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Posts Tagged ‘Fashion’

When you ask for the damage report every morning, and you find that that we are getting closer and closer to a constitutional crisis, the best thing to do is throw up your hands and jump in the hot tub. Watch the sun stream down the slate blue mountains and listen to birds instead of pundits. Or, you could head out to the big city to shake up your political lethargy.

Yesterday, my cousin Anita invited me to lunch at the museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond that is. Their dining room is elegant, and I remembered being there for a wedding years ago. Floor to ceiling windows look out over a garden with a stream running through it, sculptures dot the landscape, and all would seem right with the world. But this was just the prelude to our adventure.

We were there to see the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, “The Perfection of Style.”

It was like a walk down memory lane. The Algerian French designer documented my generation, beginning with the late 50s black and white, ultra conservative Catherine Deneuve “Belle du Jour” frocks, and seamlessly becoming an icon of the 60s and 70s. He worked hard, ascending to head designer for Dior at the age of 21, but he played even harder…

Despite his success, Saint Laurent, whose early responsibilities denied him a real childhood, felt a need for freedom and to experience everything ‘intensely.’ Sexual escapades and artificial paradises, including the use of drugs and alcohol, were his antidote to ennui.https://vmfa.museum/exhibitions/exhibitions/yves-saint-laurent-perfection-style/

Laurent was a true original. He was the first to create a more affordable line for ready-to-wear, he took his inspiration from the street and modern art, and he always had Black models on his Paris runway. I told Anita that since he was marginalized and bullied as a teenager in school for being Gay, he was able to understand, early on, what deep wounds prejudice can inflict; YSL was a contradiction, only feeling at home in his atelier with luxurious fabric and his models surrounding him, while also traveling to Marrakech on holiday and partying at Studio 54 whenever he found himself in New York.

As we just learned from Carrie Fisher’s autopsy report, addiction is a dangerous, chronic disease. And the epic levels of Hepatitis C in my generation only prove its lasting damage.

Is fashion frivolous? Some may think so, but as Laurent said, Style is timeless. That was another first, connecting lifestyle to clothes! We got to see the meticulous paper dolls he dressed as a boy, but you can preview Laurent’s Runway Checklist online – each collection, the materials he used and in some cases, the client. https://vmfa.museum/runway-checklist/

Now I’m going to search for that old black leather belt that ties in a big bow, I’m sure it was inspired by YSL, it dates to his era. When did I become vintage?   IMG_0834

 

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It’s raining men here in the Blue Ridge. Well, not literally, but my spring spirit has dampened with another dreary, rainy day. And while some men are asking for immunity in order to testify in the Senate, my man has finished spreading mulch and planting ground cover. We’re hoping the pachysandra will take root and spread out in the Buddha shade garden; in the same way we’re hoping this Russian investigation will tie up all of Mr T’s loose, spidery, tail-ends of aides to the same conclusion.

The one about collusion with a foreign government to effect our election; the constellation of events all of our intel agencies have been telling us for weeks now. If the shoe fits, you’ve gotta convict, right?

Remember how well George W Bush could dodge a shoe at a press conference?

This president doesn’t have the timing, stamina or strength for that matter to dodge the kind of evidence that has been unfolding. And Sean Spicer can’t seem to stop himself from insulting women journalists. I’ve had to raise my hand plenty of times at Borough Council meetings over the years, and I’ve never had to endure the kind of humiliation we’ve seen currently at White House press briefings. I’ll shake my head just as much as I want, thank you very much! http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/28/15094444/sean-spicer-april-ryan-trump

Which leads me to my discovery, in the very back of the guest bedroom closet, of a Nicole Miller silk blouse that managed to survive two moves and many closet purges. It’s a multi-colored masterpiece of Warhol-style design I picked up in New York back in the day. The pattern consists of multiple newspaper headlines, and since I was a reporter, Bob gave it to me as a gift, while also buying a matching tie. Yes, we are that couple.

But standing out in the pattern is a young, smug-mug shot, the Donald when his hair was blonde and not orange…and the header reads: “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had!” 

When Andrea Wood pulled that gem out of its hiding place, she told me it may be the single best bit of vintage she’d ever discovered! I’ve begun to accept the fact that my early life of mid-century, ugly blonde furniture is now hip again, but my old clothes? So I took another look at that blouse, and decided to save it for posterity. Its tag said it was made in Korea in limited quantities, a New York edition, and would not be repeated. Maybe the Love Bug will wear it in high school?

