Saturday, April 30, 2011

Showtime: Or, On The Town With The Petite Sophisticate

There are so many good shows up in NYC right now: "VIENNA 1900: STYLE AND IDENTITY" at the Neue is unmissable -- a mix of art, design, multimedia that gives a general sense of the city's vitality at that time -- just for starters. Last weekend, we caught a really interesting exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum (worth a visit for the building alone, as it's housed in Carnegie's mansion): "Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay." I didn't know much about this artist prior to the show (save that she was married to Robert) but she was a prolific painter in her own right and an even more prolific designer of textiles and avant-garde clothing created along the principles of "Simultanaiety." (Her Paris showroom was even called "Atelier Simultané.")

The designs are energetic, exciting, intellectually engaging.

Would I have worn them? Probably not -- it's not as though I go around swathed in Rei Kawakubo now. But in both cases, I can appreciate the artistry! If you can't make it to New York, this slideshow is pretty amazing!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


When Slim and I were in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the lingerie shop of my dreams: "Dollhouse Bettie," which specializes in vintage and retro-style underthings and swimsuits. Normally I like having destination spots outside of NYC, but in this case I'm merely wildly envious! Luckily, they have a very good website.


Over the weekend, I visited the B's outside of Boston. They have the most delectable, delightful baby imaginable and while -- between Amtrak and the Boston Marathon -- the visit was all too brief, it was full of good conversation, delicious meals and one particularly lovely walk through the Harvard Arboretum. While flipping through a copy of Miss Dahl's Voluptuous delights (which we both agreed was a bit much), I was struck by one dress, in which Miss Dahl concocts a smoothie of some description. Ciara was kind enough to scan the image for me and I'm seriously considering having it copied, if I can find the same subtle shade of blue cotton.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged -- and if it isn't it should be -- that if you go out looking your worst, you'll run into the last person you'd wish to see. Yesterday I was feeling feverish and lethargic and had spent the day in my Metropolitan Opera sweatshirt and a pair of moccasins (and, yes, pants) and when I decided to venture out, made no move to ameliorate the situation. I'd not walked a block when I relaized the arrogant folly of what I was doing: I turned around, went home, put on a little mascara and a respectable jacket, and as a result ran into no one but my friend Lily, which was a happy outcome all around. Lily is in the happy position of going to one of the city's most elegant and fashionable balls next month -- granted in a professional capacity, but still close enough to the action to determine exactly how short all the male stars are in real life. Last week I went over to her perfect bachelorette pad and we had a powwow: she's much taller than I but we wear the same dress size, so I offered up all my swankest duds and she's currently deciding between two -- a 70's-inflected black bias-cut with an asymmetrical ruffle shoulder, and a full-skirted 1950s chiffon number in pine green. Both look super.

I'd gone out in the hopes of tempting myself into appetite, and did indeed get the fixings for a dainty single-lady meal. But though I duly prepared a nice salmon filet and a little gem-lettuce salad, I wasn't very hungry and very much fear this is a real bout of something. Just as well Slim's on the coast, en famille.

Speaking of! Charlie and Maeve are coming out for my birthday. About the latter: I was feeling just fine about it until yesterday, when the Monday crossword offered up the following clue: "Person approaching middle-age." The answer? "Thirtysomething."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Paris Was Yesterday

There was a time when, for a taste of France, one had only to go to West 4th Street. Up until a few years ago, the infamous Claude ruled the roost at his eponymous patisserie, and buying one of his ungainly croissants was a minor gallic ordeal. Claude was unfailingly unpleasant, the coffee unfailingly terrible, the place lacking air-conditioning in the summer. But the croissants were good, and it was always entertaining to see people attempt to ingratiate themselves with the proprietor, invariably rebuffed. When Claude retired, he sold his business to a hard-working and kindly employee and things go on much as before, save that now the customer service is more or less normal and it's not the adventure it used to be. I happened to stop in for a pain aux raisins and one of those awful coffees the first day they reopened, just by chance, and the experience was fascinating. One fellow bellied up to the counter and said in a confidential fashion,

"Man, am I glad to see you. Claude was a piece of work. Came here every day for 10 years and couldn't get a friendly word out of him."

He was clearly looking for commiseration, but got only a noncommittal smile from the new owner, and went away with his desired status as "beloved regular" still very much in question. No sooner had he left when another man, who'd overheard, approached the counter with an equally confidential air.

"I heard what that guy said," he said, "and frankly, I never understood people like that. Claude liked anyone reasonable. You just had to act like a human being. I mean, he and I got along great."

He also was rewarded only with a vague smile, and it seemed clear that, despite the change in demeanor, the place's general no-favorites policy was in no danger.

(Personally, I like anonymity; I've been known to give places a wide berth if I feel my privacy might be compromised, and I hate anyone to feel compelled to give me special treatment. There was a gourmet takeout shop near the store where I used to stop for a jelly donut maybe once a week. The same young guy waited on me each time and one day, said, all jocular, "If this keeps up, we're going to have to roll you out of here one of these days!" Give me Claude's indiscriminate hostility any day.)

But for the true French 4th experience, you need to continue up the block to Ludivine, where everything is neutral and terribly Parisian and exorbitantly expensive. I buy my Nuxe products there, and lately have been stalking a pair of rosy-hued heels that the salesman and I agree are perfection, but whose price strains credulity.

All and none of which is to say, speaking of Paris, I'll be an editor of some description at the Paris Review come late May. After three years at a job I love, it was time for a change. I hope my friends from Jezebel will drop by. Although I'll, of course, still be here.