i am a fashion designer. gee
click here to maximize your minimalism!

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click here to view my favorites from the archives. gee




are you a fonts enthusiast? a typophile?
read more

find the beauty on your daily walk! take time to notice the details of your landscape.
read more

there is nothing like seeing a great handbag in action.
read more

plastics are our future. how can you resist plastic? it is so shiny and pleasing. I have a penchant for plastics.
read more

chronicling my quest for the one true
Greek Cup
read more

have you ever noticed the similarity between nyc fire call boxes and benevolent Kannon, goddess of mercy?
read more

every design, fashion and art magazine I read lately features some important directional artist making big contributions to their genre. and where do they live? brooklyn!
read more

who says there are no more 'new ideas' in art and design? the newness is in the juxtaposition.
read more

this is how I really get things done. with my little green co-worker/task-master.
read more

my clothing & accessories design
east-meets-west minimalism

my site

the look
dressy utilitarian

my concept
useful, economical, modular pieces that can be mix-matched in numerous ways (because why can't fashion be useful and lasting? I think it can!) So I say Maximize your Minimalism!

Satin Karate Belt featured in Dec 06 Real Simple

Voted Best Designer 2006 Style Bakery
'On the Rise'

Daily Buss Feature

Luckymag.com Feature

in the blog press
midtown lunch
the girl who ate everything
queens eats
(into) the fray
funky finds
style document
gowanus lounge
far too cute
ethereal bliss
couture in the city
independent luxe
decor 8
funky finds
urban socialite
lady licorice
high fashion girl

more press...

furniture (especially chairs from the 50s and 60s), uniforms, repeating patterns, menswear, Oscar Niemeyer, traditional Japanese architecture, the Rimpa School and Ogata Korin's 8-Point Bridge, Matisse, bromeliads, succulents and other waxy flora

particular loves
bamboo, coral, moss, woodgrain, silhouettes & other cut-outs, plastic, low-resolution images, the photo copier, off-registration prints, Max Ernst's Lunar Asparagus, NYC fire call boxes that look like Kannon, Fauvist color sense, the Noguchi Museum, pretty much all of Abstract Expressionism

magazines of current interest
Domino, Elle Decor (British), ARTnews, Art in America, Wallpaper

favorite heel style
the wedge, but a sleek modern interpretation

second favorite
the stiletto

current shoe obsession
alas, the sneaker. (because I live in nyc and walk a ton!) but not too sneakery of a sneaker. more of a sneaker disguised as a shoe, like a mary jane style or a high-tech looking black one with a metallic accent. how about Royal Elastics? I must go try some on. I really like the non-sneakeryness of their styles.





zoozoom 2: hayden-harnett

[page print from zoozoom.com]

Published: Zoozoom.com, The Zoo Daily
Read it on Zoozoom: click here
Writing: Elaine Perlov
Photo: Elaine Perlov

Isn't the LORCA bag by Hayden-Harnett sumptuous? I love it. And their new store is right in my neighborhood. Greenpoint!

If you cannot view on Zoozoom: click on the image above
To read more of my articles for Zoozoom: click here

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zoozoom 1: kristen aronsson

[page print from zoozoom.com]

Published: Zoozoom.com, The Zoo Daily
Read it on Zoozoom: click here
Writing: Elaine Perlov
Photo: Elaine Perlov

Do you read Zoozoom? Zoozoom is the 'original online glossy' honored with two Webby Awards, the most recent in 2007 for Fashion. Zoozoom recently launched their latest feature: the Zoo Daily, which is bloggish in nature, and quite informative about fashion, beauty, trends, design products, events, contemporary art, architecture and more. I happen to know, because I write for Zoozoom!

Pictured above is my first piece, published today! The Dumpling Bag by Kristen Aronsson. Isn't it a beautiful bag? I took the photo too. You must be sure to visit Zoozoom each weekday, to read the latest Zoo Daily. I will be sure to let you know when one of my articles is online. And don't forget to go deeper into the magazine. The photos are so lush and wonderful. Happy reading! And Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

If you cannot view on Zoozoom: click on the image above
To read more of my articles for Zoozoom: click here

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shopping on franklin: alter

The deconstructed-reconstructed look of the This Old Thing? label
translates well to the decor of the store.
I like how the skeletal wall is cleverly transformed into clothing racks.
Below, the wall has been chiseled away to partially reveal
the years
of paint layers and older brickwork underneath.

