Thursday, May 22, 2008

Own a Piece of the Queen of Mean: Behind the scenes at the Leona Helmsley Couture Auction

On Sunday, Leona Helmsley's vast couture collection was cast to the winds thanks to the auctioneers at Leslie Hindman. When the final gavel fell, the total take was some $120,000 -- about $40,000 more than presale estimates. And what a collection it was! I was fortunate enough to view it the week before at a Cocktails and Couture preview on May 13. Here are snaps of my favorite pieces. Sure much of it was totally 80s -- and a lot of it sort of looked like it was bought by an old lady, natch -- but it was still breathaking. Helmsley may have been a convicted felon, but she sure had style. Although I registered to bid, I did not end up participating -- tempting as some of the handbags were, especially this lovely green Hermes number.
Have you ever seen so many Hermes boxes in one place? The arrangement was replicated further back in the room, only this time the building blocks were Vuitton bags.
One of three cases filled with purses. One case was filled with exotics, another Chanel and Vuitton, yet another Hermes (can you say Birkin? Buyers did -- the sale prices for these reached as high as $9,600 each). Then there was the wall of zany, Totally 80 Moschino bags (patent leather watermelon slice anyone?).
A display of Helmsley's countless ballgowns, a frothy, sparkly mix of designer labels and custom creations sewn just for her. Seems the Queen of Mean was also the Queen of Seam -- she employed her own in-house dressmaker who created one-of-a-kind ballgowns from an "attic atelier"! Helmsley's clothes garnered some impressive sale prices: A J. Mendel brown fur coat fetched $12,000, her iconic (and so fabulously dated it's seriously unwearable by anyone unrelated to RuPaul) pink and denim Chanel suit -- yes, the one she wore to prison in 1992! -- went to one undoubtedly good-humored bidder for $850, and the rows and rows and rows and rows of Ferragamo shoes in every imaginable color (all size 8.5) brought in a total of $3,000.

Curiously, there were no pet items for sale ... I wonder, will Trouble will be taking a bite out of the proceeds?

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Slippery Slope: Are Wedge Heels Over? THE GREAT WEDGE DEBATE

This past week I had a spring-summer wardrobe session with the EXTRAORDINARY stylist Heather Kenny.

Thankfully she was able to pluck from my piles of clothes n' stuff a solid collection of supercute outfits. She kept some things, she suggested I part with some things. And then there were those things that just defied her ability to categorize, I guess. She'd just look at the item, look at me and chuckle a bit. The biggest shock was not that she hated my stripper-esque lucite heels or my vintage full-length skirt with multicolor macrame inserts (come on, who doesn't love yarn?).

No, the biggest shock was the news that -- and don't hate the messenger here -- WEDGES ARE OVER. OK, not all wedges. "Modified" wedges are OK, i.e. anything with a triangular or rounded divot out of the general wedge area. But the true wedge? Over.

She let me keep my cork wedges because cork is in, but everything else hit the Goodwill Bin, per her recommendation. When I protested, she eyed my tiny pile of wedges with pity and said, in a tentative voice, "Well,
maybe they'll come back ..." Enough said.

Somewhere, there's a homeless woman teetering down Division St. on my Michael Kors platform kicks.

SO, What do you y'all think? Is it times up on the wedges?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Simon-etic! Simon Doonan Talks About Time, Work, Love & Balance

If I had a dollar for every time I read something Simon Doonan wrote and said, Damn, I wish I could write like that, I'd have ... well. clearly it would be something fabulously clever, were I able to write like Simon Doonan. And so he's written another massively hysterical book, and he stopped by the Barney's on Oak Street to sign books, make hysterically funny chitchat and espouse general pithy cleverness is the most erudite, clenched-teethed British accent ever. I was fortunate enough to interview him as he was signing books for fans ranging from Brooklyn hipsters to old guys in trucker caps, but here's some Q&A just for you:

SWAGULOUS: Your position at Barneys, the NY Observer column, the books -- how do you fit it all in?
DOONAN: I am very organized, and I am very disciplined. I never procrastinate about writing. I am insanely productive.

SWAG: Really? Are you kidding?
DOONAN: No -- when I wrote my first book, I'd get up at 5 am, write, and go to work at 8 am. I am just very compartmentalized -- when I am at the Barney's Design Studio, I am completely focused on what 's in front of me, it's the opposite of ADD. I just interviewed Madonna for the cover [of Interview magazine] and she has an insane level of drive and discipline. She's on a whole different level.

SWAG: How do you make sure you have time for your relationship, too? [with design guru Jonathan Adler, as if anyone doesn't know!]
DOONAN: At the end of the day, this is it. Jon and I sit and watch trash TV. We entertain a lot. In the evening, I don't work. Like these people who are always checking their email at night -- that's not work, that's neurosis.
Posted by Picasa