Helmut Lang leather jacket, Supreme backpack, Moschino checkered sneaks and sunnies by Freeway. Frizzy hair by the Atlantic Ocean.
It has been over one year since I came to the realization that this clotheshorse needs to stop buying clothing and accessories. These purchases which used to do more for me than psychotherapy, simply don’t make my heart sing as they once did. I own too much shit, which at times overwhelms me. The more crap you own, the more hemmed in you feel. It does zero for my fengshui, is a waste of money, a scourge on this planet and then when you croak, all your shit becomes someone else’s shit. Is it time to Kondo as in Marie?
Don’t get me wrong… I will always love fashion, dissect it and talk about it. I just don’t need to own so much STUFF. This January, I made a resolution which I divulged to my closest friends, that I plan on halving my fashion-buying budget. They rolled their eyes in disbelief. That was then and this is now…5 months later in May and I haven’t bought a dang thing until this weekend.
I needed a beach getaway in Asbury Park, NJ, a historic city on the beach in much maligned and rightfully so, NJ. Yes, I despise NJ, but Asbury in an anomaly. It is branded as Manhattan on the beach. There are great restaurants, a board walk, shops, beautiful homes and is very walkable. People are artsy and nice. It is my unofficial home away from home and less than two hours from where I reside. I usually stay at The Berkeley Ocean Hotel which is across the street from the boardwalk. My favorite thing about Asbury is the array of cultural events. At least 3 nights a week, one can find entertainment. A few days before I arrived last Friday, I researched all the music venues to find a band to see. I settled on…ok wait….this rules…ELVANA, a Elvis-fronted Nirvana cover band, playing at Wonder Bar. The tickets were only $15–a steal.
Lead singer of Elvana. I was completely mesmerized by his red checkered Vans. His outfit matches my fuchsia velvet turban.
Their high-energy set amazed me. The lead singer is hilarious, and enjoys torturing his bass guitarist by grinding his balls up against him, well, because bass players are introverts. I too enjoy torturing introverts. What was very heart warming about that evening is how civil everyone was. People from NJ are not the nicest people. So I was shocked when everyone yielded so that I could get to the stage and rock out.
Ok, let’s get back to the topic of shopping in Asbury. There are lots of great shops and vintage stores. Antique Emporium on Cookman Avenue is a fabulous repository of vintage goods that you won’t find elsewhere. There were about 10 different lamps I wanted. But of course, I love hats. I need another freaking hat like I need to eat fried dough with the hoi-poloi in Seaside Heights. Seaside has been a den of mockery ever since I was a kid. Anyway, I bumped into this fuschia pleated turban by DEBORAH EXCLUSIVE. At $45, this hat was calling out to me and a steal. I immediately placed that vintage beaut on my head and didn’t take her off the entire weekend. Having spent only $45 almost 5 months into 2019 is nothing short of a miracle. Well done, Pretty Cripple.
Is this a great turban or what? You must visit Antique Emporium.
My friend bought this print of President Richard Nixon (Tricky Dick) at the Emporium because why not? It cracked us up. Plus my friend’s name is DICK. Yup, every girl needs a dick in her life. Ouch! That was too easy to pass up.
The last guy I expected to see on the boardwalk was this magician, “Dork of Deception.” I loved his short act, so I had to give him a hug.
I recommend eating at Modine. The cocktails, atmosphere and food is scrumptious. I had the steak tartare, smoked fried chicken and “Davin 75” cocktail. (Gunpowder Gin, Prosecco, Simple and Angosturro Bitters).
Modine. The staff is wonderful as is the wheelchair accessibility.
I plan on going back to Asbury in July and then again in August for my birthday. The 80s punk band, Social Distortion, is playing at the Stone Pony. What are your plans this summer? I am always happiest at the beach. That salt air makes my skin so damn dewy and hair a wee bit frizzy. Yippee!
There is no shortage of hilarious Instagram posts about fashion. Fashion designers who inject humor into their work distinguish themselves in an industry flooded with staleness and sameness. During this past January Couture Week in Paris, there was one show that stood out and that one was the Dutch duo, Viktor & Rolf. They are best known for not only their outlandish conceptual designs, but also for how they inject humor into their collections.
Down the runway, models wore huge exaggerated gowns tiered in tulle, with slogans such as “Sorry I’m Late I Didn’t Want To Come” stitched in enormous letters. In an age when you can’t escape from slogan tees sold on every fashion site, it was timely that Victor & Rolf would incorporate strong visual commentary into a collection. They elevated the prosaic to couture heights which in and of itself is smile-worthy.
