Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

Jean says:
On December 24th, Valerie and I set out in search of a little Christmas spirit. We didn't need to shop; we just wanted to get out in the city, mingle with fellow New Yorkers and enjoy the crisp, dry, cold weather.
So, naturally, we headed to the ground zero of holiday cheer, the mecca of the large Norway spruce -- Rockefeller Center (of course)! Although the crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder (think Times Square at New Year's eve, minus the booze and funny hats), everyone was in a cheery mood. In no time at all, we got into the spirit, so to speak. I'm in the photo on the left and on the right is Valerie at the foot of the tree, her revelry in full display! (Isn't it a shame that she's so shy and self-conscious?)

The tree looks most impressive at night when all you can see are the twinkling colored lights. By day, at the top of the granite walls surrouncing the rink, it stands guard over all of the skaters, tourists, gawkers, and buskers. Shiny gold and silver lamé flags (which, in a flurry of my fashion A-D-D, reminded me of the banners outside Norma Kamali's East 56th Street store!) adorn the tall poles surrounding the rink.

At the western end of the rink, farthest from Fifth Avenue is Paul Manship's wonderful 1933 golden statue of Prometheus, one of the most recognizable scuptures in NYC. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a member of the earliest race of gods known as Titans. The god Zeus was going to destroy humanity by depriving the earth of fire. Prometheus, who had fashioned people from clay (becoming the first sculptor), saved mankind AND womankind by teaching us how to make and use fire. (Click on the photo to see the wonderfully carved details on the zodiac ring encircling his reclining figure and the fire he is carrying fire in his right hand.)

Intrepid tourists and locals alike took to the ice in droves, under the watchful eyes of thousands of spectators. As you can see from the photos, the audience jammed the edges of the walls and cascaded down the steps to get as close a view as possible. The ice was taking quite a pounding from all the blades of those skaters. (Anybody seen the Zamboni?) At one point, it looked as if they were skating through snow.

Although I hate their logo-filled t-shirts, I have to admit that I love the facade of Hollister's Fifth Avenue headquarters. It features a live video feed from the Pacific Ocean of waves rolling across a wall of screens covering the entire front of the building and reflecting on the water in a shallow infinity pool at the base of the wall. Small white lettering spells out "Huntington Beach" and "Surf City, USA LIVE" over my right shoulder. (Again, click on the photo for a close-up.)

Jean says: Astute readers will notice that I am carrying a small shopping bag. I did buy something - an irresistible Japanese rabbit-shaped box with five little rabbit-shaped citrus cakes inside - at Minamoto Kitchoan on the promenade leading to Fifth Avenue. (Jodi Head and I feasted on them in her living room in the glow of her faux wood-burning fireplace later that same evening.) Valerie says: We both found the bunnies irresistible. (Quite a few other things were very hard to resist, as well.) 2011 is the year of the rabbit according to the Chinese zodiac. And the Japanese rabbit in the moon pounds rice to make rice cakes, and rice cakes are a traditional new year's treat, so the rabbit design is a perfect way to celebrate the new year. In one of the photos above, you can see I added a cotton tail to my bunny. I always keep a few cotton tails on hand. You never know when you might need one.

Valerie says: I also bought this box (left and below) with the image of Otafuku on it. Her image is not only on the protective wrapper of the individual sweets, it's on the sweet itself. I've never been crazy about the flavor of Japanese sweets (most are made of azuki beans), but for presentation,
the Japanese win hands down almost every time, and flavor becomes secondary. No wonder there are three separate books on the art of traditional Japanese packaging. (A first edition of the first of these three books, How to Wrap Five Eggs, now sells for over $400!)

Valerie and I stopped in at the Armani store on Fifth Avenue at 56th Street, for a libation in its top floor cafe. On our way through the store, we checked out some pretty fabulous faux fur winter coats on sale and Giorgio's Spring 2011 women's collection. I fell in love with (from afar) a lightweight, stretchy black and white striped, fringed scarf. After drooling over it, I continued on with my partner in crime to the top floor cafe. Once the beautiful blond Italian(?) waitress informed us that the mango bellinis used puree instead of juice, we were hooked. (BUT, says Valerie, they still didn't hold a candle to the fabled frozen mango margaritas so rashly removed from Tabla's menu.) Over cocktails, we planned out this week's and next week's blog entries and fantasized about putting up a video of our own on the Oprah Winfrey Network.Coffee lovers, take note. The cafe also has great cappuccinos. Mine was delivered by a handsome waiter who said something like: "This is not just any cappuccino. This is a drink created by a handsome Columbian using the finest Italian coffee." It lived up to its reputation. The foam was thick and creamy, and the espresso was divine!

