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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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Just a reminder for local readers that the Shadelands Ranch Summer Market in Walnut Creek is coming up fast – Sunday, July 31, open from 10am to 3pm.

A few goodies I’ll be selling: This charming summer dress has a 1920s feel and would be a great choice for Gatsby Summer Afternoon! The handbag is a Koret, circa 1960s. One can never have too many summer hats and this straw wide brim is a classic. The colorful scarf on my mannequin is vintage 70s.

Forty vendors will be selling their handmade and vintage wares. The museum will also have for sale items from their archives – vintage and antique clothing, accessories, and home décor items.

I’m offering vintage jewelry, scarves, handkerchiefs, hats, handbags, dolls, collectable perfume bottles, some clothing, and other small goodies. Joining me is Paula Dodd Aiello, costumer and seamstress from Sew Becoming. She will have costumes and accessories, clothing, and items for the home.

There will be food vendors, shade under the trees, and tours of the museum (if you haven’t been inside of the Shadelands mansion, it’s a fun travel back in local history).

Also please note that all the money that I make from sales will go to Brightfocus Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research for cures for Macular Degeneration. As I have mentioned before my mother suffered with MD, an eye disease that slowly robs people of their vision. The last years of her life she was nearly blind. My donation will be in her memory.

So come out for a sunny Sunday afternoon and please stop by our booth (#53) to say hello.

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Summer at Tiffany (Harper Collins Publishers, 2007) is a memoir by Marjorie Hart, music professor, celloist, and former chairman of the Fine Arts Department at the University of San Diego. Memoirs are often about an interesting slice of a person’s life and this one tells the story of Ms. Hart’s (née Jacobson) summer in 1945 when she and her best friend, Marty, both students at University of Iowa, traveled to New York City to work for the summer.

Initially the two pals thought they would have it made working in the Big Apple. Through sorority sister connections they had a place to stay for the summer and they had heard that getting “shopgirl” jobs was a cinch. After much convincing of their families to let them go, Marjorie and Marty dressed in their best and boarded the train headed for adventure. But upon arrival, they discovered getting a job wasn’t a cinch after all. They were turned away from all the best stores – Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, Sacks Fifth Avenue and others. Marjorie asks herself “What was this wild rumor that finding a job in Manhattan was easy?”

Indeed it was no easy task, but once again connections played a role in helping our two heroines land positions as pages at the one and only Tiffany jewelry store on 5th Avenue and E. 57the Street. Wait, it gets better – they are the first women to ever work on the sales floor (WWII is raging and all the men are abroad fighting) AND they are outfitted in custom Tiffany blue shirtwaist dresses topped with leather messenger bags to carry the treasures upstairs to either the credit department or the repair department. And so the summer of adventure beings – dinner dates with servicemen, a trip to the ocean, a brush with Elizabeth Taylor, VJ Day in Times Square.

I have to say, crazy at it sounds, it took me some time to warm up to Summer at Tiffany. I started reading it back when it was first published, but I soon put it down. Although well written and lively, I just couldn’t get into it. Fast forward to earlier this year when I was looking for a lighthearted book to read to my mother. I had been reading to Mom for a few years since she could no longer see due to the eye disease Macular Degeneration. I thought this book might appeal to Mom for the era and the jewelry, however, to be honest, I suspect that by then she wasn’t really connecting to much of anything; she just liked the sound of my voice.

This time around I really enjoyed Marjorie and Marty and all the details of Tiffany and how it operated back in the day. I followed with interest Marjorie’s youthful romance with a young gentleman in the Navy and I enjoyed the humorous misadventures that she got into – like the time a strand of pearls broke and ended up on the elevator floor. What I particularly appreciated about the book was its unaffected tone and the transportation back to a more charming time when women dressed up for dates and wrote letters to their families “back home.”

I enjoyed the book so much I kind of savored it, reading it slowly to linger just a bit longer in Marjorie’s world. I read the next to the last chapter the last afternoon I spent with my mother. She was awake, talking and aware, and I was completely unaware that that would be the last time I read to her.

After she died, I brought the book home and it sat on my desk for weeks. I just couldn’t bring myself to read that last chapter. Somehow, for me, coming to the end of the book was to step further away from those days that I sat with my mother reading to her. The End meant the end for us too.

Once I was ready, I did read that last chapter and I read it aloud. Instead of making me feel more apart from my mother, the act of reading aloud helped me to feel connected. I like to think that Mom was listening from wherever she might be now.

Summer at Tiffany is a delightful visit back in time and just the right read for a sunny afternoon under an umbrella in the garden, perhaps sipping a lemonade or a cocktail. (Maybe you’d like to share it with your mom.)

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The Shadelands Ranch Museum Summer Market in Walnut Creek is back for a second year on Sunday, July 31st, 10am to 3pm. The Market offers vintage and antique goodies as well as handmade items from 40 local vendors and this year I am one of those vendors. Also available will be items from the museum’s archives, including clothing, accessories, and home décor pieces. (Last year there was quite a lot of Edwardian and Art Deco dresses.)

