Monday, February 13, 2017


New York Fashion Week is finally here! We both wanted to wear something dazzling to the Chromat runway event. They put on such a show for us, it's only fair to return the favor.  But the day before there had been a huge snow storm with accumulations over ten inches and all bets were off, at least for us.  Some brave souls brazened it out, but we feared the cold, the splashes of slush from passing taxis, the soggy shoes from unexpected puddles, and the semipermanent white salt rings that appear across the toes of one's shoes once the shoes finally dry. Luckily, we rallied at the last minute, since we ended up in (ahem) front-row seats. And, once again, with no prior consultation, we showed up in color coordinated outfits.

Weather or no, it's always a pleasure (to put it mildly) to see what treats Chromat has in store for us during Fashion Week.  One always knows to expect something eye-popping, although one never knows what form it's going to take.  Titled Buoyancy, the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection is inspired by "life vests and floatation devices designed for extended survival in rough, open water"!  This season, we were treated, for starters, to an energetic and eye popping introduction, which we have videotaped for you in its entirety here.

For those of you who'd like to see it full size (much preferable), click here.

One of designer Becca McCharen's themes for this show was inflatables/puffers.  We wanted to get to inspect them close up, since they were such an inspired choice. The design team collaborated with innovative outdoor company Klymit to design inflatable garments that aid with internal buoyancy and help the wearer stay afloat and protected. Brilliant, because everyone these days wants to feel protected, right?

Of course we had to show you the puffer hat, paired with the very feminine, demure little dress.

One of the most amusing dresses takes a hint from Rei Kawakubo, putting sleeves where you least expect them. But you could also say there's a hint of the pannier dresses from the French court of the 18th century.

Becca is known for dressing models of all sizes and giving them carte blanche to express their sexuality on the runway.  When the plus size models came down the catwalk, the crowd burst into applause.

There was also a man on the catwalk.  Becca put him in a marvelous dress.

The trench coat never goes away.  Below is the Chromat version.  Becca's models are always styled in an edgy manner.  This time, many of the models strutted down the catwalk with slim chains dangling from their mouths, septum rings or other face jewelry.

Becca showed the puffer/inflatable concept in several different iterations.  Here's a sleeveless puffer shirt paired with the most feminine cargo style pants ever.

We've seen Becca do a very narrow color palette (black, white, red), but she doesn't shy away from bold color.  Here, an apple green vest over a pale green zippered swim suit with knee length green rubber boots -- with wedge heels.

In a similar color scheme, a puffer jacket.  Don't the models have the most amazing legs?  They appear to be oiled for emphasis. It works!

Another puffer coat.  Slightly more conservative in color; equally outrageous in design. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was down-filled.

Toward the end of the show, this dazzling white vision came floating down the runway, and one could be forgiven for thinking that Becca had done a traditional (well, not so traditional) bridal gown for the finale.  Instead, it almost seemed as though she had re-imagined Gary Cooper as a woman in the old movie about French Legionnaire Beau Geste.  (You young ones look it up on Wikipedia, or watch it on YouTube.)

But Becca wasn't done with us yet.  For the finale, she presented a bright red puffer dress with cutouts.

Think you know what the back looks like?  You don't.

Would you like to see all the models parading at the end?  Check them out!

As before, if you'd like to see it full size, click here.

Now, for those of you who'd like to see some of the attendees, we're happy to oblige.  The woman on the left is wearing a Chromat cage.

Loved these women.  And look at the bright lights around their shoes.

More fans.

Some Chromat fans signal their allegiance by cutting their bangs short, Becca-style.

It isn't fashion week without Lynn Yaeger and we were not disappointed. We were seated across the aisle from Lynn, who never disappoints.  Her one concession to the weather - big, warm boots.

Seated next to us was TV star Camren Bicondova who plays Cat Girl on Gotham - Jean's favorite character. At the end of runway show, Jean approached her in full fan mode and Camren couldn't have been sweeter. She has the most amazing wide set eyes. Check out the show.

One of our faves at fashion week events is photographer Andrew Werner. He's like the hardest working man in rock and roll - at every show. looking calm, composed and dapper, with his signature collection of lapel pins. And he has a wicked sense of humor!

In the spirit of saving the best for last, here's one of the more creative fashion week outfits - head to toe white faux fur! Yeti-man gets extra points because his fur was spotless and in NYC, that is no small feat.

