots and selling Postum door-to-door. She called Mr. Apfel to say how beautiful the drapes were but, as she had actually climbed a tall ladder to count the tassels on each of the drapes, she wanted to know how many tassels there should be on each. Mr. Apfel's response was priceless: "Mrs. Post, I had a bowl of your company's cereal this morning. Can you tell me how many raisins were in the bowl?" )

Another client was Roberta di Camerino. Old World Weavers supplied material for an iconic di Camerino handbag. On one of her trips to Venice, Iris arrived at her hotel room only to find it “filled with flowers – it looked like they’d laid out some Mafioso”. It turned out the flowers were from Ms. di Camerino, in thanks for Old World Weavers’ role in the success of the bag.

At some of the Rara Avis venues, Iris put out pieces from her own jewelry collection for sale. So far she’s “sold well over a thousand pieces ... all things I bought to wear.” (Jean says: The Nassau County Museum's gift shop did have a selection of iris' bracelets, pendants and necklaces for sale, with the proceeds to benefit the museum. Bravo! Valerie adds: Wish we'd gotten there WEEKS earlier!)

When asked during the Q&A period whether she had ever made a system for finding her clothes, or whether one had arisen as a byproduct of the exhibition, she said no. Lacking a system, she said, things disappeared, only to turn up unexpectedly at some later time. Not being able to find what she wants doesn’t bother her, though, because finding something else inspires her to make different choices. Now, however, Pratt interns are in the process of archiving her collection. (Jean says: I'm going to use the fact that I don't have archivists as my excuse the next time I can't locate something I'd like to wear.)

On collecting, Iris says: “You can’t stop. It’s a terrible disease.” (Jean says: It was interesting that Mr. Houy-Towner corrected Iris and said she wan't a collector but rather was a consumer, since everything she bought, she wore. Iris agreed and shared the story of visiting an acquaintance who collected designer clothes but never wore them because it would diminish their value.)

On her own personal style: “I like architectural clothes that I can embellish.” (Jean says: Iris' motto ought to be "More is more." In response to a question from the audience about what she was wearing, Iris pulled up the sleeve of her grey striped jacket to reveal stacks of large resin bangle bracelets. She wore a necklace with a silver round Chinese Minority bauble and carried a walking stick that she hooked over the arm of her arm chair during her talk. Iris tends to favor large pieces of jewelry and wears her necklaces and chains in layers. She did mention that she has one necklace that is so heavy, she wears it while standing for only short periods of time at events before she has to sit down. She called it the "six minute necklace". She freely acknowledges that her jewelry can be noisy when different pieces clang together and told the story of a classmate once remarking that he used to look for her but then just listened for her instead.)

Iris also said she periodically gives away or sells things she knows she will no longer wear. When asked what she got rid of, she mentioned certain staple items that she replaced regularly, and other clothes that she had lost interest in. (Jean says: Iris donates her clothing to charitable thrift shops. I was tempted to raise my hand and ask "Which ones and during what months of the year?" but stifled the impulse.)

Like so many people, Iris has clothes that she doesn’t wear but can't bear to give away either. Of those, she said “They can have them when I’m dead.”

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Want more? Click here if you’d like to read a transcript of a conversation between Iris and Lisa Kosan, Editorial Director of the Peabody Essex Museum.

And click here for a five minute video on Iris, also put together by the Peabody Essex Museum.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Notorious and Notable (no, no, not us...)

Jean says: What better way to follow up Fashion's Night Out than with a night uptown at the opening of "Notorious and Notable: 20th Century Women of Style" at the Museum of the City of New York", and what better icon than Iris Apfel to greet us at the door? After a hair-raising, stiflingly hot, jam-packed subway ride to 103rd Street, we emerged at street level into a sudden downpour. Through unbelievable luck, Valerie snagged us a taxi, which - shall we say - tapped a limo in front of us as we arrived at our destination. We paid the fare and dashed through the raindrops, up the steps and into the museum. After chatting with the dashing Edward Faber of the Aaron Faber Gallery (a wonderful venue for contemporary and antique jewelry), we headed into the exhibit.

