New York City Miscellany

I found just a few more photos of New York City that I wanted to share.  This is the side of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, which is unfinished and is massive.  We stayed in this neighborhood, which is near Columbia University where my friend was attending a special class.

Also nearby was this pretty corner of Central Park.  Much of the park was closed due to the pathways being icy, but I enjoyed walking alongside it anyway.

I’m always amazed by the selection available in the Garment Center stores.  This is just a small section of the button room at M & J Trimmings.  It helps to go in with a list of things you have been looking for, otherwise the selection is overwhelming.  Side note:  the customer next to me was a costumer working on Finding Neverland, which was getting ready to open on Broadway.  Only in New York!

I know that looking up brands one as an out-of-towner, but I really couldn’t help myself.

I’ve been really, really wanting this tiny little Louis Vuitton trunk-inspired bag ever since it debuted on the runway last year.  Since it was featured in every magazine and blog I was a bit surprised to see it still available in such large numbers.  It might have something to do with the $5500 price tag.  That, for a bag that is so tiny it would hold a credit card, a lipstick and not much else.

Lovely Washington Square is always good for a bit of people-watching.

And finally, what I probably should have bought, but didn’t – Andy Warhol Converse Chuck Taylors.  I have a thing for art and fashion mash-ups, and these were right up my alley.  I know I can order them, but the moment has passed.

 

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Items from Our Catalog, 1982 and 1983

I thought I’d found a vintage LL Bean catalog at the Goodwill last week, but a closer look revealed something a bit strange.  A hound wearing a bra?  Now that’s one product I’m pretty sure I’d never seen at LL Bean.

And I was right.  This is not a catalog at all, but rather, is a parody of the famous Bean book.  The early 1980s were good years for LL Bean.  The Official Preppy Handbook  by Lisa Birnbach had been published in 1980, and suddenly everyone, even those who could not even name an elite prep school, was wearing chinos and duck shoes.  It must have been a very happy surprise for LL Bean, as they had been selling those products for years.

Items from Our Catalog, and its sequel, More Items from Our Catalog had a lot of fun making light of LL Bean.  I guess not everyone was sold on the idea of actually appropriating prep style.  Perhaps it was more fun to make fun of it.  So sit back and enjoy how Alfred Gingold reimagined the world of the preppy.

The first photo in each set is from my 1977 LL Bean catalog, and the second one is from Items from Our Catalog.

Bean’s Links-Knit Cardigan became…

the Como (as in Perry, I assume) Sweater.  Note the range of sizes.

The Bush Coat was a big seller among the LL Bean big game hunters.

The Our Catalog Bush Jackets were infinitely more creative.

Everyone need a drawer full of LL Bean turtlenecks in five different colors.

But how much more fun were the Invisible Print Turtlenecks of Our Catalog?  “An extraordinarily tasteful item that can not possibly offend anyone.”

Ragg Sweaters were an early 1980s wardrobe staple…

and no one did it better than Our Catalog.

Bean’s GumShoe was the “Three eyelet version of our famous Maine Hunting Shoe – for canoeing, yard work and campus or after ski wear.”

Our Catalog warned that their Gum Shoe was “…not recommended for rapid travel, dancing or carpets.”

The Boating Moc was another LL Bean and preppy standard.

The Our Catalog version was a bit pricier, but much more useful on the water.

LL Bean Madras Slacks were guaranteed to bleed, as all good madras does.

The Our Catalog Jackass Slacks came in “Three offensive Madras patterns” and were nonbleeding.

LL Bean was selling the fanny pack years before it hit mainstream fashion.

Our Catalog saw that there was another use of the pack.

Of course I focused on the clothing offerings from LL Bean and Items from Our Catalog, but there were plenty of great products for the outdoor lifestyle.  A favorite was the Field Litter Pan, a must-have for the camping cat.

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The Brown Building, Location of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

New York is so full of large, overwhelming buildings that it is easy to pass right by one without realizing its historic significance.  Such is the case with the Brown Building, which is part of the New York University campus and is located near the eastern edge of Greenwich Village.  Had I been there 104 years ago today, I would have been at the site of a tragedy, that of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

It’s hard to imagine the scene where 146 died needlessly because there were few laws to ensure the safety of workers, and those that were in place were often ignored.  But all that changed as the fire raised awareness of the poor working conditions in the city’s many factories and sweatshops.  A public that had formerly been apathetic toward poor workers, and in many cases even antagonistic toward them, now clearly saw that changes had to be made.

