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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

Fabulous jewelry transformation. Image courtesy of Baribault Jewelers.

I wrote a short story last year in which one of my characters took her engagement ring and had it repurposed into what she called her “disengagement ring.” I was inspired by my mother who did that very same thing years ago after her divorce. Turns out my mother was ahead of her time.

Repurposing jewelry is a trend and we’re not talking just engagement rings – Grandma’s diamond brooch? Mon’s sapphire dinner ring? Dad’s cufflinks? All of these family heirlooms could come out of the dark and live a new life and Baribault Jewelers can make it happen!

Based in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Baribault Jewelers is a family owned business and since 1948 they have been offering their customers quality fine jewelry as well as repair. In 2015 they added Repurposing to their options. “It’s time for people to take those family heirlooms out of the vault and transform them into jewelry they’ll want to wear every day,” said Christina Baribault-Ortiz, co-owner of Baribault Jewelers.  “Whether its rings, bracelets, pins, medals, necklaces or earrings, our team is up for the challenge of taking your most meaningful piece and reimaging it to be meaningfully you.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re on the East Coast, West Coast or in-between, the staff at Baribault can work with you. Got something sitting in a safe-deposit box? Give it a new life and yourself a piece of jewelry you will wear every day. Set up a time online for Baribault to give you a call and make that transformation!

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She opened her wardrobe. Guilty by Design, she thought, looking at a black shift dress she had bought from the aptly named dress shop in Morningside, for there was a great deal of guilt involved in the buying of expensive dresses – delicious guilt; she had loved that dress and had worn it too often. Italians wore black, did they not? So something different – a red cashmere polo-neck would transform the skirt, and a pair of dangly diamanté earrings would add to the effect. There!

Isabel Dalhousie – fictional character in the book Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, the second novel in a mystery series featuring Isabel, by Alexander McCall Smith.

Guilt for buying expensive dresses? Well, no need for guilt IF the expensive dress is worn. Isabel has worn her expensive dress “too often” apparently and gotten her money’s worth. I don’t think you can wear a dress too often. As long as the dress is kept clean and and mended if needed, wear, wear, wear what you have and buy less. An LBD (little black dress) is an investment and with accessories can be styled so many different ways – worn with an elegant pair of pumps and a strand of pearls for a special occasion or with sneakers and a cardi for a casual lunch.

I think I have mentioned that I am a fan of (good) mystery novels and my current favorite is the Isabel Dalhouise series. McCall Smith sets these mysteries in Edinburgh and treats his readers to detailed descriptions of various blocks and neighborhoods giving us a real feel for the city. I love that he gently uses clothing to reflect aspects of his characters and the mysteries themselves are unusual (and perhaps a bit thin to be honest.) For example in Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, Isabel (the editor of a philosophy journal) meets a man who has recently had a heart transplant and is haunted by memories of things that didn’t happen to him. Hmm … what’s that all about? Isabel is going to find out!

What I like most about this series is hanging out with our heroine. She lives an interesting life in a big house in an old city and as a philosopher, she ponders the world and gets herself into quite a few moral dilemmas.

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I Am Coco by Isabel Pin

Award winning illustrator Isabel Pin has just published her latest children’s book, I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel (Prestel Publishing).

Much has been written about the designer/fashion icon Coco Chanel (even for children), however, there’s something quite unique and compelling about Ms. Pin’s addition to the stack. As the author and illustrator, she gives readers an overview of Chanel’s life from young orphan at the turn of the last century to innovative designer to icon, highlighting the big events in her life – short-lived singing career, first shop, love affairs, world wars, daring designs, and her comeback in the late 1950s.

Illustrations From the book I am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel.

Each chapter of the story is concisely written and embellished with colorful illustrations. Although Pin’s depictions bear little resemblance to Chanel, her simple drawings with a swipe of added color grew on me. (Her style actually reminds me of mid-century fashion illustrations, in particular Andy Warhol, who was a fashion illustrator in his early career.) Pin’s images of Chanel, her life, and designs are as delightful to look at as a plate of pink and green French Macarons.

Chanel’s story takes place in the world of fashion, but the message within her story is perseverance. In addition to learning about Chanel’s life and achievements, young readers will find in I Am Coco fashion history, inspiration, and encouragement to follow their ambitions.

I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel by Isabel Pin is targeted for readers aged six to nine, but this its a fun read at any age.

(Thank you Prestel Publishing and Media Masters Publicity for providing a review copy to ODFL.)

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Illustration of Coco Chanel by Isabel Pin from I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel (Prestel Publishing).

In order to be irreplaceable, one has to be different.

So true! This reminds me of something a local clothing manufacturer once told me. He said that people don’t want to stand out in their fashion. They want to blend in.

I can understand that. It’s easier to blend in. To not be different. Particularly in our modern world, where life is so hectic. BUT, it’s a lot less fun.

Come back to ODFL tomorrow for my review of I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel by award winning children’s book illustrator, Isabel Pin.

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We Can Do It!

During WWII American women joined the workforce in droves to replace the men who went off to fight. By 1945 one out of every four married women worked outside the home, many of them working in the aviation industry. The original illustration that we know as “Rosie the Riveter” was was drawn by artist J. Howard Miller, who was hired by Westinghouse to create morale-boosting posters for the company’s workers. The poster was only seen by Westinghouse staff and just for a two week period in 1943. When the image was rediscovered in the 1980s it quickly became associated with feminism and mistakenly identified as the Rosie the Riveter illustration created by Norman Rockwell for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in May 1943.

By the way, I took the image from a badge for the 1993 inauguration of Bill Clinton.

Wishing all workers a happy, safe, and restful Labor Day.

