Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fashion Unraveled Symposium... A mountain of things I haven't told you...

I don't want to exhaust you with this, but the symposium I attended this past Saturday set my creative and artisanal brain on ABSOLUTE fire.

Where do I even begin?

Okay, we all reach the creative point where we start to analyze why we do what we do.  Does it matter?  Is it silly or frivilous?  Why is this so important to me?

Maybe you bristle when you make something you feel is lovely (which, truth be told, is ALL that matters), and someone says something that indicates that they have missed the point entirely.  People are often impressed when I simplify an item I've made, by just stating that it was "custom made", and then, when they wanna know where to buy it, I reveal that I am the maker.  Then, I get the looks of "You must be crazy to make your own shoes!", or "Why aren't you doing this as a business?"

But, really, those are my own issues.  I do make things for people, lead tours, consult and source when I am the right person for the job, but this whole area of my life is so much bigger than that.  What i am beginning to tell you, could probably be a novel's worth of information, but I'll put it here, because I need to process and express it, even if it isn't widely read or commented on...  Sick with me, and I'll just add to this post in parts, until I'm done.  How long with that take?  I dunno.  Let's see....

Monday, September 24, 2018

What happened to the tours?

**Updated 9/24/18**

There will be more... Due to a sudden resurgence in demand, I will establish some new dates.  Keep an eye on the blog for updates coming soon!


So... if a picture is worth a thousand words, what is this collection worth? A visit to Elliott Berman... (or visit their Instagram, if you prefer) you will be unable to resist!














Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Speakeasy maps - updated and improved - and... what does the future hold?




As the district changes, so does the blog, and the maps!  I've been chronicling how it has all changed over time, and I am still excited to do just that!

There have been many speakeasy map updates.  I've been going through, refreshing descriptions of stores, deleting and adding as the landscape continues to change. 

Remember that it is always possible to do the equivalent of a speakeasy tour yourself, on your own schedule!  I can help you narrow down your list if you want to fit it all into a certain timeframe. Just ask me!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Community is more important than you realize!

This one goes out to the hobbyists, artists and independent creatives among you...

I don't think I need to add words to this, but if you watch even just a few minutes, you'll see what I mean...




Then, check out The Male Pattern Boldness blog to see what MPB Day is all about!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018

Cooper Hewitt: Senses exhibit

You will love it.  It is absolutely worth every minute you spend in there... and it is always changing, as new components are added and removed.  Go.  I did.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

On privacy, anonymity, scarcity, and exclusivity

"The Garment Worker" by Judith Heller

Reposting from 10/1/16

I've been particularly interested in unasked questions lately.  You know... those nagging issues that pop up in our heads, spawn interesting dinner conversation, and make us wonder how to even begin researching the answer(s), that is... assuming we can properly articulate the question.

This is an aside, but trust me... it helps me explain my point here. 

A friend of a friend has a Twitter account.  I didn't know this friend-once-removed well at all, and she didn't directly share her Twitter account info with me, but she told me a story that referenced a celebrity and the response she got to a tweet she'd made, which I later looked at, and then casually explored her other tweets.  I had no particular feeling about this person, not knowing her at all, but, after looking at the shrine to self absorption and profanity her Twitter account revealed, I now have a somewhat negative opinion of her.  Before I explored her Twitter account, this alter-ego would have been anonymous.  But now, she has a name, and a face. 

But she also has the right to semi-anonymously express herself, right?

In the USA, I can say with confidence that we all pretty much assume we have a general right to privacy.  But, do we also have a right to anonymity? If not, should we?

Sure we do, in my opinion, but... what is this anonymity spawning?

Anonymity creates new and imagined "people" with other agendas, lives, needs and ideas.  It takes the "human being" right out of humanness. That Twitter persona you create?  Is it you?  Is it uncensored you? Is it just a character?  Does it matter?

So here's where it all comes full circle.  Last week, a family member said to me, "Oh, I bought this great sweatshirt at Old Navy.  It was kinda pricey, you know, for Old Navy"  She pulled it from the bag and showed me  the pricey sweatshirt.  It was a good-looking sweatshirt, but I too, was surprised by the price.  "Where was that made?" I asked her.  "Hmmm... I dunno..." she said.  "Look at the tag," I pointed to it. "It will say." 

"Hmmm... Don't see it..."

"Hand it to me."

"Ok.  (tiny print) Cambodia."

She rolls her eyes, knowing what I am about to say.

"That's okay," I said. "You don't have to care who made your clothes, much like no one cared that your enslaved great-grandfather picked their cotton, or that your grandmother..."

Her hand goes up to me, protesting my objection.  

"Listen, I care.  But you don't have to. I can make a choice not to buy that sweatshirt.  I can also make a sweatshirt... but the reason you don't care, is that you don't know those people, those conditions, the situation that led you to buy THAT shirt. Who knows?  Maybe it was made by a Cambodian who is doing just fine, living well, and enjoying life! Or... Maybe I'm completely wrong, and that person is in tears... right now, wondering how long they can keep this up... right now."