It probably helped that the factory was located only a block from the affluent Washington Square neighborhood.  Many people were out and about on that Saturday afternoon and witnessed the tragedy firsthand.

I’m not going to retell the story of what happened that day, but I strongly recommend watching the American Experience  episode that not only tells the story, but also explains the significance of the aftermath.

I think it is interesting that the Brown Building is still in existence.  The fire gutted much of the factory which was located on the top three floors, but much of the structure was left unharmed.  At any rate, I can imagine that if this happened today the building would be razed.

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1960s Buffy For Cinderella Dress

I usually do not buy children’s clothing, but I had to pick up this late 1960s  little dress to share here.

For those of you not around in the 1960s, Buffy was a character on the American sit-com, Family Affair.  It was the story of how three adorable orphans went to live with their urbane uncle and his valet in a luxurious New York apartment.  Buffy was a fan favorite, with her Mrs. Beasley doll and cute pigtails.

I remember the Mrs. Beasley doll being licensed and manufactured by Mattel, but I had no idea that Cinderella was making Buffy dresses.  When the show debuted in 1966 I was eleven years old, and so identified more with the older sister, Cissy.  Her wardrobe was what I’d have gone for.

Buffy was played by Anissa Jones, who unfortunately died from a drug overdose at eighteen.  It was a sad ending to the story of a little girl who had captured the hearts of so many.

Even little girls gave up feminine frills in the 1960s in order to be Mod.  This dress is made from the popular acrylic knit and featured a dropped waist accentuated with a bright red tie.  It was completely on fashion, and very different from the frilly types of dress I remember being produced by Cinderella.

I don’t plan to keep this dress, so if any of you are in need of a tiny little mod dress for daughter or doll, let me know, and I’ll send it on to you.

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Halston & Warhol: Silver & Suede, at the Mint Museum

Halston is having a bit of a moment in the fashion exhibition world.  I wrote earlier about Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ’70 at the Museum at FIT, and I’ve been looking forward to this show ever since seeing it.  The exhibition was organized by the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh where it was first shown, and over the past year it has traveled to several other cities.  It is currently in Charlotte, NC, at the Mint Uptown, where you can see it until June 14.

The exhibition came about due to the efforts of Halston’s niece, Lesley Frowick.  She approached the Andy Warhol Museum with her idea, and they enthusiastically agreed to co-curate the exhibition with her.  Halston had left much of his archive to Leslie in case she ever wanted to write a book about him, a task she has accomplished.  They were able to pull from her material and that of the museum to find objects to illustrate the relationship the two men shared, and how one’s art influenced that of the other.

I’ve been to the Mint numerous times, but simply put, this is the best exhibition I’ve ever seen there.  The variety of artifacts and the way it was all arranged led to a great learning experience.

The exhibition started with accessories, and how Warhol got his start illustrating shoes and Halston got his making hats.  Interspersed with the drawings, hats, and archival material were Warhol films and Halston fashion show videos.

Courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

 

Probably the one object that best shows the mutual influence is this silk jersey Halston dress.  The print was based on a series of flowers that Warhol had been silk-screening.  The exhibition had not only the dress, which belongs to the Warhol Museum, but also an assortment of the paintings which were hung nearby.

Collection of Lesley Frowick, courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

 

The Halston clothing came from several sources.  Some of it came from Lesley Frowick’s collection, and those of other family members.  Much of it came from Halston Heritage, the company that owns the Halston label, and which has an archive of Halston clothing.  The evening set above was created in 1983.

In many cases the original Halston sketch, drawn on lined notebook paper would be hung near the actual garment.  Some of the garments were shown with publicity sketches drawn by artist Stephen Sprouse.  And all through the exhibition snippets from Warhol’s famous diary gave meaning to the art and added perspective to the clothing.

Collection of Lesley Frowick, courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

 

I really appreciated the fact that the clothes were accessorized in the most proper way, with Elsa Peretti for Tiffany jewelry.  The blue cashmere pants, sweater, and cape have just the silver and leather Peretti belt to set off the outfit.

