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.

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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Harvey Faircloth Fall Winter 2014 Look Book || Bright Lights, Big City

27/03/2014 § 1 Comment

Harvey Faircloth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah Kunkel oth FW14 by Mariah KunkelSomehow, I find myself on the other side of a really jam-packed NYFW and FW14 market, with no blogging to show for it.  I supposed that if I had something really amazing to share, you might let me get off with a light punishment…perhaps?

I am pleased to present the Harvey Faircloth FW 2014 look book, which I had the honor of shooting myself on Impossible Project polaroid film with a Polaroid Spectra ProCam.  Different from our past look books which are much more straightforward, our aim was to capture the essence of season’s inspiration: our Creative Director Christopher Rivers’ memories and favorite places of late night New York City during the late 1980s and early 1990s (“Bright Lights, Big City”).  Intimate and ephemeral, it has a undeniably voyeuristic quality — it almost feels like we’re following this girl on a nighttime prowl all over the city.

Working in Polaroid was challenging in a really great way.  Because the photographs take time to develop, I had to shoot and move on in the interest of time.  In an era of digital cameras and Photoshop, truly only having one chance was initially daunting but eventually liberating.  I first figured out how to focus and then shortly thereafter I found a way to trust myself.

I hope you enjoy it!

Photographer: Mariah Kunkel
Hair: Walton Nunez
Make up: James Vincent
Model: Kuyan Elliot (Re:Direct)

My New York-aversary

04/08/2013 § 1 Comment

I <3 NYCPhoto via Instagram.

I was about halfway through the day before I realized that today marks the sixth anniversary since I landed in New York.  Six years.  It sort of crept up on me.  More than five years, but less than ten, the time seems to have accelerated in speed since year two (or so) and while I wasn’t looking I suppose I’ve become one of those seasoned “New York people” I marveled at when I first moved here.  People who understood the subways.  People who were surprised by nothing.  People who knew all sorts of interesting people and places in the city.  People who tossed off the numbers of years they’d lived in the city with nonchalance.

Yet, I’m not sure if I’m a New Yorker.  I still feel solidly connected to California and my roots out west, even though I’ve definitely settled into a rhythm within this busy, crazy, hectic city over time.  Establishing your relationship with this city demands time; it’s too much to take in and too much to experience, to rush the process.  Through it all, I’ve changed boyfriends, roommates, friends, colleagues, and jobs — but the city remains.  I’ve lived in places like Tribeca and Crown Heights and the Upper East Side and Murray Hill and Soho and the Financial District.  There are still entire neighborhoods I’ve yet to see or experience, while there are some I know like the back of my hand.  I’ve danced at nightclubs that no longer exist.  I know exactly where my preferred door on my preferred subway car will stop at both ends of my commute.  It’s almost like you come to an agreement with New York: you eke out a tiny portion of the city, you plant some roots, and if you work hard — and have a bit of luck — you flourish.

I’ve seen plenty of people come and go.  Some who predated me and decamped, declaring they’d “had enough” of it all — which to a newbie can sound almost impossible to fathom. Others arrive so full of hope and just can’t seem to make it work.  Still others are taken away by school or jobs or marriages.  While perhaps not as transient as Washington, DC, New York definitely maintains a sense of constant churn just below the surface.  People frequently reference how long they’ve lived here or worked there.  Transplants are constantly trying to figure out if they’re short-timers or in it for the long haul, while those born and bred in the city wear it as a badge.

I’ve always trusted in the assumption that when the time comes for me to leave, I will know it, innately.  But right now, this crazy life still feels right.  I still feel that thrill when I see the Chrysler Building at dusk.  I’m still excited for that first glimpse of the skyline whenever I return from being out of town.  The city still feels open, ripe for opportunity and adventure.  While I don’t know what chapter of this story this might be, I know we haven’t quite reached the end…

Happy Anniversary, New York.  I still love you.

