Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mingling with Our Piers

On St. Patrick's Day, as part of our own idiosyncratic version of "March Madness", we went to Stella Management's Pier Antiques and Vintage Clothing Show on the Hudson River, the western edge of Manhattan. Even when we just go to look, we run into oodles of friends and acquaintances and manage to meet new people with a common interest -- vintage clothing, especially hats! No sooner did we enter Fashion Alley than we ran smack dab into Sandy Long. (If you read our blog posting about the Stephen Burrows show at the Museum of the City of New York, you couldn't miss our shot of her all in marabou -- a vibrant pink coat and a blue hat!) On this Saturday, she was wearing a great pink hat, purple blouse and lots of ethnic jewelry.

Gregory is one of the gents who really knows how to dress, can do vintage and look totally debonair.  Loved his bowler, boots, jodhpurs, vest and scarf topped by a leather trench. Perfection!

Gregory reconnected with Angela, who forthrightly called herself Big Ange, whom he'd met at one of the vintage outings on Governor's Island. One imagines she was not the only Angela in her neighborhood, so she was Big Ange to distinguish herself from Little Ange. This photo was taken soon after our arrival. The next time we ran into Angela, she showed us a jaw-dropping pair of gloves she'd just bought. They were probably from the late 30s or early 40s. Black leather with white piping, and the wrists - maybe four inches long - were slashed lengthwise into about 10 slits, each of which also had white piping. To absolutely DIE for!

Gretchen Fenston wore an amazing vintage outfit and perfectly matched hat (of course) that fit her to a T.  She never fails to amaze and delight.

Continuing our theme of stylish men and women who incorporate vintage into their wardrobes and look so perfectly put together, check out this dapper gent who runs Hollywood and Vine, which features dresses, jewelry, shoes and -- ta da -- hats!  We always have to stop in his booth to see what he showing AND what he's wearing.

The incomparable Lynn Yeager.  Her look is unique and she is instantly recognizable.  Our experience is incomplete unless we get an opportunity to see what she's wearing, and get a photo.

Designer Timothy John is another stylish figure known for mixing modern Issey Miyake with antiquities.  Needless to say, the rule book goes out the door when trying to peg Tim's looks.

Tziporah Salomon mixes vintage clothing from multiple continents from different eras from multiple sources.  She paired a vintage Japanese indigo skirt with platforms from Trippen.

Don't you just love these bakelite radios and clocks from Radio Craze in Wallkill, NY? They looked like candy. The colors were just gorgeous.

Chubo really changed up his look this time.  We never thought we'd see the day he'd be wearing oversize denim overalls and blue work shirt.  He paired it with this oversize denim jacket with the most unlikely detail:  three wooden teddy bear buttons, gradually increasing in size.

Our pal Lee Chinalai and her nephew posed for a shot.  Lee not only sells antique, Asian and tribal textiles, but also incorporates them into her own wardrobe.

Adrienne Astrologo of of Lady Bag International brings new meaning to the term "bag lady". We loved her outfit, although it's a bit hard to make out in our picture. When Jean ran into her at the West Palm Beach Antique Show in January, Adrienne was just beginning a long Florida visit, hitting several of the vintage clothing shows and avoiding the cold New York winter. It was great to see her back in the Big Apple.

Here's a pair of Pier Show shoppers pausing for a photo op.

Valerie tried on the jacket of a terrific vintage suit that had that great 1940's flair (think Katherine Hepburn and Joan Crawford). Jean couldn't resist taking this shot to show off the nipped waist and Valerie's adorable black and white Korean booties. Valerie eventually had to pass on the suit.  The jacket was scrumptious, but the skirt was too small at the waist.  Sob!

This hand made hat with matching hat pins caught Valerie's eye because it seemed the perfect match for a black and purple jacket.  Hat aficionados will recognize this as a typical 1950s hat - one of those demure little things that are made to go across the head from ear to ear.  That didn't work so well, but it was a lot more fun when placed front to back instead.  The antennae are hilarious.  Turns out the jacket is a slightly different shade of purple, and is a check pattern, while the hat is a houndstooth.  But they don't swear, and may well be seen together in a future post.

We can always tell a Norma Kamali a mile away, so we stopped to talk Norma with this well turned out visitor in a marvelous sleeping bag coat.  There was also a vendor wearing a Norma.  We tried to cajole her into being photographed, but no luck.  So that makes at least four of us (Jean, Valerie, the woman below and the unseen vendor) sporting some forma Norma at the event.  Norma is a genius!

