Wendy Brandes started designing jewelry in 2005 and launched her self-named line in 2008. Her pieces are strongly influenced by the stories of fascinating women, whether they lived in the 16th century or the Swinging '60s. Mechanical pieces that open, close, twist and turn are her passion.
A post shared by Timeless Vixen (@timelessvixen) on Jun 9, 2019 at 10:03am PDT
I'm always forgetting Ossie's birthday, even though he's my absolute favorite designer of yore. In 2016, another vintage goddess, Liz of Vintage-a-Peel, reminded me. I've got to put this into my calendar right now because I always love a reason to post about Ossie and, more importantly, wear something from my Ossie collection in his honor. I most recently wore an Ossie dress in April, so a repost of that photo will have to do. This is one I bought from Liz, and I got it in 2009, so happy 10th anniversary to this dress!
[caption id="attachment_42892" width="498"] April 2019. Click to see photos from 2010 and 2016.[/caption]
If you're new to the blog and don't know who Ossie Clark is, check out this video I did in 2017.
The Columbia Daily Spectator -- the undergraduate news organization of Columbia University in New York -- had its annual fundraiser last Friday. This was a pleasant change, because the dinner has been held in January or February for ages. Last year, the students told the board of alumni trustees, of which I'm a member, that the winter timing wasn't working out for them anymore. The trustees were like, "Then change it," though I believe I said something more along the lines of "I always hated going out in February." Seriously! February in New York! In February, the local custom is to cancel social plans left and right. "It's the weather," we say. "I can't go out in this weather." An important fundraising dinner that can't be skipped? That's tough. THINK OF THE WEATHER!
Anyway, New York can be delightful in May and, last week, attendees enjoyed an outdoor terrace for the first time. Next year's event is more likely to be in March or April, so it's not as close to graduation day as it was this year.
Graduation didn't stop a big crowd for turning out to hear our guest speaker, Pulitzer Prize-winning Ginger Thompson, formerly of the New York Times, and now a senior reporter at ProPublica. She has been doing hard-hitting investigative reporting about immigration. If you remember last year's heart-breaking audio of a crying child who had been separated from her parents -- Ginger is the one that got that secret tape. That tape was played on the Senate floor the next day. You can read Ginger's follow-up stories on six-year-old Jimena Madrid, as well as Ginger's other work, here.
Spectator's guest speakers have their choice of giving keynote speech or taking a more conversational approach. Ginger opted to be interviewed by ProPublica editor-in-chief Steve Engelberg, who has Pulitzer Prizes scattered all over his bio. Photojournalists hoping to be contenders for future Pulitzer Prizes are going to be worried about their chances after they see the very professional photo I took of Ginger and Steve.
Yes, that is Ginger speaking, and Steve ... is the boot. WTF. All I can say for myself is that I was furiously taking notes for a big idea I have, so I was too engaged in the conversation to take adequate photos. I don't know how that excuse is going over with author Gabrielle Glaser, Steve's fabulous and funny wife. She has some strong feelings about those boots.
I wore the same dress that I wore to the Spectator dinner in February 2016, and I admit that I was warm this time and the dress did get much more wrinkled. Dang! It's like I'm snatching a fashion defeat from the jaws of springtime victory.
What Wendy WoreDress: Secondhand Gucci (acquired in 2015)
Shoes: Prada (2015)
Purse: Prada (2007)
Glasses: Stella McCartney (2018)
That's not the slowest of my slow-fashion outfits -- nothing like this dress in terms of longevity -- but not bad either. Shout-out to that Prada purse from 2007. I bet that, over its lifetime, the purse has gotten out and about more than I have during all my Februarys put together.
When it comes to fashion, I’m much more likely to suffer from non-buyer’s remorse than buyer’s remorse. But there’s an exception to every rule. Behold, the gold toga (?!) by Stephen Burrows. For more about this very important designer whose piece did me a bamboozle, check out: His bio at BlackPast.org. His 2014 interview with...
On Tuesday, MrB and I attended the Awards for Excellence dinner for the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Dick Tofel, our friend and the president of ProPublica, was among the honorees. Four recent alumni were also recognized and I was absolutely blown away by their work: I urge you to read about that here. Good journalism still makes a difference!
