Award-winning designer of fine jewelry inspired by women's history and pop culture. A former journalist who writes about jewelry, fashion, medieval history, news, feminism, dogs, cats and whatever else is on her mind.
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week. Monday, July 15: Information about the Never Again Is Now protest in Washington, D.C., and a bonus post on Anne Thériault’s Queens of Infamy series. Tuesday, July 16: Remembering JFK Jr., Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and Lauren Bessette 20 years later. Wednesday, July...
For the second time in a week, a building in Washington, D.C., was shut down by people protesting inhumane conditions in immigrant detention camps. #CatholicsAgainstICE took over the Russell Senate Building today, carrying photos of migrant children who have died in U.S. custody. A group of activists formed a human cross with their bodies on...
I was searching teh Interwebs for a black bodysuit, when I came across one that made me think, "Didn't I wear that in 1993?"
[caption id="attachment_43200" width="371"] Click to purchase. (I don't get any money from it!)[/caption]
The answer is: Not exactly, but close enough.
[caption id="attachment_43201" width="498"] Me in 1993, Click for original post about this.[/caption]
Bodysuits (or "bodies," as the great fashion editor Polly Mellon called them) have made a big comeback that is a bit baffling to me, considering how uncomfortable crotch snaps are. Still, I always did regret purging my one 1980s Donna Karan sweater "body" from my closet. I was so proud of that polo-collared, cable-knit treasure from a Pennsylvania store outlet. And every so often, a one-piece is useful -- snaps be damned -- which is why I was browsing recently.
If you search for "black mesh bodysuit," you'll find lots of options for looking like 1993 me. If you get the the high-waisted jeans and big belt too, you must send me a photo!
Yesterday, I went to Washington, D.C., for the "Never Again Is Now" protest organized by #JewsAgainstIce and immigrant-rights organization Movimiento Cosecha.
Hundreds of peaceful activists marched from the National Mall ...
A post shared by Wendy Brandes (@wendybrandes) on Jul 17, 2019 at 7:24pm PDT
We succeeded! An email from ICE's Acting Director Matthew Albence -- leaked to The Young Turks website -- confirmed the building was placed in a "lock down condition" as more than 10 protestors were arrested in the lobby while others linked arms to block the building entrances and stop traffic on streets.
[caption id="attachment_43308" width="498"] The people with the linked arms were prepared to be arrested, but only the people inside the building were.[/caption]
I have participated in a lot of protests over the past couple of years, but this one spoke to the heart of my activism in a very personal way. Like many people who grew up in Jewish families, I was exposed early and often to Holocaust literature and the concept of saying "Never Again" to genocide. When my mother gave me a copy of Anne Frank's diary, she pointed out that I was close to 13 years old -- the age at which Anne got her first diary as a birthday gift. "If you had been there, this would have been you," my mother said, referring to Anne's death at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
[caption id="attachment_43306" width="498"] My original copy.[/caption]
Anne Frank and her older sister Margot both died of typhus, a lice-borne disease -- a fact that's gnawed at me as people (including some Jews) have quibbled over the use of the words "concentration camps" to describe the places where the U.S. is imprisoning immigrants. As I've explained before, not all Nazi concentration camps were extermination camps like Auschwitz, with its notorious gas chambers for efficient mass murder. Other camps, like Bergen-Belsen, were designed to kill through starvation and diseases caused by poor sanitation and overcrowding. Approximately 50,000 people died that from those causes in Bergen-Belsen, with 13,000 people dying after the British liberated the camp because they were too ill to survive. When the British evacuated the camp, they burned down the whole camp to control the typhus contagion.
[caption id="attachment_43309" width="498"] A sign from yesterday's protest depicting Anne Frank.[/caption]
Right now, in our own country, the overcrowding and squalor of the camps where people are being detained for an indefinite amount of time -- including children separated from their parents -- have been witnessed and documented. Six children have died in U.S. custody that we know of. Just yesterday, ProPublica published Ginger Thompson's interview with a Border Patrol agent, who described becoming numb to an environment which he initially perceived as like a zombie-apocalypse movie with “sickness and filth everywhere." Individuals became a blur to him, but among those who stood out were "a teenage mother who’d swaddled her baby in a filthy sweatshirt that she’d borrowed from another detainee because she’d been forced to throw away the clothes she brought." A California attorney who saw that baby "wiped rings of black dirt from around her neck."
I ask you, if you use another term for the camps to make yourself feel like we're not that bad, does that make those conditions for even one child more acceptable to you? Fuck that. Some of us Jews aren't going to let anyone use our history to deflect blame from or minimize our country's abuse of people here and now.
On a follow-up call tonight, organizers pointed out that there are detention centers all over the country, not just at the border. They're encouraging people to develop local protest plans to make communities aware that they're closer to the issue than they know. If you're interested, you can get a toolkit and coaching to help you do this. If you're thinking about it at all, don't look, just leap! I was impressed by people on tonight's call who were brand-new to activism, but took big roles in D.C. or had created local events, thanks to the superb support from the network. One woman who hadn't been to a protest before -- and hadn't planned to go yesterday until other plans fell through -- not only stuck out the entire action during the 90-plus-degree heat and high humidity, but stayed until night when the people who were arrested were released. She described how a team was there to clap and cheer for the people who had volunteered to put their bodies on the line. I almost cried when she mentioned that the greeting committee had special treats ready; the volunteers had filled out forms ahead of time, just in case, with requests for favorite foods.