The show began with a model wearing a gown with NO PHOTOS PLEASE, ironic and hilarious since the entire front row and beyond were snapping away on their smartphones oblivious to the stitched message. With each successive model who floated down the runway, the stitched statements became more and more amusing. “Trust Me I Am A Liar” could easily have been worn by Donald Trump in drag. But it was look #7 that called out to me, “I’m Not Shy I Just Don’t Like You”. I chuckled since this design truly resonated with me. How many times have you met people who annoy you causing you to be silent during the conversation, making you seem shy or disinterested? And…you can’t run away fast enough from that individual. Now, sporting such a slogan would be a disclaimer before entering a conversation.
When someone keeps telling you to “Trust me”, just don’t.
My second favorite gown is look #16, which is a sentiment that many of us feel. “Go Fuck Yourself” is a definitive declaration not lacking nuance. And to those who know me best, there are many situations I enjoy skillfully using an F-bomb.
Photos by Alessandro Viero via Vogue.com
After viewing all 18 looks, I immediately took to Instagram to post my faves. It wasn’t long before this post became my most viral to date. The post wasn’t popular because people admire the technical prowess that goes into designing a couture collection. It resonated since the statements which were so skillfully and beautifully stitched on the dresses are universal and relatable. It also shows that in a world of stifling political correctness, having a sense of humor prevails over the “think positive-be mindful-phony baloney.” My next goal was to recreate this t-shirt. So I went onto Zazzle.com, created a slogan t-shirt and asked my fashion designer, Jamie Kreitman, to embellish ala Victor & Rolf. First I set the text in Helvetica Bold in Photoshop over the original image then skewed and distorted it. Then I uploaded the text to a cotton t shirt. They have many style options which include choosing the weight of the cotton and fit. I chose the American Apparel fine Jersey which only cost $21.46 with shipping because I used a coupon. Once I placed the order, the tee was delivered to Jamie’s studio within one week. From there she placed it on her mannequin and wended her fashion design magic. The sleeves are ruffled in tiers with shredded chiffon to mimic the tulle gowns. Now, that’s a spin on t-shirt couture!
Give me a shout if you’d like this t-shirt. I believe that couture is democratic and would love to spread the beauty and the humor!
The mesh top under the tshirt is by Junya Watanabe. The hat is vintage and was purchased at the Manhattan Vintage Show. The boots are by Kate Spade.
America has an affordable housing crisis. So let’s put Americans who are renowned for their savvy and entrepreneurial spirit to the test. While there isn’t a quick fix to this problem, there is one solution which I hope municipalities and NIMBY’s (Not In My Neighborhood) will embrace. A new proliferating movement called TINY HOMES , could be a stopgap to house the homeless, seniors or people who can’t afford to pay over 30% of their salary for housing. There are charities and communities throughout the US building these TINY HOMES, which measure less than 500 square feet, but come with many mod cons.
For those who are environmentally conscious, some TINY HOMES are built from surplus shipping containers, an alternative to traditional building materials and have a starting price tag of $44K. These containers can be delivered and assembled in as little as 10 weeks.
Shipping container home from “5 shipping container homes you can order right now.”
As someone who lives in a 1300 sq. foot space with two dogs, I wanted to get a taste of what it might be like to live in a TINY SPACE. I invited my BFF Mavis Pepperwhite and two of my artistic girlfriends, whom I have known since high school and college, to transform my 10’x5’ bathroom into living space.
Mavis never ceases to amaze me. While she and Angela were staging my bathroom, I sat in my bar area with Sherri singing and drinking wine alongside a singing machine. (Think karaoke machine but on a cheaper scale for kids.) It took about a 1/2 hr. for them to fill my bathroom with all the necessary accoutrements for this wheelchair princess. Angela lifted me like an Amazon warrior and gently placed me into the tub. The bathtub served as my main hangout and place to sleep. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any room to place my wheelchair. If we had more time, we’d figure out how to suspend it from the ceiling.
Watch my video to get a real sense of what it was like to squeeze into TINY HOME digs.
In the video I stated I would try to stay in my bathroom for a few hours to test out this 50 foot sq. space. Well, that didn’t end too terrifically. I couldn’t bear sitting in such a small space and nature came a callin’. Realistically, I need a minimum of three small homes connected together to survive. One house would house my hats, the second house exclusively for my shoes and the third container would be where I sleep, eat and shower. And come to think of it, a fourth house would be necessary as my entertainment space for staging creative productions to post on my blog and Instagram.
What should you add to a TINY HOME? Shoes, jackets, fondue set, blender, coffee maker, whiskey, cocktail shaker, one apple, perfume, custom DIY project GUCHI bag constructed from a postal service box, vase of flowers, dog food, winter coat, Mac computer, lamp, clock, bananas up in that port hole and a picture of St. Joseph.
Do you wear perfume? My favorite (created in 1978), which I have worn since high school is “Madeleine de Madeleine Mono” which has a top note of French tuberose, a note I can recognize anywhere.
I had to spoof one of the most over rated brands in the world–SUPREME. Even Louis Vuitton, another over rated status brand collaborated with them to produce a bunch of tacky bags. Get the look cheaper by using a shipping box.
