Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's A Mod, Mod Spring!

Traveling in style!

This past year has been an exciting year, albeit one with my nose firmly to the grindstone. I am now dreaming of distant lands and escape. 

Long past are the days of dressing luxuriously for travel, with the rare exception of course. Once, in a European terminal, I saw Donatella Versace wearing head-to-toe skin tight sleek black leather and sporting razor-sharp platinum hair, a study in graphic contrast. She moved like a leopard.

Dressing for travel can be an exercise in fantasy and costume. One can take on a mysterious persona, like a femme-fatale in a spy movie or a 50's film star traveling incognito, half-hiding behind an oversized picture hat and dark sunglasses. Of course, one probably shouldn't dress as scantily clad as the lady in the photo above, even in first class! One can wear whatever they want on a private plane... or nothing at all.

Below is a photo of Brigitte Bardot and Gunther Sachs disembarking a private jet.

Below is a candid photo of Elizabeth Taylor sunning on a yacht. Is that Richard Burton's hand holding the hat, or another handsome stranger?

This year, as winter turns its back, spring will arrive fresh and revived with clean, sharp lines and bold graphics. Crisp black and white and bold, punchy colors will hearken back to the mod 1960s. As a collector of 1960s fashion, I am thrilled! I adore the geometric tailoring, the futuristic abandon of the designs and the use of reflective chrome in the accessories. Hats were particularly genius in the 1960s. I love the black patent helmet with the chinstrap and leopard pouf worn by the gorgeous actress Claudia Cardinale in the photograph below. 

Another brilliant example of a mod hat...

Below is a photo of the actress Linda Thorsen from The Avengers. I love the reflection and the tilt of the hat. The mod makeup is perfect and reminds me of this incredible Japanese film I just had the great pleasure of viewing at the Museum of Modern Art last month entitled "Funeral Parade of Roses" from 1969 directed by Toshio Matsumoto.

Below is a photo of the beautiful Hong Kong actress Chin Fei looking chic and mod in the perfect floppy hat and cat-eye makeup. 

Here is a short clip from a movie with Chin Fei called "Summons to Death" from 1967. The clothing, accessories and set design are campy and fun.

Below is a photo that I love from the September 1963 issue of Bazaar magazine.

Next is a photo from Mademoiselle magazine from 1965.

Below is an amazing 1960s Space-Age necklace from Trifari.

                                                                            available here

I have always had a real affinity for stark black and white. Maybe it comes from growing up watching too many old French films!

Below is a Pierre Cardin photo shoot from 1969 by Yoshi Takata. 

In the photo below Space-Age fashion meets the 1920's flapper with a quilted plastic dress.

Below is a 1980s mod dress by Courreges.

                                                                     available here 

Below is a Courreges outfit from the 1960s.

Next is a short video of fashions by Andres Courreges from 1969.

Below is a graphic black and white coat from 1963.

Below is a checkered mod coat designed by Bill Blass in the late 1960s.

                                                                     available here

I would absolutely love to have the Op-Art patterned outfit in the photo below from 1965.

Another great Op-Art ensemble...

Next is a super-fun song from 1968 by Pussycat called "Aucune Fille au Monde".

Next are a few mod fashion illustrations that I think are great.

Below is a beautiful photo from the 1960s of the actress Sharon Farrell. The image is very sensual and romantic and illustrates the softer side of late 1960s fashion. 

Next are two photos of the mysteriously beautiful singer Esther Ofarim from the 1960s.

Esther Ofarim's voice is absolutely enchanting! 

Next are two different videos of Esther Ofarim. First is her wonderful version of "A Taste of Honey" from the late 1960s.

Next, Esther Ofarim performs the song "Black is the Color of my True Love's Hair" from the 1970 film "11 Uhr 20".

Below are a few examples of bold color and fresh mod design.

Next is an image of the great actress Faye Dunaway from 1968 wearing an ultra chic black hat. Her gaze is so intense!

I absolutely love this next photo of the actress Candace Bergen. She looks so alluring in pure white.

Next is a photo that perfectly sums up London's Carnaby Street style.

The photo below from 1968 looks so modern, it could be from today. 

Next is a great photo of the French actress Claudine Auger, best known as the Bond girl "Dominique 'Domino' Derval" in the James Bond film "Thunderball" from 1965. 