Yes, I will be out there too, sharing a booth with Paula Dodd Aiello from Sew Becoming.

These past few months I have been sorting through my collection and my mother’s collection of vintage jewelry and other small items. I will have vintage earrings, brooches, pendants, silver bracelets, and Bakelite bangles. I have a few vintage clothing pieces, hats, handbags, scarves, handkerchiefs, collectable perfume bottles, and dolls. Beads and buttons, too. Paula will have vintage clothing and costume pieces, as well some cool items for the home.

Vintage jewelry from my collection and my mother’s.

There will be a couple of food vendors, lots of shade under the trees, and the Shadelands Museum will be open for tours. What a lovely Sunday afternoon outing. If you’re in the area, please come by and say hello.

Shadelands Ranch Museum Summer Market, Sunday, July 31st, 10-3. 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.

NOTE: Our booth number is 53 and is under the name Mom’s Closet. We take cash only.

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No one loves you like your mom. Pictured: My mother with me and my brothers – Jimmy in the front and Marshall in the back.

Cindy Marshall died on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

My mother lived, as she would say, a multifaceted life. She was a woman of style, good manners, and a quirky sense of humor. An only child, she was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, but grew up in many places, including China, where her father was an officer in the Navy. After her parents divorced when Mom was ten years old, she and her mother moved to San Francisco. I think she was lonely in those early days; she told me she spent that first cold and foggy summer in SF by herself inside their apartment listening to Flash Gordon on the radio and making paper dolls from images in fashion magazines.

Classical music and opera were important to my mother. She learned about both from her father and when she was in high school she studied voice hoping one day to sing opera. She had a lovely voice, good for operettas, but she thought not strong enough for opera so she gave it up (it was the big stuff or nothing). Still, she’d sing to herself up until the very end of her life. (In fact she was singing along with a Michael Feinstein CD while I sat with her just days before she passed.)

A bit of a loner, Mom followed her own sense of style. In the 1950s, Marin County housewives were wearing shirtwaist dresses with full skirts and shoes with heels, but not my mother. She sported slacks and desert boots, and for a diaper bag she used a bowling ball bag. “It was more interesting,” she told me. That was the era of luncheons, cocktail parties, and evenings out for dinner and dancing. Mom loved all that and had the appropriate attire for every occasion, usually purchased from her favorite department store, I. Magnin. Sometimes she made her clothing, although, she said she didn’t like working with sewing machines and preferred to sew by hand. She was also an avid knitter and once knitted an entire dress.

Mom had three children – Marshall, Jimmy, and me. One of the tragedies in Mom’s life was the loss of her two boys, both of whom left us way too young. It weighed her down with sadness, but she had an admirable inner strength and I know that she also took comfort in our small surviving family.

When I started school, Mom went to work, out of necessity as a divorced single mother but I think also to get back into the wider world. She managed a dentist’s office for many years and then switched to jewelry sales, which was her forte. She worked at Shreve & Co. and then Zales, and eventually she started her own antique jewelry business. Around that time she also reclaimed her maiden name, grew her hair long, went blonde, and shifted from structured handbags to the more fashionable shoulder bags.

There is much to say about my mother. (And I say it in a mother/daughter memoir that I am working on – and one day may even finish.) She was an elegant, complex woman who spent much of her life searching for answers to the big questions. Sometimes when she pondered life, she’d say “What’s this all about?” We weren’t always on the same page, but we were close and we spent a lot of time together. I miss that already. She has always been there, always on my side, always backing me up. Life is a little lonelier now.

My father died just before Father’s Day in 1984 and I still have the card I had planned to give to him. Now, my mother has left just before Mother’s Day 2022. Life is strange.

While I sort through this loss, it’s hard for me to focus. Even fashion, my usual place of joy, feels empty to me. For that reason, I am going to take a break from ODFL. I hope that readers will bear with me and still be there when I return. In the meantime there’s ten plus years of archives to revisit. Also, take a peek at Mom’s Closet (tab at the top), which has posts all about my mother, who inspired this blog.

Rest in peace, Mom. We love you!

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Installation of Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy at the Legion of Honor Museum. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

A fashion exhibit has recently opened at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy features the designs of Chinese couturier Guo Pei.

1002 Nights, 2010. Left Dress: hand-painted silk, embroidered with silk threads, embellished with Swarovski crystals, Headpiece: resin, silk tassels and Swarovski crystals. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Known for unique sculptural silhouettes and elaborate embroidery, Ms. Pei has been designing couture for four decades. She finds inspiration everywhere – from nature, history, and various cultures around the world – to create unexpected looks.

Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

From curator Jill D’Alessandro: This global worldview manifests itself in her designs, which draw equally from Asian and European aesthetics to occupy a space between fashion, theater, performance, and sculpture.