We're back and we're bad. Stay tuned for more fashion week escapades.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Valerie says:  Recently, while Jean was working much too hard and I was nursing a broken wrist (see Exhibit A, above, a cast swaddled in a cartoon stocking), I had the opportunity to attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art's current treasure of a costume show, Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion.  By now the world is accustomed to one blockbuster after another at the Met's Costume Institute - starting several years ago with the Alexander McQueen retrospective, followed by the Punk show, the China show, and this year by the Manus ex Machina exhibition.  Masterworks, by contrast, is a wonderful small show.  Even at a leisurely pace, the whole thing can probably be savored in an hour or less.  But going to see Masterworks is like taking an amphetamine - it's a powerful punch packed into a tiny package and sends the mind racing in new directions.

Andrew Bolton, Head Curator of the Costume Institute (above, in fashionably tight short trousers and skinny tie, and repeated in someone's cell phone), explained that the Institute had revised its collection strategy, and instead of aiming for an "encyclopedic" collection covering everything, the Museum would instead purchase "iconic" pieces embodying "costume as a living art".  The current show was conceived as an opportunity to showcase acquisitions of the past 10 years.  It covers over 200 years of the best of fashion, although most of the works on display are from the 20th century and represent a Who's Who of the best known, most respected, most innovative designers, from Worth at the close of the 19th century to Iris van Herpen at the beginning of the 21st.  A number of these were donated by the designers in honor of Harold Koda, who retired as Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute in January of this year.

It would be nice if I could show you everything, but I'm just going to show you my favorites and leave you begging for more*.

In the opening photo, I'm standing in front of two bustiers, the one on the left by Yohji Yamamoto; the one on the right by Issey Miyake.  They look small because I'm several feet away from them, but they are big, bold, and irresistible.  Many of you have seen the molded resin Miyake bustier on Grace Jones.  The Yohji bustier has rows of external ribs that rise provocatively at the breast, and hug the body sensuously at the torso.  A few of those ribs are clearly visible in the photo.

The show itself opens with this dress by Viktor & Rolf.

It's the perfect dress to set the tone for the rest of the show, calling into question what you see, what you think you see, and the very nature of the dressmaker's art.  While based on a traditional dress from a conservative period, the missing center section not only makes the dress new, it adds a sense of humor, and begs the question how did they do that?!

This 1947 evening dress, designed by Adrian, dressmaker to the Hollywood stars, features a surrealist motif designed by Salvador Dali.

I fell in love with this huge-shouldered jacket by Alexander McQueen.  The accompanying label notes that the birds were hand-painted onto the fabric.  The white dots you see are reflections of the lights in the glass.

In this dress, Sarah Burton, who succeeded Alexander McQueen following his untimely death, continues his obsession for extravagance using what appear to be countless butterfly wings as the dress's primary fabric.

In fact, however, the label reads that the "hundreds of trompe l'oeil wings that veneer the textile ground are composed of meticulously cut, dyed and painted feathers, applied by hand..."  Below, a detail shot.

You could be forgiven for thinking the black and white sheath below was a Charles James dress.   It has the same body-hugging hourglass figure of a Charles James, and the same wonderful pooling of fabric at the feet.  But no, this is Azzedine Alaia who, it turns out, was a James admirer.  A careful look at the dress reveals that the dress is composed of rows of sumptuous chenille interspersed with flat knit.

For most of us, most of the time, there is an unwritten understanding that fashion must be practical.  It mustn't weigh more than the wearer can support; it mustn't be too large to enter a doorway; it must be cleanable; it mustn't impede movement...  And yet someone is always breaking one of those rules.  Here is Yamamoto's wood laminate dress with hinges.  The skeptic in me asks how would you sit in this dress?  how could you seduce, or be seduced, in this dress?  But the gadfly in me loves the cubist look of the wood panels and the use of hinges to replace folds.  One could almost imagine it among the costumes of Russian revolutionary theater, worn by someone too busy to be seated or comfortable.

Another Japanese designer who constantly tests the limits of definitions of dress is Rei Kawakubo.  Because this marvelous abstract creation in wool-nylon flannel, patent leather, polyester georgette and cotton lawn is difficult to comprehend on the headless mannequin, scroll down to see how it looked on the model who wore it on the catwalk.


