Thursday, September 8, 2011

ready for their close up

Fashions Night Out! and the official start of Fashion Week!

a doll defile for passers by on a rainy monday in new york 

Jess Brown was in town on Monday to install windows for Bottega Veneta, who commissioned her to make full size versions of her signature cotton, muslin and linen rag dolls for select stores around the world, each fully accessorized with pieces from Bottega's Fall 2011 collection!

fashion week tete a tete; please note the heart shaped mouths hand stitched in felt

Perfect timing for Jess who herself launches her own women's and home collection later this month!

lint roller at the ready for a hair touch up!

This all started for Jess 11 years ago, with dolls she made (by hand) for her children out of old sweaters (cashmere) and antique bits and pieces. 

look closely and you can see jess in the window, also doll sized....

The dolls are now sold in specialty boutiques around the world, including Paris and London, and Jess collaborates with other designers from time to time on fashion collections to wardrobe them!

signature bottega minaudieres in the laps of  fashionistas

Jess works from a humble studio in Petaluma, California, where she also has her own store with a friend. Her dolls are hand dyed in Persian black teas and filled with sustainable cotton fiber stuffing, making them all the more fashionable by any eco standards.

I can't spill the details yet but there is more big news in store (and in stores) coming soon for Jess!

the dolls have a stylist to get every detail just right for their fashion week close ups

You can follow her fabulous Fall season on where 'events' will be posted and a slideshow sharing more details on the design and production process for the collaboration with Bottega Veneta, too.

Until then, do like the dolls, sit pretty at the shows this week, enjoy tea time, and don't forget to wear a touch of Fall's requisite red!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mountain High, Mountain Bye

In my world, for the past five years Resort market starts in early June in both NYC and L.A., leading to Miami swim market by mid July, overlapping with men's, and moving directly on to international and domestic kids shows, women's accessories and apparel, and culminating with the international gift show, all in NYC.

By the time this cycle is complete, orders are due or past due and Spring market has begun, running right through the month of September. Did i mention this all happens to overlap weekends?

Therefore, when i got an email from my brother inviting me to visit him at his home in the Adirondacks for a day or two in early July, something made me jump. It wasn't so much that the chance to see the New York City Ballet in Saratoga was an option, but just the idea that in only a few hours time, i could be hanging out upstate on the porch with my brother who i had not seen in almost two years. If not now, when? Fall travel would likely have me in Mexico again for Thanksgiving and Christmas starts my brother's hibernating season depending on the snow.

Granted, i had to be a master of time management to pull it off, but as i had just completed Etro and other appointments a week ahead of schedule and did not leave for Miami until the weekend, i was propelled into action.

A day or so later, there i was on the Amtrak train headed to Albany along the scenic Hudson. My brother would meet me at the station and we would then drive another hour and a half or so to North Creek.

North Creek is described as a Hamlet in the Adirondacks Park, surrounded by the foothills of the southern Adirondacks.. It's Railroad brought the first recreational skiiers from the New York Metropolitan area in the 1930's on what was known as the 'Snow Train.' It is also listed on the State and National Registrar as the site where Vice President Roosevelt received news of McKinley's death and his own impending presidency.

My brother lives very near the base of Gore Mountain in a house with a fabulous round room topped by a weather vane sporting a huge eagle. he told me that one morning he looked up to see a real eagle perched on the weather vane, in exactly the same position, poised for flight!

Summertime - wood is chopped and stacked neatly at the ready for chilly nights, day lilies bloom, and the deck is beckoning you to do nothing more than gaze into a green field of lawn and contemplate how it is that the Hudson River can be but a stream beyond the back thick of trees.

After a mouh watering fish dinner masterfully cooked on the grill, a glass of red wine and a good night's sleep to the sound of whirring box fans, a new day came, all ours. Never mind that the heat was palpable, the higher temperatures having reached even this haven.

What can i say? i am not a mountain girl though i can hold my own on downhill skis. i am not a kayaker, nor a hiker, nor a camper, nor a biker. i am not a lake girl,. i do not canoe, nor do i fly fish.  But put me in a car for a scenic drive and anything can happen.

We set out on Route 28, famous for its scenic byways but our first stop was a gallery not too far from the house. We entered the flag festooned, bear and indian guarded emporium and met with happy quiet, the owner finally surfacing in a corner on the deck outside, at ease to let us roam the general store and art gallery. Out back, she had an art workshop set up for classes and upstairs, a small selection of hand crafted furniture and paintings. 

We both liked the oil landscapes on tiny square canvases, wood tables made from tree slices, and the row of birds nests lined up neatly along the ceiling beams - for sale ? i picked up a set of four cotton napkins embroidered with canoes. Did i say i was not a mountain or a lake girl?  Surely i could use these back in the city!