Here's Valerie atop the white undulating stairway at Armani on Fifth Avenue, her black, white and red outfit in stark relief against the walls. When we visited last year, we were prohibited from taking photos of the stairway. Obviously, with the passage of time has come relaxation of that silly rule. Valerie says: it's almost distressing that they've toned down their vigilance. We thought we were getting away with taking surreptitious photos until we saw others taking photos bold as brass. Where's the fun in that, I ask you.

Jean, coming and going, and the fabulous staircase, which seems to ache for a Fred and

Ginger - or the Nicholas Brothers - to add the finishing touch.

Check out the video below to see what the Nicholas Brothers can do with a staircase. (The still is pixilated, but the video is crisp.) The peerless Cab Calloway makes a brief appearance at the very beginning of the clip. Movies at this time had a love affair going with shadows. Some fabulous shadows in this clip.

Valerie says: All the employees at Giorgio Armani are preternaturally gorgeous, as if they just stepped out of a photo shoot. We were stopped by one such, whose name sounded like it should be pronounced Marjean (MARzhon), who said he wanted to put us on his blog but didn't have his camera with him. So we posed with him and used our own camera. We can't show you that photo, in case he contacts us for it. And we can't show you the picture of his Glamazon partner in crime, whose name I think was Vera, for the same reason. But here's a picture he took of us. Proof positive that it's now OK to take photos in the store.

On our way home, we passed by St. Peter's Lutheran Church at the Citicorp Center, where mass was under way. The modernist architecture is very interesting, with lots of clear glass, so we took this flash-free picture of worshippers holding candles provided for the service. Carolers in red and white robes, unseen at the left, were singing Gloria (no, smart alecs, not the Patti Smith version), which sounded lovely every time someone opened the nearby door.

Jean is channeling her Nightmare Before Christmas look and is wearing a Maria D. DelGreco hat with vintage Deco bakelite pin, eyeglasses from Fabulous Fanny's, Comme des Garcons jacket, Marithé et François Girbaud coat, Zara drop-crotch riding pants, black patent high-top Doc Martins, black and white dotted Indian wool reversible scarf and Marmot gloves.

Valerie is wearing a red wool hat by Parkhurst, sterling silver hat pin by Mladek, black felt coat with white circles by Tiiti Tolonen, vintage red plastic clip on earrings, red and pink wool sea anenome scarf by Katie Mawson, nubby gray wool shirt by Jill Anderson, red wood bangle from Japan, unnamed red leather gloves made in Italy (no ring, because then I couldn't have worn the gloves, and it was COLD), black pants by Jones New York, and red leather boots by Frye.

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On a momentary serious note:
Jean says: I met Steve and his little pit bull Genocyde sitting on the sidewalk outside PetCo on Union Square about a week ago. She was very sweet and well behaved had obviously recently given birth. When I asked if I could get his dog some food and Steve nodded, the three of us went into the store and headed for the dog food section. He was actually quite knowledgeable about the nutritional content of the various dry foods, examining the bags, looking for a brand with high protein. After he made his selection, we proceeded to the line for the cash registers. He was very proud of the coat he'd made for her. It was still a work in progress. His own sweatshirt had a number of patches that appeared to be from old punk rock t-shirts sewn on caveman style with big visible stitches. With his tattoos that look like little flames just above his eyebrows and his dreadlocks, he looked like a tough cookie, but was extremely polite. (I was half expecting him to call me ma'am.) While Steve signed up for a PetCo discount card, I paid for the bag of food and purchased a gift card, for Genocyde's next bag when this one ran out.
This little dog just stole my heart. When I asked how she acquired such a tough-as-nails name, Steve said she'd picked it herself. She'd been a rescue and when he got her, he ran a number of names by her and she really responded when he got to "Genocyde". In response to my not so subtle quiz, he said she had three puppies which were at the place where he and friends were squatting. The puppies weren't eating solid food yet. He was taking Genocyde to a vet for an antibiotic for her cough, so I gave him a Metrocard with a few rides left on it along with my IF card with my email address. Steve said he checks his email about once a week, so I sent him copies of the photos. I'm dying for word on Genocyde and her puppies, so Steve, if you see this or get my email, please let me know.