We elected a guy who has to carry TicTacs at all times just in case a pretty girl comes within range of his id-driven personality. The old money, carriage set in Rumson would avoid publicity at all costs. But new money, like that young, bragadocious NY real estate mogul, would seek out the press, and play them to write his very own melody. That’s how he won the White House ultimately, and it may also be how he loses it.

This is what the New York Post was writing in 1990 about the Donald and Marla Maples back when he was still married to his first wife. He met Marla in 1989, about the same time I met Mr T at my brother’s NFL game, and the rumor was “a model” was in the wings. His divorce from Ivana was finalized in 1992. The sex quote was supposedly leaked by a friend of Marla’s, along with something she said about loving his hands.

“Donald is a believer in the big-lie theory,” his lawyer had told me. “If you say something again and again, people will believe you.”

“One of my lawyers said that?” Trump said when I asked him about it. “I think if one of my lawyers said that, I’d like to know who it is, because I’d fire his ass. I’d like to find out who the scumbag is!” http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/2015/07/donald-ivana-trump-divorce-prenup-marie-brenner

Sex, lies, and rumors are candy to a certain kind of man. Like his weekends at Mar-a-Lago, his gilded age mansion once owned ironically by Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post, he is chasing a dream, or a nightmare, that nobody saw coming. Like Gatsby, his “Make America Great Again” pyramid scheme, built with Russian oligarch money on the backs of blue collar workers, will be his undoing.

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Morning grammar nerds! And you know who you are. I must admit I no longer watch “Presidential” press conferences, but I just couldn’t resist Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Sean Spicer, and so I occasionally tune-in just to see what nonsense the White House is dishing up today; or, as I like to ask Bob over my first cup of coffee, “Damage report?”

Well bless his heart, yesterday poor Sean was trying to soften Mr T’s words on Twitter yet again, by placing his fingers up and gesturing “air quotes” around the word “wiretapping.” In other words, the middle school bullies really are running the show up on the Hill.

Everyone knows air quotes when they see them: the middle and forefingers of each hand wiggling to resemble quotation marks. Often accompanied by a spoken “quote-unquote,” they’re typically used to mock or disown the phrase they surround. They mean something “is ‘so-called,’” rather than real, the late William Safire, the great scholar of political language, once wrote. They cast “aspersion on the word or phrase that follows,” he said. “A sneer is built in.”             https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/03/14/an-investigation-of-air-quotes-mostly-used-to-discredit-the-other-sides-words-not-your-own-as-per-sean-spicer/?utm_term=.fe463b8a7442

And the funny thing is, even the Urban Dictionary knows that air quotes are so… one whole generation ago. “Used ad nauseam by ‘pretentious’ and ostensibly ‘intelligent’ university students, to advertise their ‘superior morals’ and ‘erudition’.” It’s like the thumbs-up sign, only worse, because air quotes exude privilege. They were (past tense) a preppy way to discredit those plebes beneath them, not in the way Sean tried to use them discrediting his boss’ words.

They belong to the 60s, where they should have stayed, along with Kellyanne’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band jacket. http://mentalfloss.com/article/80939/11-facts-about-sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band

“Walking back” their boss’ Tweets seems to be a full time job on the Hill. But trying to soften Mr T’s attack on President Obama is yet another distraction. Let’s NOT discuss special prosecutors and Russia’s “involvement” in our election. Instead, like a child, Mr T turns responsibility away from himself, to shift blame on his predecessor for “wiretapping” Trump Tower. Only now, he only meant general surveillance, like spying “microwaves.” Darn, it’s hard not to use real quotes when writing about this stuff!

I wonder if Mr T went to his grandchildrens’ Temple for Purim this past weekend? Maybe that’s why his Twitter fingers went quiet, after all the “wiretapping” and microwave memes the media consumed during the week. Ivanka’s children are 5, 3 and almost 1. These are perfect ages for Purim celebrations; my Nashville grandchildren had a blast dressing up like super heroes and attending a carnival at their Temple.

Purim is a feminist’s delight because it’s about a Jewish woman who kills an enemy of the Jewish people. Esther is one of many Persian queens, but she, like Moses, was adopted and was actually Jewish. Think about this for a second. Does Christianity have a holiday dedicated to a woman? As a child, I remember having lots of saints days named after women, celebrating martyrdom…not exactly the same. Esther had balls, she had chutzpah! We had the Annunciation, i.e. a fourteen year old girl is visited by an angel and told she will have a Virgin Birth…

Coming out of years spent celebrating Mass in Latin, I was happy to enter a Temple and make lots of noise at Purim. In fact, Purim was so much fun – mohn cookies shaped like Haman hats, dressing up like Halloween or Carnevale, and laughing and playing in the Temple – I’m pretty sure that it’s what sold me on Judaism.