I wore a vintage Ossie Clark dress that I got from my friend Liz of Vintage-a-Peel in 2009. We were blogging friends first. Considering the dress was about 40 years old when I bought it, and that I've now owned it for 10 additional years, I hereby deem this "double vintage."
What Wendy WoreDress: Vintage Ossie Clark (purchased in 2009)
Boots: Prada (2008 or 2009, seen here)
Purse: Prada (same year as the boots)
I accessorized it the exact same way when I wore it in 2016.
[caption id="attachment_42290" width="498"] Click for 2016 post.[/caption]
That purse has actually been accompanying the dress since 2010.
[caption id="attachment_42291" width="498"] Click for 2010 post.[/caption]
I still have those gold shoes from 2010. They're somewhat the worse for wear but if they're passable, I might dust them off and show them a good time when I next wear this dress.
What Wendy Didn't WearDress: Vintage Patrick Kelly (probably from eBay, maybe purchased around 2008?)
Boots: Prada (2012-ish)
If you truly can't guess, I explain it in the video -- which you should watch anyway, because Patrick Kelly was an important designer of the 1980s. Seriously though. Even my right-hand woman Eryn, who enjoys a good street-style photography session, didn't relish the idea of going out in broad daylight to shoot this one.
All About Designer: Patrick Kelly - YouTube
The video also shows a number of my Patrick Kelly pieces that I do wear a lot, but a few weren't pictured, including this denim coat. The lining is printed with images of dice and the buttons are real dice.
[caption id="attachment_42080" width="498"] Click for original 2010 post.[/caption]
Another Kelly pieces is this short-sleeved jacket printed with musical notes to an Elton John concert a couple of weeks ago.
[caption id="attachment_42081" width="498"] Click for 2017 post.[/caption]
Kelly's mullet-hemmed halter dress needed major alterations, but the effort was worth it.
[caption id="attachment_42083" width="498"] Click for 2011 post.[/caption]
I also have a few odds and ends, like this big Kelly button brooch. It appears in the video worn by my designing friend Stacy Lomman on a wrist band, but here's a better look.
I've been wanting to do a video about the late fashion designer Patrick Kelly since I started doing YouTube videos in 2017. I did one about my favorite vintage designer, Ossie Clark, right away, but I postponed Patrick because I felt that the video wouldn't be perfect without great new photos of every Patrick Kelly design I have. That was a problem, because I have quite a few Patrick Kelly pieces and I hate doing street-style photography. All the onlookers and commentators and actual molesters that one encounters when trying to take a fashion-y photo on the streets of New York are not my cup of tea. My right-hand woman Eryn had some early success getting me out and about for photos ...
[caption id="attachment_42055" width="498"] Photo by Eryn. Click for original post.[/caption]
... but I hope think she's given up. Or maybe it's just that the weather has been bad for outdoor photography on days when we've had the time to do it, and she'll be marching me outside in the spring. Ugh. I'm going to call in sick that day.
Anyway, once I decided the Patrick Kelly video didn't have to be absolutely perfect and that we could re-use imperfect old photos, I finally got it done. The timing worked out after all, because Patrick's name has come up in the news lately, and you'll learn why when you watch this.
All About Designer: Patrick Kelly - YouTube
Come back tomorrow for supplementary material, including more non-street-style photos of my Kelly pieces.
Killing Eve (BBC America) Trailers HD - Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer series - YouTube
I came to the show a little late -- urged on by my designing friend Stacy Lomman and my stepdaughter Isabelle -- and I was instantly obsessed. After I finished season 1, when I reported back to Stacy, she said, "You know we met Konstantin, right?" OMG! Yes, we did! Before actor Kim Bodnia played Villanelle's handler on Eve, he was the torturer known only as "Rosewater" in the 2014 movie of that name. Rosewater was based on the real experiences of BBC journalist Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen, who returned to Iran and reported on the violent protests that broke out over suspected election fraud in the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president. As a result of his reports, Bahari was arrested, accused of being a spy, and tortured for 118 days.
