Slide Into Spring

23/04/2015 § 2 Comments

gap slides

In reflecting upon how much desire these simple sneaks from Gap have just inspired, it’s entirely possible that New York has finally tipped my internal balance to 51% NY, 49% CA — because when I look at these I think SPRING!!!  Which is hilarious because they are black leather sneakers, says California me.  No, no, says New York me, can’t you see??  Shoes that aren’t boots that you can wear without socks? That’s practically a tropical vacation for our feet!

Controversy aside, these babies are a perfect transition from the recent winter of our collective discontent AND a perfect price to boot — $49.95 and an additional 35% off until tomorrow, 4/24 — so get while the getting is good, and we can be spring twins.

An Undiscovered Musical || Karen Elson for Vogue Italia April 2015

15/04/2015 § Leave a comment

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Pretty damn speechless, I must admit.  This editorial by Steven Meisel for the April 2015 issue of Vogue Italia completely caught me by surprise — it took me a moment to realize I wasn’t actually looking at something from decades ago!  Styled by Karl Templer and starring Karen Elson and Christopher Niquet, this glamorous silver-screen vision of fluid dance steps and gowns that appear to float on air is a treat indeed.

Images via Visual Optimism.

Rabbit Hole || Dinner de Luxe at The World Famous Cotton Club, 1938

04/04/2015 § 5 Comments

Cotton Club 1 - 1938 Cotton Club 2 Cotton Club 3 Cotton Club 4 Cotton Club 5

I’ve recently been spending quite a bit of time in the NewYork Public Library’s digital collection of menus.  An incredible collection of documents from around the world, dating from the 1850s through the 2000s, it is fascinating to observe trends in cuisine and cocktails – and prices!

I am always the most excited to find menus from storied New York establishments, those still standing like the New York Athletic Club and Tavern on the Green, and others that have since shuttered, like this one, from The Cotton Club in 1938, when it occupied its theatre district location at 48th Street and Broadway.  The Cotton Club was a nightclub that featured and launched the careers of some of the most notable black musicians and entertainers of the era, but served an all-white clientele.  At the time of the menu, Cab Calloway and his band headlined a twice nightly musical review that frequently included overtly racist themes similar to the images on the menu cover — as you can readily observe from the show program. **Be sure to click to enlarge the images.

Also interesting is the expansive cocktail menu.  Most other menus in the archive from this era mention only a few classic drinks and possibly a wine list, but because its primary function was as a nightclub and not merely a restaurant, The Cotton Club’s menu features all sorts of cocktails — separated from “Fancy Mixed Drinks,” mind you.  Nestled among the classics I already recognize, I was happy to find more obscure cocktails like the “Horse’s Neck,” the “Bronx,” the “Pink Lady,” and the “Jack Rose.”  All of which prompted a quick search and mental note to try out in the near future.  You’ll also notice a drink called the “Tall, Tan, & Terrific.”  A signature cocktail if ever there was one, the phrase is a nod to the Club’s chorus girls, all of whom were required to be taller than 5’6,” light-skinned and under twenty-one years of age.

To get a sense of the sort of performance patrons viewed on the nights this menu was in use, I’ve found a great short film made by Paramount in 1934 of Cab Calloway, featuring some of his most famous hits.  Nicknamed the “Hi-De-Ho Man” after his success with his song “Minnie the Moocher,” you get to view a bit of Calloway’s distinctive singing style, his call and response technique with the orchestra, his inspired dance moves.  Love it.  I mean, his hair alone!

As an added bonus, a very famous clip from Stormy Weather (1943), featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra as well as an amazing routine by the Nicholas Brothers, another act that called the Cotton Club home.

Images via NYPL.