John Galliano for Maison Margiela did a marvelous coatdress which combined the old fashioned concepts of drama and romance with very new material.  The coat, made of "artisanal pale purple polyester warp knit" has the airy light foamy look of neoprene, and is set off with the obi-like "dark blue-purple cotton plain weave" structure in the back.  Next to it, unseen here, is a similar Balenciaga creation, juxtaposed so the viewer can compare the two designers' visions.

Two cheeky dresses by Hussein Chalayan stand side by side.  Right, his airmail dress, made of Tyvek and, as visible from the photograph, foldable into a small envelope when not in use.  Originally conceived when Chalayan was still a student at Central St. Martins, the dress was once available at the Victoria and Albert for £170.  At left, a design made for the resurrected House of Vionnet.

This close-up of the dress shows that Chalayan based the design on drafting paper, even incorporating cutting lines for a pattern into the dress.  Note that the small Xs printed on the dress have been embroidered over, as a further dressmaker's inside joke, along the thigh.

Thom Browne contributed two suits which, from a distance, appear to be printed fabric, but are in fact painstakingly cut and pieced together.

The exhibition includes an intriguing piece by Iris van Herpen in "black cotton tulle and silk satin, embroidered with strips of black PVC".  Unfortunately shown on a headless, torso-less mannequin, it can be a bit difficult to comprehend, so below is a photo by Annie Leibovitz for, which shows off  Iris's design to full advantage.

Those who know us best will demand to know why we haven't included any hats.  In keeping with the iconic theme, the show includes this blockbuster hat by Philip Treacy.  For best effect, it's best just to repeat the narrative on the label: "Paphiopedilum Philipinense Orchid Hat."  ... Glazed white silk crepe printed with purple pigment and green synthetic-spandex knit printed with green and brown pigment.  Gift of Philip Treacy and Isabella Blow, in honor of Harold Koda.

The traditional fashion show ends with a bridal dress, and so will this post.  But the dress is by Jean-Paul Gaultier, so there is very little traditional about the dress itself, except perhaps its color.  One of the elements of the skirt of the dress is chain mail, but all eyes are on the headdress, so voluminous and so riveting that one could almost argue it is the central piece and the gown is merely the accessory.   According to the label, it is made of "white nylon mesh with silver nylon organza ribbon, ivory kidskin and white steel boning".

The Masterworks show is up until February 5.  I can't emphasize enough how much what a great show this is.  Put it on your schedule!!!

By more, I mean works by Poiret, Chanel, Lanvin, Schiaparelli, Dior, Charles James, Geoffrey Beene, Zandra Rhodes, Yves St. Laurent, Gianni Versace, Vivienne Westwood and Dolce & Gabbana, and anonymous designers to the aristocracy from as early as the 1700s.  A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

(Valerie's jacket by Suzi Click.  In addition to creatively preserving hand woven ethnographic textile fragments, it has the important added plus of very wide sleeves that a bulky cast can fit through.)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

TRIFECTA: Sue Kreitzman, Milliners' Guild Show at the Fire Museum and Rooftop Cocktails!

We have some serious catching up to do. It has been weeks since we've blogged about what we've been up to. (For the record, we have been posting to Instagram, because, well, it's more instant.)  We have an amazing array of fun stuff in the queue. First up? A tale about the day we took the amazing Sue Kreitzman to the New York City Fire Museum on Spring Street to see a hat exhibition sponsored by the New York Milliners' Guild and to Greenwich Avenue to have cocktails and chew the fat before she headed back to Jolly Olde you know where...  Above is a shot of us at Azul, the Cuban bar atop Hotel Hugo in Soho after the hat show.  What's not to love? Spending quality time with our favorite ex-pat looking at hats in a historic setting, followed by hanging out on a rooftop while sipping cocktails overlooking Soho on an Indian Summer afternoon. Heavenly!

We ran into this young woman and her partner and little their dog on the sidewalk down the street from the New York City Fire Museum when they admired out outfits.

We had no idea what to expect when we received the New York Milliners' Guild's invitation to a show of headwear inspired by fire and fire fighters at the New York Fire Museum on Spring Street.  We couldn't exclude any of the pieces in the shows and have included all of them here. The wide range of styles and materials was amazing.  The hat below, titled Valkyrie, by Ellen Christine Couture, is a flame-colored chiffon-like creation.

Kathy Anderson's black and red creation is Hot Fire Woman from Hats by Kat and Accessories Too.