That's how well organized this Never Again movement is! I don't think I've been to an action quite like it. The moment I got to the meeting place, a nice sign was placed in my hand. There were people distributing water, Gatorade, and snacks to prevent others from fainting from the heat. There were poised song leaders who kept our energy up for hours on end. People acting as protest marshals dealt with crowd control and the police. Volunteers for arrest were sorted into teams. A New York-based organizer found me a carpool ride -- big thanks to Aaron, a real mensch, who drove me and two other women to D.C. and back in one day. And, very importantly, great care had been taken to make ensure Jewish and immigrant communities worked as a team, and that the concerns of the people most affected were prioritized.
It’s been 20 years since the Friday-evening small-plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr.; his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy; and one of Carolyn’s older twin sisters, Lauren Bessette. I was the managing editor of People magazine’s website, three months into the job after spending the previous 10 years in business news. This era seems so...
I've been scolding myself for nearly a decade for giving up my Thursday Book Club posts, most of which focused on the bad-ass historical women who inspire my jewelry designs. The last book-club post was the finale of my three-parter on A Distant Mirror, Barbara Tuchman's book about the 14th century, which I posted in April 2010. Wow! Time really flies when you're thinking about things instead of doing them.
There is a point to my procrastination, however: Those were very involved, time-intensive posts, and this blog isn't monetized! I can't seem to write a quick and easy post about a queen any more than I can create a streamlined, simple Queens of Scots snake ring.
[caption id="attachment_43254" width="498"] I intended to do a plain little snake ring. It turned into this. Click for original post.[/caption]
In fact, this May, as Game of Thrones was coming to the end, I thought, "Let me write a short thing about how Daenerys is an angry queen, not a mad queen." But I had to back up a few of my historical parallels so I started getting out books ...
... and ended up with a post that WordPress tells me has 92 revisions, and that doesn't count the numerous versions I did outside of the blogging software.
CLICK HERE TO READ MY MASTERPIECE ABOUT DAENERYS AND ANGRY QUEENS.
Therefore, I'm delighted to find that Anne Thériault has a series of long reads called "Queens of Infamy." She tells some women's stories that I interpreted in metal but never properly blogged about, including Eleanor of Aquitaine ...
[caption id="attachment_43256" width="360"] My Eleanor necklace.[/caption]
... and Zenobia (also spelled Xenobia).
[caption id="attachment_43260" width="498"] My Xenobia ring design.[/caption]
Anne wrote two posts about Catherine de' Medici ...
[caption id="attachment_43261" width="300"] My Medici cufflinks.[/caption]
... and another two posts about Empress Josephine. I've dreamed of doing Josephine jewelry for years.
[caption id="attachment_43268" width="498"] Josephine inspiration in my bookcase.[/caption]
But, as I've said before, custom designs take precedence over designs for my inventory. I've only completed jewelry inspired by two of Henry VIII's six wives -- Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves -- with Katherine Howard started but not finished. Josephine will probably have to keep waiting.
For now, Anne (Thériault, not Boleyn!) has inspired me to declare my Eleanor lion necklace July's Jewel of the Month again. Buy the last remaining Eleanor in time for your Leo birthday in August. And don't forget to check out the Queens of Infamy series!
Tomorrow — Tuesday, July 16 — there will be a massive protest in Washington, D.C., against the concentration camps* at the border. #JewsAgainstICE from across the country are coming together with immigrant-rights organization Movimiento Cosecha to say, “Never again is now.” For more information about the D.C. action as well as local events, check out NeverAgainAction.com....
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog in June. Monday, June 3: Giambattista Valli floof meets H&M. Wednesday, June 5: More photos of the Style Crone. Thursday, June 6: Sheila of Ephemera has a vintage toga party. Monday, June 10: Belatedly celebrating Ossie Clark’s 77th birthday. Tuesday, June 11: Always a...
This has been my year of feeling nostalgic for the "original gangster" fashion bloggers. My subconscious must have become aware of the 10th anniversary of blogging's heyday before I ever looked at the dates. I'm happy to say I'm still in touch with all these fine wimmins via social media.
[caption id="attachment_42231" width="498"] July 11, 2009. From left: Samantha, Kate, Liz, Sharon, and me.[/caption]
This was just one of our many Pimm's-quaffing meet-ups. The first one was in 2008, and then it turned into an annual tradition for a decent run:
Sadly, MrB and I broke our "London in the summer" tradition in 2016, when he had a professional commitment in Vienna instead. Looking back through the blog, I now realize that in Vienna, I wore the Zac Posen dress I got in London at the inaugural blogger meet-up/crazy shopping excursion in 2008. That's another thing I don't believe I did consciously: I took a symbol of the London bloggers to Vienna with me! Here's the blurry, first-ever picture of the dress -- taken by gorgeous blogger Sharon -- after I tried it on for MrB back in the hotel in 2008.
[caption id="attachment_42232" width="498"] Click to read Sharon's 2008 blog post about how we went to Trudie Styler's yard sale![/caption]
I didn't wear the dress for real until 2010.
[caption id="attachment_42234" width="498"] Click for my 2010 post.[/caption]
And here it is in Vienna in 2016.
[caption id="attachment_42235" width="498"] Click for original post.[/caption]
Now I want to re-establish the annual London tradition. Or maybe my London peeps can all get together and do a joint trip to New York City just to shake things up? The Bar Downstairs at the Andaz Hotel does a delightful Pimm's Cup, ladies!
My newest YouTube video is a sequel. Part I came out in April, when I confessed that a vintage gold lamé toga by designer Stephen Burrows was a fashion mistake. I don’t make too many of those with vintage, but when I do, it’s a disco doozy. OG blogger Sheila from Ephemera — an expert...