Valerie says: Photographer Linda Troeller kindly took these photographs of us while we dried off, toasted the show with Perrier Jouet and nibbled on truly delectable bite sized treats. Samurai in New York is another exhibition currently showing at the Museum.

Whom should we meet at the door but the Rara Avis herself, Iris Apfel. In its review of the show the next day, The New York Times dubbed her a "geriatric glamazon". She couldn't have been more charming, and kindly allowed us to photograph her. We told her we loved her photo in the Times' T Magazine with our friend Tziporah in Lynn Yeager's article.

The show focuses on the clothing and jewely of 81 women spanning the breadth of the 20th century. Phyllis Magidson, the Museum's curator of costumes and textiles, grouped the clothing by colors, mixing eras and styles, like some mad tea party. The "Notorious" range from Sunny von Bulow and the Duchess of Windsor to Gypsy Rose Lee and Edith Bouvier Beale (aka "Big Edie" from Grey Gardens). The "Notables" run the gamut from Brooke Astor and Jackie O to Marian Anderson and Lena Horne, Barbara Walters to Diana Vreeland, Isadora Duncan to Bella Abzug. What this disparate group of women has in common is the fact that all were at some point in time residents of New York City. The provenance of this particular outfit comes as no surprise, given the instantly recognizable large, round signature glasses on the mannequin: It is Iris Apfel's bright red Galanos gown encircled with a huge feather and fringe shawl.

As we were making our way through the crowd to try to view the exhibit, we met Judy and Stanley Zabar (yes, THOSE Zabars!). Well known as a philanthropist, Judy is also a great fashion maven. Here, she shows off her own personal tortoise shell version of Iris Apfel's eyewear.

Here's Valerie, stopping in front of the display of red dresses. (Click to enlarge photos.) The knee-length 3/4 sleeve jeweled gown on the mannequin to the left of the mannequin wearing Iris' gown belonged to fashion writer Eugenia Shepherd. Like the diminutive Ms. Shepherd, the mannequin is shorter in stature than most of the others.

Among the jewels on display, courtesy of the National Jewelry Institute, is Diana Vreeland's yellow gold, sapphire and ruby fish-shaped cigarette lighter designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany's. Also in the show is her Trophee de Vaillance jeweled brooch by Schlumberger.

This is my absolute favorite outfit in the show. This demure, high-collared 1940s mitred black and white striped ensemble with peplum jacket and long skirt belonged to none other than Gypsy Rose Lee. The outfit was actually a costume with tiny snaps all the way down the back so that it could be quickly removed when on stage. As the exhibit noted, Ms. Lee "put the 'tease' in 'Striptease'!"

This "tissue of diamonds" dress was a gift of Lauren Bacall. With black silk net studded with crystal briliants over peach charmeuse, the gown was made for her in 1963. (Image courtesy of the Museum of New York.)

This black 1970s Halston gown with a plunging V neckline was owned by model Betsy Pickering. Most New Yorkers of a certain age remember all of those images in the 1970s of Halston with Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol at Studio 54 and at parties at his East Side townhouse. This dress recaptures some of the elegance of the era, when cleavage was something a person was born with, rather than purchased and implanted.

Speaking of Studio 54, Valerie and I were both interested in seeing what piece of Tina Chow's they would select for the show. Hers is the long, slim Yves Saint laurent gown with trompe l'oeil jewel, pearl and gold necklaces, bracelets and belt embroidered onto the black velvet. On the far left of the photograph is the early twentieth century beige and black gown of Jane, Mrs. J.P. Morgan, Jr. (Photo by Karen Rosenberg of The New York Times.) Valerie says: I was hoping to see one of Tina's many Fortuny gowns. There WAS a Fortuny there, but it was someone else's prize.

This delicate platinum, diamond and pearl pendant belonged to Edith Bouvier Beale, one of Jackie O's more controversial relatives. It is displayed in front of a wedding photograph of Edith from the 1920s in which she looks absolutely beautiful. (Image courtesy of the Museum of New York.)