Form follows function with This Old Thing? designs.
Surface details often follow menswear tailoring details
enhancing the fit of the garment.

Detail of the fitting room curtain.

The ALTER signature boot vase with black flowers
is just one of the clever ready-mades in the store.

A closeup of the ALTER 'wallpaper'
handmade and one-of-a-kind, of course!

Designers Roy Caires and Tommy Cole exude such raw fashion energy, you will be rewarded with a different treat for the eyes each time you visit their shop. The two own and expertly run ALTER, now nearly 4 months old, and also design their own hot-selling clothing label 'This Old Thing?' (principally Menswear, but with plenty of Womenswear; deconstructed and reconstructed vintage).

Believe me when I say, when you visit ALTER you will get into such interesting, exciting and in-depth conversations about fashion, trend and creativity that you will ask yourself, "Why do I leave my tape recorder at home when I come to ALTER? This is really good stuff. I could not possibly remember all the great things I just learned. I must bring my tape recorder next time."

Talking to Roy and Tommy is somewhat like talking to Karl Lagerfeld. They have their own clear design vision and can speak about it eloquently. These two have their finger on the pulse of something uniquely their own; and it is rather exciting to hear their ideas about the world of design. When you visit the store, you get to understand a bit about what makes them tick and how they see the world. Plus you will get many referrals about more cool things to check out: Websites, blogs, podcasts, a special event where Tommy will be DJing, stores, designers. You get the idea.

I got to find out a bit more about Tommy Cole and Roy Caires via e-mail. Their story might inspire you to open you own store. Or at least, plan a shopping trip to theirs!

EP: Why Franklin Street?

TC: Franklin Street chose us. Last October (2006) a friend of ours came across a posting on Craig's List for a retail/commercial space in Greenpoint, so we called the realtor immediately. We had no idea where in Greenpoint it was, but we were sure we wanted to take it. When we got to the space and realized it was across the street from Dalaga (where we had been selling our line already) we knew it was meant to be. We signed a long term lease a few days later.

RC: Yes, our Franklin Street location was something of pure fate. The space randomly fell in our lap and was coincidentally a few yards away from Dalaga. I saw that this area was going through a massive renovation and modernization. So it fit perfectly with our aesthetic of mixing old and new. We thought it would be a perfect place to set up our shop and to be a part of this neighborhood's gentrification.

Talk about your buying philosophy and/or vision for the store.

TC: My vision for Alter was to create a space with a strong, raw, creative energy to it. The build-out of the shop took about 10 weeks of 12 hour days. Roy and I built, painted, and reconstructed pretty much every inch of the space so that it would have the same kind of aesthetic as the clothing we design. Alter will always be evolving... a work in progress!

RC: Our buying philosophy always starts off by what we like to wear. Our style of dressing is very much mixing old and new -- designer and vintage. We try to evoke this style with our space and the items that we stock in the shop. We enjoy experimenting with texture, fit, and mixing pieces that give a unique twist and silhouette. We look for those characteristics when we select items for our shop.

The vision for the store is to continue to offer original designs and labels to our growing customer base. We are working on creating and stocking exclusive collections and products that embody the ALTER look. We have in the works exclusives from a variety of designers, locally and internationally. We are looking forward to expanding the shop to cater to the demand that we already have with just the 3.5 months that we have been open.

How long have you been in the fashion business?

TC: I've been "in" the fashion business about 7 years. I had my first (of many) retail jobs in 2000 at a store in Boston called Ozone. I proceeded to work retail instead of going to college because I made good money, met amazing people, and got a fantastic business education for free. I started experimenting with reconstructing clothing during this time as well. I moved to New York in 2003, at which point Roy and I reunited and started our own line called 'This Old Thing?'
RC: I have been in the retail industry for 12 years now. Working for major corporate stores, small independent high end boutiques to internationally respected designer boutiques. My duties have always been in sales, managerial positions and even posts as visual directors. I have always loved retail from every angle and now I can put all my years of knowledge into my own shop.

EP: What are your top-selling items/designers?

We sell a lot of our own This Old Thing? creations. They are one of a kind pieces, they are super funky, and they are inexpensive. We also do very well with Cheap Monday jeans and Fetty of Brooklyn jewelry. Oh, and dresses, tons of them.

RC: Alter's top-selling items are always This Old Thing?, our own design label. From men's vests and ties to women's dresses and jackets. We can't keep them in stock! Cheap Monday denim from Sweden is also very popular because of their great skinny fit and $65 price tag!