Conversation done.  Now, that sweatshirt hangs, unworn, in her closet. I think I made my point. Am I being overly dramatic?  I don't think so.

But there are endless layers to this type of problem.  The biggest, and most important, is that we just DON'T know what we DON'T know.  Where does my fabric come from?  How was it dyed? And if I expand this line of questioning to ask where my handbag came from/Where did my dinner come from?/Where/How for most things I own... There are layers and layers of anonymous labor and resources.  We can cherry-pick causes until we're blue in the face... and to what end?

In the current media environment, everyone has an opinion.  Often with a profit motive. Some people scream their thoughts.  Loudly. Offensively. Mean-spirited thoughts people feel compelled to share. To that, I say, feel free to broadcast whatever you want to say, but you absolutely MUST OWN IT.  Show us who you are. Our activism is backward.  We need to work on the things that give voices to the voiceless. 

If you ask me, oppressors have no right to oppress anonymously. If asked who is making the clothes, specific answers should be required. Do I mean that people should be allowed to wander up to your doorstep and confront you?  Peer in your windows? 

Absolutely not.  That would be about privacy. But there should be space for everyone to express their thoughts, without being stifled... as well as a firmly protected right to publicly disagree with you.  

"Where was that shirt made?" Like it or not, this question has an answer. "Who made that shirt?" definitely has an answer.  Remember when you could open a package of underwear and see na inspector's number tag enclosed?

Frankly, I don't have time to make my whole wardrobe.  Nor do I have the time to make yours. Nor do I want to. Nor do I have time to research every step my clothing has taken before arriving at the store where I buy it.  The vast majority of us don't.

So what do we do about that?

Personally, for now, I plan to let my heart lead the way.  I'm gonna continue to seek the stories of the long established fabric shops in the district - places where the vendors have been deeply involved in the business in a very organic and true way, for a long time. I'll share those stories. I'll let you  know what I find.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Unraveled... experience it vicariously here.


Go, if you can.  It is wonderfully done.

Museum at FIT
227 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001
Know the hours.  The exhibit is free.
On now until Nov 17, 2018




























Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fabrics & Fabrics

Space. Size. Variety. COLOR!!!

If you are a real-life tactile shopper, this is a place for you.  If you love color, this is the place for you.  If you shop with friends, wanna make a bit of a ruckus, and wanna make it a shopping party, this is the place for you. Many price ranges.  Don't be afraid to ask, but don't challenge the answer, either!

Very helpful staff, great inspirational photos, showing how fabric was used by designers. Really creatively inspiring display and organization.

Prepare to be overwhelmed. Have time to spend. Buy it when you see it, because it will likely be gone when you come back. (Ask me how I know...)

Great for lace, standard and unusual formalwear fabrics, luxurious home dec, antique bridal trims, interesting novelty fabrics, silk prints, brocades, a boatload of wonderful coat and winterwear fabrics.













Fabrics & Fabrics
270 W 38th St 3rd fl
New York, NY 10018
M-F 9AM-6PM

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rosen and Chadick - Off the beaten path

THIS.


AND THIS.


What can I say that hasn't already been said about Rosen & Chadick? What I can say for certain, is that quality and beauty still rule here.  You've gotta know what you like, be willing to pay an appropriate amount for it, take your time, appreciate quality, and understand the PROFOUND difference between this store and many of the (remaining) others in the district. It is absolutely one of the best kept secrets in the district.  For good reason.

Once housed in a HUGE space on West 40th Street, they have since moved twice in recent years.  The business has changed.  The customer has changed. Their eye for gorgeous stuff has not.

My heart skips a beat when I look through their offerings.  The shirtings, the woolens (which work in all seasons, you know), the denims that least forever and wash like a dream, beautiful silks and specialty silks for ties... all sigh worthy.  Long enduring relationships with suppliers from around the world make their unusual inventory possible.

Big broadway musicals, movies, plays - the wardrobe and costume people come here. The people who want to make to make luxurious clothing for themselves, for clients, for museums, with archival reasons in mind.  They have been working with the best suppliers FOREVER.  When is "forever"? 1952.  Nowadays, that's forever...

It is quiet in this space, which is perfect for the peace-seeking creative.  Do they have EVERYTHING?  No.  But that is why they are perfect in their selection of what they do have.  There are no endless piles of ANYTHING in the store.  Just the diamonds.  

Go. You won't be sorry.

Rosen and Chadick
108 W 39th St #13
New York, NY 10018
M-F open 9-5:30 



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

More than just a button...


When Oscar De La Renta needed some custom buttons to match Meghan Markle's mom's dress for the wedding, who did they call?

When the Broadway hit "Hamilton" needed bold buttons for their costumes, who did they call?

When a designer needs a button MADE, by a person who knows how to execute their idea, who do they call?

...



...


Not your everyday button store.  There is a lot of knowledge in this shop - about button making, button history, garment district and industry information, AND NYC real estate knowledge.  Why?!!!?!!!?  Go there yourself, speak to the owner (who is usually about), and you'll learn why.  It will be one of the most interesting conversations you'll have all day.  Trust me.

