Thursday, September 8, 2011
New York City and Fashion Week. How could I resist? The heady combination was calling my name. Packing only my camera and one carry-on bag, I was off to the Stylish Apple. After the usual airport rigmarole, it was up, up and away.
The flight was cloudy until we circled Manhattan en route to LaGuardia Airport, where sunshine gave the city a warm, late-summer glow: a sign that a wonderful week was ahead.
After checking into the Paramount Hotel, at 46th Street and Eighth Ave., I pounded the pavement (a New York tradition) up to The Museum of Art and Design (MAD), at Columbus Circle and 59th Street, to buy tickets for the Vanity Fair "Fashion in Film" festival, being screened throughout the weekend. Prominent New York writers, educators and designers hand-picked movies they felt had impacted fashion. The fete was hosted and sponsored by Vanity Fair magazine, L'Oreal Cosmetics and BMW.
Tickets in my hot little hands, I took my second trek, across 59th Street, just south of Central Park, toward the legendary Plaza Hotel. The grand dame of New York Hotels is undergoing renovations, but nothing can dim her beauty. I wanted to pop into the Oak Room Bar and feel "Gatsby-esque" but opted to keep walking. That first stroll down Fifth is always dazzling, but September 8th was "Fashion's Night Out". New Yorkers were out in their chic best for this charitable outdoor/indoor party to benefit the AIDS foundation.
Fifth Avenue was hopping with wannabe models and celebrities. Not feeling quite on-trend enough to participate, I decided to keep walking south. Shop windows were resplendent with the latest couture. At Zara, I snapped a couple of windows I thought suitably festive:
Manhattan will absolutely seduce you, but, I had a busy weekend ahead. Deciding to head back across to the hotel, I snapped the billboard in Times Square once again. This masterpiece of fashion photography, ablaze in the night sky, would hold me in its thrall for the entire week to come.
At one of the outdoor tables, I took in the magnificence of Times Square over an iced coffee from Starbucks (open 24/7, as are most of the establishments) and called it a night.
Friday, September 9th, 2011
Morning coffee and a scone, alfresco, in the centre of Times Square. Does it get any better than this? Good Morning America is being taped right in front of you. The giant NASDAQ sign flashes and the JVC globe spins. Will breakfast ever be the same?
To my left, at 1501 Broadway, the historic Paramount building. Commissioned in 1927 by Adolph Zukor, to be the flagship theatre for the Paramount Studio, it is an art deco masterpiece. Architects Rapp and Rapp designed the pyramid shaped, thirty-three storey office tower, which draws the eye ever upward, rewarding the climb with a giant, four-faced clock. As if that isn't glorious enough, there is an ornamental globe at the summit.
The entrance, frieze and marquee are as ornate and grandiose as they were in the 1920s, the days of palatial movie theatres. Today, it's the headquarters for the New York City Hard Rock Cafe. Somehow, new and old blend without clashing in this masterwork of 1920s architecture.
THE FILM FEST: "Qui etes-vous, Polly Maggoo?"
"Qui etes-vous, Polly Maggoo" is a 1966 French film directed by fashion photographer, William Klein, and, shot entirely in black and white. It is part documentary--part fantasy, and entirely a satirical send-up of the fashion world.
Polly is an American model working and living in Paris. A French television producer is so taken with her that he decides she will be the star of his next special. A film crew follows Ms. Maggoo to fashion shows and shoots, while interviewing her.
The opening scenes of the film feature a mad as a hatter French designer creating shiny aluminum dresses on live, long-suffering models. Fashion followers will recognize Donyale Luna, as well as Dorothy McGowan below:
to be continued...
NOTE: The above is an original piece of writing. The pictures used as illustrations and the video are in the public domain. Scenic photographs of New York City were taken by myself.