Sunday, December 27, 2015


Behind the Scenes on Christmas Eve with Salvador Dali

People sometimes ask us where we get our blog post ideas.  There are almost as many answers to that question as there are IF posts. This particular idea came last Wednesday when Valerie took a taxi to the IF presentation at the Textile Study Group of New York. We each brought a bag of goodies for Show and Tell, so we both opted for taxis rather than our usual wallet-friendly bus or train.  As the taxi rounded a corner, what to Valerie's wondering eyes should appear but this huuuuuuuuge portrait of Salvador Dali, the master of surrealism, complete with imperious stare and unmistakable mustache. Valerie recognized the graffiti right away as a post in the making, and scribbled the street coordinates on the back of her hand before she could forget them. (You know how that is, right?)

Winter days are short, and it's dark by 5pm, so on Christmas eve, since both our companies closed at noon, we took advantage of the midday light (so-called light - it rained or misted all day) to photograph ourselves in front of this hilarious work by Brazilian graffitist Sipros and upload it to Instagram for Christmas. We brought a tripod, which we foolishly/fearlessly set up in the gutter in order not to cut off the top of the master's head.  Of course we had to do a series of test shots.

We found that standing against the wall made us too small and hard to see in the final picture.  (We couldn't have THAT, now, could we?!)

Standing a few feet away from the wall, it turned out, was far better.  But then we had to carefully mark our positions on the ground, just as they do in the theater, because a one inch difference would cut our shoes out of the picture.  (Couldn't have that either, now could we?  The things one has to think of!)  Jean is holding a Christmas-y prop, to see if that would work in the final picture.

This shot was rejected because each of us was obscuring a bit of the all-important mustache.  Some of you, particularly those of you with a touch of OCD (like us) will be asking why we've taken all these shots on an angle instead of straight on.  The answer is, alas, a tree had already taken that spot.  You can see a bit of the tree bed in the lower left corner of all of these shots. To the right, we had to contend with a large metal trash container.  Even to set up at this angle we had to wait about ten minutes for a UPS truck to vacate its parking spot at the curb, so we could set up the tripod in its place.  We watched vigilantly for oncoming traffic between stop lights and while shooting.  The things we do for art!

We were able to get several good photos in a few minutes, and received a lot of positive reinforcement from passersby on the street.  (One woman insisted we should send photos to Vogue.  We're still considering that.)  And yes, it really was warm enough to go coatless on December 24th! The thermometer hit a record-breaking 71 degrees that day.

As we were about to wrap up, we decided to take a few close-ups against the mustache, with an eye to photoshopping them for fun.  Some of you are familiar with a Dali photograph that could be called an early precursor of Photoshop: Dali Atomicus, by Phillippe Halsman, taken in 1948.  We would have done something along these extravagant lines if we could have, but we probably would have needed a couple of interns, and these days we wouldn't have blamed anyone if they'd called the ASPCA on us.  So we didn't do anything quite so elaborate or fun as this.

Instead, we took half a dozen close-ups, rejecting anything in which we had even the vaguest hint of a smile.  (You can't look imperious if you're smiling.)

Later, scowling imperiously, we paid homage to the master with the help of Sketchbook Express (yes, we really are that primitive).  Below is the finished product!  (Also on Instagram if you need to see it again.)


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Our Presentation at Textile Study Group of New York

Last Wednesday, we were guest speakers at the December year-end meeting of the Textile Study Group of New York (TSGNY).  After an amazing amount of preparation and rehearsal, we arrived an hour before start time to make sure everything was ready. All the hard work had already taken place, so we could just kick back and relax and greet the arriving members and guests.

Jean did a final run through on the 53 power point slides in our presentation.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

As the witching hour approached, photographer Denton Taylor and several of our friends appeared to root for us. With cheerleaders like this, how could we go wrong? Here's the lineup: Denton's wife Teresa, Valerie, ArtfulCityStyle, Jean and Sue Kreitzman.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

We started almost exactly on time and miraculously, everything came off as planned and within our estimated time. Asked to talk about how, when and why we started the blog, why we dress the way we do, how we put ourselves together and other secrets of the universe, we divided our presentation into five distinct areas (with titles that all ended in "us", since we're a team): Famous, Glamorous, Humorous, Custom Tailored Us and Individual Us.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

Getting together five or six times over the past couple of weeks at Valerie's apartment to select the photos to create our power point presentation, we then had to edit it down from 76 to 53 slides, so we could fit as much as possible in our 60-minute time slot.  We rehearsed a few more times in person and then again on the phone for an hour each of the three nights before the meeting.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

