Friday, June 3, 2016

Amy Downs Pops Up in the Big Apple

Hats-a-Poppin'
Amy Downs Has a Pop-Up Shop
Memorial Day weekend turned out to be memorable for me because I went to an Amy Downs Trunk Show with a bunch of my pals.

Who is Amy Downs? Let's go back to 1985 when Richard and I moved to NYC and rented a loft in a former dance hall on Rivington Street. The loft had two big rooms and two bathrooms, no kitchen and no shower. We installed a shower in one of the bathrooms, purchased a small refrigerator and hauled out our double burner for cooking. In summer, we built our famous air-conditioned room for sleeping. The room was constructed from 4 by 8 foot panels covered in clear vinyl with edges sealed in green duct tape. I believe that MoMA has a replica in their design department.

For fun, Richard and I would wander the wild and woolly Lower East Side, stepping aside to let the random drug dealer or drug taker lurch by. It was the time of Mayor Koch's reign and Operation Pressure Point was trying to push the drug trade out to the boroughs. It was on one of these walks that we came upon the wonderland of Amy Downs, The Hat and Mary Adams, The Dress, two intrepid designers who shared a storefront at the corner of Ludlow and Stanton.
Me in an Amy Downs hat. 
Four hat people have just come from Amy's Trunk Show
on East Broadway.
L-R, Dayle, Debra Rapoport, Teresa Taylor and Carol Markel.
All but Debra, who wears a hat of her own design, are
wearing Amy Downs' toppers.
We were giddy as we began the trying on.
There was picture-taking.
 Much style advice was proffered.

 Choices were made.
 Theresa's choice: a becoming red straw.
Dayle in a lemon-lime tulle which
complements her yellow glasses.
Amy makes darling mannequins.
Debra is a consummate milliner.
She models this big-bow hat
of her own design.
Leaving the scene of the crime
(assault and battery on our wallets)
we head to Seward Park
for a lawn party!
 Joining us at our Seward Park Co-op,
were Diana Gabriel and Valerie of  The
Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.
Diana holds a bag of donuts
from The Donut Plant.
Truly forbidden fruit.
 Valerie uncorks some bubbly.
 Richard and I are fortunate to have a wonderful
lawn area on our co-op's property.
Red chairs are set out every day.
Diana models Teresa's Amy Downs hat.
A sun-dappled tableau.
 Families and children share our outdoor space.
Some years ago, Amy moved to
Centralia, Washington.
You can look at her studio in
a charming video or order a hat,

A Big Hat Thank You
to Denton Taylor
for these photos.

À Bientôt!


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day

The Spring Party Scene
Part Two
As we said last post, April has seen a whirlwind of festivities -- a stylish maelstrom if you will. There was Anna's big bash at the Met last Monday where Madonna bared her booty. But we who cannot pony up the $30,000 for a ticket to the Met Gala, and who want to keep our booties under wraps, manage to have fun as we mine the depths of our closets for yet another stunning outfit.

On a Sunday afternoon, a group of friends gathered at our apartment for a tea to honor a visitor from Vancouver, Canada. Cathie Borrie is the author of The Long Hello -- Memory, My Mother, and Me. She was in New York for the launch of the USA edition of The Long Hello.

Cathie's book is an apt subject for a Mother's Day post. It tells the story of her years of caring for her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Since my mother, Mary, also had the disease, I have a keen interest in what Cathie had to say.

The Long Hello is prose poetry. In short interludes, Cathie reveals her intimate relationship with her ill mother. But not only do we hear the absurd, the heart-breaking and the lovely words spoken by Cathie and her mother, but we also learn about Cathie's life in a condensed narrative and crisp words. In spite of, her perhaps because of such well-edited brevity, by the end of the book we can say that we know Cathie and the details of her life.

