Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tasty Tidbits

US Tube
The Whine Bar (Valerie Goes Postal)
Women of a Certain Age Looking Great in Comme des Garcons


In which we appear on CBS' Insider, and Jean gets bleeped for saying one of George Carlin's Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.

So there we were, as part of Ari Seth Cohen & Lina Plioplyte's Advanced Style video, appearing (above) on Insider, in the briefest fifteen minutes of fame you ever saw, minding our own business and trying to make a good impression, and what do Insider producers choose to show to all of America but Jean saying one of the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.

Below, you can tell Jean's saying one of the Seven Words, as Valerie casts her eyes down in proper stunned Victorian shock. We didn't photoshop the picture. Friends as far away as Miami and Seattle reported channel surfing at just the right moment, finding our mugs on their television screens and laughing their a**es off. Trish from Seattle even congratulated Jean as her only friend who has been bleeped on nationwide TV. A dubious honor at best, but an accolade nevertheless.

For those of you who missed the opportunity the night the show aired, thank goodness for You Tube. Here's your chance to see for yourself. Check out The IFs and other fabulous dames.

THE WHINE BAR (Valerie Goes Postal)

Valerie says:

The other day I was confronted by my postal worker, who was not happy with me.

"You have to take your mail out of your box", he said. There's no more room for me to put your mail in. Why don't you take it out?", he asked.

"There's nothing in there but c*ap, anyway", I said, using a word that you CAN use on television, but which nonetheless my mother told me is not a very nice word. "Why should I take it upstairs? What am I going to do with it?"

My postal worker more or less threatened to throw it away, and I more or less quaked in my boots. "I'll see what I can do", I said, which is code for "I didn't put it there, and I'm not cleaning it up." Walking away, I realized the postal worker might be able to clear up a question I had, so I turned around again and asked him: "I've been putting "RETURN TO SENDER" labels on my junk mail, and then putting it back in the mail. Does that actually get returned to sender?" I asked, since I am old enough to remember the old Elvis Presley hit of that name.

Here's an example of the labels I've been putting on stuff I'd like to see go back where it came from:

"No", he said. "Junk mail goes by the bulk mail rate, so it doesn't get returned. It just gets thrown away."

Did you know that, IF readers?

That means that not only have I been wasting my time, but I have not been getting my name taken off of mailing lists or reducing the amount of wasted paper. Worse, it means that now I will have to open junk envelopes in order to get phone numbers so I can call the junk mailers, and many of them cleverly do not print their phone numbers. So you just waste your time if you try to beat back the deluge. Worse still, it means that silly companies with nothing better to do can send nuisance mail to their hearts' content, and there's no recourse - unless, of course, you put a full price stamp on the envelope and send it back. No bulk mail rate for you!

If that mail actually did get returned, and if the senders had to pay the return postage, they might think twice about sending c*ap. But since that avenue is at least temporarily closed to the average citizen who just wants to do what's right for the environment (and who wants to clear the junk off her desk once and for bloody all), we should declare a National Junk Mail Day, and on that day we should all take our junk mail to the post office and leave it in THEIR mail boxes. See how they like it.

With thanks and apologies to Edvard Munch for The Scream.
Bet Munch never got any junk mail.


OK, enough whining. Back to the fabulous!

We got an email from Christina Viera the other day announcing that she and Suzanne Golden were in for being Comme All Ye Faithful. Above is the opening composite photo, followed by a number of Comme wearers in all their finery. Christina is first in the slide show, with several amazing outfits. Further in is Suzanne, as well as Carolyn Wade, whom we've seen out and about, but have never met. All three are, we assume, Women of a Certain Age, and it's no exaggeration to say that of everyone shown, they do the best job of showing off the Comme aesthetic. (Look for yourself and see if you don't agree!) Click here to have a look at the slide show of Comme wearers and fashions.

Till Sunday!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Advanced Style Book Launch at The New Museum

Last Tuesday evening, stylish ladies of a certain age dressed to the nines and converged on the Bowery to celebrate the publication of Ari Seth Cohen's book Advanced Style. Surrounded by ladies whose photos appear in the book and lots of younger individuals, friend and family, Ari signed books for a long line of customers. (Once again, we managed not to take a picture of ourselves together, so we have to thank the Billy Farrell Agency, from whom we borrowed the above photo.)  NOWNESS in association with powerhouse books sponsored the event in the aptly named Sky Room on the top floor of the New Museum in SOHO.

