Monday, July 25, 2016


One of the more interesting things about having a blog partner is that when one of you gets a hare-brained scheme, you have a partner you can rope into going along with you. Case in point: Valerie got it into her head (that must be the hare brain Jean refers to above, notes Valerie) that she wanted to use as props some of the exotic fruits she'd spied in carts of Chinatown street vendors. Although we started in search of one particularly gorgeous fruit (which will remain unnamed, since we might very well go back for it), the bright red little rambutans were in season.  Covered with stiff hair-like bristles, the red outside protects a delicately flavored white lychee-like fruit inside.  Since those would go out of season first, we went with the rambutans.  And how could we say no, anyway, given their other-worldly look?

Those of you who are already saying "Whuuuuttttt????" - not so fast!  Many women before us have labored in praise of fruit.  A prime example: Josephine Baker.  Click here for a brief video of her doing her world famous thing in the 1920s.

By now, some of you are saying out loud "Yes, and what about Carmen Miranda?"  Another prime example.

And for those of us who asked ourselves "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"*, there were (and are) smaller, less outrageous ways to participate in the passion for fruit.

So now that we have you on our wavelength (perhaps... a little bit...) without further ado, here's what we did with the rambutans:

Jean says:  As a child of the '50s, I grew up on black and white sci-fi movies about space aliens and mutant creatures resulting from nuclear testing (like "The Blob").  This has obviously tainted my world view and warped my psyche, but has also provided the background for my tale:

I was minding my own business one Saturday afternoon, daydreaming about nothing in particular when my reveries were so rudely interrupted by an invasion of small, hairy space creatures hell bent on devouring me. And to add to my predicament, my legs were paralyzed. I could not move and was trapped right in their path. The horror!

My first reaction? Shrieking uncontrollably, of course.  My cries grew more frantic by the second. My heart was beating so rapidly, I thought it would burst.

Unfortunately, screaming didn't scare them away.  It only served to agitate the little creatures. They never broke ranks and started wriggling their little hairy spines at me. Now what? Frozen in fear, unable to run or even crawl away, as a last resort, I then tried to throw myself on their mercy.

Unfortunately, that also appeared to have little effect.  Aha, I thought. Perhaps the little critters are hard of hearing.  So, I tried shouting my pleas for mercy.

Again, they ignored my desperate pleas. When all else fails, what does one do but resort to violence, right? Driven mad by fear,  I decided to try to smack the little buggers into submission with my bare hands.

The rest, as they say, is history!

Valerie says:

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.  I went for the practical in my rambutans.  They were round and red and perfectly sized, with soft little spikes for a bit of edgy drama.  How would I not want to wear them?  Don't they make the perfect accessory?  The little spikes were actually a bit velcro-like, helping them stay together.  Making a necklace was a bit of a challenge.  (Actually, an insurmountable challenge.)  We had no needle or thread and, velcro-like characteristics notwithstanding, there was still the force of gravity to deal with.

A close-up of the merch.  For the fun of it, I photoshopped in some red nail polish.

What can be more tempting to eat than a red fruit?  Mind you, you are supposed to peel the rambutan first, but that's a minor detail.   Ever see ads for beer, in which the name of the beer is prominently visible in the hand of the person advertising it?  Just try holding a beer that way and see how uncomfortable and unnatural it is.  Here, I'm holding a tasty, beautiful rambutan as if I'm about to eat it.  I'm quite comfortable, but no one can see the  gorgeous product.  So if we had been under contract to the Board for the Promotion of Rambutans, we would have had to do this shoot all over again.

The red of the fruit matched up really well with the red of the dress, so they seemed made for each other, but the dress could only be decorated while lying down, and I had to lie still, and it really wasn't working.  So without our realizing it, it morphed into a surrealist art project.

Here is Magritte's well known Son of Man:

So I guess this could be called, with apologies, Daughter of Woman.

See?  We told you yesterday it wasn't a walk in the park.

