Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In Fashion

The Tribute in Light as seen from The Lake in Central Park. 9:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Another sunny, warm Tuesday in New York.

Yesterday I talked to my niece Susan who lives in Naples and stayed through the storm in a hotel with her partner Dan and their two kitties, and a couple of neighbors. 

Dan, would have preferred they evacuate, but they had two neighbors, women, who were older and neighbors of Susan’s late mother, my sister Helen. Helen, I should add,  was a person who regularly assisted her neighbors with their needs. Both women live alone and had no one to look after their safety and would have been isolated.
Susan's house was all together undamaged. Other houses in Naples were not so lucky.
So, last Friday Dan and Susan “buttoned up” (her words) their house, bought storm shutters and covered the windows, and rented a small suite in a hotel. The suite came with a kitchen — a rarity — and both the living room and the bedroom were spacious. Susan bought food to store in the fridge, along with water. The two women shared the bedroom, and Susan and Dan slept in the living room. They were without power for many hours and the winds were very strong, but the rains were harder in the outer environs of Naples, like Marco Island which sustained a lot of damage.

By yesterday they could go to their house which was still all together and undamaged. Susan pointed out that the house is wood, and had the winds been as strong as they were in other areas, they could have lost it.

More brouhaha over at the Guggenheim uptown:
Yesterday afternoon, JH was walking by the Gugg again and noticed something going over at the "tornado of concrete." He walked inside to see them moving out hundreds of pieces from their permanent collection to make room for their next big upcoming exhibition entitled, "Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World," which opens on October 6th.
The main rotunda replete with crates of paintings.
The permanent collection in the process of being packed up (what a job that must be). Poor Franz Marc's Yellow Cow (Gelbe Kuh) was the last one chosen on this ramp.
L. to r.: You can see Édouard Manet's Before the Mirror, a sliver of Picasso's Woman with Yellow Hair, Edouard Vuillard's Place Vintimille and Camille Pissarro'sThe Hermitage at Pontoise propped up on the right. How's that for a wall of fame?
One of the few open exhibitions was a room dedicated to their permanent collection of Brancusis.
It’s Fashion Week here in New York as you may know. It’s not as obvious to this writer who experienced Bryant Park as the center of the fashion storm, and then Lincoln Center. Now it is de-centralized with shows going on all over town.

Back in the ‘70s when I was in my early thirties I happened to find myself in what I called the schmatte business with two small off-price designer sportswear boutiques. We sold named labels like Anne Klein, Kasper, Gloria Sachs, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Halston, etc. a few weeks after the beginning of each season, and at a discount of 40%. I knew nothing about that business before I fell into it at the suggestion of a friend who was an executive for a major designer on Seventh Avenue.

Sheila and I around the same time we opened our shop in Pound Ridge.
I’d started out in a little barn on the side of the road in Scotts Corners, in Pound Ridge, New York. Originally (my wife and I) opened a head shop. If you don’t know what that is, it’s now forgettable anyway. It was forgettable by the time we got into and we did not prosper. It was after our marriage had ended and I had nothing but a very cheap lease — $200 a month on this little barn (that was built in 1839 and was originally a basket factory for the Fulton Fish Market) that my friend suggested a change in merchandise.

I remember saying to my friend “What’s that?” when he suggested selling off-price designer sportswear for women. But not having a better idea I immediately took his recommendation, and invested in some goods. The result was comparatively spectacular and in no time, I had three in staff working for me.

I liked the prosperity naturally, and it was also interesting to learn how women buy clothes for themselves which is so different from the approach of most men. Many women, I learned for the first time, are very unsure about the choices they make for themselves but don't like to reveal their insecurity. They often need guidance and reassurance that comes with the practical.

My customers were mainly from the area — Bedford, Pound Ridge, New Canaan, Greenwich, Wilton, North Stamford, very often wives and mothers, ages 30 and older. Many were wives of executives who ran corporations in the city. Their needs were specific and practical. This was in the era before the internet and rarely if ever was a purchase returned: they spent carefully. They always wanted value and wearability — something that could last for a season or more.
Kasper with two models from his very successful sportswear line for Lesley Fay; blazers, pants, sweater sets, skirts and blouses, circa 1978. Anne Klein whose line of fashion sportswear changed fashion in the 1970s. This is the kind of designer sportswear we sold in the shop.
The prosperity of that business gave me more time to spend doing what I've liked doing since I was a kid and stopped playing with toys — that is, writing. And ultimately it gave me the opportunity (after I sold the business a few years later) to move to California and embark on a career as a professional writer.

I tell this story because we have an advertiser on the NYSD right now — Karen Roberts — who is a designer and in the business with her own label.  She’s having a trunk show beginning today, September 13th, through tomorrow, September 14th at the Omni Berkshire Hotel on 52nd Street at Madison Avenue from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (See Concierge for Suite Number or call 888-747-9129).
Karen Roberts with one of her sheath dresses crafted and sewn in New York City.  And with a Day Dress from her latest collection.
Looking at Roberts’ website, I was very impressed by the look, the quality of the fabrics and the common sense of her line.  I could see she’s got a winner — a design which back in the day in the garment industry was referred to in the business as a Ford — simple, practical and so basic that it compliments as well as accommodates (accessories or not). And the price is right.  Her words for it are “Elegant Sheath Dresses in Beautiful Fabrics Created and Sewn in New York City.”

Roberts knows her customer.
I know this because it’s the same sensibility as the customer I experienced back in the day. They had money to spend but they had to spend it wisely. And I could see she knows how to take Basically Practical and assure the customer of the rightness of her choice: she will look elegant and feel good in Roberts’ creations.  But don’t take my word for it: Visit the site and see for yourself: http://www.karenrobertsnewyork.com/events/ or check it out at her trunk show.
A selection of Day Dresses available at the Trunk Show.
Meanwhile up in Greenwich, this past Saturday Theatre Forward Board Member Pamela Farr and her husband Buford Alexander hosted a cocktail party to kick off the 40th Anniversary of Theatre Forward, a nonprofit that advances the American theatre and its communities by providing funding and other resources to the country’s leading nonprofit theatres.

The evening started with cocktails on the terrace before Pam Farr welcomed guests inside. Three time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker entertained guests by performing three musical theatre standards accompanied by Anna Ebbesen on the piano.
Pam Farr.
Anna Ebbesen and Rebecca Luker.
Bruce E. Whitacre, the Executive Director of Theatre Forward welcomed guests to the celebration and let everyone know that since its founding in 1977 by its 10 founding member theaters, Theatre Forward has striven to advance American theatre and its communities. They’ve achieved this by increasing access and opportunity for all to experience theatre that builds community, setting the stage for individual achievement.  The organization’s focus is twofold: Advancing Strong Theatre and Educating Through Theatre.

This inaugural event launched a series of special programming to commemorate the landmark anniversary of the organization. To learn more about Theatre Forward and the upcoming events including the 2018 Chairman’s Awards Gala: http://www.theatreforward.org
Carl Sylvestre, Regina Taylor, Nanette Nestor, and Jennifer and Alan Freedman.
Isabelle Winkles, Jonathan Maurer, Gretchen Shugart, and Effie Thomopoulos.
Bruce Whitacre and Nanette Nestor.
Terrence Yanni, Jonathan and Effie Thomopoulos, and Tom Parrish.
Kevin and Anne Driscoll, Julian and Kathy Markby, and Carl Sylvestre.
Buford Alexander, Pam Farr, and Bruce Whitacre.
Jennifer Freedman with Kevin and Anne Driscoll.
Robert and Patricia McDonald.
 

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