The Committee to Protect Journalists -- which works to free imprisoned reporters such as Bahari -- invited people involved with the movie to its International Press Freedom Awards dinner that year. Voilà! Killing Eve's Konstantin!
[caption id="attachment_41904" width="498"] From left: me, journalist Allan Dodds Frank, Stacy, editor Ingrid Abramovitch, and Kim Bodnia/Konstantin/Rosewater. Click for original post.[/caption]
Stacy and I had gone to a Rosewater screening a couple of weeks before the dinner, and for some reason, I've never forgotten which vintage Ossie Clark dress I wore that night.
[caption id="attachment_41905" width="498"] After the "Rosewater" screening, with my copy of the book. Click for original post.[/caption]
Thanks to the blog, I can always look up what outfit I wore when, and I always DO look them up! The one event/dress that I don't have to double-check is this one. Why did it sear itself into my memory? No idea. But considering I've been thinking a lot about Ossie Clark this week, this makes me feel like "it's allllllllll connected." Or maybe that's because I just finished the first season of Russian Doll on Netflix. I highly recommend that one!
In my tribute to my late friend Al Radley, I posted a photo taken in his house in 2005. The long sweater I'm trying on belonged to him, but I was wearing my own vintage Ossie Clark dress.
[caption id="attachment_41840" width="498"] I was going through a period of trying to wear my hair naturally.[/caption]
In 2011, I took a photo that showed the dress clearly.
[caption id="attachment_41900" width="478"] Click for original post.[/caption]
And last Friday, I randomly wore it out to dinner and took another photo.
[caption id="attachment_41901" width="498"] The lighting and color of this photo are clearly off, but it's all I've got![/caption]
I didn't know then that Al had died the day before ... but maybe the universe was giving me a little nudge about him. I'd like to think so, anyway.
My friend Al Radley died at age 94 on Valentine's Day, and London won't be the same for me without a visit with him. I first met Al at his home there in March 2005, following an introduction by our mutual friend Cameron Silver, the founder of the Los Angeles vintage store Decades. Cameron knew that I collected the work of the late British designer Ossie Clark. He also knew that Al was the clothing manufacturer who'd bought the rights to Ossie's work when the designer was struggling financially in the late 1960s. Al wasn't merely a money guy, though. He was passionate about Ossie's work and wanted to revive the line.
[caption id="attachment_41839" width="498"] With Al in July 2014, right after he turned 90.[/caption]
In February 2005, I left my corporate job at Lehman Brothers to start a small jewelry business with a partner -- a big change from my original plan to go back to the field of journalism after a few lucrative years spent at an investment bank. I hadn't put much time or money in the jewelry business yet, and, after the Al introduction, I thought maybe I should go into apparel instead if I could pull together a team to finance Al's dream. That's how I originally ended up in Al's house trying on pieces from his archive of Ossies and other 1960s designers.
[caption id="attachment_41840" width="498"] At Al's place in 2005. I believe this is a Thea Porter sweater owned by him, that I'm wearing over my own vintage Ossie.[/caption]
The timeline is a little muddled for me after that due to defunct computers and email addresses, but I did meet two fashion-oriented people who seemed interested in the Ossie project. We must have been headed to London in August 2006, because I am positive it was within days of British authorities breaking up a terrorist plot to bring multiple airliners down with liquid bombs. We weren't sure if we should go at all, but then my partners decided we'd be fine amid the security madness because -- at their insistence -- we were flying on a luxurious, all business-class airline called EOS, which is now defunct. Someone must have paid for my ticket, but I don't remember who. I do remember we couldn't bring anything on board because of the terrorist threat. Literally, I had a book and my identification, and not even a lipstick in my pocket. My acquaintances did bring Xanax for themselves, which was appropriate because the trip was a total downer.
Unbeknownst to me as I began my initial research into this passion project, Ossie's ex-wife, Celia Birtwell -- the creator of the distinctive prints that made me fall in love with Ossie's work -- was striking a deal with fast-fashion giant Topshop for a line featuring the vintage prints on dress styles identical to Ossie's. (Topshop's interest was sparked by the same 2003 V&A Ossie museum retrospective that caught my eye, and which benefited from the use of Al's archives.) What was basically a low-priced Ossie line under a different name rolled out in spring 2006 with a big promotion from Kate Moss, seriously undermining any chances of doing a higher-end version. A post I did in 2007 shows how closely the Topshop line echoed the original.