Our friend Robert scored a really terrific, very graphic vintage blanket.  Such great colors!!!!

Don't you like how this woman's contemporary hat, cloak and ensemble create that great vintage clothing vibe?

Milliner's Guild member Kathy Anderson (wearing one of her designs) modeled the wonderful coat she wore to the show -- it's hand painted by an artist friend of hers. She bought the coat specifically so he could paint on it. Of course, we had to show you both front and back.
By odd coincidence, we ran into both Kathy and Robert and Friederike (below) at the Milliner's Guild hat show at the National Arts Club.  At the booth where this photo was taken, Valerie had just purchased a carved cicada pin of buffalo horn (?).  We ran into Robert and Friederike again a little later.  (Keep reading to find out what happened when we did).

Vendor Lulu ALWAYS wears something wonderful. This time she was sporting a hat by a contemporary Israeli designer. Somehow it has a look of old Japan about it. There's an outer transparent airy black layer over an inner transparent airy white layer.

Carol is an inveterate collector of vintage, as is her husband, Daniel (in the photo below). Left to right are Jean, Carol, and Carol's mother-in-law.
And here's the man of the hour himself. Check out the color of his shirt. Where does one even FIND a man's shirt in that color?! And how many men could pull that off as if they'd just plucked it casually out of their closet? And how many men could put the whole thing together like this?

We loved this woman's distinctly non-vintage coat. Color and shape are great, making excellent use of modern materials and modern themes.  (Did someone say Michelin Man?)

And we thought this gentleman's glasses were the cat's meow.  Look closely to see the layer of white that contrasts so nicely with the layer of black.

We look forward to running into Mo who comes to town for the vintage shows. Don't you just love her great haircut and glasses?
Valerie thought this woman bore an enviable resemblance to Tilda Swinton. When we first saw her from the distance, she was trying on what looked to be a romantic black cape. All too quickly, she had taken that off and was trying on this stole. Love how her hairdo complements her face. She looks like anything would look good on her.

What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing a vintage Norma Kamali faux fur turban from the 1980s; Kyodan jacket; Brigitte harem pants; Underground black and white creepers; Creepsville black resin skull necklace; vintage bakelite rings; cross-body bag from street vendor.

Valerie is wearing a red mouton hat (labeled Granite State Toy Co.), necklace of hollow silver fruit, vintage Issey Miyake jacket, Norma Kamali suit, shoes by Flat/Apartment. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution at FIT

As a follow-up to our coverage of the opening of Stephen Burrows' show at the Museum of the City of New York, we wanted to tell you about the fashion documentary in which he appears. FIT recently hosted Versailles '73; American Runway Revolution as part of its National Women's Month celebration.

See?   We don't just go to parties and events to schmooze, see and be seen.  We do go to lectures and film screenings and book readings to educate ourselves and be exposed to different ideas and experiences.  Learning is a lifelong pastime.  And we're never too old to learn something new!

The 91-minute documentary, written, directed and produced by Deborah Riley Draper, chronicles the dueling designers from France and the US, with five of France's finest couturiers (Yves St. Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Hubert Givenchy and Christian Dior) squaring off against five American designers (Halston, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein and Stephen Burrows), the last two of whom designed ready-to-wear.  Strangely, no start-to-finish film of the event seems to exist, and Deborah Riley Draper had her work cut out for her piecing together film footage, stills, and interviews from both then and now to recreate the story of the Versailles event.

Held at the opera house at Versailles, as a fundraiser to pay for renovations, preparations for the event became a contest of egos, as the French tried to outdo the American contingent in every way, even going so far as to sabotage rehearsal time (forcing the Americans to rehearse after midnight), and the availability of food.  The French show oddly included a dance interlude by Rudolph Nureyev.  This color photo captures the blast of color in Stephen Burrows' designs, as well as the very spare stage the Americans were forced to work with, compared to the sumptuous backgrounds the French displayed.

Here is a screen shot from the movie of the designer Stephen Burrows being interviewed in the film.

Those of us who read about or went to discotheques in the 1970s remember Halston and Liza Minnelli as fixtures at Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager's infamous Studio 54. This photo captures them with Marisa Berenson and another gentleman in Paris before the show.