EP: Name 2-3 hot trends you will capitalize on for Spring/Summer 07.

RC: Its hard to pinpoint one or two key trends that we will be following for s/s 07 because we just do what we like and feel. And it changes all the time. But I have been thinking about color and volume for myself and so that will probably subconsciously translate into my spring selections for the shop.

TC: I don't know if they're hot trends, but I am always going for a garage glam/cowboy couture look. Lots of plaid and fringe, pointy pointy shoes, and really tight jeans are the basics of this look. Cropped jackets & blazers for men will soon take over the world as well, I will see to it!

Want to learn more about the making of ALTER? Check out this podcast docu-series about Tom and Roy (silhouettes pictured at left -- Roy has the scissors, Tommy is wearing cowboy boots), by David Becker and Pamela Romanowsky.

109 Franklin Street (at Greenpoint Avenue)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
G to Greenpoint Ave

ALTER is the third store portrait in our new "Shopping on Franklin" special feature. Watch for another store portrait in 2 weeks.

Split Screen
Left and right details of a one-of-a-kind men's shirt from "This Old Thing?'
(Click on the image to enlarge)

One of ALTER's exclusives: Fetty of Brooklyn
designs special pieces just for the store.
Pictured above: disc necklaces with black, champagne and white diamonds
and engraved Alter silhouette charm necklaces.

Roy and Tommy did the all of build-out for the store themselves,
including constructing all the fixtures. I love this piece.
The ALTER Altar, as I like to call it, is where the register sits.

The upsidedown hanger is just the beginning of the ALTER empire.

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the pencil artist writes a third time

Yes, I spotted the over-sharpened pencil in a third location. He/she is getting bolder with the scribble. I shrieked with excitement. Out loud! Nobody looked. It's New York.

Photographed while walking from Williamsburg to Greenpoint.

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the sartorialist

I just heard about a fashion-related blog called, The Sartorialist. If you are a fashion fan, you are rolling your eyes and saying to your computer, "You are just hearing of this now? Where have you been?"

"I have been not reading The Sartorialist," I suppose would be my reply.

With that conversation out of the way, allow me to comment. Hey, The Sartorialist is kind of neat. It seems that the photographer, Scott Schuman, has converted his blog into quite a career for himself. Check out his press page. I applaud him for that.

One thing though. He gets the consent of his subjects. Note their smiles in the pictures. By contrast, my In Hot Pursuit of a Handbag series features my subjects' backs as they dart down the street in typical New York fashion. I chase my subjects' handbags down without their knowing, and without their smiling faces pictured. I think I will continue my In Hot Pursuit of a Handbag series.

The identities of the fashionable are always protected on this blog. gee

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meet me for coffee: 71 irving place

I rediscovered this delightful outdoor spot just south of Gramercy Park the other day. Meet me for coffee! We could sit outside at that cute little table by the window. Or inside if it's raining. Inside is very spacious and charming with a fireplace and plenty of tables. I can't even believe this place exists. 71 Irving Place Coffee & Tea Bar has every hot or cold coffee beverage you could want, plus light food options, sandwiches, panini, and of course, tempting desserts. I would like an iced cappuccino and that outside table. See you there.

71 Irving Place Coffee & Tea Bar
71 Irving Place (between 18th & 19th Streets)

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think spring!

Now this is a great idea. Rounded boxwoods of varying sizes. You could do this in a window box with miniature versions, or actual size, as a border around a small yard. For this project, I wish I had a yard.

I will instead go visit this beautiful display just north of Gramercy Park. In fact, these shrubs belong to Ian Schrager's Gramercy Park Hotel. It is quite a place inside! I think I must visit the lobby the next time I am in the neighborhood. How about tomorrow?

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more fun than a barrel of monkeys

Did I not tell you that Brooklyn has the best trucks? I saw this one on the way to the pool this morning, in nearly the same spot as Mr. Pickle!



musings in the making

I am off to create some musings for the day. I'll be back with some posts when I get back from the pool! Doesn't that look refreshing? It is. They keep the temperature at a cool 80 degrees. Perfect for today.




i am a test pattern. gee (4th edition)

Welcome new readers,

Here are my top 6 favorite posts from the past few months. Enjoy!