In 2016 Ms. Pei was the second designer born and educated in China to be inducted as a guest member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the Paris based organization that determines what design houses should be considered true couture.

Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy features 80 designs from Ms. Pei’s 2007 through 2020 collections shown on Beijing and Paris runways. The exhibit is cleverly presented with pieces displayed around some of the museum’s permanent decorative arts collections as well as in independent galleries.

This is Ms. Pei’s first major museum exhibit and it runs now through September 5, 2022 at the Legion of Honor.

NOTE: Please be aware that the Legion of Honor (and the de Young Museum) no longer require masks for entry.

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Guo Pei with the famous Yellow Gown.

Fantasy is the height of your spirit. It is the most important part of life because it fuels its meaning. It makes your existence on this planet more than just thinking about what you eat and what you wear.

Guo Pei – Chinese fashion couturier.

Ms. Pei designed the fabulous over-the-top yellow gown that Rihanna wore to the Met Gala in 2015.

Well, now, for me fantasy crosses with thoughts of what I wear. I put much time and energy into creating various outfits – from every day looks to vintage ensembles. This is my creativity and where I like to let my mind wander. Sometimes my creativity in fashion crosses into my writing.

Ms. Pei is the subject of a new exhibit at the Legion of Honor Art Museum in San Francisco. Check back tomorrow for more on that.

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I wore huge, baggy, really oversize Levi’s with tiny, tiny, skinny black T-shirts. I had really short, short hair, and I used to wear these white clogs.

Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski- artistic director of Hermès womenswear.

Ms. Vanhee-Cybulski sported her described outfit when she was studying fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium. And those white clogs? She remembered them and used a low-heel version with every one of her designs in the Hermès 2021 ready-to-wear collection. They became the “status clog” and sold out (price tag = $900 to over $1000).

I was a fan of clogs in college, too. I had a brown leather pair and a patent leather pair in navy blue. The patent leather pair were an unexpected look and I wore them with white bobbysocks. In those days my only mode of transportation was a blue single-speed Schwinn bike, which worked fine in my smallish university town. But it sometimes didn’t work out so well with certain clothing – like those clogs.

One sunny afternoon I was pedaling kind of fast crossing a busy street when my foot slipped off the pedal and with it went my clog. It rose high up and thump – landed in the middle of the street. But I didn’t dare stop, I had to keep going and get to the other side. Once safe I pulled over and looked back to see the navy blue patent leather reflecting the bright sunlight, unhurt, but not for long as cars sped by nearly missing it. I waited for a green light and quickly ran into the street to retrieve my clog. Whew! That was a lucky break because a few months later those clogs played a role in my getting a job in a downtown boutique. (That’s another story for another post.)

A typical lesson one learns in youth – don’t wear clogs while biking!

Looking at this picture I can see her $1000 Hermès Café Clog flying right off that pedal.

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Vepublic in Walnut Creek Broadway Plaza

It’s Fashion Revolution Week! A good opportunity to rethink how we do fashion.

Earlier this year I stumbled upon Vepublic, a boutique in Walnut Creek. Stocking only sustainable clothing, Vepublic works with companies that make their fashions with methods as gentle on our planet as possible. This includes upcycled denim, jackets made from recycled bottles, shoes made from plant leathers, tops and bottoms made from organic materials. They keep in mind minimum water use, energy use, safe dyeing methods, zero waste.

Vepublic offers well-made basic pieces mostly in cotton and silk.

I bought a pair of cute socks from a company in Sweden called Swedish Stockings. Made with recycled yarn, the pink and yellow plaid design will be my go to for spring. Now, I know, there is the issue of shipping items across the globe and all the harm that causes, but we’re not going to find perfection. We can, however, at least stay conscious and try our best.

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Our ethos has always been about creating clothes that real women truly want to wear – revitalizing American classics to offer collectable pieces.

Catherine Holstein – American fashion designer and creative director of Khaite

Ms. Holstein was recently featured, among other up and coming American fashion designers, in Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

I like her idea of “collectable pieces.” I’m a collector and instead of buying more, I prefer to create new looks with what I already own. Since I create my own style, trends are not an issue. I’m more likely to weave in a trending color or accessory – for example hobo handbags are back and I just happen to already have one from years ago.

I’m concerned about the impact the fashion industry is having on our planet so I try to be careful about how much I buy.

Speaking of sustainable fashion, today kicks of Fashion Revolution Week, April 18-24, an annual event that recognizes the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, where 1,100, mostly women seamstresses, died and 2,500 people were injured. FRW is a movement that seeks to raise our awareness of what’s really going on in clothing/fashion industry.

From the Fashion Revolution website: Currently, there is a lack of understanding and appreciation of the true cost of clothing. Price tags fail to reflect the social and environmental cost of production, while as consumers, we don’t always care for our clothes in the way we should. We need to scrutinize what it is we’re really paying for. Throughout Fashion Revolution Week, we’ll educate and inspire our global community on the real value of what we buy and wear. 

Click here for more information.

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