In The Wind: Montauk

12/07/2013 § 1 Comment

Marilyn and Miller Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, Amagansett, 1958.  Taken by Sam Shaw.

This weekend finds me scampering off to the beaches of Long Island: Southampton, Amagansett and Montauk.  The weather seems a bit iffy, but I’m not going to let that dampen my spirits (pun intended).  I’ll be back in a flash with tons to share, I’m sure.  Hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you’re getting up to.  Enjoy!

Victorians of the Desert

13/03/2013 § 5 Comments

Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten Jim Naughten

Photographer Jim Naughten‘s amazing portraits of the Herero people of Namibia are currently on display at Margaret Street Gallery in London, as part of an exhibit called “Conflict and Costume,” which you definitely should not miss, should you be in the area. It looks to be an exceptionally thought-provoking examination of the intersection of colonialism, culture, tradition, fashion and identity. The beautiful portraits, starkly posed against the barren Namibian desert, closely focus on the tribe’s unique costume — Victorian era dresses for the women, German paramilitary uniforms for the men. Adopted from their colonizers, and slowly personalized with ethnic textiles and the “cow horn” headdresses you see on the women (the Herero people are pastoralists and place high value on their livestock), the Herero tribe honors their warrior ancestors by continuing this sartorial tradition to present day.

Luckily, for those of us unable to make it to London,
you can purchase Naughten’s book here.

Jim Naughten: Conflict and Costume
Runs through April 13, 2013
Margaret Street Gallery
63 Margaret Street
London
W1W 8SW

**UPDATE**  I’ve just been alerted that there is a simultaneous NYC Naughten exhibit at the Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, running through May 4, 2013!  In fact, the opening reception is tomorrow night (Thursday, March 14, 6 to 8pm)!  Considering that the price for me to view these portraits just dropped from a transatlantic flight to subway fare, there’s no chance I’ll be missing them!

Jim Naughten: Conflict and Costume
Klompching Gallery
111 Front Street, Suite 206
Brooklyn
11201

NYFW Recap: Nonoo Fall 2013

12/03/2013 § Leave a comment

Nonoo FW 2013 - 09

Very happy to share with you one of my favorite designers from NYFW!  Designer Misha Nonoo presented a simply gorgeous Fall 2013 collection that artfully joined her own British heritage with touches of Imperial Russia, that urgently needs to get in my closet.  With luxurious textures, military detailing and some very gorgeous fur hats by the designer herself, Nonoo spins a genteel, sporting dream for Fall in somber shades of navy, grey, and black, punctuated by a rich, regal crimson.  The show, a wintry, Anna Karenina-flavored affair was complete with uniformed guard and a massive backdrop that brought the onion domes of Moscow all the way to The Standard Hotel.

As with previous Nonoo collections, the designer’s knack for tailoring was the defining element.  Her amazing riding jackets and greatcoats, layered over everything from ballgowns to trousers, demonstrated a keen ability to refine classic shapes with modern elements — a slash here, an exposed zipper there — with great success.  Also notable was the appearance of knitwear, in the form of deliciously chunky cable knit cardigans and pullovers.

As someone who frequently joins elements of the masculine and feminine in my own wardrobe, what I like about Nonoo is her ability to take traditional menswear fabrics or shapes and infuse them with a femininity that is elegant and whimsical, but never gimmicky.  Herringbone and Prince of Wales seamlessly join lace and silk, smoking slippers are paired with a ballgown — the best of both worlds, really.

For more information, please visit Nonoo.
To view the complete Fall 2013 lookbook, head here.

You can shop Nonoo direct, or at Berdorf Goodman and Shopbop.
That amazing Spring 2013 collection is available now!

