I am leaving out my five minutes of fame conversing with Mr. Pierre Cardin following the fashion show at MILK Studios. I wanted to help some fashion students meet him so mustererd my courage, spoke passable French, and landed them a group shot that I hope will inspire and motivate them for years to come.
What pops out at me for the purposes of my blog are these few impressions below -- definitely a week for unusual encounters, magical moments and subtle transformations...
On Tuesday, I make a field trip downtown to meet Marisol Mercado, designer of Temple de Mexico accessories, in a vast studio on Houston Street. I climb up a very steep set of steps to a shiny red door and knock, feeling not for the first time this month much like I am about to enter Wonderland.
In fact, it is more of an Almodovar scene. Marisol, tall as the red door, doll like, perfect in a grey wool sheath dress, greets me, high cheekbones, almond eyes, arms and legs thin and long, click of heels on the hard wood studio floors, and a mellifluous voice that is actually all business, moving things along to the purpose of the visit, to view her collection of hand crafted enamel and copper belts, footwear, and jewelry, made in her native Mexico.
All is fine until the slinky grey cat decides to join the party, leaping up on the red leather sofa beside me, his bluegreen eyes like marbles. Each time he pounces, Marisol picks him up and there he is, all fours extended, in front of her, grey against the grey dress.
"Gato, Gato," she scolds and walks him to another room of the pretty much wide open, art filled loft, only to have him return with more force, louder cries, and the desire to sit in on our meeting. My eyes itch and I try to keep my fear in check. Mainly I am so fascinated to be a character in the scene, that I just play through it, watching each time as the action repeats itself, click of heels, return of Gato, pounce and begin again.
Later, itchy eyes under control, I attend the Assouline book signing party at the Plaza Hotel for Mr. Pierre Cardin in celebration of 60 years of innovation. It is a who's who of bloggers, editors, fashion executives, fashionistas, public relations pros, and more. Mr. Cardin signs books for two hours from behind a large desk, his muse Maryse Gaspard at his side for much of the time, impeccable in dark glasses and a black wool pantsuit with patent leather trim. Others from the Paris team and Assouline family look on, welcome guests, and pose for photos. When it is my turn for the designer to carefully scribes his message, I get goosebumps.
The book signing is followed on Friday evening by the Pierre Cardin Spring 2011 Show at MILK Studios. It is packed and the crowd is a great one. I take special note of the several men in black velvet 'smokings,' a dramatic brunette in a vintage Cardin chain mail skirt worn with sleek fitted boots that hugged fabulous mile high legs, and a Betty Boop flapper type in oversized sunglasses and daring mix of patterns from head to toe.
The show is a playful projection into the future, or is it the past present at times? -- cones and circles and hoops, rubber and patent and other innovative materials worked into jumpsuits, hats, dresses and pantsuits imagined by the maestro couturier. Wrap sunglasses, silver astronaut suits, tribal pendants on bare-chested men -- possibly possessing magical powers?-- then the most cerebral of palettes in muted greens and apricots, subtle suits and dresses topped by exaggerated felted wool hats, followed by a spray of happy colors and flowers and bows and tulle and crinoline hoops and not one but at least six brides in white dresses, my favorite being the one in the mini with red plastic ballerina flats. Shifts in music register as shifts in mood and place - space, Earth, ocean, garden - with the audience in a willing trance.
At the end, a defile of men and women, and Mr. Cardin himself rises from the front row in the audience and advances quietly to meet the crew of photographers at the end of the runway. He then walks backstage and comes out once more for a slow and dignified procession with Maryse Gaspard, taller than tall, draped head to toe in a cape like sweep of golden silk and adorned with a silver choker simple as a ring around Saturn. The only thing missing is a scepter but the spell is still cast.
We are six after the show, running for dinner in the cold without a reservation, first to Spice Market (1 hour wait), then to The Standard (2 hour wait), Five Ninth, "No" at Pastis, "No" twice at Scarpetta, and finally to La Bottega where we collapse in a booth and enjoy pizza and pasta and our own review of the evening. "Was it wearable?" "Who is designing with him?" "Is it a comeback collection?" and so on ...
A European party girl, so tall and so tipsy she can barely stand, stumbles past our table in black stretch pants, stilletto heeled boots, black sweater. She drops a pair of long fingerless bi-color calfskin gloves. As she stoops to retrieve them, she states emphatically to anyone who cares, "They are not Martin Margiela. They are not. Everyone thinks that they are but the are not." She pulls them on snugly and smooths them over her elbows, shakes her head of long brown hair and scowls to bring home this most important point.
At home and in bed just past midnight, images from the week reel through my mind in cinematic form -- Gato in the outstretched arms of Marisol; the Paris 'mannequin' Maryse in a royal march befitting of a Queen; the last word from the party girl, because someone must always have the last word, and of course, my encounter with a fashion icon who, with the flourish of his pen and a line up of of haute looks, reminds me of where I have been in my own fashion time travel and points to the possibilities of where I might still journey.