But the irony of my grandchildren celebrating in a building that had to be evacuated because of bomb threats since this last election is not lost on me. The paradox of a holiday marking Jewish survival during the week another attempt at a Muslim travel ban was enacted is surreal. Putting air quotes around the words of our Commander in Chief is yet another small cut in the slicing up of our democracy.

Our President is being sarcastic; he doesn’t really mean what he says; that was just locker room banter; it’s “alternative facts.”

I believe we deserve a President who doesn’t need minions to explain his rhetorical Tweeting voice, and a Presidential Press Briefing, without air quotes. The American people don’t need to watch the “built-in sneer” from an Oval Office devoid of compassion. In fact, Andrea Mitchell is a modern day Esther, insisting on answers at press “briefings,” refusing to be escorted from a room. Maybe a pair of parentheses would help us clarify Mr T’s meaning, his intent. Instead of charging President Obama with a felony, he would be revealed in all his paranoia.

(sometimes, alone at Trump Tower, I felt like I was being watched). My tower study (an aviary that functions as my refuge), was warm and inviting this (freezing cold) morning. Here is the view of the (snowy Blue Ridge) mountains. Only hawks watch me write. IMG_0183

 

 

 

 

 

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Forget Fashion Week. And don’t talk politics with me, I’m feeling sick about the whole darn mess. Shall I tell you what I want, what I really really want?

A dress.

I’m on the hunt for a dress for two glamorous occasions – our 50th high school reunion next month, and my son’s wedding next year. Yes, I don’t think it’s too much to ask this dress to do double duty. One occasion will be a beachy/Cali vibe, while the other will be what, more of a, “Of course it’s you, I’d recognize you anywhere after 50 years!”

Seeing as in 1966 I was dressed usually in loafers and kilts, my primal brain is feeling that approach/avoidance sensation. First because lots of our old friends have become new Facebook friends, and I can’t wait to actually SEE them again, and second, this is the avoidance part, because I remember hunting for a Mother-of-the-Bride dress in 2010.

“Everything I try on either makes me look like a stuffed sausage, or a Peggy Sue prom queen,” was my lament to Bob six years ago. We even traveled to the big city of Richmond, but came back empty-handed. Here is one of the few pix from the Bride’s wedding where I do not have a huge scarf draped around me – the detail from the back is telling. I need straps first and foremost! jm-0925

Unfortunately the fashion industry didn’t listen to my sobbing pleas for help then, and now it’s only worse. Yesterday I listened to NPR in the car, with Tim Gunn talking about his industry’s failure with plus-size women. He had this to say to the Washington Post:

Have you shopped retail for size 14-plus clothing? Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Half the items make the body look larger, with features like ruching, box pleats and shoulder pads. Pastels and large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade. Adding to this travesty is a major department-store chain that makes you walk under a marquee that reads “WOMAN.” What does that even imply? That a “woman” is anyone larger than a 12, and everyone else is a girl? It’s mind-boggling.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/08/tim-gunn-designers-refuse-to-make-clothes-to-fit-american-women-its-a-disgrace/?utm_term=.410b22a78cad

Thanks Tim, and yes designers are thinking about size 0 to 6 instead of size 16, but lots of us “Women of a Certain Age” fall somewhere in the middle and still cannot find a decent dress to save our lives. I noticed that Marilyn Monroe’s Happy Birthday Mr President’s dress is going to the auction block and should fetch around 2-3M. OK, so what if she had to be sewn into the thing and couldn’t sit down the whole night. Rumor has it it’s a size 12! Would it be oh so hard to design a dress just a little less sexy than her sequined, see-through number? Maybe something not matronly or childish?

I totally get Hillary’s pant suits now…

Designers I have a tip for you. Stop looking at movies for inspiration, or the 18th Century. Start looking at us! What makes our bodies look good? Yes we have ‘born babies’ and were the first generation to breast feed our offspring since our immigrant ancestors stepped off the boat in this country. Sure we have a few pounds to lose, but we’re not obsessively dieting anymore. We register people to vote. We work in and out of our homes, we swim, we walk our dogs! We are Nanas, hear us roar! We are genuinely happy women, until we start dress shopping.