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Inspiration can be found anywhere at any time. I often stumble upon something that sets my imagination whirling into fashion mode, even though I’m not a designer.

Recently I was visiting Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside. While roaming the gardens I was taken with these bright and happy flowers. I commented to my partner that I could see these flowers on fabric. Then I started thinking – If I were a designer I would paint these flowers onto a medium weight cotton fabric in a repeated small print, perfect for a summer shirtwaist dress. An alternative would be to paint large, also on cotton fabric and make a caftan with a matching turban. Painted on silk, what fabulous lining for a lightweight coat. How about a silk quilted coat? Then I thought that if I were a fashion designer I would create a spring/summer line all based on the Filoli garden flowers.

I play this game – If I Were a Fashion Designer – whenever something sparks my fashionable imagination.

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Needle, needle, dip and dart.

Thrusting up and down,

Where’s the man could ease a heart

Like a satin gown?

See the stitches curve and crawl

Round the cunning seams –

Patterns thin and sweet and small

As a lady’s dreams.

Wantons go in bright brocades;

Brides in organdie;

Gingham’s for the plighted maid;

Satin’s for the free!

Wool’s to line a miser’s chest;

Crape’s to calm the old;

Velvet hides an empty breast;

Satin’s for the bold!

Lawn is for a bishop’s yoke;

Linen’s for a nun;

Satin is for the wiser folk –

Would the dress were done!

Satin glows in candlelight –

Satin’s for the proud!

They will say who watch at night,

“What a fine shroud!”

Dorothy Parker (d.1967), American poet. The Satin Dress was published in 1926.

Happy Birthday to Dorothy Parker, born this day in 1893.

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Designing is like a living organism in that it pursues what matters for its well-being and continuity.

Issey Miyake (1938-2022), Renowned Japanese fashion designer.

Miyake was part of the avant-garde fashion movement of the 1980s and 90s, along with Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. Although based in Japan and rooted in Japanese aesthetics, the designs and designers of the movement became global hits. GQ said in 1984, “These are clothes that conform to no fashion standards. They seek to abolish form. They hang loosely on the body in oversized unusual silhouettes.” Additionally the fabric was often in black and had raw unfinished edges.

In 1970 Miyake established the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo where he experimented with textiles and design, following his own philosophy of creating clothing reflective of its time while always staying socially conscious.

RIP Issey Miyake.

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Born in Italy to a wealthy family in 1940, Elsa Peretti became a model while living in Spain in the 1960s where she also started playing with jewelry design inspired by objects she found at flea markets. When she later moved to New York City she met the fashion designer Halston and he included her works in his fashion shows. It was then that she created some of her signature designs such as the bone cuff bracelet and the open heart pendant. Liza Minnelli was among the first celebrities to sport her jewelry and I noticed in a recent interview that she’s still wearing her bone cuff bracelets – one on each wrist!

(Later Ms. Peretti designed the teardrop shape bottle for Halston’s perfume.)

Her unusual sculptural pieces caught the eye of many, including Bloomingdales, who bought her line and in 1972 designated a small corner of the store to her wares and called it “Peretti Boutique.” After winning several awards, Peretti contracted with Tiffany & Co. in 1974 to design exclusively for them. She later told a reporter that it was Halston himself who took her to Tiffany to discuss the contract.

While at Tiffany her designs became iconic – the open heart, the bone cuff, mesh necklace – and these modern, simple designs in silver attracted younger clients.

The Bone Cuff designed by Elsa Peretti.

When Ms. Peretti died in 2021 the jewelry magazine, The Aventurine, said that the designer put Tiffany in touch with what was happening on the street by offering more affordable jewelry. I’m not so sure they are affordable now, but they are still selling. All of the Elsa Peretti designs have become classics, worn today by the likes of Meghan Markle, Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie Bradshaw), and Margot Robbie. It’s been reported that Ms. Peretti’s jewelry represented 10 percent of Tiffany sales between 2009 and 2011, and when her contract was renegotiated in 2012 she was given a one-time payment of close to 50 million dollars.

Image from the Tiffany website. This is the smallest of the open heart earrings and the price tag? $1050.

I remember the open heart design, which I wanted so badly when I was in high school. At the time I did a lot of babysitting and one of my regular jobs was for the family of the owner of a car dealership in San Francisco. The couple had a baby daughter and the mother hired me to sit one afternoon a week. I really liked the mom, who was super chic with short blonde hair. I looked forward to seeing each week what she might be wearing to wherever she was going – a meeting, a luncheon, a photoshoot at her husband’s dealership. She wore silk blouses with midi-length skirts and boots and she always sported a gold pair of Elsa Peretti open heart earrings from Tiffany.

Oh, how I wanted those earrings too. But I wasn’t making so much money babysitting to buy them for myself. (I’m a little surprised that I didn’t say something to my mother or my father, as I think a pair would have appeared under the Christmas tree one year.) The earrings were too much for my bank account, but back then they weren’t as expensive as they are now. I suppose it was a passing whim on my part, but one that I remember to this day.

Ms. Peretti appeared in the 2019 documentary film Halston (if you haven’t see that, you should!). I would say that her designs have certainly stood the test of time.

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Jewelry is not fashion. It has to last, not be discarded as soon as something else comes along.

Elsa Peretti, Italian born jewelry designer (1940-2021).

Ms. Peretti designed for Tiffany & Co. and created the iconic Bone Cuff, Open Heart pendant, and Mesh Necklace.

I can’t agree more with this week’s quote. Jewelry should always be timeless, or at least we should approach it as if it were and mix it up. Certainly all of what Ms. Peretti designed is timeless. Her pieces from nearly fifty years ago are still selling at Tiffany and have become classics.

Come back tomorrow for more on Elsa Peretti.

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