I can’t remember which saint this is, but he is up there to remind us it is only 6pm, have drunk too much wine and we have hours to go.
The wackiness and creativity didn’t end after staging our TINY HOME. We pulled out some paper bags and sketched faces with eye holes so we could wear them. Isn’t that what sensible people do after drinking a few bottles of Riesling? I chose to draw my fashion idol, Iris Apel. I was delighted with my effort since this art school grad hasn’t sketched in years. It was like riding a bike! After I posted a Facebook video of our paper bag masterpieces, friends suggested creating a sketching MeetUP. Good idea. Drawing is akin to meditating and relaxing, something we should all set aside time to do.
We couldn’t find my crochet hook to pull out Mavis’ pink hair through holes in the bag, so we used the next best thing–a wine cork screw. Ouch! I sketched fashion icon Iris Apfel on my bag. Notice the Champion sweatshirt I am wearing? That is what you will see me wearing around the house all winter complete with salty snack stains.
I might need to own this Iris Apfel t-shirt from Zara.
Our night concluded with cleaning up the mess, scrubbing a heavily encrusted fondue pot and watching Saturday Night Live. As I have mentioned in previous posts, when my friends and I stage something at my house, I need an entire day to recover from the pain of laughing for many hours straight. The following day, I’m sequestered in recovery mode. And speaking of January resolutions, my main fitness routine continues to be indulging in fondue, drinking wine, being creative and laughing for hours on end until I feel my heart and brain will explode. This 2019 you should try out my regime. Adulthood is so over rated.
I am not one for New Years’ resolutions because I don’t want to beat myself up should I fail. In the middle of last year, I needed to make healthier lifestyle changes and trim my budget.
I was spending way too much money on groceries by indulging in weekly $20 artisanal cheese rolled in ash, instead of settling for sharp Vermont cheddar or slumming it with Velveeta. I was able to cut my 2018 grocery bill by $1500 from 2017 by making mindful decisions without sacrificing too much.
For 2019, I plan to continue cutting my grocery bill as well as eating vegetarian dishes at a minimum of 6 times a week. I want to do this since there is irrefutable evidence that eating less meat and increasing vegetable intake is better for us and the environment. Additionally, I love pigs and cows too damn much. Growing up in a Polish household, pork and beef were daily staples. At this stage in my life, I feel too much guilt consuming these beautiful intelligent animals. Something has to give. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat bacon, but there has to be a way for me to feel good without having to consume it. Veggie bacon or facon, just doesn’t cut it.
Bingo! I found the most self-evident solution. Instead of ingesting bacon, I can wear it. And not Lady Gaga style with meat hanging off my full frontal. Last month while perusing Saks.com I found the most perfect red puffer cropped jacket by the Italian brand, BACON. Yes, you read that correctly. Immediately my mouth watered, a glimmer shone in my eye and a dream bubble popped up above my head. “I am going to start wearing fake bacon dammit! I need to break my habit of pork gorging and opt for something that will make me look GREAT instead.” The highlight of this jacket and biggest selling point is the oversized puffy collar and ribbon to fashion a bow. Of course the only possible color to order for myself is lipstick red. What else?
To make this outfit commit fully to the bacon sans-bacon theme, I topped it off with a Japanese boiled wool hat which resembles overlapped slices of bacon. Contrast this look with a pair of leopard Nanushka boots with gold heel with a carefully placed Kermit the Frog as a prop. And voila… this now qualifies as a potentially viral Instagram #VeganFashion post.
Are any of you committing to changing your diet for the better this year? If so shoot me some ideas. I know this much, I can’t deal with veganism full time. At present, cheese must remain in my dietary regimen or I won’t feel human. This deprivation could lead me to return to my old carnivorous ways.
Those closest to me fully understand my unhealthy lifelong relationship with The Muppets. I prefer them to humans.
Finally, I have to share a vegetarian recipe with you that I can’t stop devouring and sharing with people. I have never been a fan of cauliflower, but occasionally I come across a dish that deserves accolades. This Indian-style crispy cauliflower curry dish from meal delivery service Blue Apron needs to be shared. Bon Appétit mes petits cochons.
Donning a Loopy Mango Fringe Hat. I purchased the pattern in April and just finished making it.
It’s not easy living in the ‘burbs. In this wasteland devoid of culture, car ownership is mandatory, social isolation a fact of life and the mundane is elevated to event status.
I mitigate boredom by belonging to a myriad of organizations where I interact with people. After all, I am a people person. Engaging in a hobby to share with a friend is another way to liven up the daily routine. My newest hobby is knitting as it relates to my love of fashion and creativity. My pal, Jamie, taught me how to pick up two needles and knit, and we enjoy meeting every other week to catch up on gossip and create new things.