[caption id="attachment_41841" width="398"] Sorry for the old-blog quality. Celia for Topshop on the left; 1971 Ossie at the Victoria & Albert Museum on the right.[/caption]
I can't comment on any intellectual property issues between Al and Celia. I do want to say that Celia's prints were an integral part of Ossie's success, and she certainly deserves to benefit from that. I don't think Ossie would have been Ossie without her. But, obviously, this Topshop situation wasn't optimal from a business perspective. In spite of that, neither Al nor I wanted to give up the dream of a line with Ossie Clark's own name on it. The meeting with my potential investors didn't go well. They were well aware of the Topshop challenge and then were in the air during a worldwide terrorist panic. By the time we landed, they had no patience for Al and the project was over before it started. They were staying at a zillion-star hotel that I had declined to splurge on, and I'm not even sure I saw them again in London. Maybe on the trip home? I spent all my time with Al.
The next year, Al found people willing to spend money on a relaunch. I willed myself to be happy for him even though I was no longer involved and the resulting collection looked nothing like what Ossie was known for at all. I visited Al in 2008 and he took me to the new office and then to a local vintage store, which was always a hilarious experience. A lot of the original Ossie clothes are labeled "Ossie Clark for Radley" and Al would march into a store selling a vintage piece, announce himself in a booming voice as "Mr. Radley," and then negotiate the price on my behalf. The insanely bright Harris tweed coat that you can see in a tiny picture here was his biggest triumph along those lines.
The new Ossie line closed in 2009. Al and I stayed friends and talked about Ossie, the fashion business, Al's own fascinating family history, World War II, his three adult children and interesting friends, theater, art, his separation-anxiety-ridden poodles, and so on. I don't think we ever spoke about business again; I didn't ask about what he or his family did with the rights to Ossie's name; and when another low-priced line popped up in 2012, I didn't pay it any mind. I was happy to hang out with Al (and occasionally try on a coat made for 1960s supermodel Twiggy.)
Last year, Al's son Howard told me that age had caught up with Al at last and that he was doing poorly. I hoped to get to London to see Al one last time but I ended up not traveling to Europe at all. Here's the obituary Howard sent me, and it's well worth reading.
28 June 1924 - 14 February 2019
Alfred Radley (94) has died peacefully at home after a short illness. Described as the patron saint of British fashion for his nurturing and development of some of the most famous names in British design from Ossie Clark and Celia Burtwell to Terrance Nolder and Betty Jackson. Born in the East End in 1924 his father died when he was 18 months old and as a result he was partly brought up in the Jewish orphanage in Norwood.
During the second World War Al Radley served in the merchant navy and two of his ships were hit by enemy action. He saw action on the North Atlantic convoys, D Day, was on the first allied ship to dock in France, he also served in the Far East and witnessed the Japanese Emperor surrender on the USS Missouri. At the end of the war he was assigned to ships bringing death camp survivors back to Europe and on one trip he met and befriended Otto Frank on his return from Auschwitz via Odessa to Marseilles.
After the war he founded Radley which was to develop into one of the most influential fashion houses of London’s Swinging Sixties. By 1965 Radley had its own fabric mills as well as factories producing gloves and handbags for many high street stores including Marks & Spencer. In 1968 Radley acquired a small boutique in the King’s Road called Quorum with its famous designers Ossie Clark, Alice Pollock and Celia Birtwell. Radley also promoted the careers of many other designers including: Betty Jackson, Sheilagh Brown, Sheridan Barnett, Wendy Dagworthy, Rosemary Bradford and Terence Nolder. Working with many well-known designers Al Radley is credited with the idea of bringing high-end couture to the high street at affordable prices.
In 2002-3, long after he retired, he instigated a major exhibition in celebration of Ossie Clark at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Radley provided many of the garments that were on display from his personal collection and the centrepiece was his daughter Diane's wedding dress.
