Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Ramblin' Romp

Tucker Party
This evening I was all dolled up to go to a party at the new Tucker space in Soho. Gaby Basora is the talented designer behind the Tucker label. Her designs are characterized by colorful, printed silks. I made the hat that I am wearing using a leopard print pillbox that I found on a sidewalk in Greenwich Village. I added the vintage, French silk rose which I bought at Dulken and Derrick, a company that has given up the ghost in New York City. Dulken and Derrick made custom silk flowers for the couture trade.
Gaby Basora -- the delightful brains and beauty behind Tucker.
 My Tucker "Lawn" print blouse.
My new Tucker Sun-Lantern-Daisy Blouse.
 The shirtwaist blouse is my favorite Tucker style.
Richard and I at the Theater Bar in Tribeca, New York City. I am wearing a Tucker dress, handmade silk jacket from Madame Matovu and a hat from the Parisian modiste, Marie Mercie. 
This picture appeared in
  ADAC reisemagazin. Photo by Grace Huang.

We Met at the Met
As I learned at the Metropolitan Opera Costume Shop last week, when I took a tour sponsored by the Bard Center for Decorative Arts, many fashion industry suppliers like Dulken and Derrick have left New York City. Lesley Watson, the head of the Costume Shop, says that she now buys her cotton thread in Germany and fine "face cloth" used in making jackets, in England. She cannot use safety pins from the U.S. because they have little burrs on the ends, and if she is cutting $200 a yard silk, the pins will rip the cloth. I was just dying to take photos of the dressmaker dummies draped in silk, seamstresses cutting fabric on huge tables, button Bibles (every button under the sun) and boxes and boxes of intriguing supplies piled high on shelves, but Lesley said, "No, you many not take pictures and post them to your blog!" So there.
 I could photograph the outside of the building and the shop.

More Who We Met Last Week
While going about town last week, we met Ashley Bezgin near the Chelsea Market. Ashley is a Creative Person locked in the body of an office worker. She and Richard hit it off as they compared outfits. Ashley makes quirky outfits that she wears for little performances. I looked at her website, and her outfits and scenarios are hilarious.
Richard and artist, designer and performer, Ashley Bezgin.

Outside of The New Museum, we met The Dolly Files, consisting of the charming duo of Hayley McCulloch (with violet tights) and Abby Goodman, internationally acclaimed artists. Now traversing the streets of New York with the mission of bringing the artist's studio archives directly to the public, the Dolly Files has art zines, artist books, paintings and dolls for sale. I was immediately drawn to Hayley's Edith Piaf doll because she is a doll and she is French.

 Two dolls by Hayley, both on starvation diets.
Abby Goodman's art work.
Je ne regrette rien, surtout que j'ai acheté cette poupée de Edith.
  Parce que pour moi, la vie est en rose.

And from The Gossip Lady's Whisper Files
Last Thursday, dahlinks, we were lunching at Cafe Cluny at the corner of West 12th Street and West 4th Street, (yes, New York cabbie, they do intersect) and who should sit right next to us but Isaac Mizrahi. Eavesdropping on his conversation was délicieux. My sister, Jeanne, joined us because we were going to look for a Mother of the Bride (MOB) dress for her at Madame Matovu, one of my favorite vintage shops. Lunch was almost over when Richard asked Isaac (having no idea who he was) his standard opening salvo: "Where are you from?" Answer from Isaac: "Brooklyn." Then Richard asked Isaac what he "did".  "Oh, I design clothes ..." Target, QCV, Project get the picture. 

Exotic Finds at Madame Matovu
Rosemary Wettenhall is Madame Matovu. Her tiny shop on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village is crammed to the brim with artful displays of dresses, scarves, hats and jewelry.
Rosemary also designs dresses and blouses made from vintage scarves. 
This is one I wore to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Family Benefit, Gods and Goddesses. 
I made the headpiece from vintage feathers.
 We invited our friend, Andy Hornberger, and his daughter Sienna,
to the benefit.
Sienna is dressed as Athena.
Andy, an artist and art teacher, is dressed as Zeus.
One can always find a great scarf at Madame Matovu.
 I almost bought the black one hand painted with white roses above. 
Later I kicked myself that I hadn't. Ouch.
Jewelry is another specialty. I purchased this pink Venetian glass necklace
  to wear to my niece's wedding with this dress...
Mauve silk -- floor length -- also from Madame.
Certain style icons (besides myself, of course) are know to shop here. 
Sarah Jessica Parker is a customer.
Rosemary takes a lot of care in making her displays in the shop.
Here I am wearing a crinkle-silk tunic with sequin embellishments from Madame.
Necklace by Wendy Mink.
I suppose you are wondering if we found a dress for Jeanne, the MOB. The answer is no.
So far, we have combed the racks of Bergdorf's, Barney's and Jeffrey's, not to mention numerous online sites. Now Jeanne is planning to have a seamstress make a dress, which is why we shopped at B&J fabrics and found these samples. (Did you know that Jeanne's husband, Chris, is married to the MOB.) Stay tuned.

