Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The day was like that

Central Park South, 2 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012. Raining in New York. Started late in the afternoon with a heavy mist. Now, under a street lamp it looks like waves and waves of the tiniest snowflakes. No such luck. Rain. The weather man calls it “light fog.”

The day was like that. Light fog, even without it. Grey. A Monday. I didn’t have a lunch and I had enough left-overs in the refrigerator so that I didn’t have to go to the market. Just walk the dogs and then back inside.

It’s all about the holiday coming up starting on Friday. Or probably Thursday or even Wednesday for a lot of people leaving town. The entrance lobby of my building is piled high every morning with packages from UPS, FedEx, the Post Office. So’s the mailroom.
So far I’ve received as gifts from thoughtful friends, a “Decadence Cake” from Harry & David, the purveyors of special food items. The Decadence Cake is dark chocolate (I looked it up on their web site, no daring to bite into it right away). There also is a Box of Peanut Brittle from old friends which I’m going to share with my dentist; and  a lemon cake from www.donutdepot.net.  

Chocolate Decadence Cake from Harry & David.
I get one of these lemon cakes every year from the same very thoughtful friend. They’re horrible. I eat a couple slices (well, probably more ...) and then ... I give it to a friend who has a family. Otherwise I’d eat it all myself, and all at once, one tiny slice at a time, like an obsessive compulsive sugar hound.

The social calendar is now almost exclusively holiday parties. I’ve managed to miss all of them so far. Busy elsewhere, or just plain lazy. I remind myself that at this time every year, I start running on empty.

Time to re-fuel. Stay home with a book.
I’m reading Antony Beevor’s “The Second World War.” It is fascinating and thought provoking and depressing, especially considering the current atmosphere here and there and everywhere.

What stands out looking down on the cruel and vicious perpetrators of bloody chaos is that most everyone is a fool sometimes, sometimes all the time. The big boys like Stalin and Hitler were cagey, yes; but deeply stupid and psychotically insensitive individuals. Real monsters who believed what they wanted to believed unless physically forced to think about it, and they had a lot of company, a lot of supporters who provided more than adequate backup in the fools and monsters department. Those traits were noticeably evident in all the so-called races and nationalities engaged – especially its leaders – that took part in the decimation of millions and millions of men, women and children all over the world. It’s all murder.
Although it’s nice out (let’s get back to the weather, no?). For a change of scenery: Last night I went over to Jeff and Liz Peek’s Park Avenue penthouse for a book party for Valerie Steele, the Director and Chief Curator for the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Liz Peek is one of the key board members on the Couture Council of the Museum. She and her associates can claim a lot of credit for putting the Museum at FIT on the map in New York, and for raising money to assist them in their programs as well as their exhibits. Yaz Hernandez, who is the Chair of the Council, was there last night, as were several other members including Eleanora Kennedy, Michele Gerber Klein, Charlotte Moss, Jean Shafiroff. Alexandra Lebenthal is President.
Valerie Steele, Director of the Museum at FIT, describing the objective of her new book published by Taschen, last night at Liz and Jeff Peek's apartment.
The book is “Fashion Designers A – Z,” in six separate specially designed editions, bound in a fabric design created by one of those six designers: Akris, Etro, Stella McCartney, Missoni, Prada, and Diane von Furstenberg. It is limited edition totaling 11,000 copies, published by Taschen at $350 per copy. The book comes smartly well protected in a thick plastic sleeve.

It’s a coffee table book that could use its own coffee table. It’s heavy and deserves a lot of space just to remain open, like a piece of art. It’s beautifully photographed, as you may surmise from looking at the pictures I took last night of Valerie holding the book. It’s a century’s worth of creations by the great designers of the 20th century from Adrian to Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Yamamoto and Zoran, photographs of more than 500 garments.
Liz Peek telling guests about the work of the Couture Council. Valerie Steele holding a special edition copy of her book. You can't see it but the book is encased in a heavy plastic sleeve to protect the fabric of the cover. This is the Prada cover and those are little red hearts you're looking at.
The pages opened to Charles James' work.
And a Christian LaCroix hat.
And a welcome seat in the Peek living room.
In the introduction, Steele writes about the phenomenon of the rise of the fashion museum and the growing popularity of fashion exhibitions. Suzy Menkes, fashion editor and columnist of the International Herald Tribune also contributes more about the history of the FIT Museum’s role in the world of fashion scholarship and preservation.

It’s a very special gift for a very special friend (not to mention your special Self). Frankly, I wanted it on sight. It’s a beautiful document of fashion’s eye on the century.

The Peeks’ apartment was looking very festive which is always welcoming. Waiters came around with delicious canapés, perfect little wraps of salmon and ham, etc., and the most delicious champagne which I had no intention of trying except that I got caught up in an amusing conversation with two women named Dena and Tracey, who manage or supervise the home accessories (including art book) department at Barney’s. The champagne did the rest.
Liz Peek wishing me a Merry Christmas as I try to sneak out the door unnoticed.
The “mist” or “fog” was heavier when I left the Peeks’ party, and there was a mild wind to carry it. Not strong enough to need an umbrella, however. It felt good on the face. I imagined I was in London which was a pleasant distraction, as I made my way over to Eli’s on Third and 80th for some grub for my din.

There are lighted trees everywhere you walk on the Upper East Side now, as well as the islands along Park Avenue. Often you can see a lighted tree in someone’s window in both the townhouses and the apartment houses. The trees on some blocks, like 73rd at the corner of Lex, and the block of 73rd between Second and Third Avenues, are almost entirely wrapped in lights. Their bright and elegant holiday beams remind one of better things, better moments free from strife and sorrow, better dreams and kindest wishes. For all.
Lighted trees are everywhere you walk on the Upper East Side ...

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