And of course, on the big night, we had to dress the part.  Jean wore her new Ignatius hat (purchased last month at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Craft Show) atop a navy blue Issey Miyake coat (with an opaque pleated layer covered with a transparent organza layer) with lots of red bakelite and resin jewelry, Deca skirt and Trippen boots.  Jean now admits that she does talk with her hands!
Photograph courtesy of Denton Taylor

The slide of us appearing in the AARP Bulletin got a big laugh.  True, it's not exactly Vogue, but it's an important acknowledgment that just because you pass 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 - or even 80 - doesn't mean you lose interest in the joy of self-presentation

The pine scent of the Christmas tree in front of the stage was an added treat.  Harking back to elementary school years, after the slide show we did a bit of show and tell for audience.  Knowing we were working with a tactile, visual and technically skilled group, we each brought several accessories and articles of clothing we thought would interest this particularly discerning group. Jean displayed an orange Issey Miyake honeycomb weave hooded coat.  She also brought a Victorian black silk children's folding parasol; tiny linen parasol; black and white reversible wool coat from Korean designer Chunghie Lee; black Yohji Yamamoto for Puma futuristic neoprene and perforated polyester coat; Patricia Fields leather-winged goggles she'd hand-painted gold; red plastic Barbie doll shoe necklace from the Brooklyn Museum's Killer Heels show.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

In a tricks-of-the-trade moment, Valerie took a high-volume two-tone black and purple crimped silk Krizia dress and showed that it could be worn as a face-framing scarf if the two sleeves were pulled inside.  Valerie also showed how to make a hat out of an African sisal basket in under a minute, and how to make a bracelet out of a child's toy.  She brought in the octopus hat worn in one of the slides to show how easy it was to make,  wore a Jorie Johnson felt coat that glows in the dark for felters in the audience (below), put out her beaded squid earrings for beaders, and showed a felt hat that she reshaped from short and round to tall and cylindrical.
Photograph courtesy of Denton Taylor

Then, it was time for a bit of Q&A, and sharing information.
Photograph courtesy of Denton Taylor

Among our friends who joined us were Richard Cramer and Carol Markel, the most colorfully stylish artist couple we know.  Carol designed the fabric and the dress that she was wearing, along with her hand-painted handmade necklace.
Photo by Denton Talor caption

Charlotte Thorp wore a felt cap ending in a humorous tube, with a yellow colored stem to match her wool topper.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

Teresa and Dayle posed for a photo.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

Designer Mary Jaeger joined us for the evening.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

Here's a better view of Mary's coat from her Designs in Textiles Atelier.

Valerie in gray (vintage velour hat, Issey Miyake jacket,  H&M camisole, Oska pants), sandwiched between with Sue and Carol, resplendent in eye-popping colors.
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

Marsha, Antonia and Elke provided moral support and lots of good cheer!
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor

Now that we've got a show, here's hoping we can take it on the road! Who knows, maybe we'll be the new and improved Bing Crosby and Bob Hope!
Photo courtesy of Denton Taylor 

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Orly, Valerie photo courtesy Japan Society

Last week, while Jean was away on business, the Japan Society held a soiree entitled Provoke!: Black and White Party in honor of their current exhibition, For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968 - 1979.   With a name like Provoke!, who could resist?  (Provoke! was the very telling name of an "influential experimental art magazine of late 60s Japan".)
photo courtesy Japan Society

The invitation exhorted guests to show up wearing "their flashiest black and white attire" for an evening of bespoke sake cocktails, live music, dancing and a dj.

Brilliant idea!  It wouldn't be the first black and white themed party.  There have been several others in New York, but the best known, hands down, would be Truman Capote's 1966 talk of the town masked ball (click here for more on that), attended by anybody who was anybody, and most famously by Frank Sinatra.   The idea behind the masks was said to be to make everyone unrecognizable, so people would gravitate outside their usual circles of friends and talk with strangers.  You can see that Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow would have been completely unrecognizable to the other guests.

With Jean away, Valerie went with her friend Orly, in briefly from Israel.  Despite being here in travel mode, Orly had no problem doing a bang-up job of dressing in black and white.  Her white necklace is composed of large white lacquered papier mache nuggets.  The gent beside her is wearing a black and white shirt printed with mug shots.

Long-time (VERY long-time) readers will remember Orly's first appearance in this blog way back in 2009, when she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Having lost her hair during the treatment process, Orly integrated the clean-shaven look into her style, and was an inspiration to her fellow patients.  (You can also see our coverage of her milestone fifth anniversary party here.)  So it was an extra special treat to get together with her again and see her looking so glowing and joyous.