This time it was particularly hard to select only 6. I am particularly proud of all of the interviews in my Shopping On Franklin series. As you can see, Alter is up next! And I really liked the post about how to photograph your home, Apartment Therapy-style too. So I guess what I am saying is please dip into the archives as well. March 2007 was a particularly good month. And don't forget, I love comments. gee

1. the best cuts and fabrics for your shape
2. when the blog world inspires the design world
3. riyaz design: contemporary indian miniatures
4. mangos bakery steakhouse bar
5. party pics at the domino issue release party
6. shopping on franklin: hayden-harnett

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in hot pursuit of a handbag, #4

I was so fixated on her perforated slouchy boots
that I didn't realize her handbag wasn't in position for the shot.

She adjusted her bag just before she got on the train.

This outfit was another one that struck me. I would have never put the slouchy boots with the black dress. And then the denim jacket was good too. Along with the bag: a really nice canvas tote with yellow leather trim. It all worked somehow. Luckily she was engrossed in conversation with a co-worker, so she didn't notice me taking the pictures.

I have similar perforated boots. And a similar black dress: my Tuxedo Dress. And a denim jacket. And a new yellow bag. I'll keep it in mind. I don't know about the boots with the dress for me though. I'd probably go with sandals. Or espadrilles.

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karlsson calendar clock

With this clock on your wall, what more information could you need?

Karlsson Calendar Clock Big Flip White, 17" x 17" x 6.5", $295. at The Conran Shop

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a beautification of greenpoint, brooklyn

I thought this graffiti with a MySpace page, which I came across somewhere in Greenpoint, was curious enough to investigate further. I found the following quote about the project. (But let me just say, pretty as it is, this tagger violates the unspoken code: don't tag over another person's tag.)

The Beautification of Grnpt, Bklyn is a projects that aims to bring indoor embellishment to the streets, specifically the neighborhood of Greenpoint.

The objective is to leave a mark on, and add a little bit of entertainment to Greenpoint. The project is meant to harmlessly make people pause from their everyday routines. The project also aims to get people to want to visit Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Hopefully people will be entertained and perhaps feel a little bit of joy; and also feel inspired to look at the beauty in their own lives.

If you have MySpace access, go to www.myspace.com/beautificationgrnpt to learn more. If not, you can look at this search result for Beautification of Greenpoint.

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elaine talks to ylli

After writing about my impressions of YLLI, the beautiful loft boutique in Williamsburg which recently won "Best New Brooklyn Boutique" by New York Magazine, I wanted to know more about the creative force behind the store: owner, Fetije Madzuric. Her store is devoted to exciting, luxurious and directional fashion collections including selections from over 70 designers in womenswear, menswear, denim, childrenswear, and accessories including shoes, bags, belts and jewelry. I was so happy to interview Fetije, and learn more about her background in fashion and how she developed her eye. I have included links and photos [courtesy of YLLI] from the store's Website, so you can get a visual and start planning your shopping trip. Our conversation, via e-mail, follows:

Talk about your buying philosophy and/or vision for the store.
FM: As buyer, you try to separate your personal style and emotion from the buying process but it’s nearly impossible to do. Personal taste will always be a factor in buying. I tend to lean toward cleaner lines and silhouettes but with twist or attention to special details. I always go with my first instinct…if I like it instantly then it’s in…if I debate and mull over a piece then it’s usually out. I figure if I debate over an item then a customer will too.

EP: How long have you been in the fashion business?
FM: I’ve been in fashion for 12 years. I’ve always wanted to be in the fashion industry. I went to a fashion college and my first job was as a sales associate for Bloomingdale’s. The majority of my career has been in the fashion offices for Bergdorf Goodman and at Bloomingdale's. At Bergdorf's, the focus was more on women’s fashion and at Bloomingdale’s it was in men’s fashion. Bergdorf’s was a peek into a world of fabulous fashion, and at Bloomingdale’s I fell in love with the men’s fashion industry. Both of those positions (unknowingly!) gave me a great foundation to do what I’m doing now. A huge focus for me is finding new resources, and a large part of my job for these stores was doing just that.

EP: Who are your top-selling women's clothing designers? Please name the items too and include links to your site where possible.
FM: My assortment is constantly changing…but one of my top selling lines is Vince. The Tie Front Jersey Dress [1.] has done very well this season. Sunshine & Shadow, a local Brooklyn Designer, has also been amazing. The Snaps Dress [2.] is a favorite. Crispin & Basilio, a new designer, has been wonderful…especially the Drawstring Top [3.]. And Tony Cohen, also a new designer for us. This [Deep V-Neck Dress, 4.] sold out so quickly. (We also had it in off white but that sold out completely.)

