Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dot's All!


After marveling at Yayoi Kusama's exhibition at the Whitney Museum and her polka dot imbued art, we were very curious to see the results of her collaboration with Marc Jacobs. Attired in our own dotty outfits, we headed to the Louis Vuitton flagship store on 5th Avenue and 57th Street, which was swathed in large, swirling black polka dots, in Yayoi's Infinity design.

The front southeastern window was filled with red and white polka dotted tendrils emanating from the floors and ceilings like stalagmites and stalactites, surrounding a life-size wax statue of Yayoi herself, wearing a long red dress with huge white dots and carrying one of Marc Jacobs' red & white polka dot handbags. Reminiscent of something out of Tim Burton's Willy Wonka, it was a show-stopper. New Yorkers and tourists alike stopped to look. (Most of the incredulous looks of people on the street were reactions to the windows -- but some were to us...)

The lifelike quality of the the facial expression is positively eerie, especially her eyes peering out of the Marc Jacobs sunglasses.

Another window featured a tiny Yayoi Kusama doll -- which we both lust after!

Jean and the object of our desire. (Are you listening, folks at LV?)

Luckily for us, we don't have to fight over who gets it. The northern window showcases a dozen miniature Yayois suspended in air, surrounded by dots. It is wild, like the dream you might have after eating weird food combinations!

The dots make a wonderful frame for snapshots.

Valerie gets in on the action.

Women of a Certain Age might associate Valerie's dress with an icon whose fame somewhat predates Ms. Kusama's.

Are you up for some other iconic figures famous for wearing dots?

Does anyone remember Harvey Comics' Little Dot?

And of course, Mickey's famous (and vastly underrated) partner, Minnie.

And Jean's favorite (for obvious reasons): Glenn Close's hilarious turn as Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians?

But enough nostalgia! Back to our story.

Venturing further into the Louis Vuitton store, we could see the polka theme was everywhere. Black and yellow is another color combination favored by Kusama.

The artist herself sported black and yellow dots for her opening at the Whitney.

Ascending the staircase at LV, we spied huge three-dimensional polka dots suspended in the atrium. Some of you will say "Wow! Like that Magritte painting!"

We proceeded to the third floor, where we were told we'd find Marc Jacobs' Kusama-inspired women's wear for LV. The lovely staff really enjoyed our getting into the spirit of things, and encouraged us to sample the merchandise, so we tried these two bags on for size.

Feeling adventurous, Valerie tried on the gorgeous red and white polka dotted high heels, which just happened to match her outfit. Quelle surprise! Mind you, all the photographs were taken sitting down. It's just impossible for her to stand in heels like this anymore. But who would ever have thought that merely sitting could be so much fun?

Even the soles of the shoes are dotted! (Christian Louboutin, eat your heart out!)

Valerie's favorites are this pair of red ankle-strapped dotted flats, with red bows. (Marc, are you listening? ... )

These adorable black flats below with red and white bows look like something right out of Minnie Mouse's closet at Disney.

While Valerie was checking out the shoes, Jean was checking out the sunglasses, hunting in vain for black & white dotted round frames she'd seen in the Marc Jacobs video display. Alas, they were SOLD OUT! We found a copy online to show you.

We took one more spin around the front of Louis Vuitton and then, on the advice of the staff, headed south to Saks Fifth Avenue to see if they might have a pair of the elusive Marc Jacobs sunglasses.

At Saks, we met Gonzalo Cristao in the first floor LV department, which featured handbags, scarves, and other accessories. Remembering LV employee Dino at the Kusama opening, who had gamely painted his red tie with white spots, and seeing that the LV women were wearing polka dotted scarves, Valerie teased the LV men for not being similarly dotted. Gonzalo immediately got into the spirit and decorated his tie with a sprinkle of adhesive red dots, much to the amusement of his co-workers. (We tend to have that effect on people. Warning: Our craziness is infectious!) Alas, he reported that there were NO sunglasses to be had -- they were SOLD OUT here, too! (Curses! Foiled again!) As a consolation, he personally escorted us upstairs to the Louis Vuitton boutique, to see the clothing line.