Since Maya Angelou had exclaimed the book to be "Joy!" and the excerpts I had heard were sheer poetry, I thought that Cathie's care giving had been all sweet. And it was, except that it wasn't. As a caregiver, along with my siblings, of Mary during her illness, I can attest to the agony and stress one goes through. And Cathie did not escape it.
Author Cathie Borrie with her book,
The Long Hello.
(She is wearing her dad's bowler.)
My mother, Mary Markel, with me and
my sister, Susan. 
She dressed us in hair bows and cotton frocks.
Two-thirds of the people who get Alzheimer's are women.
In my opinion, that's why more money is
not being spent on finding a cure.
Tea party goers standing from left to right: Diana Gabriel, Carol Markel,
 Joyce Carpati, Valerie and Jean, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas,
Maureen Gumbe, Debra Rapoport, Elke Kuhn.
Seated: Cathie Borrie and Nonnie Balcer.
We are rapt hearing Cathie read from her book.
There is no tea at our tea parties but there is bubbly.
Nonnie, Joyce, Carola, Teresa and Jean chat it up.
There was Brooklyn Blackout Cake,
and I made tea sandwiches from Sandra Lee recipes.
Debra brought fruit.
 Jewelry designer, Diana Gabriel.
There was shopping in my Hat Shop in a Box.
Cathie purchased these red and black beads.
 Elke and Jean model two of my hats.
 Lovely Elke in Marimekko and beads by Carol.
 Jean and Valerie, 
The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.
 Jean in my hand-painted straw cloche.
 Maureen and Debra.
 Carol in a Zara blouse.
 Teresa Taylor in my hat and beads.
 Valerie, Joyce (in mad tights) and Carola in a Zara dress!
Mary Markel
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.
Please pick up a copy of Cathie's book.
I am sure you will love it.
Read about it here.

Thanks to Denton Taylor for these photographs.

Mother's Day Tulips from my stepchildren.
Thank you Dianna, Richard and Michael.

À Bientôt!






Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Party Circuit

April Party Circuit
Part One
Who made April party month? O my goodness. A convergence of events and people visiting New York City created an overwhelming need to celebrate.

The festivities began last Saturday at the Washington Heights apartment of artist, writer and walking-art woman, Sue Kreitzman. I will use the adjective fabulous only once, and that will be to describe Sue, who dresses in glorious hand-painted gowns and eye-riveting pieces of body adornment.
Sue on left with Valerie of  The
Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.
Every inch of Sue's apartment is
covered with color and art.
Sue lives part of the year in London
where she met artist Diane Goldie who custom paints
and creates many of Sue's robes.
Diane was visiting New York and was the
guest of honor at Sue's party.
To describe Diane, I will use the adjective spectacular.
Diane's painting of Frida Kahlo as Medusa
on the back of her dress.
Photo by Denton Taylor
 Carol hamming it up in vintage bell bottoms.
Photo by Denton Taylor.
 Souleiado beret purchased in Avignon, France
 and silk-scarf blouse by Madame Matovu.
Yellow and blue beads of my own design.
Photo by Denton Taylor.
 Sue's parties are art parties.
We have show and tell.
Sue holds a work embroidered by
Concepcion, on the left.
Photo by Denton Taylor.
 In the milieu of Sue's art-filled apartment are
Jean (left) of The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas
and Ruthie Darling.
Photo by Denton Taylor.
 Outside Sue's home in Castle Village are
Nita Angeletti, Teresa Taylor, Dayle of Artfulcitystyle and 
jewelry designer, Diana Gabriel.
Photo by Denton Taylor
 Richard and I show our work.
Photo by Denton Taylor
 Sue and artists Anothai Hansen and Shelita Birchett Benash
Anothai makes many of Sue's necklaces.
Photo by Denton Taylor
 Show and tell in a sunny corner.
Teresa Taylor and outsider artist, Malcah Zeldis.
Artist Nita Angeletti with one of her
puppet creations. She is wearing
a necklace and hair ornament of her own design.
A study in pattern and color.
Sue's Russian constructivist plate
and my Issey Miyake sock.

À Bientôt!