* With apologies to T. S. Eliot for his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which we all studied in high school.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Looks like it's just a walk in the park, but it's not.  It's another of our silly adventures.  But it's summer, and it's vacation time, so we're taking it a bit easy.  (That is, we're not staying up till 2am to finish this, as is sometimes our wont [but not our want]).  The rest of our silly story will be up tomorrow night, so do please come back and visit us in about 24 hours.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Anish Kapoor's Halo, Peabody-Essex Museum

Valerie says: The last time I went to Boston the fastest way to get there was by Amtrak, and that took five fours - IF the train had no delays, and that was a mighty big IF.  But I recently discovered that a Bolt Bus will pick me up a short walk from my home at 7am and get me to Boston just after 11am, with amenities like internet and pretty comfortable seats, so I got a round trip ticket under sixty dollars, found a GREAT place to stay using AirBnB (my second excellent experience with them) and off I went.

The first thing I bought on arrival at South Station was a seven day transit pass called a Charlie Card, which offered me full access for seven days for $21.25.

  A single ride is $1.75, so essentially you get the full value of the card if you use it twelve times.  But I hardly need tell you the benefit of not having to buy a new ticket each time you want to board, or how wonderful it is not to worry if you have correct change, or if you will buy your ticket in time to catch the next train, or if you're going in the right direction.  By the third day my Charlie Card had more than paid for itself.  (And when I left on the fourth day, I left it where someone might find it and get further use out of it.)

The oldest subway system in the United States, it's a bit antiquated, but in a world of rapid change, there's something to be said for the antiquated.  The trolleys run very regularly, and I never experienced much of a wait or too much crowding.  Here you can see I was separated from my driver by a slack canvas curtain, not bullet-proof plexiglass.  The New York City subway system is pretty automated, but the Boston system responds more readily to individual needs.  The drivers were always very nice (actually, everyone in Boston is very friendly).  Drivers hit their bells before they leave the station (since many stops are outdoors at ground level, and traversed by pedestrians), but some may hit it once or twice, while others will rhythmically tap out a one note tune.

I had an easy train ride to my BnB stop.

On alighting, there was a very helpful map of my neighborhood. I photographed it, just in case I lost my bearings.  The Coolidge Corner station turns out to be just blocks from President Kennedy's birthplace, circled in red.  I didn't stop there, but I was tickled to know I was in a historic area.

Wandering up Harvard Street, my eyes were drawn to a marvelous pair of eyeglasses that appeared to change color depending on how the light hit them (or what angle I viewed them from.  Imagine my surprise and delight to see the LA Eyeworks name and typeface on one of the temples.  This was a great way to start my trip.

I was advised to have brunch at Zaftig's (who speaks Yiddish?  If you don't, zaftig is literally Yiddish for  juicy, but when applied to women, we would translate it as pleasantly plump.)  I wound up not going (there was a line), but how could you not want to eat at a restaurant which beckons visitors with a portrait that looks like a Modigliani?

My AirBnB digs turned out to be the refinished attic of a private home.  I had the whole floor to myself, a king size bed and a fully equipped private bathroom.  Windows provided light and cross ventilation, and backyard birds provided entertainment.  After dropping off my small suitcase, I took the subway to the Museum of Fine Arts, where all visitors are greeted by a gigantic inflatable flower (bigger than about 10 people standing together) by Choi Jeong Hwa on the front lawn.  I've already put it on Instagram, so click on the link to see it inflate and deflate.   I was a little floored by the $25 admission, particularly since it was already 3pm by the time I arrived.  The ticket is, however, good for a second admission if used within seven days, which mollified me a bit.  Tickets for seniors, by the way, are reduced by less than 10% (to $23), and the minimum age for eligibility is 65.

Inside, they were showing Techstyle, a show of fashion using new technology.  The exhibition opens with a very edgy video featuring pop star Viktoria Modesta as she shows off her unique prosthetic leg.  (For the full screen version click here.)