After Gonzalo introduced us to his colleagues, we exchanged greetings and began to look around. As soon as we hit the department, Jean's inner celebrity beeper starting flashing and beeping in her little brain, and she honed right in on the target -- none other than Ann Dexter-Jones! Who else could it possibly be, with that fabulous mane of hair? Jean is a huge fan of Ann's jewelry designs. Her collections are carried by Barney's here in New York, by Colette in Paris and by Maxfield's in Los Angeles. When Jean approached her, we were both thrilled by her warm greeting. Ann willingly rolled up her sleeves to display two of her ID bracelets (one in silver and one in silver inset with a light blue stone), and then showed us her newest ring design - silver inset with onyx and a tiny diamond star.

Here is a photo of one of Ann's ID bracelets, each of which comes with an ADJ charm, which she says is her own Reiki. (Followers of this spiritual practice encourage the transference of universal energy.)

Jean's guilty pleasure of perusing periodicals such as The New York Post, The Enquirer, and People and US magazines finally pays off and she clued Valerie in: Dubbed the matriarch of the Ronson/Dexter/Jones clan by no less than The New York Post's Page Six, Ann is the ex-wife of Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones and mother of twin daughters Charlotte Ronson, a New York fashion designer, and Samantha Ronson, a DJ (and Lindsay Lohan's ex); another daughter, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, who designs a line of clothing for Faith Connexion, and a son, Mark Ronson, a musician and composer.

Ann had just purchased a number of items from the Yayoi-inspired collection and told us she was flying to London the next day to watch her son Mark carry the Olympic torch! We tried to talk her into this red and white Marc Jacobs raincoat -- perfect for that unpredictable London weather. She was still mulling it over when we bid our farewells.

Ann's son, Mark Ronson, the Grammy award-winning producer, joined singer Katy B in London as they carried the Olympic Torch on day 67 of the relay. Both were nominated to carry the flame after recording the song 'Anywhere in the World' for the Olympics. The track uses sampled sounds made by international athletes training for London 2012. Mark and Katy B performed their anthem at a concert to mark the arrival of the Olympic torch in London's Hyde Park last Thursday.

After our brush with rock and roll celebrity and our shopping escapade, we paused in front of the Saks' Yayoi Kusama window display as the sun was setting, to ponder the next stop on our carousel of comedic encounters.

Saks is on 50th Street; the Museum of Modern Art is on 53rd Street. So it wasn't too hard to convince ourselves - and each other - to stop at one of our favorite haunts - The Modern - that fabulously chic oasis and bastion of creativity in flavors.

Jean ordered the South by Southwest (on the right below, with Gran Centenario Plata Tequila, P&H Hibiscus Syrup, lime and fresh muddled mint) and Valerie tinkered with The Modern Martini recipe (on the left, with Cilantro-Infused Tanqueray Gin and fresh lime juice, garnished with a cherry tomato and a slice of lime), replacing she-can't-remember-what with something bubbly. Both were excellent, but we were both bowled over by the South by Southwest, which is new on the menu. We still haven't found anything to beat (sigh) the now defunct-Tabla's frozen mango margarita, but South by Southwest would get the silver to FMM's gold.

How's that for one crazy afternoon? When we've got our mojo workin', things just start to happen and we just hang on for the ride!

What We're Wearing (besides our vintage red polka-dot decorated coolie hats):

Jean is wearing a black, red & pink polka dot Tempted Kids top; Lilith jumpsuit; Underground black and white creepers; vintage sunglasses; red wooden gumball necklace; red bakelite earrings, rings and bracelet; and black & white polka dot shibori bag from the MOMA Design Store. (It wasn't until she was dressing that day that she noticed her top was actually an item of children's clothing. Hmm. That explains the missing darts at the bustline...)

Valerie is wearing earrings with small zebra mussels and plastic flames; a Lucy Ricardo-era dress, probably made of Dacron or Orlon or Nylon, or one of those other great -on's of the era; black leather Issey Miyake belt; striped JPG Jeans dress underneath; Giannini black and white faux leather bag; shoes by Nicole.

