Saturday, February 17, 2018

Valentine's Day, 2018

Cut, Collage and Paste
Your Valentine Awaits
My friend, Elke Kuhn, had a Valentine-making party. It's a charming idea, because Valentine's Day is all about frills, and lacy accents, ribbons and hearts. But the really fun thing about the party was seeing Elke's apartment in Brooklyn for the first time and also being with lovely women for great conversation.

Elke is a textile artist who has done lots of artistic things in her career, including interior design. When you walk in to her apartment, with it brick walls and high ceilings, the sights take your breath away. You actually do not know where to look first.
Ms. Markel, moi,
sitting primly on the settee.
The mantle to the working fireplace. 
Christmas balls in a milk-glass bowl.
 Elke both collects and makes hats.
Hatboxes with chic labels in her studio.
 Fate with a T Square "T."
 Elke does masterful knitwear and
crochet work. One of her tunic
pieces hangs on a door.
 One of Elke's headbands in amongst
a wheat shaft lamp and a wooden handbag.
 Glass balls in purple and turquoise hues 
on a glass coffee table. 
 Elke's sofa.
 A Biedermeier armoire with silver ornaments.
 There are artful tableaux in every corner.
Elke replaced the original drawer pulls with
the blue-glass ones.
 Show and tell in Elke's apartment is
fascinating and could go on for hours.
Elke is wearing a hand-crocheted sweater of
her own design adorned with her own
polymer clay heart pins. She is showing us
a sock she made from German yarn.
 Elke's charming tea table features vintage
mercerized cotton crocheted hearts.
 A fanciful grouping of Scottie dogs and
headless ladies.
A Rosewood vase in a kitchen nook.
 In Elke's bath, it's Christmas all year.
 A Danish Christmas corner with a painting
from Cuba. Elke's son lives in Denmark
and she visits regularly.
 Even a tower of bowls in capped by
a vase of tulips in the kitchen.
 Gathering of Father Christmases acts as a
screen between the kitchen and dining areas.
 The tea table with raspberry mousse cakes
from Ceci Cela Patisserie, a chocolate torte
and vintage champagne coupes.
 Elke holds one of the many items
she put out for us to make our Valentine cards.
 My card for my husband,Richard.
 Cupid is featured in this display.
 After card-making we enjoyed this
scrumptious repast. Elke's friend, Cathy, looking
sweet as she politely waits for all to join her.
 Suzy savors her raspberry mousse.
 Thank you, Elke,
 for a wonderful afternoon.

A Bientot!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

My Pre-Valentine Trunk Show

It's All Hearts and Flowers
at East Village Hats
What a shocker. It's February, and I have not posted on Femme et Fleur since December. Perhaps this can be attributed to my being extremely busy preparing mes chapeaux for my Pre-Valentine Trunk Show of hats and necklaces at East Village Hats.

Of course it's Pre-Valentine because the day of amour is still two weeks away as of this writing. Last night we partied and unveiled the hats and necklaces, although there was no veiling on my hats, just plenty of color, fripperies, feathers and flowers.

My host for this show is Julia Emily Knox, milliner and proprietor of East Village Hats, located at 80 East 7th Street in Manhattan. Julia's "Hatworks and Millinery," features both off-the-rack and custom hats handcrafted using traditional methods with felts, straws and lovely trims.

A heart-felt (double pun intended) thank you must be extended to my sister, Jeanne Markel. Not only did she help me get my hats to the shop, but she also took these wonderful photos of the event.