To watch (yes, watch) the LED lights dress click here; for the marvelous Iris van Herpen creation click here.  I really enjoyed the red dress below.  I have to quote the label verbatim, as I couldn't possibly reword it myself.  "... a flexible 3-D printed garment that comes off of the printer ready to wear.  ...  allows the customer to change the direction, roundness and height of the individual panels.  Generated from a body scan, the dress can be fully customized using a design app on the company's website.  Assembly of the dress is as easy as snapping together three pieces."  A collaboration of Nervous System and Shapeways.

What was especially nice about this, however, was that the museum shop had some really great souvenirs related to it.  Have you noticed that museum shops have become all about tee shirts and magnets and umbrellas and erasers?  Are you old enough to remember when museums sold truly breathtaking objects that weren't available anywhere else?  If so, then you can probably understand my great pleasure at seeing two necklaces, earrings, and a bracelet in the museum shop, all made in the same color as the dress, using the same technology, and all affordably priced.

I also got to see their exhibition on Nubian gold before I had to run off to the Institute of Contemporary Art to meet the delightful Mayra Gonzalez, whom Jean and I met not long ago when she and her husband Biorn had a booth at the Manhattan Vintage Show.   To my chagrin, I could feel myself coming down with a cold, which drained a bit of my energy.  Luckily for me, Mayra was a great sport, and allowed me to gorge myself on protein (a wagyu slider) and calm myself with an excellent glass of red wine before we attempted to see the featured show, the wonderfully unsettling collages/(dare one say?) dolls/puppets of Geoffrey Farmer.  (See a few more of the exhibition pieces  here.)

In the dark, I made my way back from Mayra and ICA to Coolidge Corner on public transportation with no trouble.  I stopped at a drugstore and bought my usual array of cold medications: Hall's Mentolyptus, Theraflu Severe Cold and Cough, Advil Cold & Sinus, Mucinex D and generic aspirin.  Thank heaven for these.  By the next morning, I felt as though I had escaped the worst of it, and would only have to be vigilant.

The next morning, I set out for Boston's second best known museum, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  It's unfortunate that most of us know it best for the 1990 theft of 13 works of art, including Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer's The Concert.  Gardner's original mission was to bring art to early 20th century Boston, and share it with the public after her death.  The building, in which Gardner lived, and the courtyard by themselves are a marvel before one even begins to enjoy the artwork, which is (as it was during her lifetime) all over her home.   This can look a bit like a fire sale, and the untutored eye (that is to say, my eye, for example) can miss a good deal.  I heard a guard pointing out a Degas drawing to a visitor.  I would have overlooked it.  Later, admiring a roomful of dense wood carvings from approximately the 16th centuries, a guard helpfully told me that I had just passed by a 14th century Giotto as well as a Simone Martini.      A look at the internet will acquaint readers with the best known works, so I'll post two photos of works that get far less attention.

I loved this clever 19th century Japanese lantern depicting a man and woman in a pleasure boat, with  frothing waves at the base.  All of us are familiar with the oval collapsing Japanese lanterns, but this metalwork lantern is quite unusual.  Clearly, Gardner did not limit herself to art that was "safe" and "approved" by the experts of her day (although she did have experts advising her).

Another work I quite enjoyed was a huge tapestry (on which I found no information) in which everyone's clothing was lovingly portrayed in lavish detail.  In contrast to all the splendor, however, at the feet of the central figure are two open cases containing severed heads.

From there I traveled to Newbury Street.  This was perhaps my only real disappointment in Boston.  There was nothing on Newbury Street that one couldn't see in midtown Manhattan.  Just as in Soho, the interesting shops could not manage the rising rents, and left.  And just as in Manhattan, there is no new go-to location.  The shops have either dispersed or closed.  Change is inevitable, but not all change is good.  I stocked up on protein at The Met Back Bay (one of the few restaurants on Newbury), eating my second hamburger in as many days.  The fries were scrumptious.