From there, we followed Route 28 along a rambling drive with trees, lakes and more scenic views. i soon became obsesssed with the firewood stands set up roadside, begging my brother to slow down long enough for me to photograph them.  This proved to be the kind of annoying thing a tourist would do with a local, the local having no idea why the tourist would fine a mundane thing so compelling. 

As a result, we bickered over which wood boxes i was actually able or permitted to photograph given it required slowing down or stopping at critical points along the drive.  The one i loved most was like a piece of folk art, the wood all stacked in a kind of sculptural metal frame, but i just could not catch it coming or going from the car window, nor win the battle with my brother as to why it merited my fixation.  i did take note of the honor system at work for purchasing wood, kind of like leaving money for fresh flowers at the farmstands on the Long Island beaches. Put $ in $ box...

Lunch was great fun. We pulled over at a small roadside spot called Drake's Inn where only two others were eating at the time. The decor was simple enough with booths and vintage ads and travel posters in frames around the main dining room, and a small bar area in a room out front. We scanned the menu and though my brother stated, "You know they won't be very good," we chose with conviction the fried zucchini and fried clam strips and devoured them along with a sandwich each. There was small gift shop at the entrance to the establishment that i noticed on the way out versus on the way in.  It boasted a little of this and a little of that but nothing to keep us lingering.

On we drove all the way to Old Forge, a more populated area with a bit more developed food and retail center of town. We passed picturesque Third Lake (of Eight in the Fulton Lake Chain), as shown on the map in the following link,

Out we jumped from the car again, to browse through a store with handcrafted wood table wares, lamps, furniture.  This was the point in the day at which I could almost buy anything, a wind chime, a bowl, it all seemed to scream,  "perfect souvenir!"  

With self control and no buyers' remorse for no purchases made, we began the drive back, winding down the strip of road from which we had just come, stopping first at Woodsy Gifts which we had passed along the way on the other side of the road. How could we not stop at a place called Woodsy Gifts?

If Barneys New York were reimagined as a log cabin in the Adirondacks, i have no doubt it would be Woodsy Gifts! Minnetonka moccasins, Lucchese cowboy boots, Maui Jim sunglases, Vera Bradley fabric totes, and more, housed in small rooms with suitably creaky hard wood floors.

While my brother exited for a cigarette in the woodsy parking area, i bought him a pair of "bear claw" salad servers which i had seen lesser versions of earlier in the day and kind of adored by now as much as i did the firewood stands. 

Equally charming, the forest green stamp on the kraft brown gift bag. No wonder the elite came to the Adirondacks to set up great Camps and hotels in the Gilded Age. The combined diversions of scenery, lodging and shopping must have held huge appeal for summers away if i could get this excited in just a few hours of touring...

What could follow the tough act of Woodsy Gifts, you may wonder?  Well, even when i was about shopped out, our full circle brought us to a small, one room wooden house with a screen door, inside which were lovingly displayed quilts, door stops and impressive shelves full of maple syrup, jellies and jams! My favorite thing was the worn metal sign out front, pink no less! 

The jovial owner joined us from the main house, preceded by two huge yellow labs, Molly and Mike, whose health issues we knew all too well by the time we were finished visiting. "Where are you from?" she asked. "The city," i said, "New York City."  She shrugged as if what i had said made no sense at all.  Laughing, she said "I have never been past Schenectedy!" 

Our last stop for the day was Thirteenth Lake. We arrived there by exiting Route 28 to follow a long drive. To me, it felt like we were on a beach access road. Finally we parked, got out beneath a canopy of trees, walked a short way, and burst upon a perfect patch of Paradise! 

Do you remember those old View Master toys where you put a paper disc into the hand held viewer and manually advanced through a 3D slide show of  scenic attractions?  This is what looking out at Thirteenth Lake reminded me of - pristine and sharply in focus, no matter what perspective i chose.  As my brother pointed out, the air is always cooler and a breeze always comes off the water, making it an ideal resting point on this hot July afternoon.

Like all good adventures, ours had to come to its end.  We went out to dinner with friends in the evening and were home with lights out by 10 pm, only to rise by 5 a.m the next morning to head back to Albany for the train.

From my window in New York City,  i look out at the mighty Hudson and reflect upon the extreme damage incurred by Hurricane Irene two weeks ago, rain that nearly wiped out all of Keene, New York, further upstate in Essex County. As coincidence would have it, it is there that the highest lake in New York is located, as well as the highest source of the Hudson River.  It was given the name Lake Tear in the Clouds by a surveyor in the 1870's who described it rather poetically, " Far above the chilly waters of Lake Avalanche ... lies summit water, a minute, unpretending, tear of the clouds - as it were - a lovely pool shivering in the breezes of the mountains..." 

i am so grateful that this day in the Adirondacks with my brother was how i got to spend my summer vacation.

The End.