Thursday, June 21, 2018

Staying cool

Cooling off in Washington Square Park. 4:30 PM.. Photo: JH
Thursday, June 21, 2018. The summer solstice; the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. It was sunny and warm but not muggy and uncomfortable (yay!), with some passing rain in the late evening.

I went down to Michael’s to lunch with an old friend and since it was Wednesday, one might expect the usual clamoring crowd. Not so. The Solstice upon us, and the Fourth only two weeks away, it was easy to see that those  who could were already beginning to depart for more casual days elsewhere.

After lunch I walked with my friend up Fifth Avenue where there was a lot of sidewalk traffic. However, the motor traffic was gridlocked (with emphasis on “locked”) right in front of the building between 58th and 59th. Originally known as the General Motors Building, it was built in 1968, designed by Edward Durell Stone & Associates with Richard Roth Jr., grandson of the legendary New York architect Emery Roth. Harry Macklowe later owned it and sold it to Donald Trump. The big transparent Apple Cube sat alluringly on its plaza for a number of years. The Cube is gone. I don’t know what they’re doing on that plot of cement right now but the roadway is covered with those big plastic/rubberized fencing closing off the entire block of the lane closest to the building.
The Apple store master plan.
On the other side of that block of roadway they’ve also expanded the Bus Lane Only from one to two lanes!! Bus lanes are absurd, and a menace to vehicular movement since they are most often EMPTY since the buses run every few minutes and often in clusters.  So, of the four lanes of the avenue between 58th and 59th, which is one of the most traveled avenues in the city, there is at present only ONE LANE for all four lanes moving in.

It seems that those mayoral administrationsBloomberg and now de Blasio —   have chosen to make it even more difficult for New Yorkers to get around this burgeoning metropolis. (Although it must be good business for all those companies involved in painting and re-laning the roads – but taxpayers, the ones who ride around the city, etc., are paying for that so who cares?)
Dedicated bus lanes on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street across from the Apple Store, version 2.0.
They claim there are “more cars” than ever in New York (which I can believe), but aside from that reality, there are also substantially LESS ROADS for them to travel on.  I suppose they expect New Yorkers will use public transportation as an alternative. Maybe they think all the commercial traffic will too? Of course we already know that the public officials have their cars equipped with special blue flashing lights and sirens to move the Anointed Ones hither and yon, so what’s the problem folks?

Yesterday there was an ambulance, all sirens trying hopelessly to move down the single lane of that block – where traffic was backed up into the low 70s. Too bad for the patient in the ambulance. One can’t help but wonder if these “new lane” designers ever have to move around the city quickly and frequently. Or are they confined to their ivory towers, so they don’t really know the mess they’ve created? Alas.
Only in a dream.
Meanwhile over in London (which incidentally I have been told multiple times – true or not – is the “model” for the new traffic design in New York) it is The Season. Or what used to be known as The Season for the social swells like the aristos, the royals and their like. That was when everyone had to be in London before they abandoned the hustle bustle for more pastoral or beachier climes.

However, it remains a “must go” for a lot of Brits as well as the influx of well-fixed Americans who visit London to attend The Royal Ascot and the millinery swarm that provides its personality. That great horsewoman, Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II, the most powerful woman in the world, was in attendance, and that says it all. Although this year Harry, the Duke of Sussex and his new Duchess, the former American Meghan Markle, were center stage in everyone’s curiosity no matter what’s going on.
The scene inside Bellamy’s 
To celebrate all this, Audrey and Martin Gruss, Tom Quick and Mike Donnell hosted their annual “London in June” dinner at Bellamy’s, the classic Parisian brasserie on Bruton Place in Mayfair. Bellamy’s, incidentally, is known to be the only restaurant fit for a queen as her majesty occasionally dines there.  The  guests came from New York, Palm Beach, Miami, San Francisco and even Los Angeles, not to mention some posh Londoners such as Jane Churchill.
The menu.
JH and I dined there when it first opened, guests of Lord Charles Churchill (Jane’s late, great, former husband) who was publicizing it. It had already become a “must-go” destination for the rich, the chic and the shameless. The menu was excellent and despite its glamorous reputation, it is entirely understated and extremely efficient – polished wood floors, vintage French posters, well-positioned mirrors to add some sparkle and now the destination of hedge-funders, American tycoons and Mayfair smart setters.

Not surprisingly, Audrey Gruss evaluated it shrewdly, charming her guests: “Let’s make this an annual event to celebrate happiness and health!” she exclaimed. I’d vote for that. Also not surprisingly it was one of those perfect evenings, as the Grusses and Messrs Quick and Donnell had planned, and guests were enamored.
Audrey Gruss and Tom Quick Sallie McKinney and Audrey Gruss
Tom Quick and Jane Churchill Kathy Koll and Amy Phelan
Tom Quick and Sallie McKinney
Philip Norkeliunas and Steven Stolman Amb Nancy Brinker and Earl Crittenden
Rich Wilkie, Bonnie McElveen Hunter, and Earl Crittenden
A few weeks ago, JH and I went down to the Standard Hotel to see a preview of the Fall Line of the Peruvian Connection, our friends who besides being online, have six stores across the country (and one in London) including a beautiful shop on Columbus Avenue and 76th Street.

Years ago before I became a professional a writer, among my previous occupations I was proprietor of a couple of shops in Greenwich and Pound Ridge where I sold designer sportswear for women. It was a business I fell into and knew nothing about, including the product.

They were shoe-string operations that prospered greatly at the time. I had significant help from a silent partner in choosing the merchandise, and three women who were sales people to assist this novice. However with those collaborations, I soon learned about buying and selling fashion as well as the nature of the customer and the hows and whys of their choices.
The Peruvian Connection's Fall '18 collection explores ethnographic textile traditions — from Persian rugs to Andean mantas, from rhythmic African fabric to Japanese kimonos.
It was the success of that venture that gave me the courage and motivation to follow my childhood dreams to become a writer, and in 1978 I sold my business and moved to Los Angeles to pursue my ambitions.

Seeing the Peruvian Connection's preview of their Fall line that day brought all of that experience back to me. I found myself looking at the line the way I would approach the merchandise I would buy for those stores -- mainly because I was very impressed by the PC style, the wearability but also by the quality of the fabrics. Style and practicality are what enhance one's personal fashion.

The following are some of the items that I could imagine would look great on a woman of style today. The line will be available in their stores as well as online in the first week of July.
This MILITARY DRESS COAT ($469) is a very impressive piece (that's Annie Zander, Peruvian's creator and owner, modeling on the left). A woman looks smart and naturally self-confident in this coat as well as practical in terms of use and comfort.
Peruvian started in business making alpaca sweaters. They're light in weight and yet very warm. I have two and they seem to adjust to temperatures probably in the way they did on the alpacas from whom it was grown. Pictured here, Topanga Ruana, $259.
Beautiful color "triangulating" with this San Marco Cardigan, $498.
Fabulous print skirts, perfect for the colder months in style — Alessia Skirt, detail; $199. Detail of Coyoacán Maxi-Skirt, $199, with Chaparral Belt, $89.
MEN'S AND WOMEN'S BRIMFIELD HENLEYS. Full-fashion knit of ultra-soft, woolen-spun royal alpaca—the finest grade of alpaca. $199 & $179.
Annie modeling this cool distressed, Burnt Umber CADOGAN CAR COAT, $698; and COLCA CANYON DRESS, a striped sweater-dress of hand-painted alpaca, $259.
Annie zeroes in on the Cloisonné Knit Coat, $459.

Contact DPC here.