After that, I had very little time to visit the Mobilia Gallery, which I came to know through Manhattan's annual SOFA (sculptural objects and functional art) handcrafted art fair.  When I called, owner Linda Behar instructed me to take the #72 bus from Harvard Square (which I looked for in vain), or walk down Brattle Street.  I can't thank Linda enough for telling me about Brattle Street.  It has block after block after block of the most Norman-Rockwellian-ideal-America-of-your-dreams homes, built before anyone ever thought of quick drying concrete.  They look the way homes were probably always supposed to look.  They are big enough for the large families of old, with porches and trees and fences.  They look as though they were designed by intelligent, self-effacing architects who focused on form following function, but added beauty in the details.  Nothing is gilt.  There are no gravel driveways in the front, and no SUVs in them.  If there are columns, they are there to support weight.  There is no aluminum siding; there are no elves or jockeys.  There is the fragrance of greenery, and there are carefully tended gardens.  Hurrying to see Mobilia before it closed, I took no pictures, which I deeply regret.  This photo of a Brattle Street home taken off the internet gives you some idea, but you really have to take a leisurely stroll down Brattle Street for yourself.

Everything about Mobilia Gallery is a feast for the eyes, including the bathroom.  In an unusual turn of events, I did not ask for the bathroom - I was invited to enjoy looking at it.  How many people can say that they have - or even that they have visited - a bathroom that's fun just to be in and look at?  Mobilia is small, and they use their space very well.  My favorite objects, the jewelry (no surprise there), were in cases that would have been difficult to photograph unless I was suspended from the ceiling (now, there's a thought!), but I'm pleased to show you a sliver of the bathroom.  If you look at this and think Mobilia specializes in teapots, you need to think more broadly.  Mobilia takes pride in their inclusiveness.  They embrace and endless variety of media and techniques.  A great place to visit and support.

The day I arrived in Boston, temperatures were close to ninety degrees; overnight they dropped into the sixties, and stayed there for the length of my visit.  Needless to say, I had brought clothes only for extreme heat, and little tiny cotton knit jackets for air conditioned commercial venues.  Because I was fighting off a cold, I wound up wearing the warmest things I had - that is, more or less the same thing every day.  My AirBnB hostess was beyond kind to me when she lent me a light down jacket, which I wore with much relief and much appreciation.

The next afternoon (after a lazy morning) I met up with Mayra and Biorn, who spirited me away to Salem for a visit to the Peabody-Essex Museum, and later to tiny, colorful, salt air Marblehead for ice cream.  There might not be an inch of Marblehead (below) from which you can't see the water.

The Peabody-Essex Museum, based in a seaport town, has a wealth of art and artifacts relating to its history in trading and shipping.  One room, devoted to the industry, displayed a number of mastheads.  (Fun facts: a ship's masthead generally gave a clue as to the name of the ship; many sailors refused to board ships without a masthead, thinking them unlucky.)  In the photo below, you can not only see the size of the masthead, you can also see that I'm wearing the same warm clothes I'd worn the day before.

There was a room featuring Chinese art for the foreign market.  Among them, this astonishingly delicate fan.  To the naked eye, it appears to be lace, but in fact it is carved ivory.

The Peabody-Essex keeps up with the times, and has a fair selection of modern art.  Thus the Anish Kapoor (2006) in the opening photo.  We did make the great mistake of not visiting the gift shop first, and were summarily kicked out at closing time, leaving all sorts of goodies to be purchased by others, some other day.  Readers, learn from my mistake!  We did make up for it, though, eating a scrumptious seafood dinner afterward at a marvelous Salem restaurant which specializes in fresh mussels.  We had a short walk through a bit of Salem, but it was clear when we left that I had only dipped my toe in its waters.