For several months, we met at my home to help me hone my knitting skills, but we needed a new environment to get out of the house. So where could we go to spread out our supplies and chatter incessantly in comfort? Would a coffee shop serve as a good co-knitting space? Surely, but I despise Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or any ubiquitous, soulless chain. I would have to drive 5 miles to find a mom and pop coffee shop. So instead, we meet up at…ok, wait for it, because it is rather ridiculous- the massive destination supermarket chain, WEGMANS!!! When I recently confided to a friend that I knit in a supermarket, she keeled over in laughter. Here’s how that convo went:
Friend: Wait, hold on. That is so lame. Knitting in a supermarket? Holy shit, you need to write about that in your blog.
Me: Yeh, it is a bit lame, but Wegman’s has a huge eating area where you can lay out all your shit, drink decent coffee, watch Judge Judy on a huge flatscreen and feast on many take out food options like sushi, pizza, burgers, a vegan/vegetarian buffet section, desserts and sandwiches. Also, it is located in a corporate park area, so I can gaze at cute guys in business suits. They smell really good. We eavesdrop on dull conversations just because and once were startled by the clacking of MAHJONG TILES. No, this ain’t Boca. But it does actually turn into a quasi-geriatric day care center once the lunch crowd dissipates. Suburbia is so freaking lame and isolating that people are clamoring to meet up in public places to break the monotony. You will even find teenagers hanging with their laptops, earbuds, thermos size cups of coffee and junk food spread out on the table. Trust me, I can make even this scenario entertaining. I want you to come with me.
Friend: Uh, no, that sounds like hell to me.
Me: Come on now. It is a slice of heaven. Wegman’s is the size of a football stadium. Where else can you find 25 varieties of goat cheese, spiraled vegetables of every variety, an incredible gourmet chocolate emporium, a massive liquor store and huge gift section just in case you need a birthday gift for your cousin’s mother-in-law? We’re also considering bringing a margarita machine with a pitcher, tequila and the all the trimmings, plug that sucker in and go to town. Wouldn’t that be the ballsiest thing ever? It is such a loud machine. I have never tried knitting under the influence, so that is on my agenda. You could call me “Twisted Knitter”.
So aren’t you curious as to what I am knitting as of late at Wegman’s? A whimsical cotton fringe hat that resembles the hair of a Komondor canine. I purchased the pattern and yarn for $41 at Loopy Mango, my fave knit store in Beacon, NY in April. It’s so shaggy and 60’s, I want to model it on Carnaby Street.
The Komondor and me wearing a fringe hat.
This is what it looks like before you fold it to meet both sides and thread a seam to finish it.
Oh my God, would you get a load of my serious face? It’s all in the details people. I had to add more fringe.
Here is one Jamie knitted in blue.
So if you’re looking for some co-crafting with a fashion bent, want to hone your skills as a Maker, then join us for a Meetup just a stone’s throw from my #PFW catwalk. Yup, we’re getting our fashion on at a supermarket, but then we sashay, shante down the aisles cum runways pushing our shopping carts in stylee.
THIS IS WHAT WE CALL SUPERMARKET-CHIC.
Jamie made this bag to match the blue fringe bag. Now that is some fierce supermarket chic.
In honor of Paris Fashion Week I’m wearing my very first knitted sweater. It took me 5 months to knit, and boy am I proud of myself. If you would like to knit yourself one then head to the LOOPY MANGO site for their pattern and beautiful, cloud like yarn with saturated colors. The color I am wearing is SPICY PINK.
I have an endless list of why I haven’t focused on the fashion shows occurring during London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. Firstly, my posse and I have been riveted by the Judge Brett Kavanaugh senate hearing spectacle. Next, what was going on with Kanye West dressed as a water bottle for the season premiere of Saturday Night Live? And most importantly, establishing new arts programs for the non-profit organization, Haverstraw Riverwide Arts, has taken up a good deal of my time. I am also looking forward to seeing singer/songwriter who has the most impeccable sense of style, Leon Bridges, who is performing at Radio City Hall this weekend.
Paris Fashion Week was a yawn-fest this year. Very few designers made an exceptional statement. Usually Paris shows are my faves out of all the runway shows, but this year has certainly not been ground breaking. I was sorely disappointed and bored. The theatrics overshadowed whatever creativity sauntered down the catwalk. Click throughs were at a rapid pace with each slide presentation.
As far as trends are concerned, the most hideous and egregious is the BIKER SHORT for next spring. They are awkward and unflattering on almost every body type. Why have designers resorted to such depths? Have they run out of ideas for the masses to latch onto? Biker shorts….really? I am already repulsed by the wear-all-day athleisure trend. Skin tight shorts are best reserved for cyclists, not paired with flouncy tops and shoulder padded tailored jackets. This trend has taken athleisure another step downwards by being approved as every wear, any wear. So, KILL ME.
LEFT: MIU MIU – photo by Monica Feudi; MARINE SERRE – photo courtesy of Marine; CHANEL – photo by Kim Weston Arnold. All photos via Vogue.com.