Below is an adorable photo of the actress Suzanne Pleshette from the 1960s that perfectly represents mod done in a super-cute way that reminds me of Japanese 1960s mod style. I love the matching bow in the hair and the exaggerated Peter Pan collar. 

Below is a photo of the Austrian Playboy Playmate Susan Denberg looking cool in a nautical peacoat and big square framed sunglasses. 

Next is a photo from the September 1965 issue of British Vogue. This is the epitome of classic mod style, the Mondrian dress. 

I end with a wonderful photo of Veruschka from 1966 that is slightly surreal and wholly captivating. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer On The Run

I can relate to the girl on the go in the amazing Elmer Batters photograph above. Over the last few months, I have been absolutely mad trying to prepare for a gallery exhibition while still venturing out on my almost daily hunts for all things beautiful and fabulous. I have been wearing many hats, both figuratively and literally.

My art making process and my vintage hunting and gathering process have many similarities. The art making process begins with a concept and then a pursuit resulting in an often frenetic gathering of images and materials. My eyes are trained like an aesthetic athlete to sort out the rubbish, to know when, where, what and why. When hunting for vintage pieces, I must be able to instantly size up whether I can see it being worn by a fantastically chic individual, and I must stress the word individual.

Below is a wonderful summer photo of Grace Kelly about to set sail, at least, in her imagination.

My art has taken me all over the world and given me a chance to peruse insane, labyrinthine flea markets where I have found countless treasures, some too genius to share, like in France, where I found my beloved original Paco Rabanne chain link bag, or in Holland, where I found a divine and perfectly cut leather jacket that I wore until the lining began to disintegrate into a long, black fringe that would trail behind me like a gothic pirate or an urchin in a Dickens novel. At my favorite flea market in Berlin, rusty dental tools share company with unbeatable Soviet movie posters and stacks of black and white photos of questionable characters in unsavory situations, often in uniform.

Below are a few gorgeous photos of the Austrian actress Romy Schneider.

I love this photo of Romy Schneider looking sexy and happy, caught in the paparazzi's flash.

I am the first to admit that I have never been the summery type. I am much more suited for drizzly days that cast silvery shadows on wet cobblestone streets, the type of weather that begs for velvet and greatcoats. Born in the wrong era, a constant refrain...

The summer does bring me a few sublime delights, such as the first bloom of my rare Oriental lilies. Their color, saturated and sublime, like fire roasted peaches in Champagne.

This summer, New York City is awash with superb art and fashion exhibitions. "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of fashion and the direct role art plays as an inspiration for a designer. My love of Elsa Schiaparelli's designs is well known, and this is a perfect and unprecedented opportunity to see into the grand dame of the surreal's wonderfully twisted mind. The exhibition runs through August 19th.

At the Whitney Museum, Yayoi Kusama wraps you in walls of "Infinity Nets" and dazzles with unbridled obsession, sometimes magical and sometimes frightening, but always genuine and inspiring. This exhibition runs through September 30th.

Below is a photo of a free spirited mother and child that reminds me of my earliest summer memories.

Summers in California were dry and smelled of wildflowers. Color abounded on the summer frocks girls would wear with wild hair and beachy tans and on children's faces with the designs of flowers and clowns painted on flushed cheeks by hippie chicks with braids and macrame bags.

I have an affinity for the psychedelic. I love bold patterns that have a hallucinatory kaleidoscopic effect. I am happy to see girls today embracing wild psychedelic maxi-dresses this summer. It looks so fresh and easy, but still dressed up. I love the pairing of wild patterns and ethnic jewelry topped off with the perfect floppy hat.

Summer in the city is all about garden parties held under lantern strung trees. These festive settings are the perfect occasion for dressing up. I prefer an exotic look, maybe wispy chiffon in the deepest emerald green paired with an armful of 1960s jeweled bangles, wild and gorgeous clamper bracelets with glittering, snarling animal faces, or Chinese silk pajamas worn with a coolie's hat and golden Moroccan slippers, what could be more chic?

Below is a beautiful 1920s photo of the Brooklyn born and bred vaudevillian actress Lilyan Tashman, fully embracing the Chinoiserie glamour I adore, perhaps she even graced a garden party right here in Brooklyn.

Keeping cool as temperatures rise is priority number one and everyone knows that the best way may just be a proper cocktail. This summer, we are spicing up the mix and then throwing it on ice in a concoction that we have created in honor of the best of summer fashion that we call "The Psychedelic Sizzler".