In keeping with the black and white theme, there were, among myriad other things, black and white napkins, black and white table cloths, black and white doughnuts,
photo courtesy Orly Ginossar

and black and white cookies.

photo courtesy Japan Society

But by far the very best black and white treat were the two black and white sake cocktails.  Orly photographed the ingredients of the amazing SHIRO, or white, cocktail: orange zest, cinnamon, anise, black and white sesame seeds and Kikusui Perfect Snow nigori sake, "garnished with a black sesame tuile", according to its creators, Chris Johnson and Warren Hode.
photo courtesy Orly Ginossar

Except for the fact that the sake was extremely potent, Valerie could have had quite a few of these.  As it was, it was clear she could only have one.  But what a great one it was!
photo courtesy Orly Ginossar

One of the draws of the evening was the black and white photo booth (room, really), where all the guests were invited to have their pictures taken.  Here are a few of them:

The self-censoring woman,
photo courtesy Japan Society

The Johnny Depp look-alike and his date,
photo courtesy Japan Society

The movie poster imitators,
photo courtesy Japan Society

The shy subject,
photo courtesy Japan Society

The woman in the glittering polka dot dress and her friend.
photo courtesy Japan Society

Here's Orly in the photo booth.

Not all the fun was happening in the photo booth.   This man had a wonderful pompadour.

And this woman added a splash of color to the Black and White Party.

We found a mirror on the ceiling, and, like most people, couldn't resist a selfie opportunity, regardless of how grainy and short it made us look.

Literally-minded readers will want to point out that the exhibition in honor of which the Black and White Party was held has not been mentioned at all.  That's because so much was going on outside the hushed confines of the exhibition (and also because, sensibly, no food or drink was allowed inside the exhibition), that it must be confessed we hurried through a show that one really should take one's time in.  The early post war period was a time of great struggle and social unrest in Japan, and is forcefully documented by courageous photographers who grappled with subjects which had until then been generally suppressed.  Below is a photograph by Miyako Ishiuchi, one of Japan's few female photographers.  Taken from her Apartment series, it documents substandard post-war living conditions.  Anyone interested in art, photography or Japan should see this traveling exhibition, which will only be up till January 10.

A splendid time was had by everyone at the Black and White Party, but particularly by us.
photo courtesy Orly Ginossar

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fern Mallis at the National Arts Club

Photo by Denton Taylor

On Friday evening, we went to the National Arts Club (NAC) for a "Fashion Speaks" event featuring an interview with Fern Mallis.

Hailed as the award-winning creator of New York’s Fashion Week, Fern Mallis has been called an industry titan, doyenne, and The Godmother of Fashion. As the creator and host of the premiere conversation series "Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis" at New York’s 92nd Street Y, she has assembled an incredible roster of guests for her now signature in-depth interviews, including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Diane von F├╝rstenberg, Marc Jacobs,Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, and Valentino.

In 2015, she released her book Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis (published by Rizzoli USA), the much lauded compendium of nineteen of her 92nd Street Y interviews, including an array of never-before-seen images detailing both the public and private lives of her interviewees.

Meaghan poses in front of the poster listing the names of the individuals whose interviews appear in the book.

Mallis is consistently quoted in the fashion press and broadcast media, and has been featured on "America's Next Top Model", "She's Got the Look", "The Fashion Show", and four seasons of "Project Runway". Here she is on stage at the NAC listening to a question from the audience.

Ms. Mallis has been honored with numerous accolades and awards, including The Pratt Institute's Fashion Industry Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fashion Institute of Technology President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She’s been featured in the BoF (Business of Fashion) 500: The People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry, and in 2014 was inducted into their Hall of Fame.  The former senior vice president of IMG Fashion and former executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America is currently president of her own leading international fashion and design consultancy.

We reconnected with  the lovely Annika Conner at the event, who was wearing a glamorous red dress.

The National Arts Club, located in a beautiful townhouse with Gilded Age interiors, was decorated for the holidays.

Jean sat next to Sevigne (who was also wearing a terrific red dress) but lost track of her at the end of the interview. Luckily, we ran into her downstairs near the coat check and were able to snap this photo. Isn't she a doll?

Denton Taylor, who took our opening photograph, also took this parting shot of us on the stairs as we were leaving.

After we turned the tables on them, Teresa and Denton indulged us by posing for a photo before heading home after the event.

Fellow hat lover Diana Mattos joined us afterward for (what else?) cocktails. We found a quiet spot at Bread and Tulips, a cozy downstairs restaurant in the nearby Hotel Giraffe, which had acceptable decibel levels (bars get a pass or fail based on whether someone has to ask the question WHA-AT? each time a member of the group speaks) and more than acceptable cocktails. Diana is better known on Etsy as DivaWear Designs, where she sells wonderfully witty accessories of her own making.  Although she didn't make the hat she was wearing, she did embellish it with feathers and pin.  She also embellished her lipstick with sparkles (that don't come off!), but she swore us to secrecy, so we can't tell you how she did it.  We got really lucky when two women sitting at the next table offered to take pictures of us

What a great way to start the weekend!