Dear posh pilgrims, Alice B. Toklas tastemakers, and in-denial hedonists:
Whenever I hear or read something about the recession or all this twattle about "recession chic," "recessionistas," and "having style on a budget," I have a Tourette's Syndrome-like moment ala Mary Louise Wilson as Diana Vreeland in the one-woman play, "Full Gallop."
I scream at the top of my lungs: "EXCESS!"
This has caused a few awkward moments on the subway when I have screamed this out after spotting a New York Post headline about the stock market crashing yet again. The fact that I was also wearing vintage Chanel cuffs and had rouge smeared around my ears and hairline only added to my fellow passengers' shock and confusion.
And then there were all those articles about Thanksgiving dinner-on-a-budget, how people could scale back with cheaper ingredients, chicken instead of turkey, more bread in the stuffing, blah, blah, blah....well, it was enough to make me puke all over my pewter Pierre Hardys! So, I announced to my friends that I was hosting an anti-recession chic Thanksgiving dinner (at my admittingly humble abode) where banal items such as turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, etc. were to be banned.
First off, for an anti-recession chic Thanksgiving dinner, one should dispense with steroided, inelegantly obese, tasteless turkey and choose a fashionably lean, ridiculously over-priced little game bird like pheasant (above). Then, instead of stuffing it with some vulgar and common bread-based stuffing that will only fill you up with empty calories and put you to sleep, do what my friend Corey did on this occassion....or as Mrs. Vreeland might have put it, "Why don't you stuff your chic little game bird with foie gras-filled prunes, just like the Duchess Blagenfeld's Luxembourgian chef did during the Belle Epoque?" Okay, maybe the Duchess's chef didn't use Southern Comfort to braise the bird, but it's all I had!
I have to admit, when we executed the first lobster in preparation for Corey's warm lobster salad, I got a giddy thrill out of it...but when we put the second one in the pot, it just felt morbid and I became depressed for a few seconds.
John listens intently to Nancy's take on Michelle Obama's lipstick-on-teeth moment before he digs into her "Mad Dog" sweet potatoes (the secret ingredient is bourbon). My homemade cranberry and orange sauce is in the foreground. John brought me a great disco-trash mix CD (he's a DJ) which I will be playing at my Christmas party.
During John's risotto course, Nancy and I discussed what we planned on wearing to Hugo Chavez Fashion Week in Caracas. I'm thinking a Simon Bolivar military jacket thrown over a black Burberry shirt with epaulettes for me and a revolutionary-red vintage Valentino gown for Nancy.
I also happened to find a few photos kicking around in my camera from the Barneys Xmas windows opening a few weeks ago...
Barneys is my favorite store in New York, perhaps the world, and is really the only place where I spend serious money on clothes and shoes. Which is why I feel I can be critical for a brief moment about their hippie-themed Christmas windows this year. I remember back in the '90s when the Barneys windows always caused a stir. They were politically and sexually provocative and got tons of press because of the controversy that erupted over many of them (much of this is documented in Simon Doonan's book "Confessions of a Window Dresser"). I particulary remember one year (1992?) where there was a Maggie Thatcher mannequin done up in S&M garb--she was dubbed "The Iron Maiden." (I remember this because I worked for the designer, Sylvia Heisel, who dressed the mannequin).
I really felt that this year's '60s hippie theme was phoned in. While the windows are beautifully executed-- and I don't want to besmirch the work of the unsung heroes who surely toiled around the clock to realize Doonan's vision--the Summer of Love theme felt cut-and-pasted from the history books. Gone was the Barneys political and pop culture irony of yore and here was a tired literalist representation of the hippie movement. It felt about 5 years late (since the start of the illegal US invasion of Iraq) to slap a bunch of peace signs in the window; there was no tangible cultural context to hang it from (unlike their Green windows from last year). Yes, the trends for fall are "hippie chic" (it's back yet again) but that's just too easy. And while "Have a Hippie Holiday" was a clever tagline, I felt as a retail theme for a cutting-edge department store, the whole thing came off as sheer laziness. Where is the biting social commentary that Barneys Christmas windows are known for?
After the recession-chic window party (warm cider was served in lieu of champagne) we headed over to The Plaza in search of my friend Peter Nolan Smith. The joint had the feel of some old, deserted hotel in a former Soviet Bloc country.
Corey pretended he saw some prostitutes hanging out in this lost-in-time lounge to make our visit seem more exciting than it was--but instead of hookers, we saw Bill Cunningham snapping photos of the wax works and social x-rays walking into some Met Opera gala. It was more than a smidgeon Lynchian.
Thanks for reading.