One of the most striking pieces is this gorgeously theatrical dress designed by dancer/choreographer Geoffrey Holder for his dancer/choreographer wife, Carmen de Lavallade. He is from Trinidad and she was born to Creole parents in New Orleans but lived with her aunt in San Francisco. They were the most regal couple in American dance. Both appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, and she toured with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. In later years, she taught at the Yale Repertory Theater. They have been married for more than 50 years. Valerie says: this was my favorite.

The long pink dress on the left with the deep V-neckline was designed in 1985 by Yves Saint Laurent for Annette Reed, Mrs. Oscar de la Renta, close friend of the late Brooke Astor, who is also featured in the show.

Toward closing time, we ran into Suzi Winson, and HAD to engage her in conversation because it sure looked to us like she was wearing a Philip Treacy hat. (She was. The photo doesn't do her or her hat justice until you click to enlarge.) Does anyone remember the TV show "What's My Line"? I doubt that anyone would have guessed that Suzi is an aerialist! She flies through the air with the greatest of ease, that daring young lass on the flying trapeze. Her business is called Circus Warehouse, and she invited us out to try one of their many classes. Now, Valerie keeps threatening to try it. We'll see ... Valerie says: I love gymnastics. When others watch the Olympic skaters, I watch the gymnasts. Their precision bodies fascinate me, and no one ever makes them wear silly costumes. I definitely want to take a class. I like thinking of the sense of accomplishment I'd have if I could do even one thing a Cirque du Soleil performer can do.

Valerie says: I'm wearing an unlabeled vintage gray velour hat, Danielle Gori Montanelli brooch (unseen), metal and rubber (?) earrings, James Minson glass necklace, Issey Miyake jacket, sleevless Blayde wool knit dress, red plastic ring from El Museo del Barrio, Mexican silver bracelet, silver ring from Pastec, vintage Bottega Veneta bag (with not much more than credit cards, some cash, lipstick and business cards in it - evening bags demand sacrifice!), and Nicole sandals. (You can't tell, but the dress was made for someone taller, so I bundled the excess at my hips, and fixed the bundles with two giant safety pins. This had the unintended but welcome effect of giving the dress great draping at the hips - like little panniers.)

Here I am at the end of another fun evening. In the bag are two wonderful toys that I found at the museum store. I'm wearing a black straw Ignatius hat with denuded peacock feather; Costume Nationale jacket; Brigitte harem pants; black and white 100% cotton scarf by Nuno for MOMA and designed by Sayuri Shimoda (gift from Judy Berek); dice and ice plastic and lucite necklace (gift of designer Kirsten Hawthorne), lucite vintage cuffs, bubble bracelet and rings; and Dansko clogs.

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What's in Jean's bag?
The Museum Store has a great selection of books about and photographs of New York City. It also has some terrific toys, such as the two I found irresistible. The first is this tin Future Car by Schylling. The turquoise color scheme reminded me of Robi Willard's Comet Caliente. I'm a sucker for great tail lights and I love the yellow and black fin detailing. It cost about $13.

The packaging is also wonderfully reminiscent of Flash Gordon and suggests a cartoonish future like Tomorrowland at the World's Fair. Last Monday, there were lots of red cars on display that looked like the illustration. The metallic-looking finish on the cardboard adds to the allure. The box is marked "Made in China Shanghai".

My other purchase was this very deco-looking tin wind-up toy Ocean Liner, complete with wind-up key, also by Schylling and also about $13. Just as the packaging for the car looks very comic book futuristic, the packaging for the Ocean Liner is very retro, very Art Deco. It reminds me of the display of glass panels taken from the S.S. Normandie at the Forbes Galleries. The illustration look like the old 1930s travel posters. Since my apartment is furnished in Art Deco, it'll fit right in.

