Saturday, October 29, 2011



At Friday night's book signing at Primtetime Gallery in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, we became part of the gallery in our own private version of "life imitates art imitates life" ...

We thought Friday would never get here. We couldn't wait to see Joana Avillez, illustrator extraordinaire, our partner in crime, or rather, the mastermind behind this fabulous escapade! In between signing books, we'd brazenly pose for photos. We did our best to duplicate the cover outfits so no one would say "I'll bet you don't really have a [fill in the blank] that looks like THAT." Yeah, we really do!

As an added treat, Joana decorated the walls of the gallery with paintings of her illustrations of our hats which grace the opening and closing inside covers of the book. Fans will recognize's Valerie's Guggenheim hat at the top and Jean's black witch's hat at the bottom -- both creations by our favorite milliner -- Ignatius.

As part of a documentary they were making, a photographer and interviewer followed Joana around the gallery. The gentleman on the left, who was conducting the interview, sported a vest and hat that reminded us of Elmer Fudd in one of his Looney Tunes duck-hunting adventures. The only thing missing was an appearance by Daffy Duck.

Jodel looks as cool as a cucumber. Surprising, since she not only accompanied us from Manhattan, after we'd purchased a half dozen bottles of bubbly (Prosecco and Cava), to Brooklyn, but also helped us schlep a cooler and ice to the gallery.

Early well-wishers (and new book owners!) included Carol and her husband Richard, and Florence and her husband Paul. Carol is launching her own blog, Femme et Fleur, so be sure to check it out. We initially met Carol and Richard at the Easter Parade, and last ran into them at the Advanced Style party at the Ace Hotel.

Barbara Arlen and Theresa Ellerbock and Naomi Tarantal made the trek from Manhattan to Carroll Gardens for the event.

To our delight and that of the other guests, another group of intrepid friends also crossed the East River into the outer borough on our behalf: We and Joana are the bookends around Christina Viera, Tim John and Tziporah Salamon. Valerie's peculiar pose is due to her holding a customized M&M in her hand.

We had these made for the occasion. Black and white because we wear a lot of it, and red and purple because these are traditional favorites of women of a certain age. And the little smudgy faces are... US, as we appear on the book cover!

Elizabeth Dosta (Liz), is a doubly talented poet and painter. Her appearance put us both over the moon!

A trio of Joana's friends from RISD stopped by to pay their respects and check out the book.

We had just met the beautiful brunette on the left at the Cecil Beaton show 3 nights earlier at the Museum of the City of New York. We had given her an invitation to the show and were thrilled that she came -- and brought a friend.

We loved how the skeleton eyeglasses perfectly framed the the Pebbles Flintstone's hairdo (complete with subtle green highlights)!

We finally met Isabel, one of Joana's BFFs, who helped set the stage for the evening's festivities. (And such a GREAT dress!!!)

Fellow blogger and fashion historian Tove Hermanson and her mom stopped in to say hi.

We met Hannah (who owns Marmalade, a wonderfully chic vintage clothing store on Mott St in Soho), Liz Baca (who runs an LA-based vintage clothing company), and Vita (Hannah's daughter, far right) at the Metropolitan Vintage Show last year. We got to see them again at last week's show AND at Liz's pop-up shop at Marmalade (through November 2nd). All of them are always fabulously turned out. Enviably so! When they showed up Friday night, with Sarah (Vita's friend) [and Boo Boo (Liz' one-eyed rescue pup) and his dad - off-camera], we were thrilled.

One of the best things about the wall of hats was that if you timed the photo just right, it looked as if an unsuspecting person was wearing one of the hats. Jean got this one on the first try.

We'd veer off to chat with friends and meet new people and then converge at the table to sign books. Here, we've stopped for a moment to meet one of Joana's pals.

Joana's mom who is also an artist dropped by to join the party.

Christina Viera accessorized for the occasion, with Eiffel tower bag and a ring that resembled medieval armor.

We were stunned to find that our picture of Shiho came out so badly we had to replace it with this older photo. Shiho, who makes her own clothes, currently works as a translator, and has already offered to translate Life Dressing into Japanese, so now we have to find an international publisher! So far books traveling outside the United States have gone to Canada, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Portugal, Japan, Israel and Switzerland.

Ann Wagner and her husband Charles show off their bracelets (silver birdie feet and bakelite, respectively).

A number of the guests stopped in the gallery on their way to Halloween parties (or at least we'd like to think so...)

Joana and her friend Chris vogue for the camera.