Le Réchauffement de la Planète est ici.
 Pear trees on West 12th Street
Gramercy Park in bloom. (Is that a real Calder?)
Forsythia -- Here today, gone tomorrow.
À bientôt, mes amis.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lacoste: the village, not the brand

Les deux Lacostes
J'adore the Lacoste ad campaign, Un peu d'air sur terre.
 (A little air on earth.)
But this post is not about the French tennis player, Réné Lacoste -- nicknamed the Crocodile --or the brand. It's about Lacoste, the old mountain village in the Luberon region of France, overlooking the Grand Luberon mountains. When I visited Lacoste last September, I discovered two fascinating aspects to the place. It was the home of the Marquis de Sade, the 18th c. writer and libertine, and today, it is virtually the private domain of Pierre Cardin, the French fashion designer and entrepreneur.
Entering Lacoste from the road below the mountain, one does not realize, unless one has properly done one's homework, that secrets lurk among the stone alleys.
Richard walks through the arch leading to Lacoste.
Secret gates lead to the castle.
Knock three times ...
I could only go so far up the cobbled lane for fear that I would aggravate my sprained ankle. I passed this house with blue shutters, and a gardener came down the steps and greeted me. Actually, he complimented me on my orange and blue Zara blouse. I love French men, except that he spoke English, so perhaps he was just an English guy who had become Frenchified. Whatever. It made my day. Don't think for a moment that women of a certain age don't like compliments.
After awhile, Dianna, Michael and Richard emerged from their exploration of the village. They reported that the castle, on top of the hill, had been inhabited by the Marquis de Sade. But not only that, now it was also the home of  a Pierre Cardin's art gallery!
The Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher, writer and all-around enfant terrible. He wrote erotic work emphasizing violence and blasphemy against the Catholic Church. For these deeds, he was imprisoned in an insane asylum for 32 years.
In 2001, Pierre Cardin, the iconic fashion designer of the 60s, added the crumbling castle to his fashion and hotel empire. (He owns Maxims restaurants and hotels.) Cardin, who is 90, founded his fashion house in 1950 and is known for his "Space Age" styles which feature geometric patterns, tunics, goggles, helmets and vinyl. He was the first haute couture designer to design a ready-to-wear collection which he sold at Printemps, the French department store.
A Cardin dress from 1967.
An announcement from the June, 1967 Vogue. Paris: Cardin's coming....
Cardin geometric designs. Je les aime!

In the past 10 years, Cardin has bought more than 40 buildings in Lacoste and is renovating them -- some as guest quarters. The jewel is the former de Sade castle -- which Cardin has turned in to a museum showing modern art. He also founded a summer music and theater festival called Festival de Lacoste.
A sculpture from Cardin's collection in the castle's courtyard.

The castle is also filled with antiques.

Cardin's vision, both in fashion and art, is extraordinary. 
Au revoir Lacoste!

I get immersed en français

This past weekend I attended a French "On the Go" 3-day immersion course at The New School in New York City. I have been studying French there for 6 years in the Continuing Education division. I am now at an intermediate level. I find that the weekend immersion courses are excellent because it's solid French all day, all the time -- and you can improve your speaking skills.
 Here's my class. 
Our teacher, Julia Anderson, is wearing the green sweater.
Julia gave us some rules for choosing the correct gender of nouns. This was useful except, like almost every rule in French, there are exceptions to memorize. I think David McCullough, in his magnificent book about Americans in Paris in the 1800s, The Greater Journey, says it best:
"To find that every noun had a gender -- that a hand was feminine, while a foot was masculine -- and that one was expected to know which was which, seemed to the newcomers too much to cope with, and often illogical or even unfair. Why were all four seasons -- hiver, printemps, été and automne -- masculine for instance. Could not spring perhaps be feminine? "
And, I might point out, the word for season, la saison, is feminine!
Oh well, c'est printemps à New York!
Sisters, Jeanne, Susan, and Carol, admire spring bonnets at Bergdorf Goodman's children's shop.

Thanks to Dianna Cramer for the photos of Lacoste in this post.

If you want to see the most charming pop-up book about Rene Lacoste, click here.
And all things Pierre Cardin, ici.

À Bientôt!