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Hope everyone had a lovely holiday. Here are Christmas wishes from Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, doing a fabulous doowop cartoon version of White Christmas. Cartoons by Joshua Held.

For those of you with old computers, if the above hyperlink doesn't work, paste this link into your browser:

And one last view of the tree and the promenade, seen from a passing bus on Fifth Avenue.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Presents


We interrupt this blog temporarily to tell you there are lots of fabulous pictures of us taken by Ari Seth Cohen on view on his blog, Advanced Style. Fabulous videos, too. Do have a look. We're so delighted that we're getting another fifteen minutes of fame, and that Ari is such an able activist in the cause of growing old with spice.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog, brought to you by Bueller.

Jean says: When Valerie first proposed writing about favorite past Christmas presents, I confess I was stymied. Then, while watching the Wizard of Oz on Saturdy evening, (which always makes me nostalgic), I started to delve into my own memories of Christmas past. Here's a listing of my favorites, starting in 1953:

When I was 3, my parents bought me and my older brother John a kitten and a puppy that look a lot like the ones in these photos. We were thrilled. Both were females and were adorably cuddly. We named the black and white part spitz puppy Jonesy and the tiny black and grey tabby Clancy. Although my brother and I fought like cats and dogs, our pets got along beautifully. Clancy slept on my bed and kept me company and Jonesy slept on the rug next to my brother's bed. Clancy even let me dress her in doll clothes and push her around in my baby buggy. Jonesy died at 16 after a short bout with kidney disease. Clancy lived to be 24! I remember when I went away to college, my mother told me to be sure to say goodbye to her because one of the times I came home, she probably wouldn't be there. While I was at school, Clancy figured out what side her bread was buttered on and became my mother's BFF. That cat had the last laugh. She lived a long and healthy life. I finished college and moved to New York City before she passed on.

On Christmas Day 2008, Jodi Head (the East Village rock star guitar strap designer) gave me a gift certificate to one of our favorite neighborhood boutiques, Enz. Enz carries an amazing array of reproductions of vintage 1950s dinner doll dresses, biker chick leopard print sweaters, cocktail hats, gloves and jewelry. I redeemed my gift certificate in exchange for the fabulous black patent leather Lounge Fly purse. It has been surgically attached to my wrist ever since.

Embossed with skulls and flying hearts, it holds a ton of stuff. I absolutely love it. I take it everywhere. It was prominently featured in last year's posting "Old Bags' Bags". Here's Bueller the ferret lounging in the Lounge Fly.

About 10 years ago, Judy B., my boss st the time, gave me this fabulous black and white striped scarf labeled Nuno for MOMA from the Museum of Modern Art. I love its weight and drape and graphic impact. Here I've paired it with tons of black and butter white bakelite bracelets and rings, a Maria D. Del Greco hat with deco bakelite pin, Brigitte harem pants, Revue glasses from Fabulous Fanny's and Trippen "geta" booties.

I wore the Nuno scarf this evening to artist Katherine Crone's holiday party. Photographer and technophile John Lamparski took my photo and then plugged in a little rectangular accessory to his camera called a Polaroid Zink. It produced this little 2" x 3" instant photo print that has a peel-off adhesive backing. So, now I could apply my mug to my mug, so to speak. (Valerie says: Due to our technical inexpertise, John's photo looks a little washed out, but in fact it's a great picture. If we had more time to spend photoshopping our pix [heck, if we just KNEW more about Photoshop], you'd get a better sense of it. Of course, if we were better at Photoshop, we'd look more like Cindy Crawford and Christie Brinkley.)

(Back to Jean:) Technological changes continue to amaze me. Earlier today, Ari Seth Cohen interviewed me and Valerie for his Advanced Style blog on Flip video. It was the first time I'd seen a Flip outside of the TV commercials. Verrrryyy cool. Stay tuned for more about that interview in a future posting. Or, just look for us on Advanced Style!

