Monday, February 1, 2010

10 Thangs for February

1.  Vampire Weekend’s second album “Contra
I am such an old granny when it comes to music.  My music tastes haven’t changed much since 1985, but every now and then I will invest in a new artist sight unseen (or unheard) after reading about their critical aplomb (and in this case, their Ivy League pedigree).  And like a bottle of wine, which I sometimes buy just for the design of the label, I loved the name “Vampire Weekend” and the album’s cover of a young preppy girl in a polo shirt with the collar upturned.  Happily, I have been listening to Vampire Weekend all week and am digging the indie-carribbean-self produced sounds of a new generation.  Move over Bananarama!

2.  Butch Bakery
I love cupcakes and swear by Billy’s Cupcakes in Chelsea.  But, a new player has thrown his proverbial hat into the cutesy ring of cupcake-dom.  David Arrick, a former Wall-Streeter, has founded “Butch Bakery” and has created an offering of super dude cupcakes that have totally captured my sweet tooth.  Decorated in patterns such as camouflage, houndstooth and wood-grain, these cakes are not your typical guy themed dessert (i.e. a putter’s green or a football field).  Check them out for your man’s next big day.

3.  Women In Love by D.H. Lawrence
When working on a collection I always seek a visual cue or period to frame my mood.  Women In Love, both the 1920 novel and Ken Russell’s 1968 film, explores modern day themes like gender roles, sexuality, and free love.  I just re-read Women In Love after absorbing the film (for the tenth time) earlier this month and did some research on D.H. Lawrence and found his history and his politics intriguing. He was indeed gay and, for his time, he dealt with sexuality in a way that was controversial and even condemned as obscene.  By today’s standards the book would be considered “quaint,” but the feminist issues and the definitions of love as defined by each character’s needs is universal and very of the moment.

4.  Ping Wu from Project Runway
The new season of Project Runway is off to a great start and one contestant has strangely captured my attention.  Chinese born, Ping Wu, is more of a fabric sculptor than a designer and creates idiosyncratic items by draping fabric on her own body.  She definitely did not have the technical expertise in pattern making and construction that her other co-contestants have, but what she brought to the show was a distinctly Asian, distinctly left brain, and interpretive way of working with fabric to express oneself.  Her pieces were typically a mess and the one that lost her a place on the show was described as a “statue of liberty” disaster and was indeed totally unwearable.  Still, I liked her chutzpah and her wacko personality.  As compared to some of last season’s peeps, her heavy-handed design sense and Martha Graham approach to interpretive draping was really charming.

5.  C.F.D.A Fashion Incubator
The Council Of Fashion Designers Of America is an incredible group that has, for many years, supported the design industry as well as raised money for such causes as AIDS, breast cancer and most recently, Haiti.  Their latest innovation is the Fashion  Incubator," a program that has given 12 lucky emerging designers a workspace in the garment center for two years at a very reasonable price as well as two years of mentoring and industry support.  In an industry that is as cutthroat as fashion, it is wonderful to see new talent being supported with a workspace in the garment center.  Some of the designers who won berths on this maiden voyage are Prabal Gurung, Sophie Theallet, and Bibhu Mohapatra. 

6.  Thimister
After a decade away from the fashion industry a strong voice has re-entered the fray, Josephus Thimister.  Josephus is a renegade designer with a brutalist aesthetic and a romantic heart.  He showed his return collection during the spring couture shows in Paris as he is a member of the Chambre Syndicale, a major honor in French fashion.  However, instead of showing Spring, he showed Fall 2010 and presented a very raw, elegant, and striking collection based on the first world war and Russia’s falling Aristocracy.

7.  American Fashion-Menswear by Robert Bryan
In conjunction with the C.F.D.A. (Council Of Fashion Designers Of America), Robert Bryan, a highly respected menswear editor and fashion historian, has written the best overview of American menswear ever published.  The book covers everything from Levi Strauss to the Ivy League look and yours truly has two wonderful images in it!  This edition is the third book published by Assouline with the C.F.D.A. The first two books were about women’s fashion and accessories.

8.  Parrot Cay Resort
For my hubbie John Esty’s 50th birthday, I am taking him to this incredible resort in Turks and Caicos, Parrot Cay. This is a private island and houses a holistic spa, super healthy cuisine and private villas with their own pools…

9.  Food Fights
For my hubbie John Esty’s 50th birthday, I also wanted to help him realize one of his fantasies – and, no, it is not what you might be thinking.  He has always wanted to have a food fight. So a good friend offered her apartment up which was to be painted the next day as the scene of the food fight.  After dinner, we blindfolded John, who was expecting a cake, and we proceeded to smash three pies into his face. Thus began a wonderful 30 minutes of full on food fighting…

P.S.  I just watched Drew Barrymore’s film, Whip It, which has a brilliant food fight in it, too! I am feeling a trend coming on …

10.  Frye boots
For Fall 2010 I am channeling my inner 70’s child by using Frye boots and lots of their other great items for my show.  I have always loved their iconic boot and its seventies, almost awkward, dorky shape. Even the colors are super seventies, which makes these iconic boots a great foundation for my show.  Earthy, free-thinking models in earthy post-hippie boots spells heaven in my book..


  1. I'm hot to see your collection! What a perfect journey that was. All my senses were stimulated from what I just read. I will go in seach of those treasures you shared. D.H.Lawrence's Women in Love is first. I saw it so many years ago('74?) and want to revisit it now. I'm excited for you and this new season that's upon us. Then Parrot Cay! Don't be surprised if I knock on your hut asking for some SPF 0 Baby Oil. I'd kill to lay on the beach and just sizzle. That was a treat!

  2. Frye boots rule. They also give you the extra benefit of adding two inches onto your height without being girly heels or chunky platforms.

  3. great list, jb! check out vampire weekend's videos too-really smart and well done.

  4. Woops...left message below...but to reiterate...Billy's beats Magnolia any day! xo