On the last day of my four day trip, I went back to the Museum of Fine Arts.    While changing trains, I ran into musicians in Revolutionary War period clothing on the steps of the Boston Public Library.

The woman's dress is wonderfully done.  Here it is from behind.  It would have been hard work matching up all the stripes at the back, and the flared hips must also have been a challenge.

When I arrived at the museum, I expected to waltz in with my old ticket, but I was abruptly stopped by a guard, who told me I had to trade that ticket in for a new one.  (Why, I wondered, and wonder still.)  When I'd bought my ticket on Thursday, there had been no line.  Now there was a line of about 20 people.  I went up to the members' desk and asked if having already purchased my ticket gave me special dispensation not to stand on line.  It doesn't.  This seems like something that could be improved.

The MFA has an excellent collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Fauvist art, so I made my way through those galleries in a leisurely manner.  Readers have already seen the Museum's van Gogh and Gaugin paintings, so here's a little detail of Paul Signac's Antibes - The Pink Cloud (1916). The brushwork is marvelous.

There was a wonderful Louise Nevelson in the modern section,

a huge, saucy neon sign on the main floor, by Jeppe Hein (which is not nearly as dark or as fuzzy as it appears here),

and an extremely tasty roast beef sandwich (more beef in three days than I ordinarily consume in three months) and organic Cabernet Sauvignon in the small cafe by the gift shop. (I had short conversations with several people as I ate, and in fact with quite a few people as I made my way around the city.  I found Bostonians to be open, friendly, and interested.)

In the afternoon, the handcrafts, pre-Columbian and Native American sections held more wonders before I had to leave.  Besides the wait for my ticket, my only other complaint about the museum was the tendency here - as at many other museums these days - to name absolutely every square inch after some benefactor or other.  It is, one supposes, a sign of the times, since museums are having trouble fund raising (who isn't?), and so instead of having, say, The Egyptian Wing, museums now have The John Q. Smith and Mary Ellen Jones Smith Memorial Egyptian Wing.  That's one word for a remarkably advanced civilization that built the pyramids and the Sphinx, and lasted several thousand years, and nine words for two people who paid for a room.  There just seems to be something odd about that.

Some of you will say all I did was visit museums, and you're right.  But that was the right way to go.  Now I have a great excuse to go back and see everything I missed.  If you have been thinking of going, give in to your impulse.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

MAD HATTERS at City Lore Gallery

"MAD HATTERS: New York Hats and Hatmakers" is a fun show at City Lore Gallery in the East Village which celebrates the fact that NYC, known for having attitude, possesses just as big dose of emblematic HAT-itude! Take our advice and make it your business to see the show before it closes July 31, 2016.

While Valerie is cavorting in Boston this weekend, Jean is keeping the home fires burning, so to speak, and is posting on the exhibit. We both saw the show, but separately, so this is Jean's "take" on the show, the milliners and their wonderful creations.  Last weekend, Jean met photographer Rose Hartman for brunch (at Rose's West Village haunt, Sant Ambroeus, where she took this terrific photo of Jean in her aptly named "Breakfast Hat" by Henrik Vibskov). Afterward, Jean strolled back to the East Village to see the MAD HATTERS show, where the festive headwear below greets visitors entering the gallery. You know you're on the right place when you see it.

During the 1930s, city streets were a sea of brims and you weren't a New Yorker without a hat. Both fashionable and practical, hats were a means of expressing one's style while mitigating exposure to the elements. The premise of the show is that although the 1950s ushered in a post-war era wherein the everyday hat was no longer a necessity, stylish New Yorkers never lost their love of hats and NYC's wealth of HAT-itude is unparalleled. MAD HATTERS explores the identities that New Yorkers carve out for themselves simply by donning simple headwear in a crowded city, with special attention to the City's defining grassroots folk cultures, master milliners and men and women who proudly wear hats to express their cultural traditions or "simply for the hell of it". Amen, we say, and here we go!