Matthew and Stephanie.

Joana, sporting her Halloween cat mask, and Dylan survey the gallery after all the guests have departed before they headed out into the night.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Some summer weeks we had slim pickings for topics; now we find ourselves literally six blogs behind topic-wise, and are having to double up. We had the pleasure recently of getting together with two friends - Anne from New Zealand, and Shelley from London, Ontario - who are both readers and fellow bloggers. We could have done a whole blog on them, but then it would have taken weeks to share them with you, so we're reluctantly double-decking the blog this week. (And maybe for several weeks to come...)

Anne sews and designs a lot of what she wears. She looks great in her own designs, and her clothes are very original and minimalist. Anne’s blog is called Stitchmana, but recently she launched an additional blog, now in its early stages, called Stitchbone Studio. Click on the link to see some of her very interesting designs.

Shelley has a blog called Forest City Fashionista, in which she documents street style, her own style, and goings-on in London, Ontario, much the way we do in our own stomping grounds. Check her out using the above link.

Luckily, Anne's visit to NY coincided with the Loot show at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). Several of our friends exhibited at the show (more about the show in a future posting). Anne's daughter and daughter-in-law are here in the States, giving Anne and her husband the perfect excuse to make the lengthy trip from New Zealand. Here we are, below, at the LOOT show. That's designer Suzanne Golden (wearing two bracelets she made) next to Jean, and Anne next to Valerie. ALL of us LOVED Anne's shoes. When we asked her the name of the brand, Anne said they were 'nothing special', but also said she was able to walk all day in them (which sounds pretty special to us). We'll have to ask her to send us the brand name for everyone's edification. Not only did she look terrific, but the fact that Anne made the clothes she's wearing in the photo makes it doubly fabulous.

Here's another shot of us at LOOT, this time with Israeli jeweler Sara Basch, wearing a necklace she made from rubber strips and tiny corks.

After the exhibition, we took the elevator to ROBERT, the Museum's restaurant, for (what else?) cocktails. Jean had the Venetian sparkler, with prosecco, aperol, and orange; Anne had the Negroni, with gin, campari, sweet vermouth; and Valerie had the Olmstead, made with gin, rosemary, thyme, basil and honey. The drinks and the view were great, as was our server, who gave us each a complimentary ticket for a return trip to the museum. Valerie asked for a spoon to remove the ice from her drink, but the server kindly made a completely fresh drink without ice. The one drawback was the noise level, which forced us to shout at one another to make ourselves heard.

As luck would have it, Anne and Shelley's visits overlapped. We were almost able to meet as a group at Bard for a Stephen Jones hat lecture. That fell through, but both Anne and Shelley did see the hat show. Anne is not currently a hat wearer, but following our meeting, mentioned fashioning something she could wear on her head.

We met Shelley outside Bard, where she was photographing attendees for the Stephen Jones lecture, many of whom were decked out for the occasion. Here we are after the lecture hall finally cleared out.

Shelley had just arrived in NYC late in that same afternoon, following a full day of travel, so we took her afterward to one of our favorite haunts nearby. The cozy Cafe Grazie has tasty meals and, if you're lucky, great window-side tables. Even if you don't snag a window seat, the staff are fabulous and the cocktails are great. While we were there, people at neighboring tables noted that we were all be-hatted (Shelley is a fellow vintage hat fan), and thanked us for improving their view.

The next day, Shelley went to the Metropolitan Vintage Show (standing on line to get in early!), where she bought another vintage hat, shown below. We took a far too brief tour of the show after work, met her at the door when it closed at 8pm, and whisked her to downtown our favorite speakeasy, Apotheke.

There, Jean and Shelley both ordered the aptly named Pain Killer, consisting of tamarind, tequila, habaneros, agave, lime (same as Jean had on our first trip there), and Valerie had the Fields of Heather (same as she had on our first trip). FOH is made with heather tips, vodka, white peach, raspberries, lavender, limoncello, and lime. When, as she'd done previously, Valerie asked to replace the vodka with cilantro-infused gin, the mixologists balked at first, humorously demanding to know who would have done such a thing. Once they eventually agreed to make the requested change, they then had to agree that it made a pretty good drink!

There were so many interesting cocktails on the menu that we each had to taste another. Shelley tried the Fields of Heather, Jean tested the Guava Mama, with Mexican guava, vodka, cognac, anise, all spice and lime (another fabulous choice!), and Valerie tried the Lavender Fields - lavender-infused tequila, fresh peach and fresh kalamanci fruit (ditto!). We were there on a busy night, so it was noisy and we had to stand until we eventually got a table, but the drinks and the great company made it all worth while. Apotheke ice cubes, by the way, are not made with water, so they keep the drink cool without diluting it.