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We've had new readers just about from the proverbial four corners over the past few weeks: Iran, New Caledonia, Argentina and the Canary Islands. Purists will say the Canaries are part of Spain, so no new ground broken there. OK, technically you're correct, but the Canaries are about 800 miles from the coast of Spain, so we want to give them credit as a whole other place. By that standard, we should also list Tasmania, from which we recently had another first time reader. Welcome, all!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fashion's Night Out

Jean says:

This year, we turned everything on its head and decided NOT to go uptown for Fashion's Night Out. We chose to sample the Fashion's Night Out's downtown venues instead. Beside the fact that they did a much better job explaining who was where, doing what, and when, we tried to maximize coverage across several neighborhoods: NOHO, SOHO and the Meatpacking District. We think it turned out to be the right decision, but you be the judge. (Read on for more about our adventures and this Marc Jacobs pop-up truck.)

NOHO - Odin/Lafayette St.

After meeting at MOMA on Spring Street, which was preparing to exhibit threeAsFour products (bags, shirts, scarves) using Yoko Ono designs, we headed to Odin New York (119 Lafayette Street). Designers Shipley & Halmos partnered with Guerilla Ice Cream to serve summer-flavored ice cream and donate all proceeds to the Street Vendor Project. Neither of us was game enough to try the Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale and honey flavor ice cream even after a free sample. Here is Valerie trying three of the four flavors offered. Both of my selections (chocolate and port wine ice cream with bruleed bananas and cashew sprinkles, and mango ice cream mixed with fruit something-or-other) were scrumptious. Check out for ice cream-making classes and events. (Valerie says: I second Jean's enthusiasm for Guerilla Ice Cream. I also tried the mango and the chocolate with port wine; my third selection was chai. If you twisted my arm to designate a favorite, I'd have to say the chai, mostly because there were flavors I'd never tasted in ice cream before. Chocolate with port wine was a VERY interesting combo. Mango only loses out because I've been spoiled for choice this summer, what with fresh mangoes on the street, frozen mango margueritas at Tabla - till they inexplicably took them off the menu - and Ciao Bella mango sorbet.)

While we were sitting in the little park on Lafayette Street and Cleveland Place enjoying our ice cream, photographer John Lamparski stopped by to say hi, but only just barely -- he was too hungry and too busy after shooting the Nicole Miller show to stop and chat, so we waved him on his way. I spied this fabulous graffiti from my park bench and enticed Valerie to take my photo. I especially loved "HACULLA" spelled out on the teeth on the cyclops cartoon creature.


Bebe, Broadway

Like four sirens of mythology luring sailors with their songs, this quartet of fabulous babes beckoned shoppers into Bebe on Broadway near Spring Street by dancing to pounding rock music and modeling their wares. Needless to say, they drew quite a crowd.


As you can see, some took Fashion's Night Out as a personal challenge. This gentleman, who was walking south on Broadway between Prince and Spring Streets, accessorized his bright white summer cottons with fox fur (an Idiosyncratic Fashionistas' no-no) and crystal-lensed sunglasses for an oversized statement. Sort of Mr. T meets Snookie!

The Marc Jacobs Van, Broadway

Just north on Broadway, we encountered Marc by Marc Jacobs' latest twist on the pop-up shop -- the pop-up truck. Shoppers could just step up to the curb and order accessories through the window of this customized ice cream van. Judging from the crowd, business was brisk.

Kate Spade, Broome Street

Our next stop was Kate Spade New York (454 Broome St.) because Tim Gunn and Deborah Lloyd, creative director of Kate Spade were purportedly to be on hand to judge displays inspired by Gunn's new book. Although neither made an appearance while we were there, we did meet Tim Boyle, who had designed and made the fabulous camo poncho he was wearing, and his friend, Bruce, also a designer. We compared notes and were not surprised that they had many of the same destinations on their dance card as we.

Valerie managed to snap this woman's picture as we worked our way through the crowd to the door. Valerie says: from the side, it was even more of a work of art, but we weren't always able to get exactly the shots we wanted. Throughout the course of the evening, we crossed paths with COUNTLESS fabulous people, only a smattering of whom we were able to photograph.

Nicole Miller, Greene Street

Next stop: Nicole Miller where we got to meet the redhead designer herself, thanks to a very attentive member of her staff (see him below in suspenders and white socks). Slim and trim and wearing beautifully high-heeled shoes, she couldn't have been more gracious host. She thoroughly enjoyed the crowd and surveyed all of the goings-on from her perch near the front of the store. The revelers in her shop represented an eclectic mix of fashion styles.