This then and now shot of Marisa Berenson includes the added treat of a cameo of Diana Vreeland.

Model Barbara Jackson then and now. At a panel discussion after the showing, eight of the original eleven models participated, including Barbara.

China Machado then and now.

Another of the models. Doesn't she look like Hedy Lamar in her 1970s photo?

We met Nancy North at the Stephen Burrows show last week. She was one of Halston's regulars.  (That's him with her in her "Then" photo).

Model Karen Bjornson's hair and dress in her "Then" photo really capture the disco '70s vibe.

Harold Koda was one of the many commentators interviewed during the documentary who gave context and meaning to the events covered in the film.  It was the unanimous decision that the American designers were the clear-cut winners and the consensus was that runway shows in Europe changed forever as a result. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Here's a screen shot of Pat Cleveland as she looked in an interview, parts of which were spliced in throughout the movie.

After the movie - which was fabulous - please see it if you can - Model Alva Chinn joined the other seven models in attendance on the stage at FIT to take questions from the bedazzled audience.

The panel included no strangers to the spotlight. The models, the film's director and Mikki Taylor, Editor at Large of Essence Magazine responded to questions from the moderator, designer Leonard Davis (whom we met and photographed at the Museum of the City of New York last week).

The movie was obviously a labor of love. All of the people involved in the fashion show itself and in the making of the movie had intense memories and visceral reactions to the event and its aftermath. It literally opened the door for modeling to more women of color, who could compete as equals on the catwalk.

Left to right: Mikki Taylor,  Essence magazine, Barbara Jackson and Billie Blair.

Left to right: triple-threat Deborah Riley Draper (producer, writer, executive director of Versailles '73, and models Alva Chinn and Pat Cleveland.

Left to right: Charlene Dash, Norma Jean Darden, Bethann Hardison.

To view the trailer on YouTube, click here or go to:

What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing a Maria Del Greco hat, HIGH coat, Nordic House leopard tote bag and Pataugus shoes.

Valerie is wearing an unlabeled vintage hat, three - count 'em, three - coats in layers, and nothing else you can see except Bernie Mev shoes.

To put a cherry on top of our marvelous evening, we stopped briefly into FIT's gift shop, where we each bought a pair of knee length black polka dot socks.  On sale!


We made it into Bloomberg News (the .com version) of all places (no - not the financial section - the culture page).   Click here and scroll down just a tad to see our smiling faces.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stephen Burrows - When Fashion Danced!

Stephen Burrows, the first African-American designer to achieve international recognition, is the subject of a major exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, sponsored by Target. Aptly named"When Fashion Danced", the show chronicles his rise and highlights his signature "lettuce" edge, red zig-zag stitching, use of fringe and metallic fabrics, bold color-blocking, and slinky, body defining silhouettes. He created danceable designs that were firmly rooted in the glamorous, over-the-top nightlife of the era that were worn by the likes of Lauren Bacall, Cher, Farah Fawcett, Jerry Hall, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Ethel Scull and Barbara Streisand. One of Jean's most vivid memories of her first trip to Studio 54 was a flock of women on the dance floor all wearing Stephen's dresses, dancing with each other, oblivious to the rest of the world..

To give you a better idea of what the clothes looked like, we've  sprinkled shots taken in the 1970s throughout this posting.  In this 1972 photo by Charles Tracy, Pat Cleveland models one of Stephen's halter-neck evening dresses.

We captured this shot of Stephen Burrows and our friend designer Mary Jaeger at the beginning of the evening.

Photographer Charles Tracy, the man behind the 1970's photos, and model Alva Chin came to the opening. Both appear in the recent documentary Versailles '73 about the ground-breaking fashion show at Versailles featuring Stephen Burrows and 4 other American designers (Halston, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein) pitted against 5 of France's biggest designers (Yves St. Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, Givenchy, Dior and Pierre Cardin). The consensus was that the Americans won hands down, and that the models and the streamlined approached changed runway shows forever after.

Model and writer Barbara Summers also appeared in Versailles '73.  She wrote "Skin Deep: The Story of Black Models in America and Abroad". Barbara is holding the iconic multi-colored souvenir tote bag from the event, designed by Stephen Burrows for Target and signed on the inside of the top.

In this 1972 Charles Tracy photo, model Pat Cleveland vamps it up in a Burrows' jersey skirt and top with signature lettuce finishing.