A Liquid Lunch at the 21 Club

28/03/2015 § 1 Comment

21 Club. 21 Club. 21 Club. 21 Club. In honor of the upcoming final (!) season of AMC’s Mad Men, a select group of New York restaurants — the sort of joints that Madison Avenue ad men probably would have favored — featured special lunch menus last week.  Priced at $19.69 — the year of the final season — patrons could treat themselves to the hallowed “liquid lunch” or opt for a prix fixe menu.  It wasn’t something I was prepared to miss, so I corralled a compatriot and made my way directly to the 21 Club.

The 21 Club, formerly a prohibition-era speakeasy, has been in operation since the 1920s and has occupied its current, jockey-decorated location since 1929.  Since its inception 21 has been a favored spot of presidents, celebrities, socialites, politicians, and titans of industry.  A four-story townhouse with multiple private rooms, its famed secret wine cellar has housed the private collections of folks like Ernest Hemingway, John F. Kennedy, and Frank Sinatra.  Today, 21 retains a sense of old-fashioned formality that has become somewhat unique – gentlemen are required to wear jackets to gain entrance to the dining room, servers are dressed in tuxedos.  The Bar Room, where we lunched, sports a ceiling decorated with antique toys, suspended in air.

If you know me at all, you already know I went for the cocktails: Manhattans made with Canadian Club, while my dining partner opted for gin martinis.  Feeling very Roger Sterling and Don Draper, we also ordered for a dozen oysters, and a fabulous, mid-century time was had by all.

21 Club
21 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Words || The Journey

11/11/2014 § Leave a comment


A moment from my recent drive in the Hudson Valley, overlaid with a bit of wisdom from Papa Hemingway.  Fall is quite excellent at making one feel pensive and restless — I suppose it is mainly due to the spectacular demise of the foliage.

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QC Loves: Hi-Collar

09/11/2014 § 1 Comment

QC Loves: Hi-Collar QC Loves: Hi-Collar QC Loves: Hi-Collar QC Loves: Hi-Collar QC Loves: Hi-CollarQC Loves: Hi-Collar

Admittedly, this was a discovery I made some time ago, but with the return of the polar vortex next week, it seems like the perfect time to share.  Hi-Collar in the East Village is a darling of a tiny kissaten — a Western-inspired Japanese coffee house — by day and a sake bar by night.  Siphon coffee, tea and small bites, both savory and sweet, are served with a precision and ritual you won’t find at any of those other coffee shops around the city.  It’s the perfect place for a meandering late afternoon — and if you can stretch your visit into the evening changeover, even better.

214 East 10th St.
New York, NY 10003

Charming Spaces || Coastal Vibes

10/08/2014 § 3 Comments

Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes

Lovely bit of inspiration by way of Robert McKinley’s apartment in Chelsea, as captured by Nicole Franzen for T Magazine/NY Times.  Unfamiliar with McKinley?  He’s the interior designer and creative director behind places such as the Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk and the downtown outposts of Sant Ambroeus.  I’m feeling inspired by the relaxed, well-worn and faintly beachy style of his space, especially the palm frond curtains and that amazing rocking chair.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be stepping out shortly to track down one of those hurricane plants  Please hold my calls.

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Disappearing Acts

08/08/2014 § 1 Comment

Porto RicoEvery morning on my way to the train at the West 4th Street station, I pass the Porto Rico Importing Co. at 201 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.  More of a coffee and tea store than a true coffee bar, it’s where I buy the coffee I use at home (try it out: Monsoon Malabar is my favorite).  It’s usually full of bench sitters and the usual bunch of parked cars, but today I happened upon a rare moment of quiet and a break in the traffic so that I could take the shot above.

As I took the picture, an eccentric-looking older gentleman ambled by and gruffly offered his two cents: “You know, places like that are disappearing around here.”  He then proceeded to point out the growing vacancies around Porto Rico, both new and old. I readily agreed with him and he eventually set off on his way down Bleecker, satisfied.