EP: Name 2-3 hot trends you will capitalize on for Spring/Summer 07.
FM: Dresses…all types of dresses have been great…they’re easy and care-free. Perfect for the summer. Organic…we carry a line called Loomstate which is 100% organic cotton and it’s been awesome. Consumers are definitely becoming more socially conscious.

Thank you so much, Fetije. As a fashion designer, I am particularly interested in your story. It is also a huge treat, information-wise, to learn your takes on the trends and what's selling. Readers, please note: every Saturday in May, YLLI will host special showings of Brooklyn designers. Consult YLLI's Website, or call the store for the latest information.

482 Driggs Avenue (at N 10th Street)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
L train to Bedford
click here to see photos of the store

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jeff wall at moma

I cannot believe we only have until May 14th to view Jeff Wall at MOMA. I am thankful for subway posters on the 7 train. I am totally absolutely going this Friday. I cannot wait to see this retropective. [page prints from moma.org]

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buzzing about neon #3

You will have to bear with me: I am launching a new series on the blog about neon signs, using the premise, "Who doesn't love a good neon sign?" If you do not share my enthusiasm for neon, try browsing my series about The Greek Cup. Or Fire Call Boxes that look like Kannon. That's a really good one. Who doesn't love a fire call box that looks like the Goddess of Mercy.

99 cents, glass tubing, inert gas and clear plastic, Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

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ideal house

I am going to attend the Ideal House event at The Conran Shop next Friday, May 18. I thought you might be interested in attending too. See you there!

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buzzing about neon #2

Here is the new and improved neon cupcake for Bruce's Cupcakery. Recently unveiled. So new, it is not even turned on. Tell me this neon sign doesn't dazzle you.

Cupcake, glass tubing, inert gases and colored plastic, 1st Avenue and 57th Street, New York, NY

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bklyn designs 2007

Don't miss the 5th anniversary edition of Bklyn Designs 2007 which begins in just 3 days (May 11-13) to kick off NY Design Week. I personally am quite pleased I saw the poster and looked it up, or I would have. Missed it, that is.

The show will take place in 3 venues in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass):

St. Ann’s Warehouse, 38 Water Street
Smack Mellon, 92 Plymouth Street
BKLYN DESIGNS Annex, 81 Front Street

Tickets are $12 per day and may be purchased at the show. Your ticket includes access to all 3 venues and any of the design seminars. Sounds great! I may suggest this to my Mom for Mother's Day.

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it's outdoor patio season!

The Maritime Hotel

Plenty of greenery in this spacious, stunning outdoor patio

Sharing a meal with someone you love at an outdoor patio you love can be transporting. If the patio is right, that is. I am a big fan of La Bottega's spacious patio, high above the street, enclosed in its own little world, and decorated so thoroughly. I love the latticework of umbrellas, trees and hanging lanterns overhead which make you feel so cozy as you dine. There is a distinct tropical mood too, adding to the fantasy of being transported to somewhere warm and relaxing.

The backdrop of this Chelsea outdoor patio is the The Maritime Hotel, designed in 1966 for the National Maritime Union by Albert C. Ledner, a New Orleans architect. It is an architectural beauty in my book.

The mood at La Bottega is ideal for lunch, brunch or dinner, and the Italian menu offers many options. Don't you want to go tonight? I do too.

La Bottega
at The Maritime Hotel
363 W 16th Street at 9th Avenue

The equally-spaced lanterns echo the great wall of portals

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poldo orange chest by creazioni

I made a beeline to this glossy orange chest, on display on the lower level at The Conran Shop on First Avenue in Manhattan. Could you imagine this piece at Versailles? Perhaps in Sofia Coppola's version of Versailles...

The eye-popping 2-drawer Poldo Chest in beechwood and high-gloss orange polyurethane is by Italian furniture maker Creazioni. To me, it is the Lamborghini of consoles. If this style strikes your fancy, you can browse Creazioni's selection of Roccoco-meets-high-gloss pieces on their Website.

The Poldo Chest would go nicely with (as Conran suggests and I agree) the Louis (XVI) Ghost Chair in clear polycarbonate by Phillipe Starck and the updated Baroque Bourgie Table Lamp by Ferruccio Laviani, also in clear polycarbonate.