Peruvian Dance Hats: Peru is famous for over 500 distinct style of folk dance, originating in towns and villages sprinkled across the nation. Characteristic hat worn by the dancers are specific to place of origin. This colorful, felted wool Cusco Montera hat is well known, both in Peru and in the NYC Peruvian communities.

Milliner Linda Ashton's miniature hats embellished with vintage materials from her extensive collection, titled "Clown Hats", are filled with style and mirth. If this be clownish, we say: Bring it on!

Jamaican milliner, now NYC resident, C.J. Lewis, called her creation "Lace Rhinestone Unicorn Hat" made of lace fabric on armature with sewn ribbons and ornaments. Her shop, Cejunel Hats and Accessories, is located at 1439 East Gun Hill Road, Bronx, NY. Although many of her clients are churchwomen of diverse denominations, she makes hats for all occasions.

We have admired Wanda Chambers work at numerous exhibitions. A member of the Milliners Guild and an FIT graduate, Wanda proudly declares coming from a long line of "Sunday Go To Meeting Church Hat Wearing Women". She has been a designer for over 20 years. Her business is called Once Upon a Hat. Her Easter Hat, "The Marcella", is a small brim top hat with net and ribbon overlay and a red satin band trimmed with white beads and white rods.

We have known Ellen Christine and admired her work for years. According to signage for the show, she has over 30 years experience designing and fabricating authentic a la main millinery for both theater and couture and she claims "the undisputed crown for authentic epoque and high fashion millinery". A doctoral candidate in costume history at NYU, she produces one-of-a-kind hats to exacting specifications, "down to the opulent and historically accurate pattern making, stitching and materials." Pictured are two of her creations. "Doll's Hat" (left) is an Easter Hat of parisisal tonal green with silk flowers piled high in shades of fuschia, purple and magenta, shaped by hand and and finished with a chenille dotted veil in forest green. "Diva" (right) is a fascinator on a 4" base covered in patchwork sequins, sky high curled burnt ostrich feathers and black veiling.

Lisa Shaub Fine Millinery's description of "East Village Art Girl" is a trip down memory lane for Jean who lived downtown in the 1970s and frequented all of the places in Lisa's signage: "She is invited everywhere and knows everyone. She has unique style and wants to look different, so always makes her own clothes and her hats. On a typical night, she will attend an opening at Mary Boone (W. Broadway, Soho), go to the after party dinner at Indochine (Still there! Lafayette at 7th Street), go to the Limelight (6th Ave at 18th Street) to dance like a maniac. Everyone else is wearing clothes such as a Candelabra as a hat, a Superman suit, cape and clogs, or maybe a 1920 opium babe. When she has had a blast, she goes to the last place open, famous after hours club Save the Robots (Avenue B and 3rd Street)."

The show included work from several milliners from Jamaica and several male hat makers. Carlos Lewis is both. Born and raised in Jamaica, Carlos moved to New York to study dress design at FIT, where he was introduced to millinery. He found his true calling and has been working in the trade for 35 years. Carlos NY Hats was founded in 1980 and caters to celebrities and churchwomen.  Carlos also  produces custom designs for private clientele.

Evetta Petty is another member of the Milliners Guild who is an FIT graduate.  We appreciate and have long enjoyed her work at a number of exhibitions and at the Easter Parade. She has been designing for over 20 years and her work is known for its humor, rhythm and use of hat pins . Her shop, Harlem's Heaven Hat Boutique, is located at 2538 7th Avenue in uptown NY.  Her custom designs appeal to celebrities like Patti LaBelle and Star Jones and to churchwomen and ladies who like to dress. Jean madly covets her dramatic hat with black satin ribbon, spiral stitched, tall cylindrical straw crown topped by a crystal hat pin.