Contributing to the high energy vibe was the music pumping through the space, courtesy of DJ Tiger Lilly. Trust me, she was even more gorgeous in person. No surprise: when she's not spinning, she also models.

When she saw us, the DJ waved us over and insisted that we join her -- on the DJ stand! She literally pulled each of us up onto her stage, which was about 3 feet above the crowd. Do not adjust your television sets. No, I am not still on the ground looking up. I am in the DJ booth with Tyger Lilly. She really is that tall. She was very funny and very sweet. Just wish I had a dollar for every photograph people took of the three of us! (Valerie says: it HAD to be the hats!)

Co-hosting the event with Nicole was singer Cassie, photographed here with her posse of friends. What an eyeful - beautiful and talented. This 26 year old, whose song "Me & U" was her first big hit in 2006, started modeling at age 14. She's an old timer at dealing with crowds of people. Valerie says: I LUVVED her shaved hair style. She does it so much better than I do.

Here we are with photographer, artist and blogger Ricky Day. Valerie says: I don't know what drinks they were serving, but they were exquisitely flavorful. (I certainly look like I'm enjoying mine!)

I loved this guy's socks! And, he wore his suspenders backwards and off the shoulders -- hmm, a new fashion trend? He's the one who brought us to meet Nicole. We felt very honored.

This little acid red-tressed vixen had a Hello Kitty tattoo to match her ring!

Out on the street again, and off to our next destination, we ran into this handsome fellow wearing the most wonderful Gareth Pugh shirt. The photo doesn't do him or the shirt justice.

Here is the tank top version of the official 2010 Fashion's Night Out tee-shirt. There were also short sleeved and long sleeved versions in white, and grey and a hoodie. She's one of very few who can wear the shirt over her skirt and still look fabulous.


Valerie says: outside of Y-3 on Greene Street, we ran into Jasmin Rodriguez (in yellow) and Mimi Loubeau, a pair with so much spark between them that they just about need to dress in flame retardant fabrics. Find out more about Mimi at; and more about Jasmin at Y-3 was pouring glasses of Veuve Cliquot, and models were showing the fall selection. Here are three of the models strutting their stuff for the camera. I fell in love with the middle model's hair. It doesn't look it here, but I think it was purple. Worked great with her shirt.

Anna Sui, Greene Street

Jean says: Takashi and I spied each other from across the store, pointed and screamed at the same time. I hadn't seen him since he modeled amazing headgear in the the Uta Bekala fashion show at Ideal Glass Gallery last February. He was dressed to kill, as they say, complete with a cool black fan that I nearly wrestled him to the ground for. it was nice to know somebody carries a heavier bag than I do!

When we emerged from Pleats Please, we ran into the street artist extraordinaire known as The Me Nobody Knows. Last time we saw him, he took our pictures and put us on his blog. This time, we asked to shoot his picture, and true to form, he obscured his face. He just returned from a very successful sold-out show of his work in Norway. Bravo!

Comptoir des Cotonniers, Spring Street

Jean says: We stopped into this French ready to wear shop and were instantly recruited by Goldie to participate in their "I LOVE ...I HATE,,," campaign. When they handed Valerie a billboard to fill in the blanks, she wrote: "I LOVE Champagne ... I HATE thoughtless businessmen." They then photographed her with the new FujiFilm "instax" camera and presented her with her own "portrait to go". Since I had no original thoughts of my own, they put me in with Valerie and did a second shot of the two of us with her sign. As we were leaving, Valerie complimented Goldie on her fingerless gloves. She looked at us, ran off for a minute and returned with two pairs for us! How fab. "I LOVE swag"!

Valerie says: I was uncharacteristically non-plussed by their challenge. When daydreaming, one ALWAYS knows EXACTLY what to say when given a seemingly simple task like this. And then when it actually happens... NOTHING! Nothing comes to mind! Deer in headlights syndrome! I stand by my love and hate, but I wish I'd written something meatier. By the way, for those of you in our age demographic, don't these wonderful little mittens remind you of the stunningly menacing Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter? Look closely at his knuckles... (Click on the photo for a better view.)

