Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gray Pride

Since we started the blog (two years ago next month! OMG!), we have been photographing women with unapologetically gray hair, and decided it was time to have our first gray hair photography exhibition. Even so, never ones to do something the easy way when we could do it the hard way, we ventured out like mad dogs and Englishmen yesterday in the noonday sun to capture just a few more. We checked out the Museum of Arts and Design (appropriately abbreviated as MAD), the newish Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, and finally Barney's. Here, in all their glory, are some ab fab gray-haired ladies - some from yesterday's outing and others from events over the past two years.

Strutting down Park Avenue. We would have liked to photograph her from the front, but we're not Ron Galella (remember him?), and we lose precious seconds by not keeping our cameras at the ready. Still, what a great spokeswoman for gray hair!

When met Sandra in Eileen Fisher at Time Warner Center and told her why we wanted to take her photograph, she was instantly on board. She's a New Yorker and says she gets lots of positive reinforcement from total strangers complimenting her on her steel gray locks. She said that when she had finally decided to stop dying her hair and let it grow out gray, she had found a wonderful website about women who had embraced their silver wholeheartedly. Her approach to going gray was amazingly simple. When her gray roots were growing in, she found a top notch hair stylist who added gray highlights to her dyed hair. After three cycles, the real gray had grown in sufficiently to negate the need for additional gray highlighting. She had the best comments: "I should have done this 20 years ago" and "It makes me happy every day"! AND she said her husband encouraged her to do it.

You'll notice one of Sandra's feet is bandaged, and she wondered out loud whether we'd want to take a full length photo under the circumstances. She recently broke two toes, and now has a stress fracture. We could easily have swapped war stories, or anyway foot stories, so we encouraged Sandra to show off her war wounds. So to speak.

Sandra's black glasses and gray and black wardrobe highlight her sleek gray hairdo. She agreed with us that a simple cure for looking washed out is lipstick!

Later that same day, while in Barney's, we ran into this glorious lady - also a New Yorker. Although she was at first reluctant to let us photograph her fabulous silver mane, we were somehow able to convince her that we really weren't as crazy as we look. Luckily, and to our great delight, she finally acquiesced. She was wearing a great pair of black pants which turned out to be from my favorite Montreal store, Kaliyana. We've noticed that she, like so many of the ladies we photographed, favored a classic, minimalist look. We thought you might like to check out Kaliyana’s lip-smackin’ website, so click on the link provided.

Later, when we were outside of Barney's, we saw her exit the store and walk north on Madison Avenue with a dapper silver-haired gentleman.

A little aside. This has nothing to do with gray hair, but as we left Barney's we stopped to admire their window displays. We loved this one featuring mannequins simultaneously ascending and descending a sideways staircase, with everything completely covered in newspaper, and had to share it with you. We presume this is another of Simon Doonan's witty creations. One of the mannequin's skulls prominently featured large typeface Japanese lettering.

We met Gwen at Time Warner Center. Although she lives in Colorado, she had just returned from Istanbul the day before and was in the city visiting her son. Needless to say, her hair looked none the worse for wear. It was a magnificent halo of shiny, nearly white curls.

Everyone responds to the camera differently. Gwen was so comfortable that it was she who suggested the back shot of her hair, as if she were reading our minds. Often we'd LOVE to take a variety of pictures of our subjects, but don't want to invade their space or take more time than they appear willing to give.

Gorgeous gray stones. A long swath of these were laid out just inside the windows at the Eileen Fisher store. It was interesting to see how much of their merchandise came in shades of gray, too. Some people say they think gray makes them look washed out. We say they haven't found the right shade of gray for them. (Or the right lipstick???)

When we met Alamelu at Time Warner Center, she was on an up escalator (just after we'd gotten off the down escalator) looking wonderfully crisp and cool, despite the heat and humidity of the day. Her hair was amazingly smooth and shiny. She graciously consented to allow us to take her picture. She hails from Montreal. (Interesting how the city of Montreal worked its way into our consciousness yesterday! We are really hoping to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art's exhibition featuring designer Jean Paul Gaultier before it closes in October. Wish us luck.)

Lois Alsop is living proof that gray hair doesn't have to be short. Oh, for waist length hair!

We HAD to bring back this picture of the time we ran into legendary model Carmen dell'Orefice, who has no bad angles and whose great hair is her trademark.

No telling where great looking women will pop up. Here's gorgeous Lynn McClain at Tender Buttons, the best button shop in New York.

We met this gorgeous lady at Cooper Hewitt. (Her husband is equally gorgeous.)

Lee Chinalai always has great hair, great glasses, and great outfits. How's that for a triple threat?

Here are some other wonderful heads of hair we just had to share:

Israeli goldsmith Sara Basch has the most striking face and silver mane, set off by her fabulous handmade cork necklace, which both of us covet. If she's ever found mugged in an alley, sans necklace, we'd be the prime suspects!

Yet more fabulous gray-haired ladies:

This woman was out parading shortly after completely chemotherapy.

And how could we possibly resist a silver haired dog named Salty?

In the spirit of saving the best for last, this is our mutual favorite. When we met this lady last year at a gallery opening, we were equally struck by her stunning gray hair, her wonderfully fun heart-shaped glasses, and attitude to spare. Her look spins the Lolita look on its head. You go, girl! We don't know enough Photoshop to put this halo around her. It was a fabulous touch the camera added all on its own.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Am I hot or is it crazy in here?