Long time readers of our blog know that at every Easter Parade, we eagerly look forward to seeing and photographing Elaine Norman in one of her amazing hand-painted straw hats featuring New York City landmarks. (We also often meet post-parade with Elaine and her husband for cocktails at The Modern, but that's another story.) Elaine's hats are history lessons that draw New Yorkers' attention to details that many of us have forgotten or never noticed. Her 2005 "FairWell Fulton" acrylic on straw hat is her homage to the historic Fulton Street Fish Market which was once a pungent city fixture on the East River in Tribeca for an amazing 183 years. Her signage goes on to explain how the market was forced to leave its increasingly lucrative location for a brand new, better-equipped but completely lackluster space in the Bronx.  

Another Jamaican reference is Jacqueline Lamont's had with a Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah - Rastafari medallion. She said her felt and fabric blocked hat was inspired by Jamaica and Reggae music.

For more than 30 years, Brooklyn native artist Wendy Brackman aka Wacky Wendy has been entertaining audiences with her Wacky Hats. Also known as the Mad Hatter and the Matisse of Milliners, she freehand cuts colorful paper discs into pop-up party hats for audiences to wear and take home.  She commissioned another male hat maker, Luis Aleman, to create this "MadHattin'" straw top hat with lots historic landmarks against the NYC skyline at sunset.    

Marcus Malchijah, a Guyanese self-taught milliner, became interested in hat making at the age of eight.  He turned his interest into a profession in the 1980s as a therapeutic means of dealing with his grief over the death of his son. He founded his own company Malchijah Hats and store at 942 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where he continues to make and sell hats. Since so many of his early customers were churchwomen who kept his business afloat, he now donates some of his hats to churches around the city.  This convoluted Dr. Seuss-like straw hat struck a nerve with Jean, reminding her of her Ignatius crooked black straw witches hat.

Milliners Guild member (and past president)  Linda Ashton created this "Tools of the Trade" hot pink velour fur felt top hat with a miniature hat on a vintage hat stand displaying all of the tools milliners use like thread, scissors and appliques. Linda was discovered at a juried hat show at the American Craft Museum by legendary millinery teach Ann Albrizio, who brought her to FIT where Linda graduated from its millinery program. The Hat Shop New York.

Lisa McFadden's African printed braided cotton and wire fascinator is, to our way of thinking, more of a hat than a fascinator -- which is a good thing. A Milliners Guild member, Lisa completed fashion design degrees at Bauder College and the American College for Applied Arts. Lisa's designs fuse vintage inspiration with contemporary style, to complement the wearer's individuality.

In 1995, Linda Pagan, also from the Milliners Guild, opened The Hat Shop which showcases local NY milliners as well as its own line The Hat Shop NYC. You can custom order or buy hats right off the rack. Linda's "Crown Heights" is inspired by traditional round crown, medium brim hats worn by Orthodox Jewish men. Her interpretation has a wonderful twist -- a lipstick/cigar holder -- on the brim.

We thought we'd end this post with Kathy Anderson's Easter hat  --a black and white toyo straw button hat with small red roses, butterflies, white feather and veiling. A Milliners Guild member and FIT graduate who worked in the fashion industry for 25 years in a variety of areas, Kathy returned to FIT in 1989 to take additional courses in fashion styling, knitting, flower making and millinery and fell in love with this art form. She is an artist who continues to learn taking classes from Nora Novarro and Ann Albrizio, founder of FIT's millinery program, and British milliner Dillon Wallwork.  Kathy's couture hand blocked and sewn hats are produced in her Manhattan studio. In addition to hat in a wide variety of fabrics and materials, she makes beautiful leather flower bouquets and pins. Leather bouquets can be made for the bride and bridal party. How fabulous!  Her company is Hats by Kat and her hats are available at The Hat Shop in Soho and Tribal Truth Collections in Brooklyn.  She belongs to Diaspora Art Mart, a collection of artisans who come together to sell their work every second Saturday of the month at the YWCA in downtown Brooklyn.

Like we said at the beginning, the show ends July 31st. And it's free! Be there or be square.