That is all I can say.




Monday, June 4, 2018

So long, 40th Street...

This story can be told with a sad, wistful look at the past of a booming NY district, or it can be told with an optimistic look into the future.  In this post, I will take the optimistic view...


The last retail fabric store of 40th Street is moving

On a quick trip to the garment district on Saturday, I learned that the LAST retail fabric store on that street (between 7th and 8th Aves) is moving. Whoa.  Thrown by this news, I moaned about it being the end of an era... blah, blah, blah...

Yes.  I am talking about NY Elegant Fabrics.  That massive store on 40th Street with all of the delicious fabric eye candy in the windows.  Oh no!!!!

But wait... not CLOSING... MOVING. New location to be announced very soon!

We can't deny that this is a sad moment for this iconic block in the district.  This street once featured such district heavyweights as Rosen and Chadick, Lace Star (which is now Fabrics & Fabrics), and Sposabella... sigh....

But where are they now?  

Oh wait... They have all MOVED!

And life has gone on.  And it will continue to.  We've gotta be grownups about this. What is important, is that we know where to find theses stores now.  Then, GO to those places, SHOP, and SUPPORT these businesses to help them continue well into the future.

Deal?

And, by the way, here's a link I must share.  It helped me to see that this is nothing new... it is just a continuation of a long, inevitable change of the industry and the businesses the district can support in a brick and mortar environment.  We can still shop online when possible and appropriate, and explore new locations, even mounting elevators when necessary!




Thursday, May 24, 2018

The next Speakeasy?

Next one:







September 21, 2018

This garment district fabric and notions shopping tour will lead you to places you'll love, likely have not heard of, and didn't know existed. 10AM - 3PM with lunch! 


Regarding cancellations:

 If you have paid and wish to cancel 7 days or more before tour date - 100% refund
 If you don't come on the scheduled date or cancel within 24 hours or less - you will forfeit your refund, but can switch reservation to a future tour date.

 If I cancel a tour for any reasons not related to newsworthy acts of God or other unforeseen major emergencies, you are entitled to your choice of a full refund, or a future tour.



Note: you do not need to have a Paypal account to pay using Paypal. This tour is $160. Wanna come?  Click below.






Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Peaceful warrior jacket

You know how I always say fabric has no expiration date?  Well, thanks, to Kashi in particular .... and here's proof... FIVE YEARS LATER.  The beige for the jacket lining was some leftover from lining my cradle bag, years ago.  My zipper was purchased in a Botani zipper craze (resulting the jacket I posted about some time ago, if you follow that link)...  And that pink fabric - I know it was a remnant once, which tends to be a rare choice for me.... but from where???? I remember it rolled, and such a gentle shade, with a warm fuzzy glow about it... 

So... I just made a jacket for myself that is MEANT to be strewn about.  It requires no particular care,  and looks fine rumpled and simply thrown on. Comfortable as any jacket could be, it has five main features:
  • A back slit
  • An "absent" collar
  • A flat bow
  • a collapsible/removable hood
  • Elbow crescent sleeve dart







May it stay with me forever. Or... just long enough for me to tire of it.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today, curious to see the "Heavenly Bodies" exhibit.





I went in, arms crossed, ready to hate what I thought would be the museum equivalent of "clickbait" for the masses... and I thought I proved myself right, when I saw a dangling display of Gaultier and Versace clad forms in the Byzantine and Medieval halls of my teenage wanderings... (I take this stuff seriously, for sure)... but as you go deeper, it gets deeper. And better. And more meaningful. And you have to read, not just look, to get it.

The exhibit is not all in one place - it is in THREE.  The first is on the ground floor of the museum, near the entrance, the second is in the costume institute downstairs, and the third....?  Well it is in the CLOISTERS... meaning you have to LEAVE THE MUSEUM and go uptown to another arm of the Met to see the last of it.  It can be done, but it is a commitment I really wasn't prepared to do, timewise... so part three, which I hear is the best part, will have to wait for another day this week. Annoyed by this, and preserving my folded arms position, I entered the first section.





Seriously?

I mean... seriously?

Can't really see these up close and personal.  Versace, Gaultier.... are we doing this?

But wait... go a bit deeper, read a bit of the text, and it starts to make you think a bit... feel a bit... understand a bit better.  This exhibit needs to be seen, experienced, and read to make the impact it was carefully curated to make.  And I appreciate it.










And then, as if the exhibit were to clear its throat, you see the REAL STUFF.  The wildly ornate, beautifully, obsessively and carefully created works of wonder that are liturgical garments, worship tools, and accessories.  For the Vatican, for church leaders... and you can see the connection.  Better yet, you can feel it.  And no, it isn't trivial or "clickbait".  It was entirely worth 
doing.

Beautiful embroidery

Oh, no pictures?  I'm sorry!  Really!

As for part III, at the Cloisters, I will visit that part, too, but I have to schedule that trek for a different day.