In honor of the 100-degree heatwave that is gripping the U.S. from the Midwest through the entire Northeast, we decided to remind you all of how freezing cold it was just five short months ago. So, please enjoy. Gaze upon the snowy shots and think cool thoughts!

Snow-covered Park Avenue looked like a movie set.

Snow comes pounding down in the pre-dawn hours.

On January 30th, Jean got a passerby on Second Avenue and Eighth Street to take her picture in front of one of the numerous mountains of snow created by the plows.

Valerie's red boots are a stand-out in the slush.

Who doesn't like a snowman? Valerie captured this mini-snowman on film for moments like this. (The placard he's carrying says I LOVE BEER.)

Jean snapped this snowman on East Third Street.

By luck, in late January, Jean stumbled upon one of the strangest and most spectacular variations on the snow man theme -- a giant snow squid -- in St. Mark's churchyard on Second Avenue.

This looks like a corpse outline, but it's really a snow angel, immobilized. Valerie dropped backward into the deep snow (one of those trust exercises, where you have to trust the snow to catch you), and then found the snow was just hard enough that she couldn't move her arms to make the snow angel's wing shape. All by herself, she could take the picture of the impression, but not of herself wrestling with the intransigent snow. Just a word of caution: if you ever see snow again, be sure it's deep enough before you do this. (Valerie did.)

The urban driver's double whammy: plowed in by the city plows and covered by sidewalk snow blowers!

Small restaurants that deliver made use of the snow by stacking their bikes in two tiers, something they wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

OK, dear readers, time for a quiz. What is this?

No. It's an igloo, silly! Imagine Jean's surprise to discover this fabulous little abode carved into a snow mound on Third Street. (Jean finds the strangest things on her way to work!)

There were two entrances: one at street level and one on top, about five feet off the ground. Very cool.

Snow-covered shrubs look like gigantic ice cream cones.

Someone with a sense of humor left his/her mark on this mailbox. (No, it wasn't us. We just stumbled upon it. Really!)

Don't the snowy rooftops look lovely?

In the spring, wisteria grow on the trellis, and in the summer the building's residents have drinks under the snow-laden umbrella.

Jean says: Imagine my horror when I looked out on the newly fallen snow to see rat tracks -- leading from the neighbor's garden right up to my building, right under my window! And there weren't any tracks signaling an exit!

Now, imagine my horror at the next snowfall to notice that Mr. Rat now had a partner! Two sets of tracks headed right to my building, right under my window (again, only in one direction). What gives?

The first few days, the paths on the sidewalks were so narrow you literally had to place one foot in front of the other.

In New York, everyone dashes across the street, amid stalled traffic, to get to the other side. What a rare luxury it was to stroll down the center of the streets as if we owned them. The absence of cars was eerie, though not at all unwelcome.

This picture of Central Park brings to mind the scene in The Bishop's Wife (1947) where Dudley the angel (Cary Grant, of course), takes Julia, the worried bishop's wife of the movie's title (played by Loretta Young) and Sylvester, their grouchy taxi driver (James Gleason) ice skating. At the end of the scene his two initially disspirited companions leave the ice looking like they've had a visit to the Fountain of Youth.

The large white spots in the air are the camera's take on snow flakes. The staircase, still pristine, looks like something out of a Currier & Ives print.

Our parting shot is of Fort Tryon Park, up by the Cloisters. We hope you enjoyed a little break from the current state of affairs. (Maybe we'll post heat wave photos next winter when we're all freezing!)

OTHER STEAMY TOPICS (in keeping with the weather)

Those of you who read our post on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will remember Jean’s rhapsodic praise of the carved wood prosthetic legs worn by athlete and model Aimee Mullins. Ms. Mullins was recently interviewed by Harold Koda, head of the Met’s Costume Institute, at one of the Met’s public forums. If you weren’t able to attend, the entire interview is now available on line. Click here to see the interview. Here she is making a dramatic entrance in a floaty McQueen dress and stiletto heels. Many thanks to Robin Schwalb, who was kind enough to send us the link.

While you’re watching this very interesting interview, keep your eye out for the fabulous silver cuff Aimee’s wearing (above; click on the photo to enlarge). It seems to go on over the thumb, and cover part of both sides of the hand. It's somewhat reminiscent of the kind of splint you might wear if you had carpal tunnel syndrome, but you would WANT to wear this. At one point, the cuff comes up as part of the conversation, and Aimee turns to ask a question of the designer, Betony Vernon, sitting in the audience. Click here to see Betony’s steamy website.

And on another steamy note, if you’re in New York you might want to visit the Neue Galerie, where as part of their current exhibition, Vienna 1900: Style and Identity, they are now showing snippets of erotic movies filmed over one hundred years ago(!) in turn-of-the-century Austria. A small screen shows a continuous loop of about ten clips lasting a total of about twenty minutes. The movies were made by Saturn Films over the course of about five years, until the government put a stop to them, thinking they did not project the appropriate image of Austria. You can probably take the kids – there is some female nudity, but nothing terribly graphic. One is, of course, left to wonder how much self-censorship the Museum practiced, and what is on the full length versions. And one might be able to find out if one wants to, as Neue Galerie sells Saturn Filme, a collection of ninety minutes of Saturn Films (in PAL format), in their gift shop.