Halston for JC Penney Suit, 1983 Collection of Lesley Frowick, courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

 

Much has been made of how the Halston deal with JC Penney’s caused his downfall.  It’s such a shame really.  Some of the JC Penney clothes were on display, and I was surprised at how good they really were.

©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

 

There were a few Warhol paintings of the mutual friends of the two men.  There was Liza Minnelli, of course, but also Martha Graham.

To kick off the exhibition, Lesley Frowick was in Charlotte to gave a talk and show slides of Halston as a child.  I was lucky enough to attend, as listening to Halston’s niece really put a human face on the designer.  He was not just the famous Halston, he was Uncle Halston, and according to Leslie, he was a really good uncle to have.

As a young woman Leslie moved to New York and her uncle gave her a job and a place to live.  When she had a trip to Paris planned and did not know what to wear, Halston told her to simply send over her luggage and he would handle the rest.  He filled five suitcases with clothes for her, along with sketches showing what to wear with what.

For the talk, Lesley was wearing pieces of her vintage Halston collection, and she looked terrific.

I’ve not been able to find out if this exhibition will continue to travel, so if you are anywhere near Charlotte in the next three months, I strongly recommend this show.  Photos were not permitted due to ownership rights, but the Mint does allow use of photos from their website.

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Vintage Sewing – Scottie Tee Shirt

I ran across this cute 1970s knit back in the early days of Etsy when everything there was a tremendous bargain.  I think I paid about $5 for a piece that was large enough for a tee shirt, but I was amused when I received the fabric and the seller had neglected to remove the Salvation Army tag showing she had paid 99 cents for it.

This type knit was popular in the 1970s, and I can clearly remember using a piece to sew up a “hot pants” jumpsuit that had a front zipper.  Amazingly, we were not allowed to wear pants to school, but culottes were permitted, and I somehow got away with wearing it.  But I remember the project so well because of the trouble I had getting the stripes to match across the zippered front.  It was a real ordeal, and I finally gave up and put the zipper in by hand.

The memory of that sewing adventure was brought to mind by my latest project.  It was just a simple tee shirt with raglan sleeves, but no way could I get the stripes to match across the sleeve.  According to the illustration on the pattern envelope to should have worked, as a striped version was shown, but after trying all the tricks in my sewing arsenal, I just gave up and cut it so that the bottom of the sleeve matched the bodice.

To make the mis-matching less jarring, I covered the raglan seams with a strip of ribbon.  I’m telling myself that makes it all better.

I used Simplicity 7499, a vintage pattern from the 1970s that I‘ve sewn quite a bit.  I should have realized the stripes would not match, as I couldn’t get them aligned in my last effort either.

Now, only one question remains: Can a soon-to-be 60 year old woman get away with wearing a tee shirt with a Scottie dog design?

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1920s Silk Bedjacket with Issues

A picture may paint a thousand words, but in this case it does not tell the entire story.  What looks to be a very nice lingerie piece from the 1920s is actually a fairly well trashed bed jacket.

I pulled this piece from the bins at my Goodwill Outlet and was sad to see multiple holes and staining.  When a piece, especially in silk, is in this type of condition there is nothing that can be done to restore it.

Still, I put it in my cart because the lace and ribbon were still good.  I kept thinking I could even replace the silk to make a pretty little piece for myself.  But that was about five years ago, and the thing has been hanging on a nicely padded hanger in my studio all this time.

I finally took it down to give it a good look and realized that even though it seems to be a complicated design, it is actually just a big rectangle with uneven edges, folded in half and a slit in the front for an opening.  Putting the lace onto another piece of fabric would be a relatively easy task.

But for now it will hang a little while longer, until I finish up some other more pressing projects, like flannel pajamas.  Yes, it is three days until the start of spring and I’m sewing cold weather pjs.  I’m running a bit behind.

So, is this piece worth salvaging, or should I just enjoy it in all its Miss Haversham-like glory?

As a bonus, the bedjacket has a label, something you don’t always expect to see in a 1920s lingerie piece.  Franklin Simon & Co. was a New York City department store that specialized in imported goods.  In the 1920s, that pretty much meant France, not China.

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