Here's our account of the evening.  (Click on photos to enlarge and for a slide show.)

Ari also dressed for the weather and the occasion (channeling his inner Palm Beach swell?), wearing a beautifully pressed bright pink suit and colorful print shirt. We were amazed that he didn't develop writer's cramp autographing tomes for the constant line of well-wishers who purchased the book. Jean loves how this photo includes a shot of the open book in the foreground showing Mimi Wedell.

The poster announcing the evening's program (Book Signing from 6:30 - 7:17 pm and Chandon Reception and Preview of the Advanced Style Documentary 7:15 - 9:30 pm) includes the cover shot of the hardcover book, which features a forward by Maira Kalman and an interview by Dita Von Teese (of none other than that irrepressible redheaded nonagenarian -- Ilona Royce Smithkin!).  To add to the festivities, the champagne was flowing from 6:30 onward, so partygoers did not have to wait until the book signing concluded.

Many of the ladies featured in the book and video attended in person, adding a wonderful "life imitates art imitates life" twist to the event. Here is the inimitable Lynn Dell Cohen, a vision in black, with high-heeled boots and an even higher hat.  "Understated" is definitely not in her vocabulary.

Millie Brown and Nyne Lyves frame Debra Rapoport, who also appears in the video and the book. Debra's mantra of "Look good. Feel good. Feel good. Look good" is advice for women of any age. The younger women were inspired to go that extra mile. Millie is wearing one of her mother's dresses from the 1970's. (Mama must have been tall and thin too!)

Rita Hammer and Loretta Goldstein, whose photographs appear in the book, relaxed and watched the crowd.  Note the beautiful handbags and shoes.

Joyce Carpati and Arianna Carpati posed for a photo. Eighty-year-old Joyce's photographs and observations on life and style appear on pages 94 to 99 of the book.

The amazing 100-year-old Ruth Kobin was the oldest -- and definitely the most chic -- woman in the room. She sets the standard for the rest of us mere mortals. She is as lovely to talk to as she is to look at.  She attributes her marvelous posture to Pilates and lifting weights.  

Bobby, Jacquie Tajah Murdock, Santi and Valerie compare notes on the evening. Octogenarian Jacquie, who once danced at the Apollo Theater, appears in the book and video.

Beatrix Ost looked marvelous with a touch of Manic Panic in her hair to match her purple turban.  She appears in the book, dispensing her wisdom and advice.

Carol Markel, Alice Carey, and Geoffrey Knox lined up for a photo op.  Several photos of both ladies appear in the book.

Jane Folds, who showed Valerie an intriguing ring she'd bought at The Museum of Sex (ahem!), wore an interesting woven silver necklace with little hands on the ends of the strands. She also appears in the book in her signature heart shaped glasses.

Linda Zagaria (left) and another lady who appears on page 30 of the book wear vintage clothing in everyday life. (I know, we wish we knew her name too.)

Jean photographed Sherry, Baroness von Korber Bernstein, with her granddaughter. An amazing picture of Sherry wearing a beautiful red hat and black coat appears on page 77 of the book. (Her dark burgundy polish accentuated her beautiful long nails and fingers.)

Lady Francesca Todd, wearing a leopard hat and scarf, totally charmed our socks off. She was both elegant and hilarious -- a winning combination. Her mug also appears in the book.

Marja Samsom, the Dumpling Diva, with Jean.

Robin Lung, wearing a gumball necklace made by her friend Carol Markel, and Valerie.

Ginny and Rosemary show off their books. Not only did they attend the party and buy books, but they also got every one of the ladies present to autograph their copies!  Their friendship with Jean spans more than four decades! They all went to London in 2000 with 4 other friends to celebrate the millennium and the year they all turned 50. (We love Rosemary's coat which was hand painted in Mexico).

East Villagers Jodi Head, designer of rock star guitar straps, and photographer John Reilly attended the event to support and cheer us on, mixing and mingling with the crowd and watching the video.

Marja Samsom with Joana Avillez, our favorite author/illustrator.

Maya and Carlo (and Valerie on screen in the background).

Valerie, Xtine Baczewska, Jean and Christina Viera. Two terrific photos of Christine appear on pages 120 & 121.

Lina Plioplyte, Ari's photographer/videographer, and Ari introduce their Advanced Style video (which the owner of NOWNESS told us has gone viral).

