Monday, June 22, 2009

Sea Monkeys, Mermaid Parade, 2009

We went to the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island this year & had a blast! The costumes were great fun & the crowd was friendly & laid-back. These "Sea Monkeys" looked fabulous, didn't they?

Fish purse at Helen's booth, Chelsea flea market

New York has a well-deserved reputation as a shopping mecca. The Chelsea Flea Market, located in an old parking garage on 25th street, is one of our favorite haunts. This is an amazing place to shop for vintage clothing, jewelry, housewares, books, & furniture. Most dealers are very friendly & will bargain with you... the woman from whom Mr. Altocat bought a gorgeous silk suit kept dropping the price without being asked! These bags were on display at the booth of a lovely vintage clothing dealer named Helen. I bought a spectacular skirt from her, which I will post soon.

Window at Bagel Boss, LES, NYC

Window at Bagel Boss, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Now you see why Mr. Altocat & I insist on running while we're on vacation. We had breakfast here on Sunday, 6-21-09... best bagels I've ever eaten. I highly recommend the multigrain bagels with reduced fat lox & scallion spread. Unlike the pink, vaguely-fish-flavored goo served up at chain bagel shops, this snow-white stuff has actual pieces of salmon & scallions in it & the flavor is divine. We did quite a bit of eating on this trip, so much that I'm a bit scared to try on certain outfits at the moment! Other places where we noshed & enjoyed: Nathan's (the original location, on Coney Island), Two Boots, Malatesta, Empire City Bagel (we actually had pizza, but I bet their bagels are good, too), Pinisi Bakery, & Dosa Hut. We also had spectacular (& very strong) Manhattans at the Algonquin Hotel, which may well be our favorite NYC spot for tippling. Great drinks & service in a beautiful, storied setting... can't beat it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lulu Guinness

Lulu Guinness, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

This outfit certainly won't be to everyone's taste, but I love it and might even wear it, given the opportunity. I love Lulu Guinness' retro-girly-whimsical designs. To me, she's a latter-day Elsa Schiaparelli. I first discovered Ms. Guinness' work in the 1990's and found her creations a much-needed departure from that decade's oh-please-take-me-seriously minimalism. (The mere thought of teeny, tiny Y necklaces & backpack purses still makes me shudder.) Turns out 2009 is the 20th-anniversary year of the Lulu Guinness brand; this is the outfit she wore to celebrate. Not too many stores in Baltimore carry her line, alas, but Mr. Altocat and I are planning to pay her New York boutique a visit this coming weekend. This could be hazardous to my wallet and is sure to be a feast for the eyes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poufffff at Killer Trash

Poufffff at Killer Trash, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Crinolines & other retro finery available at Fells Point's Killer Trash, one of Baltimore's best-loved vintage clothing stores.

Day-of-the week undies!

Day-of-the week undies!, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Ah, the amusing stuff one can find at flea markets. Mr. Altocat & I spent this afternoon in Fells Point, a historic Baltimore neighborhood unfortunately known (at least in recent years) mostly for attracting crowds of drunken young suburbanites on weekends. There's much more to Fells Point than that, however. The area is home to two well-regarded community theatres (Vagabond Players & Fells Point Corner Theatre) as well as an eclectic assortment of shops & restaurants. You can find all kinds of clothing, shoes, home decor, and more down here, vintage & new, & most items are very reasonably priced. If you MUST own a "Don't Bother Me, I'm Crabby" t-shirt, they sell those here, too, but please don't wear such a thing around locals. That's the sartorial equivalent of riding a Duck boat. (With regard to the latter, take the Water Taxi instead.) Dining options range from cheap to high-end. We recommend B.O.P. (Brick Oven Pizza) or Burritos en Fuego for the former. If you want to spend a bit more, Mezze offers delicious Mediterranean fare, & their sister restaurant, Kali's Court, is lovely for special occasions. Pitango Gelato is a fabulous place to indulge your sweet tooth.