Nonoo FW 2013 - 01 Nonoo FW 2013 - 12 Nonoo FW 2013 - 10 Nonoo FW 2013 - 02 Nonoo FW 2013 - 06 Nonoo FW 2013 - 08 Nonoo FW 2013 - 11 Nonoo FW 2013 - 13 Nonoo FW 2013 - 07 Nonoo FW 2013 - 05 Nonoo FW 2013 - 04 Nonoo FW 2013 - 03 Nonoo FW 2013 - 14

Strangers on a Train

11/03/2013 § 4 Comments

Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker Evans Walker EvansIf you assumed that furtively snapping photos of people on the subway was a relatively new social phenomenon, ushered in large part by fancy smartphones, American photographer Walker Evans would beg to differ (if he were still alive, that is).  Between the years of 1938 and 1941, Evans rode New York City subways with a camera hidden in his coat, in an effort to capture unguarded and unposed portraits of city commuters as they rode the train.  The portraits offer a remarkable glimpse into old New York, although I can’t help but notice that some things — like catching a quick snooze and/or ignoring musicians, for example — don’t really seem all that different from the subways of today.

On The Docket: Ezra Stoller at the Yossi Milo Gallery

30/01/2013 § Leave a comment

Ezra StollerTWA Terminal at Idlewild (now JFK) Airport, Eero Saarinen, New York, NY, 1962

Recently opened and simultaneously placed on the docket, the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea is currently showing a collection of photographs taken by Ezra Stoller (American, 1915 – 2004), one of the most influential photographers of modern architecture.  Entitled “Beyond Architecture,” the exhibit highlights the photographer’s range by juxtaposing Stoller’s rarely-seen images of industry and transportation alongside his well-known architectural photography.  Initially I most looked forward to Stoller’s photos of iconic modern New York buildings like the UN and the TWA Terminal, but I find that I am increasingly drawn to the narrative quality of his photos of working class Americans, their places of work or business, and their homes.  The exhibit is a fascinating look at a mid-century America through Stoller’s inestimably talented eye, and I won’t be missing it.

Ezra Stoller: Beyond Architecture
January 24–March 2, 2013

Yossi Milo Gallery
245 Tenth Avenue
Chelsea

Ezra StollerEzra Stoller Ezra Stoller Ezra StollerUnited Nations, International Team of Architects Led by Wallace K. Harrison,
New York, NY
, 1954 Ezra Stoller Ezra Stoller Ezra Stoller Ezra StollerGuggenheim Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright, New York, NY, 1959 Ezra StollerSeagram Building, Mies van der Rohe with Philip Johnson, New York, NY, 1958 Ezra StollerPepsi Cola Building, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, New York, NY, 1960 Ezra StollerCBS Columbia, Long Island City, NY, 1954Ezra StollerOlivetti Underwood Factory, Louis Kahn, Harrisburg, PA, 1969 Ezra StollerDuplan Silk Mills, 1943  Ezra StollerJohn Hancock Chicago construction, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill,
Chicago, IL
, 1967 Ezra Stoller Ezra StollerJohn Hancock Building, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Chicago, IL, 1970

All images by Ezra Stoller, via Yossi Milo Gallery.

Capote on Ice

28/01/2013 § 5 Comments

Truman Capote

Admission: I’ve never been ice skating.  I suppose I could blame it on growing up in Los Angeles, and my parents’ extreme aversion to a vacation spent anywhere other than a tropical climate — but since I am (technically?) an adult now, I really can only blame myself.  Especially when New York City has so many beautiful places to tie on a pair of skates (see: Bryant Park, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Chelsea Piers, the Standard Hotel).  Perhaps I should make it a mini winter resolution of sorts to finally get myself on the ice.

Providing a bit of sartorial inspiration for my skating kit, Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured a 35 year-old Truman Capote skating at Rockefeller Center in 1959 — perhaps giving new dimension to his very famous bon mot, “New York is a diamond iceberg floating in river water.”  I couldn’t find the article they correspond to, but I have to believe that Truman in his Fair Isle sweater is reason enough to call your attention to them.

Truman Capote Truman Capote Truman Capote  Truman Capote Truman Capote Truman Capote Truman Capote Truman CapoteAll images via the Life Archive.

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