In 1982, my girlfriend Kim and I went to Los Angeles for her sister's wedding. I think it was in the early fall. While we were there, we visited our friends Greg and Paula, who had moved back to LA from Soho the year before. Greg took our picture sitting on a bench at a picnic table in their yard. Imagine my surprise to receive a package that Christmas with an LA postmark. When I ripped it open, I discovered this fabulous framed portrait of moi that Greg had done from the photograph. That's Kim's red sweater in the right of the painting. Greg also sent Kim a portrait of her. She's now married and living in Santa Fe. I'd love to see her again and to put the two pictures side by side someday.

A true hoarder, nearly 30 years later, I still have the earrings and the glasses! I used to wear shades day and night. The frames are Sanford Hutton by Colors in Optics. I had a matching pair in white that I wore to my wedding reception. Alas (or thank goodness), my hair is no longer dark and permed with midnight blue streaks!

If I were rich, I'd treat myself for Christmas to a painting by The Me Noboby Knows, an artist who sells on Spring Street in Soho. Although he always hides his face from the camera, his color-saturated paintings speak for themselves. They are stylish, humorous, and thought-provoking, much like the artist himself. The last time we saw him was on Fashion's Night Out.

Valerie says: what makes a good Christmas gift? Defining a good gift might be a little like defining pornography, to blatantly steal from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. Here are a few of my all-time favorites.

When I was very young, my older brother gave me a small (3") Steiff bear. My brother would also have been fairly young, so for him to spend what I knew was a good amount of money for a fellow child touched me deeply, even at my tender age. I have all my Steiff toys packed away now, so I can't show you a picture of my actual bear, but it looks a lot like the one in this picture, which I took from an Ebay posting. It wasn't only my brother's lovely gesture that bound me to this bear, though. It was also the bear's size. A girl can't carry her toys with her everywhere she goes, much as she loves them. But she can take one if she can put it in her pocket, and there were many days when I did just that. When I carried him around with me, he was the representative for the other stuffed plush animals who were too big to come along for the ride. He was the lone representative of his peers to come with me to Japan for the same reason.

My mother did a really champion job of Christmas from every aspect. I wonder now at her ability to find lovely gifts for every member of her family for so many years all by herself (since my father worked long hours). I buy gifts with trepidation. She may have, too, but she never let that stop her from being creative about gift giving. Every year she loaded me down with books, just as an oak tree litters the ground with acorns, in hopes that one might take root somewhere. One of my favorites ever (which I've mentioned before) is The Panda's Thumb, which is kind of a Ripley's Believe It or Not for animal lovers. (I loved the original Ripley's, with its interesting drawings. It was fascinating to read about the blind Indian yogi who stared at the sun all day every day, the guy living with the steel beam in his head [following a construction explosion, I think], and other such anomalies.) I was still at the age when kids are intrigued by the weird - everything from ancient Egypt to dinosaurs - so that was the perfect book for me.

This snakeskin belt with an abalone buckle was given to me by my ex-husband when we lived in Texas, early in our marriage. I loved its color and texture, and the beautiful abalone buckle left me speechless. This was when we first started to have small expendible incomes and could do just a little more than window shopping. I wore this belt all the time, mostly with a pair of billowy perriwinkle blue wool Yamamoto Kansai pants that I found later, after we first moved to Japan. I can still get this belt to clasp, although my palette has changed, and I haven't worn it for years. But I still find it quite charming, and marvel at my ex-husband's great choice (or great luck?).