If you think you may have a solution to my existential problem, feel free to PM me. Or comment. I’m open to online shopping in 2016. After all, it was only after Leslie Jones posted her plight to social media, about her hunt for a red carpet dress, that a designer stepped up to the plate. Sample size is not the normal American woman size folks! http://www.vogue.com/13452803/leslie-jones-ghostbusters-premiere-christian-siriano/

And if all else fails, I might just go vintage in my closet!

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Last weekend, we had our good friends Al and Mary Jo aka MJ over for dinner. They are a big part of our history; we vacation with them frequently as part of the “Big Chill Thanksgiving.” Al graduated from high school with us, and he lived with Bob during part of college at Duke and med school. Our adult kids are more like cousins. When Al’s Mother Angie died over the Bride’s wedding weekend, he didn’t tell us. Great Grandma Ada and Angie were pretty close, and he didn’t want to cast a shadow over the festivities.

That’s a special kind of friend. One who figures out how to raise an unheated pool’s temperature just enough by recycling the water through black hoses in the sun. Yep, this engineer made a solar water heater for me on one trip! And MJ is a retired psych nurse, so her sense of humor is totally aligned with mine. While they were here, I gave MJ a gift of one of my eternity necklaces. IMG_3855I’ve been stringing pearls and seed beads like crazy lately. It’s a way to create and relax, to focus on one thing for awhile. Since I broke my finger, knitting has taken a back seat to stringing.

So when I saw an “MJ FEVER” license plate in a parking lot, I had to chuckle. I’d just started reading the non-fiction book, “Age of Ambition – Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the new China” by Evan Osnos. His very first sentence is about the term the Chinese use for a new fashion, a trend, and even an American police show on TV:

Whenever a new idea sweeps across China – a new fashion, a philosophy, a way of life – the Chinese describe it as a “fever.” In the first years after the country opened to the world, people contracted “Western Business Suit Fever”…and “Private Telephone Fever”…

Such an apt term. A fever is fleeting, like snap bracelets and dance aerobics. It’s like the tide, but it can also be an obsession. We here in corporate America take our fevers very seriously. For instance, the latest arbiter of color for fashion has come out with its Spring colors. And in this pusillanimous political climate it’s no wonder the fashion industry wants to inject a bit of peace and calm into fashion week!

Pantone has deemed Rose Quartz to be the color of the moment.

“Rose Quartz 13-1520 Percentage of designers who used this color: 22.55 This really is a beautiful pink that will radiate well on the skin for women as well as men,” Eiseman said. “Women can always be helped along by cosmetics, but guys have to rely on the colors they’re wearing to sometimes make them look a little healthier.”   http://wwd.com/fashion-news/designer-luxury/pantones-top-10-colors-for-spring-2016-hint-at-calm-10214532/

I wonder if the Republicans changed their tie colors to rose quartz instead of red, I wonder if they’d stop sounding like schoolyard ruffians? I don’t know about you, but I have Spring Fever. Our crocus leaves are up, no flowers yet but buds are bulging on trees. Bob has been pruning to beat the band, he has a “Pruning Fever.” My necklaces are very Downton, one might say I have an “Eternity Necklace Fever.” And they are MJ approved and getting pinker every day.   IMG_3897

 

 

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The feminist movement gave a distinct wink and a nod to fashion back in my day. We burned our bras and dispensed with girdles entirely. We stopped “sleeping” in hair rollers, and insisted on letting our locks flow, being au naturel. Some of us tye-dyed our clothes, some washed and bleached our jeans, unraveling the hem, before setting foot into a new pair. In that old age of feminism, when we were told we HAD to wear a skirt on the streets of Boston, and be married in order to get an Rx from a male doctor for “the Pill,” our fury knew no bounds!

We wanted to be free of the constraints our parents and society had imposed on us, and mostly we just wanted to be free, like the boys!

Which is why I cringed, but also understand Gloria Steinhem’s remarks to Bill Maher about the overwhelming percentage (86%) of young women who are supporting Bernie Sanders. Ms Steinhem is not just a feminist icon, she is that antidote to tired, anti-lesbian/feminist jargon that would insist all feminists are simply angry man-haters. Steinhem flaunts her heterosexuality like a badge of honor. And in an unguarded moment, she made an off-hand, ironic remark that everybody in the Twittersphere could use against her; “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie.” 