Cocktail Of The Week: "The Psychedelic Sizzler"

serves four


4oz silver tequila
3oz pulpless orange juice
4tsp sugar
1c fresh raspberries, rinsed
1tsp sriracha
3oz chilled champagne
shaved ice


in a blender, blend tequila, sugar and raspberries until smooth.
pour mixture through a fine sieve into a glass bowl
in a cocktail shaker, combine orange juice and sriracha, shake well
add champagne to orange juice and sriracha mixture
in four champagne flutes, divide champagne/orange/sriracha blend equally between glasses
to each flute, add shaved ice to about 3/4" below rim of glass
spoon raspberry tequila mixture over shaved ice equally between the glasses


In closing, we have one of my favorite Japanese jazz bands - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions - with their classic song "Summer Goddess".

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vintage Bijoux Exoticism - Glamorous Girls & Costume Jewels

Back from scouring the world for treasures, quite like a Bohemian pirate with his (her) booty. There was, in fact, a pirate in the family tree. His name was Valentine and he succumbed to an untimely death in the New World. The treasures I have unearthed have an air of the exotic and are perfumed with mystery.

I have been collecting vintage jewelry for as long as I can remember. As a young goth girl, I gravitated towards Victorian and Edwardian pieces, as dark and spooky as possible. Mourning jewelry, hair lockets and anything with a spiderweb was suitably macabre. I would try to simulate the effect of a spiderweb by draping long strands of deep black faceted French jet beads across my chest, the sparkles simulating morning dew. 

One piece I cherish is a tremendous Whitby Jet cameo ring I inheirited from my Irish great-grandmother. It is a massive piece, almost too big to wear. You can see the depth of time in the cameo's wizened carved features and endless black abyss of the stone. It is one of those pieces of jewelry which dictate the type of outfit you would wear with it, generally a black velvet dress and a Victorian beaded capelet. 

Below is a very unusual Victorian necklace featuring lizards surrounding a mythical horse. In Victorian and Art Nouveau art and design, the salamander or lizard represents passionate love and a flaming heart. It was believed that these animals could survive fire. The horse at the center most likely represents strength.

                                                                                          available here

Below is a very exotic image of Greta Garbo wearing a superb headdress.

As far as I am concerned, when it comes to jewels, bigger is better. I love large, sculptural, very dramatic pieces that veer toward the surreal. 

I grew up in a very Bohemian atmosphere in California with yearly European forays. I tend to gravitate toward pieces that have a sense of history and seem to be from distant lands. I like to find pieces that were stylistically inspired by the cultures and artistic traditions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

I have always been obsessed by pattern and balance and I think the pieces I collect and sell reflect this passion and are almost always richly detailed. 

Below is an amazing neck piece made by Accessocraft in the 1960s.

                                                                                                                                           available here

Below is a photograph of Brigitte Bardot looking every bit the Bohemian goddess in Vogue from 1970.

Every era in the history of costume jewelry has produced masterpieces. Lately, I have been collecting a great deal of pieces from the early 1960s to the beginning of the 1970s. I love the ethnic influence that was in vogue during this era. I feel like this particular time was a modern renaissance. The costume jewelry had a medieval or Renaissance revival influence crossed with Ottoman jewelry and the lyrical abandon of the surrealists. 

Below is a favorite photo of Kenneth Lane from his book "Faking It".

Kenneth Lane is someone who participated in this Bohemian Zeitgeist and brought costume jewelry to the ultimate level of high fashion. Lane's love of art history, travel and world cultures inspired wonderful pieces that are prized for their original, often bizarre designs, high quality and for their lasting brilliance. Here is a selection of Kenneth Lane's work that I absolutely adore.

Below is an Asian style coin collar necklace that is incredibly dramatic and sexy. 

                                                                                   available here

Below is one of my favorite Kenneth Lane brooches from the Mughal series of the early 1960s. 

The brooch pictured beneath is another fantastic paisley piece in the Mughal style.

                                                                                                                                           available here 

The bracelet below, according to the writings of Kenneth Lane, was one of the great style doyenne Diana Vreeland's personal favorites.  

Below is a beautiful coral colored carved resin moth necklace that was inspired by ancient Chinese symbolism. 

                                                                                   available here

In closing, here is a very beautiful photo of a young Yvette Mimieux wearing costume jewelry in a very fresh way.