It is nice to fantasize, isn't it?

The Conran Shop

407 E 59th St (at 1st Avenue)
New York, NY 10022

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buzzing about neon

Who doesn't love a good neon sign? I would imagine there is a font design called NEON where all the letters are connected in an unsightly way. That is precisely what I like about neon. That and the buzzing.

Chicken, glass tubing, inert gases and clear plastic, 8th Avenue and 39th Street, New York, NY




in hot pursuit of a handbag, #3

As I pursued this Blake Pocket Bag by Marc Jacobs, accessorized nicely with a scarf,* I wanted to capture her whole outfit for you. I wanted to take note of how she combined her colors. Brown shoes, navy pants, tan jacket, warmer tan bag (which MJ calls 'cocoa'), scarf with tan, yellow, orange, lavender, brown. I would have never thought to put brown shoes with navy pants, but with this ensemble, it really worked. It was hard to capture the true colors in the mid-morning Midtown sun, particularly of the pants and shoes, but you can get a rough idea.

*This past week, I saw 8 different bags accessorized with scarves. I do like this look, but I am surprised to see it back. It became so trendy after that first Legally Blonde movie a few years ago. Actually, I don't mind if they bring it back. It is a nice Spring look.

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silver vs. silver

If you follow the most current of current trends, you will know that the silver crackle leather with the lovely patina is so hopelessly last year, and looking a little worn out if you didn't take care of it properly, replaced this season by the more bold high-shine silver that you can clean with a rag and a bottle of Windex. (Can you guess which silver I like?)

I'll take the crackle silver with the warm matte finish any day. I pledge to take care of it meticulously and never ever wear it in the rain.

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more directions to williamsburg fashion weekend

210 Kent Street

I thought I would give you more visual information so you could find your way to Williamsburg Fashion Weekend tonight or tomorrow. It is a long walk from the L, so wear your walking shoes; i.e., your sneakers.

Monster Island, Metropolitan Avenue wall detail

Mailbox on Metropolitan Avenue on the way to
Monster Island

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williamsburg fashion weekend

This weekend is Williamsburg Fashion Weekend at Monster Island. If you are first hearing of this now, you missed last nights kickoff with Sodafine, Tree House, Trisha McBride and one colorful circus theme, among other themes.

But you can still make this evening's festivities at 7:30pm with Mandate of Heaven, Raul de Nieves, Vashti Windish, Jan Hilmer and King Gurvy (theme tba), and tomorrow evening's event at 4pm with Robot Death Cult.

Williamsburg Fashion Weekend
May 4, 5, 6
Monster Island
210 Kent Avenue at Metropolitan Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
L to Bedford Avenue

some of the models, pre-show

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how about some cake to go along with your coffee?

The most delicious apple cinnamon muffin aroma wafts from Angel's Bakery on Norman Street in Greenpoint whenever I happen to walk by. On this day, the strangest sight drove by on a forklift truck. Remaindered ends of what turned out to be their Butter Loaf Cake, with wrapper, driving by on a pallet. They were headed back to the factory. I stopped to gawk and take this picture, but didn't ask why.

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greek cup

If you have been reading my blog for the past year, you have noticed that I have a particular enthusiasm for The Greek Cup, and all of its design variations. Here, a new one! I have never drunk from this cup before. Until now. The Discus Thrower.

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shopping on franklin: hayden-harnett

The Hayden-Harnett Design Shop also features jewelry from
Dejarnette New Orleans plus more...

The shop's decor is a wonderful combination of textures, patterns and finishes.
You must pay
a visit to experience the full effect.

Hayden-Harnett opened their first and only design shop on March 25, 2007. I saw them doing the build-out one day in March, and got very excited when I saw the wallpapered wall and the chandeliers. And then I found out that Hayden-Harnett specialized in handbags! Oh joy! A designer-driven label specializing in luxury leather goods including handbags and small accessories would be opening down the street from me on Franklin Street.

Hayden-Hartnett is available in boutiques nationwide, including Albertine on Christopher St, Sir on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, and Barneys Coop, to name just a few in New York. Their bags are just plain sexy. When you try one on in their store, you will be under their spell. I cannot get the LORCA Flap Bag in soft gold, plum or chocolate out of my mind. Or the MERCER Clutch in ink or pewter. And after a few visits to the store, I have now discovered the belts and all of the small accessories arranged in the corners of the store. Don't miss the corners when you go. There is a lot to see. Including their newly launched clothing line, designed by Sonia A. The details on the clothes mirror the bags; it is a very sculptural, wonderful, accessories-inspired line.

