Sunday, August 12, 2012

Piaggi Picnic

Our friend and professional matchmaker, Amy van Doran (click here for a look at her website), invited us to commemorate the passing of style icon Anna Piaggi - first with a Central Park picnic near the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, and then, when it threatened rain, in a private salon. (Why hadn't WE thought of that?) Guests were asked to dress appropriately and arrive any time between 1 and 5 PM, so we obliged. Gussied up, we arrived at our destination around 2 PM. Above, us at Grand Central to take the 7 train one station to burgeoning Long Island City. Below, the guest of honor.

After stopping in at a vintage/gift shop (of course!), we found our way to the lovely three-story townhouse off Vernon Avenue. The first floor holds a library and salon (with a skylight, piano and two live talkative finches in a vintage cage); the downstairs holds an art studio. Even the entryway was an indication of delights to come. Valerie wore a doll's hat in honor of Ms. Piaggi.

Jean also wore a doll's hat (it was too hot to don splendiferous jackets a la Piaggi), and sported a riding crop as a stand-in for Piaggi's walking cane.

One station from New York City (home of the 350-square foot studio apartment), the salon's library is larger than some people's living quarters, looks a whoooole lot better, and is cooler, too boot.

Loved this mirror in the back of the library. (Self portrait with horns.) Was the decorator channeling Hemingway?

Continuing the horn theme - the green velveteen love seat seems tailor-made for our hostess.

We had to give you a close-up of Amy's hat, which is barely visible in the previous photo. When we first met Amy, about a year ago, she was wearing this lobster on a pink flowered vintage felt base (if memory serves, which it may not). The second time we met, at the Iris Apfel - Tavi Gevinson panel discussion on high and low fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she wore it again on a different base. And now, with lobster season hard upon us, she's chosen another appropriate base. Doesn't this stand up to any surrealist treatment of lobsters you've ever seen? Amy figures she has thirty lobsters. One has to wonder how the others are employed.

Amy's friend Eve is seated on the matching green velvet longhorn chair.

Here's Eric. In the morning, we were told, he had a beard and a hairstyle. By that afternoon, when we met him, he had disposed of both. Eric is wearing a necklace made of monkey femurs fashioned by Wren of Purevile, whom we featured several months ago (at the same time we featured Amy and her first lobster hat).

Eric brought Allan, who wore a Comme des Garcons shirt with mesh sleeves and fabulous white shoes.

Elena wore a red cigarette-girl hat with Cracker Jack prizes sewn on its brim. Goldie added blue highlights under her pink chapeau to channel her inner Anna P.

Eve's boyfriend Chris Taylor took a more minimalist approach.

Amy and Valerie engaged in a spirited game of chess, long enough for this picture to be taken.

Mary Alice took the Alice in Wonderland theme to heart and wore the most amazing ensemble.

Her hat featured a cookie labeled "Eat me".

Her blue striped thigh-highs top her rabbit-faced shoes. Continuing the Mad Hatter theme, she has a clock-faced bag with playing card symbols for hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds.

Accentuating her pink gloves is her tiny Japanese designed frosted cake ring.

One of the guests (visiting from D.C. but moving to New York soon) tried on Amy's hat for size.

We played a very interesting parlor game - a nice variation on Charades, in which we each had to write proper names of people (e.g., Albert Einstein) or things (e.g., the Eiffel Tower) on ten pieces of paper which were placed in an urn. One member of each of four teams of four or five people took turns drawing strips and trying to get the rest of the team to guess as many of the people or things as possible in anywhere from 45 to 59 seconds, depending on our hostess. One can say as many words as one wants to describe the Thing in Question (except the name of the thing itself), but even trying for as few as three Things in Question in the time allotted raised the room's frantic quotient for about an hour. We were the oldest players and were on separate teams, but held up our end quite nicely, we thought. We could tell which topics/things each other had suggested and knew the answers (e.g., one of Jean's ten things was "Bugatti".) If your team got the right answer, you threw the strip of paper on the floor (to be counted later). If you didn't know the answer, you put the strip back in the urn. You can see her team's large pile in front of Mary Alice. (Two teams tied at 45 Things, but there was no winner. It seems likely that the scores were closely tied to the amount of commemorative bubbly consumed.)

When it came time to formally honor our guest in absentia, Jean was selected (by Valerie, who figured that Jean had been following Ms. Piaggi longer than some of the other guests had been alive) to lead the toast in eulogy to Anna Piaggi. Citing the fact that she was the oldest person in the room, Jean wielded a plastic Art Nouveau-designed fan from the Brooklyn Museum, a riding bat from Beval English livery, and a strawberry-garnished glass of Prosecco. Waving one, two or all three to make a point, she really got swept up in the moment, ending with the thought that Anna was a true original and had an "eye" for fashion and style like no other. We think Anna would have appreciated the multi-generational event and the heartfelt toast from such a fashionable crowd. If you look carefully, you can see Brook photographing Jean (lower right) on his iPhone.

Lia and her husband David showed up right at the end of the toast but quickly got into the swing of things.

Andres and Valerie discovered that they had Japan in common. (We found out that Elena spent quite a few years there as well.)

We want to applaud Brook, who has some of the most interesting and thought-provoking tattoos we've seen. The dots on his arms are in fact part of a tattoo of the constellation Libra, which starts at the back of his neck and proceeds across his shoulders and down both arms to the base of his fingers.

Andres brought a selection of fake moustaches for everyone. Valerie chose the Snydely Whiplash to go with her top hat. (Don't diss moustaches on women. Frida Kahlo had one, you know.) Eric did the Charlie Chaplin style proud.

Amy donned a robin's egg blue moustache to match some of the shades in her hair.

Goldie and Elena look like a couple of Keystone cops in drag.

What can we say? We are a couple of hams. It was a lovely, eccentric, intriguing afternoon spent with people perfectly described by those three adjectives.

What We're Wearing:

Valerie is wearing: green straw doll's hat by Daniele Meucci (purchased 1996 at Printemps in Paris); polymer earrings by Elke Kuhn; imitation Warring States Bead from flea market (ribbons from M&J Trimmings); black bustier by H&M; green polka dot blouse by Yoshiki Hishinuma - Peplum; pants by Betsey Johnson; sandals by Inspirit from the flea market.

Jean is wearing: straw hat by Ignatius (purchased at Philadelphia Museum Craft Show); black rubber knot earrings by designer Kirsten Hawthorne; black vintage bakelite chain choker; a variety of vintage bakelite bracelets, cuffs and rings; black 3/4 sleeve t-shirt by Theory; black jumpsuit by Lilith; black & white creepers by Underground; off-white leather bag with black polka dots (1980s gift from Kim Dennis White); and is carrying a silver topped riding bat (aka "crop" by Beval Livery).

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh the doll's hats! Perfection! I was smiling throughout the descritption of this delightful gathering, wishing I had a glass of Prosecco to toast each and every hat in honor of Anna Piaggi.