Following are screen shots from the NOWNESS video, which is on its way to becoming a fabulous (of course!) documentary:

The IFs.

The late, great Zelda Kaplan.

Jacquie Tajah Murdock.

Iris Apfel.

Ilona Royce Smithkin.

We are hunting for the name of this very witty lady.  She appears in her own video on the Advanced Style website which is simply titled:  "Advanced Style Look of the Day" and which does not identify her. If you know her name, please get in touch with us so we can update this post and give her due credit!

Lynn Dell Cohen.

Tziporah Salamon.

Ari, family and friends.  Ari's mom (3rd from right) had her thumbnails painted to read: "Ari's Mom" and had strands of glitter woven into her hair which caught the light in the most beautiful way.

The Sky Room is ideal for a party. There's a large indoor space, and a lovely terrace with a great view. Separating the two is a wall of nearly soundproof glass, so one has to step outside to hear the sounds of the city. Here's a shot of the Bowery looking north toward the Empire State Building. For those of us who remember the sort of neighborhood populated by the Bowery Boys, that the Bowery is now the hip and happening place to be is nothing short of astonishing.

Once the party ended, off we went into the night. Little did we know that the party was about to continue, further up the Bowery.

In the elevator, we met three delightful young gents, two of whom amused themselves during the brief trip by dancing exuberantly in the large space provided. Elevators work on springs, and we could feel the whole car bounce up and down with them. Here they are, moments later. (Our apologies for blanking on the name of the gentleman on the far left who appears with Pierce and Albie. We're old.) It turns out that Albie of the blue hair is the nephew of our friend Sandy Long. Small world!

At DBGB (DB as in Daniel Boulud, no less) restaurant on the Bowery, just north of Houston Street, we ran into Lynn Dell Cohen holding court on the sidewalk with her right hand women, her niece Yael (left) and Brianna Hurley (right), who help run Off Broadway, Lynn's uptown boutique.

A few minutes later, artists Richard Cramer and Carol Markel emerged from inside the restaurant, where they'd been dining with their friends from Hawaii.

While Jean ate her delicious cauliflower soup and Valerie dined on chipolata (a tasty sausage in bechamel sauce), some of the ladies from NOWNESS passed by, carrying some of the peonies from the evening's floral arrangements.

For those of you who might be curious, Jean took this photo of Valerie's assembled polychrome baubles.

And as the piece de resistance, pink and yellow citrus-themed sunglasses. (At this point in the evening, Jean offered this silent prayer:  "Thank you, Lord, for not letting these appear until now - after the party is over!") [Mind you, Valerie responds, Jean was the one who insisted I buy them! Hmmmm....]

And Jean, all in red accessories, displays her fabulous bakelite scarab pin.

Wanna see more? Of course you do!

For the Patrick McMullan photos click here.

For the Billy Farrell Agency photos, click here.

And for pictures from the NOWNESS Facebook page, click here.

But for our absolute favorite, which appeared May 24th in the Wall Street Journal on page A22, you don’t have to click at all. Just scroll down a smidgen. We were hoping to discuss mortgage-backed securities and the Facebook IPO controversy with Elise Knutsen, but she kept bringing us back to hats and age. Which we tackled with our usual gusto.

It was a glorious evening. What was the only thing missing, that would have made it perfect? The Style Crone! We just wish we had been able to share the experience with The Style Crone Judith Boyd, who was back home in Colorado but whose glamourous photo appears on page 202. She was there in spirit and we toasted her with champagne (courtesy of Chandon)!

What we're wearing: 
Valerie: Pink straw hat by Susy Krakowski, pink and yellow citrus sunglasses from Patricia Fields, vintage black and yellow earrings from the flea market, felt necklace by Danielle Gori-Montanelli, unlabeled bolero jacket, LBD by Joan Vass, wooden bracelet is Playable Art Cube from the Brooklyn Museum, pink metal cut-out bracelet from the flea market, multicolored ring is makeup brush glued to plastic ring (play with your clothes!), pink shoes by Aerosoles.

Jean: Black Ignatius straw hat with denuded peacock feather (Philadelphia Museum Craft Show); vintage Norma Kamali peplum jacket and red with white polka dot resin earrings (Metropolitan Pavilion Vintage Show);  Ronen Chen pants (Rosebud in Soho); vintage bakelite scarab pin (Fool's Gold, Stella Pier Antiques Show) on Issey Miyake Pleats Please backpack; vintage bakelite rings and bracelets and vintage wooden gum ball necklace; Trippen boots.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jean's Escapade in San Juan - Women's Civic Club of Puerto Rico

And: We Are Declared Geniuses! (Scroll down for that.)