Pat Cleveland, the model featured above over 40 years ago, still looks fabulous today! She's wearing a  Burrows rainbow dress as she is being interviewed for the Huffington Post. She is also in Versailles '73.

Valerie chatted with Nancy North, one of the models who also appears in Versailles '73 and who worked a lot with Halston in the 1970s. Nancy is wearing an embroidered neckpiece from Elsa Peretti, which she said was made by women in Outer Mongolia.

American designer Anna Sui and her escort also made the scene.

Actress Barbara Carrera (left) and model Karen Bjornson wear Burrows' matte jersey color-block "train" dresses in this 1973 Charles Tracy photograph. The trains were designed with a little fabric ring to fit over the finger -- to swirl when the wearer twirled on the runway or the dance floor. Karen appears in Versailles '73.

One of our favorite designers, Yeohlee Teng, turns the tables on Jean and shoots her. The Malaysian-born designer is known for making clothes for "the Urban Nomad" and is a strong supporter and proponent of keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and particularly in New York's Seventh Avenue. We love her silver hair and gun-metal color palate -- and her socks!

When we met Heather in the museum store and complimented her on her sweater, she told us she used to work for Stephen Burrows and was really enjoying the evening.

Designer Deborah Gregory and model Coco Mitchell smile for the camera. Deborah's business card for her company Cheetahrama is hot pink with leopard edges and flaunts her Fierce Accessories. We ran into this pair again on our walk to the subway at the end of the evening and their energy level was just as high if not higher!

Fashion designer and author Douglas Says (left) and designer Leonard Davis posed in front of the stage at the entrance to the museum.  Davis led a panel discussion at FIT on Versailles '73 that included the director and 8 of the 11 models who participated in the event, including Bethanne Hardison, Alva Chin, Billie Blair, Pat Cleveland and Norma Jean Darden.

What are the odds? Valerie ran into Fran Lebowitz again, and this time Jean was there to take a picture!

We were thrilled to reconnect with the ultimate dandies -- Patrick McDonald and Robert Richards! After a spectacular entrance and our little meet-and-greet, they retreated to the main staircase to check out the entire scene from above, before re-entering the crowd to view the exhibition.  So nice to see men dressing creatively!

Loved the neckwear selections of developer Mati Weiderpass and his friend Don Brunhke.  Mati's vest reminded us of Marimekko.

Sisters Donna Freeman Hughes and Cheryl Hughes were stunners. Check out their website at the FFS.

1974 photo of Pat Cleveland by Charles Tracy captures the vibe of the times.

Jean met fashion director and stylish stylist Steven Styles Cobb. (Say that 3 times rapidly, kiddies). To check out his coverage of the event -- and his photo of Jean -- click here or go to  and click on his coverage of When Fashion Danced!

Our pal Chester (whom we met at Lincoln Center during Fashion Week and keep running into all over town) and his friend (whom we met at the opening of Gudrun's store in Soho), stopped for a photo.  Chester is wearing a vest by their friend (the tall, gorgeous, willowy dark-haired designer who posed with Jean at Gudrun's party, and whose name is Heather!  We're inching toward actually remembering this wonderful designer's name. Someone please enlighten us.  We're old and forgetful.)

We snapped this photo of Sophia Chen looking impossibly chic and loved the effect of the blue lighting at the bottom of the shot.

We met makeup artist Melody Jefferson at the event. She does photo shoots, films, and events.

This young Stephen Burrows fan was working an urban chic look to the max.

How terrific is this man's suit?

And this gent topped off his look with a multi-colored scarf, perfect for the event.

We kept running into and exchanging smiles with this hip guy all evening.

Our friend Sandy Long did not disappoint.  She pulled out all the stops -- blue and pink -- Stephen Burrows' colors -- in maribou no less!

You can see the pink and blue color wash and decorations just above and behind Sandy's friend Russell and his partner.

This is Claire, who writes Claire's Life for Fashion Bomb Daily.  Loved her look. You can see why she also appears in several of the links at the end of this post.

We often run into this gentleman at museum events and he always dresses the part. Loved his shoes.

This 1973 photo of Stephen Burrows and Pat Cleveland really captures the vibe of the times.

This quartet of ladies was having a ball!