I marvel also that this is one of my favorite Christmas gifts ever. It's a tool box that my sister gave me several years ago. It might sit in the closet for months at a time, but when I need it, I'm SO happy to have it. I LOVE that everything fits in its molded place in the box, sliding into place with a reassuring SNAP! that means it won't fall out (witness the photograph). I love that everything is arranged so clearly, and I love that the box fits in a small narrow space, and is light enough to pick up and carry. Recently my bathroom sink stopped up, and I was able to fix it using internet instructions and my tool box. As a single person, I don't have the requisite male to do odd jobs around the house for me, and the tool box helps me to feel I can take care of myself. I think it's odd for a woman to admit she loves a tool box, but there you have it. When I grew up, women on TV were always gesturing lovingly at odd objects like refrigerators - remember Let's Make a Deal? Vanna White continues that tradition today, so it was with that in mind that I took the above photo. (Dress by Ivan Grundahl; vintage beads. When I'm better at Photoshop, I'll discreetly remove the flab from my arm.) A couple of years ago, when I took shoe-making classes, I also bought a dremel, eye goggles and a face mask. All I need now is a drill! Here are close-ups of the contents of the tool box:

Over the years, a few people have complained that I'm a hard person to buy gifts for, and they're right. The main reason for this is that I work, and buy what I want when I want it. It's nice to have that freedom, but it does pose problems when I'm asked what I want for Christmas. Below is not a photograph of a favorite gift, but I bought myself a pair of shearling slippers a few days ago, so I guess they are a Christmas gift.

For several months now I've known that I would need new slippers. I had finally worn holes into the heels of the beloved shearling slippers I bought many years ago. (They're great for neuromas!) I considered telling someone to get me shearling slippers for Christmas. But the buy-for-me-what-I've picked-out-myself style of holiday gift giving makes me uncomfortable, even while I acknowledge that it makes gift-givers' lives easier and cuts down on the problem gift phenomenon. As you can see, they're BROWN, a color on my list of NO NOs. But importantly for me they have soft soles, so I gave in to these when I couldn't find black ones, and I am planning to hand paint them. Remember when you wanted to buy your mom something glitzy for Christmas, and she would leave you crestfallen when she said she wanted something you considered really homely? Well, here you have it: I have become my mother. And it's not bad at all...

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Update on the gift card screed of a few weeks ago:

Ages ago, I received a Macy's gift card with $30 on it. I'm not near Macy's so it sat unused for the longest time. This past May I finally used it to buy a red knee length slip for $24. A week later, I found a longer slip, and brought the red slip back to Macy's. When I gave the clerk my gift card, she was new and didn't know how to work with it, so she asked for help. A more experienced clerk assisted her, and I left with my card restored. I thought. This week I called the Macy's gift card hot line because I'd forgotten the amount on the card. The automated service told me I had $6 on the card. The $24 purchase was recorded. The $24 return was not. Silly me, I didn't keep the receipt I was given at the time, so I have no proof, just a cautionary story.

Remember: friends don't let friends buy gift cards.

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If you're wondering what we will be buying one another for Christmas, we won't. We're sending the money we would have spent on each other to charity.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Full Dance Card; or How We Went from Spain to Japan in One Evening

Jean says:
On December 2nd, we were faced with an embarrassment of fashion riches: a discussion at FIT by Hamish Bowles on Balenciaga and an opening at Issey Miyake in Tribeca for the launch his new line, 132 5. Of course, we decided to go to both events ... which meant we had to taxi from the first to the second, since we haven't yet mastered the ability to be in two places at once!

Valerie says: Yes, it never fails.

A girl goes for weeks without any invitations AT ALL, and then suddenly her dance card is so full she has to choose among suitors. Both of these invitations started at 6. What's a girl to do? We went to the slide lecture first, having received an e mail warning from FIT that if we were not there on time our tickets would be given away. Thank goodness some decisions are out of one's hands. At 7:30 we made a mad dash, like rabbits, to the Issey opening, which - happily for us - went on till 10pm.

Mr. Bowles' slide lecture was in conjunction with his exhibition, Balenciaga: Spanish Master (currently here in New York City at The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute), and in conjunction with his book, Balenciaga and Spain. Following his very thorough and very convincing presentation, in which he showed the deeply Spanish (and often deeply humble) origins of Balenciaga's inspirations, we were hoping to get a little face time with Mr. Bowles in the Q&A session, particularly because during the course of the evening he made passing - and intriguing - references to his own private collection. We wanted to know just how a private collector maintains his private collection. I mean, really - he has at least one full length Balenciaga ball gown that he mentioned. Slinky Fortuny gowns came in hat boxes (see photo, left); voluminous Balenciaga gowns simply can't. So does he keep them hanging? In big long boxes? Does he have one of those apartments where he's carved out walkways among stacks of unlabeled things? Are they in storage at Madame Paulette's, dry cleaner to the stars? Or does he keep them in scandalously bad conditions, as so many top museums are rumored to do? Alas, as it turned out there was no Q&A. But we noticed that Mr. Bowles was nervous, and almost never looked up from his text. We're assuming he's shy, and nixed the Q&A. (Or did his hour-long presentation run too long to allow for that?) There was a book signing afterward, which must be excruciating for a shy person. When we come out with our book, we're going to have a blast at our book signings, especially if we have a wee drinkie before each one.