I was very happy to have a nice e-mail chat with Toni Hacker, who is the designer of Hayden-Harnett handbags and accessories. She runs the company with her business partner and boyfriend, Ben, whom I met on my first visit to the store. Toni had a lot of great things to say about design and her vision for Spring/Summer 07. Below, our conversation, via e-mail.

EP: Talk about your design philosophy.
TH: My design philosophy really started with myself. I was looking for bags and wallets to fit in with my busy life as a designer in NYC (who traveled extensively) and who had a ton of gadgets, plus a laptop to haul around. I also needed to look stylish, yet be organized, at all times.

That's entirely how Hayden-Harnett began...realizing that if I, as a designer, were looking for bags that really performed (for less than my NY rent), then there must be thousands of women looking for the same. I made it my mission to make the bags that I always dreamed of having for travel, day, evening, and weekends.

Our overriding aesthetic is ultimately form + function. Each design has to really work for our customer and with her busy, modern life. Our bags are well-designed and made from fantastic leathers that Ben and I travel the globe to source, yet they aren't precious (and certainly lower in price than NYC rent!). All of our bags, even the most fantastic and ladylike frame bag, will have a minimum of three interior pockets for your mobile, iPod, and PDA, plus a zippered rear-wall pocket. Many of our lovely mod cocktail dresses and slinky satin tunics have hidden pockets built in for your mobile and keys. Just the thing for stylish city-dwellers!

EP: How long have you been in the fashion business?
TH: I've been in the fashion business since 1999, when I came on with a small private label company in NYC as their design director for accessories. My background, however, is in Product/Industrial design. I graduated in 1997 from Eastern Kentucky University and did commercial interiors and fixtures for a while in Columbus, Ohio and Knoxville, TN. Then decided it was time for a change...I wanted to do something more personal with my life and to be able to give back in a way that felt a bit more human than banking fixtures and drive-thru signs for Burger King.

Accessory design, thankfully, came knocking at my door and I've been happily sketching away and developing great bags for a range of prices for 8 years. I did a lot of design for the juniors market...really fun stuff! I feel that same joie de vivre really translates to the Hayden-Harnett line. Nothing is overly serious in our collection. We do a ton of fun prints and brighter colors. There are too many unhappy looking black and brown bags in the world :) I want the interior of our bags to feel like a secret... only you know what's inside, plus there is something about every bag to make you smile...you are looking super-fly with your new HH bag, but hey, you've got a weekends worth of work, a laptop, and a pair of Repetto flats inside and a vintage Marni cardigan. You are ready to rock the weekend in style and being totally organized for next weeks meetings only makes life that much easier!

EP: Name 2-3 hot trends you will capitalize on for Spring/Summer 07. I realize your bags are not strictly trend-driven, but if you do incorporate trends, i.e. colors, shapes, details, hardware, please comment on what interests you design-wise, and how you transform that trend into your own language.
TH: Our top trends at Hayden-Harnett for SP07 are:
  • vintage look metallics (especially gold)
  • floral and graphic prints
  • handbag shapes becoming a bit more structured...our entire design influence was based upon Paris in the 60s
  • yellow and a washed-out vivid color palette
  • natural materials mixed with slick patent trim...the look of opposites uniting to create balance of extremes

Thank you so much Toni! I loved receiving your thoughtful eloquent answers and feel very pleased to now have an understanding of what drives your wonderful design work. Congratulations on your new store. I wish you all the best success!

[Note to readers: I have included many links to Hayden-Harnett's Website, so you can investigate thoroughly before your first visit. Many of the picture captions are links too.]

211 Franklin Street
Corner of Freeman Street

Greenpoint, Brooklyn 11222
G to Greenpoint Ave, exit India Street
HAYDEN-HARNETT is the second store portrait in our new "Shopping on Franklin" special feature. Watch for another store portrait a week from Thursday.

The LORCA Flap Demi is my favorite bag, available with or without tassel.
In my opinion, you have to get the tassel. It makes the bag.

The fantastic wall of bags! I got the chills when I saw all the exciting styles.
Near the register, there are great change purses to match your new bag.

Remember to examine all the small interesting objects on display in the corners of the shop.

The style: relaxed elegance, draped, and sexy.

A view inside from the front door.

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