 We had a bit of time before the event, so we snuggled into
a corner banquette at Cafe Mocha.
I am wearing one of my trademark patchwork cloches, 
a wine-cork necklace of my own invention, a bracelet
gifted to me by my step-daughter, Dianna, and
my Zuri-Kenya dress.
 Joining me at the Cafe, are Jeanne and her son, Jack Wedge.
Jack has just returned from London, where an animated film
that he co-created with Gabrielle Ledet, was shown at
the Barbican Centre's Video Jam x Basquiat.
 I am with one of my bonnets adorned with vintage
flowers perched on my hand-painted mannequin
and surrounded by a string of my lacquered beads.
 Two of my hats on Julia's lovely lace-
covered mannequins with the
Corker Girl necklace.
The figures, hand-colored by me, are
cut outs from a 1930 Galleries Lafayette catalog.
The yellow and blue straw is hand-painted,
and is called "Bathing Cap".
 The white hat is trimmed with little water lilies.
The necklace, although it sports a huge diamond,
will not set you back as much as a similar gem
would if purchased at Tiffany.
Jeanne and I with the sidewalk
 Posing with two gorgeous girls.
The feathers are vintage from the 1940s.
 She wears the hats and beads so well.
 My good friends, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, Valerie and Jean.
 Martina, looking enchanting in  the blue cloche.
The orange pouf on the back is actually part
of her own ensemble.
 Martina has such flair and wears this
so well. The pouf has now migrated to the decolletage.
 She is modeling a straw from
the East Village Hats collection,
and my beads.
 My girls in a convivial mood.
I try on a fascinator by Julia.

A Bientot!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wednesday with Carol - The West Village

I walk the West Village
We used to live in the West Village at 283 West 11th Street near the corner of Bleecker Street. We had been living on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, but the building was being sold so we had to move. Back then you looked in the Village Voice newspaper for rentals. I found one on 11th Street but I had no idea where the place was. Richard went to look at it, then called me at work to come over. I jumped in a cab and went to look at the apartment, a 5th floor walk-up. Although it was rather shabby, and as I found out, hard to keep clean, we rented it. The view was fabulous. We looked south over the roofs of charming townhouses all the way down to the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

One day in August 2001, I was standing on the corner of Bleecker and West 11th, when I had a premonition. The thought entered my mind that New York could be attacked. A month later, on September 9, 2001, a plane flew over the spot where I had been standing and crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Richard and I saw the planes fly into the buildings, and we saw the buildings crumble in billows of gray smoke. That night, we were in shock as we listened to the fighter jets circling Manhattan.

We lived in the West Village for about 10 years, and I loved it. There were antique stores, and the Parrot Jungle store across the street and a good book store on the corner. There was the Lafayette Bakery where I bought Napoleons on my way home from work. When I retired I made art in a creative frenzy in the front room of the apartment.

But since then, the West Village has changed. It is still essentially charming but much of retail shops are empty. Along Bleecker Street, for-rent signs are ubiquitous. Parrot Jungle long ago became the Magnolia Bakery. Ladies and gents, Marc Jacobs, who jumped on the hot retail scene years ago, has left the building. Still, a spirit guided me there to wander. 
It's chilly, and the winter sunshine is muted but
kind of glinty gold.
West Village icon, Bigelow's, a fancy pharmacy.
 The Jefferson Market Garden. The gate is locked,
 but I saw a gardener tidying up.
At a side window of Aedes Perfumery
dusty, esoteric elixirs.
The Diana Broussard shop on Christopher Street.
 Exquisite dresses which have been 
embroidered, then overprinted and Ms. Broussard's
resin necklaces.
Winter light in the Broussard shop
with her pearl necklaces and earrings.
 Pretty Christmas decor on Perry Street.
 I stopped at Cafe Cluny for lunch.
This is the view in the bathroom.
 It's warm and cozy inside.
 When in the West Village, I never miss the chance to
shop at Lilac Chocolates and buy French Mints...
 and a dark-chocolate caramel bar.
 At the Orla Kiely boutique
an oh-so-romantic frock.
 Classic beauty with a grass-green skirt,
at Ms. Kiely's shop.
As I walked down Bleecker, I spied Zuri.
Ever since I read the New York Times piece about the two
 New York women who founded Zuri, I have
been enamoured of their one-style tunic dresses.
It's described as the perfect dress:  wrinkle resistant,
airy and figure flattering.
The fabrics are Dutch waxed cottons purchased from
the markets of Kenya. I purchased this one called "Amplify".
 The available patterns. They change often.
 The afternoon would not have been complete without
a visit to my friend, Rosemary Wettenhall,
owner of the vintage boutique, Madame Matovu.
 Her shop is a fascinating treasure trove.
And Madame always has beautifully
curated windows.
 A village staple.
You can smell the bacon from the sidewalk.
And the rice pudding is GOOD.

A Bientot!