AND IT JUST GETS WORSE…!
Here’s what to wear when you are signaling to a potential suitor that you are “never in the mood…” LEFT: JOHN GALLIANO – photo by Kim Weston Arnold via Vogue.com; ATSUSHI NAKASHIMA (Doesn’t her name make you hungry?) photo courtesy of PR via NowFashion.com; VIKA GAZINSKAYA – photo courtesy of Vika
I CAN GET “LURED” BY THIS TREND.
Left: Y’s – photo courtesy of Y’s; YANG LI – photo courtesy by Yang; CHLOÉ – photo by Kim Weston Arnold. All via Vogue.com.
FAVORITE SHOW OF PARIS FASHION WEEK
I can’t get enough of Noir. What he always bring to the fashion table is his innovative textiles and styling. Are those wigs constructed out of shaving cream? Nope, they were made from tufted seed pods. Photos by Yannis Vlamos all via Vogue.com.
LEFT: ANREALAGE – photo by Luca Tombolini; OLIVIER THEYSKENS – photo by Kim Weston Arnold. Photos via Vogue.com. RIGHT: ROMANCE WAS BORN – photo by Charles Dennington.
As for other trends, they’re not even worth mentioning. Instead take a look at my boards and feel as disenchanted as I. I’m gonna pick up my two sticks, some hot pepper pink yarn and create for myself something exceptional. Knitting is the new Xanax. A perfect antidote to an uninspiring Spring 2019 fashion month.
What is the current state of fashion and where are things headed according to fashion industry’s pros, in this WWD article from September 4, 2018? It isn’t all doom and gloom. But of all the insiders who chimed in, this quote resonates the most.
“When you think about the French or Italians or the British, there’s confidence. Like, ‘this is what Milan or London or Paris looks like and we’re confident about this.’ And for some reason New York is always, ‘uh, I dunno. Maybe we’re too commercial and it’s boring.’ Yes, that is true for a lot of work presented during New York Fashion Week, but why take that attitude….why be such a Debby-Downer? There are really interesting things happening in this city, among the new people and the older brands. Look at what Marc Jacobs has been putting out the past two collections. It’s pretty awesome and wild.” — Mike Eckhaus, Eckhaus Latta
I concur that while the majority of labels do not take risks as I wish they would, there is always something that captivates me and has me championing everything that happens in NY.
Since the NY Spring 2019 collections just ended, I feel compelled to share the most notable trends.
If you are wondering why I chose to wear a styrofoam wig, it is because I drew inspiration from one of my favorite, dynamic and energetic Spring 2019 collections: Laurence & Chico. Let me give you some background of Canadian duo, Laurence Li and Chico Wang. To date, I don’t think I have ever commented on their collections since I began this blog over 5 years ago. They debuted their first women’s collection in 2016. They both met while studying at Parson’s School of Design and inject humor and boldness into all their designs. Recently they opened a new 2000 sq ft. cafe in Vancouver which is imbued with their wild, colorful, how-many-hits-of-acid imagination. I don’t just want to inhale every pastry they offer, but would eagerly live in that space on a cot, donning the styrofoam wig and yucking it up with patrons. What is better than fashion? When it collides with colorful food and coffee. I wonder if they serve wine? Then my life would be complete.
Canadian duo Laurence Li and Chico Wang always bring theatrics and humor to their brand. (Photos by Regis Colin Berthelier from NOW FASHION.com.)
It’s always the right time to put on a styrofoam wig.
TRENDS FOR SPRING 2019
Do you ever wake up in the morning and think “I am so tired of having the perfect body. I would do anything to look more deformed. There has to be a way.” Well now there is a way to build even more confidence by wearing fashion that deforms your shoulders. From left: SNOW XUE GAO – photo by Andrea Adriani; CHRISTIAN COWAN – photo by Yannis Vlamos; and Matthew Adams Dolan – photo by Marcus Tondo. All via https://www.thecut.com/runway/
You wouldn’t catch me dead in anything see-through ok? Well maybe just in my shoulder area, but you don’t need to see my mishappen noodle legs. Some things need to stay covered. LEFT: DION LEE – photo by Yannis Vlamos; SELF PORTRAIT – photo by Iker Aldama; DISCOUNT UNIVERSE – photo by Alessandro Garofalo
Hook me up with these lovely knits. LEFT: OSCAR DE LA RENTA – photo by Yannis Vlamos; ULLA JOHNSON – photo by Monica Feudi; ANNA SUI – photo by Yannis Vlamos. All via Vogue.com.
It’s bad enough that the ‘ugly-chic’ sneaker trend is sticking around longer than it should. Dad sneakers are trending for the past few seasons and now there is this by brand GYPSY SPORT. WTF? Wearing sneakers that appear to be 3 sizes larger? Hum, these ladies look like they stole them off one of their dead male family members during the apocalypse. Never a fan of ‘inappropriate’ skirt or dress lengths no matter what body type. In the hilarious words of wisdom of writer/actress Jill Kargman, who created the show “Odd Mom Out”, when having a discussion with her tween daughter about that topic: “The higher the skirt the looser the vagina.”