The well named "ladies' room" can often be part of the fun of the experience. Apotheke's loo was no exception -- here is the sink in the ladies' room, which resembles a backwoods still!

Both Anne and Shelley crammed an awful lot into their trips here. They were great travelers and wonderful company. We'll look forward to seeing them again!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday Book Launch! Brazil TV! Stephen Jones on Hats!

CRYBABY Presents JOANA AVILLEZ'S "Life Dressing" from CRYBABY Presents on Vimeo.

Just a reminder that this Friday, October 28, 7-10pm, is the book launching party for LIFE DRESSING: THE IDIOSYNCRATIC FASHIONISTAS! Please be sure to join us at Primetime Gallery, 135 Hungtington Street in Brooklyn! It's between Court and Clinton Streets, and just a short walk from the Smith / 9th Street Station on the F line. Above is a video that will absolutely convince you to buy a copy, if you weren't already convinced. Below is a map that will help you get to Primetime Gallery.

Brazilian TV! Some of our readers have been clamoring for more videos, particularly since Jean knocked everyone dead with her fabulous turban demonstration. We have a few in the pipeline, but in the meantime we're happy to show you the video below, shot by on the occasion of Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style party at the Ace Hotel for Fashion Week.

Stephen Jones on Hats! On October 20th, we went to
"A Mad Hatter's Logic: Stephen Jones in Conversation with Patricia Mears"
at Bard Graduate School as part of the Gallery's programs for "Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones" on view through April 15, 2012. We connected with our kindred spirit from north of the border, none other than the Forest City Fashionista herself!

In a lively conversation, milliner extraordinaire, Stephen Jones, and Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at FIT, discussed the evolution of his work as a milliner, his sources of inspiration and his experience curating the Hats exhibition. (Photo from

We ran into Ari Seth Cohen outside Bard. A hat lecture is the perfect venue for women of a certain age. In the black and white hat is Helen Drutt, the doyenne of mid-century jewelry. Jewelry was always a fine art, but Helen spotlighted it, championed it, and almost singlehandedly raised its profile, helping to get it the attention and respect it deserves.

We are the first to admit that hats aren't always necessary. This woman is proof positive.

Our co-host of the evening, Rebecca Mears (deputy director of the museum at FIT), wore a beautiful little black Stephen Jones hat (with a curl like a wisp of smoke right out of a Dr. Seuss illustration) to top off her exquisitely tailored suit. She looked, as they say, "like a million bucks"!

Stephen talked about working with Jasper Conran and Zandra Rhodes in the early 1980s as well as his collaborations with Jean-Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano.

After the slide show, lecture and Q&A, the most enjoyable part was when Stephen Jones invited the audience to wear his hats, with him personally fitting each volunteer. Below are some of the results.

Here's a photo of the young woman above, before Stephen fitted her with a hat.

And here she is, in the hat, along with two other fans. Note Valerie in the background, right rear, documenting something "in another part of the forest", so to speak!

This woman modeled a silver top hat surrounded in black netting.

Here is another audience member modeling one of Mr. Jones' chapeaux.

Jean was another of the chosen few. Here she is getting fitted with a tiara.

Jean is blown away by the results. (This picture has not been photoshopped.)

Here she is, sashaying down the center aisle with Stephen's choice for her, looking as if she's just won a pre-teen beauty pageant. (Jean says: Yes, I was channeling my inner "Toddlers & Tiaras" and working that aisle like a runway!")

This woman made the fabulous hat she's wearing...

... as well as this completely different and equally fabulous multi-pronged hat.

Wish we had a close-up of this woman's hat, but her whole outfit was wonderful.

Milliner Rod Keenan, whom we'd met at the show's opening, showed up looking quite dapper. He and Gretchen Fenston are doing a Study Day/Demonstration called "Hats-in-Progress" at Bard on Friday, November 11, 2011 from 10 AM to 4:30 PM.

Here's a shot of Leigh Wishner and Valerie.

Ari Seth Cohen and Debra Rapoport after the lecture and reception paused for a photo before heading out the door.

Stephen Jones is a superb public speaker, equally comfortable addressing a large group or an individual fan. It would take a whole additional blog entry to relate all the stories he told. He is very knowledgeable and very passionate and possesses a wicked sense of humor - a fabulous combination.