Jonathan Bodrick (right) and his friend really "got" our look that evening and gave us oodles of positive reinforcement. Jonathan is founder and CEO of b.o.r.n. (borrowed old refurbished new). His store is located on 125th St. Here's his info or go to: . Who could resist the description: "Vintage and designer clothing for women and men who want the drama of the past living in the world of today."

We love running into Lana Turner. She never fails to wear a fabulous head-to-toe outfit. In the mad crush of people, it was easier to see her hat than anything else. This one is a bubble-like fur felt. You can't see it here, but there is another separate ring on the top of the hat, for a sort of bullseye effect.

We first met this lovely couple, Bill Webb and Eva Kobus-Webb, at the Cecil Beaton event at this same museum. They always look impeccable. She said she had found her hat on the top of a closet and decided to take it out for a spin. We were glad she did.

Don Brunhke introduced us to David Staller, the artistic director and founder of Gingold Theatrical Group which focuses on works by George Bernard Shaw.

These two ladies were sweet enough to take a photo of us together, so we'd have a shot to open the post. The lady on the right even matched her cell phone cover to her jacket!

This duo looked great.  We met the lady on the left in the leopard coat when we first arrived and proceeded to bump into her several times that evening.

Valerie couldn't resist stealing a moment with Grace Jones, one of her all-time faves!

Cheryl Green wore the most amazing dress (hand knit; Alessandro Corsini). Great detail work in the ins and outs of the design, and the little tassels at the bottom. We had to show you both sides. Don't forget to check out the way she's matched the dress with the stockings and the shoes. Shades of pink are very hard to match, so this is masterful!

Adrienne Jones is a professor in the Fashion Design Department at Pratt Institute. LOVE that collar! (And her whole look.)

Beau McCall and Souleo were among the hits of the evening. Beau is wearing a wonderful angled hat from United Nude. (Valerie has one like it, in a different material and color.) If Souleo were to turn around, you'd see his yellow shirt is flirtatiously cut away in the back.

Jean has been known to favor hats with animal ears, so when happenstance brought her together with another wearer of an animal ear hat, it was definitely time for a photo.

Jean gets up close and personal with the reporter from the Huffington Post whose look we adored.

PR whiz Debbie Dickinson and photographer Roxanne Lowit and another gentleman joined us for this shot.

Loved this man's coat. He said it was by Thom Browne, who's always making us look twice and think thrice.

Jean and photographer Rose Hartman check out the scene.

We photographed this man because he was wearing a sequined jacket, and only later did we realize he's also sporting this year's look - the very long dark diaphanous skirt with shorter flirtatious underpinnings just barely visible beneath.

See? Here's what you can do with a shirt and tie with just a little audacity.

Think outside the box! Loved the cowboy hat on the woman on the left, and the jumpsuit on the woman on the right.

This woman made her own marvelous hammered metal necklace, reminiscent of the work of Alexander Calder.  It turns out that she is a friend of jewelry designer Kathleen Nowak Tucci, whose work we modeled for Artful Home.

We got lucky when we were able to photograph this woman's jacket from behind. We never did a shot of the front, but it's equally spectacular.

Mimi Prober is a young fashion designer. Haven't seen crimped hair since the '70s. How refreshing! And how appropriate for her to wear it to this event. Loved the lacy dress on her, too - one of her own designs. (Mimi works with antique lace.)

This woman told us her jacket was by Oscar de la Renta, but the bright, saturated color blocks fit right in with the evening. She also wore multiple transparent lucite neckpieces in contrasting colors.

Loved the chic purple highlights in this woman's hair.

To learn more about Stephen Burrows and see more coverage of the event, click on the links below:

Wall Street Journal:

Rolling Out:

ABC News did a short segment on the opening:

If you have trouble seeing the full screen, click here to open a new window. Then you should be able to see everything.

What we're wearing:

Jean: Ignatius hat; Lilith jumpsuit; Rick Owens t-neck; Creepsville black resin skull necklace and bracelet; vintage bakelite bracelet, earrings and rings;  street vendor cross-body bag; Dansko clogs with platforms customized for the wearer.

Valerie: unlabeled vintage white leather hat (with a replacement vintage feather filling in for the original vintage feather which many years ago had seen better days), black and white cotton print jacket from the fabulous Brigitte (now closed), full length dress by Betsey Johnson (from a thrift shop), costume earrings (from the flea market), layered foam bracelets from Chaos, sneaker/shoes from Sou Sou of Kyoto (from a second hand shop).