Just in case any of you have been wondering what Madonna’s daughter 21 year old daughter Lourdes is up to these days, click on the link and peek at image #24, to see her modeling Gypsy Sport’s clothing.
The takeaway from NY Fashion Week is that more brands are staying away from showing their collection on the runway, which is too costly. Small and midrange labels have to cut production costs, therefore resort to staging on NY streets or in restaurants. Is their even a point to putting in so much effort into a stressful runway show when brands can simply photograph their designs on models anywhere and share on social media? Brands don’t even need high-priced super models, when they can opt for someone who better represents the average American woman. A woman who is 5′, 4″ and over a size 12. Â Sure I love over-the-top staged shows where money is no object, but ultimately my sole focus is the clothing, not who is wearing them.
Flashback to an episode of Sex and the City when Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie, introduces Miranda to “Manhattan Guy.” He’s the type of New Yorker who hasn’t left New York in over 10 years because he feels there is no need to leave. The city offers 24 hour access to the best culture, food, events, Central Park and cabs , all at your fingertips. They are known as a mutant strain of single men who graze at Zabar’s and frequent midnight showings at the Angelika (arts movie theater in Greenwich Village). In this episode, Carrie and Miranda are aghast since a whole world exists outside of Manhattan. However, I completely empathize with “Manhattan Guy.” New York City is a microcosm of the world and then some.
Want a taste of Europe? No problem. Craving La Belle France and want to visit a medieval monastery? Well, even that exists in Upper Manhattan and is known as The Cloisters. Recently I chose a warm, rainy June day to visit one of the city’s most enchanting places which sits on 4 acres overlooking the Hudson River and houses some of the world’s most priceless art from the 12th-15th centuries. Oh yea, did I mention parking is FREE?
A main reason for this visit was to view the second half of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum’s fashion exhibit, “Heavenly Bodies”. The Met (as we New Yawkas affectionately call it) is located on Fifth Avenue and E. 80th adjacent to Central Park. The Met acquired The Cloisters in the late ’20s and is located in Fort Tryon Park in Northern Manhattan perched above the Hudson River. Do read the fascinating history of The Cloisters here- https://www.metmuseum.org/press/news/2006/the-cloisters-a-history
About one month ago, I visited the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit at The Met and wrote about it in this post. For those who visited the Met portion of the exhibit and wondered whether to travel to The Cloisters to complete your “fashion pilgrimage”, the answer is a resounding YES! This exhibit exceeded my expectations. It was by far my favorite portion of the extravagant, most ambitious fashion exhibit to date. I dare say this is my FAVORITE Met fashion exhibit to date. Full disclosure: I missed the McQueen exhibit and from what I understand that could have been a contender for fave status.
Gown by Victor & Rolf – the silhouette of this dress recalls the popular Marian devotion of dressing sculptures of the Madonna and child. A “Russian Nesting Doll” is also something that comes to mind.
For starters, the intimate settings curator, Andrew Bolton, placed the mannequins among the treasure of medieval religious artwork. This setting was far more compelling and conducive to the awe-inspiring theme and garments. The fewer number of art pieces surrounding the costumed mannequins enabled me to concentrate on the detailed handwork and precious workmanship of the couture garments. The exhibit of clothing in this setting was truly a religious experience.
One setting was particularly moving since the focus was on the reverential splendor of the Balenciaga adorned bride. She is standing alone, in front of the altar, Jesus Christ hovering above. “Ave Maria” sung by Maria Callas is playing on a loop. The light shining through the window on the tableau lent an ethereal and sacred air which left me with goose bumps. I sensed an other-worldly presence and felt transported to another dimension of sanctity. Then again, “Ave Maria” does that to me. It always leaves tears in my eyes.
Wedding dress by Balenciaga. Spring 1967. This is my favorite room.
Just when I couldn’t feel more ‘divine’ and at peace with my surroundings, I was reminded how ‘divine’ nature is. There are several gardens at the Cloisters, and one that has a cafe, where you can sit, relax and eat overpriced cold sandwiches. Unlike the Met, which has many culinary options, don’t expect that at the Cloisters. Instead take a mile long walk down the road to eat in NEW LEAF restaurant, a fieldstone cottage built by John D. Rockefeller in the 1930s as a public cafeteria and park administration building. Designed by the famous Olmsted Brothers, the classic structure has a cobblestone exterior, granite archways and a slate roof, with massive oak trusses supporting the dining room’s 18-foot ceiling.
Witness three bust reliquaries of female saints which holds three white or pale gold straw Philip Treacy hats. Treacy called them “Madonna Rides Again.”