Top That Fire by Sarah Sokol Millinery incorporates an embroidered patch with a fireman's hat and tools, brass chain trim on the brim and black leather and brass buckle.

The Shield by Wanda J. Chambers Once Upon a Hat resembles a stained glass window.

Skulls appear on several of the hats, but none so significantly as on this hat titled The Faithful Companion. Signage for this hat reads: Monika Stebbins, Monika Fine Millinery, Hats by Kat and Accessories Too.

How fabulous is this multi-level feathered fuchsia Firecracker by Linda Pagan of The Hat Shop?

On the main floor of the museum is a monument to Herman, one of the fire horses that pulled the ancient hand-pumper fire trucks through the streets of old New York. Sue posed next to the statue which we noticed was also wearing a hat!  This photo does the most justice to Sue's colorful outfit.  No shrinking violet, she is hard to miss with her large beaded neckpiece, beautiful purple jacket and matching bag, signature big red spectacles and bright patent Fit Flops.  What is a source of amazement is how approachable she is to passersby -- of any and every age -- despite (or because of?) her elaborate dress.  Her good humor and positive attitude are infectious.

Linda Ashton's Silver on Midnight hat mimics the shape of a fireman's helmet.

Jacqueline Lamont LLC's bright red Safety Rules hat features a Husky safety light mounted on the brim.

Catherine by Michael McCant of McCants Originals introduces a purple base into a mix of red and black feathers.

Fire Engine Red by Amanda John Millinery features a felted red fire engine on the front of a black leather brimmed cap.

Passion by Louis Quinones LAQ Chapelier  is a deep red velvet and lace saucer shaped confection.

Dragon Fighter by Dina Pisani for Cha Cha's House of Ill Repute affixes a tiny skull head on butterfly wings at the front of this crimson creation.

Barbara Volker Millinery incorporates a red, white and blue feather on the silver and gold decoration atop the black crown of its Ode to the Bravest.

Penny Klein Millinery's Phoenix is aptly named for the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes.

Evetta Petty's Harlem's Heaven Hats' entry is this stylish red Leather Topper.

Known for Kentucky Derby hats, Polly Singer Couture contributed the glamorous Gilded Flames to the show.

In an ode to classical literature and sculpture, the helmet shaped piece from Lisa Shaub Fine Millinery is called For Palas Athena.

Fire Dragon by Sally Caswell Millinery combines sequins, netting and feathers.

The Curl by Jennifer Hoertz Millinery is a minimalist's take on the exhibit's theme.

Gemini, a red and black bi-color felted wool hat ,is by Lisa McFadden Millinery.

On Fire! is the frothy, elaborate black and red feather and netting fascinator by Mary Ann Smith of The Tipsy Topper.

Smolder by Judith Solodkin of Solo Impressions, Inc, is encased in what looks like melted plastic.

Anne DePasquale's Flame is a dramatic pinkish red felted wool hat accented with a bright red and black curled feather.

Controlled Burn by Conney Borda of Eggcup Designs looks anything but controlled. Black and red feathers wildy spring like flames from its net base.

When we finished viewing the show (actually, when they threw us out at closing time), we walked west on Spring Street and took a left on Greenwich Avenue to the Hotel Hugo. Once inside, we took the elevator to the rooftop enclosed library-like bar which looks like a wonderful spot in cold and inclement weather.  We then had to walk up 1 1/2 flights to the rooftop bar. (Note to friends with scooters, wheelchairs, walkers and canes: you cannot get to the actual rooftop area without taking the stairs.  There is no elevator.)  Once there, we checked out the views and seating facing west and the river and were approached by a number of young women for photos.  After all the ladies finished, this group of gents approached for equal treatment.  In the spirit of "turn about is fair play", the ladies took their photo with us.

Because the setting sun was right in our eyes, we moved to the east side and settled into very comfortable sofas to enjoy delicious frozen cocktails and Cuban appetizers.

Daniel Bernstein was among two couples seated in adjacent tables and when he asked to take a photo of us, we insisted that the picture be a photo of him with us. Needless to say, we didn't have to ask him twice. If this is a new trend, we say "bring it on". Getting and being older is so much fun, why not spread it around?

Despite an iffy weather forecast for rain, we had sun for most of our outing. Luckily, the clouds didn't start to roll in until the evening was drawing nigh, which are visible in our parting shot of the Freedom Tower. Sue headed back to London very shortly after this get-together and we anxiously await her return.