Here is her long, Twitter explanation for being misunderstood in her rush to support Hillary at Bernie’s expense:

In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what’s been misinterpreted as implying young women aren’t serious in their politics. What I had just said on the same show was the opposite: young women are active, mad as hell about what’s happening to them, graduating in debt, but averaging a million dollars less over their lifetimes to pay it back. Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.

Well alrighty then…that should do it. Wrong. Instead Madeline Albright started talking about a “special place in hell” for all those girls not supporting Ms Clinton, and she seems to have gotten a pass. Oh come on now, shall we use shame… and eternal damnation… to nullify a young woman’s political ideology. It’s that age-old walk of shame ladies, only it’s not stodgy old, white guys calling the shots. It’s my generation, grandmothers who are using it against Bernie supporters. Well I’m afraid that all this misspeaking is about to backfire. It’s time to kick the morality police to the curb!

Because I raised two feminists who know how to see through all the BS in a campaign. Because Bernie Sanders’ feminism has been bonafide for years and years, and I quote: “When you tell a woman that she cannot control her own body, that’s extremism. Let’s say it loud and clear: women control their bodies, not the government.” His campaign website even pledges to increase funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning program if he’s elected.   http://www.bustle.com/articles/126200-6-things-every-feminist-should-know-about-bernie-sanders-campaign

Today we are free, just like the boys – free to vote for whomever and play politics with the big dogs. Our young women may have to register for the draft soon enough – http://bigstory.ap.org/a3a36a7b1fa74379910088d9220994b8 and not just because that’s where the boys are…

Which is why I ordered a pirate dress for the Love Bug. http://princess-awesome.com If you happen to be raising a young feminist, you may want to check out this children’s fashion line as an antidote to princess dresses and the Disneyfying of America.  Because this next generation of feminists will want to look good while commanding our troops! All hail the Pirate Queen Gráinne Mhaol aka Grace O’Malley!

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By no means am I a fashionista. I know I know, it’s the second post in two weeks about fashion, but this time it’s a new angle, two new angles to be exact. If you like to know where your food is coming from, and you love the ‘ farm to table’ movement, you’re going to love this company – JUST! http://projectjust.com

JUST is a start-up company my BFF’s daughter, Natalie Grillon, co-founded to create transparency in the fashion industry. They help connect designers to ethical suppliers in the fashion supply chain. When we consumers hear about child labor in silk factories in  developing countries we are appalled but what can we do? Boycott a store, look for another label? Very often the thread from one silk or cotton farm in Northern Uganda to a store in the US can be convoluted.

In a nutshell, JUST provides designers with a database to search for ethical suppliers that will fit with their specialty and geographic location. When their clothing reaches the racks, it will be tagged with a JUST barcode so that we can immediately trace the journey of our new purchase. I absolutely love this idea; it’s fair trade all around. After spending time in the Peace Corps, Natalie received her MBA from Cornell where she studied Sustainable Global Enterprise at S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management. just-mobile-view

Congratulations Natalie, I wouldn’t be surprised to see you at a TEDx conference soon! I can’t wait to start seeing those JUST tags in Cville stores.

And next up is an online fashion company that would like to become your own personal shopper! Now I’ve never used a stylist, though some might say I would benefit from one. I remember when the kiddos were little and people would ask me where I got a certain item of clothing, I’d look down, look flummoxed for a minute because let’s face it, I was sleep-deprived most of the time, and then it would dawn on me. “OH, I picked this up on vacation in (insert our latest jaunt).” Because all kidding aside, shopping with a toddler in tow was a nightmare. Half the time I’d be trying to find the Rocker running between racks of clothing.

Well the Bride just turned me on to Stitch Fix http://www.stitchfix.com. Genius idea really especially for young women with little ones and little time. You go to their site, fill out a quick style chart about your likes “Boho Chic” and dislikes “Glamorous,” your size and the kind of lifestyle your clothes would need to represent, like mostly work or casual or evening, (I wish they had mountain-dwelling-writing- nana) and Voila! For $20 they will ship you a package with their picks and you keep what you like and return what you don’t.  Here’s one of their Pinterest pages I like http://www.pinterest.com/stitchfix/wanderlust/ which seems apropos.

Wishing everyone a joyous and warm Easter Sunday. And I thought you’d enjoy this throwback picture to my pre-adolescent self with my red headed cousin Joey in Dover, NJ. Notice the gloves and the Easter corsage! It’s pretty obvious I was fashion-challenged!

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