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Valerie’s friend Helen, knitter extraordinaire and adviser on wonderful movies, both discovered and undiscovered , alerted us to the fact that we’d missed Daphne Guinness’s huge auction at Christie’s in London. She was kind enough to send the link. After you click on that, hit VIEW RESULTS in the small brick red box on the right side of the screen, and view the breathtaking re$ult$. The sale was to benefit the Isabella Blow Foundation.

The pair above, which we spotlighted after our visit to the Daphne Guinness show here in New York, went for £7,500.

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We note that today we welcome our 444th follower, Monty! Sometimes the little photos that accompany our followers do not seem to pop up in order on our screen, so we can’t always tell who our newest reader is. But when we saw this photo in teeny tiny miniature, we immediately knew we’d never seen it before. Monty is a member of the Millinery Guild. Big surprise! How cool is this hat???!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wake Up, It's a Chelsea Evening

We recently attending the opening of Cavin-Morris Gallery's new exhibition of handmade Japanese ceramic tea bowls and handmade basket/sculptures. The ceramic artists are from all over, but a number of them are American, including Robert Fornell (who also curated the exhibition), Tim Rowan and Jeff Shapiro (who both show at SOFA). They have internalized the Japanese sensibility and make breathtaking work.

The basket makers, we were delighted to learn, are almost all Women of a Certain Age, and all are Japanese. Many of them work in non-traditional materials, and in our game of if-you-could-choose-any-one-which-one-would-you-take-home, the difference between the chosen one and all the others was like the difference between the gold and silver medal winners in the Olympics - the merest sliver of a point. We're only showing these two pictures, but the Cavin-Morris Gallery has some great photos on its website. Click here for a gorgeous slide show of the tea bowls, and here for an equally gorgeous slide show of the baskets.

And whom should we run into but Jane (she of the heart-shaped glasses whom we've featured several times in the past and who also appears in Advanced Style)!

For us, living on the east side, going to Chelsea (on the west side) is like going to another borough. New Yorkers agree: uptown/downtown transportation is good; east side/west side transportation is bad. So when we left Cavin Morris, being in unfamiliar territory, for about two minutes we didn't know what to do with ourselves, and then we saw the High Line, a landscaped New York City park installed on the site of the old elevated westside highway. A new stretch had opened only days before. No brainer! Off we went.

To get to the HighLine, we took the elevator -- and took the opportunity to act out.

Here's Jean, channeling her inner "Tricky Dick".

Once you're up on the High Line, if you look west, you can see the Hudson River.

If you look east, you can see the shops and restaurants below, in this case, the Krizia store, featuring her portrait by Andy Warhol.

One of the popular new installations for the summer includes a section with about 1/2 inch of water flowing across a 10-foot expanse of the walkway, which prompts many visitors to take off their shoes and walk around in it.

Valerie cozies up to "Carson", one of artist Tomoaki Suzuki's wooden figurative sculptures which are scaled down representations of actual people. This particular sculpture is of a young man in a black leather jacket and tight pants.

We saw this billboard in the background, and thought we'd use it for a subliminal message:

Further south, we ran into Raimundo, shown here in his blue period. We loved him! His friend TJ, not shown, had the job of taking the picture. "And can you get the feet in?", we asked him, as we now ask everyone.

After stopping to take full advantage of the gorgeous sunset, we agreed that since we still had work to do, we'd start to make our way home.

Once we got back down to street level in the Meatpacking District, we passed by a group of impromptu salsa dancers who had taken over a handkerchief-sized traffic island turned pedestrian mall. Only in New York, Kiddies!

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The Cavin-Morris exhibition of contemporary ceramics and baskets ends on August 17.

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What we're wearing:

Valerie: pink straw hat by Susy Krakowski, spattered jacket by Alberto Makali, cowl neck tee shirt by Esprit, pink silk pants by Silk Land, pink sandals by Aerosoles.

Jean: Urban Outfitters turban; Helmut Lang t-shirt with slit sleeves; H&M tube skirt; Underground creepers; Hello Kitty bag; vintage bakelite rings and charm necklace.