He is survived by his daughters Diane Boucher and Karen Radley and his son Howard Radley.
Another person I associate with Al is his dear friend Caroline Carr, who worked with Ossie as Al’s design director back in the day. Here's a photo of Al, Caroline, a Radley poodle who couldn't be left home alone, and a random photobombing dog from an outing in 2010. It all feels like it was yesterday -- it's hard to believe this was nine years ago and that Al will never again take me for a long and surprisingly energetic walk alongside an English body of water.
[caption id="attachment_41845" width="498"] Click for original post. It's a poem![/caption]
RIP, Al Radley. It turned out for the best that we never did business together, because we got to be friends instead.
For 2017, I was proud to be able to do a "What Wendy Wore" year in review post featuring 12 slow-fashion outfits. In 2018 -- despite Henry David Thoreau's famous "... beware of all enterprises that require new clothes" -- some of my most notable looks did require something new. I mean, I normally don't hang out on beaches in Iceland in January. I had to do some shopping for that!
[caption id="attachment_41561" width="498"] A lot of pieces were purchased in December 2017 for this trip. Click for the deets![/caption]
I got back into the slow-fashion groove for a couple of occasions in February, including the Columbia Spectator's annual fundraising dinner.
[caption id="attachment_41563" width="498"] Zang Toi dress from 2009 -- click to see past outings.[/caption]
March was even a "double-vintage" month, seeing as I bought this vintage Jacques Tiffeau dress in 2009.
[caption id="attachment_41564" width="498"] I used to hate the color green. A loooong time ago.[/caption]
I've pretty much worn the same pieces to each Coachella I've been to, and this April was no exception.
[caption id="attachment_41565" width="498"] No point in overthinking outfits when you're facing a 12-hour wait for the front row![/caption]
Now that I think of it, it's a little funny to wear a label called "Libertine" to a wedding, isn't it? But that's what I did in May.
[caption id="attachment_41566" width="498"] It was a chilly day, so I dressed for fall![/caption]
In June, I was at the Couture jewelry show in Las Vegas.
[caption id="attachment_41568" width="498"] I posted the photo in July, but it was taken in June, I swear![/caption]
Honestly, I'm not happy with the head-to-toe photo of the beloved Versace dress I wore to the Women's Jewelry Association Awards in July. I'm not even sure why I posted that, unless it was to encourage myself to get back to the gym. Let's look at the top of it in this video instead.
Biz lessons: Winning an award won't make you rich, but it does keep you going! - YouTube
I attended a wedding celebration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in August. I wore vintage Zandra Rhodes but the friends you see in this photo definitely won the slow-fashion challenge.
[caption id="attachment_41570" width="498"] Ancient Egyptians for the win.[/caption]
The retailer Henri Bendel was once among the top New York department stores, but this September it announced it would close after the holiday season. That inspired me to get out the ruffled, cropped jacket I bought from Bendel's 10 years ago.
[caption id="attachment_41572" width="498"] I wore this to go get my ear pierced AGAIN.[/caption]
October featured some shiny, happy homegrown vintage. No Halloween costume though! I spent Halloween writing postcards to voters ahead of the midterm elections.
[caption id="attachment_41573" width="498"] I prefer to think of this jacket by Stacy Lomman as "platinum" rather than "silver." [/caption]
I wore a new-to-me vintage Scaasi dress to November's International Press Freedom Awards for the Committee to Protect Journalists.
[caption id="attachment_41575" width="498"] My last purchase from Allan & Suzi![/caption]
In December, I proved I realllly love to shop my closet. For the Time Person of the Year party, I rewore the 2009 Zang Toi that was in February's outfit post ...
[caption id="attachment_41577" width="498"] The lighting is all kinds of weird here.[/caption]
... and, for my birthday, the vintage Jacques Tiffeau from March's outfit post.
[caption id="attachment_41578" width="498"] I'm not wearing a JoJo bow in my hair - that's the wreath behind me![/caption]
Now you can see that I don't wear the old pieces just once a year!
Whatever you wear for New Year's tonight -- whether that's a puffy dress or pyjamas -- have a great time!