Dolce & Gabbana, West Broadway

The scene in Dolce and Gabbana: jammed with people drinking Heinken and screaming over the 300 decibel music. Out on the street, we just about chased Sergio to get his photograph. Besides being wonderfully dressed, he has his mass of dreadlocks coiled into a ring atop his head. Again, the photo doesn't do him justice. And Sergio has these great cheekbones that the hair style accentuated. Way cool! Check out Sergio's blog, Runway Wonderland, whose subtitle reads FIND YOUR ENVELOPE AND PUSH IT.

Shortly after we left Dolce and Gabbana, we encountered this Marie Antoinette wannabe voguing for the camera.

Chanel, Spring Street

Jean was stopped by an admirer, who then told her that Karl Lagerfeld was just across the street from us at Chanel. It was an absolute mob scene, with people four deep. We watched for a few minutes, but were never able to glimpse Kaiser Karl amid all the mayhem.

West Broadway, Greene Street

The night was filled with Mutual Admiration Societies. Can't remember if we stopped them or they stopped us, but we all had our cameras out in turn.

We ran into this lovely trio just up the block. The daughters, who live in New York City, are entertaining their mom, who is visiting from Florida. They vamped it up for the camera.

I call this shot "West Broadway Waif". She never spoke. She only giggled. A lot.

Meatpacking District / Washington Street

Does the back end of the bus make me look like...?

Well, as Jean noted last week, animal prints are back, BIG, as you can see here.

Jean spotted this bus full of dancing revelers. It was right around Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. Wish we had a video - these people look like they're standing, but they're shaking it.

Washington Street / West 14th Street

More Mutual Admiration Society. We ran into them after we checked out Diane von Furstenburg's store. Of COURSE we looked great, but we had a lot of help from our hats. We had our eyes peeled for like-minded folk, but probably fewer than 1 person in 100 wore a hat, and most were of the street vendor fedora variety.

Washington Street

This "Catch Me if You Ken" truck carried six real-life Ken dolls. The truck elicited howls from the crowd. It was a truly surreal experience. Because people of both sexes were kissing the glass, a guy kept coming around with a spray bottle and cloth to clean up.

Jean says: Formal Date Ken had a lot of attitude. He reminded me way too much of my high school junior prom date.

Surf Date Ken was my favorite. Just the right amount of beefcake for a PG-13 rating. He had a surfboard attached to the wall. You could see the wire tether above his swim trunks that was used to hold each of the Kens in place while the truck was in motion. Gallery Date Ken (his next door neighbor) even had an easel and paint brushes as props.

Near Spice Market
We had spied this woman earlier in the evening in DVF. We ran into her as we were heading home. When we told her how great she looked, she told us she had designed and made her outfit. Her friend, not pictured here, made her black feathered wig in about three hours' time. Great work!

After the ball is over... how subdued the subway is by comparison as we all straggled home. This gent, if you can make it out, is wearing studded leather shoes with high heels. Jean sez: Click on the photo to enlarge. I love the fact that he is wearing green socks with his dominatrix shoes! Perfect end to a perfect evening.

Valerie is wearing: a vintage black and red straw and silk hat labeled (of all things) 'Gertrude Schenectady'; my new Issey Miyake coat (shown in the recent Binging and Purging post), a vintage Issey Miyake leather and elastic belt, vintage full length Issey crinkle dress (shown in several earlier posts), my brand new post-surgery Nicole brand already passe gladiator sandals (also shown in Binging and Purging), and a variety of Mexican silver.

Jean is wearing: an Ignatius hat, Kedem Sasson skirt, Express black and white striped top, Ensemble sleeveless shawl clasped with a pin made from vintage bakelite Mah Jong tiles, red wooden gum ball necklace, assorted red resin and vintage bakelite rings and bracelets, Angela Caputi red resin bracelet with Greek key design, Tokyo Boy watch with red band, Betsey Johnson black and white striped socks and Dansko clogs.