Jean says: Last week, I was on a business trip to sunny San Juan.  (I know it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!)  One evening, when I returned to my hotel, I was both surprised and thrilled to discover the lobby bar had been taken over by fabulously dressed women in hats. Be still my heart! What did I do? I whipped out my camera, of course!

I first encountered this "Lady in Red" with a fabulous hat at a jaunty angle and a twinkle in her eye. When I quizzed her about her be-hatted crowd of colleagues, she explained that members of the Women's Civic Club of Puerto Rico were celebrating the election of their new president. When I asked if I might take her photograph, she very sweetly agreed.

These ladies really know how to dress!  And they were so wonderfully obliging - they not only all agreed to be photographed, but posed themselves in various groupings. The newly elected President is second from the left in the back row of this group shot.  Her pearls and white chapeau perfectly matched her wonderfully textured outfit whose sleeves looked like little peaks of whipped cream.  She was the perfect counterpoint to her colorfully dressed friends.  These ladies wore serious, not ostentatious jewelry.  Check out the gold cuff on the Lady in Red in the previous photo.

The mood was joyous and everyone seemed to be having such a good time.  Many wore traditional pearls and gold jewelry (necklaces and bracelets and/or earrings) and most carried clutch handbags. Not wanting to interrupt their festivities and to be unobtrusive (no easy feat for yours truly), I moved quickly through the crowd. Although very few knew what a blog was, they were all polite and accommodating and truly lovely.

This was one of the younger ladies at the event, flanked by two young gentlemen who were getting into the spirit of the reception.  The ladies all wore high heels - but no platforms or stillettos.

The outfit of the lady in the center perfectly matched the banquet on which they were seated.  The lady on the right was one of only two ladies in the large group who were not wearing hats.  (The lady on the left is indeed wearing a hat - her black hat blended into the dark background.)

My favorite hat (after the black hat on the Lady in Red in the first photo) is the black and white striped number on the lady on the far left.   Doesn't it remind you of that Cecil Beaton hat Audrey Hepburn wore in "My Fair Lady"?

When I first approached these two grande dames, they politely declined to be photographed. However, after they observed all of their friends posing for photos, they changed their minds and asked me to take their picture.  Ari Seth Cohen  - - eat your heart out!

When I looked at this photo after I had taken it, I had to laugh out loud. The lady in the zebra print jacket is NOT wearing a hat. But the red chair in the background so perfectly aligned to create the illusion.  It was so convincing, when Valerie first looked at the pictures, she selected this one as her favorite hat!

This young lady's look summed it all up - colorful dress, wide-brimmed hat and high heels. Doesn't she look refreshingly chic and stylish in a very non-faddish way? She is the next generation, ready to follow in the tradition of the older members of the Civic Club.

Well, if I ever relocate to Puerto Rico, I know where I'd volunteer! Not only do the members of the Women's Civic Club give back to the community and support charitable events, but they also dress fabulously, drink cocktails and sip wine and champagne, and wear hats while they're doing it all! Bravo, ladies!

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

Freaking Geniuses of the Month

Now, on a completely separate note, Valerie says:

It is said that Oscar Wilde, when asked by a Customs agent if he had anything to declare, replied "Only my genius." We would never declare that ourselves (although we'd LOVE a MacArthur Genius Grant on some pretext or other), but it turns out that Diane Gilleland, in her blog, Crafty Pod has declared us among her choices for "Freaking Geniuses of the Month", a title we are delighted to accept, particularly considering the people we're sharing the title with.

In case you think we're pulling your leg, click on the above link. We couldn't recreate Crafty Pod in a sophisticated professional manner (which alone probably goes a long way toward proving that we are not geniuses), so we have reproduced it below, in small chunks. You should be able to make out our title, Freaking Geniuses of the Month, in the second and third photos, if you click on the photos to blow them up.

Did you see that we share the title with Judith Boyd, the Style Crone, and with "All of the beautiful ladies in Advanced Style"? Of COURSE we want this title! Good thing you can't see us, 'cause we're blushing. Thank you so much, Sister Diane!

Do check out Diane's blog. You'll find so much more than just us!