Take for example, the dress in the middle sketch (photo taken at the lecture). How would one store it to maintain that fabulous shape? The hat also is a reference the matator's headpiece, Balenciaga's homage to his country's national sport. Although he personally disliked bullfights, he did appreciate and appropriate its costumes on numerous occasions.

Issey Miyake:
The opening at Issey Miyake was to announce its newest line of clothing, dubbed 1325 because 1 piece of clothing becomes 3-dimensional when worn, 2-dimensional when folded and can be worn 5 different ways. I wondered how well we'd be able to re-fold the garments and how useful/necessary it would be if we were storing rather than displaying them. (Valerie says: I have a feeling you can drop them in a heap, and they'll fall naturally into place. They should have a slo-mo video loop of that rolling at all times in the shop.)

These gorgeous objets d'art would not last long in either of our homes. Can't you just see our cats curled up on one of these beautifully geometric creations?

If I were lucky enough to have enough space and vitrines to display my wardrobe, these would be the perfect items. Until then, guess I'll just have to look and not touch! (Valerie agrees: They were doing a brisk business that night. Sales were so good that when we returned last night for another look, the apologetic sales staff said we'd have to wait till January for the next shipment to come in. I'm convinced that at least one client will put his/her purchase on the wall as an art piece.)

Since I cannot do origami to save my life, I can honestly say that if I owned this garment, it would never again look so neat. (V: unless in fact it does - shall we say - assume the position - that is, its original shape - when dropped. Now we have a mystery to get to the bottom of!)

Midori shows how to wear the new design, matching her silvery Doc Marten high-tops to the metallic highlights in her origami-like skirt. She makes it look effortless.

DJ Shin-chan kept the house rocking. He plays as hot as he looks. His mixes are muy popular -- he spun the next night at Chloe 81 on Ludlow.

Along with the sparkling new line of clothes, there were also sparkling cream puffs and sparkling wine (not shown but imbibed). The cream puffs were by Lady M.

The cream puffs had a shiny metallic frosting in silver and purple that looked like an automobile finish but tasted like heaven. Here's Jean going wild with her purple selection. Did we mention that we hadn't had time to eat dinner?

Jean says: This very fashionable lady works for Miyake Design Studio and looks terrific coming or going. I loved her pants, which had a 3-dimensional and light-reflective aspect to the legs. We chatted about shoes: my customized Dansko clogs with 3" added sawtooth bottoms and her low, black leather flats (Miyake, of course) with springs on the heels! I was so jealous.

Jonathan (on one knee) and Mark (right side of picture) and their two friends vogue in front of the store logo updated to include the name of the new 132 5 line on the lower right. We've run into Jonathan both at Fabulous Fanny's, where he's an extremely stylish and helpful salesman, and at Nicole Miller's on Fashion's Night Out. Always dressed to kill! Mark is a designer who is currently designing handbags for Marc Jacobs.

Jean says: Speaking of coming and going, Valerie has a go, with Jonathan and his kilted friend.

Where else but downtown NYC could you be at a party where more than one guy shows up in a kilt and no one bats an eye?

Lacee Swan, fashion artist and blogger ( poses with her friend Christopher, a fashion photographer.

Given the high style quotiont of the crowd, an appearance by StylelikeU's Elisa Goodkind was not entirely unexpected. It is always great to see her and get her "take" on the current state of fashion. She was speaking with a young man who is a teacher. How refreshing to encounter someone so passionate about his profession!