Thom Browne is one of my all-time favorite designers. This ensemble, located in one of the tapestry rooms is fit for royalty. Look at the front of her gown to find a hand stitched unicorn with gold threaded horn.
Thom Browne wedding ensemble, 2018, with gold bullion, pearls, crystals and sheared white mink.
ART IS ALL AROUND US.
This exquisite door was not part of the exhibit, but is so beautiful, it called out my name. I am an overly excitable person. Unfortunately you really can’t take me anywhere. I am pretty sure I enthusiastically shouted–mind you, in a Godly, serene place–“Holy shit, would you look at this amazing fucking door!” Come on people, you have to be in tune with all your surroundings. This door deserved all my adulation and then some.
A number of topics are eternally controversial. Politics and religion are two which come to the fore, with religion being the most touchy. I was raised as a Catholic and its precepts are still ingrained in me. A primary tenet of Catholicism is that God embodies love and beauty. Humans by nature seek out beauty and love by whatever means.
Fashion, a subject less controversial, has been and continues to be analyzed ad infinitum. There are several salient commonalities between religion and fashion. Designers and those who create fashion, adorn us with beauty which can elevate us to a spiritual level. The clerical garb or vestments worn by the clergy pay tribute and respect to God’s love through the painstakingly beautiful embellishments and detailed craftsmanship.
It was only a matter of time before these two subjects would intersect and be identified as historically and culturally worthy of a grand museum exhibit.
This year, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC organized its most ambition fashion exhibit to date. “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” lays forth the inextricable link and inspiration that fashion has drawn from the traditions and visual iconography of Catholicism. Couture and ready-to-wear fashion from the 19th and 20th centuries are displayed and seamlessly juxtaposed with religious art in the Byzantine and Medieval galleries. The culmination of a true religious experience is found downstairs in the Anna Wintour Costume Institute where you will find over 40 vestments, priceless tiaras, mantles, cloaks, capes and more on loan from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Sacristy, on view for the first time. The exhibit concludes in the Met Cloisters in Upper Manhattan.
I learned about this exhibit almost a year ago. This wouldn’t merely be a fashion exhibit-meets-religious experience, but a “fashion pilgrimage”, since it takes visitors from the main Met location all the way to the Cloisters, a peaceful, spiritually zen-like place, which I had not visited since I was a teen.
I had to look up more information on the Cloisters’ website to see how to get there and where to park. In the Accessibility section I read “Caregivers of visitors with disabilities will be admitted for free. These tickets may be obtained at a Museum ticket counter.” CAREGIVER + FREE had a nice ring to it. I had never read that before. Immediately I laughed and all these ideas were swirling in my head how my friend, Jamie, would play a “caregiver” role. We would go to the exhibit, she would dress as a nurse so that she’d qualify for free admission. But typical mint-green ill fitting scrubs wouldn’t cut it for this kind of field trip. After exchanging ideas, we planned our outfits accordingly for our visit to The Met Costume Exhibit:
HERE’S HOW YOU DRESS LIKE A FASHIONABLE “CARE-GIVER/NURSE.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST. My fashion nurse not only helps me get around, she dispenses fashion advice, cures fashion ills and mends broken seams without handing out narcotics. What should a fashion nurse wear? Let’s start with BLACK, head to toe –a New Yorker’s obligatory color choice . A nurse’s hat with bespoke veiling, matching lipstick red stethoscope, tailored denim cape, Comme des Garçons tote replete with snacks, napkins, gum, Purell, safety pins and an emergency sewing kit. Add sensible Wolford stockings and fabulous bejeweled faux fur embellished thick gumsole sneakers. (Perfect for chasing wheelchair cripples who have ADD and dart off at a moment’s notice.) Top it off with matching red cat eye sunnies, the silhouette du jour. You didn’t expect me to drag someone along to a fashion exhibit looking like a schlub did you?
A more detailed analysis and review of this monumental exhibit will be posted at a later date. Please stay tuned.
This show has left me with chills for days. I continue to process all the splendor I took in viewing fashion, artistry and art so profoundly beautiful and detailed that I can only attribute such beauty to a greater power. This exhibit sapped me of energy and when I returned home, I slept 9 hours and still felt drained. Does that sound dramatic? It isn’t because some of you who have experienced this will understand. Art can do that-it can simultaneously uplift and exhaust one’s senses.
I strongly urge you to visit “Heavenly Bodies.” The exhibit ends October 8th, 2018
I LEAVE YOU with one of my favorite non-clothing items from the exhibit.
This is a German ivory and silver rosary dated from 1500. The beads juxtapose the images of life and death. (Hum, how uplifting.) The inscription on one of the beads reads: “Remember death/This is what you will be.” The boxwood bead opens to reveal Death appearing unannounced at a meal beneath an image of the Last Judgment. The Latin inscription reads, “Stay awake, for you do not know at which hour your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42.)