Back to the pic - the Fells Point Preservation Society's Second Sunday Antiques Market runs the 2nd Sunday of every month through October. There are GREAT deals to be had here on vintage clothing, jewelry, books, housewares, and other items. More information is available at 410-675-8900. One of the clothing dealers had these day-of-the-week undies for sale today; aren't they a riot? Granny panties aren't my style, but at least these are new in the box (a/k/a/ unworn!)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eugene Hutz in "Everything is Illuminated"

Ever since my husband and I heard Gogol Bordello live, I can't get enough of their music, and it turns out their lead singer, Eugene Hutz, is a very talented actor as well. We watched "Everything is Illuminated" last night and I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard at a movie. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's book of the same title, the film covers familiar territory - a young man seeking to understand his family by making a trip to the ancestral homeland - but does it in hilarious, moving, & original ways. All of the performances are terrific and the soundtrack is a must-have. I'll be picking up the book sometime soon, too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

I just finished reading "Chanel: A Woman of her Own" by Axel Madsen. It's a wonderfully detailed account of the life & times of one of my favorite designers... a woman who came from an impoverished background & was left at an orphanage by her father at an early age, yet eventually ran an internationally acclaimed fashion house & created iconic pieces that are still in vogue today (think: 2.55 handbag, little black dress, &, of course, the Chanel suit.) Madsen goes into great detail about Chanel's numerous amours, who included English polo player "Boy" Capel & the German spy "Spatz". Chanel counted Igor Stravinsky, Jean Cocteau, Winston Churchill, & many other 20th-century luminaries among her friends. She strongly disliked Dior's "New Look" & the designs of Elsa Schiaparelli - styles of which I am a great fan - but I have such admiration for Coco's work that I guess I can forgive her. Almost. At any rate, I would call Madsen's book a must-read for those interested in fashion. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go & spritz myself with Chanel No. 5.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Music & passion are always in fashion...

Gogol Bordello 6-4-09, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Over the past two weeks, I've heard some amazing live music... tango, opera, & gypsy punk. Yes, my musical tastes are all over the map, & I'm fortunate to live in a region where I can hear such varied performances. There was a common thread in all of these shows, however - passion. People who truly love what they do getting up on a stage & putting everything they are into their art. It's so strange & sad to me that some performers expect audiences to pay top dollar to watch them lip sync. I've been told "It's HARD to sing & dance at the same time!" Really? Tell that to Ann Reinking or Bebe Neuwirth. Or to Gogol Bordello, pictured here during their June 4th appearance at Rams Head Live in Baltimore. They played for two hours, & while their moves may not be as choreographed as those of the average blond pop tart, they're every bit as energetic, if not more so.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

18th c. blue glass - Jane Fletcher - WOW

Ah, enamel. 18th-century parure in a custom case. Again, many thanks to Jane Fletcher for allowing me to take & post pics of her wares. If you want to read more about adornments of this period, I highly recommend "Georgian Jewellery, 1714-1830" by Ginny Redington Dawes with Olivia Collings. Beautiful photography & highly informative, engaging text.

Micro mosaic, etc - Jane Fletcher

More fabulous vintage bling, courtesy of Jane Fletcher... I spy Georgian, Victorian, & even some 20th-century pieces.

Georgian on my mind...

I re-watched "Dangerous Liaisons" the other night & was amazed at how well I remembered the costumes, and even the jewelry. Of course, the clothes & gems in the film were spectacular, & I've always loved 18th-century fashion. Since I just can't get enough sparkly Georgian eye candy, even if I can't afford it, I thought I'd share a few pictures of the stuff with you. These were taken at The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show in 2008. The dealer whose booth I photographed is Jane Fletcher, a very funny, intelligent Englishwoman with a wonderful staff.

Whitby jet necklace

Whitby jet necklace, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

I've wanted a piece of Whitby jet jewelry for years; recently found this on eBay, for an insanely low price! The pendant is carved Whitby jet (fossilized wood) & the beads are a mixture of Whitby jet & "French jet" (black glass.) Whitby jet comes from England; jewelry made from it was immensely popular during the Victorian period. Ladies who were in mourning wore Whitby jet jewelry as well as pieces made from vulcanite, hairwork, & gutta-percha. Whitby jet jewelry is still being made, but this is an older piece.


I have been obsessed with fashion & design from an early age... perhaps since birth. I adore vintage looks, but am also a fan of truly ground-breaking modern styles (makers of $3000 jeans need not apply.) My fashion icons include Miuccia Prada, Diane von Furstenberg, Coco Chanel, & Elsa Schiaparelli. I love bargain-hunting, mixing "high" & "low", & combining vintage pieces with new ones. Besides fashion, I love the arts, movies, travel, architecture, great food, cats, & interesting people. I'm completely new to blogging, so please be patient with me & watch this space!