Valerie and I reconnected with Brandon Acton-Bond, who works at StyleLikeU and whom we'd met at one of their events at Blind Barber in the East Village. He also has a blog, Feigned Perfection. Brandon, who is also a shoe designer, was wearing a floral kilt (although Brandon pointed out it was patterned with fruit rather than flowers), which he had paired with great brown leather high-tops which had gold tips on the toes. Very cool. Valerie says: I tried to enlist Brandon in my endless quest to get someone to design fabulous shoes for Women of a Certain Age. Brandon listened very politely - even enthusiastically - but somehow I suspect my quest is long from over.

Here I am with this posse of the most stylishly dressed men in the room.They are absolutely fearless in their approach to dressing up to go out.

Here is one of the midriff tops and long skirts that can convert via snaps into pants. Valerie and I always pick our favorite item from each of the shows or openings we attend. This convertible skirt was my number one choice. Valerie says: I'm reserving my choice till the new shipment comes in, when I can see everything at my leisure.

Chris, the fashion photographer whom we'd met over cream puffs, is joined by his friend Rae (also a designer) and one of her friends, whose name unfortunately escapes me. (Blame it on low blood sugar, lack of dinner, cream puffs and bubbly!) (Valerie says: heck, all I have to do is blame it on my age!)

Valerie gasps: Gads! Am I really that short?! Jean soothes: No. Jesse and Ryan are just that fabulously tall! Jesse (on the left) is a composer. Subjected to my third-degree grilling, he confessed that his musical inspiration is bossa nova. Having spent some time in the favelas around Rio, he comes by it honestly. (Valerie says: Jean is sodium pentathol incarnate. She gets everyone to tell everything!)

Ryan (on the right) is a designer. He has a very dapper twirled mustache. Both lads originally hail from Cleveland and were planning to find a bar to watch the Cavaliers play the Miami Heat and boo Lebron James' first game back in Ohio. Valerie says: Ryan rapturously recommended a favorite cocktail bar to us, but I'm afraid to name it here, lest he find his place overrun next week by women of a certain age. People are more guarded with the names of their favorite bars than they are with the names of their married lovers. A hip bar is harder to come by.

Jean says: This jolly, fashionable trio stopped for a chat before heading out into the night. We discussed adopting rescue animals and fostering cats and kittens. I confess I only remember Sophie Stone's name (far right), so ladies, send us a comment and please remind me of your names and what you do. (Valerie says: it was the low blood sugar, lack of dinner, cream puffs and the bubbly.)

Valerie says: Here I am with old friends Katherine Crone and Susana Pesce, Susana's friend, and Midori. It turned out Susana had hip replacement surgery the day before I had my neuroma surgery. If any of our readers expect one day to be hip replacement candidates, Susana, like so many people I know who've undergone hip replacement surgery, is delighted with her results.

Jean is posing with Desiree, who is also a designer. The space that evening seemed to contain more fashion designers per square foot than any other piece of real estate in recent memory.

All of the guests received sparkling Evian water swag (Stuff We All Get). Here are some of the bottles, lined up on the floor behind the counter, while a new purchase awaits its owner in origami splendor.

Jean says: It was only a matter of days before the Evian by Issey Miyake bottles began appearing for sale on e-bay, with the highest asking price reportedly over $30!

The Three Musketeers get ready to head out into the night!

Oh, wait. The Musketeers were French. So these must be... um... Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and Dulcinea. NOT TOUCHING the which-is-which thing with a ten foot lance.

The sharp of eye will notice that our friend Katherine Crone is leaving with a different coat from the one she was previously photographed in. Oh, envy, envy. Green, just like money. SIGH!

Valerie is wearing: vintage gray velour hat, Issey Miyake Pleats Please windbreaker overcoat, vintage Tamotsu wool herringbone undercoat, vintage Issey Miyake jacket, Krizia Jeans dress, two Danielle Gori-Montanelli brooches (on hat and dress), Blowfish shoes. I fretted about whether it was OK to wear vintage Miyake to an opening for a new Miyake line. I actually had to ask Jean if that was a faux pas. She assured me that it was homage to the master. The things one has to think about!

Jean is wearing a Maria D. Del Greco hat, secured with an art deco bakelite domino pin, DKNY felted wool hooded zip front tunic, Yeohlee coat, vintage Miyake skirt, Lounge Fly bag, customized Dansko clogs and vintage eyeglasses (Revue's MOD OATH) from Fabulous Fanny's.