Vaguely familiar that Porto Rico has been around for some time — it does mention something about 1907 on the awning, at least — I did a bit of research and discovered that the ground floor of 201 Bleecker has been operated by the Longo family since the early 1900s, initially as a bakery and then later as the coffee and tea store we know today.  The current owner-operator, Peter Longo, is the third generation to run the store, the building having been bought by his grandfather in 1905 for $5,000.  Peter was born in the building, as well as his father before him.

For someone who’s only lived in the neighborhood for just over a year, it’s always exciting to learn more about longtime residents and businesses, but also to hear how the streets have changed.  The next time you find yourself on Bleecker, I definitely recommend that you stop by for a pound of coffee or perhaps a new tea — because it’s true, places like this are rapidly disappearing these days.

For a fuller story on Porto Rico, Alex Witchel at the NY Times wrote a great article on Peter and the store that you should also read.

Have a lovely (caffeinated) weekend!
M. xx

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A Rumination on the 2015 Pirelli Calendar

06/08/2014 § 3 Comments


I’m not sure how closely you follow the annual release of the Pirelli Calendar, so I’ll give you a quick rundown. Since 1964 the calendar has been known as an annual high-gloss, high-glamour affair, featuring marquee name models shot by equally notable photographers (Lindbergh, Avedon, Ritts, Testino, Sorrenti, Weber…even Richardson). It’s printed in an exceptionally limited edition and gifted to a select group of important clients and VIPs. It’s sort of like the highest possible form of those cheesy automotive calendars you might expect to see hanging in a garage – and yes, nudity is known to abound.

 So why on earth are we talking about this? Glad you asked!

It turns out that this year’s edition – the 50th, if you didn’t notice already – features a beautiful plus-size model named Candice Huffine, pictured above. While purists argue she isn’t the first woman over a size 10 to appear in “The Cal,” citing Sophie Dahl in 1999 and Pollyanna MacIntosh in 2004, Huffine is being touted in the media as such.  Admittedly, I was caught a bit off-guard by the announcement, but in a good way.  It made me think about a few things in quick succession.  First, why was I initially shocked by the idea?  As if Huffine didn’t belong in a sea of nearly naked Adriana Limas and Joan Smalls, perhaps?  No matter the reason, that feeling quickly gave way to excitement at this small victory in the battle to shift entrenched standards of beauty.

While Huffine is obviously super-humanly attractive, the fact that her body more closely resembles those bodies belonging to us “mere mortals” is a move in the right direction.  This acceptance of a deviation from the norm ushers us to a point of reflection: what is the norm? why is this a deviation? how do we feel about that? how do we feel about our own bodies as a result? what kind of representations of beauty do we personally prefer? what kind of representations should we endorse?

This subject has inspired me to work on a new Charm School entry that touches on a subject I’m surprised I haven’t yet dealt with: body image.  In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject of the Pirelli Calendar and Candice Huffine’s appearance in it.

Watch this space.  The conversation will continue.

Wants || Blue Moon

24/07/2014 § 3 Comments

QC Wants || Blue Moon

Because one can never have too much blue on hand…right?

Clockwise from top left:
3.1 Phillip Lim Mini Pashli
Current/Elliot The Perfect Denim Shirtdress
Armand Diradourian Summer Stripe Throw
Petit Bateau Essential Stripe Bralette
J.Crew Surfboard Linen Sweater
Adidas Adilette Slides
Acne Studios Cropped Wide-leg Wool Pants
Connor Engraved Octopus Cards


Here’s to a weekend full of the good kind of blue.
And watermelon too.
M. xx

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    last night, @brooklyngin turned 5 and we celebrated with good times, great food, amazing friends and lots of gin at the chef's table at @thebreslin. a big thank you to everyone and here's to the next 5! 🎉🍸🎂❤️🙏🏼 #brooklyngin #happybirthday #aboutlastnight rounding out my collection of dinner party skills that don't actually require any cooking, flower arranging tentatively joins cocktail making, cheese plating and witty oh and eating. and drinking. also napping. 😬💐✨ she's a head turner. 😍 #280sl  #soloparking #greenwichvillage
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