So uh, that explains my preoccupation with death since teen hood. I bumped into a hilarious Catholic artist friend 2 weeks ago who asked me whether I would like to attend her “green funeral party seminar.” She said the seminar will explore how to be buried using “green” methods, which avoid using formaldehyde and all the other toxic sludge morticians pump into a corpse. Of course I said I will attend her seminar. This is a topic for a future blog post.
I’m not one to pick up a new hobby since I quickly lose interest and patience. So when I find an endeavor worthy of commitment, it’s time for major applause. This year, at the gentle coaxing of my designer friend and knitting teacher, Jamie Kreitman, I took up knitting with a passion. She persuaded me to pick up two needles to empower myself with the skills to create fashion. In knitting, not only does one create an item, but the fabric itself is created at the same time as the design. The sense of gratification is so overwhelming when I see a piece I’ve been knitting come to life! We’re both inspired by what we see online and offline. Our shared Pinterest board is our scrapbook and go-to resource of incredible inspirations and ideas which we refer to and discuss as departure points for our next projects. As knitters have told me, it’s de rigueur to always have a future project planned while working on a present project. It’s head spinning, yarn spinning, wheel spinning and challenging. And I love clicking my needles (think Dorothy) and stitching away.
During this past miserable 2018 winter, we promised each other that once spring arrived, we’d take a road trip to visit the newly opened Loopy Mango yarn shop located in Beacon, NY. Beacon has become an artistic and bucolic magnet town situated on the Hudson River 60 odd miles north of NYC. DIA, the contemporary art museum, established a branch a few years ago in this town which is quaint and walkable. Boutiques, galleries, coffee shops and great restaurants line the main street and this area serves as a weekend escape for many a New Yorker. Loopy Mango, once located in Soho, NYC, recently reopened their flagship store in Beacon. After stopping by their booth at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC this past January, we were eager to pay a visit to their latest outpost.
Visiting local yarn stores can be overwhelming due to the enormous bounty of delectable colorful yarns stocked from all over the world. I find these stores a bit cluttered and lose focus after a few minutes. Selecting yarn in these stores requires knowledge and vision which I’m still developing as a newbie. Nevertheless, yarn store sales staff share a love of knitting and offer excellent customer service.
So how is Loopy Mango different and how was I able not to lose it once in the store? Loopy Mango has a laser focused singular vision, a clear esthetic and well curated selection. Their spin is fashion oriented in tandem with craft education. They manufacture and produce some of their own hand crafted yarn at their mill in Florida. Other yarns are made in Italy from 100% merino wool and cotton.
As a beginner, I love that Loopy offers DIY kits which contain a pattern, yarn and knitting needles, which range from beginner to advanced. Think of it as the Blue Apron of the knitting world. Currently I am knitting their “Super cropped cardigan – Merino No. 5”which is on the intermediate level. Knitting doesn’t always come cheap if you want quality, great color and fashion impact. The yarn in this kit isn’t $5 yarn you pick up at the big box stores. So expect this Loopy Mango kit to set you back $126.
Loopy Mango cropped cardie in HOT PINK.
Wheelchair Barbie sits poised with her knitting needles resting in her crippled little lap. She is going to help me knit my fringed hat. Yes, in private she actually comes to life and helps me knit. Jamie knitted her the pink doll beanie.
Lucky for me, the sales staff at Loopy Mango greeted us warmly and had a good sense of humor. I entered the magnificent white space like a tornado, talking a mile a minute, laughing, touching yarn, moving things around and staging where my Wheelchair Barbie could be photographed. The backdrop of colorful and beautiful yarn, luscious knitted samples and great light made this a non-stop Instagram photo op.
We shot some video and I immediately felt compelled to purchase a summer fringe DIY cotton beanie kit. This lightweight fringed hat reminded me of something comedienne Phyllis Diller would have worn during one of her standup routines. Watch this video to see the fabulousness of this hat. Kudos to Loopy Mango for selling this edgy pattern, since I can’t imagine many knitters wearing this fashion forward design. If we could get women to burn their boring baseball caps, this would be the replacement I suggest. Off with the cap and don this fun, fringed statement hat!
After cooing over the yarn and touching and grabbing everything in sight, I left with the fringed hat yarn, while Jamie purchased a coordinating fringe bag knit kit. I’m chomping at the bit to get started on my hat. Remember I said before, you always have a new project lined up as you’re working on a current one? This is a fine example. Now, if only Loopy Mango had a bright red cotton to make this hat. Red is my signature color and favorite one at that. Well, sometimes wishes come true.
Should you visit Beacon, do visit the DIA Museum, then stroll along the main road. I recommend two places to eat. One is the “Vault,” a tapas and spirits restaurant located in an historic bank building complete with working vault. The second is “The Roundhouse” which is also a historic property overlooking a beautiful waterfall, has outdoor seating and quaint boutique hotel located adjacently.